Tuesday, September 22, 2015

GoMacro Mini Review and Giveaway... and a little Nice Cream!


Balance... it's a word that I always took literally until I learned enough to know better.  Can you balance on your head?  Or on one foot?  That was balance.  Until I got to know Marco.

I met Marco some 15 years ago at our local Carlsbad Farmer's Market.  A regular face at my favorite organic farm stand, Marco taught me how to pick the best peaches.  He taught me about immunity and how to feed my body to improve it.  And he taught me about balance.

"The key to keeping your balance is to know when you've lost it"

Balance... a word that now defines the life we strive for has helped my kids maintain sanity in an ever increasing competitive school world.  It's helped us remember to take time to look at the sunset, and it's helped us to live in the present while still planning for our future.

And balance helps keep us healthy... which brings me to GoMacro and their line of bars.  While I try to maintain home cooked, plant-based meals, the schedules of two very busy kids, an airline pilot husband who needs food on the road, and me trying to keep everyone happy, sometimes doesn't leave time to prepare decent meals.  As such, I'm often on the lookout for convenient bars to toss into dance and camera bags, but I only consider those that meet our dietary needs (dairy-free for all of us, plant-based for most of us).

Enter GoMacro, the bar that meets those high standards, and exceeds them.  (Before you think they've paid me to write this post, let me say here that I have not received any payment from GoMacro, however they have offered to supply one reader a box of assorted Mini GoMacro Bars for our giveaway.  This review comes from my love of the product and a desire to share!)  Add in irresistible taste (chewy, not chalky bars that taste like real food) and you have even more of a bonus.  Vegan, Soy-free, and organic... three very important factors when I'm looking for bars, and frankly their tagline sums it up perfectly:

"Some people sacrifice nutrition for taste.  Some people sacrifice taste for nutrition. With GoMacro there are no sacrifices."

Founded to promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, GoMacro is a family owned company inspired by whole food nutrition.  Facing breast cancer in 2003, founder Amelia turned to her farm-fresh foods and a macrobiotic diet to help beat the disease.  Together, she and her daughter experimented with the whole grains and fruits grown on their farm along with natural sweeteners to create macrobiotic products and today we all benefit from the result.

GoMacro fuels teams like the LA Clippers, the Florida Panthers, and tennis players in my home town at the Carlsbad Classic.  In addition I can personally vouch for GoMacro's importance at Liv's competitive dance competitions (I pack a bag to share), and while I'm not sure it counts as a "sport", my son took a case of bars to his UCSB fraternity volleyball event to help they guys keep up their energy :)

It's all about balance...
And with flavors like Morning Harvest (Apple and Walnut), Protein Pleasure (Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip - and Liv's personal favorite), Prolonged Power (Banana and Almond Butter), and Balanced Goodness (Coconut and Granola - my favorite), there's a recipe for everyone.

And here's the best part - the ingredients.  Real, sustainably sourced, plant-based, and organic foods.  Here's an example of the ingredients list for the Protein Pleasure Bar:

 Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup*, Organic Peanut Butter, Organic Protein Blend (Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein, Organic Pea Protein), Organic Puffed Brown Rice, Organic Fair Trade Chocolate Chips (Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter), Organic Peanuts

Let it be said... I love these bars and place my Mom Stamp of Approval squarely on the box.  And I'm super excited to partner with GoMacro to give away one case of assorted GoMacro Minis (the size is perfect for a snack on the run and preferable to the larger bars in our household).  Simply enter the giveaway below for your chance to win, but if you can't wait and want to purchase bars now head to GoMacro.com and use the discount code "BLOGGER" for a 40% discount on your first GoMacro purchase (Free shipping on orders over $100).

Thank you GoMacro!  My camera bag is never without extra memory cards and a "Balanced Goodness" Granola Coconut GoMacro Bar.  It is indeed the perfect balance.

GoMacro Mini Giveaway
  • 1 case (24) assorted GoMacro Mini Bars
  • 1 winner chosen at random from the entries below
  • Giveaway opens 9/22/15 and ends 10/3/15 at midnight PST
  • Value of prize $30.95
  • Open to US Residents only

Nice Cream (Nana Ice Cream) with GoMacro Topping
iPhone photo... someone keeps borrowing my camera for school projects!
Have you tried Nice Cream or Nana-Ice Cream??  Oh my goodness you simply must!  Who knew frozen bananas would blend up to such a creamy, rich and totally irresistible concoction??   Top with granola or pieces of chopped GoMacro Bars and you have a frozen treat that will have you cheering when your kids ask for thirds!

frozen Bananas
diced GoMacro Bars 

Place about a cupful of frozen bananas into a blender and blend until light and creamy (time depends on the power of your blender).  Spoon into a chilled bowl and top with dice GoMacro Bars. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal


Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

Oatmeal ranks up there as a personal Liv Life favorite.  Be it for breakfast, dinner, or a quick afternoon snack, oatmeal's heartiness leaves me satiated, and it's nutty flavor brings a blank slate just waiting to be adorned.

