choco maca smoothie

Chocolate maca smoothie

Remember how how I was telling you all about the benefits of maca powder?  And how by adding a tablespoon to my morning routine (in addition to reducing carbs and taking Pilates a few times a week) I’ve been able to shed a few pounds of winter weight that had settled on my middle?

I told you about the maca chai latte (a great warm way to start the day). But we’ve been visiting my mom’s in the SoCal desert these past few days and it’s honestly too warm to even think about a chai latte (sorry Montana friends. I heard about the six inches of snow!!)

Since a hot latte’s not in my life right now I wanted to find a cool tasty alternative. I also wanted something satisfying that would keep me “full” until lunch.

Did I mention my parents live in date central? Seriously, most of the dates available in the US come from the Coachella Valley. There are at least three date farms within a mile of my parents’ place.

Which is a long-winded intro to my new favorite breakfast smoothie:

Chocolate Maca Breakfast Smoothie

1 banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3-4 chopped pitted dates
1 TBL raw maca powder
1 tsp raw cacao powder
1/2 cup filtered water

Combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender and purée until smooth.


Xo, Jeanne

immune boosting grape juice (that your kids will drink)

Abby here.

Ever go to the grocery store and end up grabbing a totally random item you’ve never bought before for no particular reason other than it was on sale for about fifty cents less?

I knew I wasn’t the only one!

So my random item was this:

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I’m quite familiar with Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, as we use it for a number of minor ailments (such as this), but I’ve never been drawn to their drinks.  I mean, I did crave ACV during my first pregnancy, but it’s not something I choose to pleasurably sip on nowadays.

So I got the drink and opened up as soon as we were in the car.

Does anyone else do that?

The kids and I HAVE to consume something we bought on the short drive home… everytime.  Sometimes its kombucha or apples or carrots or chips.

I took the first sip and thought it was… okay.  Nothing to go crazy over, but knowing it’s benefits it is something I could get used to.  I passed it back to the kids to try and I never got another sip.  They sucked it down, and asked for more…. which is really what this whole post is about.

The ingredients are so simple, I knew I could easily make this myself.

untitled (1 of 1)-32All I did was mix equal parts water and organic grape juice (I buy not from concentrate if it’s available), and then added about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  There’s really no special formula for this one.  If your children are used to undiluted sweet juices they may turn their nose up at this one.  Continue playing with the measurements, and you’re sure to find something that works!

Wonder why I chose grape juice over apple?  Besides grape juice being the flavor on sale … well … there’s a controversy over arsenic levels in apple juice.  Dr. Oz made a big deal about it, suggesting that “we may be poisoning our families” with chronic arsenic exposure.  Then the FDA proposed an “action level” of 10 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic in apple juice, matching the approved level for bottled water.

We haven’t done any independent studies on arsenic levels.  We only know that we’ve read it’s a carcinogen and that if we can reduce our families’ exposure to it, we might as well.

Plus, grapes and grape juice are jam-packed with antioxidants and the Mayo Clinic suggests that it could offer some great health benefits: like helping to reduce the likelihood of blood clots, helping maintain blood pressure, reducing “bad” cholesterol levels (all things I hope you’re not concerned about for your children, but are interesting nonetheless).

So … there it is … grape juice.

And thankfully, grape juice is a pretty bold flavor … easy to “hide” the tastes of some less than tasty but great for you supplements (colloidal silver, probiotics, superfood, etc.).

And it’s that time of year where the flu is running around, and I’m doing my best to give my family things to naturally ward it off!   Anything else you can think of to hide in this juice?

healthy hot chocolate


My boys woke up this morning needing to go outside.  While I do my best to get them out despite the cold, it’s not what I want to do the instant I wake up.

But one thing I’ve learned about living in cold weather is the only way to enjoy the winter is to just embrace it.  Wow, it feels weird even typing that.  This Texas gal has come a long way, folks.

What is the one universal thing everyone must do after playing in the snow? Drink hot chocolate.

My version is simple and I feel pretty good about giving my boys as much as they’d like.


  • 1 cup raw milk (you can sub for your milk of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon organic dark coco powder
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grade B maple syrup

Mix all ingredients in small pot and warm over medium heat until you reach desired temperature.  You can use more or less coco or maple syrup depending on your preference.

