Friday, April 27, 2012

Foodie Friday: Meal Plan 4/30-5/6

I’m an avid foodie and I love (live) to cook. It relaxes me, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment, it tames my anxiety by giving me something to do with my hands, and it gives me great comfort to know that the food I set on the table came from the freshest ingredients possible and was brought together by my hands and no one else’s. So, I suppose in that way it also satisfies my inner control freak (sometimes not so inner, but I digress).

I’m also a food porn junkie - I love to look at pictures of gorgeous meals and I also love to produce my own food porn, though the results tend to be less-than-stellar looking (I blame my camera phone, but to be honest, I’m not much of a food artist). Almost every night, I post pictures of my dinners for all the world (well, all of a certain facebook group, at least) to see. I’m both documenting my achievements and proving to others that healthy, well-cooked meals are within anyone’s reach.

As a result of all my food porn spamming, I get a lot of positive feedback and many requests for recipes and meal plans so that other people can put together a cache of their own go-to meals. That is what this is all about - sharing information, recipes, tips, ideas, etc. Each week I will post seven days worth of dinners (three of which will be meatless, a compromise borne of much arduous discussion with the husband), as well as ideas for “cooking class creations” to do with young children each night and a few freezable breakfast and snack ideas so that you can have a stash of things to reheat in a pinch.

Here goes nothing...for recipes, please visit my pin board “Meal Plan 4/30-5/6” here . If you have questions about substituting a particular ingredient because you can’t find or don’t have something listed in a recipe, don’t hesitate to contact me at!

Spaghetti Squash “Noodles” with Thai Peanut Sauce (I added sriracha to both of these sauces)
Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls
Egg Roll Dipping Sauce

Braised Oxtail in the Slow Cooker
Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon and Garlic
Sorrel Salad with Beets and Berries

Spaghetti Squash Florentine (I used a combo of kale and spinach in the florentine, skipped the jarred sauce and just pureed some fresh organic roma tomatoes)
Cauliflower Crust “Pizza” Topped with Broccoli Pesto and Grated Parmesan
Mixed Baby Greens Salad Topped with Halved Yellow Pear Tomatoes and a Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar

Salmon with Blood Orange Salad (I added sliced radishes to the salad)
Quinoa with Blood Orange and Basil (I used whole wheat couscous in place of quinoa since I had run also makes the recipe much quicker to make)

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili in the Slow Cooker
Summer Corn Cakes
Honey Mustard Collard Greens

Lazy Woman’s Cabbage Roll Casserole (using ground chicken thighs)
Chickpeas and Spinach
Mixed Baby Greens Salad Topped with Halved Yellow Pear Tomatoes and a Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar

Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers (using black beans)
Homemade Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
Raw Cauliflower Mash (skipped the mushroom gravy)
Mixed Baby Greens Salad

Each week, I pick a day on the weekend when the husband is able to baby wrangle and I make several different easy, freezable recipes. These morsels will then get reheated in the mornings for breakfast or a snack or even to be included in my oldest daughter’s lunch when she goes to her gymnastics MDO program twice a week. This week, I made these tasty treats:
Pumpkin Pistachio Bread
Whole Wheat Waffles (I mix in superfoods like chia or flax seeds, a cup of either kefir or Odwalla superfood smoothie, or pumpkin puree)
Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

Also, each night, I try to do a little interactive cooking demonstration with my oldest daughter. She loves to be treated with dessert each night, and I feel a bit better knowing that she’s taken part in the preparation and that the ingredients are wholesome. Her kitchen lessons this week have included:
Healthy Chocolate Pudding (6-8 soaked and pitted medjool dates, 2 T cocoa or cacao powder, ½ cup coconut milk, 1 t vanilla extract, 1 ripe avocado - throw it all into a blender or processor until smooth)
Stove-popped Popcorn (we made “cheesy” using butter, sea salt and grated Parmesan, and we made “sweety” using butter, honey, cinnamon and vanilla extract)
Easy Chocolate Frosting
Yogurt Covered Strawberries
Yogurt Freezie Pops (we simply pureed fresh berries, mixed them in with yogurt, then poured the mixture into these pop molds and froze them)
Ice Cream in a Baggie (we used heavy cream sweetened with vanilla and maple syrup)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meet Greenola Girl Sarah!

