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

 

Tea Pots and Deep Talks: The Power of Female Fellowship

In the midst of an absolutely crazy month, I sat on the floor and poured myself some tea. Before you get too worried about my stability, I was not alone. After reminiscing about how much fun tea parties were when we were little girls, our 20 something women’s devotional group decided to have a little tea party of our own.

While our plan was to set up a spot outside in the beautiful spring sun, what we got was a large dose of rain and cold. Thankfully we all know how to roll with the Arkansas weather, and we set up our own little version inside on the floor! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t in little girl heaven. Floral dresses and lace tops, vintage tea cups and pink lemonade, mini quiche and sweet treats, patterned quilts and a lot of laughter, it was a breath of fresh (indoor) air.

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This is what I determined: God gives you little gifts wrapped in peculiar packages. While I knew this would be a fun memory for us, I wasn’t expecting sitting around with women in their mid-twenties drinking tea to be a spiritual gift. Who knew that a moment to pause, laugh, and indulge in sugary treats was exactly what the Good Lord ordered?

As I drove home from our tea party, I wanted to dissect the power of female fellowship and why it has impacted my life as much as it has in the last year!

I had been spiritually starving myself of fellowship, and I didn’t even know it.

 

Why female fellowship is so important.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

The Bible says that when two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there too. When Jesus walked the earth, He loved to gather people together to laugh and dance and enjoy one another’s company. Jesus knew what He was doing when He gathered people together. Having people around you means someone is there to listen. To relate to your pain. To share in your joys. To sharpen you. Notice this blog post isn’t about fellowship in general. It’s about female driven fellowship. While it is beneficial to have fellowship in all forms, positive women are important to have around you! Find a group of women who understand your personal struggles. This particular team of women know of my horrible flaws, my embarrassing stories, and what I struggle with on a daily basis. Even so, talking it out with other women who have been through similar struggles is one of the best feelings in the world! They’ll never know the impact each of them has had on me or how this time set aside during the month refreshes me when I need it most. I encourage you to find a group of women you feel  you can confide in.

How do you find time to fellowship?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

All of us ladies have excruciatingly busy lives. But carving out specific time in the week just to be with others and relish in daily joys is so incredibly important! We often call it our little getaway. That being said, I haven’t always had a group like this. Although most weeks we gather on the couch and go over our devotional, fellowship can happen anytime and anywhere if you invite Him to join. You can fellowship over coffee, at each other’s house, during a walk etc., however you can find the time. Often times, us girls of Oak and Earth cram into my Prius after our devotional group and talk up to an hour or more. We discuss what crazy thing happened that week, what we can pray over each other, and how we can offer each other encouragement. I consider even this little moment in time to be one of my favorite times of fellowship!  Once you make the time, it will be easy to understand why it is so important (especially as young women).

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How is your story an important asset to other women ?

“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17

Often times I don’t feel worthy of helping others. Yet for all the dirty parts of your past, there is also God’s unwavering grace to meet you in the present! As I have gotten older, I have learned how important it is to lift one another up. I was terrible about this in years past. Be it due to insecurity, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, or whatever you might be going through, remember your unique beauty and talents over any negative thoughts or phrases. Seeking God and building relationships with people who speak positivity over you is a complete life changer. You never know how your story might help someone who is struggling! Can you think of a way you’ve sharpened a fellow female? What about someone who has sharpened you? Every story is important. You are an asset to this world.

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As much as I enjoyed our little garden party,  I have enjoyed getting to know these beautiful and strong women over the past year even more (including my girls of Oak and Earth). Even when we are just telling funny stories, ranting about our busy schedules, or sitting down to sip some tea, I know that God placed this group in my life for a very specific reason. When you’re around positive people, you can’t help but want to do better. I encourage everyone to find some wonderful women to fellowship with. Have you had a time that women’s ministry has impacted your life? Is there a way we can be praying for you? We would love to hear your thoughts! You can find us on social media @OakAndEarth, or you can comment below to keep the conversation going. You can also find me personally (Bethany) on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. If you’re wondering who this Life Group is through, us girls of Oak and Earth go to New Life Church at the Fayetteville location. If you’re in the area, feel free to check it out!

