Nosh

Not Your Ordinary Oatmeal!

I’m not sure how it happened but my little guy loves oatmeal.  He requests it at least 4 out of 7 mornings and his favourite way to eat it is with cinnamon and raisins!  I like to introduce him to new flavours though and oatmeal is an amazing base to build from.  We prefer our oatmeal served hot, although there are fantastic options for overnight oats if you’re pressed for time in the morning! Oats are one of the healthiest grains.  They are gluten free and rich in antioxidants, fibre and many nutrients and vitamins.  They are great in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, they help you to feel fuller longer aiding in weight loss plus they offer a lot of benefits to your natural gut health as they aid in good bacteria growth. Oatmeal for breakfast (or anytime of day) is a win-win!

I usually cook my slow-cooking rolled oats in milk (dairy or nut) with a pinch of salt although sometimes I just use water and salt and sometimes I add some other grain blends such as Red River Porridge Cereal Mix or even just chia or flax seeds.  I love the versatility of oatmeal and I know my little one is getting a good portion of whole grains in his bowl.  It’s especially comforting in these cold winter months and it truly is an easy go-to for breakfasts and sometimes even a hearty snack.

Here’s a few recipes I like to enjoy:

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Apple Cinnamon and Raisin Oatmeal.  (Tried and true, E’s favourite way to enjoy his oatmeal! He loves to add diced up fresh apples and sometimes even dried cranberries or ‘bugs’ as he calls them!)

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Tomato, Basil Breakfast Bowl.  (My favourite way to enjoy oatmeal is untraditional and savoury!) Unsweetened oats with a generous dollop of basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, chèvre and topped with a fried egg and salt and pepper.

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Funky Monkey Oatmeal has peanut butter powder mixed into the oatmeal and is topped with coconut, chia seeds and fresh sliced bananas.  It’s packed with yummy nutrients with a tropical vibe!

You can top your oatmeal with such a variety of fresh or frozen fruit.  Add seeds and nuts, mix in healthy sweeteners like honey or maple syrup or indulge and add some chocolate chips or chunks.  Swirl in some thick yogurt and top with crunchy granola for a texture twist or go savoury like I like to with cheeses, fresh herb blends, sautéed veg or even meat!! (I’m seeing a maple, bacon, aged cheddar oatmeal bowl in my future!). The sky’s the limit really! And you can feel good starting your day with one of nature’s finest gems (and supporting our local farmers to boot)!

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Cheers

Hug in a Mug…3-ways

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This weekend we went hard at the Christmas prepping.  It’s a tradition to have my cousin K out for a long weekend in November to decorate the tree, make cookies, decorate a gingerbread house and watch all the cheesy Christmas movies we can…all with a crockpot or two of something yummy to sip on through the days! Here’s three amazing recipes to get you set and on your merry way for all things Christmas.  A definite mug in a hug!

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First up is this Caramel Mocha Masterpiece.  It’s so simple and making your own marshmallows or picking some up from a gourmet shop is an added gooey bonus.  Here’s how to make it:

  • 1 L milk
  • 5 cups fresh brewed coffee (we used decaf)
  • 1.5 cups of your favourite hot chocolate powder (I even found some caramel hot chocolate mix at the bulk barn!)
  • 3-4 tsp caramel extract
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • marshmallows and caramel sauce to garnish.

Put everything (except the garnish) in a crock pot and cook on low for a few hours until hot, serve with marshmallows, a drizzle of caramel and a pinch of salt sprinkled over top.

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Next up on this amazing line-up is this White Chocolate Candy Cane Hot Cocoa!  Admittedly this one is pretty sweet for my liking…but it was a hit with the little guy! It’s pink and minty and full of Christmas cheer! Throw everything into the crockpot, heat on low and serve with whipped cream and crushed candy canes! Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 L milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cup candy cane hot chocolate mix (I found mine at the bulk barn)
  • whipped cream and crushed candy canes to garnish

 

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Last on the menu is this favourite!  This Gingerbread Latte will fill your house with all the holiday smells.  It’s not too sweet, decadent but not so decadent you can’t drink it all day, and it’s so dang cute!  We topped ours with cute little gingerbread cookies that we made, whipped cream and yummy cinnamon gingerbread man sprinkles!  Here’s how to make it:

  • Half a pot of strong brewed coffee (we used decaf)
  • 1 1/5 L milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Whipped cream, gingerbread sprinkles and fresh baked gingerbread man cookies (to perch on the edge of the mug or to dunk…you decide!)