10 years ago, if you had asked me if I were interested in being part of a green living blog, I would have probably laughed at you. But things happen in your life to change you, to alter your perception, and for me, it was my quest to get pregnant. But I'll start from the beginning. 

Up until my senior year in high school, I was the "skinny" girl, I was a competitive swimmer, I was actually told by my coaches to GAIN weight, and I ate like a football player. When I was 17, I found out that I had a form of genetic cancer, thyroid cancer, and I had to have my thyroid removed. I should have relearned how to eat then, but, I thought my metabolism was the same as it always had been. I gained some weight, and then when I went away to college, I got really sick. I have a blood disorder, called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, or ITP. In layman's terms, it's a platelet disorder, and occasionally, my platelet counts drop, and I have to watch for excessive bleeding and bruising. I was in the hospital for a long time, and took an exorbitant amount of steroids, which made me balloon up to the highest weight I've ever been, and I've been struggling since then to get it off. 

Fast forward to 2009- a newlywed, happiest I have EVER been in my life. But we wanted a baby, and I couldn't get pregnant. Found out that I have PCOS, a fairly common thing, especially with women who have packed on some extra LBs over the years. I underwent a year of fertility treatments, hormones, shots, the works. I have a GORGEOUS 17 month old now, courtesy of a process called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). 

The day after she was born, I promised myself that I was no longer living my life for me, but for my daughter, Allyson Faith. She deserved more than a mother who didn't have the energy to run around crazy with her.  I began watching what I ate, with better food  choices, like organic and locally grown veggies, locally butchered meats, and less processed foods. I also make an effort to choose natural remedies for things around the house, like household cleaners, or headache remedies! All of these changes coupled with exercise, I lost over 40 pounds, and then discovered  I was pregnant! We conceived naturally this time, and, are overjoyed to announce that on April 14th, I delivered a healthy baby girl, Makenna Joy. 

I am excited to continue my journey to a healthier me, and a healthier family!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LÄRABAR review

I remember the first LÄRABAR I ever had.  My family just finished walking in the Susan G. Komen Race for the cure in memory of his mom and before leaving, my husband grabbed a sample bar.  I hadn’t eaten since 5:30am and it was getting close to noon so I pulled out the nursing mom card and snagged the bar..  I loved it and went searching for it in local stores.  I couldn’t remember the name so I ended up picking up a couple different brands in error.  I couldn’t find them anywhere and eventually forgot about them.

When I started making the switch to unprocessed food, I knew I would need something that was convenient. When I am at school, I seem to be constantly moving and by mid-afternoon, I am hungry for a snack.  Thanks to Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food, I become re-acquainted with LÄRABARs.  I found the lemon bar at my local health food store and as soon as I bit into it, I recognized it.  I have tried a couple different bars over the last couple months and lemon is still by far my favorite.

LÄRABAR was generous enough to send me four different bars to review.  I received the box last Friday and within two days, they were all gone.  In the box, I found Key Lime Pie, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte, and Tropical Fruit Tart. 

He claimed Key Lime Pie first.
I made sure that everyone got a taste of each bar.  I thought my husband’s favorite would be Key Lime Pie but he loved Tropical Fruit Tart.  When I first opened the package, I could smell the pineapple but when I took a bit, I noticed it was balanced well with the other ingredients.  I am not a huge fan of coconut but it really worked well.  My children ate every bar and had absolutely no complaints.  I think in the end, my favorite was the Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte.  I could totally see myself eating this as a late night desert without feeling guilty.

