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Cinnamon and Ginger Apple Chips

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Recently I posted about my family’s trip to Ellijay, GA for apple picking. We had a ton  of fun and came home with a bushel of apples.  Having all those apples sparked an array ideas for recipes, but as usual in my house, it was my kids’ ideas that won out. One of their ideas was for me to make chips. We are a family of snackers so making my own chips seemed like a great idea. I have made other types of chips at home, like kale chips, which is my munchkins’ favorite. You won’t believe how easy it is.

AppleChips

Some think you must have a dehydrator in order for you to make homemade chips. Though it might make it easier it is not a must  have. What I do recommend is having a mandoline. A mandoline will save a lot of time and maybe a few fingers. Have you ever tried to thinly slice an apple by hand with merely a knife? It is not an easy task. I purchased my mandoline from Home Goods for about $15 and it is wonderful for slicing apples, potatoes, zucchini, and most other fruits and veggies. Make sure you purchase a mandoline that allows you adjust the thickness of your slices and includes a food holder to help you guide the food and protect your fingers. So, are you ready to make you homemade apple chips now?

AppleChips5

Ingredients:

2-3 apples, washed (I used Granny Smith for this recipe, but any variety will do)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of ground ginger

Depending on the size of apples you have, you may need to use more seasoning.

Directions:

1. Heat oven at 200 degrees. You the mandoline to thinly slice apples. The thinner the slice the shorter the baking time will be and the crispier the chip. Don’t worry about coring the apples, the seeds will naturally fall out when you slice the apples.

2. Mix cinnamon and ginger together and thoroughly cover each slice with seasoning mix. I put the slices i a big bowl, sprinkled the seasoning in and rub the seasoning into the chips. This gave each chip and even coverage.

3. Place chips on a foil lined cooking sheet and bake for about 2 hours or till the chips are crispy. I check on the chips often to make sure they are not burning and I flip them about every half an hour. This process is just a tad bit easier if you have a dehydrator but it absolutely can be done in your oven.

These little crispy chips are addictive, but healthy so eat them guilt free!

 

Apple Picking in North Georgia

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I am so excited that autumn is upon us, even if it’s still hot and muggy in the Atlanta area. Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. The weather becomes cool and breezy.  The leaves charge to a fiery color. I get to take out my boots, blazers, and cardigans from the back of my closet. I mean, what’s not to love? One of the best parts about fall in Georgia is that there are so many activities held this time of the year. Apple picking is one of those great activities that the whole family can enjoy.

We took the kids up to Ellijay, GA a few years ago to go apple picking for the first time. Being from Florida I have been to strawberry fields and orange groves, but I had never been to an apple orchard. The place we choose to go to not only had an orchard to pick apples, but a bunch of activities as well. We had such a blast I decided to head up there again this year. I figured my daughter is a little older now and will be able to enjoy it fully.

I found a great deal on Groupon for B.J Reece Apple House and Orchards and after reading the reviews I decided we would go there. The drive from Marietta to Ellijay was a little over an hour, which is not such a long trip for little kids.  I was a little nervous about the weather because the forecast called for thunderstorms throughout the day and it rained a little on our way up there, but the weather was great when we arrived. It was a little overcast, there was a bit of a chill in the air, but it stayed dry the whole time we were there.

Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Breath taking views of the north GA mountains

Breathtaking views of the north GA Mountains

There is a farmers market you can buy from

There is a farmers market where you can buy fresh produce

An apple canon where you can win prizes

An apple canon where you can win prizes

Cute goats at the petting zoo

Cute goats at the petting zoo

Not so healthy, but way so yummy corn fritters.... Myrtle's Pick!

Not so healthy, but way so yummy corn fritters…. Myrtle’s Pick!

Just me under an apple tree

And then there is me under an apple tree

They also had cow milking, a cow train, tractor rides, pony rides, a scavenger hunt, a giant jumping pillow, a zip line and pig races. It really was a great time where all my family members had fun and got involved. If you are planning on apple picking in Georgia here are a few tips before you go.

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1. Go early in the season. A few years ago when we went apple picking it was close to the end of the season and there wasn’t many apples to choose from. Most of the trees were bare. This year we went early and the trees were filled with apples, so much so that many of the branches seemed to be drooping from the weight. So go early on in the season so you have plenty of apples to pick.

2. Pick ripe apples. Apples, unlike bananas, are the kind of fruits that stop ripening once they are picked so it is important to pick apples that are fully ripened. Look for apples that are on the outside of the tree furthest away from the trunk because these apples will ripen first.

