Watermelon + Honey + Mint Soda

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Hello again, I’ve been off the radar for awhile because of a cute little fella that has been taking up all my time. The little fella I’m talking about weighs in at 6 pounds 15 ounces and is 19.5 inches long. He is the cutest of all cute babies. I’m a bit biased because he is my son ūüôā He is six weeks old and has been an absolute joy.¬† Now back to blogging….

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the summers. It is hot hot hot. Technically it isn’t summer yet, but once temps hit the 90s it’s officially summer by my standards.¬† To beat the heat I have single handedly been keeping the watermelon farmers in business. I can’t get enough of it. After day 7 of drinking straight watermelon juice, I decided it was time to fancy it up a bit.¬†Just how did I do this? By juicing¬†half a watermelon, adding soda water, honey and mint and wa-la… watermelon honey soda was born. After a while that plain watermelon juice¬†can start to feel pretty boring.¬†¬†Enjoyable but nothing too special. By adding just a bit of¬†honey, soda water and a touch of¬†mint it¬†transforms the watermelon juice¬†into the swankiest of swanky drinks.¬†Just having this drink in your hand¬†multiplies your cool factor by 100.¬† You’ll go from feeling normal to feeling like a rock star in one sip. I’m not sure how it does this, but it does. It may be the pretty pink hue, perfect balance of sweetness, the uber refreshing taste or a combo of all three. Whatever it is, it works.

This drink is fit for a crowd.¬† At your next summer get together, whip this up¬†for your guests to enjoy and¬†they¬†¬†will¬†experience¬†that¬†fancy and luxurious effect.¬†¬†I mean really,¬†who doesn’t want their cool factor to be multiplied by a 100 all while sipping on a pretty pink¬†drink on a warm summer night. I know I do!

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Burrata + Beet + Blood Orange Salad

IMG_3763Have you ever had Burrata cheese? If your answer is no, stop what you are doing and immediately go buy some. Burrata is the God of all cheeses. It looks like a ball of Mozzarella cheese, but when cut into it reveals itself as a distant (and way cooler) relaitive .¬†It oozes¬†out a rich, buttery and creamy filling. Buratta tastes amazing on it’s own, which is why it is important to keep the recipe simple when it involves this gem of a cheese. Today I tossed it with some arugula, roasted beets, blood orange and finished it off with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The spiciness of the arugula, sweetness of roasted beets, tartness of blood orange and overall amazingness of the burrata came together to create magic. Serious deliciousness.

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Sweet + Tart + Green Lemonade

IMG_3941As I mentioned in my last post I was in Disneyland last week with my family. There is one thing holding Disneyland back from actually being the happiest place on earth…a juice bar. Ok, I admit I may be the only person in the world who thinks a juice bar is the one thing holding Mickey Mouse’s motherland back from being the happiest place on earth, but I’m pretty sure there are many people who would enjoy this service. Eating a nutritionally balanced meal is hard work at Disneyland. There aren’t many options. Which makes sense…I don’t think there are many kids who think broccoli and beets belong in the happiest place on earth. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed some traditional Disneyland fare. Who can resist an ice cream bar shaped¬†like Mickey Mouse? But I was craving some liquid nourishment. ¬†Immediately upon my arrival home, I broke out my juicer and made a big batch of Green Lemonade. It was a great welcome home.

Hosting a ladies brunch? This would be delicious with a splash of champagne. A green juice mimosa…hmm maybe Mr. Walt should consider adding that to the Disneyland menu.

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Kale + Pesto + Pasta {gluten free}

IMG_3960Last week I was in the happiest place on earth with the happiest little boys on earth. My mom, sister, brother-in-law, two nephews and I hit up Disneyland for 3 days. Being 8 months preggo and walking around Disneyland may sound like a nightmare, but it was quite the opposite. Maybe it was the ridiculous large Minnie mouse ears I wore the entire time, the people watching, or the sheer joy in my nephew’s faces that were¬†a distraction from all the walking.¬†Whatever it was, we had the absolute best time. ¬†I will add that I strongly believe three days is the max any sane person can do Disneyland. At the end of day three we were all ready to lounge by a pool for a few days and give our feet a rest. Thankfully that was the plan and after snapping some photos with Mickey Mouse on our last day we loaded up the car and headed to Palm Springs for some R & R.

