Archives for May 2013

How to Easily Peel Ginger: Kitchen Shortcut

How to Easily Peel Ginger

Maybe you already know this technique on how to easily peel ginger. I learned this kitchen shortcut while watching a chef demonstration. When I went home and tried it, I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Here’s the easiest way to peel ginger in my own quick 15 second video demonstration.

Can’t see the video? Click Easily Peel Ginger to view on The Natural Green Mom YouTube channel.

Did you already know this kitchen shortcut?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series. It’s all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try then share!

Homemade Tea Recipes | Family Favorites

Homemade Tea Recipes

As part of the Raising Healthy Family Series, I wanted to share our family favorite Homemade Tea Recipes.

Why tea?

When you drink tea, you benefit from two powerful antioxidants: polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants are so important, the American Institute for Cancer Research named green tea one of the top foods that fight cancer.

As if that isn’t reason enough to drink more tea, consider this: Studies show drinking 3 cups of black tea per day can reduce your chance of stroke by 21%, and drinking just one cup of green tea a day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 10%.

To get these health benefits, you need to be drinking homemade tea. As this article attests, the bottled tea you find in the grocery store simply doesn’t have the same amount of antioxidants as the tea you brew at home. Bottled tea can also have a lot of sugar. Making homemade tea allows you to control the type and amount of sweetener in your tea.

These are some of the homemade tea recipes we make in our home. I hope you’ll find one to share with your family.

No Sugar Zero-Calorie Homemade Tea Recipes

 

Homemade Iced Teas

Americans are now drinking an average of 400 extra calories a day. Replacing those empty calories with no-calorie alternatives is a great way to make a healthy change for your family.

Most herbal teas are made from fruits and herbs and have enough flavor that sugar is not necessary. With the number of herbal teas to choose from, you are sure to find one that your family will like.

Here are my recommendations for Homemade Herbal Iced Teas including my 2-4-6 method for brewing the perfect pitcher.

Fruit Juice Sweetened Homemade Tea Recipes

Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea

Fruit juice can be a great sweetener for tea. Most juices have some nutritional value that pairs well with the antioxidants found in tea. Just be sure to pick a 100% fruit juice. If you buy fruit juice “cocktail” you may be getting a juice mixed with high fructose corn syrup.

If you’ve got a kiddo that likes apple juice, this Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea has plenty of apple flavor but less sugar than a glass of juice.

Fizzy Homemade Ice Tea is another fruit juice sweetened tea that is sure to please any family member who enjoys a carbonated beverage.

Both of these teas can be made with black, green or herbal tea, so have fun trying different flavor combinations.

 Homemade Tea Sweetened with Natural Sweeteners

The Best Homemade Sweet Tea

When it comes to sweetening tea, use all natural sweeteners like honey and agave nectar. Honey is three times sweeter than refined sugar, and agave nectar is 50% sweeter than refined sugar. That means you can use less in your tea and it will still taste sweet.

If you like sweet tea, give this classic Homemade Sweet Tea a try.

In the winter, we love this Homemade Russian Tea Recipe that has all the sweet flavor of the classic powdered mix but none of the chemicals.

Homemade Green Tea Recipes

Spiced Green Tea

Green tea is a fun tea to “dress up” in different flavors. This Spiced Green Tea recipe is quite unusual and always gets rave reviews.

I like to make up pitchers of these mocktails for BBQs and get-togethers. Don’t let the mocktail names fool you. Green Tea Mock-jitos and Green Tea-Quila Sunrises are family friendly drinks everyone can enjoy.

Make Your Next Smoothie with Tea

Green Tea Blueberry Smoothie

Do you ever use tea as the base for your smoothies? Any tea – black, green, or herbal – makes a great addition to smoothies.

This Green Tea Blueberry Smoothie is a family favorite. Try it for breakfast some day soon.

Chai Tea Smoothie makes for a great after school snack. Or take your chai tea to a whole new level of nutrition and make Chai Bubble Tea with Chia Seeds.

Need even more inspiration? I have a whole Pinterest board of Tea to encourage you to drink more tea! Have a favorite tea recipe? Share it in the comments!

FREE iPhone App: Buycott

Are you trying to avoid GMOs?

Megan recently asked,

What can I even buy? I’m trying to stay away from GMO’s but finding out what has them and what does not is like pulling teeth! … Any advice/thoughts on making this easier (I have twin two year old boys, so I’m busy!) would be appreciated.

I know Megan is not alone. So many of you have commented about GMOs, have sent me emails about GMOs, have expressed frustration about GMOs….

