Whole 30 Approved Sweet Potato Toast

How would you like a Whole30 sweet potato toast or two?

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Hello Oak and Earthers. So nice to meet you! I’m Lyndi, and I work with the wonderful Shelby who invited me to stop by and say hi.

Hi.

Like any good guest, I thought it only proper I bring along a treat or two. It had to be extra special since this is an extra special site. Their photos and stories are inspiring, aren’t they? And… to be honest… a little bit intimidating. I follow their Instagram feed religiously and swoon over the gorgeous photos and the mood that is set. No way could I just bring you a bowl of eggs or a regular old cup of java.

No way. Today I wanted to do something extra special for you and for the Oak and Earth gals.

So, two things.

One, have you heard about the sweet potato toast craze? I’m seeing it all over the internet. Which really means Pinterest.

Two, did you know that the Oak and Earth gals are going #whole30 this month?

If you have been intrigued by either of these two areas, I can help with the first one. And I can actually help with the second one since these recipes for sweet potato toasts are both #whole30 compliant.

Please help me in deciding which one tastes better. I am at a loss. They are both over-the-top INSANELY DELICIOUS and I may or may not have taken bites back and forth trying to decide. Help, please?

sweet potato toast - sweet (c)nwafoodie

Sweet??

SWEET POTATO TOAST = SWEET STYLE

Makes 2 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 10 pistachios, coarsely crushed
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ banana
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Cut sweet potato ¼” thick. If you go with a large sweet potato, you will have enough slices for both this sweet version and the savory version.
  2. Bake sweet potato in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Toast the sweet potatoes in a toaster oven or toaster on next to highest level to brown the toast.
  4. Remove cardamom shell and crush seeds to a medium-fine consistency and set aside.sweet potato toast - cardamon crush
  5. Remove toast from oven and butter two slices with coconut oil.
  6. Spread almond butter over toast.
  7. Slice banana and place on almond butter.
  8. Sprinkle toast with cinnamon, cardamom, pistachios, and sea salt flakes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

sweet potato toast - savory (c)nwafoodie

Or Savory???

SWEET POTATO TOAST = SAVORY STYLE

Makes 2 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 avocado
  • lime juice
  • ½ garlic, minced
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of dried cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions:

  1. Cut sweet potato ¼” thick. If you go with a large sweet potato, you will have enough slices for both this sweet version and the savory version.
  2. Bake sweet potato in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Toast the sweet potatoes in a toaster oven or toaster on next to highest level to brown the toast.
  4. Remove the meat from the avocado and mash coarsely with a fork.
  5. Remove toast from oven and spread avocado mash.
  6. Lightly sprinkle lime juice and evenly spread out minced garlic over avocado.
  7. Sprinkle toast with cumin and cilantro.
  8. Drizzle olive oil over toast and top with crushed pepper and sea salt flakes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

So what do you think? Sweet or Savory? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Eat well, my friends.

Lyndi Fultz

 

Arkansas Women Blogger member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well inspired by life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. She doesn’t think you have to live in the big city to be a foodie. All you have to do is explore your own backyard. Light-hearted and approachable, nwafoodie is conversational with a healthy and simplistic approach to eating well. You can also find her on Instagram.

 

http://nwafoodie.com

 

DIY: Summer Popsicles

Hello, everyone! It’s Bethany here, and I can’t wait to dive into today’s blog post. Mostly because it has to do with two of my favorite things – summer and ice treats. Once again, Pinterest scrolling has inspired this week’s post (also a touch of pregnancy cravings). I’m not a huge dessert person, but I cannot resist icy treats! My mom used to pour lemonade into our ice trays and add a toothpick for frozen little popsicles. You know, the 90’s kid way. As a child, I just thought that was coolest thing. With my pregnancy, I have found myself thinking about those ice treats all the time!

Why not make my own?!

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If you know me, you know my love of DIY’s. What I love about the making your own popsicles is knowing exactly what’s going in them! I found so many on Pinterest that I wanted to try. To narrow it down, I ended up trying one sweet and a one sour. They turned out so deliciously, and they definitely have my family’s stamp of approval!

Let’s take a look.

Lemon-Lime Popsicles:

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I found a lot of lemonade/mojito popsicle recipes on Pinterest, but I kind of wanted to scale it back for this one and nod to my mom’s classic little lemonade pops. This one is so simple and refreshing.

What you’ll need:

  • Popsicle molds **Note: I got my popsicle molds from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I researched what type of molds had good reviews. I also wanted to get the flat classic shape, so I went with these. They can be found HERE.
  • Lemonade
  • One lime
  • Mint leaves if desired

What to do:

I made a small batch of lemonade, and filled my popsicle molds half way. See my notes above to find out more about where I found my popsicle molds. I cut thin slices of lime (you can add mint leaves here if desired) and placed them in the middle of the molds. I then poured the rest of my lemonade into the molds, up to the fill line. The popsicle mold instructions said to freeze for 8 hours. I didn’t feel like mine were fully frozen, so I just left them in over night. Once they are frozen, run warm water over the molds for about 30 seconds. Then they are ready to eat!

Roasted Berry Greek Yogurt Popsicles:

Now that I had fulfilled my sour, I wanted to try some sweet! I absolutely love Greek Yogurt and berries! Why not try a recipe that incorporates both into a yummy frozen treat? I was so excited when I found this recipe, and it did NOT disappoint. I would rave about these all day long if I could! I found this recipe through Pinterest, and I couldn’t be happier with how mine turned out!

