Honey Butter

As a mom, I cherish the moments when I can be in my child’s class. Getting to know the other kids and the classroom dynamic really opens my eyes to my child’s world. I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at my son’s preschool. The teachers asked me to bring in an art project about honey and a honey-based snack. Here’s what we made!

First and foremost, you should know I started and directed a preschool back before I had 3 kids. I had one little guy who joyfully came to work with me every day. That being said, I absolutely love messy projects. I’m a firm believer that the messier the better. In my eight years of teaching, I saw countless students gain a better understanding through play and textured learning.

For my son’s class, we made bees by painting bubble wrap yellow and “stamping” them onto paper. I pre-cut the bubble wrap into wing shapes. Here is a link to the craft I based this off of.

Next we sampled honey butter with bread. Yum! So simple, so delicious. I laughed watching a few of the kids get confused and trying to stamp the honey butter onto their bee picture. Whoops! 😂

Whether you’re looking for a fun lesson about bees for your kiddos or have been dying to try honey butter, this recipe is for you!

We made honey butter in one of our cooking demos at the Honey Festival last week. It’s so good, we were asked multiple times if we sold honey butter in jars! For now, you’ll have to be satisfied with making this recipe at home. I will add though that you can now purchase our Elderberry Gummy Kit at Saltea Herbs. We paired our love for cooking healthy food with their love for herbs, spices & teas to create this kit. The kit includes a gummy mold, dropper, elderberries, gum Arabic and of course the recipe! You can check out the recipe here.

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Immunity Kicker Elderberry Gummies

With seasons changing comes “lovely” runny noses and head colds. Trying to avoid sickness with 3 kids in the house can feel like an uphill climb. I need some defense! Elderberry Gummies are simple and fast. These will get those immunities stronger and the kids love them! Honestly, I love them too😘

Start by steeping dried elderberries in very hot water. I used my tea kettle to get the water nice and hot.  Simply pour the hot water over the berries in a medium sized bowl like the one pictured here. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Steeping the elderberries releases their healing properties into the water. Elderberries are amazing because they are high in both Vitamin C and A. They are known for being a healing agent for multiple respiratory issues.

Once done steeping, strain the berries out of the water and pour in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium-low, then add in the honey and lemon juice.

As the juice heats, sprinkle in the gelatin and Arabic gum. Whisking is a great way to keep the sauce from clumping. Stir continuously for 5 minutes or until sauce begins to slightly thicken.

I LOVE using little syringes to get the juice into the molds. These can be purchased online here or simply use a clean medicine syringe – easy to get if you have little kids.

Don’t you love these gummy bear molds??!? I found them here for a steal!!

Allow the gummies to set for an hour or overnight if you prefer. Once set, they pop out of the molds easily. Store in an airtight container for 3 days or refrigerate if you want them to last longer. Keep in mind that eating real food means no preservatives, so these little gummies will not keep for months in your cupboards like store-bought ones do.

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Basic Bone Broth

Bone Broth is the THING right now. At first I hesitated to post a recipe for it. I had lots of reservations about whether it’s really a sustainable recipe or a temporary fling. Now that I’ve researched the issue, let’s dive in to the truths and façades.

Bone Broth Façade #1

Bone broth is the newest trend. False! Bone broth has been around since the dawn of time. Seriously. The concept of meat being boiled into water to cook is nothing new. Neither is the idea of drinking the water with the meat and veggies. It has been human nature to consume bone broth. Do you know what has changed however? Canned Broth.

Bone Broth Façade #2

All broths are created equal. Not even close. There is a reason so many recipes are clarifying that they are for “bone broth” and not simply broth. For one, canned broth from the store is not processed with meat bones. In fact, some of them don’t specify how they get the “meat” flavor into the broth. This gives me that heeby-geeby kind of feeling. You can now buy bone broth in most grocery stores. However, an 8 oz. jar is typically $6 or more. 😱Ouch!

Bone Broth Truth #1

Bone broth is a great source for probiotics. So true! For anyone who has a hard time getting plenty of probiotics regularly, try bone broth. I personally love how easy it is to grab and go. Take it in a coffee mug on your way to work, add it to your lunch, or make a delicious soup with it for dinner. This Savory Chicken Veggie Soup is a great one to use bone broth in. Other common sources of probiotics are yogurts, kimchi, dill pickles, kombucha and dark chocolate.

