Friday, April 17, 2015

Coconut Yeasted Belgian Waffles


Weekends are made for sleepovers and sleepy Saturdays.  And special breakfasts.  And sometimes second helpings.

So with a special request for "something coconut", I've got a batch of Coconut Belgian Waffle batter resting in my fridge, all ready to toss in the waffle maker for the girls in the morning.  Bringing a little bit of the tropics to your table, this recipe comes together in a snap and has crispy Belgian waffles ready for fruit and syrup in no time.

Liv likes coconut, but she only likes a hint of the flavor, and the coconut oil in this recipe does just that.  Want more coconut?  Sprinkle shredded coconut directly into the batter or simply top with fruit and sprinkle your extra shredded coconut there.

And while these waffles are a lovely treat for a leisurely weekend, the night before batter prep also makes them a good choice for a hot school breakfast when pressed for time in the morning.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Classic Pico de Gallo Salsa


Many times college days don't bring the best nutrition.  However, I have to admit I spent my college years practically living on salsa, and I hereby propose the concoction to be its own food group.

Filled with juicy tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro and a squeeze of lime, we can't really get more "fresh", can we?  And while it might be a
Instagram shot with a shot!  :)
stretch, if we add organic corn tortilla chips, we've now added corn too.  Heck... toss in a side of guacamole and we have a full meal!  But I'll save that one for another post.

In all sincerity, salsa really can be a healthy food, but you do have to be careful.  Many store bought jars can be filled with not so desirable ingredients, like added oils or sugars.  Really, do we need sugar in salsa?

Hence, making your own keeps the ingredients list in your control, and while your at it you can tweak the flavors to your personal preference.  This easy Pico de Gallo Salsa version is a snap to put together, and when you bring this bursting with flavor food group condiment to your next Cinco de Mayo gathering you're sure to be the hit of the party.

Fresh, simple, and so much more flavorful than the jar, keep an eye out for beautiful (or even not beautiful), ripe tomatoes at your local markets, and you too can call salsa dinner.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Green Tea with Ginger and Mint... A Detox Tummy Tamer


We've all done it on occasion.  You know... eaten a few too many helpings at a picnic, perhaps indulged in that extra cocktail we didn't really need, or maybe even finished off the last slice of pizza simply so we didn't have to wrap it.  And unfortunately, sometimes the after effects of these indulgences can leave us a little bloated, queasy, or purely parched from too much salt.

While many of us turn to "detox" drinks to help, and yes, many of them do make us feel better, I have a feeling that pure hydration plays a key role.  But add in a slice of ginger,  green tea and a few sprigs of mint, and you actually do add ingredients that can help.

Green Tea with Ginger and Mint... A Detox Tummy Tamer
Green Tea:  Filled with antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea is said to improve immunity, help rid the body of free-radicals thereby helping to protect against disease, speed up your metabolic rate and re-hydrate.  A little caffeine can also help ease an aching head. 

Ginger:  Known to provide gastrointestinal relief, ginger is many a pregnant woman's best friend.  Safe to take during pregnancy (in proper doses... check with your doctor first), ginger has been proven to provide relief in many cases.  Ginger is also the first thing I pack when heading on a cruise, and has seen me through rough seas with minimal issues (and I'm fairly sensitive to motion sickness).

Mint:  A well known appetizer or palate cleanser, mint promotes digestion.  Soothing the stomach in cases of indigestion or inflammation, even the aroma of mint can activate the salivary glands in our mouth as well as glands which secrete digestive enzymes.

Mixed together we have a concoction to rehydrate and hopefully soothe.  Poured over ice is my preferred Detox Tummy Tamer, but my husband prefers his steaming in a mug.  Either way, a concoction of these digestive ingredients is a lovely drink on a hot day, or, the perfect Tummy Tamer for a queasy kid or friend suffering from a day of over indulgence.

Healthy, fresh ingredients, the best way to detox out the bad stuff or hydrate by the pool.  Enjoy!

Green Tea with Ginger and Mint... A Detox Tummy Tamer

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chocolate Strawberry Pound Cake

Chocolate Strawberry Pound Cake

Nothing says spring quite like heading to the farmer's market and letting the sweet scent of ripe, juicy strawberries lead you to the best stall in town.  With strawberry season at its peek here in San Diego, this is a weekly event for me, and with this month's Blogger Clue Society's assignment being "spring", strawberries seemed the appropriate choice.