 

I’m telling you, any one of these yummy steaming sippers is sure to warm you right up and fill you with the holiday spirit!  The only thing missing this weekend to make our time prepping for Christmas over the top was a fresh blanket of gently falling snow!  I love the holidays but I especially love all the anticipation and getting ready for the festivities.  Traditions are extremely important to me and I love that my dear K still wants to partake in these traditions! Who knows what kind of yumminess we’ll dream up for next year! My heart is full, my tree is trimmed and more memories were made!

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!’

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Fleeting Fall & Hasty Harvest…

…And I thought summer went by fast.  I blinked and here we are with snow on the ground, a few days into November and I’m left with a phone full of pics that prove that indeed, fall and harvest did actually happen!  I have to apologize for being MIA for the last few months.  Harvest on the farm was long and busy and in amongst all my farm-wifely duties I wanted to still get in a few ‘summer bucket list’ items with my little guy so needless to say I was going to bed wiped and waking up hitting the ground running.  Here’s a bit of a highlight real from fall with some easy ideas to create some fun-filled memories with your own family!

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We had a riot going on some local hikes.  My little guy powered through a 2.5 hour hike by the lake nearby, a smaller trail through the valley right in our own front yard and the old train bridge hike here in our little town.  We collected leaves and acorns and of course brought home a few ‘fancy rocks’ as our treasures and then later we did some easy and colourful leaf printing art to get in the spirit for thanksgiving.

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This craft is super simple.  All you need is some kid friendly craft paint and a sheet of paper, the leaves that you’ve collected and some paintbrushes.  We used two methods to get our fall prints; we painted the backside of the leaves and then stamped them onto the paper AND we painted around the edges of the leaves to create a bit of a colourful outline.  It’s easy for little hands to do and is a fun way to remember the journey to find the leaves!

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We also made these cute little turkeys to adorn our thanksgiving table out of some old tin cans, a few buttons and some colourful feathers.  Little hands can help paint the tins and gather up the feathers as you hot glue them to the inside of the tins.  We also had a lot of fun jumping and plowing through leaves this fall and at our thanksgiving dinner upon telling E that I was most thankful for him and his daddy, he promptly told me he’s thankful for chicken!! (It is in fact the simple things isn’t it?!)

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Halloween came so quickly this year!  I honestly felt like I just got thanksgiving put away and out came the pumpkins and costumes!  E and I spent a day making this easy candy corn garland.  We painted a ‘bulls-eye’ of sorts on some paper plates (orange, yellow, to a white center) then we cut the plate into triangles, like a pie and taped the pieces to some string to hang over our big patio doors.  Super easy and colourful and a bit of a calorie-free gateway to all the yummy treats that are Halloween!

Left to Right: Tarantula Taco Dip (refried beans, salsa, chopped iceburg lettuce, guacamole, black olive spiders and sour cream web), Spooky Shakes (vanilla milkshakes in mason jars with spooky faces drawn on using whiteboard markers, topped with whipped cream and orange sprinkles), Spider Sandwiches (peanut butter and jam sandwiches cut into rounds with pretzel legs and raisin eyes) with mini mandarin jack-o-lanterns and Soup, and Boo-nanas (made with chocolate chip faces pressed into fresh, halved bananas).

I feel like this post doesn’t do the amazing memories we made this fall justice, it also included combine rides, meals in the swather with dad, yard work (so much yard work!), garden produce preserving, pumpkin carving, costume creating and a lot of time spent outdoors…but like I said, it’s kind of a highlight reel of our crazy busy harvest season.  It is my goal to do a much better job of documenting our winter activities, especially all the fun that Christmas brings…and boy is it coming quick!!!

 

Nosh

“Good For You” Granola Bars With Just Enough “Bad”!

Ok I’ll be honest, I’m not sure the “good” outweighs the “bad” in these little delights.  Like most palatable granola bars, these contain sugar.  They also contain whole grains, honey, nuts and seeds tho so I’m making the executive decision that they’re just enough “bad” that you’ll want to eat more than one and just enough “good” that you can!  I like to experiment with recipes that are easy to grab and go especially this time of year to throw into harvest field meals and if you are among the many going back to work or your kids are going back to school after summer break you’ll want to check them out!

