Chic and Strong Crescent Shawl Crochet Pattern – The Marly Bird One

 

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Chic and Strong Crescent Shawl

I’m excited to share this brand new crochet shawl today! The Chic and Strong Crescent Shawl has been off my hook for quite awhile now and is a FREE pattern from Red Heart Yarns!

 

Last year right around the time my book, Step Into Crochet, came out, I was The Yarn Thing Podcast with Marly Bird! It was one hell of a good time, as it always is with Marly, and afterward, I got an email from her asking me to design something and she told me she loved my shawls. I love my shawls too…hell I even wrote a book about them. I agreed and we were off to the races.

Marly’s new yarn line, Chic Sheep, was used for the sample and lemme tell you…this stuff is like buttah. Soft as all get out and stitch definition that’ll make you want to crochet with it again and again! The yarn lent itself to the pattern so well, and honestly, it was fun choosing colors and seeing them work so well together. Marly and her team really did a great job creating a line of coordinating solids that will work for most projects you have! It’s a solid, plump, worsted weight yarn and blocks beautifully.

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Chic and Strong Crescent Shawl is a simple crescent shaped shawl that uses worsted weight yarn. This shawl pattern comes in one size.

Use your favorite worsted weight yarn for this one or dig through the scrap stash and choose a couple of your old stand by’s. Choose a cool main color to really show off your stitch definition and skills!

This shawl does require a bit of blocking. This is needed for the crescent shape. So, brush up on those blocking skills y’all!

Oh…and before you think the edging is a little too daunting? The pattern includes full charts, so we’ve got you covered!

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Get the pattern here for Free from Red Heart Yarns! Stock up on some Chic Sheep once you’re there too. You can’t find it in stores!

I’ll be hosting a FREE CAL (crochet along) in my Facebook Group Here, so make sure to join and we’ll get started on Monday, March 12th!

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Aprils No-Foolin Sale! 

It’s here! One of my FAV months of the year and to celebrate we’re going to have one heck of a sale to welcome in spring and say good bye to winter!
Today and tomorrow buy any 3 patterns from my shop and you’ll get $10 off! That’s like buying 1 and getting 2 for FREE! And you can use it as many times as you like! 
No coupon code needed…just add the patterns to your cart and go to town!
Link to shop: http://www.ravelry.com/stores/rohn-strong-designs

A Cover!

My book has a cover.

I REPEAT.

My book has a cover!

This is such a MAJOR day! One of those kinds of days that you wait for and after months and months and months of waiting it is perfect.

Y’all know I’ve been writing a book, Step into Crochet, for the last year or so…even though it has been in the making for years longer. Well, after the photoshoot and approval and all that good stuff we FINALLY have a cover!

I present to you…MY book:

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Apple Pie Buckwheat Waffles

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Written by Rohn Strong

Buckwheat waffles are one of the few things I remember my father loving. He would rave over buckwheat pancakes and talk about how much ‘better’ they were than the regular bisquick pancakes I grew up on. These aint no bisquick pancakes…these are some gourmet waffles right here.

Yesterday while getting ready to make a batch of Apple Pie Muffins, I had a quick thought. What if I put these in the waffle maker? I’m sure they’d turn out good…right?

These aint no bisquick pancakes…these are some gourmet waffles right here.

In fact, I would venture to say these little beauties turned out BETTER from the waffle maker than they did from the oven. The quick cooking time means that the apples still retain a bit of their crispness while not being too overdone.

The secret to these waffles is the allspice. You have to use good allspice. Really good. Splurge. They give the apples a hit of something special that is really, absolutely, unequivocally needed.

A lot of people don’t know that allspice is not a combination of other spices but is, in fact, it’s own spice. Allspice is made from the dried pimenta fruit of the evergreen myrtle plant Pimenta Dioica. If you don’t happen to have allspice on hand you can combine equal parts of cinnamon and cloves, then add in a dash of nutmeg. It takes a few tries to get the right mix but if you need a waffle fix…it’ll work out fine.

The awesome thing is that these waffles are sugar free, oil free, dairy free, vegetarian, gluten free, and really low in calories! I do recommend adding a bit of jam or pure maple syrup. If not, these can be a bit savory. Which isn’t a bad thing! They would be fantastic with some fried chicken! Maybe some steak? CHICKEN FRIED STEAK.

