All-Natural Pops

Popsicles are a favorite treat around here once the weather warms up.   Who doesn't enjoy eating a cold, tasty snack off a stick, outside.  

My favorite part is I can sneak almost anything into them and the kids will eat it without even noticing. Just blend up some fruit and add in the extras.  Sometimes we add plain yogurt and honey, but other times we just blend fruit with a little bit of juice.  I always try to have spinach on hand to add in too.

There is no right or wrong.  Have fun experimenting with fruit, yogurt, veggies, juice, etc.

A Yogurt Pop "Recipe"

1 handful of strawberries
1 handful of peaches
1 banana
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 large handful of spinach leaves
1 small squirt of honey

Stir ingredients gently with wooden spoon.  Blend until smooth (I love using my immersion blender).  Pour into popsicle molds.  Freeze and enjoy. :)

Strawberries don't last long in our house, so with strawberry season upon us, we decided to take the kids strawberry picking.  What better way to enjoy fresh, delicious berries!  Maybe we will even have enough extra to make some jam and special desserts. ;)

We were prepared to drive out to Markham, VA to one of our favorite u-pick farms (Hartland Orchard), but everyday as we drove into town, we passed a strawberry picking sign along the roadside. Every time, my husband would suggest we check it out.  I was not convinced by the "random" strawberry picking sign that had popped up so close to our home and was sticking to the plan to load up and head out to Markham.  Luckily, our schedule has been so busy, we never made it out to Markham.  ;)  I was determined to pick strawberries before the season was up, so I relented to trying the strawberry place by our house.  It was a wonderful experience!

It is not a random patch set up on the back part of a local resident's acreage like I imagined. :P  Hidden behind the houses along the road is a full size farm called Messick's Farm Market.  The farm is run by a family committed to the sustainability of their farm.  This has driven them to be creative and innovative.  They are transforming their family farm into a u-pick farm and farm market.  This season they have a number of delicious fruits and vegetables available to pick or buy pre-picked.  They share recipes and ideas, are friendly, and willing to answer your questions.  One of the farmers walked us out to the strawberry patch personally and shared information about the farm and the strawberries they've grown.

They grow their crops using organic principles and you can eat/allow your kids to eat straight from the field without worry.  They have a vision to build and develop their farm so they have fresh produce and healthy local foods available throughout the year.  Already they have a number of crops growing that I am marking on my calendar so I don't miss taking the family over to pick our own.  Their farm market building is under construction and promises to be a wonderful place to stop in and buy local produce and foods.  Who could ask for more- friendly people committed to growing organically, running a farm right by my house (literally a 2 minute drive)!

If you live in the area, I encourage you to check out Messick's Farm Market!  You can also like them on Facebook so you can keep up with what's new.

Yesterday, I decided to push everyone outside their mealtime comfort zone by planning to serve a new recipe that I honestly expected to be disliked by all. I came across this recipe for fish tacos (with a nicer picture than mine too) and thought it sounded interesting.  Over the weekend, I shared the menu for the week with my husband.  He was not excited about the fish tacos, but is a good sport and is always willing to try new things. :)  As I prepped the fish and cooked, I talked up our dinner with the kids.  Thankfully, I have 2 kids who are willing to try new foods and even retry foods they previously disliked.  

The fish tacos were actually very quick and easy to make.  I made the fish spicy for the adults and left out the red pepper on the kids' fish.  I also left out the onions on the kids' tacos and just gave them some of the creamy cilantro sauce the onions were in.   To my surprise, the kids liked the fish tacos and ate their entire taco.  I thought they were good as well.  Brandon ate his without complaint, but I think he would be just as happy if I left them off the menu in the future.  I guess I'll just have to make them for lunch for the kids and I on occasion. ;)

We are on a journey to live healthier.  This has involved many changes and will result in many more.  It is not something we have done overnight.  Instead we have tackled one area at a time and then moved on to another.  This has involved lots of reading and evaluating claims regarding what is healthy, safe, best, etc.  I may blog more about this ongoing process at a later time, but today I want to share a recipe that is great for quick breakfasts or a healthy snack: Breakfast Cookies.  My sister came across it and passed it on to me as a great "kid friendly" recipe that only uses real food!

Breakfast Cookies

3 mashed bananas
1/3 c applesauce
2 c old-fashioned oats
1/4 c milk (I used organic, but almond or coconut milk work as well)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Any mix-ins you prefer such as raisins, cranberries, nuts, dark chocolate...

Bake 350, 15-20 minutes.
Mash bananas.

Add the rest of the ingredients. (I didn't use any additional mix-ins.)

Drop spoonfuls of cookie mix.  Pat down a little. (The cookies will not flatten or spread during baking, so they will hold whatever shape you put them on the pan.)

Bake 15-20 minutes. (Mine needed 20 minutes)  Let cool and enjoy!

Freeze the extras for a quick breakfast or snack you can feel good about.  Just take out however many you need and warm for 20-30 seconds in the microwave.