Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What motivates me

As a parent, I want the best for my kids. And for us, that started with a healthy relationship with food. My kids have to fight genetics (diabetes runs in my family) and it was so important for us to lay a solid foundation for them when it came to food.

Meals that I make from scratch is one of the most important ways I can show my family that I love them, but it does not mean I have to slave over the stove for half the day. What it does mean is lots of fruits and veggies! Every day starts with a bowl of fruit, either with or without a whole grain cereal. They're kids, so they snack on things like animal crackers and Goldfish, not cookies and chocolate bars. I'd love to hope that when Connor is 12 and he's hungry between meals, he'd choose an apple or banana over a bag of chips...

We have a vegetable garden. Actually it's a few of them, scattered on our small piece of property, where we grow tomatoes, green beans and bell peppers. We also grow parsley, basil, chives and lettuce. It is so great to be able to make homemade sauce for spaghetti! I fill it with onions, tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley and when we have them in the fridge, carrots. I found making meals from scratch gave me control over how many veggies I could pack into each meal and that was so great!

bread maker ready to go!

So when my husband surprised me with a Bread Maker for our 5th Anniversary (I love practical gifts!) I was SO excited!! Reading article after article on the benefits of homemade bread from Money Saving Mom, I was amazed at how simple it was. One more thing I could do for my kids...what kid doesn't love a sandwich and now I don't have to worry about the bread having too much sugar in it.

Knowing how many preservatives, sugar and salt are in pre-packaged foods is what moved me towards starting Fruitful Delights. This is my chance to offer you all a little taste of the wholesome goodness that I offer my family.
Connor helping make scones

The world moves so quickly and it's so easy to get lost in it. Taking 30 minutes to make Homemade Mac n' Cheese (with steamed cauliflower thrown in) helps me slow it down and enjoy my kids while they're still young. Cooking is a great way to spend time with your kids too! You can teach them math, the importance of patience, hand-eye coordination and the joy on their faces when the meal is complete and they can see that they were a part of it, priceless!!
I hope you have a chance to roll up your sleeves and make something for someone special!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On the Go Breakfast Sandwich

Where has this week gone? I know I posted on Wednesday that I would share the recipe and some photos of the Breakfast Sandwich that I found soon, I just thought it would be sooner than Sunday. My apologies.

The great thing about making something like this is you control what goes into it. So feel free to swap out ingredients, mix things up and come up with a recipe that suits you and your family. My goal was to find something that was quick and healthy for both myself and my husband. Steve leaves the house at 5 am most mornings and the last thing he's thinking about is a healthy kick start to his day. And I know all you moms can relate to either skipping breakfast or stealing a bite from your child's plate because it's hard to find the time to make something for you.

I made a batch for the freezer so we could grab one, toss it in the microwave or toaster oven and be back to the day quickly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line  a cookie sheet or oven rack with split english muffins. Place one piece of thinly sliced ham (we used smoked) onto bottoms. Try to keep it from coming over the edge of the muffin. Top each slice of ham with 1 tablespoonful of shredded cheese. Toast in oven (or toaster oven) until cheese is melted and muffins are toasted.

If you're not a ham fan...try turkey or chicken...tuna would work too. I used Colby-Jack cheese but Swiss or any other hard cheese would be wonderful.

While the muffins are toasting, make your eggs. Keep in mind the goal is to make something healthy, so try to avoid fried eggs. You can make poached eggs, egg whites...I made scrambled, almost omelet eggs so that it wouldn't fall out of the sandwich.

Place your egg on top of the melted cheese....Valentine's Day is coming so I cut my eggs out in heart shapes. Yes, I'm just a little bit silly. Who's even going to see the eggs since the top goes onto the sandwich? I have no idea, but I thought it was cute!
For some extra flavor I've spread 1/2 teaspoonful of Guacamole onto the top buns. There's a little garlic and jalapeno in our guacamole and adds nice flavor to the eggs.

Wrap each sandwich in parchment or wax paper and either freezer or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

That was it!! Try mixing it up a bit, use tomato (not freezer friendly) or onions, different meats, hearty whole grain english muffins. I'm going to pick up some tortilla shells and make Breakfast wraps the next time they're on sale.