Bone Broth Truth #2

Bone broth can heal gut issues. Yes, so much yes. While you may still need to see a doctor depending on the severity of your gut issues, bone broth has amazing healing qualities. Most people feel better within 30 minutes of drinking bone broth-it’s that good! I suggest adding it to your daily diet for a while to see sustainable results. Here’s a tip for those of us that are a little stressed for time. When you cook a whole chicken. turkey, or roast, keep the bones and freeze them until you have time to make bone broth. I’ve done this before and you don’t lose any nutrients by freezing them – it just saves you some time!

Bone Broth Truth #3

Bone broth can reduce cellulite. Say what?? Call me crazy but it’s true! Drinking bone broth regularly can minimize cellulite and give you great skin. The real secret here? Animal fat is good for you. Natural fats are good for you. All in moderation of course, but none the less food for you! This is why I’m not scare to incorporated butter, bacon grease, or red meats (typically have more fat on them) in my recipes. At Sweetest Lemonade we want to see you improve your health in every sense of the word. You deserve to live a long, sustainable life!

I did a lot of research to gather the best information. This is the best site I found. They even have a break-down of what kind of bones you may want to use.

Now that you know, remember to keep bone both in your diet, even if social media stops talking about it so frequently. Bone broth has always been good for you, and will continue to be!

 

By the way, if you caught on to my “that Hansel is so hot right now” reference, then we are for sure friends 😘

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Herb Balsamic Dressing

I am in love with this easy dressing! “Make Your Own Salad” night has a new king in our house and his name is Herb Balsamic Dressing The First.

While wrangling 3 feisty kids who were hangry, I managed to make dinner and this salad dressing in under 30 minutes! If you’ve been in this stage of life, or currently are, you can appreciate just how incredible this is. I slightly expected a parade in my honor, but my kids did not seem as impressed by my dinner victory.

The dressing only took 1 minute to make from start to finish. Who says real food takes too long to make? If I had tried to make mac & cheese, it would have taken the same amount of time if not longer once I added in a protein or side dish.

Blender salad dressings are the way to go. You’ll love throwing everything in the blender and having a homemade dressing 10 seconds later!

The reason I blend this instead of mixing it is to keep the balsamic and oil incorporated together seamlessly.

You’ll notice I used a pomegranate balsamic. I wanted just a hint of fruit flavor in the dressing-and this was the perfect addition.

Try this out and see for yourself how easy it is!

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Vanilla Pudding From Scratch

Parenting hit me hard today. The laundry literally looks like it could eat me due to its sheer volume. The living room floor has crackers ground into it. My children seem to have forgotten entirely how to hear me. I can’t even focus on what dinner will be tonight. Enter vanilla pudding.

Calm Down, Vanilla Pudding Is Here

Everyone loves vanilla pudding. It can be mixed into so many different dishes or served all by itself. Pudding has sort of a calming effect on me. I have to slow down to really enjoy it. My favorite way to snack on pudding is with my homemade graham crackers. Those things are downright amazing.

My  kids somehow heard me when I mentioned the pudding was ready. The laundry miraculously fit into the washer, and my 4 year-old vacuumed up the crumbs for me. Heaven came down to earth.

We had a little moment. All of us squished around the kids table in the kitchen. Rori, 2 years-old, had a hard time keeping the pudding on her spoon. That pudding kept flopping around and landing on her face and clothes. It was so adorable I didn’t mind the mess.

Why Make Vanilla Pudding From Scratch

I know what you’re thinking. “Mandi, why would I make vanilla pudding from scratch when it’s so easy to buy from the store?” I’ll tell you why. That cute little box in the store, while a time saver, isn’t real vanilla pudding. There is a whole world of flavor out there you’re missing out on every time you pick up a box instead of try a recipe. This one takes about 10 minutes to make, and sets for 2 hours.

Need a moment of serenity? Make some vanilla pudding. Whip it up in the morning so that when things get a little chaotic, everyone can simmer down with one of the best snacks ever invented.