3. Twist, don’t pull. When you pick your apples off the tree it is best to twist or roll the apple towards the branch so that the stem comes off rather than pull the apple down. This will help avoid a bunch of apples falling at once and bonking you on the head!

4. Do not pick the apples off the ground. This might be common sense for adults, but for small children who can’t reach the branches easily this might be appealing. Make sure you express to your children that picking the apples from the ground are not a good idea. However, it is ok to grab an apple off the ground if you freshly picked it and it has fallen on the floor.

5. Gently place apples in your basket or bag. Placing them instead of throwing them will help avoid bruising and punctures.

6. Do not eat the apples right there. I cringed every time I saw a person pick an apple and eat it. The worst was when they took a few bites and then threw it on the ground. Remember that these apples are dirty and they need to be clean properly before you eat them.

7. When you get home, store apples in a dark cool place.

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

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A few weeks ago I posted my recipe for homemade almond milk. The cost of making almond milk at home is comparable to buying store bought if all you use it the milk and just throw the pulp away. If you really want to get your moneys worth it is best to use the pulp. If you have a dehydrator you may easily dry it out to make your own almond meal or almond flour. Which by the way are the same things. If you have ever bought almond meal or almond flour you know this stuff is not cheap. You may also make use the wet pulp for recipes.

Every time I make almond milk I try making a new recipe with the pulp. Last time I tried making crab cakes and used the almond pulp in place of breadcrumbs. They were so fresh and flavorful I think I might just have to make them again this week. Here is the recipe for you to try at home.

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Ingredient for Crab Cakes:

1 lbs cooked crab ,meat (fresh or canned)

1 c almond pulp (or almond meal)

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp celery seed

1/4 c parsley (chopped)

1/4 c carrots (finely chopped)

2 green onions (chopped)

2 eggs (beaten)

13/ c Greek yogurt

coconut oil for cooking

Directions:

1. Place crab meat into a large bowl and use two forks to separate meat.

2. Mix in all other ingredients until mixture is blended well and moist.

3. Take a small handful of the mixture and roll into a ball. Press the ball between the palms of your hands and form a patty. Place patty on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue to do this till all of the mixture is used. This will make about 16 crab cakes depending on the size of patties you make.

4. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Heat coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add a batch of crab cakes to the skillet and cook each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Place cooked crab cakes onto a serving plate. Spoon sauce over crab cakes, top with chopped green onions, and serve with lemon wedges

Ingredient for Sauce:

2/3 c Greek yogurt

1 tsp Creole seasoning

The juice of a lemon to taste (I used half a lemon)

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Spoon over each crab cake and serve.

 

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Super easy and super yummy. So, if you are searching for new ways to use your leftover almond pulp, if you are gluten free and searching for bread crumb alternatives, or if you are just trying to hang on to summer you should really try this recipe at home.

25 After School Snacks Ideas

Hey all you F2L fans. Hope you guys had a fun-filled Labor Day weekend. Did you go where there was water and relax? Did you have a cookout? How about a trip to a theme park?

Here at the Claiborne house we spent our last weekend of the summer enjoying the beautiful weather and artist from all over the country. Every Labor Day weekend there is a wonderful event called the Art in the Park that’s held in the historic Marietta Square. Last year we went and I bought my husband a colorful pencil and pen drawing of the Chicago skyline. He is from Chicago and fell in love with this amazing and original art piece. It is now rightfully display above his desk in the office so he may enjoy it at will. This year we saw a very talented man who cuts out silhouettes. No out line drawing, just straight free hand cutting. I almost bought one of the kids.

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, summer is just a memory, and school is in full effect we are all scrambling to get back on a routine. In my house this includes meal planning. Planning of dinners, lunches, and after school snacks. Yep, we plan those too. The minute my kids enter the doorway they are asking what’s for snack. It is always a good idea to plan ahead and to have quick healthy options for them to choose from. Eating habits are established at a young age and follow you into adulthood. Showing your kids how to eat right now is one of the biggest tools you could give them to ensure they live a full and healthy life.

Have you ever found yourself scratching your head trying to figure out what in the world you are going to feed your munchkins when they come home from school? You’ve had a long day at work and you need to cook dinner, the kids are antsy, and you are on the spot. You start pulling stuff out of the panty and behold, you find a couple bags of fruit snacks. You think to yourself, “this will have to do, I mean they have snack written on the bag!” You hand them to the kids and they are happy but you know that something that sweet before dinner is not the best idea.