Okay, anyways here’s the recipe.

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1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon course salt
4 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 apple, very finely chopped
Optional: 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Preheat your waffle iron (or heat up a griddle for pancakes).

Combine flour, powder, and allspice in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Almond or Coconut flour may be substituted for the buckwheat flour.

Add salt, eggs, banana, and honey. Mix to combine. Fold in apple. If desired add in a bit of flaxseed. The batter will be quite thin.

Pour by 1/2 cup servings into waffle maker or onto griddle. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Serve immediately with warmed syrup or jam.

These can be frozen for up to three months in the freezer or 2 days in the refrigerator.

 

3 Juice Recipes You’ll Love!

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Written by Rohn Strong

Y’all know I talk A LOT about juicing but it’s for good reason.

Juicing has changed my life.

Today I wanted to share with y’all a few of the juice recipes I love. However, to get them you’ll need to head follow me on Snapchat!

I know, I know…I’m such a tease!

Snapchat is one of the most fun and interactive social networks out there. If you don’t have it downloaded it’s easy and free.

Follow me (my username is: rohnstrong) and you’ll get awesome inspiration, recipes, a look inside my personal life…and more!

BUT HURRY! These 3 recipes currently on my snapchat will only be there for the next 24 hours…then they’ll be gone forever. *okay I’ll probably post them again sometime in the future…but whatever.

See y’all on the snap!

R

Who Needs Coffee? Drink Juice!

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Written By Rohn Strong

Every morning, for the past month, I’ve consumed one thing. Juice.

It started as a cleanse but I liked the way my body felt so much that I decided to continue juicing and am LOVING the results.

I’ve been able to reduce my migraines, lose a bit of weight, save time cooking, AND I don’t drink coffee any more! I know…crazy pants!

The last time I drank any coffee was January. At first it just kind of happened because that’s what the cleanse called for, but then I made it a point to make sure I didn’t consume any and to replace it with a morning juice.

I usually wake up at six every morning and make a b-line to the juicer. I immediately make my Morning Go-Go Orange Juice. With the juicer set to high I combine:

6 Carrots
4 Apples
2 Lemons
6 Stalks Celery

This usually makes enough for two meals so I drink one for breakfast and use the other to mix in with a smoothie for lunch. It is incredibly healthy and pretty good for you! The apples help you stay fuller, longer. This is always a huge help when struggling to not snack my way through the day. The celery provide hydration. The lemons are great for digestion and to help your body absorb the nutrients more efficiently. Finally, the carrots contain just about everything that’s right in this world.

This juice is packed full of fiber and the micronutrients your body desires. In the morning we are usually dehydrated from a long night of resorting our bodies so giving yourself this morning jolt of goodness is just what your body needs.

I usually follow this up with a short but brisk 10-15 minute walk, a liter of water, and then get on with my day!

How do you start your day? Are you a coffee slave? Why not try juicing for just a week? I think you’d like it!

The Only Seasoning You’ll Ever Need!

When you eat clean, you have to learn to season the heck out of your food. It’s not that EVERYTHING tastes bad. It’s more that you need to flavor the food in different ways just to make sure you don’t get too bored.

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This season mix is one that I use every single day. I put it on my eggs. I put it on my chicken. It works in cauliflower soup (recipe next week!) and on salad!

It is really simple to put together and makes about a half cup. Just be careful, it can be a bit spicy! It’s sooooo good though. So, so good!!

Instructions:

3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Garlic Salt
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar (or brown sugar)
1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
1 Tbsp Black Pepper

Mix all of this together and shake it up. Store it in an airtight container (I like a mason jar) for a few weeks. After that things can get a little muddled. Try it on chicken, pork, beef, tofu, salad, and even eggs!

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Pastel Tres Leches Cake

Pastel Tres Leches Cake (otherwise known as the best dessert ever invented) is quite possibly my favorite dessert. Most of you know my love for all things Latin…and desserts are no different.