I made this recipe dairy free and with only natural sugars. That’s why you’ll notice it’s a little darker than normal. It’s the coconut sugar and honey. But man, does it taste ahh-mazing. If you have no issue with dairy, feel free to make this with heavy whipping cream instead of almond milk. I suggest keeping the sweeteners the same, simply because they are measured out to perfectly complement the vanilla flavor and not overpower it.

 

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

This bread comes with a story. I’ve been working on this recipe for a couple months now. It’s trickier than you think to make pumpkin bread hold together well while keeping it moist. I tried this so many different ways! Now onto the story of the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread.

It was the week my dear friend went into labor. She was a week over due and her water broke. I spent the next few days in the hospital helping  her and the new baby. Thad (the husband for those of you who are new here) was able to get some time off. I left one night to go help with the baby saying, “You guys can each have one slice of pumpkin bread after dinner, but save the rest so I can photograph them!” Out the door I went. I came home to find the bread all gone! While I was thrilled the family loved it so much, I was crushed to realize I needed to re-bake and photograph. Then my friend text me that she needed me at the hospital the next day.

Thad stepped up. He offered to bake the bread AND photograph it AND send me the edited pictures so I could finish the article while in the hospital-holding the sweetest little baby boy by the way. 👶

So this incredible chocolate chip pumpkin bread is brought to you specially by my wonderful husband, who while not always seen on Sweetest Lemonade, has a very big presence. Without him our team would not be complete!

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Chocolate Butter Mint Chews

If I had a dollar for every cooking mistake I made-my dream house would definitely be built and most likely furnished too. My most recent fail is your gain because these chocolates are phenomenal. My Chocolate Butter Mint Chews can mold into shapes, but are soft enough to bite into with a little chewiness in the middle. Drool away!

My kids have loved every single mistake to come from these candies. My first attempt turned into a chocolate goo that wouldn’t set at all. They licked it all up and asked for seconds.

I knew I was onto something with the flavor, but didn’t know how to maintain the taste while changing its chemistry. Honestly, I thought about what to do for two weeks before I came up with something else that might work.

Just out of the freezer, ready to eat!

I tried blending the ingredients in a mixing bowl instead of heating over the stovetop. The problem there was the texture of the coconut sugar. I wanted a perfectly smooth flavor and texture.

Back to the drawing board again. This time I heated the ingredients over the stovetop, added in just a little tapioca flour and half a cup of dark chocolate chips. When I say dark and mean 65% or darker. Chocolate can really lose its beautiful deep flavor when milks and extra sugars get added to it.

This time they turned out just as I’d originally hoped!

Chocolate & Rain

Now I get to do what I’ve been planning all this time; sit down to a cup of tea, a few homemade chocolates and listen to the rain. It’s supposed to rain for a week straight here in Northern California. I absolutely love the rain. My husband however, has to work in the rain. So I’m always torn; being so thankful and downright giddy over something that causes my man grief. Perhaps if I save him some of these chocolates he’ll be able to see the rain in a different light.

Next up, I am going to conquer homemade Rollos! I know what you’re thinking, but I know it’s possible. They  don’t have to be as unhealthy as the real deal either. Stay tuned for more creative healthy recipes from yours truly! And remember, no matter what happens in life, you can choose to make the sweetest lemonade out of the circumstances. Toodles!

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts From Heaven

Brussels from heaven?!? Some of you are skeptics, I know. Taste buds have mixed with a few kid shows you watched growing up, which led you to believe that mini cabbages are gross. They’re not okay? In fact, my roasted brussel sprouts are frickin’ delicious.

This week I was drifting between the “work hard for your money” mentality and the “be the kind of mom who stops whatever she’s doing to be with her kids” concept. It wasn’t working. Especially when just coming off of Christmas break and getting two boys back into routine. I would sit down to email a client and suddenly my daughter wants me to take her doll potty. Next my son asks me to make him a snack. I got distracted in the kitchen cleaning. Before I know it, I’ve lost an hour of office time without really spending quality time with my kids.

Social media can really fool you. All of these moms out there claim that working from home is a complete joy and “fixed all their problems”. I still have a work schedule and I find my time is better spent working in one direction at a time.

The thing is I actually have an amazing time management system and 90% of the time I’m able to spend plenty of time with kids and plenty of time with work.

This week was just not that week for me.

