Friday, June 29, 2012

Basil Pesto Pizza with White Chicken

Basil pesto is great for a whole host of different recipes and it's a fabulous way to use garden fresh basil! 

Basil Pesto Recipe
2 packed cups fresh basil
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts (toasted)
2/3 cup olive oil
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup Pecorino Parmesan cheese

Makes about 1 cup of pesto.

To start off, you'll want to wash your basil leaves & dry them either with a towel or in a salad spinner. Try not to bruise the leaves, if you can help it. :) 

Mince your garlic & throughly mix with nuts & cheese.

Add your basil. It smells so good! Then add olive oil until mixture is the right consistency. Salt & pepper to taste.

Scoop the pesto mixture into muffin tins, freeze the balls, pop them out and then store in a Tubberware in the freezer until you're ready to use them.

The pesto will last for up to a year in the freezer, but it's such a great addition to recipes that I don't think it will last that long for me! Too good!

My Aunt Rhonda came over this week to help make food for the weekend. This classy, southern lady is amazing in the kitchen! She can make leftovers out of anything... and make you think it's a gourmet meal - I have no idea how she does it!  I'd have to say she's one of the best, if not the best cook I know.

This is just one of the beautiful dishes she whipped up. To make: tomato slices with mozzarella cheese layered on a pretty platter, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar & olive oil. Crack a little black pepper on there with a shake of salt, garnish with some fresh basil and you have a delicious addition to your summer supper!

Supper on Thursday night was roast chicken, cheesy potato casserole, dill angel eggs, tomato/cucumber/onion salad, and chocolate zucchini bread. What did you have?

{This picture was taken just before 1am - I was so tired and this shot was the best I could do}

Yesterday evening was great fun! A dear friend came over after supper and we starting another batch of tomato sauce. Canning spaghetti sauce is pretty easy, but it is a long process. I just learned how this past Tuesday and it is now a new favorite. The evening went by fast as everyone was having such a good time! But, of course, sleep is a must so everyone else went to bed while Mary & I finished up the 12th quart well after midnight. We watched Forks Over Knives between batches to help keep us awake :) Anyone else seen this film? What did you think?

So, now onto the pizza! Basil pesto pizza with white chicken... ahh! The title of this dish sounds too good to eat!

For the dough I wanted a really, really good whole wheat pizza crust recipe. If you're not careful, whole wheat flour pizza crusts can turn out really heavy. When I eat pizza - I want to eat pizza - not lead! This recipe from The Healthy Foodie looks so good and I had plans to make it, but didn't get started early enough. For today, I went off this recipe as my base (click here). You may have to add a little more flour to get the right dough consistency. . .  just play with it.

After making your dough the rest is a cinch! Spread with the basil pesto for sauce (if you don't have homemade you can buy it), add some cubed white chicken, grate with a little fresh Parmesan and ta-da! You have a gourmet meal!

To give your crust that nice toasty look, beat together 1 egg and spread around the edges with a pastry brush just before the last few minutes of cooking. Crack some fresh garlic salt for a unique taste.

Words? There aren't any. Beyond goodness :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

100+ lbs of Tomatoes

Phew! What a day!!! It all started bright and early, just before 6am, with a green drink and devotions. It was so beautiful outside this morning -  I couldn't resist smiling :)

Monday I took a break from running as I was babying my leg. I think I pulled something on Saturday... Not going to tell you what I was doing- in the interest of your health, of course! It was totally avoidable so don't ask :P If I tell you what I was doing you just might die from laughter.

Instead of running today, I did low impact squats & lunges with light weights and then stretched. I am planning to hit the trail running tomorrow!


Mary & I helped some friends put up approx. 100 lbs of tomatoes today. Every last tomato was fresh from the garden! Take a look and try not to get bitten by the green bug :)

It doesn't get better than this! Now, imagine a field with dozens of tomato plants just like this one. 

The work stations. 