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1st John 3:16

Thanks for reading!

-Bethany

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

 

 

Make Christmas Memorable for Your Family While Keeping it Simple

Merry Christmas season, readers! It’s Tera here on Oak and Earth today. This time of year is by far my favorite, for so many reasons! It is a time for family, a time of giving, a whole season of yummy foods, a time for Christmas lights and hot chocolate, and most of all a time to celebrate and remember the true reason for the season: the birth of our Lord and Savior! I have the most special memories of the holidays from my childhood years, and the excitement and fun my family had during the Christmas season has most certainly carried on in me into adulthood!

 I was reflecting recently on Christmas time and my own little family, and I tried to think of ways to make this a memorable time of year for Norah (and us), while keeping our main focus on the true meaning of Christmas and not getting wrapped up in the common mindset of, “more is more.” I want to instill meaningful and treasured memories into Norah’s core for Christmas time that teach her what principles are important to have and to pass down, and that will tug her heart strings (in a good way) for years to come. Simple moments that create a lifelong impact. So, I have created a list of some simple things you can do as a family that will make great memories, give quality time, and can respect even the most frugal holiday budget. I’m sharing my list below, and I hope you can be inspired for your family by some of these ideas! ‘Tis the season!

1.   Christmas Lights Outing  

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Downtown Siloam Springs, AR

This is an easy way for you and yours to have some fun during the Christmas season! My family would do this every year after our Christmas Eve service, but this is something you could do any time during December! Many of your local neighborhoods will have some fun light displays, or your downtown square (for us NWA folk, the Fayetteville square, for example). Some houses even connect their light displays with one of your local radio stations, and it’s really fun to see the lights flickering to the rhythm of the music! Your kids would love it if you all dressed in your comfy, festive Christmas pj’s, whipped up some hot chocolate, and hopped in your car together for a ride around town to see the pretty lights! It’s a nearly free activity (minus a little gas), and the kids will love starting this tradition with you!

 2.  Trim the Tree as a Family 

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My Christmas mantle in my pretty new house!!

Another fun memory I have from my childhood is helping my mom and siblings decorate our Christmas tree together each year! We would all get a new hallmark ornament every year to add to the collection. My own Christmas tree now is full of all of these ornaments (plus Jeremy’s and now Norah’s). There is something super special about those homemade ornaments and little hallmark collectibles that make a Christmas tree so sentimental and nostalgic! Pick a day where the whole family can be a part of this; and if you want to make a whole afternoon of it, visit a local tree nursery and choose a real tree to take home and decorate! The prices are usually very reasonable and it’s a fun and neat experience for the family. Set your tree up, stick some cookies in the oven, and choose a favorite Christmas movie to watch while you all have fun decorating (our tradition is The Polar Express). Let your little ones have a role in making the tree pretty! You can “touch up” some bare spots after they go to bed and disperse the ornaments that are stringing around the bottom half of your tree up and throughout (they’ll never know the difference), but, in the meantime, let them feel special and like they have an important part of this Christmas tradition! They’ll grow to love it, and their decorating skills should improve over the years ;). For the teeny tots who are still trying to grasp what a Christmas tree is, and from whom you’d like to spare some of your favorite glass ornaments from the game, “throw it on the floor,” try purchasing a mini tree and some plastic ornaments and set it up next to the big tree. We did this for Norah and let her decorate her special tree while we did the big tree and she loved it, (and we purchased her tree for $8)! Until they can better understand the concept of the ornaments and the tree, this is another way to get the littlest tots involved, and they’ll have their own special tree to decorate!

