Thursday, September 8, 2016

Raw Basil Honey Ice Cream (vegan)

Green. Bright. Herbaceous with a delicious hint of licorice. Derived from the Greek word for king, Basil definitely rules the roost in summer. A perfect way to wrap up and say goodbye to summer! Best enjoyed fresh, this herb is my dinner's (or any meal for that matter) constant companion.
For instance, try my Blueberry Basil Smoothie.
Pesto Rice and Garbanzo Salad
Nettle Basil Pesto
Best Way to Eat Heirloom Tomatoes 

Basil is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. The zesty flavor signifies a bounty of antioxidants and the bright color a warehouse of nutrients. Incorporating fresh basil in your diet certainly treats your body to the royal treatment.

I dreamed up this ice cream long ago... my sister tells me I concoct the weirdest flavor combos yet my ideas produce some tasty treats. So here's another weird yet tasty one for the book...

Basil Honey Ice Cream
1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
1 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
2 cups packed basil
Splash of lemon juice
5 TB raw local honey

Blend all ingredients in high speed blender. Freeze according to your ice cream machine maker.
This can also be made granita -style if you don't have ice cream machine.

To enjoy a delicious sundae, pair with dairy-free vanilla and strawberry ice cream. Top with blackberries, blueberries and extra basil. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Read through the Gospels by Christmas (my plan for homeschooling our kindergartner)

Today I am going to talk about our plan to read through the Gospels by Christmas, right now we are reading through Matthew in the month of September. We're already a week in to September so I hesitated to write and publish this post but if you desire, this can still be implemented. I was blessed by my daughter this morning through our bible reading (keep reading for the story). Ultimately I want you, sweet reader, to share in the blessing that comes from reading the bible with your family.

I struggled with the idea of homeschool at first. There were many obstacles but ultimately I asked myself this one question, "Why homeschool our children?" There were many answers. More pros on my list than cons. One of them being I could better nurture a heart for Jesus from home. I think the first 7 years of a child's life are important. I attended a homeschool conference this summer that stressed the first seven to eight years of a child's life are major character building years. According to the book Birth Order by Linda Blair, she states that a person's character is usually planted by the age 7 (I'm paraphrasing from memory). It struck me that I had two years to really lay a good foundation for my daughter's future. I wanted to do the best that I could and we decided I couldn't necessarily do that if she went to school. This was our family's decision for this year. Homeschool works best for us now. This is not a post about why you should homeschool - each family is different and I applaud each and every one of you supporting your child's education through public school or private school or alternative methods. This blog post is one reason why and how we are homeschooling. My ultimate goal for homeschooling this year is to lay a strong foundation that points back to our creator, that draws everyone in our family closer to Jesus and to each other. A foundation from which a healthy, nurtured character and destiny can grow. To do that, I had to change my perspective. I'm not just teaching a pupil, I'm discipling a priestess and a warrior princess (1 Peter 2:9). I started to view my children as new Christians. And interestingly enough, I remembered that a new Christian should start reading with the Gospels. Embarrassingly, I've never read the gospels in entirety from beginning to end, let alone the bible. To quote a famous motivational phrase, there is no better time to start than now. And what better people to read it with but my own two children?

For more character building resources, check out my blog post Character Trait Study Resources.

Reading the Gospels has become a part of our homeschool routine. To read the gospels by Christmas, we are reading a chapter a day. All of Matthew in September. Mark in October. Luke in November. And John in December. This gives a few days for make-up (especially in October since there are only 16 chapters in Mark).

The Charlotte Mason Method with oral (then written narration) inspired my idea on how we would accomplish reading a chapter with my toddler and kindergartner (without much fuss or interruption) and yet seek learning opportunities. You could say I'm using it as a curriculum (here is where I'd insert a winky face if I was texting this to you). I bought primary composition journals (similar to these ones). My plan is for my daughter to create something inspired by the chapter of the day (I usually challenge her with something). For example, the other day, she drew food and salt to put on her food as we read Matthew 5 (inspired by Matthew 5:13). Another example, when we read Matthew 1, the lineage of Jesus, I asked my daughter to draw her family. After she draws (more options later on in post) I ask her to describe her picture. I write down her oral narration and we read it together (then I have her write one to three of the words in her notebook and eventually my plan is for her to write whole sentences). Originally, I started having her write whole sentences but didn't feel that worked for us - the time was consumed with practicing writing and less conversing/understanding. We will continue to work up to the point of writing whole sentences but for now, we are focusing on writing a couple different words. We sound them out and we practice proper writing skills.