This made just enough for my boys to share.  It’s a thrill as a mom to feed them fun treats that aren’t bad for their bodies!

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We’re linked up:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop: Real Food Wednesday
The Domestic Superhero

cherry ginger bug fizz … a success story

Hi all.

Remember how sad we were I failed so miserably on my first ginger bug attempt?

But I figured it out.

The ginger bug is happy and healthy and making some great probiotic bacteria on the counter in our kitchen.

Go ginger bug!

So, of course, now I’m back to Holistic Squid’s cultured strawberry soda.

Because that’s one of the reasons this adventure got back on track.

A pound of hulled and washed strawberries wrapped in a cheese cloth, a cup of ginger bug, 3/4 cup of sugar (which is HALF what Holistic Squid used), a 3/4 of a gallon of water and two days later …

strawberry soda 2

But even this was a second attempt.

Because the first time I made it the amount of sugar and the suggested amount of water in the original recipe was just … not so yum.  I found it kind of sickly sweet and unappetizing.  Which is why I tried again and reduced the sugar by half and increased the water by half.

And a few days ago I was the lucky recipient of 20 pounds of fresh organic Flathead cherries …


So I went nuts and am trying cherry soda.

I took a bold step and didn’t pit the cherries before boiling them into a “wort.”  (The “wort” is the juice made from the berries, the filtered water and the sweetener… in my case, it’s grade B maple syrup.)

And after doing every step except waiting for the ginger bug to do it’s fizzy work, I’m really excited about the prospects for this concoction.  I taste-tested before bottling.  I love the earthy sweetness of the maple syrup … a perfect balance to the perfectly ripe cherries!

cherry ginger bug fizz

Two days later?  A perfectly tasty fizzy refreshing probiotic “soda” that I’m happy to serve the littles.  Very exciting!!


  • 2 cups of Flathead cherries (mashed)
  • 3/4 gallon filtered water
  • 3/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 2 cups ginger bug (strained)


Put 2 cups of cherries into cheese cloth and tie it into a sachet using cooking twine.  Put the sachet into a one gallon heavy-bottomed saucepan and, using a potato masher, mash the sachet to break open the cherries and get access to their goodness.

Next, pour the filtered water into the saucepan, tie the cherry sachet to the pot-handle to make sure the cherries won’t burn on the bottom of the pan and bring the water to a boil.

Once it’s at a boil, add the maple syrup and stir to “dissolve” then lower the heat and cover to simmer for about 20-25 minutes.  (NOTE: You could also use evaporated cane sugar or maybe sucanat.  But I wouldn’t recommend honey as honey is naturally antibacterial and I’m not sure that it wouldn’t “kill” the ginger bug.)

Remove the sachet and let it cool to room temperature (between 70-75 degrees), add the strained ginger bug so no ginger ends up in your soda and then decant into bottles that have a tight sealing lid.  (Did you notice that the bottles are only 3/4 full? … that’s because the last time I used these bottles the strawberry soda “exploded” when I popped the top, so I’m hoping to avoid that this time. I’ve also been off-gassing the bottles every 8 hours or so and it seems to be working!)

Set the bottles in a warm spot in your kitchen, out of the sunlight, and let stand for 2-3 days to reach optimum fizziness (and give the ginger bug enough time to break down the sugars into usable probiotic bliss.  If you’re not going to pop the pop after 2-3 days, put it in the refrigerator to stop the fizzing-probiotic-building process.

NOTE:  We popped open our cherry fizz with dinner last night (burgers and that crunchy cashew Thai peanut quinoa salad that Abby posted about) and it was really good!  But here’s the twist … the maple syrup was a little too maple-y so I will probably use organic cane sugar next time … but since we had maple-y cherry fizz … and we already had limes on the table from the salad … we squeezed a little in and … PERFECTION!  Light, delicious and refreshing.  My brother-in-law asked for the recipe and my kiddos asked for seconds.  SUCCESS!!