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While I love Pastel Tres Leches…Dairy and I just don’t get along like we used to in my younger days. Let’s just say that dairy is a friend that sticks around and makes a lot of noise…got it? Good.

So, I knew that I needed to be able to make a vegan alternative that wasn’t gross and didnt include SO much milk. A traditional Tres Leches is a milk based cake that is then soaked in milk and then coated in frosting. LOTS of milk. LOTS of milk that will do LOTS of damage to my body.

Not fun.

The real challenge was trying to make this healthier. I didn’t want to try to sneak in any flaxseed or chia. This is a dessert and sometimes a dessert needs to just be a dessert.

Our biggest challenge was in finding vegan (and tasty) alternatives to the evaporated and sweetened condensed milks. Basically, canned evaporated milk is nothing more than homogenized milk with 60 percent of its water removed. Condensed Milk, on the other hand, is Evaporated Milk with 40% sugar added.

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The great news was that the Evaporated Milk could be achieved just by boiling the milk down by about half. The Condensed milk would need a bit more finagling. After a bunch of research…and finally giving up I used this AMAZING recipe for Instant Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk from http://www.godairyfree.org. It was perfect!

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Ingredients:

Cake:

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
7 Eggs, separated
1 cup Organic Cane Sugar
3/4 cup Almond Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
12oz Evaporated Soy Milk (24 oz that has been reduced by about half)
14 oz Dairy Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup Coconut Milk

Frosting:

6 Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
1/4 two Cream of Tartar
3/4 cup Water
1 1/2 cups Cane Sugar
Lime Peel

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Combine the Flour and Baking Powder together, whisk to remove any lumps.

In a large bowl and stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the sugar and beat to form stiff peaks, then add the egg yolks, one at a time. Turn down the mixer to slow and add the flour and milk, alternating by thirds until everything is added. Add in the vanilla.

Fill the prepared pans evenly (a kitchen scale works well here) and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and coconut milk. Pour half of the mixture over each of the cakes. Let soak.

To prepare the frosting, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Mix the water, sugar, and limp peel in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until soft ball. Remove from the heat and add to the beaten egg whites in a thing stream. Make sure to add this SLOWLY. Beat for 6 minutes until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy.

Remove the cakes from the pans carefully, allowing any excess milk to drain off. Cover with frosting and refrigerate until serving.

5 Things You Need This Week

Today I want to share with you the 5 most recent things I have bought for my creative business. I know, I know…kind of vapid BUT I hope that you’ll be able to find some useful information AND it is always awesome to share with y’all the day to day of my work/home life.

  1. Prismacolor Premier Verithin Colored Pencils, 36 Pack– I adore Prismacolor Premier pencils but unfortunately they are not the greatest for detail work. Wax based pencils rock for color and pigment but the soft leads almost prevent a sharp point from sating sharp for very long. The Verithin are a thinner harder led with the same wax base. Next up are some Polychromos 36 Pencil Metal Tin Set
    …an oil based pencil that comes HIGHLY recommended.
  2. Autumn Cobeland Print – Autumn Cobeland is one of my favorite local artists and I have three of her prints in my studio now. They just bing so much joy to the space and in a white frame…they are set off perfectly. This is my most recent acquisition:
    andersonpointpark_5x7I love being able to support fellow artists and local artists at that. Each of her Greenway prints also give me the motivation to get out and see these places in person!
  3. Mason Jars – I know, I know…not the most glamorous thing but quite possibly the most used product in my entire studio. I use them to store paint brushes, crochet hooks, colored pencils, quinoa, millet, spices, and just about anything else that can fit. I buy them by the case and replenish my stock every few months…I mean…you do break a few eggs along the way.

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  4. Fresh Flowers – I fill my studio with fresh flowers every day. It makes me feel alive, invigorated, and fresh. This week my studio is filled with the perfumed scent of hyacinth. I’m also feeling the tulip love and always love hydrangeas. Flowers help freshen the house and clean the air!

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  5. Office Supplies – You have to spend money to make money. In my case, the biggest bump in spending each month comes from office supplies. I am in a constant state of organizational overhaul it seems and this week is no different. I am working on getting completely organized to take on May and overhaul the business a bit – which means lots of binders, dividers, pencil sharpeners, paper, pens, and just about everything else. I should get miles for every dollar I spend at Staples. I would be able to travel around the world twice.

