35 Days of Favorites: Snacks!

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

I love snacking.

My girls love snacking.

I am always looking for new treats to try, and we came across some awesome snacks this past winter….all in the form of balls:

Raw Cookie Dough Bites

Raw Coconut Macaroons (which I make into balls)

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

All of these snacks are gluten-free and sugar-free.

They are super fast and easy to make, and I love it when the girls pull up stools and help me in the kitchen.


These treats are so delicious, you should try them all!

What’s your favorite snack?

34 Days of Favorites: New Recipe

Last week, I shared my favorite breakfast, lunch, and supper, but before we leave the topic of eating behind, I need to share one more food favorite with you: my new favorite recipe of the year.

Oh, my goodness, I am completely obsessed. With salad.

I guess I said earlier that I wasn’t interested in any obsessions. But when it’s salad, I think you can just give’er. Can a person eat too much salad??

Especially when it’s completely healthy, completely easy to make in 5 minutes.

If you get invited to my house this summer, you will eat this. I make it whenever we have company, and I make it whenever we don’t have company.

It’s just that good.

It’s called Spring Salad with Strawberry Lemon Basil Dressing, and I would love to share the recipe with you here, but that might not be fair to the original source, so you can go check it out here if you’re interested. Or just come to my house, and I’ll make it for you.;)

Alright, my dear blog readers, last chance to talk about food on my blog, because after this, we move on to other favorites! Any fantastic recipes you’d like to share? Really. Please share. (This comes from the girl who looooves recipe cards, and recipe books, and recipe blogs, and recipe magazines… I could look at them for hours!

If you want to read more about 34 Days of Favorites, click here.

34 Days of Favorites: Supper

I have always been a recipe girl.

I learned at a young age that if I followed the recipe on the page very closely, it wasn’t too hard to make food taste good. I never strayed very far from what was written on the page.

But marrying Ben started to change all that.

His family never uses a recipe. They just figure things out as they go along. Ben cooks the same way, and there are some things that just taste better when he makes it. He knows how to give flavour to things.

When I developed some food allergies, I had trouble finding recipes to fit my specific needs. I had to become more flexible and able to adapt recipes to fit my needs. I started to learn how much fun it could be to ditch the recipe and just wing it.

Then last year, for my birthday dinner at a restaurant, I had the best pasta dish ever. Although I could never make it taste the same at home, I sure tried.

The result is a pasta dish we make regularly around here. It is my favorite thing to make and inhale. Er…I mean, politely eat in small, delicate bites.

We tried to come up with a name for it together as a family, and for awhile we called it “The Amazing Adventures of Pete Pepper and Billy Broccoli”, but that’s kind of a long name, and it fizzled out. Now we just call it “That Pasta Dish”.

So, without any measurements (because now we’re all casual about that kind of thing around here!), I share with you my very own pasta recipe:

Pasta (we use rice noodles, because we do that gluten-free thing around here)

Steamed broccoli and peppers

Grilled Chicken, cut into small pieces

Olive Oil

Salt, Basil, Garlic

Cook your pasta, steam your veggies, cut up your grilled chicken, and mix it all together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, salt, basil, and garlic. Pour over the pasta mixture and mix it all up.

Um, and that’s it. Very, very simple. Not really all that impressive, but I love it and could eat it forever.


Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite food to eat for supper? Do you use recipes or fly by the seat of your pants? (I guess that’s not a very kitchen-appropriate expression, but you know what I mean!)



34 Days of Favorites: Lunch

This week is going to be very food-themed – yesterday we covered breakfast, and today we’re doing lunch!

If I had my choice, I would probably eat the same thing for lunch every single day: a baked potato slathered in butter, and a bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup.

Oh, yum. I get hungry for it right now, just thinking about it.

I started making soup about a year ago. I mean, I made soup before that, but last summer was when I started going crazy with the soup.

There are a few reasons for this: Soup is delicious, you can pack in a ton of vegetables, and if you make a large batch, it is such a fast, convenient lunch option to grab out of the fridge.

There are a ton of fantastic soup recipes out there, but I’ve figured out exactly what I like for myself. I’ve never taken the time to measure anything when I’m cooking soup – I think it’s fun to keep dumping vegetables in the pot based on color. If the mixture is looking a little too green, I add some more carrots. If it’s looking kinda boring, I add a few more red and yellow peppers.

So without specific measurements, here is my favorite soup:

Vegetable Soup:

I start with a large pot of homemade chicken broth.