Fresh herbs. Ahh, the aroma was heavenly...

Lots and lots of garlic :-)

So beautiful.

Leftover tomato juice that I decided to sample. Yum! So nutritious

We took a mid-day break for lunch. From scratch tomato soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

After making 28 quarts of spaghetti sauce - Mary & I headed home. By this time it was late afternoon and when we walked in the door there was a pan of fresh cookies just sitting there all alone on the counter.

Being the girlie girls that we are, I must admit that we love cookies! A few minutes after digging in - it hit me that maybe these aren't for us. "uh, Mary...". She must have been reading my mind, because in her typical think the best of everyone way, she replied. "Who else would they be for!" Ha! Love her!!! Thankfully, the person who made them was more than happy for us to indulge ourselves :-) They were pretty healthy, too! Flour-less & vegan carob chips to boot. Thanks Kris - you're the best!!!


Eating fresh, healthy foods is something I want to be apart of me; not something I idolize, but still it needs its proper place.

Do you ever feel confused about where the balance is with food?

On the one hand, you have the people who just plain don't care about what they eat and seem to accept hospitals & needles as a way of life; on the other hand, you have people who think conventional doctors & nurses are in some kind of conspiracy to keep us all sick. It t can be overwhelming to sort through all the hype! What's true & what isn't?

My family has experienced life-changing benefits from both sides of the health world. I'm thankful for the advancements of modern medicine, very thankful. But, I'm also thankful for food and the healing effects found in them.

I guess, in short, this is what this blog is about... an attempt to find truth and the proper balance with healthy eating.

We got home from helping our friends about 4:30 and starting our own batch of spaghetti sauce at 6:30, finishing up around 9:30pm.

Here's a taste of the before & after:

And, finally- this was the result (+ one more jar)!

Well... if I taste one more tomato I'm convinced I'll turn in to one! I've throughly enjoyed the day and as a result I'm throughly exhaustified (is that a word?) :)))

More recipes coming up! Anyone else putting up fresh food for the winter months?

Monday, June 25, 2012

"If You Get a Chance, Take It"

I recently read a motivational quote that included this phrase, and it's kept coming to mind ever since. How many opportunities does life present us with, but we fail to see them & snatch them up because they look like hard work and are dressed in overalls (to quote Thomas Edison)?

What inspires me about this little saying is how it implies there's something over the hill, something we haven't seen yet. There's adventure to be had, but you won't know until you put everything you have into running up that gigantic hill to find out! It might take everything you have to get there. It might not. You'll never know until you climb that mountain in your life. Just some thoughts! Let me know what you're thinking :)

{In the truck with my sister Mary on the way to the blueberry farm}

We went blueberry picking over the weekend and ended up picking a little over 20 pounds in about 30 minutes!!! Of course, there were eight people in our group which was a huge help! 

Nothing compares :)

Walking through the patch with Joey. He kept asking me to put the blueberries I picked in his bucket. So cute!

Before going blueberry picking Saturday morning, I helped Josh with an organizational project. You know your little brother is soon going to out weigh you when you ask to have his old t-shirts because he's almost too big for them. Hami-downs from my 14 year old brother, hmmm... never thought I'd live to see the day :)

Saturday afternoon my sisters & I spent a bit of work time together. The kind of project where brain road blocks come up and you don't have a clue what else to do but you have got to figure it out or else... :P

Sunday was church, recharging for the projected week, and visiting with friends from Georgia :) I made these muffins for breakfast (so yummy!) to go along side our boiled eggs. These tasted different from the ones I made last week-- 10x better. I think it's the fresh fruit :)

I really liked this recipe because it was so easy to exchange ingredients for what I had on hand. I made my own "buttermilk" with almond milk & Bragg's apple cider vinegar, and I used honey granules instead of honey. We have got to get some more honey, btw very soon! You don't realize how dependent you are upon things like this until you run low!!!

