Recipe

Quick and Easy Avocado Spread

The other day I found myself in a snack dilemma. It was mid-afternoon, close enough to dinner that you don’t want to eat too much and ruin your appetite, but far enough that you need to eat something before you pass out or get hangry.  Being the day before grocery shopping, though, we were a little bare bones. No fresh fruit. No yogurt. I contemplated a smoothie, but then I saw one lone half of an avocado in the fridge from breakfast. Because desperation is the mother of all invention (that’s how that goes, right??), and my belly was crying out for guacamole, this quick and easy avocado spread was born!


This is so easy that you can probably make this right now.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 or 1 whole ripe avocado
  • Granulated garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Lime vitality essential oil or lime juice

Now don’t blink or you’ll miss these quick steps:

  1. Mash the avocado with a fork
  2. Add a few shakes of garlic and salt
  3. Add 1-2 drops of lime essential oil or a squeeze of lime juice
  4. Taste and tweak the flavor to your liking!

So easy, right??

Then grab some crackers or veggies and munch away! And never waste a random half an avocado again. :)

PS, if you want to find the essential oils I use, click here or shoot me an email at ifonlytheywouldnap at gmail dot com 

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Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

 

If you’ve ever had a picky eater in your household, you know the angst of trying to get them to branch out. Our picky eater would eat the same meal for lunch and dinner every.single.day. if we let him: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Seriously, this kid LOVES his PB&Js. I’m constantly working to get him to try new foods or even a new way to eat a food he likes. You mamas of picky eaters know how hard this is! So for a healthy and fun twist on his daily PB&J, I’ve been making these super yummy peanut butter and jelly granola bars for lunch or snack time instead!

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I’m pretty choosy about what foods we put into our bodies, so I really enjoy cooking and baking from scratch whenever I can. I’ve made these granola bars for years, and they’re always a big hit. I feel good about my family eating them, because I know exactly what’s inside. Homemade granola bars are always better than packaged and processed! They are also really easy and quick to make, which is a necessity in this season of my life.

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Because we put Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter inside the bars, they pair absolutely perfectly with our favorite Smucker’s Fruit Spread!

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We have used Smucker’s Fruit Spreads in our house for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love their “Simply Fruit” line – no added sugars! I’m a big fan of short ingredient lists. :) And the Fruit and Honey Triple Berry spread… oh my, I could eat it on its own, it’s so yummy.

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We spread the jelly and peanut butter on top, and then – to make it more like a true PB&J – we put another granola bar on top.

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This “sandwich” is easy to pack in a lunchbox, or put some jelly in a reusable container for dipping your granola bar. Pickiest eater approved!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t be surprised that one of my favorite places to shop is Target. We go through a loaf of bread in like five minutes, so the fact that I can pick up our PB&J supplies and this adorable basket and PINK rolling pin, all while drinking coffee (bonus points if I’m alone!)… well, I’m sold. ;)

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And I love love LOVE the Cartwheel app! Last month, I forgot my login password, and seriously spent an extra 20 minutes in the store trying every password I could possibly have used, then reseting my password, just so I could use my coupons. Ha!! Right now, both Smucker’s Fruit Spreads and Jif Peanut Butter Spreads have Cartwheel savings – which I totally used. Because seriously, five kids is kind of a lot and any little bit I can save makes me a happy mama!

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Ready to make your own??

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 – 1 cup raisins/chocolate chips/chopped nuts *optional

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
generous 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

optional toppings:

jelly
creamy peanut butter
bananas
chia seeds

Directions:

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Combine all wet ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until evenly moistened.
4. Spoon onto 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper – press evenly into the pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown (27 minutes is the sweet spot for me!)
6. Let cool completely before cutting into pieces. If you don’t, they will be crumbly and not stay formed into bars. They will still be yummy, but they may be more like granola instead of bars. :)
7. Top with Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Fruit Spread, and maybe some bananas or chia seeds too!

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My kids could NOT wait for this batch to cool, so we ended up with a lot of bite-sized pieces. Luckily, small pieces make the perfect snack.

