Fall For Pop Tarts

It’s early, so early the sun isn’t up yet. You start your morning routine thankful the weather is finally cooling off. The mind starts turning on as the coffee brews. Those precious moments a mom gets to herself before the children wake. A glance at the calendar to remind yourself of the day’s activities. Reality sets in and the coffee mug rests on the counter. Lunches need to be made. Breakfast eaten. Kids dressed. Hair done. Shoes on. Back packs loaded. What could possibly make the morning run gracefully? Is there time to be gained?

Absolutely.

There are so many tips and tricks to making mornings enjoyable in the midst of craziness. One of my favorites is quick breakfasts. The catch is finding easy, fast food that remains healthy and nutritious. Ah, there’s the rub. Pop tarts are a great example. While they are fast, yummy and easy to feed kids – healthy they are not. I refuse to buy into the lie that making healthy food takes too long or is much more expensive. So, once again, I got creative. 😉

Let’s re-think healthy. I made these pop tarts in less than 30 minutes on my meal prep day. While they were baking I finished up a few other meal prep items like grilling chicken and making brown rice for the week. By the way, if you’re not meal prepping- start! Read up about why meal prepping saves lives here.

I put the pop tarts in the freezer along with some homemade popsicles (I’m sooo posting that recipe soon) and boom. They were ready for the week.

What’s incredible about this recipe is how easy they are to “pop” into the toaster and serve. Full disclosure: I had 1 out of the 8 pop tarts get a little stuck in the toaster. So that’s always a possibility. You might notice there isn’t frosting on top of these. Good observation! If I were to put frosting on them, the sugar amount would be very high and I wouldn’t really count these as a healthy breakfast option, more of a dessert. If you want to put some frosting on, use the one from my perfect white cake recipe. Add some sprinkles too!

I made these with a cinnamon apple filling, and that’s what you’ll find in the recipe. However, I have also tried a mango cream and a strawberry mint filling. I need to make those a couple more times before their perfect, but rest assured I’ll update this post as soon as they’re done. The cinnamon apple was my kids’ favorite flavor by far and that’s why I stuck with this one for the recipe. I hope these make your mornings a breeze! Let me know how they turn out, I love hearing from the Sweetest Lemonade community. 🍋

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How To Make Sunbutter

There are two bouquets of flowers in my house currently. One is on our dining table, soaking up some rays and looking oh so beautiful. The other is brightly sitting right next to me while I type. It’s like having a piece of sunshine. The reason behind these flowers though is much more significant than the blooms themselves.

Sometimes I need a physical reminder that I am loved. It’s something I know down deep, but I’m human. Constantly needing a little more than a feeling to go by. My husband is one of the most loving people you’ll ever meet. He loves well. Part of what makes him good at this, is he gets creative about how to love. Years ago when we were first married, I told him I was the kind of girl who needed flowers once in a while. Not in a demanding diva sort of way, but more of a “you should know this about me” way.

He’s never forgotten, and is king of being sporadic enough that I feel genuinely loved. There have definitely days he brought home “I’m sorry” flowers, but that hasn’t happened in a really long time.

I’m of the opinion that everyone needs lovin’. Whether it’s between friends, family or the stranger behind you in line for coffee. There are so many ways to love.

This week my son and I chose to love a child in his class. We’ve never met him or her. A note came home from school stating a child at school has a peanut allergy and all children are asked to keep everything peanut at home. My son has devastated. Nuts and seeds are big part of our family’s diet. It’s one of his favorite ways to eat carrots and apples. Instead of allowing the focus to go towards my son suddenly feeling without – we got creative.

I’ve loved sunbutter for a few years now, but the cost has kept me from buying it regularly. Now I have a big reason for having this as a staple in our kitchen. To the girl or boy in my son’s class, I pray this allergy doesn’t keep you from anything you want to do. I hope you feel loved as your class is making a way for you to enjoy the cafeteria and not have to be afraid of certain foods. And if you ever need any sunbutter, don’t hesitate to ask us!