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Before I link this recipe, I want to note a few beginners tips.  Although the recipe says 4 hours for freezing time, mine took over night to freeze. This might be because of the materials of my molds (plastic). Be sure to run warm water over your molds for 30 seconds before taking the popsicles out.

What you need:

  • Popsicle molds
  • 16 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 lemon

The recipe and cooking instructions are linked HERE . This recipe was created and written by the awesome food blogger, Sprinkled With Jules. You’ll have to check her out!

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I absolutely loved both of these popsicles, and I already have materials to make them again. They were a hit with my family, and a few gasps and heart eye emojis came out when everyone tried the berry ones! Please let me know if you make these recipes, or if you have any questions at all! You can keep up with me on Instagram @bethanympoteet, and the rest of us Oak and Earth gals on our social media links in the side bar or footer.

Happy, summer!

Bethany <3

 

Berry Delicious Summer Treats: Ps – They’re Gluten Free!

With temperatures reaching closer and closer to the triple digits, it is finally, truly, feeling like summer. And what goes better with summer than perfectly sun-ripened berries? Answer: nothing.

If you have Celiac Disease, or are gluten intolerant, baked goods can seem like a far-off dream, and gluten-free desserts can often leave something to be desired, but it doesn’t have to be that way! So grab a fork, put on a pot of coffee, and prepare to dig in to these berry delicious, gluten-free, summer treats!

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Mixed Berry Cobbler

This recipe is originally from Bake or Break, but it wasn’t originally gluten-free. However, it was delicious! I had picked a bunch of fresh blackberries from my garden and wanted to make a cobbler, but couldn’t find a gluten-free one to suit me. I modified this recipe by using gluten-free all purpose King Arthur flour, and a little bit of extra butter, because gluten-free flour tends to be crumbly and drier than regular varieties. It turned out wonderfully!

I used a combination of blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries, but you can make it with any combination that suits your fancy! (Next time I’m adding raspberries!)


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups assorted berries
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose, gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9”x 6” rectangular or 8” round baking dish.
  2. Place the berries in prepared pan. Drizzle with the lemon juice.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-blended. Mix in the dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Drop the dough evenly on top of berries.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.

Notes:

If you use any larger berries, such as strawberries, I recommend chopping them to blueberry-sized pieces.

For feeding a crowd, this recipe is easily doubled to be made in a 9”x 13” dish.

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Strawberry Shortcake

For some reason, I always feel like having strawberry shortcake on the 4th of July. The two are just inextricably linked to my mind. I guess it helps that strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit.

This recipe from King Arthur Flour was an easy way to satisfy my craving, and was already gluten-free, but unfortunately when I made it I didn’t happen to have any King Arthur Flour on hand! I couldn’t wait the 30 minutes it would have required to run to the store and back, so I substituted with Better Body gluten-free organic coconut flour! I have an obsession with all things coconut (any guesses what my next post is about?) so naturally I loved how this turned out; it complimented the strawberries perfectly! And coconut just seems summery, doesn’t it?

If you do use coconut flour, just remember to add a little coconut milk to balance the dryness I mentioned above.


Prep Time: 5 mins.

Bake Time: 10 mins. to 12 mins.

Yield: 8 to 10 shortcakes

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, OR Coconut Flour 
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to form a cohesive dough.
  4. Scoop the dough in 1 1/2-ounce balls onto the baking sheet. Use the palm of your hand to gently flatten each to about 2″ to 2 1/2″ diameter.
  5. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with cream, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar.
  6. Bake the shortcakes for 10 to 12 minutes, until they’re risen and baked all the way through; break one open to make sure.
  7. Remove the shortcakes from the oven, split, and top with berries and whipped cream. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Notes:

This took me quite a bit longer than expected; approximately 30-45 minutes.

Don’t forget to add extra liquid, such as coconut milk, to balance with the coconut flour.


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Yum! Homemade whipped cream is the best!


What are some of your favorite summer treats? We want to hear about them, as well as what you guys have been up to this summer.  We would love for you to be apart of this Oak & Earth community.

Join us on our social media for more of our adventures in the kitchen, in the community, abroad, and everywhere in between. For some great accessories for outfitting your kitchen, try Sweet Water Decor! (This is an affiliate link – meaning if you purchase through it, we get some ca$h money! Thanks!)

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Fresh from the garden…

As always, live healthy, and love hard.

-Shelby

 

Amazing Avocado Chicken Salad

Hey, reader! It’s Tera here this week on the blog. I was inspired recently by one of my favorite go-to recipe sites (Six Sister’s Stuff) when they shared their avocado chicken salad. Being a devoted lover of all things avocado, I of course had to try this recipe for myself…immediately. I’m all about delicious and healthy food that is simple to make, that my family loves to eat, and that I can feel good before and after eating it. Oh, and everything avocado. I’m all about that, too. I tried out the recipe, and with some of my own tweaks to it, I wanted to share my rendition of the avocado chicken salad because it’s so delicious and seriously takes about 5 minutes to whip up!