Then I add: carrots, broccoli, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, until it looks like a balanced combination of everything.

I use whatever kind of seasonings I’m in the mood for that day, usual salt, garlic powder, basil and parsley.

I bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for 1/2 an hour.

I add frozen peas, and cook for another 10 minutes.

Here are a few soup tricks to keep in mind:

1) My mom taught me to put soup into jars while it’s boiling hot, and leaving them on the counter until the lids snap. It’s the short-cut canning version. The soup only stays good if you keep it in the fridge, but it’s far simpler than the usual canning method. I don’t know how long it lasts in the fridge, because we eat it too fast to worry about that, anyway.

2) I usually keep my cooked chicken separate from the soup, so I can use it for other meals and recipes as well. I add it to my soup if I want a heartier meal, or leave it as just a veggie soup if I want a bit of a snack. (I eat a lot of soup, for breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack. It works any time of day!)

3) This soup tastes BY FAR the yummiest if you mix in 1/2 a mashed avocado. I realize that sounds weird. The first time I read about doing that, I thought it sounded gross. I love avocados in guacamole. But in soup? Ew. Until I tried it. It adds a wonderful flavor, healthy fat, and a creamy texture to a bowl of soup. I rarely eat a bowl of veggie soup without avocado in it.

And there’s not much to say about the baked potato part of my lunch. Except that I think potatoes are delicious with a crispy outside. Baked straight on the rack.

I’ve been told potatoes are not healthy. But I’ve also heard they’re so full of potassium, we should eat two a day. Since I love potatoes so much, I’ll go with the potassium theory!

And butter. Some people stay away from it, but I’ve done a lot of reading, and from what I gather, butter is a healthy fat. Margarine is actually bad for you. It has to do with all your omega 3’s and 6’s and stuff like that.

For me, the biggest thing is getting healthy fats and proteins to balance out all those vegetables, and adding some good calories to my diet. But I’m not a health expert. And there are a lot of conflicting opinions out there. (I get some of my health info from these blogs: The Wellness Warrior, Wellness Mama, and The Perfect Health Diet)

Alright, your turn! What do you like to eat for lunch?

34 Days of Favorites: Breakfast

Hello, everyone!

After a weekend at the lake which included much boating, tubing, and relaxing, as well as tornadoes and no electricity, I am finally back to share today’s favorite with you! I truly love this favorite, so I would say it’s worth the wait!

So. Breakfast.

Have you ever heard of something you really wanted to try, and you knew it would make your life much better, and you’d feel great if you could just make it a regular habit….but you just never got around to doing it?

That is my life, with green smoothies.

I kept reading about them everywhere. I tried making one a few times, but I just didn’t really like them.

This disappointed me, because I knew lots of vegetables, first thing in the morning, would be a fantastic thing.

Finally, I stumbled upon a recipe for a green smoothie which didn’t sound too awful.

I stalked up on the ingredients so I could make it a few days in a row.

And then I made it happen.

The first morning, my main thought was, “Well, I don’t hate it.” Progress.

The second morning, I really, actually kinda like it.

The third morning, I couldn’t wait to drink it.

And we’ve been living happily ever after, my green smoothies and I.

I cannot describe how wonderful my insides feel when I drink this. I feel fresh and clean. I feel energetic and ready for the day.

But it does not sustain me for hours and hours. It’s vegetables. Your body digests vegetables in 15 minutes, while meat or grains take three hours. So obviously, a green smoothie will not satisfy you for the same length of time as steak and potatoes.

So I make sure to add some healthy fats to the smoothie to stretch it out as long as possible, and usually have a mid-morning snack.

Curious what’s in it? Here’s the recipe:

Green Smoothie

1/2 of a long cucumber, peeled

1/2 a red or yellow pepper

1/2 a tomato

2 handfuls of greens (I use romaine lettuce or spinach)

1/2 an avocado

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

Blend it all up, and drink it all up.:)

(This will make 2 large glasses, which means you can somehow drink it all yourself,  share with a loved one who needs more veggies, or put it in the fridge for a snack a little later. It doesn’t keep for very long, though.)


That’s a lot of vegetables. Even if you changed nothing about the way you ate for the rest of the day, you would already probably be doubling the amount of veggies you eat in a day. How could you not feel better?!

