Category Archives: Eats

A Favorite Smoothie, Made Green

Spirulina Smoothie | A Simple Haven

Being 32 weeks pregnant means that I’ve entered “prepare for arrival” mode.

While I probably still have several weeks to go, a sense of urgency always wells up in me around this time to stock up on household goods, complete projects, and pack my body full of nutrition.

I guess this is what “nesting” looks like for me:

With my first, I bought about 50 bars of soap and demanded that we get our couch steam-cleaned. (4 1/2 years later, I just donated the last of that soap to a local homeless shelter. And our couch has not been cleaned since).

With my second, I frantically unpacked boxes, painted bedrooms, and threw up Christmas decor. (I have a hunch that this prompted baby boy’s early arrival).

With my third, I’m making Facebook pleas for non-disgusting liver recipes and considering how to incorporate more spirulina into my diet.

We’ll save the liver for another day (although if you’ve got a good pâté recipe, shoot it my way).

Spirulina Smoothie | A Simple Haven

Today, I’m sharing my favorite smoothie recipe–with a twist: spirulina. Because, really, what says happy fall like algae powder?

I’ve tried spirulina (you can get it here) in smoothies before, but even in small amounts the taste can be a little overwhelming.  So I never wanted to ruin my favorite smoothie–a glorious tropical combo of mango, coconut cream, orange, and banana–with a pond scum twist.

Until this week.

When Williams-Sonoma contacted me about being a part of their Smoothie Week, I thought for the sake of my health, baby’s health, and their “Not Your Typical Smoothie” theme I’d give it a whirl.

After all, this is my year of Living Boldly.

Here's where I thought I'd ruined my favorite smoothie. Ignore the image and press blend. Trust me.

Here’s where I thought I’d ruined my favorite smoothie. Ignore the image and press blend. Trust me.

Results? Surprisingly yummy.

The fruit and coconut cream mask the spirulina flavor pretty darn well.  Try to ignore the fact that it’s turquoise and focus on all that creamy, tropical, vitamin, mineral, and protein-packed goodness. 🙂

Tropical Spirulina Smoothie

:: Ingredients ::

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream from canned coconut milk
    (Just skim the solid stuff off the top).
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk from can (use the water-looking part that’s left)
  • 1 peeled orange
  • 1 heaping tablespoon spirulina powder
  • a splash of lime juice
  • a handful of ice

:: How-To ::

Put all ingredients in a good blender (I use a Vitamix, but check out other options here) and pulse until smooth. Add more coconut milk if needed.

Makes about 2 servings.

Spirulina Smoothie | A Simple Haven

What’s the most surprisingly yummy smoothie you’ve made?

*This post is not sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting ASH!

Boldness and Food for Company

Boldly Offering Food | A Simple Haven

This is day 9 in a series on Living Boldly. To check out the other posts in the series, go here. Welcome!

Since we’re talking hospitality, we should probably address the single most important aspect of opening your home to others: the snacks.

I’m only slightly exaggerating my view on the importance of snacks. I love food.

My hope in feeding guests is that they feel taken care of. When possible, I like to serve good food that I’ve prepared with love.

I’m pretty sure my love language to others is food and hugs–or other less-invasive forms of physical touch. Like arm pats. But I digress.

My fears?

That people won’t like my food. That I won’t have time/money/energy to make the kind of food I’d like. That people will stop over and my four year old will invite them to lunch when all I have in the fridge is leftovers.

Ok, that last one really happened. But it all turned out just fine.

So the way I see it, boldness in serving food can look one of two ways:

Option #1: Boldly Offering What You’ve Got

You can boldly offer people leftovers, crackers, a glass of water, whatever you have on hand. It’s what you’ve got and there’s no need to apologize for it.

Leftovers can feel like a feast to a college student missing the comforts of home. Sometimes a glass of water is just what a pregnant/nursing friend needs. A simple cup of tea can work wonders on a rough day.

Even though it’s simple fare, you are still considering the needs of others and serving them.

Option #2: Boldly Offering a Feast

On the other end of the spectrum, you can offer your best: that fun new recipe you’ve been wanting to try, a fondue dinner, a fancy dessert you only do on special occasions.

If you’ve got the time/energy/money, it can be so much fun to prepare a special meal to bless others with. And sometimes, you’ve got more of those three things than you think; it’s just a matter of prioritizing.

Obviously, fancy isn’t necessary. But done in love, it can be something really special.

Babette’s Feast

One of my favorite stories lately is Babette’s Feast (I’ve yet to read the book by Isak Dinesen, but you can watch the film here on Amazon Prime).

In summary, a poor refuge named Babette is taken in by two sisters. They live together very simply, but Babette gratefully accepts their hospitality.  Eventually, she comes into a large sum of money and spends the entire amount on an amazing meal (turns out she was formerly a famous chef in France) for the sisters and their friends.