If you keep up with our page, you may have seen the news that I am expecting our second baby in September! For a little lifestyle update, baby and I are doing well, and I am already nearly halfway through my pregnancy! Aside from some mild discomfort, I have my energy back since my first trimester, and I’m feelin’ good! We recently found out that we are having another GIRL, and we are so excited! Little Norah is especially excited for baby sister to get here, and she’s been telling us from the beginning that it was indeed a sister.

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We’re pretty eager to meet her! Much like my first pregnancy, my appetite has increased a bunch these last couple of weeks, and I’ve been trying to keep healthy snacks around the house, along with some meals that are healthy and easy to prepare. Fortunately for me, my daughter (and husband) both love avocado, so anytime I make a batch of this stuff up, it’s gone in no time. What’s that you say? A healthy meal that my finicky toddler LOVES to eat? Obviously, you can count me in every time!

Let’s eat, shall we?

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I made this avocado chicken salad today for lunch–and seriously, I can’t get over how easy this is to prepare. The avocado is used in lieu of mayonnaise, so it makes for a super healthy and guilt free meal! (I apologize in advance for my poor photo quality; I used my iPhone to take these pictures)! Here’s what I did to tweak this original recipe to make it my own, and I think it turned out yummy!

Here’s what you need: *This makes about 4 servings

-2 cups of (cooked) shredded chicken (I usually use rotisserie because I love the flavor)*

-1 avocado, rinsed, pitted and scoop out the pulp

-3/4 cup diced up apple

-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

-1-1 1/2 tablespoon(s) of lime juice

-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

-salt and pepper, to taste

ps. Here’s a crazy fact about me: I do not like cilantro. I know. Crazy. The original recipe (linked above) has cilantro, and if you love it, it would be a great addition!

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Feta makes it betta! (And, croissants of course).

In a medium sized bowl, add the chicken, apples, walnuts and avocado, and using a fork, mash the ingredients all together until the avocado totally coats them. Then, add the garlic powder, salt and pepper, and lime juice and blend all of these into the salad. It tastes the best when you can refrigerate it for a while after making it, but if you’re ready to eat it right away, like for me today, it tastes yummy at room temperature too!

Would you believe me if I told you that was it?! Because, it is! So fresh, and delicious! My family loves eating this salad on a croissant bun, but you could also add a scoop of it to your favorite spring salad and get some extra fruits and greens in your meal! It tastes great either way. The salad should keep for a day or two in the fridge if you seal it air tight, and the added lime juice is meant for both flavor, and also to help the avocado keep its color for a while longer.

Voila! I will be making this chicken salad all spring/summer long. And in case you are doubting the toddler approval of this meal, here is proof that my 2 year old picky pants loves to eat it as much as I do!

What are some of your favorite avocado recipes? I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate even more avocado into my life, because you know, avocado. Happy weekend wishes to our readers! Follow our social media pages to get updates and stay in the loop with our blog happenings!

Peace, love, and avocado,

-Tera, xo

 

Ode to Oatmeal: Scottish Porridge

As I sit here writing this, I can’t believe its been four years since I lived in my beloved Scotland. Studying abroad in the beautiful city of Edinburgh was one of the best experiences of my life and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a taste for adventure. One thing I discovered while living in the windy city, was the joy of Scottish oatmeal, aka, porridge.

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Porridge is quite different from what we in the U.S. typically think of when we picture a bowl of oatmeal. Its thicker, creamier, and has been a staple in the Scots’ diets for centuries. Unlike rolled oats or steel cut oats, Scottish oats are ground via stone mills, giving it a very fine texture. If you’d like more information on the different types of oats available, check out this blog post.

Stateside, the best Scottish oatmeal I’ve found is from Bob’s Red Mill. I pick it up at my local co-op, Ozark Natural Foods for $3.39 (20 oz.), but here you will find monthly coupon offers from Bob’s Red Mill that are good at any retailer. These coupons cover a variety of products, and just FYI, they are a great source for gluten-free options!

So how do you make porridge? You can prepare it via stovetop or microwave and its very simple!

Stovetop:

Bring 3 cups water and 1/4 tsp. salt to a boil. Slowly stir in 1 cup Scottish Oatmeal, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Makes 4 hearty servings.

Microwave:

Combine 1/4 cup Scottish Oatmeal, 3/4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Stir well. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes. Makes 1 serving.

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I love porridge because its fast, filling, and delicious. There are also lots of ways to top it off! Personally, I like to go with the traditional pat of butter, spoonful of brown sugar, and dash of cream. For the health nut, I would suggest Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and honey. Other tasty options include (but are not limited to) granola, chia seeds, flaxseed, cardamom, agave nectar, milk, pistachios, cinnamon, and chopped dates!

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I hope you’ll try it, but if porridge just doesn’t do it for you, don’t rule Scottish oats out for your baking needs! For another authentic Scottish experience, try these Scottish Oatcakes.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading! Please feel free to comment below and share your own porridge/Scottish experiences with us, or even tell us what you’d like us to write about. We love hearing your feedback and interacting with our readers!

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Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland, taken by the lovely Becca Cahan

As always, live healthy and love hard!

-Shelby

 

15 Healthy Snack Food Alternatives

Greetings! It’s Bethany here on the blog today.