Instead of drawing challenges, sculpting with playdough and building with tegu can be alternative ways for the kids to listen quietly (don't try legos while you read if you want to keep your sanity). They can still create something that coincides with the chapter that day. Afterwards, there is still an opportunity for oral narration. Doing something with their hands can help create a time for children to listen, especially with toddlers.

This is not our homeschool plan in entirety. If there is an interest in that, I'd be willing to expound our whole plan. However, this has given me ideas. When we read Matthew 5 (about salt), we reviewed how salt makes our body thirsty (science) and led to a greater conversation about living water. She also drew letters and numbers in a salt tray (salt poured in shallow tupperware). We talked about where salt comes from (geography) and different kinds of salt. When we talked about treasure (Matthew 7), she asked if there were still pirates (history). We called up relatives who had been in the navy and coast guard and asked if they had met any pirates... Do you get the idea?

A word of encouragement and advice (preaching to myself here), there is no need to race. I have found that God provides each day with learning opportunities (as evidenced above). It's amazing how they coincide with our passage reading (almost as if I planned it, thank you Jesus!). Look for those opportunities. Don't race through to finish. Be open to conversation and moments of pause. God will bless those moments with understanding.

And now for the story of my daughter's blessing...

Today, we read Matthew 7. We chose playdough instead of drawing and unfortunately, we were experiencing a hard time sharing between the toddler and kindergartner so verse 12 about the Golden Rule was perfect timing. It become an opportunity to stop and discuss it together. Would we prefer others would share their playdough? Would we prefer to be treated with respect and not take the playdough that is already in their hands? Then we moved on. Reading vs 15-20 about trees was also fitting because we are using the month of September to learn about trees. We discussed that people are like trees (Psalm 1:3). Good fruits are like good actions and good words. Inwardly, I was thinking to myself does my "fruit" point back to my maker? Is it good? Am I truly bearing good fruit?

My daughter turned to me and said, "Like this morning, when you helped me share, Mom. That was a good fruit."

I was a little startled. There may have been tears (tears of joy, of course). Bless her heart for saying that! I know my words sometimes appear like unripe apples and my actions like bite-y lemons but it was nice to hear from my own daughter that she sees her momma's fruit and it is good! What an opportunity reading the gospels for us to grow together!

May your fruit be good, sweet reader! And may you be encouraged!

*I'd love for anyone to join us! Let me know below!!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Watermelon Lavender Strawberry Smoothie

Want to do something new and interesting with all those herbs growing this summer? An herbal smoothie is a great way to use fresh herbs. It ought to be the eleventh reason to have an herb garden. And it's easy to change the smoothie based on what is readily available and fresh.

The herbal star of this show is Lavender. Lavender can help alleviate any sort of tension including headaches, muscle pain, and nervous tension. It can help lower elevated blood pressure and promote healthy circulation. It's soothing and a wonderful tonic herb. Perfect to add to your medicinal kitchen cabinet! Also easy to grow or purchase at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs. She is indeed a queen of herbs. Poised with wisdom and gentle correction, she is robed in royal purple and healing perfume. Lavender is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the herb kingdom, potent yet balancing.

...or perhaps I read too much fantasy (currently reading A Natural History of Dragons).

Lavender has also made it's debut in other recipes here on Sweet Roots. Check out the Fig and Lavender Almond muffins (paleo friendly)! Baking with lavender mellows it's medicinal tang, making it sweeter. Or try this four-ingredient Lavender Fig Muesli (vegan and raw) for an easy recipe.

In the summer, I thrive off smoothies. Great nutrient-dense treat or snack for the kids! Or with some seed crackers and fresh veggies, it makes a light dinner. This recipe has been one of my favorites. The kids love the color too!

My motto this summer:

Watermelon Lavender Strawberry Smoothie
2 cups watermelon chunks
1 cup coconut water or non-dairy milk*
1 cup heaping frozen organic strawberries
1 TB chia seeds (keeps everything together or ground flax)
1 spoonful honey
Buds from 1 sprig lavender (you can add more if you prefer but this goes far)

*Using non-dairy milk will produce a creamier smoothie. We like both ways. The above and the very first picture in this blog post is using coconut water (hence the redder hue) and the remaining pictures are using almond milk, making it lighter in color.