This picture is from a recent visit to Whole Foods. More chia seeds for green smoothies :-)

And, today? Lots of things have happened, but really? Today I am just grateful. Life could be so different, so very different from how it is right now but it's not- due to God's grace & mercy. I'm grateful to be alive & well. Grateful for the blessings and the hardships, as difficult as that is to say. Grateful for the gift of life and all of my wonderful friends and family that make it so rich.  What are you grateful for?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blueberry Pie Summer Oats

It's Friday which means it's time to pick a winner for the GNU Fiber & Flavor bar giveaway! Are you ready?! And the winner is... Jeanna from Short & Sweet! Congrats! I can vouch for the tastiness :0) Hope you enjoy!

Lots of fun summer meals are being dished up around here! Wednesday's dinner was chicken salad (with paprika for garnish), spinach leaves & strawberries. 

And, more sandwiches :-) I'm loving this time of year. Fresh garden produce is so refreshing! 

Yesterday I broke my workout up, scattering it throughout the day. A 2 3/4 mile run in the morning, stretching session outside in the afternoon while listening to a classical piano piece from the Romantic period I'm learning :), and then, late afternoon I ran another 2 1/2 miles. So hot! It was fun to spread everything out, but I'd have to say I prefer the check it off, get it done method so much more.

Last night's dinner was easy-peasy, and seasonal too! Since I have 5 brothers (translation: 5 craving stomachs that in some strange way resemble bottomless pits :), it seems we're always trying out new ways to feed the fam more for less. Good quality (& quantity!) for less cost. Pasta & sauce are great ways to make this happen! In light of that, garden spaghetti was on the menu :)

So, here's our recipe: 

Garden Spaghetti (adapted from The Two Sister's Cookbook)

whole grain pasta, 1 lb
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
4 minced garlic cloves
4 zucchini, quartered & sliced
3 carrots, diced
1 (16 oz) pkg mushrooms, thickly sliced
8 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups waters
1/4 cup fresh basil or 1 T dry basil
1 T oregano
1 T thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

Cook pasta. Saute onions, peppers and garlic in oil until tender. Add the zucchini, carrots, and mushroom and saute for 5-10 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add the sauces, water and spices. Cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta. If you want a thicker sauce, add some steamed broccoli and cauliflower. (Serves 6-8)

I threw together overnight oats before bed last night with freshly picked blueberries so it would be ready for this morning's breakfast. I'd never tired this recipe before, but everyone loved the result! It was good & sweet. If I can doctor up a recipe to where certain people in our family (who will remain nameless :) will just give something new a try and like it than I can start "playing" with their taste buds and easing them into a less sweet version, or an even healthier version of the healthy. 

Insanity is on the list today, and yes- it will probably make me really sore! What I love best about these workouts is that you only use your body weight and you don't need any equipment, so it's customized to your own strength level. I ran 5.25 miles yesterday so I'm taking a break today from the running :) 

So, any plans for the weekend? We're going to dinner tonight at the B.'s and than tomorrow evening another girlfriend is graduating! Also, hoping to go blueberry picking (there's a local patch just 5 minutes down the road!) and do some freezing :) Speaking of which since it's the weekend and if you have a little free time you can watch "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" here for free! I haven't seen it yet myself so I'm excited!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Naturally Sweetened Banana Oat Whole Wheat Muffins

Monday night was a hearty meal! I love meals like this. Period the end :) Beef stew was served as the main dish, a mixed salad & these delightful, naturally sweetened muffins on the side.

I based the recipe off one from In the Little Red House and then made do with what ingredients were in the house. That's the great thing about muffins, you can be flexible!

I wish I could remember what I did to these because they turned out superb!