After I had been drinking this smoothie for about a month or two, my chiropractor wanted to test the level of antioxidants in my body. He had no idea what I was eating, and was quite shocked with my test results. According to his charts, I was in the highest possible category for healthy levels of antioxidants. Apparently only 1% of the world’s population eats enough fruit and vegetables to get into that category.

My chiropractor asked what in the world I was eating, and when I told him, he said to keep with it.;) (My dad says he doesn’t believe those tests anyway, so take it however you wish, but I’ve decided to go with it, because I’ve had my share of negative test results – why not celebrate a good one!)

There you have it. In a culture that eats dessert for breakfast, and rides the rollercoaster of sugar rushes up and down the usual breakfast carbs of pancakes, french toast, muffins, and sugar cereal, I personally think a green smoothie is an excellent idea! It most definitely can’t hurt!

Alright, everyone! Time for you all to give me your healthy breakfast suggestions! (You can’t lure me away from my green smoothies, but I still have a family to feed, so I eagerly await your suggestions!)

And it’s the same deal as usual: Anyone who comments during my “34 Days of Favorites” will be entered in a draw for a free gift. Here’s the list of favorites, in case you missed any!

Sleep Habits

Body Brushing


New Camera

New Friends

Serious Music

Happy Music

Apple Cider Vinegar



TV Show



Favorite Things Right Now 2011

Okay, everybody! It’s my birthday today, so it’s time for my birthday tradition (started by my mom when I was a little kid) of listing all of my favorite things right now, as I enter a new year of my life. (To see last year’s favorites, go here.)

Surprisingly, it was more difficult to make my list this year than it was last year, for a few reasons: 1) Last year, I had never publicly made a list, so it was easy to think of things no one knew about. 2) I also made a small list half way through this last year, and I should not have done that! Save it all for the birthday, and make it easier for myself!!

However, I have managed to think of some significant things that I’ve added to my life that have provided increasing joy, and so now I will share them with you:

1. Favorite Snack: Macadamia Nuts

I loooooooove these nuts. Too bad they cost an arm and a leg. And a foot. The rest of the family loves them, too, so we kind of have to ration them around here or else our entire grocery budget would go into macadamia nuts. But maybe no one would mind…. (Bulk Barn is the cheapest place to buy macadamia nuts, in case you’re wondering.)

2. Favorite Place to Shop: Value Village!

While writing this post last summer, I did some long, hard thinking about my shopping habits. I used to shop at Value Village occasionally, but stopped because my pride likes to go to the mall better. I like to buy new stuff. But since I wanted to make some changes in my purchasing choices, I gave Value Village a try again last fall, and I was hooked. Here are the reasons why I love shopping at there:

  • Our clothing budget goes so much farther.
  • It’s a one-stop-shop! I can buy clothes for the girls, Ben, or myself, as well as pick up some summer reading and home decorating items, all at one place!
  • I love the thrill of the hunt. The Mennonite in me just loves to find a great deal. I think I feel like I’m actually working for my purchase when I hunt through a pile of junk to find a real treasure.
  • It is very environmentally friendly to shop there. There is so much stuff in the world already, so it’s great to reuse what we can. And anytime new clothes are made, they “off-gas” chemicals for a long time after. When I shop at Value Village, some children I don’t know have already run around in those clothes during the off-gassing stage so that it doesn’t have to happen while my children are wearing them. (I know that some people would think that’s ridiculous, but I still think it’s a nice perk.)
  • It is usually cheaper to buy slightly used, brand name, good quality stuff at Value Village than it is to buy cheap quality, non-brand name stuff brand new.

And to make things ever better, you can now become a member, and get coupons! This makes my world extremely happy – coupons that make cheap clothes cheaper. Then I have more money to spend on the stuff that we can’t get a deal on.

If we lived in civilization, I might really love garage sales, but as long as we live at camp, the garage sales are very far away, and only on certain days. Value Village is always waiting there for me.

3. Favorite Date Night: A movie, followed by sweet potato fries at Montana’s if we’re in the city, and if we’re at home, an episode of Heartland or Everwood, and fresh veggies with hummus.

I know that I wrote about the wonders of Heartland in last year’s “Favorite Things” post, but I have never introduced you to Everwood, our first TV love. Four seasons of pure wonderfulness. (Well, things get a little sketch in Season 3, but they make up for it in Season 4.)


It is just such a great show. Season 3 arrived at Costco recently, so that’s what Ben and I are watching these days. One episode a week – Ben is very disciplined about stretching out the enjoyment, rather than watching all of the episodes right away.