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The variations are endless but here’s the base:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 handfuls large marshmallows (approx 15-20)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups oats (I used quick oats)
  • 3 1/2 cups rice krispies
  • Your favourite add-ins/toppings such as: dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds, chocolate chips, nut butters, candy bits. (*I used 3 heaping tbsp chia seeds, 1/4 cup almond slivers, a handful of chocolate chips and reeses pieces bits in this batch.)
  • In a large pot melt butter with sugar and honey.  Bring to a boil and let bubble for 2-3 mins. stirring constantly.  Take off heat and add marshmallows. Stir until melted.  Add salt and vanilla (and nut butter, if you’re adding any, at this point – 1/2 cup or so.). Mix in your oats, Rice Krispies, seeds, nuts etc at this point as well, adding in increments and stirring to coat everything really well, you want to sort of monitor the ‘goo factor’ while you’re adding your desired nuts and seeds etc so that everything will still stick together. Press lightly into a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Top with your desired ingredients and gently press into the bars with another piece of parchment paper placed on top of the mixture.  You want to be quick at this point so you don’t melt and squish any of the toppings such as chocolate chips or candy.  Let set in a fridge or on the counter, slice  and wrap bars in waxed paper for easy access!

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A Splash of our Summer…

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this summer went by in record time…it feels like we just put away the snow boots and mittens and here we are gearing up for harvest and inevitably, fall.  I had grand intentions of creating a summer to remember filled with themes and activities and new adventures but I swear I blinked and the calendar said mid-August and I was left feeling dizzied with just how fast June and July left us.  I did manage to check off a few things from our summer bucket list; we had a great time on our camping trip, made it out to the lake a few times, went strawberry picking, made homemade ice cream, set up the kiddie pool in the yard a couple times, had Weiner roasts and made s’mores, set off some fireworks, got to the splashpark in a neighbouring town, and I was able to get in one themed week with my boy…

So if you’re like me and clinging onto the last weeks of summer holidays by your fingernails, here’s some fun and easy ideas to do with your kidlets!  Our “Aquatic Themed Fun” started with an easy paper plate craft.  All you need is a bit of paint (although I’m sure markers or crayons would work too!), a coffee stir stick or popsicle stick, some craft foam and a glue gun.  Create a water and sky scene on your paper plate, make a boat out of craft foam and glue it to the end of your stick.  Cut a wavey path in your paper plate for your boat to ride on and voila! Sea Scene Fun!

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For the next couple days we took some inspiration from one of our favourite books “Pout Pout Fish” and made a paper mâché fish out of a blown up balloon.  We spent the first day making the paper mâché and the second day painting it up to look like a pout pout fish!  Of course, we read the book a few times in between as well, you know, for inspiration!

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Next up we made these sand dollar cookies.  Simple sugar cookie recipe cut into circles and then decorated with cinnamon and sugar and some slivered almonds before baking. Inevitably we also had a bit of an educational afternoon learning a lot about sand dollars since my two year old brought to my attention “what IS it mommy?”.  Did you know that the legend of the sand dollar is that the center is a star imprint and the holes around it create an easter lily.  When broken open it is said that doves of peace can be found and if turned over you can find the design of a poinsettia, the Christmas flower.  We brought our cookies to the lake and shared them with our friends!

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While at the lake we spent the next day on a lakeshore hunt, looking for shells and stones and any other aquatic life!  We came across an opened mussel type shell, a few crayfish skeletons and a couple very large frogs!

The next day we continued on the frog theme (mostly because I couldn’t find any fish gummies!) and we made little jello cups with leap frogs sitting on lily pads on top!  I used gummy frogs and mint leaves and this simple dessert was a really big hit with my little guy!  But then again, jello is ALWAYS a hit at our place!

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The last day we capped off our Aquatic Themed week of Fun with these easy handprint rainbow fish.  All you need is some craft paper, popsicle sticks, sequins, buttons, pom pops, feathers, beads or any other crafty decor items you have laying around.  Cut out your handprints, glue them to a popsicle stick and then decorate them as you wish.  If you’re lucky you’ll even get an impromptu puppet show out of the deal!

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We really had a great time creating fun little activities all under one theme.  (Next summer I hope to do more of this…no promises tho!). Not only did it break up the day a bit for us but we learned lots and I got to see more of my little guy’s creativity shine through and that’s truly my favourite thing to be part of lately!  What kind of summer bucket list items did you check off? There’s still a few more days of joyous weather ahead and I hope to fill them up right to the brim!