These tomatoes are from my mom's garden! Aren't they beautiful? I took this picture early one morning this week. The weather was picture perfect :)

Tuesday's lunch was an egg sandwich on hoped for freshly baked wheat bread, but it didn't finish in time so I had to use store bought bread. I put a little sauerkraut on top of the egg mixture & sprinkled with dill. Serve with a bright red apple for a splash of color :)

I think I'm in love with sauerkraut :P I didn't think I'd like it until I had a little taste and now it's just a matter of gathering together a good pile of cabbage and salt before I attempt to give it a try myself! I'm planning to try this fermentation recipe. Here's a link to an article that explains some reasons why you may want to consider getting into it yourself :)

I threw together this quicky for lunch today-- another cucumber sandwich! This time, I added some spinach and a side of cantaloupe.

My sister Kristen made these delicious little wraps! They're not what you would expect which is why I like them. To replicate, just fry a collard leaf in a little bit of coconut oil to soften. Then pile high with some fresh guacamole (made w/ lemon juice), hard boiled eggs, chopped red onion & tomato, alfalfa sprouts, a little dressing for added moisture, sprinkle with sea salt, and anything else you want!

Today's a rest day for me. Yeah-hoo! Yesterday was weight lifting mixed with lots of squats & lunges :) What are your current workouts looking like?

Remember, the GNU Fiber & Flavor giveaway runs till Friday so you can still sign-up if you haven't already! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Portabella Mushroom Sandwich

I think this week can officially be called "sandwich week" for me. I've had one nearly everyday on homemade whole wheat bread making things fast & fresh!

I'm the kind of person that can be pretty satisfied eating the same things over & over (if I like them) and this becomes super obvious when it comes time to share my food intake! Picture time encourages me to be creative :) 

This sandwich was from Wednesday's lunch. Portabella mushrooms are a great meat substitute if you're wanting to go a little lighter & stay with veggies. 

Thursday was an active rest day for me. No running, but I did move & stretch :)

And, this was an egg, onion, mushroom, garlic "stir-fry" that I threw together for yesterday's lunch. It was good! 

I made a trip to Sanford this morning (about an hour's drive each way) to photo document a job for work. Typically, what I do for the company involves special projects to support sales and the like so this part was really fun, getting to see the end product & how beautiful it looks! My dad owns the company, so I do whatever he says :-) I love working with him & wouldn't trade it for anything! If you're looking to be inspired and transform the look of your backyard you may want to check out our website:

In the meantime, this was life in the backseat for Joey :)

Lunch today was a treat! Fayetteville recently got it's own Mellow Mushroom restaurant and I had a lunch date with a couple of girlfriends :) Pizza & salad is a great combo for a Friday, wouldn't you say?

I ran 3.5 miles before leaving the house this morning. Weekend wise, we'll probably have friends over to play games & hang out... should be a blast! I also have homework due for next week... ouch-- I really need to spend a good hunk of time on that :)

{Produce day! Garden fresh fruit is my favorite :) }

I also have some organizational goals that I'm hoping to knock out on Saturday. Six days shall you work-- give it your best! How about you, any plans for the weekend? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Berry Berry Healthy Fro-Yo

This was so much fun to make! I couldn't find a recipe that was to my liking so I played around and this is what I came up with :) To make frozen yogurt all you really need are two ingredients-- yogurt & sugar. I tired to keep it simple & healthy, but still toss some dynamic flavor in there too :) Tell me what you think?

{In the making shot}
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup honey granules
4 cups plain yogurt
2 cups frozen mixed berries, unsweetened
1 teaspoon vanilla (this makes it!)

Puree everything together. It's really that simple! Follow your ice cream maker's instructions or just plain ole stick it in the freezer for about 2-4 hours, stirring 1/2 way through. Dish it out to your loved ones and enjoy!

This recipe received a 5 star around here! It was a delicious treat and I can't wait to experiment with other flavors! Chocolate & raspberry sounds like a good combo...

My workout this morning was fun too :-) I ran 4 miles in under 40 minutes before breakfast and did my stretching routine in the evening which helped me loosen up. That's it. How 'bout you?