With New Years resolutions in full swing, I am sure many people are already struggling to keep one of the most common resolutions: eating healthy. I have decided to discuss the Achilles heel of any of my attempts to healthy eating —snacks. If I am exercising and eating healthy meals, why does a little snack matter? Snacks can  account for many of our calories throughout the day, and some days snack calories can surpass calories from our meals! In the past, I have tried cutting out snacks entirely. Not only is this not necessarily a healthy choice, but I failed miserably.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had decided to cut out anything that wasn’t extremely healthy. On day five, I could feel my will power fading. I went to bed pretty hungry, but I decided to “sleep it off”. The next morning, I woke up feeling full! What a miracle. Sleeping it off had worked! Except it totally hadn’t.

When I went to turn off my alarm, I had some peculiar observations – my hands were sticky with a powdery orange resin. Then I saw it. The empty family sized Cheeto bag I had purchased before my health plans. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed a single shameful Cheeto stuck to my back. Not only is this not a sanitary way to sleep, but I had no idea how this even happened!

After this incident, I officially believe three things:

1. Sleep eating is a real thing.

2. You need to listen to your body. Don’t completely deny yourself of enjoying your food.

3. There has to be a way to be healthy and not compromise taste.

Whether you’re a working individual or a stay-at-home parent, unhealthy options are all around us! In my office, there is a full candy dish within arm’s reach, a snack machine right outside my door, and a free birthday cake for [insert coworker name here]. Since the Cheeto incident of 2014, I realized that I don’t have the will power to cut out every wonderfully tasting snack food available to me.

What’s the good news?

I have compiled a list of snack foods that have helped alleviate my cravings without completely compromising my health goals. In other words, the snacks can stay! In fact, I have found that these snacks in particular energize me throughout the day.  If you find yourself overthinking what you’re eating all the time, step back and make sure enjoying your food!

This list is not to completely cut out food you enjoy, but to equip you with some healthier options if you so choose! Eating some healthier options throughout the week also leaves some room for special treats (ice cream or lattes with friends etc.)  You can always try substituting out one or two snacks for the healthier version and go from there.

I made sure to try all of these snacks myself to ensure that they are easy to access, obtainable for busy individuals like myself, and tasty.

We are starting off this list with three healthy snack recipes that I recently made for the first time. I am really excited to add these three recipes to my collection. Let’s take a look!

1. Chilled Greek Yogurt Dipped Fruit

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This snack is great for your sweet tooth cravings. I’m surprised I have never made this sweet treat before now, but I was in love as soon as I tasted it. I am excited about all of the options with this snack. You can choose your desired fruit as well as your desired Greek yogurt. I used what I had on hand this day: a granny smith green apple and light berry Greek yogurt. I would suggest apples with plain Greek yogurt and local honey!

For this recipe, I simply sliced my apples, dipped them in Greek yogurt, and I chilled them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Chilling the yogurt onto the fruit is optional, but I suggest this for added dimension in texture. It’s also a lot less messy this way, and makes them easier to eat on the go!

Why Greek Yogurt? Find out HERE.

2. Baked Zucchini Chips

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As a person who is constantly craving chips, zucchini chips are a great alternative to the ones I would normally turn to. I was really excited to try this recipe, and for good reason. They turned out to be DELICIOUS. Since the baking time for these chips is two hours, I prep these at night and store them in an air tight container for next day use. The recipe was really simple to follow, and I’m incredibly happy to have found a chip alternative that I really enjoy!

You can find this recipe HERE. (Check out her awesome food blog while you’re at it.)

I like zucchini cooked many ways. It’s a side item to my meals several times a week. My next zucchini venture is try zucchini fries! You also might enjoy hearing about what nutritional value zucchini provides HERE.

3. Poached Egg on Wheat Toast (with optional avocado spread)

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While this recipe is not as travel friendly as my other options, I couldn’t resist adding a snack that contains eggs. Poached eggs are a great addition to your health plan. I pair mine with wheat toast so that I can have the complementary textures of crispy and soft. I would also suggest smearing on some slices of fresh avocado!

Poaching eggs can be a little fickle without a poacher. I learned how to poach eggs on the internet, and they turn out pretty great! To learn how to poach an egg, check out these simple instructions by one of my favorite chefs HERE. If you’re a visual learner, I have  found that the method in this video works as well: HERE.

Sometimes eating healthier is easier when you understand why you should eat certain foods. To hear some of the benefits of poached eggs, check out this article HERE.

List Continued:

The rest of this list is a compilation of my favorite snacks that I have made in the past or keep on hand. There is a mix of sweet, savory, soft, and crunchy. This allows some variation and a full pallet experience:

4. Hummus with Celery or Carrots

5. Air Popped Popcorn

6. Whole Grain Cereal

7. Dark Chocolate (in moderation)

8. Whole Grain Crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese

9. Almonds

10. Dried Fruit

11. Sliced Cucumber  in Vinaigrette (soak overnight)

12. Edamame with Sea Salt

13. Kale Chips

14. Wheat Toast with Blueberries, and Light Cream Cheese (or Greek Yogurt)

15. Air Popped Popcorn with Dark Chocolate ChipI hope you enjoyed my list of healthy snack foods!

Please let us know if you try any of these recipes! I would love to see how you put your own personal preferences into these snack options. What are some of your favorites that didn’t make this list? I’m always looking to expand my repertoire. While I love these healthy options, I believe that food should be a great experience. So have fun with it, and don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet, and hashtag your blog experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We would love to hear from you!

Have an incredible week!

