Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Foodie Favorites #3

Did you think I'd fallen off the face of the earth? I wouldn't blame you if you did. I can hardly believe it's been a month and a half since I returned to work - and the same amount of time marks my last blog post. Yikes! Being a full time working mom with 2 little kids is no joke. Some days our house feels like a well oiled machine, and other days it just feels plain crazy. Having two little ones is so much fun, but it also means very little free time (or rather, I should say "alone time"). Our little crew is a routine-driven one during the week and then an activity-loving one on the weekends.

To give you a quick preview of our weekdays/nights: it's up at 5:30, showers, breakfast, getting everyone dressed, off to work/daycare by 9:00, back home for dinner/bedtime routine and packing for the next day to do it all over again. Phew! It's been hard for Riker to adjust to us both being back at work, so we've been trying to make our weekends really count and do fun stuff as a family. Plus there is so much great stuff to do during the fall. We've been pumpkin picking, hiking, hay-riding, Six Flags-ing, horse racing and everything else we can think of that goes along with crisp air, boots, jackets, and football. Ah, I love fall.

In between family activities, Matt and I have tried to make time for each other and ourselves as well, as it's so important to staying balanced and happy. We finally had our first date night since before Carson was born, we've each had a night out with friends, and I'm finally getting back into a workout routine (going back to yoga with my friend Heather for the first time tomorrow night, and running a 5K in two weeks that I'm totally unprepared for. This is the definition of winging it).

So needless to say, it's been busy. But I'm hoping now that we're in more of a routine I'll be able to start blogging again more frequently, since I've been storing up things to share. Like this fab list - the third edition of Foodie Favorites. Here are some of the things we've been enjoying lately!

1. Fancy Salts

I love salts and tend to pick them up whenever I see them at specialty food stores. Good salt makes such a huge difference in flavoring food and in your health, and flavored salts are great because they add depth to a dish without any added fat. During one of our recent weekend day trips, I found some great ones in a little spice/tea shop and I've been using them on everything. The black truffle salt went great on spaghetti squash with a little olive oil (and I'll take Matt's word for it that it went great on his steak as well) and I like to use fleur de sel as a garnish on steamed vegetables - it adds a little crunch and extra salty bite.

I also have a citrus one which has lemon and orange peel in it, and just used it last night to add a final flourish to bowls of Orange Maple Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts. So good!

FYI, for my everyday salt I use Real Salt. My mama taught me well.

2. Homemade Coffee Creamers

Why have I never done this before? Typically I only use plain cream in my coffee - no sugar. But I love the idea of pumpkin flavored creamer during the fall, and usually each October I'll cave and buy a bottle of the Coffee Mate Pumpkin Spice because it just doesn't feel like fall without it. This year I decided, no more. I don't even really like it because it's too sweet, and it's filled with all kinds of ingredients I can't pronounce.

Enter the homemade creamer. It's sitting in my fridge in a mason jar and feels just as festive.

I love this because it's real and I can control the sweetness. This one has pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and Vermont maple syrup. (Note: If you make this, be aware that the flavorings don't stay blended like store bought creamers, so you'll need to shake it each time you use it.) I can't wait to make peppermint mocha creamer in December!

3. Quinoa Hot Cereal

It's the season for hot cereal! Matt picked this up at the grocery store a while ago and I just tried it. It reminds me of Cream of Wheat from my childhood, but with the more hearty texture of grits. It also has more protein than your typical hot cereal.

It lends itself well to sweet toppings like bananas, walnuts and maple syrup, but I actually like it savory, the way I like my grits - with a little butter, salt and pepper. Mmm. Simple but comforting.

4. Somersaults for Snacking**

A while back, Somersault Snack Co. contacted me and asked if we'd like to try their sunflower seed-filled snacks. I'd actually never heard of them before, but was interested in the company after looking at their website and mission.

The snacks are made for energizing since the seeds are packed with antioxidants, protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. While we usually try to eat organic as much as possible, my feeling is that just because a snack is organic (like organic chips) it doesn't mean it's healthy for you. I felt good about these as an occasional snack because they are made with wholesome ingredients like expeller pressed oil, molasses, organic cane syrup, chicory root and various spices - I could understand the minimal ingredient list and the nutritional stats were good. Plus, my family could not get enough of them.

We tried a bunch of flavors, including cinnamon, salt & pepper, dutch cocoa, pacific sea salt and santa fe salsa. They seriously were all good, but my fave was the salt & pepper. Matt's favorite was the santa fe salsa - they for real tasted like nacho cheese Combos, which we loved back in college. Yum!

Riker also loved them. I couldn't even snap a picture without little fingers trying to sneak them.

Take two...

If you're interested in trying these out, you can order them on the website or check out their store locator.

**Disclaimer: I received samples from the company to try. As always, all statements and opinions are my own.


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