3.  Do an Advent Series Together 

Make some time during the month of December  for everyone to reflect on the ‘reason for the season’ by doing an advent series together. There is nothing more important that you can instill into your children’s hearts (or your own for that matter) than the love of Christ. Make sure in the hustle and bustle that your family stays grounded and that you make some quality time for this! I realize we are already part way through December, but this is something so important that I am adding it anyway to encourage you to do! You can play a little catch up, or just pick up where you are! It will help your whole family remember what matters most during Christmas, and you will instill this most important thing into your kids’ lives–and this is something you can’t put a price tag on! I am linking a great advent series for the whole family to partake in HERE. If you want to save money for budget purposes, there are some great online resources to pull verses and stories from to read each night as a family. Try doing this at a time where everyone is always together, like at the dinner table either before or after a meal (while everyone is still gathered). Making a routine like this is a good way to keep from having to try and squeeze it in at the end of the night while kids are dispersing to bed, or forgetting to do it altogether! After a long day at work or school, this is a great way to end each evening this month and will be so impactive on your kids’ hearts!

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My sweet little family at our church; New Life Church, Fayetteville

Free online resources:

4.  Christmas Cookie Decorating 

You can’t go wrong with a fun day of baking and decorating (and eating)! Tune in on your favorite Christmas pandora station, and you have a festive party right in your own kitchen! Google or Pinterest some easy sugar cookie recipes, pull the sprinkles from your pantry, and check Target’s Christmas aisles for some adorable (and cheap) Christmas cookie cutters! This is something you can do whether you have two or twelve people, and have fun doing it without breaking the bank! Take it to the next level on your baking day by trying a salt dough recipe and making some homemade ornaments that the kids can decorate and hang on the tree! This is a low stress, low cost way to get festive and celebrate the holidays, and will be a fun tradition the whole bunch can look forward to each year.

Fun cookie cutter set HERE ; Delicious sugar cookie recipe found HERE ; adorable and easy salt dough ornament recipe HERE !

5.  Christmas Caroling            

This is an outing to get your extended family and friends involved in! Take a big group around the neighborhood and sing some popular and well-known Christmas songs together! My family has not ever done this, but I think it sounds like a super fun way to spend an afternoon, and would love incorporating this into our yearly festivities! The more the merrier for this activity, so a little planning may be required to get the group together, but it would be well worth the effort, and would create fun memories for the whole family! End the night with some hot chocolate and a nice fire (because you can’t go wrong with hot chocolate)! This is a free way to lift people’s spirits and put a smile on their faces. If you want to go the extra mile this season, look into caroling at your local nursing home and share some love and Christmas cheer with our beloved elders…no one would love and appreciate it more! This is a totally free and fun way to get the whole family involved in some fun times together, and share some great memories!

6.   Gingerbread House Contest

  Nothing like some friendly competition to make for a fun night! You can purchase gingerbread house kits for fairly cheap at the store; why not buy two and make a friendly contest of boys vs. girls and have some fun?! You can have as small or as big of teams as you want, and that makes this activity super universal and accommodating to any family size! Spend the evening dressing your gingerbread houses up, and have some friends be the judge (without them knowing whose is whose). Let the winners choose the next Christmas movie for movie night, or spice it up with a bigger incentive for the winners! This is a tradition that your kids will want to repeat next year, and they’ll cherish their memories!

7.  Downtown Parade (or your town’s Christmas festivities)             

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Aren’t my besties totally adorable holding children?? 😉 We were able to enjoy the downtown parade together this year!

Going to our annual downtown Christmas parade is a tradition my family has held for years. It’s always a fun night of warm bundles, a hot drink in hand, and lots of pretty Christmas floats! Check your calendars for your town’s holiday festivities and make it a family affair! Bundle up, grab some extra blankets and a warm beverage (you know what would be great for this? Hot chocolate), and share some laughs together. If you missed this year’s, make it a goal to try it next year and start a new tradition together!

8.  “Christmas” Game Night

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“Louie” themed socks and hot cocoa are my secret to winning 😉

Here’s another fun idea for the entire family and even some of your friends to join in on! For the last few years, my husband’s side has done a fun game night together for our Christmas tradition, and it has been a huge hit! You can find some Christmas themed minute -to -win it games for your inspiration on Pinterest, or even google, and most of them look super fun! Get the group together, share some yummy snacks (and maybe some hot chocolate), split into teams, and let the laughs begin! What’s nice about these games, is that any supplies you may need can most always be found at the dollar store, so you can stretch your dollar and enjoy lots of games. Make your prizes as big or small as you want, or nix them all together and play just for the fun of it. There will be guaranteed a ton of laughs, and with or without the prizes, everyone will look forward to next year’s annual game night! Here are a few links to some very fun minute to win it ideas you can try:  Here , here , and here !

