What’s For Snack Time Wednesday: Plum Jam (3 ingredients and sugar free!)

So…turns out jam making is a chore!  Woah Nellie, I am wiped out!  But, it was a great experience and I’m glad I did it.  I just made one batch in case it turned out awful.  But it didn’t!  It was just time consuming.  3+ hours of cooking on the stove, and my friend said to me, “I bet you could make it in the crockpot.”  Genius.  Has anyone ever tried that?  My biggest surprise about the whole thing was how much it cooked down.  I used 24 plums, and it filled a big pot.  By the time it was done, it probably made about 1 cup of jam (see that jar back there?).  I’m learning all kinds of lessons here.

Anyway, here is the recipe.

Plum Jam (original recipe found here)

  • 3-4 lb. ripe, Italian plums
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Wash the plums and cut them into small pieces (1/2 inch or so), removing the stone as you do it. Place them in a heavy pan and pour a little water in the bottom, no more that a half a cup.

Bring the plums to a boil, stirring often so that they don’t burn on the bottom. Add the cinnamon stick and the cloves.

Boil gently for 3 or more hours, stirring often.

Place the cooked plums in a ricer or sieve and stir to remove the skins and spices. Bring the jam/butter back to a boil until it has reduced as far as you want it and is very thick. Ladle the butter into clean, boiled, preserving jars or into freezer bags. Freeze or can, as you wish.

I just put mine in a jar and plan on eating it throughout the week.

Consensus:

Me:  It’s bitter since it doesn’t have any sugar, but it’s pretty good!

The Mr.:  Says it is TART, not bitter (excuse me).

The Uncle:  Says it reminds him of Christmas

The kiddos:  Ate it like it was normal jam.

What’s For Snacktime Wednesday: Whole Wheat Banana Bread – No Sugar!

Hello folks,

We are back from New York City!  It was a very long day of frantic cleaning/packing and then a long red-eye flight across the country, but the kids were champs and were so excited to see their toys that we had a big party at 2 am.  It’s been a whirlwind couple of days, and it’s about to get crazier!  We are heading to a wedding tomorrow, so more time on the road!  In the meantime, here’s a delicious snack I’ve been making with all my quickly ripening bananas.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread (Original Recipe from 100 days of Real Food)

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil (or applesauce)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.
  3. In a separate bowl mix mashed bananas with yogurt, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until blended. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake large loaf for 40 – 50 minutes or until it comes clean with a toothpick.

Happy Snacking!  Back from sunny San Diego next week!

Homemade Ice Cream…Hold the Ice and the Cream

I love me some ice cream on a hot summers day (and on a cold winter’s day…okay, basically any day).  It’s been so hot and humid here that my bananas get ripe in 24 hours.  Then we have to hurry and eat the whole bunch before they go bad.  Earlier this week I had to put 4 in the freezer, and tonight decided to try something I have heard a lot about…homemade ice cream from frozen bananas.  I found several recipes from thekitchn.com and decided to try Dark Chocolate Banana Ice Cream.  I was surprised it turned out so sweet when it has no sweetener in it.  It wasn’t as good as the real thing, but curbed my craving a bit.

Here it is:

Dark Chocolate Banana Ice Cream (originally from thekitchn.com)

  • 1 1/2 peeled medium bananas, sliced into coins and frozen until solid
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend bananas in food processor until they are the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Blend in cocoa powder, cream, and vanilla. Transfer to a freezer container and freeze until solid.

I didn’t have a food processor, so I used a blender.  It had a few banana chunks, but it did the job pretty well.  I also used whole milk since I didn’t have any cream, so it was really more of a milkshake than ice cream.

Consensus:

Me: I give it a 6.5 out of 10

The Mr.:  “Not bad”

The Wild One and Tornado:  Gobbled it up and asked for more.  They couldn’t even tell a difference!

Tomorrow I am trying another flavor.  Stay tuned!

Product Review – Freeze Dried Fruit

Do you ever feel like you are in a snack rut?  I always run into two problems:

1.  I bring something healthy like fruit and it makes a ginormous mess.

2.  I bring something carbohydrate-ish like crackers and it makes a ginormous mess.

I am pretty sick of having sticky boys/carseats/strollers/mommies and a car that looks like Hansel and Gretel live here.  Luck was on my side today because I found a hidden gem at Target (aka my favorite store).  Archer Farms Freeze Dried Fruit.

I picked up some strawberries and peaches.  The boys went nuts-o.  They loved them and scarfed them down.  And here is the best part.  ONE ingredient.  Strawberries.  Unfortunately, I assumed they would all be one ingredient and didn’t realize the peaches had added sugar until we got home, but that’s okay.  At least we didn’t completely strike out.  This really beats the car-snacking-blues.  I must warn you there is a teeny bit of strawberry powder residue on my fingers, but it is not like Cheetos residue.  Just a tad.