If you have a healthy on the go breakfast recipe, I'd love to hear what it is!

On the Go Breakfast Sandwich

For 1 sandwich you will need:

1 split English Muffin
1 thin slice Low Sodium Ham (or any healthy meat of your choosing)
1 Tbsp shredded cheese
1 egg, cooked to your liking
1/2 tsp guacamole *


Place ham onto bottom piece of muffin, top with cheese. Toast both pieces of muffin in toaster oven (or conventional oven preheated to 350) and toast until cheese is melted and muffin is toasted to your liking.

Prepare eggs

Place egg on top of melted cheese, spread guacamole on top muffin(if using) and put together.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who says...

...you can't be health conscious, lose weight and still eat! I've always had to have a breakfast that stuck with me a while, but was never fond of Oatmeal. It's a texture and appearance thing for me...looked like something the dog brought back up, yuck! My husband and two boys LOVE oatmeal. We buy the big container of it and you'd be amazed how quickly we go through it.
Being a stay-at-home mom, breakfast is usually last on my list of things to do in the morning...there's the kids and the dishes and the dogs...and the day goes on. I sip my coffee when I have a sec to sit down, or a swig as I'm moving from one room to the next dancing with the boys so I've at least got something in me. Before I know it noon has arrived and Liam is ready for a nap and I'm ready to fall over because I'm so hungry.

Connor helping with Breakfast
I finally said, enough is enough! Time to get my body back. So with the knowledge of healthy eating I've acquired over the years, I've decided to tackle my bad eating habits and hopefully along the way, shed these pounds I've added on over the last 4 years.

This morning was a test run of a Breakfast Sandwich. I modified a recipe I found so it was freezer-friendly and it turned out beautifully, took less than 5 minutes to do and came to 319 calories!! I can totally do that, can't you? My boys took one look at it and were like baby chicks with their mouths open wide, begging for a bite. They loved it.

I am planning on making about 10 of them to freeze so my husband can throw one in his lunchbox at night and in the morning have a healthy breakfast on his way to work. I'll post pictures and a recipe once they're ready.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Be My Valentine

1.5oz mini jars in Red Raspberry
 The Superbowl is around the corner and we finally got some snow here (this time last year we were buried under more than 30 inches!). This must mean that Valentine's Day is coming. I know what you're thinking "I always give my wife a box of chocolates because she likes sweets" and I'm sure most women would love a box of chocolates, but we have all gotten them at least once before. Why not surprise your Special Someone this year with a delicious jar of homemade jam. We use only the freshest fruits that we pick ourselves, which means no chemical treatments. Each flavor is made in small batches ensuring that every jar will be absolutely delicious.
I have said on my Facebook page that winter is my off-season and it's true, there isn't any fresh fruit growing out here for me to pick and create new treats for you. That I think is what makes giving jam this time of year that much better! It gives someone a chance to get a taste of the flavors that they've been missing since the weather became colder and we all turned our focus to our comfort foods. The aroma of red raspberry jam spread across a toasted slice of seedless rye bread can be an amazing way to start they day!

Please feel free to visit my shop to find the flavors that I still have available this season. If you are interested in making a purchase you can send me a message and I can answer any and all questions that you may have.

Holiday gift giving

December 22, 2011

 Our family has been keeping the focus of the Christmas Season on family and friends, not presents. Simplicity! A gathering filled with love, food and fellowship will last longer in our memories than anything else. That in mind, it is always nice to come to a party or gathering with a little something for the family or host.
one 4 ounce jar of jam and an assortment of homemade cookies
 Edible or consumable gifts aren't just practical and inexpensive, they're incredibly thoughtful and well received! As an adult with a house full of stuff and two young children, I find gifts like this wonderful. Each piece was made by the person giving it to me. They took the time from their life to cook from the heart and that is one of the best gifts.
homemade Turkey Barley Soup

So this year, the entire family came together and we made Turkey Barley Soup with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, selected a few jars of jam and made six different varieties of cookies to use as gifts for our friends and family. The boys loved being able to help "make the presents" this year and Steve and I truly enjoyed creating these memories with our children. The hardest part was deciding who got what!!

