linked 2013 | simple

i am returning to the simple things when it comes to food. all-natural ingredients. unprocessed food. things i can pronounce. fewer boxes + packages and lots more fresh fruits + vegetables. simple and clean eating. and more flavor along with a new found appreciation for really good food.

tate and i went to the local plant nursery and farmer's market this week. and we picked up this giant bunch of fresh mint. it was grown right there at the nursery. i'm going to use it in our green drink and search for some new recipes using mint on pinterest. i'd even like to dry out some in the bright south florida sun to make mint tea.

i also love to make mint infused water. it is so refreshing. just drop a few sprigs of mint in a pitcher of water and leave it for a few hours. it has a clean and subtle flavor. linked 2013 is a monthly blog project. check out what simple looks like to these ladies linking up with me this month: Amanda, Carla, Hanne, Heather, Janet, Jenn, Rhonda and Tracey.

simply french fries

i am getting rid of the crap that i eat. the processed, artificial + unnatural ingredients are now gone. along with the gluten. and instead of seeing all the things that i cannot eat, i'm seeing a whole new world of food with endless possibilities. flavor, freshness + good quality food are what i'm focusing on.

have you ever picked up a bag of frozen french fries and read the label? many of them contain ingredients that i don't recognize - and i have a master's degree in nutrition! so what exactly is in the french fries that i'm not only feeding myself, but feeding my kids? do we even need all of these extra ingredients in french fries? aren't they really just potatoes? so i decided to search pinterest for a simple french fry recipe. and i found this one. the fries are baked and it calls for just potatoes, olive oil and salt. easy enough for me.

confession time. since all i had ever done before was either rip open a bag of frozen fries or handed the kids a little paper wrapper full of mcdonald's fries (i cannot believe i just admitted that!), my kids really had no idea where french fries came from. so a friend suggested i show quinn a potato before i made the fries myself. um, duh! so i did. we washed and peeled the potatoes. and then i used a little hand held french fry cutter (similar to this one) to make perfect little fries. after a quick soak in a bowl of water, a toss with some olive oil + salt and some time baking in the oven, my family enjoyed some delicious + fresh french fries. and quinn got his first cooking lesson from mom.

note: i find that sea salt has a much better flavor than regular table salt. it really makes a difference, especially with these yummy fries. don't skip the good stuff. use real sea salt.

simply french fries

russet potatoes olive oil sea salt

peel and cut the potatoes. soak them in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes. drain and dry potatoes with a towel. toss the potatoes with olive oil and salt. spread evenly on a baking sheet. bake for about 25 minutes at 450 degrees, turning occasionally. (or not if you are a busy mom. see photo above.)

potato + white bean soup

 

 today i made a quick + easy soup in my crock pot. i've been thinking a lot lately about eating more veggies (and fruits) and eating less meat. so i tweaked a baked potato soup recipe that I found on pinterest. i added white beans for protein and topped it with green onions for flavor, color and their nutritional value. and since i am going gluten-free, i made sure the ingredients were all gluten-free.

potato + white bean soup

1 package of frozen hash brown potatoes 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (progresso brand is gluten-free) 5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth 1 medium onion, diced 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed 8 oz of cream cheese

put all of the ingredients except for the cream cheese in the crock pot. cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. one hour before the soup is done, use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes and the beans. then add the cream cheese and whisk until blended. let cook for one more hour. serve with sliced green onions, shredded cheese or bacon bits if you so desire.

i know this recipe is a winner because my picky eater husband went back for seconds. score!

next time i'm going to experiment with adding some more veggies before i puree the soup. i'm thinking cauliflower perhaps...

linked 2013 | fresh

i am starting my new year with a commitment to healthy habits. some of these things are new to me. and some are things i should have been doing all along. but they are mostly just simple things that are so good for the body + soul. like more sleep. more whole foods. bringing back yoga for inner and outer well being. and juicing.

green drink fresh =>> www.tracy-larsen.com/blog

so about this juicing thing... my husband and i wanted to get more nutrients and fresh fruits and veggies into our daily eating. and i saw dr. oz recently on tv talking about this green drink he makes for his family every day. and then i started seeing photos of friends making green drinks on instagram. so i decided to give it a try.