If you have an iPhone, there is a new app out called Buycott that makes figuring out what products YOU want to boycott easier!

Here’s what Buycott does:

You can scan product barcodes and Buycott will find out what company owns that product (and who owns that company, ad infinitum).

You can use this information to decide whether you want to boycott a product.

It looks like this on your phone:

Buycott

If you are like Megan, and want an easy way to track GMOs, this freebie can help!

And if you have an iPhone, be sure to check out these other Popular Real Food iPhone Apps.

Take a Staycation: Things to do in YOUR City

staycation-image-wide

Whether you are taking a Staycation in your city this year, or you are getting to take a real vacation, I’ve got the lowdown on FREE and budget things to do in cities nationwide!

Mid Atlantic

NW (or all), Connecticut :: Parenting Miracles
Boston (or all), Massachusetts :: Maven of Savin
Central, New Jersey :: Our Good LIfe
Adirondak Mountains and Central, New York :: For This Season
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York :: Ann’s Entitled Life
Syracuse, New York :: I am THAT lady
Erie, Pennsylvania :: Growing Kids Ministry
Greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania :: Family Balance Sheet
Hershey, Pennsylvania :: Good Deal Mama
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania :: Beyond the Cover
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania :: The Coupon “High”
Poconos, Pennsylvania :: Bucktown Bargains
Scranton, Pennsylvania :: Bucktown Bargains

Midwest

Des Moines, Iowa :: Make the best of everything
Aurora, Illinois :: A Savings WOW!
Central, Illinois :: The Homeschool Scientist
Chicago, Illinois :: Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Naperville, Illinois :: The Sensible Mom
Schaumburg, Illinois :: Ravings By Rae
Fort Wayne, Indiana :: Simplified Saving
Indianapolis, Indiana (Metro Area) :: In Good Cents
Muncie, Indiana (Central IN) :: the daisyhead
Northern Indiana :: So Dough Savvy
Kansas City Area :: Kansas City Mamas
Metro Detroit, Michigan :: Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Rapids, Michigan :: Give Me Neither
Oakland County, Michigan :: Bargain Shopper Mom
Minneapolis, Minnesota :: Creative Couponing
Rural Minnesota (either Southern our Lake Country) :: Mommysavers.com
St. Cloud, Minnesota :: Frugal Finders
Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas :: Kosher on a Budget
Springfield, Missouri :: Getting Freedom
Cincinnati, Ohio :: Family Friendly Cincinnati
Columbus, Ohio :: Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio :: Savings Lifestyle: Dayton
Mansfield, Ohio :: The Traveling Praters
NE Ohio :: Raising Lifelong Learners
Northeast Ohio (Canton, Akron, Cleveland) :: Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Black Hills, South Dakota :: Little House Living
South Dakota :: Moms Mustard Seeds
Oshkosh, Wisconsin :: Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom

Mountain

Phoenix, Arizona :: Mom Endeavors
Scottsdale, Arizona :: Saving For Someday
Tucson, Arizona :: Desert Chica Ramblings
Colorado Springs, Colorado :: The Natural Green Mom
Denver, Colorado :: Bargain Blessings
Helena, Montana :: The WiC Project
Omaha, Nebraska :: Mom Endeavors
Reno, Nevada – Lake Tahoe (Northern Nevada) :: Saving in Nevada

Pacific

Fresno, California (Central Valley) :: NerdFamily Blog
Los Angeles, California :: Savings.com
San Diego, California :: Good Cheap Eats
San Diego, California :: Life as MOM
Portland, Oregon :: Frugal Living NW
Seattle, Washington :: Thrifty NW Mom

South Atlantic

Arkansas :: Discovering Arkansas
Washington, DC :: Kidventurous
Clearwater Beach, Florida :: Bargain Briana
Jacksonville, Florida :: Saving The Family Money
Southwest Florida (Ft. Myers area) :: Chaos Is Bliss
St. Augustine, Florida :: Simply St. Augustine
Tallahassee, Florida :: SwagGrabber
Atlanta, Georgia (metro area) :: Hodgepodge
Atlanta, Georgia (metro area) :: The Couponing Couple
Annapolis, Maryland :: The Happy Housewife
Hagerstown, Maryland :: Cheryl Pitt
Asheville, North Carolina :: Paradise Praises
Charlotte, North Carolina :: from our front porch lookin’ in…
Raleigh/Southeastern, North Carolina :: Upside Down Homeschooling
Upstate South Carolina :: The Tween & Me
Charlottesville, Virginia :: How to Have it All
Richmond, Virginia :: Teachers of Good Things
Smithfield, Virginia :: Walking in High Cotton
Virginia Beach, Virginia :: The Coupon Challenge