They look calm but if I was closer to the ground, they would have been fighting over each piece.
·      The ingredients in LÄRABARs are food as my friend would say.  They are ingredients that when you read them, you know exactly what you are eating.  Some of the bars have as little as two ingredients.
·      No added sugar!
·       They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher.
·      They are delicious and have a variety of flavors.  It is easy to find one you will love. Check out their website to see the variety of flavors they offer.
·      Many of the bars are on the softer side.  I think this is great because it is soft enough that I can give it to my 15 month old, who is still cutting molars, and he has no problem eating it.

·      The one complaint some of my friends have is that they are expensive.  I have noticed a range of prices when I have been out shopping.  The local health food store near me sells them at $1.89, which is the most expensive I have seen them.  Trader Joe’s sells them for $1.29 but they only have 5 flavors and they never seem to change.  One of the other Greenola Girls has spotted them at Target for 5/$5 but I have yet to find them, which is partly because I was looking in the wrong spot.  If you find a bar you really love, you can order them on Amazon.  Some bars even have a subscribe and save option… hello Lemon bars delivered right to my doorstep… yes please!  You can also save that way because the bars average out to be about $1.13 each.

Want another option?  How about free?  LÄRABARs has graciously offered to sponsor a giveaway through Greenola Girls!  Keep your eyes peeled.  The giveaway will start April 25th, 2012.  Want a sneak peek?  Check out the LÄRABAR giveaway page!

Monday, April 23, 2012

LÄRABAR Giveaway

LÄRABARs are a great convenient, whole food snack.  They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher.  Haven't tried them yet?  You are in luck!  LÄRABAR has graciously offered to sponsor a giveaway through Greenola Girls. Want more information?  Check out my review or LÄRABAR's website.

The winner of the giveaway will get a mixed caddy of 16 LÄRABARs!

 This giveaway is open to US residents only.  The giveaway begins April, 25th at 12:01am and will end April 30th at 12:01 am. Good Luck!

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Meet Greenola Girl Bonnie!

As a child a typical dinner was meat, french fries and a salad.  We rarely had junk food and never ate out.  Being from a family of 8 made it difficult to eat out.  My parents never took us to McDonalds or any other fast food type restaurants.  Once I hit my twenties I lived at these types of restaurants.  It was totally unhealthy, but I enjoyed it and found it comforting.  When I had my first son I watched everything he ate.  I made his baby food.  He wasn’t allowed to have any type of candy until he was over two.  I got a lot of funny looks when I said he wasn’t allowed to have sweets. When I had my second son.  I didn’t make my own food, but I did by organic food.  Was it the same absolutely not, but it was easier.  I believed the food choices I was making were good ones and I thought I was instilling good eating habits into my sons.  Boy was I wrong.

Being a mom of two young boys I find myself making the wrong choices out of convenience. When food shopping, I would blow through the produce section picking up only bananas and garlic.  These are staples in our household.  I lived in the middle of the store loving the processed foods.  Why? It was just easy and fast but it is definitely not healthy or good for my family or me.   I would often blame my food choices on I have two small children and things have to be done fast.  I have learned that organization is the key to a family of four.  I’m learning everyday about living a healthy life and as I am learning I’m teaching my sons as well.  We are making small strides into a healthier life.  I’m focused more on the produce section and introducing new and fresh vegetables to our family’s diet.  My sons now know that they have to try it, but don’t have to like it.

I’ve even enrolled my son in a class teaching him about different vegetables and fruits.  They tell him why they are good for him and what vitamins are in the vegetable or fruit they are learning about.  He enjoys it and is learning tons.  I feel my children need to learn by example I have to lead and steer them on the right path. I’m at the beginning of my natural, healthier, organic lifestyle.  I’m learning new ideas everyday and hope to share with you what I am learning.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Super Healthy Banana Muffins

This week my son is taking The Achievement test. He goes to a private school, so its kind of like the STAR tests in public school. When I picked him up from school last week he said in a very serious voice "mom, I have some very important information in my folder for you to read. It's about me." At this point I am thinking, "Oh man, he probably got in trouble." It was actually a paper that stated how important these tests are, and how the students where going to need a good amount to rest, pencils, a good breakfast and snacks with a drink. No junk food or sugary drinks. I told my son not to worry...I was on it! So this recipe and blog is about one of his favorite snacks. Banana bread muffins. With my own tweaks to make them healthier. Enjoy!