Today we head back to Michigan for another day at my favorite farm with Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm where I'm hoping spring has finally spread her wings.  Apparently April blew in with even more cold weather and snow, and Wendy's talk of frozen ponds and snowy fields is somewhat unimaginable here in my San Diego world.  A few new puppies seem to have brightened their cold world though, and I'm eagerly awaiting more photos of these cute little guys.  (Wendy, we adopted brothers too and simply can't imagine life without them!)

But even all that snow hasn't stopped dear Wendy from posting a spring and strawberry filled recipe that I found so special it made its way to my Easter table.  How does a slice of Chocolate Strawberry Pound Cake sound to you??

I know, right?  It sounded irresistible to me too.  Rich and chocolaty, and sweetened with juicy, seasonal strawberries, we altered Wendy's recipe slightly to make it dairy-free for my family.  And as a personal note to Wendy, my Father-in-Law sends his heartfelt thanks for completing our meal in such a "grand" fashion.  He says he can't wait to see what you bring for him next year!

Now won't you join me as we travel the world for spring recipes from the rest of our Blogger Clue Society?  Let's see what spring means to them!

  • Chicken Tikka Salad by Ramona from Curry and Comfort
  • Creamy Asparagus Soup by Anna from Anna Dishes
  • Lemon Bars by Anna from Anna Dishes
  • Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva

  • Chocolate Strawberry Pound Cake

    Monday, April 6, 2015

    Chia Seed Round Up

    Chia Seed Nutritional Values

    Gone are the days of the quirky Chia Pet and here to stay is a healthy ingredient that seems to be finding its way into all facets of our diet.  From drinks to breads to super protein bars, chia boosts a recipe's nutritional value with a mere tablespoon or two.

    Bursting with protein, calcium, fiber and potassium, chia swells with nutrition just like it swells to 10 times its own weight when added to liquid - it's gel-like qualities earn it a place in diets as an egg replacement and gelling ingredient for puddings, jams, etc.

    Chia, the Mayan word for "Strength", was once a staple in the Incan, Mayan and Aztec times, and ranked in importance only behind corn and beans.  Sometimes even used as payment for taxes or offerings to the gods, chia also fed the people and provided nutrition and energy.

    A potent little seed, 2-tablespoon of Chia contains 138 calories and 9 grams of fat along with a whopping 10 grams of fibre, 5 grams of protein and 18% of the daily value for calcium.  Also packed with omega-3's, chia provides more per ounce than flaxseed.  (sited from Food and Nutrition)

    So... has chia found its way into your diet?  We've asked some friends from around the world for their favorite recipes and the scoured the web for even more recipes to increase your chia repertoire.  Which one is your favorite?

    50 Chia Recipes

    Chia Drinks
    Chia Agua Fresca from girlichef
    Arugula Apple Detox Drink
    Chia Meyer Lemonade from Shockingly Delicious
    Green Tea and Chia Energy Drink from In Sonnet's Kitchen
    Banana, Chia and Spinach Smoothie from What's Gabby Cooking
    Beet, Berry, Apple Chia Smoothie from The Roasted Root
    Chia Fresca from Oh She Glows
    Raspberry Lemonade Chia Drink from Busy Mommy
    Pre-Workout Hydration Powerhouse from Walk, Jog, Run
    Cherry Chia Seed Juice from Vibrant Wellness Journal
    Apple Arugula Detox Drink from Liv Life
    Chia Fresca from The Local Vegan

    Sweet Chia Treats
    Chia Cupcakes from grilichef
    Chia Rice Krispie Treats from A Healthy Life for Me
    Blood Orange Upsidedown Cake from Recipe Renovator
    Chia Seed
    Ultimate Granola Cookies from An Edible Mosaic
    Gluten Free Pie Crust from The Tomato Tart
    Lemon Chia Protein Cookies from Amy's Healthy Baking
    Chia Peanut Butter Cookies from Yummy Mummy Kitchen
    Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chia and Flax from Cooking Melangery
    Banana Chia Bread from Savvy Naturalista
    Mango Chia Pops from Jelly Toast
    Whole Wheat Lemon Poppy Seed Bread with Chia from Joyful Healthy Eats