What recipes have you experimented with of late? I love hearing about what others are learning & creating so be sure to share!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Recent Recipes & A Magic Bullet Blender Winner Announcement (!)

Happy Tuesday! I'm so excited to announce a winner for the Magic Bullet Blender today!!! I'm sure all of you who entered are getting slightly antsy so I won't delay a bit longer. I used a random name selector to pick a winner, and with that...

magic bullet giveaway

The winner for this little beauty is...


Congratulations! We're all happy for you, and maybe slightly jealous :P Please shoot me an e-mail at with your mailing address and I will ship it to you ASAP.

Thanks to everyone who participated! You guys are the ones that make it fun :0)


Well, folks. Real life has hit me! I'm not on vacation anymore and that means my to-do list better show some progress. Yesterday was a good day I'm happy to report! Class in the morning with various chores & responsibilities in the afternoon. I was able to squeeze in a 2 mile run about mid-afternoon which I was grateful for :) It's going to take me a day or two to get back in the grove though after last week :P

{Wild blackberries picked from the woods behind our house}

Sunday night was a mix of leftovers for supper. That seems to work best- whatever is left from the previous week makes an easy supper after church. Most of us are either tired from a long week or recharging for the next and don't feel like doing much in the kitchen. It's a great way to clean out the refrigerator :-) 

So anyone looking for a healthy option to refuel after your workout? You might want to give blackberries a try! They're a great natural source of antioxidants, just like blueberries. Living in this world is hard on the body so feeding it wholesome food is important! And, since it's a berry- it's rich in vitamin C too which is crucial for health and disease prevention.

But, these particular berries? They're from the wild! So delicious & nutritious! They had a distinct tart taste leading me to believe they needed to sit out in the sun a bit longer to sweet'n up. Most anything fresh is great tasting, in my opinion, particularly fruit. I have a confirmed sweet tooth and try to satisfy it with healthy choices. Doesn't always work, but I try :P

These kale chips were a quickie that my sister Allie made last night. Delish! So simple. All you need is some coconut oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Here's a recipe link if you're interested in directions :-)

This morning I was up & at it bright and early. My little student and I were in for a day full of adventure! Life is full of ways to grow and learn if we just open our eyes! Even though I'm technically "the teacher", I so often feel like a student myself. (I hope I never get to the place where I stop learning, what a desperate, awful fate that would be!) Joey's a good reminder for me. Just when I think I might be getting pretty good at this-- a challenge (read: opportunity) comes up that shows me I really don't know much of anything, keeping me humble :P

Before heading out the door for work, I made mom carrot juice (a typically morning pleasure!). 16oz serving of beautiful carrot juice! I think it looks so pretty, especially when served in a mason jar! I am so grateful for the nutritional benefits of carrots, really. I think it's amazing how God can use natural foods to bring healing. I've seen it firsthand and it's mind-blowing. Ultimately, God is our healer, Jehovah Rapha, but He does use secondary means -- such as wholesome food. This fascinates me!

And, for breakfast? A new recipe! Mocha chocolate green smoothie :) Check it out!

8 oz water
1 frozen banana
1/2 to 1 teaspoon instant coffee (you can do more if you like:)
1 to 2 heaping handfuls spinach
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (plant-based)
1 teaspoon chia seeds (be sure to soak them-- they won't do you any good if you don't :P)

Mix it all up and enjoy! The key to making a good green smoothie is blending the water & greens together until the greens are completely infiltrated. It can take while, depending on how powerful your blender is, so be patient with it. Then add the rest of your ingredients, saving your ice for last.

{Today's lunch with a side of cantaloupe-- A veggie sandwich on freshly baked honey whole wheat.}

Workout wise, I ran 1.5 miles before breakfast & did a short 20 min full-body workout. I had planned to go 3 miles, but ran out of time and had to cut it short. There's always tomorrow :) What have your workouts looked like recently?

Up next! Healthy frozen yogurt recipe to ward off the heat!!!