  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blend of regular sugar and splenda, equal parts.
  • 2 tablespoons light butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
There's really nothing stopping you from just dumping all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing it all together, and then pouring it in the greased pans to bake, but I really think following these directions will make the end product just a little better. So here you go:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream sugar with butter (this helps to get all the butter blended smoothly!)
  3. Add egg, and beat lightly to get the mixture to fluff up a little.
  4. Add the 4 bananas, already smashed up in a separate bowl (a pastry fork works really well for mashing and mixing the bananas if you don't feel like busting out the mixer)
  5. Add the vanilla, and applesauce.
  6. Then add all the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
  7. Pour mixture into pan sprayed with cooking spray so they don't stick! (Either 2 loaf pans, or a 12-cup muffin pan)
  8. Bake for around 50 minutes, probably less for muffins, but keep an eye on them either way. You'll be able to tell it's all ready when the color is good and golden brown, or when a knife comes out clean from the center.
  9. Remove muffins or loaves from pans to cool on a rack.
My tweaks:

am really trying to cut out sugar in his diet...completely if I can help it. Here are my substitutes.

Instead of butter I used sweetened apple sauce.
Instead of sugar I added 1/2 a cup of pure raw & unfiltered honey.
Instead of white flour, I used 100% whole wheat flour.

Finally, since I made mini muffins, these only took about 25 to 30 min to bake. If your making a loaf or bigger muffins, it will take longer.

Verdict---Delicious! Moist! Perfect portion size for adults and perfect snack size for kids!

Ayden is ready for his testing with his yummy and healthy snack!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Perils of Paper Towel Use

Paper towels - those handy ubiquitous “quicker picker-uppers” that you take for granted - have absorbed some pretty dark, dirty secrets over the years. While we tear and clean, wipe and throw, our environment takes a beating. And these disposable conveniences also take a toll on our wallets - costing at least $1 per roll, they go straight into the trash after being used only once.

You think we’re just being dramatic? Take a look at the facts:

  • 40% of U.S. landfill trash is paper products.
  • The paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming.
  • The average American discards of 700 pounds or more of paper each year.
  • If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year. Change that to using three less rolls per U.S. household per year, and that would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees.
  • Your typical paper towel is manufactured using chlorine, which releases carcinogenic dioxins and furans.

  • Forests store 50% of the world's terrestrial carbon. (In other words, they are awfully important "carbon sinks" that hold onto pollution that would otherwise lead to global warming.)
  • Half the world's forests have already been cleared or burned, and 80% of what's left has been seriously degraded.
  • 42% of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper.
  • The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector's carbon emissions.
  • Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).
  • Municipal landfills account for one third of human-related methane emissions (and methane is 23-times more potent a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide).


According to, it is estimated that “if each Washington resident used just one paper towel per day, the state would generate 134,312 tons of waste per year.”

But, what about recycled paper towels? Aren’t they a good alternative? In fact, no. I hate to burst the recycling bubble, but this is one case where recycling may not be a great option. Regular paper towels contain bisphenol-A (otherwise known as BPA), an endocrine disrupter associated with breast and prostate cancers, metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes and obesity, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Shockingly, though, studies demonstrate that recycled paper products contain levels of BPA even higher than those made from virgin material.
 (Source- "The Body Toxic" by Nena Baker)

So, what’s the answer? Glad you asked! More and more people are learning about the benefits (both financial and environmental) of reusable paper towels. They can be used, washed, and reused (20+ times!), plus they can be made in a pattern that actually matches your kitchen design theme - big-name paper towel manufacturers can’t say that...I mean, how many times have you looked at your disposable paper towels’ teacup pattern and thought, “what idiot came up with that??!” They are super absorbent and snap together so you can wrap them around your paper towel holder and have them on display! When you’ve finished using them, just throw them in the laundry for a spin and voila! Clean and ready-to-use!