I am at my happiest when I am with my nephews. At their young age they have the ability to make me laugh harder and smile bigger than any adult. Quite the accomplishment for a 2 and 4 year old. I made my Kale Pesto Pasta with them in mind. They are pasta boys. Ask them what they want for dinner and there is a good chance they will say “pasta” with absolute¬†zero hesitation. I was planning on making this for them while we were in Palm Springs, but most of the days we stayed in the pool until we were called up for dinner. Let’s be honest…diving for sticks and practicing “shark bobs” (going under water) is way more exciting than cooking dinner ūüôā

Quinoa pasta is my gluten free pasta of choice. It has the best texture and taste. Use your favorite pasta in place of quinoa pasta for this recipe. Or forgo the pasta all together.

I love using Kale in my pesto for an extra nutrient boost. If you have spinach on hand you may sub it for the Kale. To make a vegan version, just swap the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast. This recipe is super versatile and can be used on fish, chicken, veggies, pizza, sandwiches…pretty much anything. The recipe makes 2/3 cup, which depending on how pesto-e you like your pasta, may be more than you need. I freeze the extra or use it throughout the week.

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Chocolate + Coconut + Smoothie

IMG_3932Thursdays are like the middle child of weekdays. The¬†anticipation¬†of Friday and hump¬†day Wednesday steal the spotlight¬†causing¬†it to¬†get lost in the mix. ¬†This morning I woke up wanting to acknowledge the excitement of Thursdays. It is one day away from Friday, which means one day closer to the weekend. So what¬†better way to honor a Thursday than to start the day off with a chocolate coconut¬†shake. Special right? It’s not everyday I kickoff the morning with a smoothie that tastes like dessert. It is highly likely it will become my new Thursday morning¬†trend. Although the smoothie tastes like a sweet treat, it is packed full of essential nutrients to start your day off right. Avocado, hemp seeds, banana, almond milk, raw honey…major benefits!

I should add that I love middle children. I don’t think they get lost in the mix, it’s just an old theory. My middle sister is my BFF. If you are a middle child you should feel pretty excited about being compared to a Thursday. Thursdays are awesome, you¬†are awesome and this smoothie is awesome!

Feel free to skip the honey and just use dates to sweeten the chocolate shake. I prefer to use the honey for a nutrient boost, especially the allergy fighting properties it offers. Allergies are killer this time of year in Texas. Another option is to use only honey as a sweetener and skip the dates. Up to you.

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Banana Pancakes

IMG_3820Jack Johnson gets full credit for these Banana Pancakes. Not because he was here in my kitchen cooking¬†with me¬†(how awesome would that be), but because hearing one verse of his song on Pandora inspired this recipe. I’m sure I’m not the first person this has happened too. Now that I think of it, Jack Johnson should get some sort of royalty on Banana Pancakes.

I love bananas, but want my pancakes to taste like pancakes not like a full fledged banana. For that reason, I love this little gem of a pancake recipe. It has a very subtle banana flavor. Just enough to get the point across that they are made with bananas.

I used 2% milk in the recipe. Use any milk you have on hand or your favorite nondairy milk. Just be sure the nondairy milk is unsweetened.

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Oat + Berry Bars {gluten free}

IMG_3811A¬†dear friend of mine recently introduced me to the raspberry oat bars at Whole Foods. OMG are they good. The Whole Food bakers have mastered the perfect ratio of crust to berries to oat topping. I bought one thinking it would last a couple of days…wrong. It was gone before I made it out of the parking lot. These bars only have one flaw- they are super heavy. I am pretty sure my biceps got a workout by lifting it up to my mouth. After tasting them I knew I had to make a lighter version. One that wouldn’t leave me feeling weighted down. After a few recipe tweaks I think I have found the perfect replacement.¬†There is still a place in my life for the occasional Whole Foods Berry Oat Bar, but¬†I will be keeping a stash of my version in¬†the freezer for when I am having a craving.

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Peanut Butter + Jelly Smoothie

IMG_3768There are two reasons this peanut butter and jelly smoothie is a current favorite of mine.