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So…that’s about it. The 5 most recent items I have bought to make this business a complete success. I hope y’all have found a few things that may help you!

Brussels Sprouts and Avocado Salad

Today I want to share with you my ‘go-to’ salad. It is the only thing I grab for when I’m sick of juice (gasp…I know) and want something a bit solid. It is packed with healthy fats, lots of fiber, a hit of lemon, and is as green as you can get.

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Now…I will say that the salad part is a bit strange and takes some getting used to. Brussels Sprouts are often cooked…and hated…but honestly? I LOVE these little jewels raw. They taste like romaine lettuce but have the texture of cabbage. They satisfy that crunchy and crisp need to chew I often get when on long stretches of juicing.

The salad itself is made up of just a handful of ingredients and the hardest part is prepping everything together. I usually do this the day before so I’m not annoyed when my entire lunch hour is spend chopping the ends off of the sprouts.

Make this at the beginning of the week and stretch it throughout! Just top it with the avocado and dressing each day and you’ll be set to go!

First things first…mise en place…or getting stuff together.

Grab a pound of brussels sprouts and wash them up. Tear off the outer leaves.

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Then cut off the bottom part. If you bought the sprouts on the stem then you’ll know right where this is. If not and you bought a bag like me…simply cut the smaller end to free up the leaves.

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Tear the sprout apart.

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Do that 100009484747858585 times.

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Spin the heck out of them.

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Prepare the dressing. Combine the zest of 1 lemon and equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Add the sprouts to a big ole bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of dressing over and toss. Throw in a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Almost done! Dice or slice an avocado and add it in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. DIG IN.

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I like to top the salad off with a bit of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt. This salad is SO good and SUPER healthy.

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R

Protein Peanut Butter Cookies

I’m a HUGE fan of Peanut Butter Cookies, have been for quite some time. I used to bake and eat them every day. Yup. Every single day. Well, that’s not healthy no matter how you look at it. So, I needed an alternative.

This recipe came about after really wanting to make a cookie that was packed with protein and healthy ingredients. While they don’t taste anything like those classic Peanut Butter cookies we’re used to, they do offer a great alternative.

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Packed with protein, healthy sugars, flaxseed, and even a bit of chia…grab these cookies on your way out the door before your morning workout or for a great ‘pick me up’ in mid afternoon.

They won’t spike your blood sugar and actually fill you up! Can you say dessert BEFORE dinner? I even though about frosting these with a bit of peanut butter frosting  with a hint of coconut oil? Could you imagine the awesome flavors that would impart!

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The family gobbled these up about as fast as I could make them and I’m itching to try a few different methods of making. Including substituting almond butter, adding a bit of coconut oil, and even spiking them with a touch of earl grey tea. Yup.

What do you think? Should we make more of these homemade protein packed bars? Maybe an e-book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Download the Recipe Here: Protein Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Tofu Ricotta and Marinara Pasta Bake

I’ll admit it. I had a tough time coming up with that title. Come on, though…what do I call this?

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BESIDES DELICIOUS?

This is one of the easiest recipe’s you’ll ever make and there’s enough for an army (or for a weeks worth of dinners if you usually cook for one or two). What do you need? Well, to be honest…just some sauce and tofu…okay there’s a few more ingredients than that BUT overall this is one of the smiliest and tastiest recipes you can make.

It also happens to contain some really really really healthy ingredients. The dish is vegan, vegetarian, clean, and can easily be converted to gluten free! You could easily make this a lot healthier if you wanted but let’s not go too crazy here.

The Bake is essentially just three parts:

  1. Tofu Ricotta
  2. Pasta
  3. House Marinara

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You’ll remember our House Marinara recipe here and you should know how to cook some pasta by now but if not…just read the box! All the directions are there. Although, keep in mind we will be baking this so cook it for about 2/3 of the recommended time on the box. This will ensure your pasta holds up and doesn’t disintegrate to mush. No one wants ricotta and marinara mush. No one.

Once you make all the independent parts, just combine them together, throw them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until everything looks bubbly and delicious and – yup – cheesy.