Check out the set of unpaper towels made by our very own Greenola Girl Erin! Just for our fans, she’s created this super cute bunch of green-themed towels and we will send them to one lucky reader! The giveaway ends Tuesday April 24 at 12:01 a.m...good luck!!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meet Greenola Girl Karla!

In a world where "convenience" has become our norm (and I say “our” because I've been there before), let's be honest, our outlook on food stems from our childhood and what was placed in front of us. I grew up in a very traditional Mexican home. Delicious food non the less!

When I had my first son at a very young age, I had no clue whatsoever what I was feeding him. I never even thought about it. Maybe in a sense I really didn't care; as long as he was being fed, that’s all that mattered. I gave in to the "convenience" of processed jarred baby food, fast food, food in cans and boxes that have no national value at all! When my son turned 5, I found myself overweight, unhappy and wanting more than just the "norm". I began to work out like a crazy woman; loving the results I asked myself, "how do I make this my life style?" Wel,l for many of us we are deceived thinking that easy fix diets or just giving up junk food will help. There is so much more than that. I was introduced to the world of organic, wholesome and homemade food. The world now, with all its processed, junky, pesticide-covered, hormone-fed, antibiotics-injected, MSG-heavy, high fructose corn syrup-centered (geez...I can go on and on about the so-called food we eat), has hidden the original way we were meant to eat since early mankind! Once I learned all of this I slowly began to make the transition. It's not easy! But it’s become a passion for me to teach my kids to eat healthy and to reap the benefits from it - how food can be our medicine rather that just taking a pill from doctor.

Fast forward to now, after having my second son, my whole view of raising my kids has changed. I breastfed longer than I ever thought I could, I made his baby food, I give him almond milk rather than whole cows milk, I make his snacks and juice from scratch. All of these things don't make me better than anyone else, but because this lifestyle is so undermined and not very well known, it’s kind of frowned upon really. So, I want to help people understand the importance of food. One of my many joys is knowing what is going in to my loved ones’ bodies. Yes, there are sacrifices we make, but in the end its so worth it! To close, I am a 27-year-old happily married momma that has a passion for eating healthy, helping people do the same and raising my boys to be strong, healthy, responsible and caring men!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Meet Greenola Girl Emily!

For the last 5 years, I have put myself on the back burner.  Since becoming a mom to twins, I have put all of my energy and time into being a mom, doing mom things and putting myself on the back burner, because it was the right thing to do at the time. I never even once considered if the food I was consuming was going to have an impact on my health, or my children. That thought is so disturbing to me now. 

 When I found out I was pregnant with my last baby, my son, things began to change. I started to research health during pregnancy, determined not to gain any more weight, as I was already about 50+lbs over. I started slowly increasing exercise and eating healthier. In my quest to find out about health, I came across the topic of breastfeeding. I already knew that I wanted to this time around because the first time I failed. I was determined. Once my son arrived things really changed. I knew I had to change my eating habits so that my son was getting the best nutrition possible. I joined Weight Watchers weeks after his birth and started losing weight like crazy. I was about 40lbs down when people started asking me “Don’t you feel so much better?!”  My automatic answer was, yes but the truth was I was exhausted. I chalked it up to being up all night with a new baby. Then I came across a blog about “real food” that changed my life. I decided our family was going to pledge to eat real food for a week. This was the most eye-opening week of my life. The things I was putting into my body were making me tired. Sure, I was losing weight by restricting calories, but I was still eating lots of refined sugar, flour and things that were making me feel horrible. 

