Fun Stuff, Helpful Links, and Tasty Treats!

I used double-sided scrapbooking paper.

Homemade Paper Flowers

Just in time for cutesy St. Valentine’s Day decorations and card making.  These are a fun, simple way to enjoy the upcoming day of love sharing.  I used double-sided scrapbooking paper that I had in the closet.  My flowers in the photo range from 2 inch square to 12 inch.  The flowers may be used as table decorations, to embellish a card, or use glue dots to attached to a stick to make a unique bouquet for the season!  Visit Dozi for a simple tutorial.  I didn’t even use a pencil I just cut and rolled.  Be creative and enjoy!

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No More Hesitation Gluten-Free Flour Mix + Banana Bread that Rocks!

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27 bananas and I didn’t waste a 1!

I did a paleo diet for 8 weeks last year which lead to my realization that I have a gluten intolerance and boy o’ boy do I notice the gluten now!  Two weeks ago I was digging in the freezer when frozen bananas were getting in my way.  I decided to pull out all the bananas and to my dismay it totaled up to 27 frozen bananas!!  I love the Banana Banana Bread Recipe because it uses 2.5 cups of bananas per loaf!  However I didn’t want to make a gluten-bread.  So I looked to the Gluten Free Girl’s amazing formula for gluten-free all-purpose flour.  Using my combination of her suggested formula in this video I was able to make load of FANTASTIC gluten-free bread that very day!  Best banana bread I’ve ever had and I’m not just tooting my horn.  Everyone that tried it loved it.

Hello Outbox, Goodbye Clutter

After moving around from place to place since I graduated from high school and went off to college I began collecting “stuff” – I know you can relate.  Three college transfers, one marriage, one child, and one divorce later I’ve got MUCH clutter!  Although many times I’ve had some sort of outbox (my front porch, a laundry basket, or a corner in the basement), it has been years since I have used the system. Apartment Therapy’s recent blog reminded me of the effectiveness of a system and in just two weekends I was able to tackle a house full of clutter.  The great thing about outboxes now is that there are so many on-line swaps that you can easily make a profit and de-clutter at the same time!  Today my outbox is simply a temporary table in the basement (at least that’s the plan).  You can see mine is overflowing with de-clutter, but that’s okay because the rest of the house feels much better already.  Here are the simple rules they point out in their post:

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My outbox!

OUTBOX RULES

  1. Anything can go in the Outbox
  2. The Outbox is allowed to get messy
  3. Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week
  4. After that time you have several choices:
  • Take anything back out
  • Leave anything you are undecided about for one more week
  • Dispose of the rest by moving to the garbage, recycling bin, or giveaway pile – or post to on-line swap and make a little extra cash

LOVE LOVE LOVE the Pumie Scouring Stick!

pumieBetween my white (but stained essentially black with cooking scars) electric cooktop and the bottom of my rust-stained toilet bowl any normal person would have thought twice before spending a week at my house!  Both which had brought constructive feedback from close friends and family always wanting the help me with my “cleanliness problem”.  After little effort they too would inevitably give up.  And since I prefer not to use harsh chemicals, I was actually considering a new toilet because I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore!  Fortunately for me I discovered the Pumie Scouring Stick!  Both my toilet and cooktop were stain free in less than 10 minutes after I returned home from the store!  Maybe me, my friends, and my family are the only ones that don’t know about this amazing, chemical-free, must-have-in-every-household item, but as I see it, it’s too good not to share!  Each stick is less than a few bucks and is so versatile you should probably just pick up a couple!

BooksTo.Me: Instagram Photobook { Review and 75% off Promo Code + Giveaway! }

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bookstome

I began using Instagram just over a year ago and it has quickly become one of my favorite social media networks. It has proven to be a great way to meet other people around the world that have similar interests to me and it’s far more interactive than any of the other popular social media sites that I’m apart of. The only downside for me was that I had all these neat photos that I never did anything with. Of course I always had good intentions of making creative albums with my IG (Instagram) pics, but I never got around to it. So when I stumbled upon BooksTo.Me a few months ago, I got very excited because I knew it was exactly what I was looking for but didn’t know existed.