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I know, tofu ricotta is not real ricotta. Your right and on its own I wouldn’t eat this with a spoon. However, by mixing it with the marinara and the pasta we get this cheesy like substance that is not just good for us but tastes pretty darn good too.

The secret is in the making of the tofu ricotta. You cannot just use tofu. That won’t work. You have to add a bunch of flavor to it. Tofu is just a blank canvas and you have to paint your tastes right on it. My secret? Miso Paste.

What is miso paste?

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Miso is a paste made from soybeans, sea salt, and koji (a mold starter), and often mixed with rice, barley or other grains. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 3 months to 3 years, which produces an enzyme-rich food. The binding agent zybicolin in miso is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements that are taken into the body through industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.

What does this mean for our bodies? Well, Miso contains all the essential amino acids we need, making it a complete protein. It also stimulates digestive fluids, is a great source of probiotics, a great source of B12, strengthens the immune system, lowers LDL’s, and is high in antioxidants.

All of that in your pasta! Who’da thought!

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If you decide you don’t want to dive headfirst into Miso Paste and Tofu Ricotta, here’s a tip…just use regular Ricotta. It’ll work out just fine! Sprinkle with a heaping helping of Parm and you’ll be good to go!

Download your recipe for the Tofu Ricotta and Marinara Pasta Bake!

 

(kind of) HEALTHY BROWNIES!

 

Yep.

Brownies.

Healthy.

(kind of).

There is just something about a brownie. It brings back feelings of happiness and home…a true comfort food.

This recipe is an loose adaptation of another brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour.

My version is made with a combination of almond and brown rice flour which makes it Gluten Free! It also has the benefits that come with coconut sugar! Seriously…how could you not love these?!

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While I don’t recommend eating a HUGE pan of these…two or three aren’t too bad for your diet. The combo of brown rice and almond flour lends a fudgy (it’s a word) and dense texture without being too dense. I also used a combo of coconut sugar and palm sugar. The coconut sugar is a lot like brown sugar but not as bad for you!

The palm sugar is a nutrient rich, low-glycemic sugar that is completely natural and unrefined. It is also rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6.

I also used a natural cocoa that’s pretty high fat. I purchase mine at Penzey’s…and the company can be a bit expensive but it’s totally worth it. They give them the best, most chocolatey, brownie like taste you can imagine!

You can substitute all purpose flour for the almond/brown rice flour and white sure for the coconut/palm sugar. Just keep in mind they are not going to be the same, at all.

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Here’s what you’ll need!

Ingredients:

1 cup Palm Sugar
3/4 cup Coconut Sugar
5 Tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder, High Fat
3 Extra Large Eggs
1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Almond Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8″ square pan.

Place the sugars, melted butter, and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the vanilla and cocoa, then add the eggs and mix well. Add the flour and baking powder, stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 33-38 minutes until the top is set. A skewer tester will come out with a bit of chocolate on the top.

Allow to cool and serve room temperature (they just taste the best at room temp)! Cut into 16 small squares!

Download the Recipe here, (kind of) Healthy Brownies!

 

Trio of Juices

I’ve been juicing…and the entire time I’ve been promising y’all some recipes! Well, today is the day.

So, let’s get this out of the way. I’m juicing under the supervision of a doctor, as should you. I juice as part of a healthy diet and exercise program. I tend to do a ‘juice fast’ once or twice every three months, based on what my body can handle.

I recommend lots of research and a good, informative, meeting with your doctor before deciding to do a ‘juice fast’ because while it is great for getting our body back into gear and helps us loose a few pounds, it can be difficult.

The short and sweet of it? Do your homework if you are committing to a long term juice fast.

However, in the short term? Adding a juice or two to your diet each day? Go for it. Seriously, it is one of the best things I have done.

Sometimes I have about 3 seconds before the dog starts barking to go outside, the office calls start, and the house wakes up. So, a juice is just about as much as I have time for.

I drink fruit juice in the morning and a veggie based juice in the afternoon. I find it helps my body adjust to the day a bit better. For me, juicing has helped me kick caffeine, jumpstart my weight loss, and I’ve not had a migraine since starting!