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How do you combat the boring lunch blues??

Delicious and Easy Veggie-Packed Spaghetti your Kids Will Love!

With baby on his way in the next few weeks, I’m all about keeping meals as easy as possible. But I don’t want to rely on chicken nuggets and tater tots, because eating real foods and lots of veggies is important to me! This delicious and veggie-packed spaghetti recipe is perfect for nights when I want to feed them something healthy, but I don’t have the time or energy to spend in the kitchen.delicious-easy-and-veggie-packed-spaghetti

 

Spaghetti doesn’t have to be from a jar to be easy! In the amount of time it takes you to boil noodles, you can give your family a nutritious meal that everyone will love. My kids GOBBLE this up. And these frozen herbs from Dorot help to make this meal seriously easy!

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The ingredients you use can vary based on what you have on-hand. Here’s what I used:

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  • whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  • two carrots
  • one onion
  • one green pepper
  • about three cups of kale, chopped
  • 5-6 mushrooms
  • ground beef (optional, of course, if your family goes meatless)
  • 2tsp oregano
  • 2tsp thyme
  • frozen garlic and basil from Dorot
  • two cans of tomato sauce
  • one can of tomato paste (DON’T skip the tomato paste! It’s key to thickening up the sauce!)

Other veggies you could use:

  • zucchini
  • spinach
  • parsnip
  • swiss chard
  • diced tomatoes

Before I get into the recipe, I have to tell you about these frozen herbs from Dorot. We found them at Trader Joe’s (you can find all locations to purchase here), and I have to tell you that they are SO convenient.

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I’ll admit, I was a little bit skeptical about them. Why buy frozen herbs when you can just get them fresh? The kids were so intrigued by them as well!

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But as I used them, I realized – this.is.GENIUS. I almost never keep fresh basil in the house. So when I want to use it, I have to buy it especially for a recipe. And that requires a little planning and forethought… and in this season of my life, both of those things are lacking. ;) It’s so perfect to have these teaspoon sized squares to pop into a dish and get the flavor of fresh without having to go out and buy it!

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1. While your noodles are boiling, brown your ground beef. When it’s nearly cooked, toss in your green peppers, onions, and kale.

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2. Shred your carrots and toss them in, along with three cubes of Dorot garlic (equal to three tsp of garlic) – you can add less if you’re not quite the garlic fans we are. ;)

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3. Let those cook for a few minutes before adding the cans of tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, and two cubes of basil from Dorot (equal to two tsp of basil). Cook until the sauce is hot.

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Serve the sauce over noodles and eat.it.up!

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This recipe makes a generous amount – it’s perfect for my family of six, with a little bit leftover. If you have a smaller family, divide the recipe in half or make the whole thing and freeze some for later!

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These are super reasonably priced, but you can get a $1.00 off coupon to sweeten the deal.

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I can’t wait to try out some of the other herbs! Having them on-hand to make yummy, nutritious dinners easier before and after baby is something I can get on board with. A few less things to chop = dinner comes a few minutes faster. And in my busy house, every minute counts!

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Happy healthy eating!

Patriotic Ice Cream Cones

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so we are all about the red, white, and blue to celebrate Independence Day! And what better way to celebrate than with family and ice cream? That pretty much sounds perfect to me (and to the baby in my belly!) – and fitting, since July is National Ice Cream Month! We’re adding a little red, white, and blue to our ice cream to make some Patriotic Ice Cream Cones, perfect for the 4th of July. Or anytime, if I’m being honest. ;) Patriotic Ice Cream Cones

 

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We’re big on ice cream in our house, and a little particular about what we buy! I like the good stuff. Kemps has these new flavors that are soooo good. We tried Mint Cow Tracks, Caramel Cow Tracks, and Caramel Fudge Cow Tracks.

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Oh. My. Goodness. All the heart eyes for these flavors! I maaaay have had two bowls after coming home from the grocery store. Maybe.

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The kids and I made used our Kemps ice cream to make patriots ice cream cones, which were quick and easy. And with different colored sprinkles, they’d be perfect for any holiday or special occasion.

