Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie: Two Ways

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In keeping with a running theme on this blog, here is another smoothie just in time for summer. Many of you are probably experiencing warm and even hot weather already. However, for those in my neck of the woods, let’s throw this recipe out there and hope we need a reason to cool down very soon!

Although smoothies are inherently simple, this is probably the most straightforward one I regularly make, and has just two ingredients: watermelon and frozen strawberries. There is no need for extra liquid as the watermelon already has plenty. If you add the watermelon to the blender first, it will quickly liquefy and have no problem taking care of the strawberries too.

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I occasionally add a squeeze of honey for a little extra sweetness, and you could add some plain or vanilla yogurt for added creaminess. However, generally I like this ultra-refreshing smoothie as is. If you would like to use fresh strawberries as well, just add some ice to the mix for a frozen consistency.

Another way this combo works is as a popsicle – just pour into molds and freeze for a few hours, preferably overnight. These go well with red toddler preschooler cheeks after a stint of running around at the park. Straightforward, totally refreshing, and you know exactly what went into them.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed watermelon
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • Squeeze or two of honey (optional)

Directions:

Combine ingredients together in blender until smooth. That is all!

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Notes:

  • You may need to add a splash or two of water if the mixture does not come together quickly. It may also be helpful to blend the watermelon first until liquefied, then add the frozen strawberries.
  • As with any smoothie, you can alter the amounts of berries and melon to suit your preferences.
  • This recipe yields enough for about two generous smoothies.

What are your favorite summer treats?

Meal Idea: Chopped Salad Bar

Chopped Salad Bar

A few years back, we frequently visited Halifax where my in-laws lived at the time. One of my favorite spots to visit was Pete’s Frootique (now known as Pete’s Fine Foods), a British-based grocer that specializes in all kinds of delicious treats.

Although the highlights were fresh produce and the chance to browse British chocolate imports, one of my favorite areas was the chopped salad bar, where you could make a meal out of an endless selection of greens, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds and any number of fun add-ins.

At the time, I started using this concept at home too. It was great to prepare a bunch of salad components in advance on a Sunday and use them for lunch at work throughout the week. I love salads, but they can get old pretty fast, and I discovered that I like greens like spinach much better chopped up finely and mixed more fully with other ingredients.

Recently we’ve been in a bit of a vegetable rut, and I’ve brought this back. Creating a little salad bar is fun because it breathes new life into what can sometimes be a dull side, and allows you to customize your salad with your favorite items. It doesn’t hurt that it is visually appealing and fun for kids, either. (The kiddo may not eat 90% of what is in the salad bar, but she is very intrigued by the concept. Small victories.)

The picture above shows basically what was available in my fridge and pantry at the time, but like other awesome bar-type meals (think tacos) the possibilities are pretty much endless. Other items I like to use include:

  • Diced avocado
  • Crumbled blue or feta cheese
  • Toasted nuts
  • Banana pepper slices
  • Fruits such as apple slices, grapes, berries and raisins
  • Diced bell peppers and cucumbers
  • Protein such as grilled chicken, salmon and beans
  • Cooked grains like quinoa or brown rice
  • Any leftovers from previous meals waiting to be used up

The salad bar would be fantastic for a barbeque or other event where you are hosting several people, as guests can customize their own salads and you can prepare most ingredients well in advance. I often include a basic vinaigrette on the side but you could include a few different dressing options for more of a crowd. (Toasted croutons out of leftover bread would also be a nice addition, and no one would complain about some crumbled bacon).

I couldn’t resist including this, either.

 How do you customize your salads?

Trail Mix Cookies

Trail Mix Cookies

Happy Mother’s Day to my fellow moms out there, and those who are like moms!  My day began with pancakes, crispy bacon, coffee and reading in bed with the kiddo.  Not a bad start in my opinion.

If you have a toddler or preschooler in your house, you have probably experienced the inevitable meal and snack ruts that are so easy to fall into.  If so, consider this version of Kula Mama’s Protein Cookies a Mom’s Day present.  😉

These cookies are pretty far removed from their chewy chocolate chip or oatmeal cousins, but they are their own kind of delicious.  Filled with nut butter, oats, two kinds of seeds and juicy raisins, they are like a solid version of trail mix, one of our favorite snacks around here. They make a nice toddler pre-schooler snack and with their denseness are fairly filling.  They are at once chewy and crunchy and just slightly sweet.  And as with all great cookie recipes, they are infinitely adaptable.