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Here’s how it works…

BooksTo.Me automatically generates photo books using your Instagram pictures. If there is a photo you do not want included in your book, just simply write #noBTM on the photo in your IG account and it will be emitted from the book.

You subscribe to the service on either a monthly basis (one book per month) or a quarterly basis (one book every three months). Once you subscribe, you can cancel at anytime without any fees. There is no additional fee for shipping either! It’s very straight forward and so hands-free.

I have received books for the last three months now and I cannot tell you how much my daughter and I look forward to our delivery. We love showing off our books to family and friends that stop by, whom of most are not on Instagram and would not otherwise ever see the pictures.

The books are 8″x8″,  hardcover and in full color. BooksTo.Me adds a little highlights page on the front of the book with your most “liked” photos. Shipping is super quick too. It says on the website that shipping takes 7-10 days, but we have continually received our books two business days after my month’s end. Very impressive!

This is a family-run business out of Denver, Co. Unfortunately this is only a product available for residents of the USA at this time but it is something they hope to offer internationally very soon.

BooksTo.Me has been SO generous to host a GIVEAWAY and also an AWESOME PROMO CODE! One lucky winner will win two months free of the monthly plan! For everyone else, BooksTo.Me is offering 75% off of your first book! When signing up, enter: mfs75 to receive 75% off of your first order. The promo code will expire February 8th, 2015. Don’t wait to see if you won the giveaway… if you sign up and do happen to be my winner, you’ll be comp’d for the two following months! :)

TO SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY, please follow the Rafflecopter link below:

——->a Rafflecopter giveaway<——-

Good luck!

Giveaway ends 1/18/15 at 11:59pm Central time/US residents only

MinnesotaFromScratch Turns 2 Today! {Party Time!}

2 years

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today, I sat down and wrote my very first blog post. It feels like yesterday that I was publishing our one year birthday post. It’s really incredible to think back two years and realize how much life has changed. My daughter was 2 when I started the blog and our crafts included painting and gluing and now she is 4 and can bead and sew! It’s been fun to document the last two years over the blog and I’m so overjoyed that so many of you are interested in our lives and enjoy our posts. Thank you!

Here are the top 5 posts that repeatedly keep new visitors coming:

#5.  Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella Cheese AKA “The New Garlic Cheese Bread” Mmmm it’s so yummy, I might need to make some tonight!

#4. Homemade Organic Strawberry Jam – No Powdered or Liquid Pectin Added Having this on hand in the winter brings a little taste of summer to your palate during the deep freeze!

#3. Chunky Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipe – No Blender Needed Ugh YUM, this is one of our favorite recipes and it’s SO easy.

#2. 101 Things I love About My Mother Who knew this would be so popular?? I definitely didn’t, but I’m glad it is :) Love you, Mom.

#1. Picked California Mixed Veggies – Spicy Pickled Cauliflower with Carrots, Celery and Red Bell Pepper Mmm, Mmmm good!

Thanks for all of your support. If there are certain topics/recipes you’d like me to cover this year just let me know in the comments!

Happy 2015 everyone! Let’s make it great!

How to Make Kombucha at Home: {Guest Blog Post}

Last February I handed over the blog to Kirstin Bernau and she explained the benefits of bone broth and how to make it. If you missed that post, you can catch it here. Today she’s taking over once again and will be teaching us how to make Kombucha!

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If you’re into health and wellness at all, you have probably come across Kombucha. It is a fermented sweet tea, chock full of probiotics, great for detoxifying and wonderfully good at aiding your digestion. Kombucha is also tasty; a cold, refreshing, slightly fizzy drink that comes in many fruity flavors as well as the original (which is great as well).  I absolutely love it, but due to the price (nearly $4/bottle) I decided it was time to learn to make my own.  You can make it for pennies on the dollar compared to buying it pre-made. It’s easy to make and full of great health benefits including:

Probiotics and Naturally Occurring Acids– These both work to heal our whole digestive system, leading to a host of other benefits like clear skin, decreases in mental health issues like depression and anxiety, healthy weight, and improved immunity.

