Menu Planning, Grocery List Organizing, & Healthy Habits

The Weekly Menu & Grocery List – My Method for Getting Organized

Menu planning can be a bit overwhelming at times. In an effort to remain motivated and organized, I have developed a system for menu planning and organizing my grocery list.

I’ve created two digital documents that I use for this process – a weekly menu sheet and a grocery list.

Menu planning tips organized grocery list_1

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Vegan Whole Wheat Waffles with Apple & Coconut Cream Topping

 

Vegan waffle recipe whole wheat apple topping coconut cream homemade_2

This latest recipes comes from Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier. This coobook is full of flavorful plant-based dishes, making it just a little bit easier to cook healthy meals at home. These waffles are filling and delicious, however, the waffles themselves are not very sweet. This is a plus in my book, because I feel that sweet breakfast dishes can be a bit heavy handed with the sugar. Add as much maple syrup and toppings as you wish to increase sweetness, or consider adding a sweetener to the batter if you prefer a sweeter waffle.

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Photography by Heather Shane

Up next in our Creative Spotlight is Heather Shane of Heather Shane Photography! Heather is a photographer in southern California specializing in portraits, lifestyle, and craft photography. She is passionate about the beauty of humanity, and strives to promote love and happiness by delivering moving, meaningful images to all of her clients. We sat down with Heather and gained more insight on her creative process.Heather Shane Photography_4  Heather Shane Photography_3Heather Shane Photography_6  Heather Shane Photography_5  Heather Shane Phography_1

Heather Shane Photography_2

 

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Easy Homemade Snow Cones

easy recipe snow cone syrup all natural blue raspberry

Who doesn’t like a good snow cone now and then? For some reason, it never occurred to me before that it is actually pretty simple to make them at home. I was brainstorming some fun summer desserts to make for the 4th of July when I had the delicious idea to attempt homemade snow cones.

Before we discuss syrup recipes, let’s talk about ice crushing options. I generally like to avoid buying unnecessary kitchen appliances, however, I figured out through trial and error that an ice shaver or snow cone machine would make the whole process so much easier. I attempted to simply crush ice in a blender, but the ice pieces wouldn’t get any smaller than medium-large pebbles. I read a tip online about adding water to the blender to help break up the chunks, however, the ice turned into a melty slush by the time enough water was added to really help the blending process. That was a disappointing result, to say the least. I was able to somewhat perfect the blender method by blending the ice in very small batches, but come on, ain’t nobody got time for that!

My options at that point where to 1) give up entirely, or 2) break down and purchase an appliance that would actually allow me to enjoy the snow cones that I was so craving. I went with option #2, and I bought this ridiculous looking snow cone maker. I’m not a fan of the cutesy carnival appearance, but my decision to go with this machine was because of features and reviews. First, it makes larger batches of snow than a lot of the other machines. Several of the ones that I looked at only made 2-3 servings at once, if that. Second, this snow cone maker doesn’t require any effort from the operator at all. Some of the shaved ice machines require pressure to be applied to the top, (even some of the electric versions require this). Third, the product reviews for this machine are excellent. Overall, I’m happy with my choice. The ice is definitely snow cone texture rather than a shaved ice texture. Operation is quick, easy, and consistent.

homemade snow cones tutorial recipe summer dessert

As for the syrup, I wanted to try a few different things. I bought a bottle of snow cone syrup from the store, just to try it. I also made a couple of flavors using a 3-ingredient recipe that uses Kool-Aid for flavoring. I also decided to try making an all natural version using real berries. All three were enjoyable to different degrees. With the store bought and the Kool-Aid syrups, there was that artificial, syrupy sweetness that we’re all so familiar with, which is pretty typical with snow cones. The homemade blue raspberry syrup tasted more like, and was cooked in a very similar fashion to, homemade jam. Enjoy the recipe below!

recipe snow cone syrup blueberry raspberry all natural

Happy 4th of July!

Blue Raspberry Snow Cone Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ Cups frozen raspberries, slightly thawed
  • 2 Cups blueberries, slightly thawed
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup water

Other required items:

  • Shaved ice, (see above for tips)
  • A squeeze bottle like the ones used for ketchup and mustard. I found mine at a grocery store for less than $1 each
  • A funnel for pouring syrup into bottle
  • Small-medium sized pot
  • Bowls, cones, or cups for serving
  • Immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to a medium-sized pot. Smash berries with a potato masher as best you can.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Blend with an immersion blender, or transfer syrup to a blender and process until smooth. Use caution when blending hot liquids! Syrup can also be cooled before blending, if desired.
  • Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids, and cool syrup to room tempurature.
  • Use a funnel to pour syrup into a squeeze bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

This syrup recipe is only one of many fun options! Liven up an adult party by making snow cone cocktails, or even use your favorite beer to make cubes in place of plain ice!

The Benefits of Learning to Play Guitar (and why you should at least give it a try)

Let’s do this with good old-fashioned pros and cons lists!

Pros

  • It’s a guitar. Guitars are cool.
  • Learning a few basic chords really doesn’t take long, and all that practicing and repetition is a great meditative stress buster.
  • Because listening to music is great, but playing it is another way to enjoy it.
  • Yes, your fingertips will hurt for a while. But when they stop, those hardened calluses will make it so much easier to be a guitar playing badass. Chords become so much easier when the guitar stings aren’t sinking into your soft, untrained skin.

I've got blisters on my fingers

  • Because learning a new skill, even if it isn’t fully mastered, makes you a more well-rounded individual.

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Vegan Earl Grey Cupcakes

Earl Grey cupcakes vegan baking vegan cupcake recipe

When Sarah visited California recently, and the duo was reunited for a week or so, we decided to explore vegan baking with a recipe that combines some of our favorite things: Earl Grey tea and cupcakes! We found this recipe on itdoesn’ttastelikechicken.com, and decided to give it a try.

The only real modification that we made was that we doubled the frosting amount. The original recipe stated that the cupcakes were lightly frosted, which is fine if you aren’t a sugar addict like we are! Besides, when is having leftover frosting ever a bad thing?

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Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies – A Tested & Perfected Recipe

I recently posted about my experiment with making vegan peanut butter cookies that had mixed results. To recap, the cookies tasted fantastic, but they were extremely fragile and would crumble very easily. I decided to revisit this task by modifying a traditional recipe for peanut butter cookies. Although my previous batch were delicious, I was searching for that classic peanut buttery treat, and they didn’t exactly scratch that itch. I’m glad to report that I have found a delicious solution to this problem!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

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Vegan Tofu & Veggie Masala with Lentil-Filled Flatbread

Delicious Lentil-Filled Flatbread

Lentil filled Bolani - Flatbread - vegan

Before I get to the recipe, I first want to share this awesome vegan find that I discovered at Whole Foods just today: vegan lentil-filled Bolani that is seriously delicious! Upon tasting my first bite, I immediately regretted only buying one package. The good news: apparently, many Costco locations sell this product! It’s freezable, which means you can stock up! I enjoyed mine served with a recipe that I improvised with other ingredients from my shopping trip.

Inspired by a recipe for Vegetarian Tikka Masala on eatingwell.com, I tossed together this gem that is sure to be a new addition to my recipe rotation. This isn’t a saucy dish, although it could be easily adapted to have more liquid.

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