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Today, I want to share with you three of my favorite juices. A fruit based juice anytime I need to boost my digestive track, a veggie based juice I take before working out, and a lightly sweetened juice that I drink if I need a little something sweet!

The prep for the juices are all the same. Wash the veg and fruit thoroughly and cut it to fit your juicer. I have a pretty high quality juicer so I rarely have to do much prep but you’ll want to follow your juicers recommendations.

Green Juice (Makes 2 Servings)

2 Apples
1 Lemon
12 Kale Leaves
1 Cucumber
8 Stalks Celery
2″ Ginger

Yellow Juice (Makes 1 Serving)

3 Celery Root
1 Pear

Red Juice (Makes 2 Servings)

4 Beets
2 Lemons
2 Oranges
4 Carrots
2″ Ginger

I like to store all my juices in mason jars or recycled gelato jars. Both are about 16oz a piece and are large enough to fit all the juice I need.

If y’all give these recipes a try, make sure to let me know how you like them!

 

Toasted Spaghetti Kindonara

I know…two pasta dishes in one week. Here me out…it’s worth it.

I have this thing for Spaghetti Carbonara. Like…a big thing. A few years ago…well more than a few…a friend made this dish for me. It was my first time eating something so good. I ran home to made it myself and was just as satisfied.

Maybe that’s what pushed me to 450 pounds! HA!

I mean…pasta is one of those things that just makes my knees week and mouth water. I get that little ting in the back of my jaw when I taste it. The salty and savory and buttery noodles slipping past my lips and delighting my tastebuds.

Can you tell I’m on a Juice Cleanse? I’m talking about food like we’re dating.

Anyways, this dish right here is a healthier take on Carbonara. What I like to call Kindonara. A healthier spin that is still full of flavor.

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Carbonara is essentially an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich…but in pasta form. My version is more like an egg, onion, and breadcrumb sandwich but in pasta form.

See…Kindonara.

It’s a thing. Jump on the boat.

 

The real winner? Well…the toasted spaghetti. Yup. TOASTED SPAGHETTI. Trust me, you’ll never have pasta the same way again. Toast that stuff in butter, cook it in chicken broth, go to town.

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So, is this clean and healthy? Technically…yes…but on the real? I wouldn’t go to town on a whole bowl of this by yourself. The recipe feeds 6-8 people, and with over 1/2 stick of butter it could be a bit healthier. This is for those indulgent times where you need a little something to feel comforted. You know? Like a Monday.

Download the recipe for Toasted Spaghetti Kindonara!

 

House Marinara Sauce

Everyone has their own version of Marinara Sauce, right? Growing up I was relegated to eating that horrible red stuff that comes in the glass jar and flavored with simply…MEAT.

What kind of flavor is that anyway? Don’t I want a tomato sauce to taste like…you know…tomatoes? Not…meat? Or a sorry substitute for it?

So, don’t suffer with that sorry excuse for a real marinara sauce when you can whip up my House Marinara in just a few minutes and ingredients.

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What sets this Marinara apart from others? Well, apart from how amazing it tastes, there is a secret ingredient. Coconut Sugar.

Did I lose you?

Hear me out. Tomatoes are acidic and therefore you need something a bit sweeter to counteract that acidity. Some use carrots but my Nana always used white sugar. I use to think it was crazy until I realized she was onto something.

Coconut sugar is a great alternative to white sugar. This sugar is actually derived from the coconut palm tree. It was show to contain minerals such as Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits. What’s all that mean?

That it is a great alternative to the empty calories of white processed sugar.

AND…a little goes a long way. So, at the very least we are saving on calories, which we all love.

This marinara also contains a powerhouse of flavor that will compliment pasta but not overwhelm it. I also included a recipe for my favorite way to use this sauce up!

Oh…you want another added benefit? This sauce meets the dietary requirements of most people out there! It is vegan, vegetarian, paleo, clean, whole, dairy free, nut free, and gluten free!

Just go make it. You won’t regret it, I promise!