South Central

Coastal Alabama :: Meet Penny
Huntsville, Alabama :: The Traveling Praters
Northern Kentucky :: Simply Sherryl
Chattanooga, Tennessee :: Living Chic on the Cheap
East Tennessee (Smoky Mountains, Knoxville) :: Finding Joy on the Journey
Nashville, Tennessee :: Montessori Tidbits
Arlington, Texas :: Grocery Shop For FREE
Austin, Texas (Hill Country) :: Ponder the Path
College Station, Texas :: How to Homeschool My Child
Dallas, Texas :: Surviving The Stores
East Dallas, Texas :: Funky Faith Girl
Fort Worth, Texas :: Coupons & Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas :: MomsToolbox
Houston, Texas :: MyLitter
Katy, Texas :: Moms Confession
McAllen, Texas (Rio Grande Valley) :: iLoveMy5Kids
San Antonio, Texas :: Melissa’s Bargains

Whew! What a list, huh? More of a pinner? You can follow this Staycation Pinterest board to keep all these fantastic Staycation ideas in one place.

Take a Staycation: Free and Budget Things to do in Colorado Springs

Things to do in Colorado Springs

Having been born and raised Colorado Springs, I wanted to share with you the Free and Budget Things to do in Colorado Springs.

This list is intended for anyone who lives here and who might be taking a “Staycation” instead of a vacation this year. Or, if you are planning a trip to the area, I’d love to introduce to you all the free and budget things you can do in my hometown of Colorado Springs.

For your convenience, the attractions are arranged by area of town.

Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

Spend a day touring the rock formations at The Garden of the Gods. The visitor and nature center is free to explore and the park offers free guided tours and nature presentations. Explore the trails, enjoy a picnic, and try to find the Balancing Rock formation and the Kissing Camels.

Rock Ledge Ranch

Rock Ledge Ranch offers hands-on demonstrations, tours, and exhibits that bring history to life. Learn about the American Indians in the Central Front Range and about pioneer settlement in the Pikes Peak Region.

The ranch is situated across the street from the Garden of the Gods visitor center. Children 5 and under are free but adults are charged an $8 entrance fee.

Downtown

uncle wilber fountain

Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain

If you are looking for a place to cool off and enjoy some water play, Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain is located in Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. This sculpture has over 52 jets and unpredictable streams as well as music.

Pioneer’s Museum

Also located in Downtown Colorado Springs, the Pioneer’s Museum is free. Let the kids dress up as Pioneers and take pictures and don’t miss the Snoopy in Space exhibit.

ANA Money Museum

You don’t need to be a coin collector to enjoy this museum. The museum has set up a a scavenger hunt for kids that helps them stay interested and focused. There is an entrance fee to this museum but if your kids do the scavenger hunt and turn in their answers, they get a free coin!

Olympic Training Center

Visiting the Olympic Training Center is free, but there are limited places you can go on the grounds. Free tours are often given by Olympic hopefuls and you might get to see some of the training that takes place.

North Cheyenne Canon

cheyenne canon

North Cheyenne Canon Park offers wonderful scenery, excellent hiking trails, and lots of wildlife. Trail maps are available at the Starsmore center (see more info below). Bring a picnic as there are plentiful picnic spots with BBQ grills. The creek that runs through the canon offers hours of entertainment for little ones. Chances are good you will see a deer or two.

Helen Hunt Falls

Helen Hunt Falls are at the top of the drive up North Cheyenne Canon. There is plenty of parking at the base of the falls as well as a newly remodeled visitor’s center. You can enjoy the view of the falls from the bottom, or choose to hike up along the falls and get the view from the top. Benches are located along the way for resting. It’s a great activity for hot days.

Starsmore Center

The Starsmore Center sits at the entrance to North Cheyenne Canon. It is small but provides interesting history on the canon and it’s wildlife. Stop in to get a free trail map and to enjoy the wildflowers and humming birds.

Star Kempf

Starr Kempf Sculptures

You’ll find Starr Kempf’s sculptures in the yard of his home at the base of North Cheyenne Canon. The exact address is 2067 Pine Grove. They are unique and whimsical pieces that never fail to fascinate. When the wind blows, several of the pieces come to life.

Bear Creek Nature Center

Not far from North Cheyenne Canon is the Bear Creek Nature Center. This is one of my favorite places to visit. Inside the nature center is a working bee hive in plexiglass that allows you to view the bees coming and going. It also provides information on the wildlife in the area.