I can't say the same for Liv though... while she is a fan of oatmeal, it doesn't reach a "favorite" in her ranking.  However, with the proper topping, I can move that ranking pretty darn high.

Topping oatmeal with blueberries and bananas is always a sure hit in her book, but frankly she'd prefer an old favorite - oatmeal with rainbow sprinkles.  As I'm not making rainbow sprinkles a "nutritious part of her everyday breakfast", her next request (months ago) was Cinnamon Apple.

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal
I'd like to say I jumped right on that request, but alas, it went in one ear and out the other.  But thankfully my blogger friends have my back.

This month's Blogger C.L.U.E challenge of "Fall Fruits" sent me searching A Palatable Pastime's index for apples, pears and pumpkins.  And behold... the first thing that jumped out has put me back on the Best Mommy Ever path.

Sue's recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal is just what my girl-child ordered, and she loved it so much she actually had not one, but two bowls on Labor Day morning.

See?  My blogger friends have me covered, and Sue is simply amazing.  With over 40 years of cooking experience, her specialties lie with heartland and southern cooking.  She's won numerous recipe contests (understandably!), but what caught my eye was a feature on Debbie Field's e-zine.  How cool is that?  (I've had a little crush on Debbie ever since I tried her White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies when I was in college).

In any case, thank you Sue for making me a Super Mommy  in Liv's eyes again.  Your Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal recipe is so much better than anything out of a package and perfect for quick early morning breakfasts.  Liv sends her Apple Cinnamon love!

Don't forget to check out what the rest of the group made for the Fall Fruits Challenge!  

  • Kate from Kate's Kitchen

  • Christiane from Taking on Magazines

  • Heather from girlichef

  • Stacy from Food Lust People Love

  • Lisa from Authentic Suburban Gourmet

  • Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch

  • Kelli from Kelli's Kitchen

  • Lea Ann from Cooking on the Ranch

  • Anna from annaDishes

  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm

  • Debra from Eliot's Eats

  • Lora from Cake Duchess

  • Kathy from A Spoonful of Thyme

  • Rebekah from Making Miracles

  • Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • Aly from Cooking in Stilettos

  • Sue from A Palatable Pastime

  • Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Oodles of Zoodles with Avocado Basil Pesto and Farmer's Market Tomatoes


    Are you in on the spiralizer craze?  With enough machines and gadgets in my kitchen, this is one craze I was going to let pass me by.  Who needs to clog up even more valuable counter space with another big gadget?

    But after a spontaneous substitution of Zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles) in place of pasta at a local restaurant, I'm unquestionably hooked.  Losing the pasta carbs and adding even more vegetables to my veggie dish was good enough, but the glorious texture of the par-cooked zucchini noodles pushed me over the edge.  I totally get the craze and I simply MUST have a spiralizer!

    As timing often works when it needs to, days later OXO sent an offer to to try their new Hand-Held Spiralizer .  Hmmm... hand-held??  Not cluttered counter space?  And does the same job as one of those bulky spiralizer machines bringing glorious spiralized zucchini (and beets... would those be Boodles?  and carrots... Coodles?) with the twist of a hand?  If I didn't know better, I'd say OXO had read my mind.

    Seriously only a few inches tall and with an equally small circumference (but perfectly sized for even large zucchini!), the OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer fits in my gadget drawer yet spiralizes like a workhorse.  Add to it the fact that the spiralizer is BPA-free AND dishwasher safe, and I think I just may have a new favorite gadget.

    But would my family like spiralized foods as much as I do?  In a word... yes.  Well, except for the "Boodles" (beet noodles).  Apparently I am the only one with a taste for beets no matter the shape (I promise that recipe including beets, balsamic, goat cheese and sugared walnuts is coming for beet lovers like me!), so today we bring you a new family favorite... Zoodles with Avocado Basil Pesto and ripe summer tomatoes, a bowl of fabulousness bringing together many of our all time favorite ingredients (avocado anyone??  ;).

    I'll admit it took a bit of convincing, but when a carb-loving kid hesitantly takes a bite of a dish filled with only vegetables, turns your directions and utters, "Glorious... simply glorious.", a mom can't help but smile.