#1- It transports me straight back to my elementary school days. Remember the good old days when all that mattered was how well you played in the tether ball game at recess? Yea, those days were the best. So were the PB&J sandwiches my mom would pack in my lunch every so often. She mastered the perfect ratio of peanut butter and jelly, which is essential for a good sandwich. Too much jelly results in it squirting out the sides of the bread causing a big sticky mess. No good. So, thanks mom for keeping my lunches mess free.
#2- It looks like cupid’s heart exploded in my cup. Valentine’s Day doesn’t top my list of favorite holidays, but I am a sucker for the pink hearts and lovey dovey decor. It screams happiness and makes you instantly feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Who doesn’t love that? A bright pink smoothie goes perfectly with the love that is in the air this week.

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Peppermint + Ginger + Lemon Tea

IMG_3746Flu season is in full swing and it isn’t pretty. I know this first hand because¬†earlier this¬†week it hit me like a wrecking ball. Let me tell you, Miley Cyrus is right…wrecking balls hurt. ¬†One minute I was fine the next I was hugging¬†the toilet. Ok, enough details. You don’t need to picture me embracing the porcelain god. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water, but knew I needed liquids with electrolytes and needed to steer clear of straight water, because of the hard minerals.¬†I had my husband pick up some watermelon juice from my favorite juice bar on his way home from work. He transformed into a nurse and fed me drops of watermelon juice every 5 minutes the rest of the night.¬†¬†I felt and looked like a little baby bird.

Thankfully, the bug only lasted 24 hours and by the next morning I was able to keep my stomach in check. I went straight to the kitchen and made one of my immune boosting teas to help bring my system back up to speed. I made a Peppermint Ginger Lemon Tea. The list of health benefits goes on and on (and on and on). If I listed all of them this blog post would go on for days, which is a big no-no in the blogging world. Below is a run down of the health benefits of peppermint, ginger and lemon.

Please drink this tea to help ward off a stomach bug, flu, cold or just because it taste good. At one point during my 24 hour battle with the bug I am pretty sure I asked to die. It sounds dramatic, but the thought definitely went through my mind. I don’t want any one else to go through it.

 

Peppermint– aids in digestions, cold and flu remedy, protects against cancer, helps skin conditions, aids in IBS.

Ginger– cold and flu treatment, helps with nausea, migraine relief, heartburn relief, reduces menstrual cycle cramps.

Lemon– high in vitamin C, helps soothe sore throats, immune boosting, fights bacteria.

 

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Lemon + Basil + Pasta

IMG_3736Today is a big day. Possibly one of the most exciting Sundays of the entire year. When I tell you why it’s a big day you may judge me a little, but I am ok with that. Today marks the day¬†¬†The Bachelor wedding¬†is on TV.¬†It’s a big day not only because¬†The Bachelor is one of my favorite shows, but also because¬†Catherine and Sean¬†are one¬†of the few bachelor couples that’s actually made it down the aisle. Most of the couples break-up when reality sets in and¬†their dates consist of dinner and a movie rather than fantasy suites on private islands. ¬†¬†See what I mean, big day. By the way, I¬†am fully aware¬†I’m one of the few who still watches the Bachelor. In college my friends and I would gather every Monday night to watch the trainwrecks women compete for those valuable red roses. As time went on¬†my friends¬†slowly started to drop out of the viewing party until I was left with just myself. I can’t tear myself away from the show. It is one of my guilty pleasures and I am sticking to it.

In celebration of the big show tonight I had Taber choose what we had for dinner. Staying true to his pasta loving self, he chose one of his favorite dishes, Lemon Basil Pasta. I usually serve this pasta in the summer, but since today felt like summer here in Austin, I went ahead and made it. I am glad I did and so is he.

Disclaimer- Taber does not share my love of The Bachelor, so he isn’t looking forward to the show tonight, but he is happy he gets a good meal out of it.

In the recipe I posted 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice for the creamy pasta sauce. I originally used four tablespoons which Taber thought was a bit on the strong side. I would suggest starting with three and adding more if you prefer. Personally, I like a stronger lemony taste. Adding some prosciutto would taste great in this pasta. Cook the prosciutto with a bit of olive oil and garlic in a small sauté pan and add it to the pasta after adding the lemon sauce.

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