Old Colorado City

The main attraction to Old Colorado City is the old buildings filled with unique, local businesses. If you have the kids with you, the Colorado Creamery is the perfect place to stop for ice cream.

Simpich Showcase and Puppet Theater

Perhaps the best place in Old Colorado City to bring the kids is the Simpich Showcase. Handmade marionettes and dolls are on display. If you have the time/money, attend one of the marionette shows. They are unique and entertaining.

Focus on the Family Visitor Center

First, you need to know that Focus on the Family is a Christian organization but all faiths are welcome. The two-story slide, recording studio, and ice cream parlor can add up to hours of free fun for your family.

United States Air Force Academy

The grounds to the Academy are extensive so you’ll want to focus on getting to the Visitor’s Center to get a brief history, then hike over to the beautiful chapel.

 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Giraffe at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is not free, but it is perhaps the best value for your money. I simply love our zoo.  By far our family favorite is to feed the giraffes. We also love the Rocky Mountain exhibit. Helpful hint: the zoo is on a hill and there is lots of walking. Wear comfortable shoes!

Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea

Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea

The temperatures are warming up, so this pitcher of Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea is making it’s way onto my table as the perfect refreshing drink.

Sweetened with unfiltered, organic apple juice, this tea has all the flavor of apples with a nice hint of strawberries.

Because the apple juice is almost cut in half with unsweetened brewed tea, it reduces the amount of sugar in this drink. However, it tastes so much better than apple juice diluted with plain water! If you are worried about sugars, consult Homemade Herbal Teas for delicious tea drink suggestions with no sugar.

To release the flavors of the strawberries, I add them to the pitcher first and smash them a bit with the stirring spoon.

It is also important to note that in my house, when served a glass of this tea, using your spoon to fish out the strawberries so you can eat them is perfectly acceptable. We rarely dine with the queen, so in this case, there is no need to have impeccable manners. 🙂

I make this Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea with black tea, but it is also excellent with green tea, white tea or a selection of herbal tea. If you are going to make it with a tea other than black, please consult my guide on Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea so you can select the correct steeping time.

Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea

Strawberry Apple Homemade Sweet Tea

Ingredients

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 4 black tea bags (or substitute green tea, white tea, or herbal tea)
  • 4 cups unfiltered organic apple juice
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries

Instructions

  1. Steep the 4 tea bags in the 3 cups of boiling water for 4 minutes. Squeeze tea bags and discard.
  2. Add the sliced strawberries to the bottom of the pitcher and smash with a spoon.
  3. Add both the tea and the apple juice to the pitcher. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Serve over ice.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/strawberry-apple-homemade-sweet-tea/

Serving suggestion: Instead of serving over straight ice, add a few frozen strawberries to the glass too!

If you like this recipe, you’ll also want to make Fizzy Homemade Iced Tea.

Homemade Gluten-Free Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Gluten Free Peppermint Mocha Brownies

May is Celiac Awareness Month, and Abe’s Market is hosting a Gluten-Free Sale. Save up to 50% off select gluten-free products.

Items you will find on sale:

Bumble Bars Pay just $11.00 for a 12 bar pack!

Bob’s Red Mill Mixes Includes Garbanzo Bean flour, Coconut flour and Hazelnut flour

Miracle Noodles Just $3.00/package!

Because it is Celiac Awareness Month, and because Abe’s Market is celebrating, they wanted to bring the brownies….virtually! They’ve shared a recipe for Gluten-Free Peppermint Mocha Brownies perfect for showing your friends/family gluten-free can still taste great.

Gluten-Free Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Gluten-Free Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Ingredients

  • 15 Medjool dates, pitted, soaked and drained
  • ¼ cup water
  • 9 T raw cocoa
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, soft, not liquid
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 T espresso, ground fine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend dates (in a blender) and ¼ cup water on high until it becomes a paste
  3. Add eggs, cocoa, agave, coconut oil, baking powder, peppermint and espresso; blend until smooth
  4. Add garbanzo beans; mix on high until entire mixture is well incorporated, thick and smooth
  5. Evenly distribute mixture into mini muffin tins (fills 30-32)
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes (until it passes the toothpick test); remove and cool on a wire rack
http://naturalgreenmom.com/homemade-gluten-free-peppermint-mocha-brownies/

I can’t wait to make these for my book club group next week! I have a friend who has been gluten-free for about a year now and I’m always looking for recipes I think she can partake in.