I found these cute snowflake napkins on the clearance rack at our local supercenter 10 for $1. All it took to create a pretty gift was the napkins, plastic plates, clear celophane (food grade) and some pretty ribbons.

A few small embellishments like the tag on the soup jars and on the outside of each package with a simple note really made these special.

all wrapped up and ready to go
There are many websites and blogs offering free printables for gift tags, recipes for drink mixes and other fun, holiday consumable gift ideas. One of my favorite sites to follow is MoneySavingMom Her site has tons of great gift ideas around the holidays that won't bust your budget. She also has great tips on budget keeping and is truly inspirational!

Fruitful Delights is your one stop shop for Jams and Spreadables for any occasion. Each jar of jam can be decorated upon request, making gift giving simple. If you're not sure what someone would like, you are welcome to send me any questions you have and I will do my best to match up the right flavor for that special someone.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and enjoy a joyous new year!

Apples, Apples Everywhere!

September 27, 2011

We discovered that there is an apple, pear, peach and raspberry farm only 15 minutes away from us and we took complete advantage of that this weekend!!

Stephen, the boys and I picked almost 68 pounds of apples and now it's time for me to start cooking away.

 The first batch of apple butter is bubbling away as we speak and the whole house has been infused with the delicious aroma of cinnamon and cloves... the first batch is always for us! Tomorrow I will get started on making some for FruitfulDelights to add to the Etsy shop.

I was thrilled to find a new recipe for an apple spread. I have not quite come up with a name for this new treat just yet and after making a test batch this evening, maybe I will have one. The spread has apples, raisins and walnuts in it. I would say it's basically an apple jam with some extra goodies in it.

I love fall and can not wait for the weather to come around and really get me in the baking mood!!

My first Jamming Summer

Summer 2010
Between the sleepless nights with a newborn were ending, barbeques, family get-togethers, fireworks and fireflies...we had collected a freezer filled with perfectly ripened berries just waiting to be made into something delicious!

The second weekend in July, I had finally mustered enough determination and energy to make as much jam as I had supplies for. So, I went to the store, bought many bags of sugar and cases of quart, half-quart and 4 ounce jars.

Having only made Strawberry jam thus far, I looked up some recipes for the other berries we had collected. Especially the Thimbleberry and Black Raspberry. The Strawberry was fantastic, very chunky, how Steve likes it. During my research, I found people like their jam many different ways.

Armed with ideas, recipes and plenty of jamming supplies away I went! Thawing and smooshing berries with the help of my kitchen elf, Connor. Cookin them and adding just enough sugar and pectin to get a nice firm set. My kitchen island became an assembly line covered with sterilzied jars just waiting to be filled with hot jam.

To simplify things in a house with two young boys, I limited myself to making one batch of jam per day. That way, I had the stove for making dinner at night and each batch could sit undisturbed to cool and set.

My stove seemed to always be on, but in no time our pantry was filling with beautifully colored jars, containing flavors like Strawberry, Strawberry-thimbleberry, Black Raspberry, Raspberry blend, Blackberry and mixed berry. All this hard work was paying off! I was finally getting my freezer back...or so I thought. Just as I had finished making the last of these berries into jam, the blueberries were ripe for the picking.

Each batch is unique and seemed to get better and better. The Black Raspberry was a very small batch (short season) and it was "lick the bowl" wonderful.

A batch of blueberry jam didn't set. Have no fear! Chunky blueberry syrup anyone?

My next door neighbor has been my guinea pig testing all these different flavors. She never knows what I may drop off at her doorstep next. As we tested each batch, I would set jars aside for Christmas gifts. Before I knew it, each family member was getting at lest 3 different varieties of fruity goodness.

Between the months of July and November 2010, I made over 600 ounces of jam. All but 40 ounces of it was given away to friends and family. I kept a notebook that year and as I flipped through it looking at how many batches were made and how many berries Steve had picked, all the little voices whispering to me this year, came to a roar. Why not try to sell my jam?