I used to feel really guilty about the fact that I enjoy movies and stuff so much, but I read recently that people who love to write and read usually love watching movies, as well. It’s all about a good story. I don’t have much use for TV, though, with the exception of Everwood and Heartland.

4. Favorite New Movie: I would have to say Tangled. It was the best movie I saw this last year, which is a bit weird since it’s Anika’s favorite too, so I feel a little juvenile in that choice. But my goodness. I left the movie theatre with that happy, satisfied feeling you get when the story ended perfectly, and the whole thing was just pure pleasure.


5. Favorite Way to Exercise: Pilates!


I tried pilates years ago, and thought it was boring. And silly – “rolling like a ball”??? Please. What kind of exercising is that?

But my physiotherapist (whom I love so much that I’ll keep going to see her for appointments even once I’m healed, just so I can spend time with her) told me to start doing pilates to help with my pelvic/hip problems, and I am so, so glad I listened to her. It has made the hugest difference in my life. Last year, yoga was my favorite, but pilates has surpassed that. Now I alternate yoga and pilates. I’m working my way up to resistance training….It’s my goal to have that on my list of favorites for next year!

6. Favorite New Recipe: Mediterranean Bean Salad

I eat embarrassing amounts of this stuff – for lunch, supper, snack….I haven’t had it for breakfast yet, though! But it’s a good one. And very easy, fast and cold for in summer.

1 1/3 cups barley, cooked (I leave this out, or add cooked millet)
1 1/3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1 1/3 cups white beans, cooked
3 bell peppers of various colors (orange, yellow, red), chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together barley, garbanzo beans, white beans and veggies. In a seperate bowl, mix basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

Add dressing to bean mixture. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*I found this recipe somewhere on the internet, but can’t remember where.

7. Favorite New Book: The Happiness Project

But you probably already knew that, because I wrote about it here.

8. Favorite New Blog: Oh She Glows

Interestingly enough, this is a food blog that contains strictly vegan recipes. I would never have thought that would excite me, because I am not vegan, but I can eat a surprising amount of things posted there, the pictures are beautiful, and the food is healthy! Of course I have a bunch of old favorite blogs, but this one stands out in my mind as being the new one that I look forward to reading the most right now.

And what is it with me and recipes?? Ben and I had 15 luxurious minutes in a book store on Saturday, and out of all the wonderful choices available to me there, I spent the entire time looking at recipe books! Of foods that I can’t even eat!!

9. Favorite Resolution That I Kept This Last Year: Do everything I can to improve my health.

Last spring, I sat down and made a list of everything I could possibly do to improve all of the little things causing discomfort and sickness in my life. I decided that I was tired of dealing with it all, and I was going to take charge.

I found health care professionals in every area that was necessary, made some very big changes in my life, and went to hundreds of appointments. I met some amazing people who have helped me in ways that I never imagined were possible. Here’s my list:

  • Jamie Angus @ Donna Sarna Physiotherapy for pelvic/hip problems
  • Dr. Marianne Hembroff @ The Nature Doctors for general health/Candida stuff
  • Dr. Steven Lawson for TMJ
  • Dr. Gupta @ Fort Garry Foot Clinic for orthodics
  • Renee @ Fort Garry Foot Clinc and Raffaela Pingitore @ Body Serene Massage Therapy for massages

That list looks really insane, but some of these doctors I only needed to see a few times.

I am so glad I did it. I feel really different than I did at this time a year ago, and I am very, very thankful.

Now I need to come up with some resolutions for this next year…

And that’s the list for this year of my life! And now I’m curious…

What are your favorite things right now? I need some ideas of new things to try for this next year…


I ate a whole can of chickpeas yesterday. I realize that’s kind of going overboard on the chickpeas, but I just couldn’t stop myself. I’ve found out about this new snack idea, and it’s just so good, and it’s healthy, so why not eat to my heart’s content, right?

Here’s how you make it: Open a can of chickpeas, rinse them really well, and mix them with a little oil and whatever kind of seasoning you like. Spread them on a cookie sheet and roast them at 350 for 30-45 minutes, stirring them around a bit in between. You know they’re done when they’re crunchy!

The rest of the family’s reaction to crunchy chickpea snack: Ben says, “I’d eat that.” Anika’s not really excited about them, but whenever Kaylia sees me eating them, she comes running over, saying, “Bite, bite!”