Anyway, check them out.  They have several flavors.  Kids love ’em, Granola Mom approved.  Happy snacking!!

 

Homemade Graham Crackers – No Sugar!

Once we cut back on the processed food, we cut out graham crackers.  😦 I think my kids were pretty sad ( and I was too).  It’s the standard toddler snack!  It has been a tricky adjustment, because crackers are such an easy and tasty snack.   But Nabisco Honey Grahams have partially hydrogenated soybean oil and that stuff is junk.  So, we’ve just gone without, until TODAY!  I tried making these from scratch, and it went pretty well.

Homemade Graham Crackers

(Originally Adapted from Megan at Food and Whine)

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed

Directions

1.  Mix the oil, honey, milk, molasses and vanilla.  In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, baking powder and flax.

2.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Slowly add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky.

3.  Roll out the dough as evenly as possible directly onto a greased baking sheet.  I just flipped mine over and used the back since it doesn’t have a lip.  Poke holes in the dough with a fork.

4.  Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

The Wild One helped me make it and he ate the dough and the crackers.  They taste pretty different than the store bought crackers, but they are still pretty good.  It’s nice to have an option of a non-sticky, non-juicy snack we can eat on the go.  Saturdays are starting to become my food prep day a little bit.  I make bread, muffins, granola, or whatever else to last us through the week.  This switch has been such a challenge, but we are slowly starting to get the hang of things.

No-processed-Food Challenge Update:  The challenge officially ended last night.  We had a small dinner party here last night, where we had some dessert, and a little bit of processed food in the main course.  I…felt…horrible after everyone left.  My stomach was upset, I was bloated, and I just felt…gross.  It’s so crazy to me!  I was eating like that on a daily basis and probably felt like that on a daily basis, not realizing that I felt horrible.  That was my normal.  I am a believer in this stuff.  It is really changing our lives a little bit at a time.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday – Vegetarian Edition

My very most favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the sweet potatoes.  They are almost good enough for me to hide them under my bed and eat them in the middle of the night.  I loooooove them.  I was so excited to find this recipe that doesn’t have brown sugar.  It fits in my food challenge, and honestly it tasted like it had brown sugar!

Sweet Potato Casserole

(originally adapted from 100 days of real food)

Potatoes

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Topping
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel, cube and boil sweet potatoes until tender. If you cut the cubes small enough (1 ½” to 2”) they shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Drain potatoes.
  3. Add the butter, vanilla, milk, egg and syrup to potatoes and mash/mix together by hand with a potato masher or fork or you can use an electric mixer.
  4. Transfer mashed potato mixture to a square casserole dish.
  5. Mix together the pecans and flour for the topping. Melt the butter and syrup together and stir into the pecan mixture.
  6. Evenly spread pecan topping on top of the potatoes in casserole dish.
  7. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until bubbly.

On the side we had:

Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan Cheese

  • 3-4 cups fresh green beans
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash greenbeans and break the ends off.
  3. Spread them out on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, toss them so it gets evenly coated.
  4. Place in oven for 10 minutes
  5. Remove and toss vegetables again.
  6. Cook for another 5 minutes.  Remove and sprinkle with parmesan cheese

Consensus:

The Mr.:  Loved it

Me:  I normally hate green beans, especially fresh, but these have a completely different flavor.  I honestly loved it.

Both Boys:  Could not have cared less, although I did find Tornado choking on one he found on the floor a few hours later.

What’s for Dessert Wednesday

Let’s get real for a second…I am DYING with this no sugar thing.  oh my goodness.  I didn’t realize I was this hooked on it, but I have always had a bit of a sweet tooth.

In an effort to help, my sister gave me her secret recipe for banana shakes, so I tried it out tonight.

Banana Shake

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1-2 cups of milk
  • peanut butter
  • pumpkin pie spice

Dump it in the blender and mix it up.  Pour it in a glass and voila!

Consensus:

It was refreshing, yes, but still not quite sweet enough for me.  I am going to do some experimenting and see if I can add some cocoa powder and honey or something… stay tuned.

 

Here’s what we’ve been eating lately:

Breakfastwhole wheat biscuits (in the shape of footballs!),  eggs with cheese, fruit

Snack:  pears and raisins

Lunch: tortillas with hummus, corn, plain yogurt with strawberries

DinnerLayered Vegetable Enchiladas, salad with blue cheese dressing

Note:  This was a little bit dry, so we put some green salsa on it and then it was AMAZING!  And so healthy!!