Archives for February 2014

Bacon, Butternut Squash, Kale Salad Recipe

Bacon Butternut Squash Kale Salad Recipe

Kale. Love it or hate it?

What if you combined it with the saltiness of bacon and the sweetness of butternut squash then tied it all together with a southwestern style dressing?

This Bacon, Butternut Squash and Kale Salad Recipe is hearty enough to eat for lunch (I think) or it makes a really good whole food side dish to a roast pork tenderloin.

I bake my bacon in the oven at the same time the butternut squash is roasting. The bacon takes about 15 minutes at 425 degrees to bake to crispy perfection while the butternut squash will take about 30 minutes to get nicely caramelized.

If you’ve never baked bacon before, I’ve made a How to Bake Bacon video for you. You don’t need to make yours into bacon bundles, but the technique is the same.

After your bacon has baked for 15 minutes, pull your bacon out of the oven, stir the butternut squash a bit, tuck the squash back in for the next 15 minutes then lay your bacon out on paper towels to absorb the extra bacon grease. You’ll have at least 12 more minutes for the butternut squash to cook – the perfect amount of time to make your dressing and add your kale to your favorite salad bowl.

PRESTO! Side dish is ready to go in 30 minutes.

Bacon, Butternut Squash, Kale Salad Recipe


  • 4 cups baby kale
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Add kale to a large salad bowl.
  3. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and pinch of salt. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Line a smaller baking sheet with tinfoil. Lay bacon on baking sheet.
  5. Put both bacon and butternut squash in 425 degree oven. Bake bacon for 15 minutes or until desired level of crispiness. Stir butternut squash when you take the the bacon out. Allow to bake for an additional 15 minutes or until it begins to brown and caramelize.
  6. Chop bacon once cooled and drained.
  7. Whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, orange juice, salt, cumin, and ginger. Stir in diced red onion.
  8. Toss kale with roasted butternut squash, chopped bacon, and dressing. Serve.

If you try this recipe for Bacon, Butternut Squash and Kale Salad, please let me know how you like it!

Healthy No-Bake Energy Balls Recipe

Energy Balls

This healthy no-bake energy balls recipe is my go-to recipe for active weekends.

Weekends at our house are filled with athletic activities. If it isn’t an all-day volleyball tournament, we love to hike and ski, and I’ve even been persuaded to do a few mountain biking excursions.

These energy balls provide both quick energy from the carbs and sustaining energy from the protein.

Might I add Р they taste a heck of a lot better than anything you buy at the store!

Every weekend I whip up a new batch of these. They are so quick to make I can even tackle this recipe at 5:30 in the morning before heading to the slopes.

“What if I don’t like raisins?” you might ask. You could substitute any dried fruit of choice or go in a whole other direction and substitute coconut flakes.

Healthy No-Bake Energy Balls Recipe


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup dry oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oatmeal, raisins, peanut butter, chocolate chips and honey.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ground almonds and cinnamon.
  3. Roll peanut butter dough into 1 inch balls. Roll the balls in the almond and cinnamon mixture to coat.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To me, these no-bake energy balls taste just like classic trail mix. Only they are easier to eat. You just pop one in your mouth instead of grabbing it by the handful.

How to Use Shopkick to Get FREE Gift Cards!

Shopkick for Free Gift Cards

Have you downloaded Shopkick onto your smartphone? I have and I am earning FREE gift cards to Target!

Shopkick is a program that awards you points – called kicks – for walking into stores. Once in the store, you can get additional kicks for scanning products or for making purchases.

Cash your kicks in on gift cards and other rewards.

It only takes 500 kicks to earn a $2 Gift Card to Target. Once you start using Shopkicks, you will find it is incredibly easy and quick to earn 500 kicks.

There are three ways I earn my Shopkicks.

1. I have the app on whenever I enter a store. The amount of kicks you earn depends on the day and the store. As soon as you enter the store, Shopkick adds your kicks.

In one day of errands, you can rack up points pretty quick!

2. If I have time, I might scan a few items in the store. You can scan items most anywhere you shop – Costco, Target, Best Buy, Office Depot – to name a few.

If my girls are accompanying me on errands, I will often hand them my phone and have them scan the items for me. What kid doesn’t like to scan things? Plus, it becomes like a store scavenger hunt for them to find the correct item and scan it.

3. I browse through what are called “Editor’s Books”. These are books of products that Shopkick has an interest in highlighting. Scroll through these and hope to find the “Tap for a Surprise” page.

Shopkick Tap for a Surprise

Not every editor’s book will have one of these pages, but if you find one, they are typically worth 1 kick.

This is only something I do when I have some extra time. It might be while sitting in the car waiting for someone, or it might be while ¬†watching TV. I consider that time “not doing anything” so I like to be able to feel like at least I am earning something.

Have you tried Shopkick yet? Any tips for earning kicks to share?

Linked here

How to Make Chocolate Garnishes at Home

How to Chocolate Garnishes

Making a chocolate garnish at home is super easy, yet it looks impressive and can make any occasion extra special.

All you really need is a chocolate bar.

How to Make a Chocolate Garnish:

Start with a good quality fair trade chocolate bar.