Let us know how it goes …

We’re linked up:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop
This Chick Cooks
The Nourishing Gourmet

ginger bug bummer

Remember how I told you I was making a ginger bug because we wanted to find a way to make some natural “soda” for a summer treat?



The bug worked.

It was fizzy.

And flavorful.

And “alive.”

For a little while, at least.

But then my first attempt at soda was (mango) …

Ummm …

I think the only way to describe it is …


So gross.

So then I tried again.

With watermelon.


But not as gross as the mango.

And then we went away for a week and I didn’t feed the ginger bug and didn’t ask our house-sitter to feed the ginger bug.

So it died.

dead ginger bug

And then today I saw this on Holistic Squid …


Dang Holistic Squid (I love her … and she doesn’t know I exist!) …

And we’re going strawberry picking on Saturday at Rocky Creek Farm (which we’ve done for a few years now and it’s so much fun to watch the kiddos scampering through fields of strawberries scavenging for fruit, learning to love the land, and appreciate the gift of nature.

But I’m back to square one …

… hoping I can get this bug going again before the strawberries arrive!

last year’s haul … and I’m hearing this year is a bumper crop!

Wish me luck!



Where do you go for pick-it-yourself?  Include a link in your comment and let’s give a shout-out to the farmers who are giving us this amazing experience!!


last minute cookout inspiration!

I heard on the news this morning that Americans will eat more than 150 million hot dogs today.

Which is a lot of hot dogs.

And I’m hoping that if you’re eating hot dogs, they are made with beef raised with no added hormones or antibiotics, from cows that ate a vegetarian diet.  Uncured, unpreserved and that have no nitrates or nitrites added. (Applegate Farms makes a good one.  And so does Painted Hills Natural Beef.)

But don’t stress about it.


One day …

One hot dog …

Today’s a day to think “Big Picture,” like our forefathers did 🙂

And for those of us not eating hot dogs today, or for those of us looking for last-minute inspiration for something nourishing and tasty to bring to the family cookout, here are a few ideas culled from our archives and the archives of our favorite real food bloggers …







birth of a ginger bug. it’s a worthwhile waiting game.

Patience is important so often during the day … but I’m finding that it’s integral to a successful real food life because there’s a lot of waiting involved.

Waiting for the kombucha to make it through it’s second fermentation.

Waiting for the almonds to soak (to break down the enzyme inhibitors and phytates).  Then waiting for them to dehydrate and get “crispy” again before I can go ahead and make some almond butter for sandwiches.

Waiting for milk to ferment into kefir or yogurt.

Waiting for the sourdough leaven to rise.  Then for the dough to rise again.  And rise again.

Waiting for the seeds to sprout.

Waiting for the garden to grow.

Waiting for the vegetables to ferment.

Simmering bones and vegetables for broth for hours upon hours.

Steeping tea for kombucha and letting it cool to just the right temperature.

So it’s not just waiting … it’s constant monitoring …

Keeping the kombucha scoby alive.

Feeding the kefir grains to keep them healthy.

Feeding the sourdough starter.

Checking that the veggies are covered by their liquid.

It’s as though everywhere I look there’s something simmering, soaking, sprouting or somehow needing some attention.

But it’s worth it.

It’s worth it to know that our kids are eating (and totally enjoying) real whole foods… that their favorite “juice” is a fermented probiotic sweet tea (kombucha).  That their idea of “soda” is a probiotic and effervescent powerhouse of goodness made from a “ginger bug” and fresh organic juice.

We used to buy these “sodas” at the Pasadena Farmer’s Market, from a small, local producer whose name I wish I remembered.  They showed up weekly with in-season sodas … pear, grape, apple, plum … oh man … so good.  But we’re not in California anymore.  so I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and make my own ginger bug.

I’m using Holistic Squid’s recipe.

Ginger Bug

It’s been five days since I started the process and today, for the first time, I not only heard the telltale “pshhhhh” as I opened the jar that proves it’s fermenting, but I also got to see a steady stream of delightful little bubbles rushing to the top of the liquid.  I’m going to give it another day or two before I try my hand at a new “soda” recipe.

I’ll share our first soda recipe next week.

Are you as excited as I am??!?!?

We’re linked up:

This Chick Cooks
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
The Nourishing Gourmet