Detoxification– The malic, gluconic, and succinic acid have a powerfully detoxifying effect.  Additionally, by healing the gut and re-balancing our bacteria we boost our body’s ability to detox hugely.  A healthy gut is the most powerful detox system you can have, even greater than the liver or kidneys or lymph system.

Enzymes which help us digest our food more effectively and actually use the nutrients we eat. You can have the best diet around but if your digestion is impaired (and for most of us it is) you won’t get many of the benefits.

B vitamins– these are important for energy levels, mood, healthy skin, hair and nails.

Kombucha also makes an awesome soda replacement if you’re trying to kick that habit or just want something fun to drink.  I’ve even seen recipes for fruity kombucha cocktails!  So are you ready to give it a try?  Here are my recommendations:

  • Buy a bottle at your local store first, so you can see how you like it.  I’d suggest trying a few different kinds as there is a range of sweetness and flavors.  I love GT’s organic.  There’s about 20 different varieties at Whole Foods, and they sell a few kinds at most grocery stores now as well.
  • If you enjoy it and are ready to try making it, you need to find a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts).  If you have a friend who brews, you can probably get a culture and starter tea for free.  Otherwise, I’d recommend culturesforhealth.com or growing your own using a bottle of GT’s from your local grocery store.  If you order a SCOBY, follow the directions on the package to get started correctly.  If you want to try growing your own, it’s really quite easy but takes more time. Directions at the bottom.
  • Find a glass jar for brewing. Plastic, metal and ceramic containers are all problematic, they can leach chemicals or metal into the kombucha and are more inclined to harbor less than friendly bacteria.

Here are the ingredients for a gallon of Kombucha, adjust up or down depending on your jar size, but be sure to keep ratios the same:

  • 1 gallon clean, filtered water.
  • 2 Tablespoons or 8 tea bags of Black Tea (English Breakfast works well)
  • 1 cup organic sugar or “Cane” sugar if you can’t find organic- most other sugar is full of GMOs which can harm the SCOBY
  • at least 1/2 cup plain kombucha – you can buy at the store if needed, 1 bottle will be plenty.

1. Make the tea as normal (boil water, add tea, steep 3-5 minutes or whatever your package says.)  Then add the sugar, stir until dissolved.  Let the tea cool to room temp, but keep it covered so no flies or food get in while it’s cooling.

2. Add the cooled tea to a jar with your SCOBY and kombucha. Once you’re onto your second batch, I aim for a ratio of about 4:1 Sweet Tea: Kombucha.   This is probably more kombucha than absolutely necessary but it’s important that the mixture retains enough acidity from the start to protect the SCOBY from any mold growing on it or bacteria growing in the mix that you don’t want.  I’ve never had a problem and I’ve brewed more batches than I can count, but it always better to lean on the side of generous with how much kombucha you keep in the jar for the next batch.

3. Cover the jar a paper coffee filter, layers of cheesecloth, or a paper towel, and secure with a rubber band.  This way it can ferment and breathe.  Leave it somewhere warmish (70-75 degrees ideally) and not in the sunlight or next to other fermenting foods.  I use a pantry or linen closet usually.  My husband thinks it’s creepy so it’s not welcome on the kitchen counter…

4. Check the jar after about a week  to see how it tastes.  It may help to have a bottle of store bought kombucha on hand to compare at first but it should taste a little tart and a little sweet. It shouldn’t be like drinking straight vinegar and it shouldn’t taste like sweet tea either.  If it’s too sweet- wait a little longer and try it again.  If it’s too tart, pour a little out, add in some more sweat tea, and keep a close eye on it.  In winter my house is usually around 63-65 degrees- less than optimal- so it can take a month to finish brewing.  I just ordered a warmer to help speed things up so we’ll see how that goes!  In the summer, our house is between 74-80 and it brews in about 7-10 days.

5. Pour into bottles and refrigerate to store.  This slows the fermentation process.  If you want to try adding some fruit juice or puree- now’s the time.  Just avoid citrus or pineapple. About a 4:1 ratio (Kombucha:fruit) and then let it sit at room temp with airtight lids for a couple days.  It will begin to carbonate so be careful but when it’s the way you like it, pour it over ice or store in the fridge.  I’ve made ginger + blueberry as well as mango.  Both were quite good, but I had to strain out the blueberry/ginger solids.