-Bethany

 

 

Dessert Apple Cider: A Crock-pot Recipe

Hello, readers! It’s Bethany here for this autumn drink recipe!

Autumn is here in all its glory. With bonfires, hayrides, camping, snuggling, pumpkin spice, boots and scarves, it is time for Hot Apple Cider to make its way to our blog! Not only does this amazing cider have a 5 minute prep time, but  it is made in the kitchen appliance that was brought down from the heavens–the crock-pot *enter hallelujah chorus*.

I love this recipe because it can be made for several different occasions. You can add the dessert toppings and serve this for a fall party, OR  you can choose to keep it as a simple and rustic cider in a mug. The dessert version makes for a fun party favorite, and the simplified version is great to curl up with after a long day. This recipe is based off of a recipe I found on a site that I visit quite often for slow cooker meals: Taste of Home. I highly recommend checking it out! I have tweaked it to my taste, style, and convenience Let’s get started!

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WHAT DO I NEED: 

  • 8 cups apple cider (I buy a gallon jug.)
  • 1/4 cup caramel syrup. **Note: The original recipe calls for 1 cup of caramel, and this was too sweet to me and a few of my taste testers . I prefer a spicier cider, so 1/4 cup is more than enough for me; however, I would suggest 1/2 cup if you like a sweet cider. 
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches) **Note: I found a small and inexpensive package of cinnamon sticks in the baking isle. 
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • Cheesecloth or non-bleached coffee filter
  • **Dessert Version: Garnish with  whipped cream, hot caramel ice cream topping and cinnamon sticks (3 inches)

DIRECTIONS (5 min prep time, 2-3 hour cook time) 

  1. In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine the apple cider, caramel syrup and lemon juice.  
  2. Place the cinnamon sticks and allspice on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Bring up the corners of the bag and tie with string to form a bag. I did not have a cheesecloth, but I have found that a non-bleached coffee filter does essentially the same thing for this recipe! If you find yourself without a cheesecloth, you can follow my lead. After putting these ingredients into my coffee filter, I tied it off like a bag, and left it to steep in my cider mixture for the rest of the cooking time (as seen below). 

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3. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours or until heated through. Discard spice bag. Pour cider into mugs; garnish with whipped cream, caramel topping and additional cinnamon sticks if desired. Yield: 12 servings (3/4 cup each).

MAKE YOUR DESSERT

It’s time to decide how you would like to serve it up! This cider can hold its own in a mug or it can be elevated to be a stunning fall dessert drink. If you are going to make it into a dessert drink, be sure to remember that if you put your whipped cream onto your piping hot drink, it might turn loose pretty quickly. I waited a few minutes for it to cool a bit.

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This cider has been a great hit and I can’t wait to share it at my next fall get together! Maybe I’ll have to whip up some  Pumpkin Spice Cakes that Tera blogged about last week to go with it! Be sure the keep up with all of our Oak & Earth adventures through social media, and tell us about your experience! You can follow my adventures on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet.

Happy fall y’all!

-Bethizzle Potizzle with the Apple Cizzle.

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Nothing Bundt Pumpkin: (The Yummiest) Pumpkin Spice Mini Bundt Cakes!

Hey y’all, it’s Tera! As I am typing this post out (briskly, during my little’s nap time), I can hear the rain trickling off of the trees outside and the cars slushing the water along the street. It’s cool enough outside that I have a cozy blanket wrapped around me, and I’m daydreaming about the fast approaching holidays (not wishing it to be here too soon)….FALL is in full swing! Fall is nostalgic for me. I think of warm, cozy things, the family gatherings…the weather gets cooler (amazing weather, I might add), but the season is so warm to me! This fall in particular will hold some special memories for my family! Our life has been so hectic and busy since moving back to Arkansas from Colorado, and our most recent endeavor has been a whirlwind of a time in the home purchasing world. I’m excited to say that there should be some fun and treasured news coming soon for this Pianalto Family. It’ll be fun to share with you more about that soon! Okay. Back to fall.

I LOVE all things fall; the hayrides, the football, the yummy scented candles (a serious obsession of mine, really, ask anyone), the scarves and boots, the parties, the weather, the magnificent, beautiful colors, the smells–usually accompanying the food, and the PUMPKIN. SPICE.-aka. the most commonly used phrase throughout the entire fall season [and we all know Starbucks started this pumpkin frenzy. Have you guys tried their “mini” size, by the way? It’s perfect. #PSL for life]. I have entirely boarded the crazy train for this one. I want my home to smell like pumpkin spice. want to smell like pumpkin spice. And I want to eat all things pumpkin spice.

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Side story: Just last night–no not joking, last night–us O&E girls spent upwards of an hour in the candle aisle at Target. We literally got kicked out of Target for closing time and essentially sat and sniffed candles the whole time. We could have spent another hour, unashamedly. Obsessed much? By the way, I got one called Market Roast and it is a perfect fall scent for your dwelling. End of side story.

Of course along with fall comes all of the fall themed recipes and delicious foods shaped like turkeys, but are actually cheese and salami. I love seeing how creative some people are with their food presentation. Let’s just call them Pinteresters, and I am not excluding myself from this. It’s just when it comes to those amazing platters of food and those perfectly sewn DIY baby rompers, some people got it, some people don’t got it. (hint: I tend to ‘don’t get it’)

Pinterest: sharing deceptively difficult and unattainable ideas since 2010. Still goin’ strong.