Blend in vita-mix and enjoy!

Now, I noticed I post a lot of treat and smoothie recipes. Would you, my sweet reader, be interested in a savory recipe using lavender? And what do you like to use lavender for?

And if you're interested in other herbal smoothie recipes, try the following:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Beet & Ginger Slushie (a natural energy booster + replenisher)

Stay up-beet this summer, my sweet readers! Rehydrate with this coconut water-based smoothie. Ginger adds extra pizazz while boosting energy. Coconut water replenishes electrolytes but the star of the show is the beets...

Beets and their greens are a bounty of vitamins and minerals, including folate, Vitamin C, potassium and manganese. Beets are a wonderful tonic for the liver. They are also a great source of energy due to their higher natural sugar content (beet sugar is slowly released into your system so no sugar-highs here). There are so many benefits to eating beets! And don't throw out their greens! Beet greens are a great source of calcium and have more iron than spinach. Throw beet greens in soups or smoothies for extra nutrients. 

Waste not and your waist will thank you!

Also, the kids seem to enjoy this one. Evidence of my toddler sipping on some below (while I was still photographing - love these eager kids!):

Beet & Ginger Slushie (makes 1-2 servings)
1 steamed beet, peeled & cooled
1 raw beet green
1 cup coconut water
Handful ice
1-2 small pieces of ginger, squeezed through garlic mincer or chunk of crystallized  ginger *optional
Spoonful of honey or a couple drops stevia *optional

*My kids prefer either with crystallized ginger or completely without.

Blend in blender and enjoy!

Fun fact: Did you know the ox-eye daisies I used in my pictures are edible? Their leaves taste like arugula! I hope to do a post later this summer about a few edible weeds. For now, read about it in Wild Edibles and as always, be wise foragers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Red, White & Blue Fireworks Popsicles

A cold, icy popsicle is a great remedy to beat the heat. We enjoyed these pretty pops on the 4th of July!
This recipe is vegan and relatively low on sugar. The fresh vanilla bean seeds add so much sweet flavor, sugar isn't needed. A few dates or a couple spoonfuls maple syrup will suffice.
I hope you had a lovely 4th of July! God bless America! And all those who fight for our freedom!

Red, White & Blue Fireworks Popsicles
1 can coconut milk
4 dates
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Blend first three ingredients in a blender. Drop small handfuls of raspberries and blueberries in a popsicle mold then fill with milk mixture. Freeze at least four hours! Enjoy, sweet readers!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kalamata Olive Fig Tapenade Spread

It's thyme for some summer dips! And I'm not talking skinny-dipping! Summer is all about the dips, spreads, tapenades! When the heat rolls around, I skimp on turning on the oven and whip up something to dip!

Now when you say chips and dip, it might not sound like the healthiest item. However a nutritious dip paired with wholesome crackers and plenty of fresh veggies can equate to a delicious, light and healthy meal.

We like pizza hummus, creamy vegan spinach artichoke dip, roasted red pepper hummus, vegan tofu ranch spread, and even hibiscus ketchup (all recipes here on Sweet Roots). Today, we are going to explore a wonderful concoction bursting with flavor and great texture: Kalamata Olive Fig Tapenade Spread. (I say tapenade, my husband says spread so I went with both).

My daughter loves to go pick the herbs we need for dinner. There's a little thyme in this recipe but you're welcome to add more if a stronger flavor is desired!

Speaking of herb gardens... how is your garden, sweet reader? Did you plant anything particularly exciting? What's your favorite item to grow? I'm excited for my Echinacea. It took two summers to bloom but it's lovely and quite intriguing. The petals unfurl and then push the almost spiky orb-like center upwards. A gigantic, yellow butterfly visited the Echinacea this morning while I sat at the window, reading my bible study. In our character studies, the butterfly represents patience. Certainly, a character quality that is being refined in me. In my many earthly roles - wife, mother, sister, friend, blogger, photographer, etc. - I've found that everything is better if done on God's time and that requires patience. In the moment, it's hard to remember and easy to try to "fix things." However, Romans 8:28 reminds us "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." When you're struggling for patience, remember God is King and He will work it all out in the end. When you're struggling for patience, have hope and trust that God will fulfill his promises. When you're struggling for patience, know that our help comes not from something man could conceive but the one that conceived man, the God that put the oceans into motion, that made our bodies out of dust. How great and glorious is HE!