and i loved it. and so did my husband!

now one thing you must understand is that my husband is not the healthiest of eaters. (and yes, he did marry me when i was working as a registered dietitian.) he eats very few fruits and even less veggies. so the fact that he not only tried this green drink, but actually liked it was nothing short of a miracle. a big win in my book. i did try to get my kids to dink it too, but they are not fans yet. i understand since neither of them drink anything other than water and milk. they are still young, so we will work on this by example.

here is how i made my green drink... i followed the basic ingredient list from dr. oz's green drink - minus the parsley which gave it a horribly bitter taste.

2 cups spinach mint 1/2 cucumber 3 medium carrots 1/2 orange 1/4 lemon 1/4 lime 2 apples pineapple

fresh green drink =>> www.tracy-larsen.com/blog

a few random things... - canned pineapple is just as good as fresh and it's much easier to open a can than core and peel a fresh pineapple. (i did get my master's degree in food and nutrition, so i can say for certain that the nutrients in canned food are just as good as fresh.) - peel the citrus fruit before putting it in the juicer. - i love that our lemons come fresh from my aunt + uncle's lemon tree. thank you sunshine state for the fresh fruit. - i wish i had my very own lemon, lime and orange trees in my yard. perhaps one day we will get some... - i'm going to play with this recipe a bit and add some more veggies here and there. i even started a juicing pinboard on pinterest.

fresh green drink =>> www.tracy-larsen.com/blogyou can use a juicer or a blender to make this drink. i tried both. and for me, the juicer wins. i like that it is a thinner consistency - more like, well, juice. the blender did include more of the fibrous parts of the fruits and vegetables, but it also made the drink a lot thicker and more like a smoothie. it is your choice.

so far, i have really loved this daily glass of fresh juice. it has easily become something i look forward to every night after dinner. a healthy habit for sure.

go ahead and try it. i dare you.

linked 2013 is a monthly blog project. check out what fresh looks like to these ladies linking up with me this month: Amanda, Carla, Hanne, Heather, Heidi, Janet, Jean, Jenn, Kristin, Rhonda and Tracey.

linked 52 | on the shelf

i love cooking. i love recipes. i love simplicity. i love food photography. i love everything martha stewart. and this includes her everyday food magazine. i have a stack on the shelf  in my office. and many other issues scattered throughout my house. most of them with little post-it flags marking the pages of recipes that i want to try. i've found a few of my favorites in these pages - including a balsamic marinated skirt steak and a caramelized onion soup. it makes me so happy when a new issue arrives in my mailbox. it is just so full of cooking possibilities and food photography inspiration.

what little something makes you happy?

click over to see what is on the shelf for these girls also participating in linked 52: Stacey, Tracey, Heather, Jenn, Amanda, Janet, Rhonda, Carla, Heidi, Kristin, Heather, Veronica, Jean and Hanne.

linked 52 | in the kitchen (scenes from an everyday dinner)

i don't have my dream kitchen. the one with all the pretty white cabinets and white counter tops. the one with the shiny stainless steel appliances. the one with tons of natural light pouring in to illuminate everything i cook just right. but what i do have is not too bad either. our kitchen is the center of our house. the place where everything happens. the place where i spend most of my time. cooking, cleaning. preparing, washing, organizing, helping, fixing, eating and living. so i decided to take some photos of what goes into preparing our everyday dinner. i wanted these photos to be real. to show what really goes on in my kitchen. with the clutter on the counter and all the mess that goes along with dinner preparation. because that is really what our everyday looks like.

i think having family dinner is one of the most important things that we do each day. and yes, we do eat dinner together every night - me, mark + the boys. we even have "family dinner" at my parent's house every sunday night with them and my sister. and sometimes my other sister and her family too. just like we used to do on sundays with my grandparents when i was a kid.