Break your bar into pieces and put into a microwave safe bowl.

Technically, you aren’t supposed to microwave chocolate. However, if you are careful, and only microwave in 15 second increments, making sure to stir each time, you won’t burn it.

Once you have your chocolate melted, you need a pastry bag. I have a mechanical pastry bag, but you could even use a plastic baggie with a corner snipped off.

Load your bag with the melted chocolate and you are ready to start making your chocolate garnishes.

Mechanical Pastry Bag

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can make any shape or word you’d like. If you choose to write a word, make sure all the letters touch so when it hardens it can be removed in one piece.

How to Make Chocolate Garnishes

Once you’ve made your garnishes, place the baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours until the chocolate hardens.

**Don’t make the mistake of putting your chocolate in the refrigerator. Doing so may cause your chocolate to “bloom” or get white spots.**

Chocolate Garnishes

How to Write on Plates with Chocolate

Writing on plates with chocolate is another really fun way to use melted chocolate. The steps are the same as making a chocolate garnish. Only this time you are writing directly on a plate.

How to Write on Plates with Chocolate

For the next special occasion in your house, try combining chocolate writing on a plate with a chocolate garnish.

I did this for my daughter’s 17th birthday. I made the garnishes and wrote on the plate the night before her birthday. I kept them both in the freezer overnight.

Then I made a batch of whole wheat pancakes.

I placed the pancakes on the plate with the chocolate writing.

The pancakes were topped with sprinkles (my favorite is Williams Sonoma made with all natural coloring but I can’t find them anymore!) and I placed a chocolate garnish on top of the pancake stack.

How to Make Chocolate Garnishes at Home

Try making chocolate garnishes for your next special occasion!

Whole Food Replacements for Sugar FREE Printable Baking Guide

Free Printable Replacements for Sugar
Do you have favorite recipes that you have received from friends and family that call for refined white sugar?

Granulated white sugar has actually been refined about 6 times. The average American consumes about 60 pounds of granulated white sugar per year.

If you want to make the transition to whole foods, have you ever tried to make recipes calling for granulated white sugar with whole food replacements?

Substituting sweeteners can be really difficult. Especially if you are using a liquid sweetener such as honey in the place of a dry sweetener such as granulated white sugar.

Making the substitution to whole food sweeteners is definitely worth it since many whole food sweeteners offer more than just sweetness to your recipe. Most whole food sweeteners offer trace minerals and other nutrients.

whole food sweeteners

No sweetener is ever going to be perfect. But making the switch to a whole food sweetener can upgrade your sweet tooth fix.

If you are interested in trying to use more whole food sweeteners, but don’t know where to start, I’ve got a FREE printable for you! Download and print the Whole Food Replacements for Sugar Baking Guide.

I like to keep my baking guide on the inside of my kitchen cabinets like I keep my How to Cook Grains Cheat Sheet. That way I always know where it is and I can easily read it while baking.

Hopefully you will find that using this Whole Food Replacements for Sugar Baking Guide can help make granulated white sugar a thing of your kitchen past.

30 Sugar Detox Tips & Tricks to Live By

30 Sugar Detox Tips & Tricks to Live By

We did it! My husband and I finished our 30 Day Sugar Detox. While we were not perfect, we did stay on plan for all 30 days and we definitely feel like we achieved our goals.

I learned a few things about following the Sugar Detox that I thought I would share here. These should be applicable no matter what dietary plan you follow.

1. Plan out Meals

2. Cook in Bulk

3. Dedicate Time to Prep Your Meals in Advance

4. Add Soups and Broths to Your Diet to Help Sustain You

5. Employ Your Slow Cooker

6. Buy in Bulk and Keep Your Fridge Stocked

7. Cook Extra and Eat it For Lunch the Next Day

8. Fight Cravings with Drinks That are Sugar Free and Free of Artificial Sugars

9. Remember Why You are Doing This. It’s important to start this with goals in mind.

10. It Will Take Time to Adjust.

10. Pick New Recipes and Make a New One Each Week. Here’s my favorites.

11. Have a plan for social gatherings.

12. Buy Produce in Season to Save Money.

13. Enlist a Friend (or spouse) to Detox with You.

14. Go Public. Use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to keep you honest.

15. Read Labels.

Hidden Sugars

16. Take it One Day at a Time.

17. Find That One Recipe That Helps You Get Through It.

18. When In Doubt, Eat More Vegetables.

19. Fight Cravings With Activity.

20. Don’t Go Hungry! Plan snacks.

21. Don’t Give Up. We all slip up. Get back on track.

22. Ask to Bring a Favorite Dish to a Social Gathering.

23. Find a Pinterest Board to Help You Find Inspiring New Dishes.

24. Find a Forum for Useful Ideas and Support.

25. Remember to Sleep.

26. Don’t Forget: The Foods You Gave Up Weren’t Nourishing!

27. Savor Each Bite and Find the Sweetness in Real Food.

28. Stick to Your Guns When Encountering Food Pushers.

29. Look Up Menus Online Before Dining Out.

30. Be Okay with Being the Picky Customer at a Restaurant.

What tips or tricks would you add?