It seems almost miniscule to go on talking about food but I wouldn't want you to leave this post without the recipe. And no matter how little, God can use it to glorify him too. Plus, it's delicious and a great spread on multigrain chips, BLTs, toast, crackers, carrots or any fresh veggies, grilled chicken and strangely radishes.

Kalamata Olive Fig Tapenade Spread
1 cup heaping Kalamata olives, drained
1 cup packed dried figs (used organic Calimyrna figs from Made in Nature)
Sprig of fresh lemon thyme, leaves removed from stalk (just use leaves)
3 TB olive oil
*optional 1/2 cup walnuts for additional protein

1. Blend everything in food processor (or high-speed blender on low) until desired consistency is reached. We like ours a little chunky!

And you might want to double this recipe! It goes quick!

Enjoy, sweet readers!

As always, I'm excited to share anything I'm devouring in literary form. Here is what I am reading currently:

and to my children:

 (A favorite library book)

And what I have in my amazon cart:
This delicious Tanka Fund Jerky (pack of 12) is free of hormones and nitrates. Under $6 (>$0.50 a piece) makes this portable snack a steal! And the flavor Turkey Buffalo Cranberry is enjoyed by all in our house. It's been great for camping, kids day camps, and errand days.
This Witch Hazel distillate is fragrance free and alcohol free. It cleans up breakouts and is soothing to bug bites. A must for our summer herbalist shelves! I buy this every couple months as a toner and it's one of the few items I buy repeatedly.
(This post contains affiliate links).

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Moms Meet Kabrita Review

A lactation consultant once told me this analogy if breastmilk protein is the size of a baseball then goats milk is the size of a basketball then cow milk protein (casein) is the size of an exer-flex ball. Which do you think is the easiest to digest?

The smallest, right? Then the next smallest: goat. With this knowledge, we discover introducing goats milk first (before cows) when weaning can actually be beneficial for sensitive tummies. In general, goats milk is easier to digest than cow milk. However, cow milk drinkers may find the taste strange. Good quality goat milk can be delicious and refreshing.

In an effort to wean my 18 month old son, we started introducing raw goats milk into his diet. Then when Moms Meet offered for bloggers to review Kabrita, I jumped at the chance! 

My daughter was easy to wean (and enjoyed eating) but my son enjoyed his "mommy mil". It was a soothing, quiet ritual for him where we got one-on-one time together. He wasn't interested in eating solids at first. I was scared he wasn't getting what he needed (of course, us moms never worry, right?). In an effort to include extra nutrients, we tried a few things but stuck with goat milk (and fruit+veggie nutrient dense smoothies). It was hard at first. Weaning is no small feat so if you're having difficulty I want you to know you are not alone! Now he can go a couple weeks without having goat milk and enjoys eating. But in the moment, it was a challenge. It put my mind at ease that the goats milk was giving him extra nutrients and he was digesting it well! 

One day a package of goat milk formula and yogurt pouches showed up at my door.

My son thoroughly enjoyed the yogurt pouches. They were very flavorful but in a real, delicious way - not artificial tasting at all which  means a lot to this momma. The sugar content was a little higher than I desire but I felt okay if I split the feeding. Of course, he wanted to eat the whole thing in the moment he was eating it. There was usually 3 grams of protein which I appreciated. 
The formula was also good. Fairly fresh taste for formula and not overtly goaty. However, I was disappointed that lactose (different than milk protein) from cows was added. In fact, it was the number one ingredient. When I researched on their website it said that lactose in goat, cow or breast milk is molecularly the same. This information was new to me. I wondered if it is possible to make formula without lactose then? Interesting thoughts to ponder.

We will definitely be buying more Kabrita yogurt pouches as treats and special snacks. Or they would be perfect for camping or road trips! 

If you're interested in feeding your children goat milk products, definitely check out Kabrita

I received these products from Moms Meet in exchange for an honest review.