Enter Brussels From Heaven

Being an ex-emotional eater, some recipes just get me. These brussels legit made my day. The way they caramelized, the strong flavor, and the perfect crispy outside with a tender inside. You’ve got to try these. Look at the ingredients list and pick them up at the store. Wait this week for a day when you need to be cheered up. Let this side dish calm you own from the inside out.

Heaven in a bowl.

My husband likes adding them to a wrap. He’ll toss in some grilled chicken, lettuce, beans, the brussels, and a hummus or salsa. Talk about a power house meal full of vitamins! Brussel sprouts are high in vitamin C, K and B. For those of you who are gluten free, it is really important that you find a way to get enough Vitamin B on the daily. Brussel sprouts are one of the veggies that can do that for you!

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Cranberry Balsamic Green Beans

It can be a real struggle to think of a recipe everyone in your house will love. To be honest, I have a harder time caring about what others want when it comes to food. Do you do that too? I don’t want to constantly try to please 5 different taste buds. Not to mention when we have company!

I think secretly I just want everyone to adhere to what I like to eat. Life would be so much easier! I could cook my favorite dishes, and the kids would all say thank you and maybe even offer to do the clean up. While my kids are great about helping around the house, we are not quite to that stage of parenting. Having your child volunteer to help around the house? That’s the dream!

I digress. These green beans may not have won the hearts of my 4 and almost 2-year old, but the rest of us loved them! I know Sam and Rori will come around. They just don’t like so many flavors thrown into one meal. It says a lot about this dish that my 8-year old loved them though. I’m sure there are plenty of you moms out there who would love to have some veggie recipes your kids request over and over. That’s the dream too.

Pin this, share it, whatever you need to do to get the ingredients to your grocery list.

What I love about these flavorful green beans is how simple it makes the rest of your meal. Pair this with grilled chicken and red steamed potatoes. Or try my honey sesame pork chops over a bed of brown rice with these veggies. Not only will you have a complete meal, but a quick one too. Making real food doesn’t have to take hours, and no one really has that extra time either.

I’d much rather spend my time reading with the kids or finishing up the dishes for the evening than slaving over the stove. Not to mention the horror of what happens when dinner takes too long and you have “hangry” kiddos. That’s the worst. I’m not much better than the kids so when this mom gets “hangry” I find myself much more snappy.

Do yourself a favor and make these green beans. Sit down to a nice family dinner and look at the wonderful family you have. People are a gift. Enjoy them and enjoy this side dish!

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Split Pea Soup

Soup weather. Don’t you just love soup weather? Living in Northern California has sadly left me with entire years that skipped soup weather. This year though is making up for that. We are going to have a long winter and lots of soup weather. On top of that, I’ve mastered the soup most people judge simply by it’s color. Split Pea Soup.

Split Pea Soup: The Whole Package

Soups that can be a complete meal win me over. If I’m going to make a big pot of soup, I really don’t want to create extra side dishes to go with it. The most you’ll see me do is toast some bread (here is my current favorite gluten free bread) or throw together a green salad. Beyond that, I’m not wasting my time.

Split pea soup is a bit controversial in our family. My husband and my oldest son love it. The younger two are not a fan, mostly because of the color. So on split pea soup night they little eat leftovers.

I’ve found a way to make this a win for us though. I’ll make the soup and store the leftovers for us. Josh, my 8-year old loves taking this in his soup container for school lunches with a couple pieces of bread. I’ve done my research and found some really great containers that keep his food warm by lunch time. My husband likes that this soup thickens up, making it easy for him to eat while he’s on the road. He drives for UPS and is often delivering in the middle of country roads when it’s time for him to take his lunch. He needs food that won’t spill. This one recipe will last us 3-4 days of lunches which is pretty great if you ask me!

Look past the color and try this glorious soup. For those out there wondering what the deal is with split peas, here’s the low-down. Split peas are technically in the legume family, so if you are strict paleo you might not eat these. They are however the same botanically as fresh green beans or fresh peas. So if you eat those and have no issue with them, try this soup and monitor yourself for the next 24 hours. You may have just found a new item you can eat! I know for myself I’m always overjoyed when I find a new food my gut can handle.

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I’d love to hear what you and your family think of this recipe, so comment below what everyone thought!