i am reading a great little book right now called dinner: a love story by jenny rosenstrach. someone on facebook recommended it. (i can't remember who it was, so if you recently finished this book and posted about it on facebook, let me know so i can thank you.) this is not your typical cookbook. it is jenny's life story and love story about food mixed in with some delicious looking recipes and some fun photos. i love how she breaks things down into sections on family dinner before kids, family dinner with little kids (hello, this is my life now!) and family dinner when the kids are older. there is something so real about her stories. this book reaffirms my thinking about how important our family dinner is. even if family dinner right now still consists of different meals for different people - um, different little picky eater people that is.

these days our family dinner is not all of us eating the same thing that i cook. tate is in his i-only-want-to-eat-the-ears-off-my-mickey-mouse-chicken-nuggets and applesauce phase. quinn's favorite thing to say is "i'm not eating that!" when he sees anything other than a hot dog or mac n cheese on his plate. but i am grateful for small miracles like the fact that i can get them to eat dried peas. (but not the real ones.) and the fact that tate will sometimes eat a banana. and i am stunned when they occasionally finish their dinner in under an hour.

some days i'm lucky to make a meal that everyone eats. well, bits and pieces of the meal. and it is really just on rare days. but what we eat is really not the most important part of the meal. it is being together. all of us at the same time and at the same place. just like my family used to do every night when i was growing up. and that is something that i want to pass on to my kids.

family dinner these days is not perfect. but it is a time for us to all sit down together. we try to have a little conversation with quinn about what happened at school that day. but he is usually more interested in watching cartoons. and tate is way too young to join in any conversation. so for now, we let them watch tv while they eat and mark and i get a little time to talk. someday the tv will be turned off. but for now it is about doing whatever works to get through a meal without a two year old having a tantrum and his plate landing on the floor face down. i know i will eventually get to be more creative with my cooking. and some of them might even eat that food one day. i know that at some point we will have an interactive conversation with the boys. but for now, as long as we are all together and they know it, then i am happy. i want them to always remember our nightly family dinners and being together.

so this is our everyday dinner in the kitchen. me cooking with my favorite rachael ray pan. (the one i got from my mom as a gift and the one that i have used to cook everything in for the past two years). chopping something with my favorite chef's knife and bamboo cutting board. (be careful with those big knives. this one earned me a few stitches last christmas.) trying to time it so that everyone's food is warm at the same time. and waiting to hear tate say "dinnah-time" after i call them to the table.

by the way, i noticed three important things about what i just posted above: 1. there are about four wine bottles on my counter. i promise that these are for cooking and one belongs to my sister. i am a beer girl. 2. i admitted that my kids watch tv while we eat. yes folks, this is reality. 3. if you didn't know, i was a registered dietitian in my life before kids + photography. and my kids don't like fruits and veggies. call it karma for all that nutrition preaching i did back in the day. i hope that one day they will discover that they actually like healthy food. fingers crossed....

click over to see in the kitchen with these girls also participating in linked 52: Stacey, Tracey, Heather, Jenn, Jessica, Amanda, Janet, Rhonda, Carla, Heidi, Kristin, Heather, Liza, Veronica, Jean, Kristi and Hanne.

linked 52 | spice

cinnamon rolls. fresh out of the oven. they call them cinnabuns. and they get them on thursday mornings when daddy is home for breakfast. he makes them from a roll out of the refrigerator, but at least he does it all by himself. it is their special treat. just the three of them.

(not feeling very creative this week, so cinnamon for spice is what i've got...)

click over to see what spice looks like for these girls also participating in linked 52: Stacey, Michelle, Tracey, Heather, Jenn, Jessica, Amanda, Amanda, Sara, Lesli, Janet, Naomi, Rhonda, Carla, Heidi, Kristin, Heather, Liza, Veronica, Jean, Kristi, Georgia and Hanne.

we made peanut butter

i love pinterest! there are endless ideas and inspiration to be found. and they all are accompanied by plenty of gorgeous photos. the photos are probably the biggest draw for me to want to try to do or make something i find on pinterest. but the reality is when it comes to diy projects the easier it is, the better the chance i'll actually try it. recently i came across a pin about how simple it is to make peanut butter.

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