Some of my favorite add-ins are chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins, as indicated below. Making these with sweet spiced almond butter or some dried cherries would be yummy as well, and they would obviously be great with chocolate chips. And nuts, like chopped pecans. The power is yours.

This is also a great dump recipe and everything happens in one bowl. They come together very quickly.

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Trail Mix Cookies

Adapted from this Protein Cookies recipe from Kula Mama.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together the coconut oil and maple syrup until smooth, or at least until well-mixed (see Notes below).
  3. Add eggs, baking soda and vanilla and mix well. Next, add in the peanut butter and combine well. Stir in the oats, raisins and seeds.
  4. Place spoonfuls of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and flatten the balls of dough slightly with your hand (these do not spread out much, so it helps to shape them the way you would like them to look beforehand).
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until cookies are light brown and set.

Notes:

  • The original recipe instructs to mix the maple syrup and coconut oil together until smooth. Perhaps because my syrup lives in the refrigerator, I can never achieve this creamed consistency. The oil tends to clump for me, even when melted first. However, this does not make a difference to the consistency of the cookies once all the ingredients are mixed in, so do not worry if you notice small clumps of coconut oil.
  • These cookies are gluten-free if you use GF oats and dairy-free as well.
  • As the original recipe states, the yield of cookies will depend on what size you make them.   I make them relatively large and get about 20 or so out of one batch.

Staying in the Picture

Constructing sand castles!
Constructing sand castles!

Recently, my husband, daughter and I hopped on a plane, escaped our harsh Canadian winter and headed south for some much-needed sunshine. It was our first lengthy family vacation with our three-year-old, and we had a blast. Much of our time at the beach, the pool, theme parks and the like was captured on film, and I was reminded of Allison Tate’s viral article, The Mom Stays in the Picture.

When the article first came out back in 2012, I had just become a new mom, and I loved her message. I am relatively comfortable in pictures, but this has been hard-won. I have long rejected the ideas that our bodies have to conform to a standard ‘healthy’ size and that one’s level of attractiveness determines self-worth.

Even so, I am living in this society, and our current discourses dictate that you can tell what people eat and how much they move by the shape of their bodies, that thinner equals healthier and more fit (and that the larger you are, the more unhealthy you tend to be), and that to be attractive to others we need to be as thin, fit and youthful looking as possible.

We engage in so much comparison, and worry about how we are being perceived both in our own attractiveness and in our roles as mothers.   Maybe it is not our size per se we are worried about, but our hair that we can’t tame, or those fine lines creeping in around our eyes, or whatever aspect of our appearance we dislike that looms so large in our own minds. Even when we are aware of the unfairness of these influences, we are still affected by them.

Tate expresses the desire to be documented in her children’s lives. As she states in her article, there are already so many moments in our roles as mothers that will never be captured, and our kids do not see. It is definitely cliche, but everyday moments and milestones pass so quickly, whether it is an ordinary moment at home or a fun vacation filled with new experiences.  I want my daughter to see who held her up in the swimming pool, who splashed in the ocean with her at the beach, who helped her build sand castles, who was riding with her on the theme park carousel, and who helped her cut up her restaurant pancakes.

Taking a stroll a few years back.
Taking a stroll a few years back.

It is certainly true that often, Mom may not be in the picture because she is the one taking it! Whether we work outside the home, in it or both, we are usually the ones most involved in direct childcare tasks and are frequently the only ones around to capture a moment.

But you know the situation when it presents itself. Someone wants to take a photo and you have an uncomfortable feeling about your appearance, or are just tired and addled, and are tempted to hide yourself or opt out of the photo altogether. It is not uncommon to hear women emphatically state (mothers or not) that they hate photos of themselves and hate having them taken.

The last thing we need as mothers is another thing to feel guilty about. But it is worth considering that if we want our children to be comfortable in their own skin and let themselves be seen, we need to start with ourselves. As Tate states:

“Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?”

It might be difficult sometimes to stay in the picture, but we need to remind ourselves that we deserve to be there, and that we are camera-ready exactly as we are right now.