Supplies:

  • chocolate melting wafers
  • ice cream cones
  • red, white, and blue sprinkles (or whatever color you want to use!)
  • two small bowls
  • Kemps Ice Cream

1.Melt the chocolate in a shallow bowl according to the package instructions. Pour some sprinkles into another shallow bowl.

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2. Coat the edges of the ice cream cone with melted chocolate. I found it best to leave it in there for a minute and coat it quite thoroughly.

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3. Dip the chocolate covered cone in the sprinkles.
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Oooohhh, looking so good already, right??

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4. Fill up the cones with your Kemps ice cream! Use a small spoon to push it into the cone so that you don’t knock the sprinkles off.

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These cones are filled with Caramel Chocolate Cow Tracks and Caramel Chocolate Cow Tracks …. SO yummy!

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And then EAT IT UP!

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The boys were SO excited to eat these. And honestly, it was really hard to choose a favorite flavor. Though if I’m forced to choose, the Mint Cow Tracks is my pick.

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The boys were divided over which flavor was best – half voted for the Carmel Cow Tracks, the others said Chocolate Caramel Cow Tracks. But really, they’d take any of the flavors. ;)

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This is pretty much the perfect way to celebrate the 4th of July – eating ice cream together!

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Now how about some free ice cream?? Visit the Kemps website to check out these seriously delicious flavors. Then come back and leave a comment with your favorite flavor. I’ll draw 5 winners from the comments to each win a $5 off coupon – so five winners get free ice cream so you can find your favorite flavor! Yum :)

Coconut Strawberry Chocolate Popsicles

We had our first taste of summer this week, so it’s got me thinking about cold treats. Ice cream, popsicles… mmmm, I’m hungry just thinking about it! Here’s my problem: as a mom of four little boys, I don’t like to give them a lot of sugary treats. So I came up with a super yummy popsicle that will satisfy your sweet tooth, but also leave you with a clean conscience.

Coconut Strawberry Chocolate Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • handful of chocolate chips
  • 6-7 strawberries
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk vanilla yogurt
  • approx. 1TBSP chia seeds (optional)*This recipe makes 8 popsicles*

1. Chop up the chocolate chips and strawberries into small pieces.

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2. Mix the 1 1/4 c. of coconut milk and 1 1/4 c. of yogurt. Add in the chocolate chips and the strawberries.

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3. If desired, add in chia seeds. In case you haven’t used chia seeds before, they are super good for you! They won’t change the flavor at all, but they’ll make the pops even healthier. You can even add more than the recommended amount!

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4. Mix everything together and pour into your popsicle molds. If you don’t have popsicle molds, use paper cups and popsicle sticks.coconut popsicles_4

5. Wait at least four (torturous!) hours for your pops to freeze. Then slide them out of the molds and eat! If you’re having trouble getting them out of the molds, dip them in warm water to loosen.coconut popsicles_7

These popsicles are not super sweet, but they are incredibly delicious. If you like yours a little sweeter, here are some options: add more chocolate chips or fruit, drizzle chocolate over your popsicle, or use sweetened coconut milk. Change up the flavor of your pops by substituting a different berry, such as raspberries or strawberries. Use whichever is in season!coconut popsicles_8

The kiddos won’t realize they’re eating a healthy treat, and you can achieve super mom/aunt/grandma status by saying yes to these yummy pops!

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Or don’t give them to the kids at all. Keep them all for yourself without an ounce of guilt. I promise, I won’t tell. ;)Coconut Strawberry Chocolate Popsicles - easy to make, super yummy, and good for you!

Peppermint Mocha {or hot cocoa!} Recipe

Here in Wisconsin, it is colder than COLD outside right now. So cold that all I can think about is wearing cozy sweaters and warm slippers with a hot drink in my hand. Preferably coffee. This peppermint mocha (or hot cocoa, for you non-coffee drinkers) recipe is perfect for snow days and holiday parties and having your girlfriends over. But to make it even better, I make this peppermint mocha recipe with homemade whipped cream! And I’m sharing both recipes with you today, so you can warm up this winter too.