Let’s get back on track now…

One of my favorite recipes for pumpkin spice is one that is in an old family cook book of my husband’s fam. It’s hard to beat a homemade recipe, and really, really hard to beat this particular one! With all of the fun parties and gatherings that happen this time of year (and food is bound to happen at them), I wanted to try and put a twist on the recipe and up the ante a little with presentation and taste. Level: Pinterester.

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So, instead of just whipping this recipe up as a loaf or as muffins (which you can most certainly do), I baked them into mini bundts and came up with a cream cheese glaze to top them off! It makes you look like you know what you’re doing when it comes to pumpkin spice, without actually making your job any harder, and your friends will all want your recipe. Plus, make them even more festive like I did by adding a little tootsie roll “stem” to make pumpkin bundts! So cute. If you want your house to smell delicious, and your guests’ mouths to fall off from the goodness (or your own, no judgment here), look no further! You have found the spot. Read along!!

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Okay, here’s the yummy part:

For the Pumpkin Mini Bundts:

(you’ll need a mini bundt pan, or a doughnut pan for another fun idea!)

  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 C. cake flour (you can use all-purpose flour too. I like cake flour because it is so light and airy)
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 T. cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • 1 C. (optional) crushed pecans
  • 3/4 C. oil (or substitute all or half with applesauce for healthier option)
  • 1/2 C. water (I usually use a tad less so my mixture isn’t too runny. If you feel like your mixture is runnier than you want, add a tiny bit of flour)

Mix together your dry ingredients, and in a separate bowl mix your wet ingredients. (I add the chocolate chips and nuts very last) Slowly add your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix them well. (hint: Don’t over mix ingredients to allow the bread to rise well. Just mix all the dry into the wet and make sure it is well-combined) Grease your mini bundt pan (I use coconut oil), and spoon mixture into the cups, about 3/4 of the way full. Set your oven at 350 degrees and bake these for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The chocolate chips will come off onto toothpick, but as long as the bread part is clean, they’re ready! Let these cool before adding the glaze on  top.

For the Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 1/4-1/2 cup cream cheese, softened (depending on how much you want)
  • 2 T. half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • add a “pinch” of pumpkin spice for extra yummy flavor (to taste)

Make sure your cream cheese is super soft (nuke it in the microwave if it’s not), to prevent little cheese lumps. Combine these ingredients together and mix them up well. Once your mini bundts are cooled off, take a spoon and drizzle the glaze over the tops  of the cakes. YUM!

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These turned out super yummy and I love how cute they are in little bundt form. So festive and a creative way to bake them for your fall parties and get togethers with friends (plus, it’s the best pumpkin spice bread recipe there is)! They look like mini pumpkins to me, so if you want to indulge in your super festive side, add the little tootsie roll stems on top! This was a fun day of baking for me, and the mini bundt cakes got thumbs up all around.

I’m so excited to continue sharing more festive ideas and crafts over the next few months! Us gals at Oak and Earth would love to hear your favorite recipes for this time of year!! If you don’t already, follow my instagram handle @terapianalto to hear all of the blog updates and happenings. We have some wonderful things planned for the near future that we are so excited to share with you all. And as always, if you try a recipe, adventure, or craft, and love it, instagram with our hashtag #OakandEarthBlog so we can share your O&E experiences with you!

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Peace, Love, and Pumpkin Spice,

Tera Pianalto -xo

Homemade Baby Food Pouches

Hello, reader! It’s Tera again. This week, I thought I would share with you my experience with dabbling into the world of homemade baby food (in squeeze pouch form). The idea for this post was sparked by my sister in law, and fellow baby mama of a tot, as we visited about how we want to learn some good ways to incorporate healthy foods into our children’s diets, without having to pay Gerber (and other brands) the big bucks. Initially, $1.72 doesn’t sound too bad, but when I total up the cost of weekly pouches devoured, it nears the $30 mark…that’s a week’s worth! If I totaled that number for a whole month, it puts a dent into the grocery bill. But of course, toddlers tend to be a bit finicky, and this is no exception at our household. So getting them to try carrots, broccoli, spinach etcetera, is not an easy task. Having these pouches is so convenient for this very reason, and for many of you moms out there, it’s justifiable to spend the money to get your tots to eat veggies and love them (without them even realizing it)!

For me and anyone else out there who is on a budget, or who likes to find easy ways to save back some money each month, recreating these pouches at home was worth the try. I’ll admit, it was a bit intimidating and seemed like it would take forever and be more difficult than what it’s worth. And honestly, it was a bit of trial and error with a few of them. But, I am here to tell you what I did right (and wrong), and to tell you that it is actually quite easy!

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So first in my process, I needed pouches to store the food in. I went with this brand from WalMart:

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For the general process of filling and storing the food, this system works just fine, and for this starter kit, it was only $10. However, these pouches are not reusable, and a pack of 50 pouches is $15. Depending on how many pouches you go through a month, it may or may not be monetarily beneficial for you. They do make reusable pouches like these that I would probably choose to use for my future endeavors, just to be the most efficient.

For this post today, I’ll share with you four recipes that I tried and liked. The really nice thing about doing these at home, is you can be as creative as you want to with mixing different veggies and fruits. Most of the combos I did were some that I have bought before and knew Norah would like. But there are really endless possibilities of different combos!