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House Marinara

1 large Onion, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Dried Organo
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Can (28 ounces) Whole Tomatoes, crushed.
1 Cup Pasta Water

Preparation

Heat oil in a large pan, add onion and garlic and cook until onions are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on Sugar, Oregano, Basil, Pepper Flakes, Salt, and Pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and Pasta Water. If you’re making this ahead of time just leave out the pasta water and then add it in when reheating.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, until thick and creamy.

Recipe makes enough for about a pound of pasta.

Print the Recipe for my House Marinara!

Print the Recipe for my Simple Weeknight Pasta!

 

Choco Energy Balls

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been on, what most call, a juice fast! I’m just drinking healthy juices for 60 days. Fun right?

I think so! Next week I’ll be posting some wonderful juice recipes. Today, however, is FAST FRIDAY!

Have I got a FAST recipe for you! In fact it took me longer to write this post than it did to make these! I always have these Choco Energy Balls on hand. I keep the fridge stocked with these puppies and they keep all week. Anytime anyone in the house needs something sweet and filling…they grab one or two of these bad boys. They also work really well for dessert…okay breakfast too.

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I’ve talked about the amazingness that is flaxseed…so we’re good there. The great thing about these energy balls is that they are packed with protein, which is useful post-workout to help your muscles rebuild and repair.

These also are a great grab and go snack if you find your blood sugar dipping throughout the day! Low in calories and sugar, these balls are the perfect snack to help you make it through your day…and they take about 10 minutes from start to finish!

 

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
3/4 Cup Raw Almonds
20 Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Tsp Ground Flaxseed
1 Tbsp Honey

Instructions:

Soak Pumpkin Seeds and Almonds in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, add seeds and almonds (including water), dates, cocoa, flaxseeds, and honey; process until it forms a firm dough, about 2 minutes.

Remove dough and form into bite size balls. I used a large Tbsp size ice cream scoop and rolled between moistened hands. If desired, roll in additional cocoa or coconut.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. These will last about 5 days in the fridge.

 

Apple Pie…For Breakfast

I love Apple Pie, but not any old Apple Pie. The truth? I hate tart things. Tart apples give me all of the grief. My cheeks invert, my tongue smacks, and my teeth hurt. I hate tart.

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I grew up in Michigan, and the apples were aplenty. In the south, it is much of the same. We always have apples at the ready, and they are a great boost to your diet.

Apples have a whole slew of good-for-you nutrients such as fiber, important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

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With all of that…why not eat an apple a day?

Today’s recipe is for a healthy apple bake. One of those meals that fills the house with the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon and you can almost feel the leaves starting to change, the summer air ushering in the first breath of fall. MMMHHHMMM!

The best thing? It is a vegan, vegetarian, plant based breakfast that will fit into any healthy lifestyle plan!

All you’ll need is a few apples, some seasonings, and a couple of optional ingredients and you will be all set to make this gorgeous dish that is as tasty as it is healthy. Take the time to find fresh, organic, and local ingredients if you can. It will take this bake to a whole ‘nother level.

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Strawberry Apple Bake

Ingredients:

1 Tbps Coconut Oil
2 Apples, cored and diced
1 cup Strawberries (while other berries can be used…get what’s in season)
1/4 cup Raisins
1 Tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1 Tsp Cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large ramekin baking dish with the Coconut Oil. To make this process as simple as possible, just soften the oil for a few seconds in the microwave. Just so that it is soft enough to be spreadable.

Chop the apples and add to the baking dish. Top with the strawberries, raisins, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Cover with a single layer of tinfoil, shiny side down, and bake for 45-50 minutes. You want your apples to be soft but not mushy. The strawberries will essentially dissolve into a sweet sauce that helps the raisins reconstitute a bit.

Let cool for 5 minutes. This will make two healthy size portions that each average about 200 calories! So…if you want…you could eat the whole thing!

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A Popcorn to Die For

Today, I am here to admit something. I have a problem. Popcorn.

I’ve been addicted to popcorn since childhood. I can remember my Nana making popcorn balls at Christmastime and sneaking them at night. This crunchy treat is my weakness.

I love the salty, buttery, and crunchiness each bite rewards me with.

Now I’m craving a bit bowl of popcorn. Great. Be right back.

Alright, now that I’ve satisfied that craving I get to get to the good stuff. The recipe. This friday I want to share my favorite way of eating popcorn and how I make it…a tad healthier…for those movie nights and late night snacks in the house.