There’s more to the story–there are powerful themes of grace, hospitality, and enjoying and sharing the gifts we’ve been given. But I love both pictures of hospitality: the sisters giving simple fare out of their poverty and Babette giving a feast out of her wealth.

Relatively speaking, we’ll all probably experience seasons of both poverty and wealth. Even if it’s just in terms of time and energy.

But I think we can boldly offer snacks in either.

Thoughts on cooking for company?

And if you’re in need of some good staples for company meals, check out my Cooking (Real Food on a Budget) for Company Series! 🙂

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Sympathy Gifts & Simple Acts of Service

Sympathy Gifts and Simple Acts of Service| A Simple Haven

At the beginning of the summer, I admitted to being in full-on survival mode. And to being fully ok with that.

I also expected survival mode to end more quickly than it did–or at least I expected not to revisit it anytime soon.

But with preparing for our big trip, re-adjusting to life back at home, then being sick or taking care of sick babies for about three weeks while pregnant, and Daddy traveling more and working longer hours than usual, life has not felt “normal” for a while.

Thankfully, I’ve been learning to adjust expectations of myself and lean into grace during this season. And I’ve got some pretty sweet friends and family who have helped make it better than it could have been.

If you’re in the midst of a hard season yourself, I can totally empathize. If you know a friend who is, here are some simple ways to help make their load a bit easier to bear.

Sympathy Gifts and Service for Friends

Bring a Meal

It can be dinner, but it doesn’t have to be. I like to bring new moms breakfast-y foods. Snacks are also great. For inspiration, check out this spread of summer meals to give.

But remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be appreciated! Personally, when I am sick/pregnant/just had a baby, I think food tastes ten times better when I didn’t have to make it myself.

My favorite granola bars to make and give-recipe to come!

My favorite granola bars to make and give–recipe to come!

Deliver Coffee or a Treat

I’m pretty content to be at home more often than not. Still, for me one of the hardest aspects of caring for sick kids is being house-bound. After a while, I find myself getting antsy and wishing for coffee shop delivery services.

Until one exists, you can be it for a friend who’s house-bound. Get her order, then swing by with the drink or a treat and maybe a nice note.

Offer Childcare

Not practical for sick littles, but definitely helpful when a friend is in the midst of a move, welcoming a new baby, or just in a hard season of life. Bring your kids over for a playdate while Mom rests in her room or tackles a necessary task.

Or, offer to pick the littles up and take them to the park, Chick-fil-a, library, or local fire station. (My kids think the fire station is awesome).

Offer to Help Pack/Unpack

We’ve moved a lot. There are always loads of emotions, but there’s also the reality that the kitchen needs to be packed. If I can do it with a friend, all the better.

Epsom salt + oatmeal bath sachets in a mason jar

Epsom salt + oatmeal bath sachets in a mason jar

Make a Survival Kit

My sweet friend Danielle brought me a “first trimester survival kit” back in the spring and it was fabulous. She included bath sachets of lavender-scented epsom salts (apparently magnesium deficiency is a cause of nausea) and pregnancy tea (which really could just be called “women’s health tea” because it’s helpful whether pregnant or not).

I took one bath sachet along on our big trip and treated myself to a much-needed soak in our Montreal hotel’s tub after a long day of wrangling Buckaroo. It was lovely.

Other Simple Survival Kit Ideas:

For a moving friend: special toys for the kids for a long car ride, a Starbucks gift card for coffee stops, and a compilation of encouraging notes from friends (especially if it’s a long-distance move!)

For a new baby: diapers, snacks for mommy (particularly a mom who’s nursing), and a new candle/bath product to encourage mom to take a break when she can.

For a general rough season of life: an encouraging note, a CD of uplifting tunes, and an offer of a free date night for mom and dad.

What would you put in a “survival kit” for a friend?

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Real Food on the Road

Real Food on the Road | Day2day Joys

Now that I’m back from our big trip and have mostly caught up on sleep and laundry, I’m starting to reflect a bit on our adventures. Am I glad we did it? Absolutely.

Were there bumps along the way? Absolutely.

But adventures in traveling with kids is a story for another day. Today, I’m over at Day2Day Joys sharing about attempting to feed your family real food on the road.

Having spent a week in a beach house last year, I had learned a little about how to feed my fam decent stuff away from home. This year’s trip was way more challenging:

I had a kitchen to do some meal prep in, but not until almost a week into the trip. A few days were spent entirely on the road in rural Canada with few convenience meal prospects (the words “can we at least find a Taco Bell?” actually escaped my mouth).

Other days were spent in cities eating out for every meal, the cost of which I was trying to offset with homemade stuff where I could.

The bottom line? Pack strategically and (outside of food allergies) lower your standards. And enjoy the ride.