Kombucha

To make your own SCOBY: Buy a bottle of plain Kombucha.  Add it to a quart jar, along with about 2 cups of cooled black tea sweetened with 2 T sugar.  Cover as stated above, let it sit for a week or more and you will see a white film growing on top (your SCOBY!)  The scoby will thicken and add layers over time. Keep checking the tea and replacing with sweet teas as stated above when it’s ready. I think mine took a few months before I got a good solid SCOBY, so if you want to get going quickly I’d just order one online.

Please leave any questions/comments you may have below and I’d be happy to answer them.

Thank you!

Kirstin

Kirstin Bernau is an Intuitive life coach for people who are looking for more peace, direction and purpose in their lives.

Through her one-on-one coaching, blog and speaking events, she’s here to help you get in touch with your intuition and create the life you dream of — while making it all feel easier and richer than you ever imagined.

When she’s not writing and coaching, you can find her indulging in meditation, long walks with her husband and dog and reading good books in cozy corners with a cup of tea.  

Meet Kirstin + get ready to find your way home (to you) at http://www.KirstinBernau.com.

New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goals

new year

What does a new year mean to you? I’ve never been huge into celebrating New Years Eve and I’ve never been one to create a long list of resolutions for myself. But there is something distinct about the closing of one year and the start of another. I’ve been sitting here this morning, having my coffee and thinking about 2014 in its entirety. For me, it was a great year. I wouldn’t mind if 2015 was similarly good to me and my family. When I think of the upcoming year, I see a blank slate, filled with many opportunities.

As I said before, I never make resolutions, however I do make goals. What is the difference? Read the definitions below:

resolution

vs.

goal

 

To me, a resolution would be something I’d come up with that I want to change about myself or my lifestyle. If I didn’t live up to that, then I’d have some sort of guilt or regret for not holding up to myself.

Now, a goal is something I hope to do but if I don’t, then hey, maybe next year :) In the past, my goals have included: travel more, go camping (I really dislike camping) and get together with friends more often (sad when you have to schedule that, but hey, life with little ones can make it hard to be social).

Maybe it’s just semantics, but I see a distinct difference between the two words and one makes me feel much more at ease. So, for 2015 I have come up with a few GOALS…

1. Read one book a month, a non-children’s book that is. <—- That shouldn’t be too hard, right?! Well, I think in 2014, I read maybe three books in their entirety. It’s hard for me to fit in that type of uninterrupted time in any given day, but I’m going to work hard to make that time because I really like reading and I’ve missed it since I became a mother.

2. Take a walk every day that weather permits. I always feel so good after a walk, yet it’s something that rarely crosses my mind, especially in the wintertime. My daughter suggested we go on a walk after dinner the other night and I tell you, it was the best walk I’d been on all year. It was cold, but we bundled up and we let the Christmas lights dictate our path. It was great and I want more of that.

3. Be better to myself. It seems like every day is crammed full of work, house chores, shopping/errands, play dates and more work, but I rarely find time to do things for myself. I was sick a lot in 2014 and I think a big part of that is because I run myself too thin. I stay up too late working on jewelry orders or watching a movie with my husband, even though I’d rather be sleeping. Well, in 2015, I’m going to try and keep my 10pm bedtime and get the rest I need, because without my health I really have nothing.

4. Make it to the North Shore this summer. It’s stunning up there and I haven’t been in 14 years.

5. Can 50 quarts of pickles and 25 pints of pickled jalapenos. My 2014 goal was 50 quarts of pickles too, but I think I only made 27 quarts…

6. Blog more. Work was so busy in 2014 that I put the blog on the back burner and I apologize for that. I would like to post much more frequently in the coming year.

That’s all I have so far, but I’ll probably come up with a couple more goals throughout the day.

What are some of your goals or resolutions for the coming year? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear!

 

Handcrafted Jewelry Review and Giveaway: Jewels by ALB Creations

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Happy Holidays MinnesotaFromScratch Readers! Throughout December and January I am going to feature handmade items, designed by creative people throughout the country. There will also be some giveaways intertwined, so get excited!