    Thanks also to OXO for making me smile and reading my mind to making my spiralizing dreams come true with the twist of a hand (and not clutter on my counter).  I see twirly carrots, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, beets etc,. etc., etc., in my future!

    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    Grilled Corn California Mexican Quinoa


    Grilled Corn California Mexican Quinoa

    Homework... I thought it was a thing of the past.  But faced with an end of semester Spanish ll project including "creating a recipe with origins in a Spanish speaking country, photographing it and researching the ingredients" I volunteered to help when Liv needed to finish an ACT practice test.  (This has been the summer of extra "get-ahead" work for this girl...)  Recipes, photos and ingredient research, all kind of right up my alley.

    Living in San Diego just 52 miles from the Mexican Border where Mexican food is akin to life itself, Mexico became our Spanish speaking country of choice.

    Grilled Corn
    Now for ingredients... corn?  Historians believe that people living in what we now call Central Mexico developed corn over 7,000 years ago.  Known as Maize, the corn didn't look, exactly as it does today, but the cobs with small kernels farther apart became a crop the Indians of South as well as North America heavily depended upon for much of their food.

    As important as corn was to the indiginous Mexicans, so were beans, and you will find much of Mexican food based on these two ingredients.  Apparently neither food on it's own provides a full complement of amino acids needed for protein synthesis, however put the the two together they do.

    More recently, cilantro and lime have become known a quintessential Mexican ingredients.  While they may not have thousands of years of history in the country, it's said that the conquistadors brought coriander seeds, cilantro, to Mexico in the 1500's.  And as for limes, Mexico has been the largest exporter of the fruit since at least the 1950's.


    Next we have my beloved avocado.  Said to be a native of Mexico, the fruit is believed to have originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico where the oldest avocado artifacts have been found - dating back to 10,000 BC.  Today though, California produces over 90% of the cultivated avocado crop.

    Grilled Corn California Mexican Quinoa
    Jalapeño... it's name taken from the Jalapa, the capital city of Veracruz Mexico, the jalapeño is the most widely grown chili in the country and has a history dating back to the Aztecs who smoked the chiles to preserve them.

    And lastly quinoa.  While not exactly from Mexico, quinoa originates from the mountains of Peru and Bolivia - which are both Spanish speaking countries and therefore fit our homework bill.

    And there we have it.  A dish filled with modern and historical Mexican ingredients which are also popular in California and considered quintessential Mexican Cuisine.  Mix them all together and we simply have what I call "dinner".  The leftovers??  We call them "lunch".  My homework here is done.

    Grilled Corn California Mexican Quinoa

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    Coconut Lime Cashew Cream (Crema)


    What's a taco without crema??  That luscious, creaminess that brings all the flavors together and also kills the heat when spice gets a little out of hand.

    Crema became one of the most missed things when my son turned lactose intolerant, and for years we've just gone without.  But home for the summer, he asked if we could try to recreate one of his favorite recipesGrilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa, with some sort of dairy-free alternative.

    My son's all time favorite dish... Grilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa
    We've tried before, and while the tacos are always a treat, they just aren't the same without the crema.  I've stressed over the fact that I just haven't been able to come up with a satisfying dairy-free version, but turning to some of my favorite vegan books the time had come to give cashew cream a try.

    Not one to always plan ahead I found a few recipes that didn't require soaking the cashews (so long as you have a handy dandy high powered blender - we have a Blendtec ).  

    Following recipes including almond milk and cashews, the crema was okay.  Satisfactory in that it did the trick, brought that creaminess to the taco, but didn't add much else.

    And then we tried coconut milk.  Oh my heavens!!  Beyond satisfactory, Coconut Lime Cashew Cream totally rocks!  A little tropical in flavor, but not overly coconutty, the coconut added a dimension that brought the whole taco together and had us spooning on just a little extra on, well, on everything.

    Just a few ingredients and a blender and you're set... dairy-free lime crema that will leave your dairy eating friends totally jealous.

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

    Strawberry Banana Popsicles (Shhh... no sugar added!)


    Seems the rest of the country is turning to thoughts of back to school and fall, but here in San Diego summer is just getting going.  Our weather has been a bit strange this year bringing rain (a rare occurrence for us), heavy marine layers that hide the sun for days at a time, and cooler temps.  Until this week.

    This morning I woke to a brilliant sun peeking over the horizon and temps already warmer than some of the highs from the past few weeks.  And with no air conditioning in our house, popsicles seemed a "cool" plan.