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Raspberry Swirl Zucchini Bread

Zucchini, zucchini everywhere – and way too much to eat. Summer in Northern California means vegetable gardens exploding with huge over-ripe food. In a world full of zucchini, where’s a girl to go?

My family loves zucchini – but during this time of year I start to get this, “If you grill zucchini for dinner one more time….😠” sort of look from them. I hate wasting food, so I get creative. 

The Zucchini Warehouse

Here is a list of all zucchini related recipes on Sweetest Lemonade. It’s such a diverse vegetable. More are sure to come!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Your Kids Will Eat. Seriously, this one’s to die for. My oldest (now nine) asked me to make this recipe into cupcakes for his class when it was his birthday!

Time Saving Pasta Sauce. Ever heard of zoodles? Here’s a bomb sauce we love with zoodles.

Honey Sesame Pork Chops are not just amazing, but surreal with some fresh zucchini added to the sauce!

Savory Chicken Veggie Soup is ready for you as fall starts to appear!

And last but not least, our newest recipe 👇

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Yes this bread is gluten free and dairy free. You should know this about me by now! Unless specified otherwise, you’ll find we bake this way regularly. We like to use alternative sugars as well. This one features coconut sugar!




Homemade Jerky

Have you ever heard the saying, “time is money and money is time”? It’s a wise mantra when trying to prioritize. You can save time or money, not both. My issue is quality. There are some things in life that are worth the time and the money for the sake of quality. Food is one of them. While I’m all for a great deal, I want the food my family takes in to be what they need. Nutritious, full of vitamins and ridiculously tasty.

I’ve gradually incorporated more and more homemade foods into our diets as I’m always learning more and more about what foods have processed ingredients in them and which ones are still safe to purchase. Jerky is one that I thought I was good on for a while. I was buying a high-end quality jerky that the whole family enjoyed. The only problem was how quickly we ran out of it. That, and no matter what the sugar levels were kind of crazy for dried meat.

We purchase a 1/4 of a cow seasonally and store it in our deep freezer. This last time I spoke to the butcher and asked if he could do some jerky cuts for me. While I can cut my own jerky slices from steaks (and I have before) I’m not very good at getting the slices as thin as they need to be. Also, why not save a step?

This jerky was so easy to set up that I made homemade yogurt, homemade jello and granola bars that same day. Talk about being set on snacks for a while!

We made this with our homemade teriyaki sauce, but I’ve since found one at Trader Joe’s that has clean ingredients if you want to save even more time.

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Pomegranate Blueberry Overnight Oats

I’ll be the first to admit it. As a kid, oatmeal was not exactly on my request list for breakfast. Ever. If my mom made it, I ate it. That was it. Now as an adult and mom, it’s fun to get creative and find ways to make healthy food taste good. Oats are amazing for our bodies and a great filler when headed out for a big day. I now have 3 different ways my kids enjoy -that’s right enjoy- oatmeal.

Coconut Sugar & Raisins

A classic way to eat oatmeal is warm with brown sugar, butter and raisins. We change it up a bit by sprinkling coconut sugar and raising over our oats. We skip the butter entirely. Also, we cook them with water, not milk. This is because dairy broke up with me a couple years ago, and also because it’s not needed with a dish like this. When eating oatmeal, you won’t be leaving the table hungry wishing you had added a fatty ingredient to it. Trust me.

Apple Pie Overnight Oats

We add this to our meal prep at least once a month. I simply line up 4-6 jars, add the ingredients and shake! The jars go in the fridge overnight and are ready to go in the morning. Our family likes them cold or warm; pretty much whatever we have time for. This one’s great if you need to eat on the go like my husband does. He grabs it and runs out the door anywhere from 5-6am with a couple hard-boiled eggs. Perfect combo! Click here for the full recipe.