When I am gifted something handcrafted, it is always something I cherish near and dear to my heart. Handmade items are unique and something that also holds heart and love of the creator as well. That’s why I thought it might be nice to shine the spot light onto average people from around the country that share a passion for creativity!

The first business I’d like to highlight this month is from right here in Minnesota: Jewels by ALB Creations!

I recently met Ashley through an online network and she is  she owner and mastermind  behind  Jewels by ALB Creations. She creates BEAUTIFUL and unique pieces of jewelry. Ashley has been creating stunning pieces for nearly twenty years. She uses high quality materials, such as glass beads, genuine stones and Swarovski crystals. She is inspired by her surroundings and let’s her imagination flow when designing. Her price point is incredibly affordable as well.

Look at this gorgeous necklace, who wouldn’t love to receive this?!

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or these:

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“Hoops with a Twist” made with Black Agate, Glass Beads & Swarovski Crystals

What I like about her pieces is that not only can you wear them out to formal events, but they are also fitting to jazz up something very casual as well. You would not believe how many compliments I have received when I have been out, wearing that necklace!

Here are a couple other of my favorite pieces from her collection:

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“Red Carpet Earrings” made with Swarovski crystals and sell for just $10

"Message Bracelet" Materials: Glass Beads, Genuine Turquoise, Genuine Amethyst, Silver, Message Beads

“Message Bracelet”
Materials: Glass Beads, Genuine Turquoise, Genuine Amethyst, Silver, Message Beads

Visit the Jewels by ALB Creations Etsy shop and let me know which piece is your favorite!

Ashley is not only offering a *SPECIAL PROMO* to readers, but also a GIVEAWAY! For one week, she will offer, “Buy one, get one 50% off” and she will even give you the more expensive piece for 50% off! What a steal! On top of that, she is going to be giving away one lucky reader a piece of jewelry from her collection!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY ON THE RAFFLECOPTER LINK BELOW:

************a Rafflecopter giveaway************

Giveaway ends 12/14/14 at 11:59 CT

Good luck!

Halloween Crafts for Kids: Monsters and Spiders

Yesterday was a cold and rainy day here in Minnesota and I like nothing more than hunkering down with my daughter and crafting and cooking on days like that. My daughter loves decorating for holidays and she woke up yesterday and began creating little spiders with wooden beads and pipe cleaners. That set the tone for our crafty morning and we took a peek on Pinterest to get ideas of other Halloween decorations that we could make with materials we already had around the house. One thing we found were cute TP roll monsters. Here are the spiders and monsters we made:

MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com Halloween Crafts 3

One of my Instagrammers wanted a tutorial so here is a brief summary of how to make them!

Materials for monsters:

  • TP rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half
  • Paint and paint brushes/foam brushes
  • Eye balls (we bought ours at the $1 store)
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors

First paint the TP rolls whatever colors you’d like:

MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com Halloween Crafts

Then add the eye balls in whatever creative way you’d like. My daughter added eye balls around the entire TP roll on one monster, which made me think we could decorate both sides with a face and have them double-sided! If you don’t have the googley-eye balls, then they could be drawn on as well or cut out of paper — just be creative!

MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com Halloween Crafts 2

Then we just cut mouths out of construction paper and glued them on.  For the arms, I used a scissors to cut little slits to slide the pipe cleaners through – this is a job for the adult. Be careful not to poke yourself!  And then bend the arms in whatever spooky way you’d like. To get the spiral look, just wrap the pipe cleaner around a pen or pencil.

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To make the spiders, all you need are wooden beads and pipe cleaners. My daughter received a kit from her God Mother that came with a bunch of wooden beads and pipe cleaners with creative suggestions of things to to make. I believe the kit is available at Target. All you need to do is poke four pipe cleaners through the larger wooden bead and bend the pipe cleaners to look like legs. Grab a permanent marker and draw on a spider face and that’s it!

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Have fun!

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar Transformation in Photos

Monarch MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

When we bought our home six years ago, the previous homeowner had milkweed plants growing near the back door. At the time, I had no idea that milkweed was a huge part of Monarch caterpillars’ diet, but I was sure happy when I saw my first little caterpillar on the plant! I had never seen one in nature before, it was so much fun to watch.