    Serving double duty, these popsicles also served as temporary ice packs filled with fruit for my girl who underwent oral surgery yesterday.  Her somewhat confused teeth set a permanent tooth shooting horizontally low in her jaw and left  unchecked would have sheared off the roots of her front teeth.  Hence, the tooth needed to come out, and along with a bit of bone, she's now free of the rouge bicuspid and nursing a sore jaw.

    As we know from my prior post (surgery has been all in the family this last week) the after effects of anesthesia and pain meds can be not so pleasant, hence the all fruit popsicle to reset my girl's tummy.

    A simple recipe of bananas, strawberries, chia and a few splashes of oj, brought all of Liv's favorite ingredients together and packed the nutrition I was looking for.  Banana?  Filled with fiber bananas can help ease the uncomfortable after effects of narcotic pain meds, and acting as a prebiotic the fruits assist the growth of friendly gut bacteria which are wiped out by antibiotics.  Add in the fact that the high levels of vitamin B-6 can help reduce swelling and we have a real winner.

    Next we have strawberries, rich in antioxidants, the Vitamin C in the berries gives the immune system a boost along with more fiber and their fabulous sweetness.

    "Strawberries are the angels of the earth, innocent and sweet with leafy green wings reaching heavenward."
    Jasmine Heiler
    And next orange juice... also packed with that immune boosting Vitamin C, orange juice is said to help reduce inflammation and heck, it's also good for your heart.  A few splashes perk up any smoothie or popsicle and work as the perfect liquefying agent for our blend.

    So here's to summer, fat lips and simply hanging by the pool.  Wishing you a happy and healthy day filled with balance and a little bit of chill.

    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    Almond Butter Chia Protein Balls - Otherwise Known as Awesome Balls


    Hospitals are no fun.  Unless you are coming home with a baby... but even then, the hospital part isn't so great.  And the food.  Seriously, they really expect you to get healthy on some the food they serve?

    This week my 86-year old dad finally called Uncle and agreed with his orthopedic surgeon that the time had come for his knee replacement.  Dad is a tough guy and really hard to keep down, but anesthesia and he aren't best buddies.

    Taking a little longer than others to expel the drugs from his system, yesterday's anesthesia brought waves of nausea to his otherwise very successful surgery.  For a man who never misses a meal (and yet he maintains a proper and fit weight), hospital food left a lot to be desired in his queasy state - they brought greasy meatloaf, butter slathered mashed potatoes with puddles of gravy and wished him Bon Appetit.  All a no-go in his book and he stuck with one Saltine cracker.

    Concerned that his IV wasn't delivering enough nutrients and refusing the chilled bottle of Ensure purely based on the less than desirable ingredients, (sugar, salt and maltodextrin...??) I promised I'd bring healthy food.

    He maintained he needed nutrition, not just calories, and I set to putting together something that brought a nutritional punch, helped with potential constipation issues due to pain meds** (see note below), but yet remained tolerable on the still slightly off tummy.

    And with a few super foods and a medium sized bowl I created just the concoction.

    Already a favorite, almond butter and maple syrup bring a tasty base that blends beautifully with rolled oats and flax.  Chia seeds add much needed potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium, and vanilla extract?  Well, that simply brings a taste of heaven to the mix.

    Rolled into balls, these little bites pack the nutrition punch I was looking for, but it wasn't until my college boy arrived home from the gym and I ran down the protein profile for him that I discovered they are also irresistible.

    Filling his summer days with hours at the gym, my son has morphed his body in ways I can reminisce about from my younger years.  Craving protein after his workouts he often turns to chicken, but touting my plant-based diet I've been teaching him plant-based protein sources and he's actually been listening.

    Hearing almond butter, protein powder, oats and chia as I ran down my ingredient list he readily reached for one of the little balls topped with a tiny square of dark chocolate on top.  His eyes spoke before his words, and he proclaimed them "Awesome Balls" as I scampered to save a few for my dad.

    Back to the hospital, the balls did indeed tempt Dad's appetite, and along with a bowl of organic blueberries and grapes he finally turned the corner and pushed those anesthesia meds from his system.

    Seeing his roommate's eyes move from dad's Awesome Balls to his plate of chard and chicken we simply had to share, and my job was complete.  Moments later I left the two octogenarians chatting about their combined 122 years of marriage, heart surgeries and now new knee joints all while saying "Huh?" every few sentences as neither of them had their hearing aids in.

    Funniest thing ever though, was walking out the door as the nurse entered and hearing the roommate say, "Hey... have you seen his Awesome Balls?"  Chuckling all the way to the car I think that night nurse had her hands full with those two.

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