I started cooking fresh, healthy, organic foods daily and I was surprised at how quickly my children adapted. They started asking me at the tender age of 4 if what they were eating had sugar in it, and if it was healthy for them. After a 65+lb weight loss, I feel full of energy since cutting down on refined sugar. Recently, we have been striving to become greener. We switched our 1 year old into cloth diapers and wipes (which we LOVE!).  Instead of buying bulk paper plate stacks, we purchased a cute new dishware set. Rather than going through case after case of bottled water, I bought everyone in our family a reusable water bottle.  I have learned to make my own body wash, shampoo, safe cleaning supplies and various other money saving, green products. This is a journey, and I am still learning new things all of the time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hair dye alternatives: Henna

Lately, in my quest to go natural in all areas of my life, I have been confronted with the realization that my hair color addiction is pretty much one of the worst choices I could be making right now.  I am addicted to my red hair.  I have no problem with my naturally dark blond/strawberry blondish brown hair.  But I really love having red hair.  It’s fun.  It lets me have a slightly quirky side without going out and getting a tattoo or nose ring (all of which I think are perfectly fine and wonderful, just not for me).  So I have continued with my bi-monthly ritual of soaking my whole head in noxious chemicals for up to an hour at a time and breathing in those same chemicals just to have my fiery red locks.  

In the effort to really make this natural lifestyle actually work, I found that those of us who want to darken our hair can in fact continue to do so in a natural, organic, healthy way.  Hooray!  My aunt was the first person to introduce me to henna in the form of body art.  I also found out that she uses it in her hair!  She introduced me to the wonderful people over at Henna Sooq and their line of 100% organic, all natural, pure body art quality henna hair dye. 
Before I go into the process of applying henna to hair, I need to make sure everyone understands that there is a difference between 100% pure body art quality henna and many of the “henna” hair kits out there.  If you’ve ever gone to the beach and gone to a henna tattoo booth for a temporary tattoo and it goes on your skin black, you are being covered with henna that is mixed with other potentially very harmful chemicals that give it that color.  Henna is a plant and only has one color—varying shades of orange or red.  Pure henna only produces that color.  There are ways to achieve dark browns and blacks in your hair color by utilizing natural herbs and indigo, but I don’t know what they are.  See the people over at Henna Sooq for that info. For my purposes, henna in its natural form was exactly what I was looking for. 

To begin, henna needs to sit for about 3-4 hours to allow the color to develop before applying.  I mixed mine in a stainless steel bowl with a stainless steel spoon so as not to stain any of my lovely wood or plastic bowls.  You will find warnings out there against using metal to mix your henna but, again, these warnings only apply to henna that is mixed with other chemicals.  100% pure body art quality henna can be mixed in any bowl you like.   

 When I was ready to apply the dye (which was basically like a bowl full of thick, smooth mud) I wet my hair and patted it damp.  Then I started at the top of my head, applied it thickly from root to tip, and wound it around on top of my head so that I was working my way down and piling all my hair on top.  It only took about 10 minutes because it was so easy to do given the thick consistency of the henna.  
After washing the henna out of my hair--very orange
Once I had applied the dye and cleaned up the areas where I got some of it on my forehead or ears or neck, I wrapped my head in plastic wrap (you can also use a plastic bag) and then covered it with a microfiber towel to keep it warm.  I then went about my normal business for the next 3.5 hours.  I know that you can leave it on as long as 6 hours.  The directions on my particular box said 3-4 so I did it right in the middle.  It turned out really, really well.  I couldn’t have asked for a better result!  Not only is it just the color I like, it is a very rich, shiny, lush color.  That night I coated my hair in coconut oil and slept.  The coconut oil was supposed to help the color oxidize faster and reach it’s true color quicker.  Henna can also dry your hair out a bit and the oil is to help replace some of the moisture.  

All-in-all I am 100% satisfied with my henna experience. I can honestly say I will never go back to conventional hair dyes again!  If I ever need to lighten my color a bit I can just use a little lemon juice and the sun.  No bleaches or harsh chemicals needed.  For information on other color possibilities with henna you can go to   

After 48 hours allowing the dye to oxidize fully