What makes it ‘healthier’?

Well, I add flaxseed. I know…weird. Not really though. You can’t taste it but what it adds to the popcorn makes all the difference.

What is flaxseed? Flaxseed has been around since Babylon and some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. It has a lot of evidence to back of the health claims. I’ve consumed flaxseed as a part of my clean eating for awhile. I’ve seen personal improvements in my skin, hair, and it has helped with the weight loss by keeping me fuller longer. Now…all that could also be a myriad other things but I have noticed some great benefits after I started taking it…so there’s that.

Essentially flax seed is, well a seed, and just one ounce contains Omega-3’s, fiber, protein, vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and even a bit of copper. Everything our body benefits from having.

See…I told you this popcorn is healthy.

Alright, onto the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Popcorn
1 tsp Garlic Salt
1 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed

First things first, pour the oil and popcorn in a cold pan and place it over medium heat. (As you can tell from the pan…I made a few batches…FOR TESTING)

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Then cover that sucker up. And wait. Once you hear popping, shake the pan. Then shake it more. Shake it until the popping slows way down and pull it off the burner, shaking to keep the popcorn from burning.

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Sprinkle on the garlic salt. Shake.

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Sprinkle on the flaxseed. Shake.

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Then eat.

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It is a golden mix of gorgeous wonderful salty buttery HEALTHY popcorn. Just don’t eat too much. Popcorn is addicting. Ask me how I know.

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Asparagus and Shallot Frittata

I would like to subtitle this blog…”How to Make a Perfect Frittata”.

Okay, I don’t know if it is the perfect frittata but it is really…really…really good.

It includes some of our favorite ingredients in my kitchen. Mushrooms. Asparagus. Shallot. Garlic. Jalapeño. Eggs. Salt.

Why do we love these ingredients?

Well, it may be a bit obvious but they are all extremely healthy and are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that make our body’s run at peak performance.

Of course, you can really mix and match any veg that you’d like, I just threw together a nice collection of ingredients that I had on hand and that tasted just amazing.

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Let’s start here…what is a frittata. When I first explained the concept to some students once I said it was like an egg cake made in a skillet. We cook the veg, add the egg, cook the bottom of our mixture, then throw it under the broiler to cook the top and give it some puffiness, and enjoy.

That’s it. The entire recipe takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and can even be made the day before and served slightly warmed up for brunch. This recipe is small and makes only two servings, however, just double the recipe and you’ll have enough to feed your family. Pair it with some healthy apple cinnamon chia waffles with a sprinkling of flax seed and you’ll have a weekend brunch that will feed your family and keep them full.

First, let’s prep.

Slice a jalapeño in half and remove the membrane/seeds. It’ll be almost unbearable hot if you decide to leave them in, then dice.

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Next, slice your shiitake mushrooms (make sure you clean them!).

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Mince your garlic.

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Slice your shallots.

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Cut your asparagus into 1″ segments.

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Throw all of these into a pan with a touch of extra virgin olive oil, that’s been heated on medium.

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Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent.

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Add the asparagus.

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Cook for a further 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is tender and bright green. Next, crack your eggs, salt and pepper, whisk.

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Add to your skillet. Now don’t do anything for 3 minutes. Resist all urges to move the eggs around. Just say no. Once you see the edges start to set, throw it in the oven under the broiler.

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Let it sit there for 3 more minutes.

Now, pull it out of the oven. Your frittata should be golden brown, a bit puffy, and look super delish.

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Okay…last step…let it rest. Yup, just for 5 minutes. That’s it. Here’s the thing about frittata, they are meant to be eaten at room temp or lower. Me? Well I like ’em hot. I don’t eat food room temperature. It grosses me out.

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So, I serve myself after about 5 long long long minutes and enjoy!

You can serve these with a touch of homemade salsa, a sprinkling of parsley, or a few greens like a peppery arugula.

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Asparagus and Shallot Frittata

If you liked this recipe or any of the other recipes on the blog, take a moment to like this post, comment, and subscribe to get instant notifications anytime I upload a new recipe! Have a wonderful day y’all!