Pomegranate Blueberry Overnight Oats

Now for the newest creation in the Metzger house. This recipe features Skylake Ranch Pomegranate syrup. Believe it or not, pomegranate syrup has less sugar per serving than maple syrup does. Our whole house loves anything pomegranate or blueberry so this dish is a win-win. I added flaxseed and chia seed to really up the nutrition game for this meal. I’m a huge believer that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, so start strong!

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My Favorite Stage

Somehow I didn’t notice. Looking back, it was obvious. I just didn’t see it. Or maybe I couldn’t see it. She transformed in a single summer. From baby cheeks to French braids. Needing help to do everything, now saying “I can do it myself!” No more crib, no more long cuddles in the morning. She’d rather sing me a song or tell me everything we should do today.

In 3 months time my little girl grew up. Her feet went up 3 sizes.😮 Her vocabulary tripled in size too. From here on out, she can tell me what she wants with words. She can feed herself, pick up her toys and fend off her brothers no problem. She lets me do her hair 90% of the time and ALWAYS wants to be outside.

My gut reaction is to cry- to mourn a season that’s past. To lock myself in a room with the last 2 years-worth of photos and sob like the baby I used to have. Why does time fly by? I should have known, being that this is my third baby to grow up. It snuck by me like my 5-year old going into the kitchen for a late night snack. Seriously how does he do it??!?

Back Into Joy

When I was a young(er) mom and had one little guy, a mom of 5 who’s babies were all out of the house told me the best piece of advice. To this day I use it and those simple words take me out of my sadness and pull me back into joy.

We were talking about how fast time goes. She was remembering when one of her kids was my little one’s age and I had asked her what her favorite stage was. She responded, “I don’t have a favorite stage. I choose to enjoy every new stage because it’s the child I’m in love with, not the stage.”

Light bulb.💡Why mourn a season past when you get to enjoy something new with the one you love. It’s not easy, but it’s important. I choose to enjoy every stage and every new aspect of my children’s personalities. Do I always get it right? Nope. There are days when all I think about is what’s next or what’s behind me instead of what’s in front of me.

At the ages 9, 5 and 2 I have a lot of “present” to focus on. So I choose to give them my attention, even though I wish my 2 year-old was still a snuggler when she’s obviously a “let’s go here, then here and then over here” kinda gal right now. The 5 year-old certainly won’t allow me to help him pick out his clothes anymore, but he does love to make forts and invites me to hide in them from time to time. Josh, the nine year-old isn’t so keen on reading chapter books together like we used to, but he wants to ride bikes with me daily. Every stage is the best, because your kids are in it.

What are your kids into right now? Do you ever miss stages that have past?




Cucumber Salad

So. Many. Towels. Endless swimming, tons of outside activities and quite possibly a gallon of sunscreen. Non-stop snacks. Wet floors from kids who somehow still don’t understand the concept of drying off outside. Let’s not forget the flip-flops. My son owns 5 pairs and the other day we couldn’t find a single match, only one of each⛱  Everyone talks about how great summer is. I agree, but sometimes this momma needs a break!

Have you noticed the multitude of salad recipes happening on Sweetest Lemonade lately? There’s a reason. I decided that if our summer will continue, (successfully) I need to give myself some grace. Eating real food isn’t something I’m willing to compromise on, but I can make it easier on myself.

Salads Saved Summer

  Salads are here to save the day! They are so versatile in flavor and ingredients, yet super simple to throw together! I even had this one for breakfast the other day. Make it a point to enjoy the rest of your summer. Try some salads, or do a quick bbq if it means spending more time with your family. You won’t regret it!

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Asian Cabbage Salad

At this point, summer might not end. We’ve hit the “endless days of summer” mode, but mostly because of the heat; not the quickly arriving school schedules. The next two weeks are projected to be 109° straight on through. I know, not quite the way I wanted to envision my summer either. Northern California has so many perks, but one major downer. The heat is not only long lasting, but incredibly dry.