All this being said, I did not feed any of this to my daughter. She has an intolerance to casein in cow milk. There website said anyone with cow milk protein allergy should avoid their products and although she hasn't been diagnosed with CMPA,I didn't want to expose her to any discomfort.

Friday, May 20, 2016

10 Reasons to have an Herb Garden

Instead of a full-out vegetable garden this year, I chose to focus on my raspberries and herb garden (plus taming my backyard which, besides some weeding, hasn't started). I love growing my own food. Particularly, I've found a passion for the gentle yet vivacious leaves we call herbs. So today I'm going to encourage you with 10 reasons to have an herb garden.

1. It's cheap frugal!
The other week I bought two containers of fresh basil from the grocery store. They each cost $4. That's $8 a week. $32 a month. Over $128 for my major basil-buying season (atleast 4 months).
Seeds and good quality dirt can cost me less than $10, meaning I saved over $100 this year if I cease buying and start growing. (And if you don't want to start from seed, you can still get several basil seedlings for $10).

2. It's right out the back door!
I don't always consider where the food I buy in the grocery store comes from but in this instance, I definitely know my food origins.

3. It's self-sustaining!
Growing, cultivating and preserving our own food is a way to remain independent. If the shit hits the fan, at least I have my herb garden.

On a second thought, you know how garlic keeps away vampires? Maybe sage keeps away zombies? One can hope!

4. Kids like herbs too!
My kids aren't major salad eaters. In fact, a year ago, my five year old went through a phase where she wouldn't touch them. But they will eat basil and tons of it straight from the plant. For them, it is the satisfaction of picking it and popping it right in their mouth.
Also, kids love to garden! Planting and sustaining their own herbs can be a great summertime activity/lesson in life.

5. It's healthy!
Major powerhouses of antioxidants. Herbs are superfoods! They are chockfull of vitamins and minerals. They are anti-inflammatory and full of powerful greenness (that's the scientific term, of course).
A local family shared with me how drinking my Blueberry Basil Smoothie every morning had helped the father with chronic pain. My recipe for Chamomile Cantaloupe Smoothie is another fruit + herb concoction.

6. It's convenient!
The ease of having to go nowhere to have your own bounty of fresh herbs is more than appealing. It's downright amazing. No extra trips to the store for the sage that recipe for the baked butternut squash needed. You can just walk out your back door (or front door or maybe you have a nice kitchen windowsill).

7. It's fairly easy!
Usually growing a small garden of kitchen herbs takes very little effort. Recipe for success looks something like:
Maybe it's their antibacterial properties or stronger taste but I've also found that bugs (the mean garden-plant snatching ones) aren't taken to herbs as they are to other plants.
Borrow some books from the local library about gardening if you are nervous. Here is a stash I found at mine last year:

Or here are some specifically herbal gardening books ( I love Rosemary Gladstar's books): 

8. It's yummy!
It's all about the tastebuds! The above recipe for success can go a long way for the delicious factor! Seriously, the taste of homegrown herbs (even dried in winter) is far better than storebought. They are fresher and will last longer (with better flavor).

9. It can make you an herbalist (or herbalista)!
I like the autonomous-ness of making my own herbal remedies - makes me feel like an old time apothecary. It can be as simple as a sage honey cough syrup or PMS-relief tea. If you are interested in herbal remedies, I suggest these books to start:


10. Because it's downright ___________ (fill in the blank)!
Let me help you - It's downright amazing!

Are you still reading this? Or are you out working on your herb garden?

I was racking my creative mommy brain, trying to come up with yet another reason (it'll probably come to me two weeks after I publish this post while I'm folding laundry or driving) because I said ten reasons and only having nine seems somehow incomplete. But let me ask you, do we really need another reason? If you have the means and the time, having an herb garden is going to benefit you and those around you!

It's tasty. It's fun. It's a lesson in life!

"Come forth in the light of things, let nature be your teacher."
      -William Wordsworth

And I was inspired to write my own little ditty...

An Ode to Herbs:
It's great in a salad.
It's great with a ballad.
It's great on noodles.
It's certainly frugal.
I love it with strawberries.
But some like it in Bloody Mary's.
Basil, Sage, Thyme
or Rosemary sublime...
Oh wonderful herb
How very superb!

And if you're in the market for trustworthy, quality dried herbs, hop on over to Mountain Rose Herbs and give them a gander.
Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com
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