This year, we had 3 caterpillars munching away at our milkweed plants and one in particular stayed the entire transformation from larva stage until pupa stage. Here is the transformation in photos I took:

This is when we first found our little buddy. My daughter spotted it somehow with her hawk-like eyesight. I cannot express how tiny this little bugger was; Less than 1mm!

Monarch Caterpillar - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

This was about 3-5 days later. The size has increased by 5 or 6 times the size when we first found it.

Monarch Caterpillar - day 5 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

And this was the last time we saw the caterpillar… about 14 days after first noticing him. All grown up and ready for the next stage:

Monarch Butterfly - day 9 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Unfortunately we don’t know where he  made his chrysalis, but it would be so neat to see that stage as well. Next year we might try building something that will hopefully appeal to the caterpillars to stick around.

Monarchs feed almost exclusively on Milkweed plants and as adult butterflies, they get a lot of their nutrients from the milkweed flowers. Consider planting some in your garden if you haven’t already!

Each year, millions of Monarchs make their way down to Mexico because it’s too cold in Minnesota for them to survive. We celebrate the kick off of this 1500 mile migration at Lake Nokomis at the Minneapolis Monarch Festival which takes place at the beginning of September. It’s a great opportunity to learn tons of interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies and learn why they are so essential to our environment, plus there are great vendors with delicious food and amazing entertainers as well. I love the awareness this spreads throughout the community. Do you have a similar event in your neck of the woods?

A few facts about Monarch Butterflies:

  • Their number one most important job is pollinating and they are great at it!
  • They eat destructive bugs from other plants.
  • Once their life is over, they play an important role by being a beneficial food source to others, such as bats, birds, lizards, monkeys and snakes.
  • They are beautiful and bring joy to those that see them. :)
  • Average lifespan is 6-8 months.
  • Male Monarchs have a black spot on the bottom quarter of each wing, which females don’t so they are easy to distinguish between.
  • The prevalence of Monarchs in our environment give scientists great insight on our ecosystem and how it is changing.

So consider what plants you have in your yard and think about making a butterfly-friendly area.

Monarch Sculpture - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

What is your favorite type of butterfly?

MN Renaissance Festival – Fairy Fest Weekend 2014

Last year I wrote about the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Fairy House competition. It’s a contest in which adults and children are encouraged to submit their fairy house masterpieces in hopes to win prizes. Over the weekend, Renaissance visitors are able to vote on their favorite house. We had such a great time last year that we had to go back for Fairy Fest again this year. Here are a few of the houses I was really impressed with (click on the image to make the photo even larger):

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Our favorite:

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And of course, a trip to the Renaissance would not be complete with out seeing Twig the Fairy…

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We’re already looking forward to going back next year!

Cherry Salsa!

cherry salsa chicken

This week my CSA delivered me pounds of cherries.  Normally I would just pass by cherries in the produce section, but they are hard to avoid when they show up at the house!  Knowing I didn’t want to waste them, I looked into creative ways to use them up.  This is basically a pico de gallo recipe, but instead you replace the tomatoes with the cherries – SO GOOD!

Why cherries?  I’m always curious what the health benefits are in the food I eat, so I looked into it…  The cherry (pH 3.32-4.52) is very good at cleansing the digestive system, the darker the cherry the better.  They contain magnesium, iron and silicon.  Since they eliminate excess body acids they are also helpful with rheumatic disorders.  They are also beneficial for the liver, blood and gallbladder and can even help relieve urinary infections.  Who knew?

So far I have enjoyed this salsa over a chicken breast and with my morning lettuce wraps.  Delicious!  Here goes.

I found the recipe on Martha Stewart’s site…  Thanks, Martha!

Ingredients:

2 cups roughly chopped Cherries
½ small Red Onion, finely chopped
¼ C. fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Jalapeno (seeds removed), minced
1 T. fresh lime juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix everything together and enjoy!

-Kristin

Scrambled Egg Lettuce Wraps

Scrambled Egg Lettuce Wraps

 

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