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal

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For this breakfast recipe, there are a few simple steps before pureeing. Here are the ingredients I used (roughly measured out for you):

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

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You’ll want to cook your oatmeal first so that it is tender. I also steamed the blueberries for about 1 minute in the microwave to make them extra soft. Once these steps are done, add ingredients to a food processor or blender. If you steam blueberries, add some of the liquid steamed from them. Otherwise, you may need to add some water until you get your desired texture. When all the ingredients are blended and smooth, store fresh in these pouches, or freeze and use throughout the week/month! That’s the best part about making these yourself. I found it easiest to store in an ice cube tray, for what it’s worth, but find what works best for you! This recipe makes a yummy breakfast for your tots! Super easy, and toddler approved. You could also sneak some spinach in this recipe to add some healthy greens. Just make sure to steam the spinach beforehand!

Broccoli, Peas and Pear

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This next recipe is also fairly easy. My tip for this (and any recipes with leafy greens, or harder veggies), would be that if you find you can’t get a smooth pureed texture from a food processor, to stick with a blender. Sometimes the blades blend this stuff up better. I have also heard that the Ninja, Nutribullet, and Baby Bullet work wonders for this kind of stuff…next investment?

Ingredients for this:

  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 3/4 cup broccoli (or spinach)
  • 1 whole pear

The most time consuming part about this process is steaming the fruits and veggies. Though it only takes a matter of minutes, the more ripe you can get your produce, the faster. Make sure you steam all of these ingredients to make them soft. If you’re making a few different recipes like I did, steaming a lot of your ingredients together saves time and saves you a step for each one.

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After you steam the pears, broccoli and peas, and they are tender and soft, they are ready to be blended. If you have a food processor with a grater, it might be helpful to grate them before pureeing them, but it’s not necessary. This combo needed some added water to make it thinner. If you have water from steaming, try adding some of it! The steaming process brings a lot of vitamins and nutrients into the water, and adding that to your recipe gives your baby the most nutrients possible! When you have a smooth puree, store fresh in the pouches or freeze and save for later! Getting the system down? For this recipe you could also try spinach instead of broccoli, apple in place of a pear, or try adding a big spoonful of plain greek yogurt for added protein!

Avocado Banana

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This one is by far the easiest. There is no steaming involved, and takes no time to blend up!

You’ll just need:

  • 2 avocadoes
  • 2 bananas

Slice both and add the “meat” to your blender. You may need to add a little bit of water to thin it out. Once it’s done, store fresh or freeze for later. Since avocadoes brown quickly once they’ve been sliced, make sure you freeze if your little hasn’t eaten within 24 hours. Also try adding a pear or some greek yogurt for added protein and flavor!

Pumpkin Apple

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This recipe is also very easy. I didn’t have a sweet potato for this combo, so I used some canned pumpkin!

You just need:

  • 1 can of pumpkin ( or a steamed sweet potato)
  • 2 apples
  • (optional) 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Steam your apples beforehand until they are tender. And if you use sweet potato, it will need to be peeled and steamed too. Once this is done, add all of it to a food processor or blender and mix up! Also add some of the steam water until you get desired texture. Make sure it is well blended. Store fresh in pouches or freeze! This combo is great because you could easily mix it up. Use sweet potato or carrots (steam first) instead of pumpkin, or add some cooked oatmeal and cinnamon to make a healthy breakfast pouch! Just make sure if you use tougher veggies, that you blend them until smooth and a soft puree.

The process of making baby food seems much more intimidating than it really is! It was fun taste testing and mixing different combos. If you can dedicate 1-1.5 hours a week making and storing, your tot will have tons of fresh, healthy snacks that won’t break the bank! Try choosing a few ingredients to mix and match each week, and switch up ingredients the next. If you freeze and store, you’ll have all varieties to choose from. It also gives you a chance to ad-match and get weekly deals on different produce items so you can be cost efficient!

Here are a few more combos I’ll be trying next:

  • raspberry, banana, brown rice (greek yogurt)
  • blueberry, sweet potato, oats
  • avocado, fig, mango
  • green bean, pears, greek yogurt

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What are some of your combos and tips from your experience?! Keep up with Oak and Earth through my instagram handle @terapianalto for weekly updates and posts, and hashtag your Oak and Earth experiences #OakandEarthBlog !

xo-

Tera

Mama’s Mocktail Party

Hello, it’s Tera again! This week I thought I would create a post that used more of my creative side. The girls and I brainstormed together, and we came up with the idea for me to create a few “mocktail” recipes, and I am really excited to share them with you!

This was inspired by remembering back to my pregnant days. The girls and I would go out to dinner, and they would order their cocktails, and I, my water. They would give me free smells of their fruity concoctions and some extra pretzel bread, but really, I just wanted someone to bring me a drink that tasted as good as a mojito or margarita without the alcohol in it! Thus, the idea was spurred.

Being a mom to a young one, this post is written especially with the mama’s (and mama’s to be) in mind, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mom to enjoy these tasty treats. Sometimes we just need a ‘lil pick me up during the day, ya know? These drinks are perfect for summertime, and are surely as good as the real deal!

Let’s get to the fun part, shall we?

Naptime Blues Colada (for when you are berry ready for nap time, but baby is not.)