    Chia Pudding
    Coconut Almond Chia Pudding from Food Babbles
    Vanilla Bean Chia Pudding from Frugal Foodie Mama
    Dairy Free Chia Seed Pudding (with Coconut Milk) from Apron Strings
    Bananas Foster Chia Pudding from Eats Well with Others
    Vanilla Chai Chia Pudding from Blissful Basil
    Orange Coconut Chia Pudding from Well Plated
    Chocolate Chia Pudding
    Cranberry Pistachio Coconut Chia Pudding from Happy Food Healthy Life
    Tropical Coconut Chia Pudding from Gourmet Innovations
    Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding from Eats Well with Others
    Lemon Raspberry Chia Pudding from The Healthy  Maven
    Super Green Chia Pudding from Poppies and Papayas
    Chunky Monkey Chia Pudding from Do you Even Paleo
    Mint Chocolate Chip Chia Pudding from Fresh, Fit and Healthy
    Cake Batter Chia Pudding from Edible Perspective
    Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Parfait from Vegan Yack Attack
    Mango Chia Pudding from Ashley Neese
    Coconut Pomegranate Chocolate Chia Pudding from Natural Chow
    Sticky Bun Chia Pudding from I Heart Eating
    Chocolate Chia Pudding from Liv Life

    Protein and Healthy Chia Treats
    Protein Packed Energy Bites from Tasting Page
    DIY Protein Powder from Fork & Beans
    Super Seed Bars from The Muffin Myth
    Chocolate Chia Coconut Energy Bites from The Lemon Bowl
    Apricot Cashew Granola Bars from Mariah's Pleasing Plates
    No Bake Energy Bites from Cooking on the Front Burner
    No-Bake Apricot Chia Energy Bars from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
    Tropical Snack Bites with Almond and Chia from Two Healthy Kitchens

    Chia for Breakfast
    DIY Homemade Waffle and Pancake Mix from Liv Life
    Blackberry Chia Seed Jam from Fork & Beans
    Cranberry Chia Granola from 365 Days of Baking and More
    Cranberry Vanilla Chia Jam from Liv Life
    Raw Raspberry Vanilla Chia Jam from Shockingly Delicious
    Strawberry Blueberry Mango Chia Jam
    Coconut Cranberry Chia Granola from A Cedar Spoon
    Strawberry, Blueberry,  Mango Chia Jam from Liv Life
    Yogurt Breakfast Bowl from Diethood
    Lemon Chia Seed Pancakes with Roasted Strawberries from Two Peas and Their Pod
    Blueberry Rosemary Chia Seed Jam from Tasty Yummies
    Coconut Strawberry Overnight Oats from Liv Life
    Strawberry Banana Steel Cut Oats with Chia from The Lemon Bowl
    Blueberry Buckwheat Chia Muffins from An Edible Mosaic
    Blueberry Chia Jam from Liv Life
    Paleo Granola from The Tomato Tart
    Overnight Almond Oatmeal with Chia and Maple Syrup from Liv Life
    Power Pumpkin Pancakes with Chia form Liv Life
    Ancient Power Oatmeal with Chia, Walnuts and Flax from Liv Life

    See also our book review from Mama Chia herself for The Chia Cookbook: Inventive, Delicious Recipes Featuring Nature's Superfood

    Have more recipes to share?  Feel free to leave links in the comments below to help spread the chia love!

    Liv Life Note:  This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link to the Mama Chia Cookbook... if you purchase through this post Liv Life receives a small commission (at not cost to you).  We thank you for your support!

    Sunday, March 29, 2015

    Pesto Pasta Salad... Made special thanks to ClubsGalore (the perfect Mother's Day Gift)!

    EVOO and Vinegar Gift of the Month

    $5 off of first month using gift code CGMOM5 at check out.  Shipping is free!
    *Valid through 5/10/15
    Liv Life Note:  I received a sample club gift and compensation for this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please know I would not stand behind a product unless I truly liked it!

    Do you have go-to gifts for special occasions?  One of my ultra organized girlfriends always has just the gift for everything.  Be it a bridal shower, teacher thank you, birthday gift or Mother's Day treat, she always has something special up her sleeve.  Me?  I'm the polar opposite and find myself usually at a loss as to what to get, let alone where to get it.

    Hence, I'm a big fan of "Gift of the Month" clubs.  Easy to personalize, simple to shop online at a minute's notice (procrastination and I are good friends...), and unique, Gift of the Month Clubs can be special and fun.  I've sent a number of subscriptions over the years, but let it be noted that even with all my hints I've been waiting to be a surprised recipient myself until just last week.  

    As luck would have it, an offer to review ClubsGalore (arranged by Blog Meets Brand) not only introduced me to a new (to me, they've been around since 1996) one-stop, Gift of the Month shop, but they also sent me my first ever gift!