9.  Christmas Angels

Teach your kids the importance of giving during this holiday season. Magnify this and make it a higher priority than being on the receiving end. If we are honest, most of our kiddos who live in a warm and safe home do not really need much for Christmas! I’m not saying our kids don’t deserve gifts, or that we shouldn’t let them receive any. It’s so fun to watch Norah open her gifts and seeing her face light up! But, the more important thing we can give them is to teach them selfless love and share what we have with those who go without. Go to your nearest Christmas Angel tree and choose a couple angels to give a nice Christmas. Let your kids have a big part in choosing the Angels and the gifts. It’s important to show our kids that there are some big needs in our communities, and that they can have a part in making Christmas special for someone who otherwise wouldn’t have the same experience. Partake as a family in spreading love this season, and make it a tradition to give to others in a very tangible way every Christmas! If you don’t have Christmas Angel trees in your area, research some places that you can donate items and help make Christmas special for someone else!

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Here is our littlest angel, to give you all the feels!! *sigh*

10.  Wise Men Gifts

One principle we really want to keep incorporated into our Christmas as a family is simplicity. The excessiveness that is so common during this time of year we believe takes away from the specialness and “sacredness” that simplicity holds. Keep your gift giving simple with your kiddos this year by trying the Wise Men Gift method. This is a concept I first heard from Oak and Earth’s Bethany, whose family started doing this several years ago. Whether your budget is $3,000 or $300, this is a concept that you can easily incorporate into your family’s traditions. It’s very simple: each kid (and/or spouse) would receive just three gifts, and their stockings. You can arrange them however you choose; two smaller gifts and one big gift, three small gifts, one “Santa” gift, and two from you–there’s no method to it other than keeping the number simple with 3. We loved the idea and decided to start this tradition with Norah! It’s an awesome way to keep the sweetness of Christmas time by not drowning our kids (and our finances) in “more.” Our little ones will expect only what they are used to when it comes to gifts, so why not start this tradition now and keep your gift giving sweet and simple. 

If you want more ideas for gift giving methods, here are a few others you can try:

  • Do the “4 gifts” (something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read)
  • For older kids (this is what we do for my husband’s side), draw names and each person gets one person a gift or two.
  • Sock exchange (buy your kids some christmas socks and fill them up with goodies, much like a stocking), or just their stockings!
  • Encourage your kids to read and grow their imaginations by giving books for gifts!
  • If you are opting for “no gifts” this year, try donating to a charity in honor of each of your children. It’s a great way to give back and will be a special way to honor your kids.

I absolutely love getting to start new traditions with Norah, and I’m excited to start with some of these ideas together as a family! Keeping our holidays sweet and simple by focusing more on the memories and fun, and less on the “things” will hopefully create a special place in Norah’s heart for this time of year, much like it did for me! I hope I have given you some ideas that you can start incorporating into your family festivities each year too! No matter how you choose to spend the holidays, try to do some fun things as a family that will make it memorable for everyone!  If you want some fun and creative date ideas to do with your special someone, make sure to check back in a couple days for Bethany’s “12 Dates of Christmas” post coming soon! Also be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth this month, as we have several holiday inspired posts that we can’t wait to show you!! Follow me on Instagram @terapianalto if you don’t already, so you can stay informed on all of our blog happenings, and make sure to hashtag any Oak and Earth experiences you have with #OakandEarthBlog. We love your feedback and would love to know what you would like to see us write about on here! We’ll do our best to try out your ideas! Wishing you the sweetest and merriest Christmas yet!


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Happy Month of December, and Holiday’s best,

Tera (with Jeremy and Norah, and Louie)   -xo

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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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