Don’t beat yourself up about it. You are not alone! Just about ever parent has this struggle. To be honest it is not a horrible snack if they only have it every now and again. Things could be worst. They could be better too. With a little bit of planning you could have a snacks on hand for when the kids come home or any other time they have a snack attack. Here are 25 after school snacks that are popular with my munchkins.

After School Snack Ideas copy

 

(Remember that these are snack and portion sizes should be small. You still want them to eat their dinner after all. )

  1. A banana with peanut butter
  2. Carrots and hummus
  3. Air popped popcorn
  4. Turkey slices wrapped in lettuce
  5. Celery with yogurt veggies dip
  6. An apple with almond butter
  7. Tortilla chips with homemade black bean dip
  8. Roasted chickpeas
  9. A small green salad
  10. Trail mix
  11. Cherry tomatoes and
  12. Cucumbers and tuna salad
  13. A homemade lentil samosa
  14. Mini pita pockets with chicken salad
  15. Pretzels and cheese squares
  16. Greek yogurt and berries
  17. A fruit smoothie
  18. Mini quinoa and ham muffins
  19. Homemade apple chips and yogurt
  20. Zucchini muffin
  21. Steamed edamame
  22. Boiled egg and grapes
  23. Carrot stick and honey mustard
  24. Raw broccoli and veggie dip
  25. Homemade kale chips

If you have great snack recipes share below. I’m always looking for new snacks to try.

Homemade Almond Milk

Like many others my husband is lactose intolerant. Though he isn’t a big milk drinker to begin with I would buy almond milk for him from time to time. Now I’m not dairy free or lactose intolerant but I do love to enjoy a nice cold glass of almond milk in the morning. I also enjoy it in my coffee because it adds a little nutty flavor. Sometimes we would enjoy a tall glass of vanilla almond milk after dinner because the sweet creamy drink would satisfy our craving for dessert. The kids on the other hand didn’t like it so much. I tried buying different brands but they never seemed to get into it.

I continued to buy it for my husband and I.  That is until I became more aware of the ingredients in products. Have you ever looked at the ingredients of store bought almond milk? Even the organic brands have quite a list. One common ingredient in most almond milks is carrageenan, which is a food additive that is derived from red seaweed and is used as a stabilizer. Because it is made from seaweed it is considered a natural additive but there has been some controversy over whether it is safe or not. Some scientists say it can cause inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding. That’s not very appetizing, is it?

After learning this I started looking into making my own almond milk. I found it to be extremely easy and the taste was 100% better than store bought! The kids even like it. That’s right, they drink it up like crazy.

So how easy is it? Well take a look.

AlmondMilk1All you need is some almond, dates, vanilla extract, salt and water. Really, That is it!

AlmondMilk2The first step is to soak the almonds overnight. I have had a lot of people ask me why is there a need to soak the almonds. Well there are a few reasons. First reason is that almonds naturally have a type of tannin called tannic acid. Tannic acid is stored in the brown skin of the almond and helps protect the nut from pest, sunlight, and other harmful elements. Tannic acid, when digested by humans, can interfere with the amount of iron the body absorbs. Soaking almonds helps release the tannic acid and you simply rinse them away. Another reason is that soaking will help your body digest the almonds better.

AlmondMilk3After the almonds have soaked overnight they will become plump and tender. Drain the water and give them a good rinse.

 

AlmondMilk4After you rinse the almond good you can place them in a blender. No need for a fancy $500 Vitamix. I have a regular $30 blender and it works great for this. Add 3 cups of filtered water and 2-3 pitted dates. Turn the blender on the highest speed and run it till the water becomes milky and the almond become very fine. Take a container, place a strainer over the opening, and a nut milk bag over the strainer. I use this nut milk bag here. Pour the almond milk into the nut milk bag and strain the liquid. Sorry I forgot to include a blender and strainer picture.

AlmondMilk5When you are done  straining add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the almond milk and save the almond pulp for later use in recipes. You could dry it out and you will have your own almond meal or almond flour.

See, I told you it was easy. I encourage you to make your own and taste the difference too. There really is no comparison. I will never buy almond milk from a store again.

Ingredient:

1 c of whole almonds, raw

3 c of filtered water (and more to soak)

2-3 pitted dates

1 Tbsp of vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Soak the almond overnight. When ready drain and rinse.

2. Add almonds, water, and dates to a blender. Turn blender to highest setting and run for a few minutes. Water will become milky and almonds will be broken down to very fine pieces.

3. Take a container; place a strainer over the opening and a nut milk bag over the strainer. Pour almond milk into the nut milk bag and strain the liquid out.

4. Once strained add vanilla and salt to the almond milk. Use the almond pulp for recipes or dry out it out for homemade almond meal.

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