    Faced with a decision to choose from one of their 41 clubs (the tequila club so tempted me....) I plowed through categories including brownies, bath and body, wine, tea, coffee, bacon, fruit, grilling and even a college care club.

    I did place that College Care Club (including gift cards, movie sized candy boxes, hot chocolate packets, chips, pretzel crisps, popcorn, mac n cheese, assorted bars and trail mix, and a box of tissues) into my cart and thought how my son in his first year of college would love it, but my perusing continued until I stopped at the EVOO and Vinegar of the Month Club.  Now as good mothers, we try to be selfless and put our kids first, but in this case I selfishly removed said college club gift and replaced it with that oil and vinegar club as a gift to me from me.

    Described as "1 bottle of extra virgin olive oil and 1 bottle of balsamic or flavor-infused vinegar each month - 200 to 375 ml. artfully gift boxed", the box arrived on my doorstep just days later, and yes, it was beautifully wrapped with a bow and carefully packaged, and included a card with my name on it.

    Popping the cork on the Basil-Garlic Olive Oil, the aroma of garlic sent my salivary glands thinking of salads and dipping sauces.  Paired beautifully with a honey-colored bottle of B.R. Chardonnay Vinegar, the gift sent away any lingering guilt I had for choosing a gift for me instead of my college boy, and simply made my day.
    Due diligence for this review sent me to the B.R. Cohn site to check prices, and a little research showed ClubsGalore indeed brought a special and quality product in addition to a fair price. 

    So here's a big hint to my family... just FYI, Mother's Day, is right around the corner.  I really, really enjoyed the one month gift I received of the Olive Oil and Vinegar Club.  I'm fairly certain the bottles will be empty within then next few weeks and just so you know, a monthly box with more oils and vinegars would be such a wonderful surprise!

    Furthermore, ClubsGalore is offering $5 off of your first month using the code CGMOM5 at checkout (offer valid through 5/10/15) and shipping is always free (note for Mother's Day delivery free shipping is available until April 25th, 2-Day Shipping 4/26/15 - 5/7/15, and overnight available from 5/6/15 - 5/8/15)!  Monthly payment options are available, and their site offers a "Print your own Announcement" feature free of charge.  Moms always have oil and vinegar in the kitchen, but often we won't splurge on that special bottle, so... Hint. Hint.  Hint.  :)

    And what would a mom do with a delightfully infused bottle of olive oil and special bottle of vinegar?  She might brush it over artichokes just before grilling and make a lovely vinaigrette, or she might use it in a special Pesto Pasta Salad she's making for her own mom for Mother's Day.  Either way, I know she'll appreciate the monthly doorstep surprise, and you just might become her favorite child.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Strawberry Blueberry Mango Chia Jam... Homemade and Pectin Free!

    Strawberry Blueberry Mango Chia Jam

    I'm hereby proclaiming 2015 my "year of the chia seed".  That tiny little seed is finding its way into all sorts of my recipes from smoothies to pancakes, but one of my favorite uses is in jam.

    A good homemade jam brings the farmer's market to your table, but I've always struggled with the huge amounts of sugar and the use of pectin in many homemade and commercial versions.  I'm not sure why the pectin bothers me so much, heck, it's in apples, right?   But for some reason, pouring that powder from a box into my beautiful freshly chopped strawberries is a no go for me.

    Chia Seed
    Hence, we've switched to chia for our gelling needs, and I have beautiful jam (though not as "set" as a pectin gelled jam) with only fresh ingredients.  Adding seasonal fruits (or in winter frozen varieties) we can save nature's goodness in a bottle and bring amazing nutritional benefits to a simple PBJ.

    Did you know chia brings 70% more protein than soybeans, 25% more fiber than flaxseed, more calcium than milk and more potassium than a banana?

    Soaked in liquid, chia seeds (filled with soluble fiber) swell up to 10 times their weight and form a gel-like outer layer which, in the digestive system, actually slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar and in turn helps stabilize blood sugar.  In addition, the seeds high soluble fiber content also helps to control cholesterol levels.  And in addition again, the gelled seeds work to "gel" our jam!

    So today we bring our latest jam featuring some of the best local California strawberries of the season.  Plump, juicy and sweet, these berries mixed beautifully with farmer's market blueberries and a handful of chopped mango (we actually used frozen from Trader Joes).  Simple, sweet and good for you, feel free to slather this jam without any of the guilt from store bought, sugar-laden varieties.  Enjoy this spring in a bottle!

    Strawberry Blueberry Mango Chia Jam

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