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First up, is my spin off a colada! I decided to forego the usual pineapple flavor, and created a combo of fruity and “coconutty” that I think is super refreshing and perfect for a late morning brunch with some friends! This drink is so yummy, you and your friends won’t miss the alcohol at all, not to mention the fact that it is super fast and easy to whip up!

To make this drink, you’ll need: (this makes about 2 servings, perfect for you and a friend, or multiply for larger groups, or seconds, or thirds, or…so on)

  • 1 Cup of blueberry pomegranate juice (I used Tropicana)
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • (about) ½ Cup of Cream of Coconut (sidenote: this is sweet, but you can add more or less depending on how coconutty you want it!)
  • 2 sliced strawberries
  • 2 drops of coconut extract

Start by mixing all ingredients into a blender, and add about a cup of ice (you can add more ice like we did to get a frozen drink). When you have mixed your desired texture, pour into some cute serving glasses, and garnish with a lime wedge! If you want to take it to the next level, sprinkle some local bee pollen on top as a pretty garnish and also fight those stubborn allergies at the same time! Refer back to Christiana’s post on bee pollen and all its perks here: Don’t BEE miserable during spring

We love how this “colada mocktail” turned out, and we hope you do too! If you wanted to add something to enjoy a real cocktail drink, we think some rum (to taste) would be a good addition!

Mama’s Front Porch Mojito

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This drink has got to be my new go-to summer refresher. It’s my take on a mojito, and I think it tastes just as good, or better! I was extra picky on this one, because mojitos are my favorite, and I really wanted the taste to remind me of one! I think we nailed it and it’s just the perfect summertime drink for parties, family picnics, or just sittin’ and sippin’ on the front porch.

For this drink you will need: (again, this will make a couple of servings, so multiply for desired number of servings)

  • 2 Cups of lemonade- tip: if you make a whole batch of lemonade, you can multiply other ingredients to match and make several more mojitos! I used this lemonade recipe, on a smaller scale: Pioneer Woman’s Lemonade
  • 1 Cup club soda
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 6 lime wedges, squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened lime juice
  • 2-3 sliced strawberries

You’ll have to begin this drink by making your lemonade. I chose a homemade recipe because I wanted to use as many fresh ingredients as I could, and I think the taste is so much better! A little humor and helpful tip: When making your own lemonade, it’s best to make sure you’re using sugar instead of salt. It definitely does not taste the same, and is beyond repair once its done.

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See above pic ^^ that’s salt, folks. Try to avoid this misstep, otherwise you’ll be set back a bit like we were, and there will be laughing at your expense. [Okay, Beth and Chris, it’s funny now] REMEMBER: tiny grains= salt, small grains (but not tiny)= sugar. Another helpful tip: use your teething babies to help you peel some lemon zest! *wink wink*

Re-routing back to the drink now. After your lemonade is done, the rest is pretty easy. Measure out the lemonade (remember, 2 cups for this serving size), and add the club soda, squeezed lime wedges, sweetened lime juice and fresh mint leaves (ours came straight from the garden, courtesy of Christiana). Top the serving dispenser with strawberry slices, and it’s ready to be served! (tip: it is helpful to let the mint leaves seep into the drink before serving, but not required) Pour into a glass, add some ice and garnish with a pretty strawberry slice! I will be making this drink all summer long. I just wish I had this recipe handy when I was pregnant! Perfect mojito mocktail that all the mama’s (and even the not-a-mama’s) will love.

(If you do want to include a little alcohol for a party with friends, try adding a little rum or some amaretto and grenadine to taste!)

Lazy Lavender Bedtime Tea

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This last drink isn’t really a mocktail, but we thought it would be fun to include a recipe that is perfect for when the kids are in bed, and you’re ready to kick back and relax for some “me” time, or maybe even enjoy a bubble bath for yourself. This is probably the most no-brainer recipe and has very few steps, so it requires little brainwork after yours has been fried from a day of a thousand “what’s that?”, “are we there yet?”, “mama, can I have this?” questions and the constant errand runs, cleaning, cooking, and working you’ve been doing!

For the Lazy Lavender, you’ll simply need:

  • Lavender honey tea bag (I used Yogi brand)
  • About 2 tablespoons (give or take a little) of Silk Coconut Almond Milk [unsweetened]
  • 1 teaspoon of agave (or fresh honey)
  • ½ tsp lemon zest, a small basil leaf, and orange slice for garnishing

Boil some water either over the stove top or in a microwave, add the tea bag and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Once the tea bag’s flavor is rich, add the milk (you can steam the milk or add it cold), the agave, lemon zest and basil. Garnish with a pretty orange slice, and enjoy a few quiet hours to yourself! I am usually not a big fan of hot tea, but I really liked the taste of this one, and could see myself drinking this for a little relaxation time!

These mocktail recipes are sure to be a big hit with your friends and family this summer, and they’re great pick-me-ups that will refresh you, rejuvenate you, and give you the energy for all of the fun summertime projects you’ve been meaning tackle all year! We hope you enjoy making them, and enjoy drinking them even more! Be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth weekly, as we have some really fun posts planned for the summer! Also keep up to date with me through my instagram feed @terapianalto, and hashtag your Oak and Earth pics  #OakandEarthblog!

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Live healthy, love hard, root deep! Cheers!

xo- Tera

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