For some simple tips for health-and-budget-friendly eating on the road , join me over at Day2Day Joys! 🙂

Meals for the Lazy Days of Summer

We’re still deep in the heart of our Canada Extravaganza, which so far has been filled with beautiful sights, my son’s feral-cat-like screams from the backseat, and meals that have ranged from fabulous to randomly patched together. In honor of the latter, I give you the following:

Here in the Midwest, summer took its sweet time in coming. But we are now fully in the midst of it and I am loving the long days, slower pace, spontaneous day trips, and outdoor adventures.

However, all of this frolicking about means that our usual rhythms have been a bit thrown; dinner, which usually began at 5:30 sharp, now happens…whenever. Meal planning has lately amounted to me checking the pantry in the morning and mentally piecing some randomness together for that evening.

While I usually meal plan for the sake of my sanity and budget, summer seems to bring permission to take a more laid-back approach.

I’m also basking in the flexibility that a backyard garden affords (No dinner plan? Off to the garden to pick a salad!) and the freedom that comes from serving a platter of healthy snacks for dinner.

When summer ends, we’ll get back into more set routines. For now, it feels good to plan less, embrace spontaneity (even if it messes with the dinner hour), and enjoy summer’s bounty of fresh produce.

Here are some simple favorites from my home. Nothing revolutionary, just easy some ideas to make meal prep less daunting on those lazy summer days.

**To read the rest, please join me over at dayday joys, where I posted this last year 🙂 **

Sweets for Your Monday :: Custard Pie with Strawberries

Custard Pie with Strawberries | A Simple Haven

One day last week, everyone slept late. Instead of being roused by my alarm or the babies, I somehow slept until 7:30 undisturbed. It was glorious.

Also glorious was the first email I read that morning. It was from a friend and included only a link to the most fantastic looking custard recipe.

All morning long I thought of this custard. The recipe called for it to be served on berries but the more I pondered making my afternoon treat, the more it seemed best to use it as pie filling.

So before our morning preschool meet-up, we headed to the store and bought as many cartons of strawberries as we could hold. Then, while the babies napped, I cracked the eggs, stirred the cream, and poured this glorious custard into my favorite pie crust.

(While listening to this podcast. Because really, what goes better with custard than personality type geekery?)

It was difficult not to consume the entire pie in one sitting. But thankfully for Hubs, self-control prevailed and we all enjoyed an evening treat.

Wishing you a lovely, custard-filled Monday :).

Custard Pie with Strawberries

:: Custard ::

Elliott Homestead Custard Recipe 

(Note: I followed the recipe exactly and found that it didn’t quite fill up my pie curst. That may or may not be because of my sampling along the way. In any case, you may want to increase all ingredient amounts by half).

:: Almond Flour Pie Crust ::

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, ghee, or butter (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 1/2 T honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together, then combine the contents of both bowls and stir thoroughly.  Press the dough into a pie pan and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Then add custard and top with strawberries. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Easy, last-minute Valentine’s ideas that aren’t just for Valentine’s Day

O
ne of my goals for 2014 is to plan ahead for minor holiday celebrations.  You know, Father’s Day, Easter, birthdays. Basically everything outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I love creating special traditions for our family, but minor holidays often catch me off-guard. As in, I mail birthday cards on people’s birthdays or realize three days before Easter that it would be nice to share a meal with friends.

So far, I rocked New Year’s Eve: Hubs and I put the babies to bed early and then enjoyed a steak dinner (my first home-cooked!) with roasted brussel sprouts and Shauna Niequists’s goat cheese biscuits followed by crème brûlée.

Valentine’s Day has been another story. 

Bun and I made some simple cards to give to her preschool class (class being a generous term as there are only five other kids) but the cards she and Buckaroo made for their grandmothers are still sitting on the kitchen table. As are the notes I plan to send to a few friends.

I’ve never been a huge celebrator of Valentine’s Day, but I do like to think of it as a chance to communicate love and encouragement to family and friends.

So while I’m a little behind on February 14th festivities, thankfully, I have the rest of the year to spread the love. Continue reading

The Best Grain-Free Fruit Crisp Ever

B
ecause we’re doing a Whole 30 (ish) this month, I have not been partaking in the glorious world of pastries, muffins, and sweets.  Because I added the “ish,” I have been making (and thanking the good Lord for) this awesome fruit crisp.

I’m no Whole 30/Paleo expert, but I’m guessing this thing isn’t Whole 30 approved due to the inclusion of dates.

As I’m not consuming any other sweeteners this month and this thing is fantastic with a cup of coffee or tea, I am embracing the “ish” and those lovely illegal dates.

Even if you’re not doing a crazy New Year detox, this simple and satisfying treat is a winner.

Proof: Hubs loves it.  And he doesn’t like “fruit in places it shouldn’t be,” which generally includes desserts.

Grain-Free Fruit Crisp | A Simple Haven

Grain-Free Apple Berry Crisp Continue reading