Make your own Peppermint Mocha at home
Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3-4oz. espresso
  • Peppermint Essential Oil* or Peppermint Extract
    *I feel confident ingesting oils from Young Living, because they are 100% therapeutic grade oils, containing no chemicals or solvents. Do not ingest low quality, perfume grade oils that you can buy at the health food store, etc.

1. Mix 2 Tbsp hot cocoa powder with 2 Tbsp watermocha recipe 1

2. Mix with 2 cups milk. Heat to desired temperature.

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3. After the milk is heated, add two drops of peppermint essential oil. If you prefer to use peppermint extract, start with 1/8tsp and add more until you reach your desired flavor.

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4. Add 3-4oz. of espresso or very strong coffee. If you don’t have an espresso machine, I recommend a Moka Pot to make espresso on your stove top.

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5. Top with homemade whipped cream! Here’s your bonus (no refined sugar!) whipped cream recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 very generous Tbsp honey (I prefer to use raw honey!)

Mix together in a cold metal bowl until stiff peaks start to form, and top off your peppermint mocha!whipped cream

Serve these up without coffee for the kiddos after an afternoon sledding or make them fully caffed for your afternoon pick-me-up!

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The homemade whipped cream and peppermint add a bit of decadence and make this mocha the most delicious mocha you’ve ever had!

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You can drink it without the whipped cream for fewer calories, of course, but you’re seriously missing out if you don’t drink it with the whip at least once. Totally worth any extra calories. Then if you haven’t had enough peppermint, bake these Peppermint Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars for an extra yummy treat!

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*If you’re interested in learning more about Young Living oils or why they’re the company I recommend, please feel free to check out their essential oils here or email me at ifonlytheywouldnap@gmail.com

Crockpot Chicken and Easy Family Dinner Ideas

This time of year, I spend extra time sewing, wrapping, and prepping for all the holiday craziness. I find myself wishing for a couple extra hours in the day, especially that hour before dinner. Seriously, my kids turn into CRAZY people right before dinner. Is that just at my house?? This is why I need a couple of super easy meals a week. It makes me a little less crazy. Crockpot chicken is my go-to sanity saver!Crockpot Chicken and easy meal ideas

 

Crockpot chicken is one of my favorite meals, because it is so.stinkin.easy!

  1. Place chicken in crockpot.
  2. Add desired seasonings or herbs (I used fresh garlic, sea salt, and rosemary).
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Crockpot chicken that's easy and yummy

That’s it! So simple! There’s no need to add any liquid to the crockpot – all the liquid you see in the picture above is made while the chicken cooks. So it stays perfectly moist! You can use whatever kind of seasonings your family enjoys. I typically use rosemary, fresh garlic, and sea salt. I also enjoy using paprika and garlic, or I have a greek seasoning that I love.

Easy dinner ideas for busy evenings

Then add a couple easy sides, like these new Bird’s Eye Flavor Full sour cream and onion potatoes. There are a bunch of different flavors, veggies and potatoes. Pop them in the microwave, and a few minutes later, you have a super yummy – and fast – side! You can find a coupon for $1.00 off here.

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Along with some steamed broccoli, this dinner had almost zero prep during that dreaded pre-dinner hour.

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I’ll admit, when these potatoes were cooking, I was a little skeptical. The sour cream and onion smell was STRONG. I was worried they would be a bit too flavorful, and that the kids wouldn’t eat them.

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But that couldn’t have been further from the truth! Seriously, my kids DEVOURED them. They ate seconds and thirds and my eight-year-old declared them “the best potatoes he’s ever had in his whole entire life!” No joke.

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Between the fall-off-the-bone chicken and the best-ever-in-the-world potatoes, this meal was a total mom win. I love when I can get through a dinner without anyone complaining that they want to eat something else!

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I’m all about adding some shortcuts in to make life a little easier! Make sure you grab your $1.00 off coupon, because every little bit helps in the wallet too. ;)

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