I’m typically in the kitchen cooking meals, snacks or prepping for the next few days as a normal part of my routine. Lately, I’ve been wanting to hide from the kitchen. The heat is just too much. I’d rather keep the house nice and cool! To avoid heating up the house, we’ve switched over to barbecuing and salads as much as we can.summer salad recipe

Our New Favorite Salad

A new favorite of ours is this Asian Cabbage Salad. I’m a huge fan of cabbage instead of lettuce. First off, cabbage has more vitamin c than an orange. Isn’t that crazy? We hear so many things generalized about fruits and vegetables, when the full truth is so different. Yes, oranges are still good for you, but please don’t eat them solely because of their vitamin c. Another fun tip about cabbage is it stays crispy longer than lettuce. For me this means I can make a salad for dinner and eat it the next day for lunch without getting the soggy salad taste in my mouth.😕 So gross by the way.summer salad recipe

This salad is loads of fun for kids as it’s colorful and full of flavor. All three kids eat it, but I will say two of them still pick some ingredients out. I’m super cool with this because it’s all forward motion to eating real food as a lifestyle. Total honesty here, I’m also that mom who throws the picked out pieces of her kid’s meal back onto her plate. I hate wasting food! You don’t like green onions? Sweet- more for me!

So stay cool and whip up this amazing salad for dinner or bring it along on your next hike! We are going hiking this weekend and I have a feeling this one might come with us😉summer salad recipe

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Caprese Salad

It never fails. My family will always eat more of a meal if I present it well. Setting the table, using real plates, arranging the food in a creative fashion, all of that. “Tablescapes” are a real thing! While there are definitely days I grab the paper plates and throw some chicken and rice on a plate, most of the time we are purposeful with our meals.

This salad is the perfect example of what I’m talking about. If I had coarsely cut the mozzarella, tomatoes & basil only to throw it in a large bowl- my kids would have looked the other way. Instead, I sliced and plated in a way that made everyone at the table go “ooh and ahh”. Even my pickiest friends tried caprese salad!

Layering the mozzarella and the tomato really makes this simple salad ridiculously good looking. (anyone get that reference, anyone??)

For dinner I paired the salad with bbq chicken (click here for the bbq sauce recipe), grilled veggies and watermelon.

We served 9, so portions were pretty big and we even pulled out some pre-cooked brown rice from the night before to give more options. I love having tons of people over for meals. It makes my heart so happy!

Try this caprese salad, and see if your family likes it presented in a fancy way😉 Top it with this Pomegranate Balsamic Dressing for a real treat![amd-zlrecipe-recipe:95]




The Joys of Tee Pees

You know that excited feeling when you’re in on a secret for someone else? Try 3 someones. My kids had no idea when they came home from school this Friday that an amazing tee pee would be waiting for them! I’ve been holding in my excitement all week. They guessed what was inside the box and had a few ideas, but none this cool!

Every mom’s dream. A great new imagination tool that is easy to set up and take down. I can fit this right in my closet when we’re done and bring it back out for a rainy day! Total honesty here, I laughed out loud in complete joy when I read the tag that all cloth parts are machine washable. That’s the kind of mom I am. If it can be washed normally, I get the feels.Check out the little window with roll-up panels. Sooo cute! I’ve been wanting a little space in our house for reading and creative play. This tee pee came with a soft mat and 4 pillows to go inside. Right away my kids had to rearrange the little pillows and make themselves a “nest”.

So far the tee pee has been a book nook, camping tent, puppy house, snuggle bungalow, Peter Pan’s secret lair, and probably more I haven’t witnessed.

This is such a fun way to expand your children’s imagination. We at Sweetest Lemonade have partnered with Joy Tee Pee to give you an exclusive $20 off coupon. Simply enter sweetestlemonade20off at checkout!

Click here to see the cute patterns they have too!