My last couple weeks… in pictures

As most of my family and friends know, we have had a crazy, busy month! It has been the reason for my shortage of blog posts and I apologize. 😩

With the 4th of July holiday, followed by my brother getting married, family visiting, family staying with us, packing and FINALLY getting ready to move into our new house, I just have not had much time to sit and write posts. So I figured I would pop in and show a few pictures of some of the fun memories we have made during this crazy month.

 

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My brother and his beautiful bride! They had the perfect weather for a summer wedding. So happy for them both!!!

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To celebrate my brother’s wedding, we had family from out of state come to visit. So wonderful seeing them all (although this isn’t everyone!).

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My brother and his new wife were able to stay in town for a week after their wedding. We also had my cousin, Anna stay with us for a week. One of our outings was to Medieval Times. The boys had a blast!

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While my cousin was with us, we made sure to take the boys to new places. Especially between packing, it was nice to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather. This was at a new park we found. They had a butterfly house and this little “river” like area for the kids to cool down. Thought it was tons of fun!

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AND last but not least…. the new house! I apologize for the cell phone pics. But these are from the final walkthrough we went on yesterday. We are moving into a home that is almost twice the size we live in now! The boys (and Kyle and I) are super excited for our new home. We look forward to making tons of new memories. Today we close and we will have the keys! I will do a follow up blog of the new house once we are moved in a settled within the next week!

Thanks everyone for being patient with me! I look forward to posting much more in the coming month! This has certainly been a busy and exciting summer for us!

What have you and your family been up to this summer?? Share with me in the comments! 🙂

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All things raspberry!

A couple weeks ago, our family went to a farm local to us to pick strawberries. You can see all about that in this post. Well this week I saw on the farm’s Facebook page that they were going to have U-Pick Raspberries! I decided we would go on the first day they announced it as they don’t have as many raspberries as they did strawberries and I thought it would be a nice outing for just the boys and myself.

Look at how pretty these berries were!

Look at how pretty these berries were!

It was a beautiful day! Sunny and about 78 degrees when we got to the farm. We had a great choice of berries as we were the only ones there for the first 15 minutes then two other families showed up. They had bright, beautiful, big raspberries. I decided we would pick 2 quarts of fresh berries since the crop was plentiful. We easily filled our bucket. Or I guess I should say, *I* filled our bucket. The boys filled their bellies! 🙂

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contemplating which one to eat first

contemplating which one to eat first

Of course when we got home I began thinking what we will do with all these berries. 2 quarts may not seem like a lot when you think of most fruits, but when it’s raspberries, that’s a lot of fruit! We will definitely eat them as is and freeze some for smoothies like we did with some of our strawberries.

Our berries!

Our berries!

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I also found this recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Brownies. Very few ingredients that most people will have in their kitchens. Of course, they are vegan. What intrigued me was that it didn’t use oil or a binding agent like a flax egg. I used coconut sugar for it’s low glycemic index and raw cacao powder (instead of cocoa powder) for it’s benefits such as iron and magnesium among many.

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These brownies turned out great. They are moist, chewy, just sweet enough and great for any chocolate cravings.

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And of course I didn’t stop there. I came across this recipe that mixes two of my favorite baked goods, cheesecake and cookies!

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Cookies!!!

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Cookies!!!

These were delicious! Such a wonderful cheesecake flavor but in cookie form. They are vegan and gluten free but can easily be made non gluten free by subbing the GF flour for regular AP flour and leaving out the xantham gum.

And last but not least, I made healthy raspberry jam! The recipe was out of the Oh She Glows Cookbook, which you should totally buy if you love good food 😉 She does have the recipe on her blog as well, so I am able to share it with you. In her book, she uses fresh berries, which is what I used. I love that there is only 4 ingredients, no refined sugar and a wonderful secret ingredient that adds a boost of health benefits: chia seeds! These wonderful little seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium and calcium giving a healthy punch to this jam.

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Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

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I love this recipe because it is simple, it took me about 20 minutes from start to finish to make this jam. Also, it can be used for so many things: toast, muffins, pancake/ waffle topping, ice cream topping… the possibilities are endless.

Hope you will try and love some of these recipes! We definitely did. I have really been enjoying making new things from all the fresh, local produce we have been picking. This summer has really been one of the best.

Rad Raspberry Smoothie from 365 Vegan Smoothies

Rad Raspberry Smoothie from 365 Vegan Smoothies

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

Strawberry Fields Forever

One of the best things about summer is all the fresh produce you can get that isn’t available during other times of the year. One of my favorite fruits that just scream summer are strawberries! My two boys love them too. In fact, we have been buying about 2-3 lbs of strawberries a week this summer so far because these boys just inhale them. Something fun I thought we should do is go strawberry picking! In fact, I found out about a farm local to us that grows tons of fresh produce. All of their crops are non gmo as well. We decided to check out Stade’s Farm in McHenry, Illinois. It is a beautiful farm. For about a month from the middle of June to the beginning of July, they have U-Pick strawberries. They have over 10 acres of strawberry fields! We picked a Saturday morning during the first couple weeks of their strawberry season when the crop was still plentiful.

Daddy showing Shayne how to look for and pick strawberries at Stade's Farm

Daddy showing Shayne how to look for and pick strawberries at Stade’s Farm

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I loved how the air literally smelled of strawberries while out in the fields. It was so peaceful and just beautiful.

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We had such a fun time picking strawberries. In fact, we decided we would make it a family tradition and go every year. The boys had a blast picking strawberries, and eating them as they picked 😉 If you are in the area, I highly recommend Stade’s Farm. Everyone who worked there were all very nice and made it a point to say hi or talk to us. We plan on going back during the Fall for their pumpkin season.

At the farm

At the farm

We ended up with 6 lbs of fresh strawberries!

aren't they beautiful!?

aren’t they beautiful!?

We had so much fun making new strawberry dishes. I made a fresh vegan strawberry rhubarb pie. It was the first time I made one from scratch AND even tried strawberry rhubarb. I fell in love. The whole family really enjoyed the pie. I also made strawberry muffins, pop tarts, freezer jam (strawberry & strawberry peach), strawberry lemonade, froze some for smoothies and we just ate them as is. The best part: all recipes were vegan!

First time making my own freezer jam. It will be awesome cracking a jar open in the winter! Fresh strawberry all year round. It was seriously delicious and so fresh tasting. I also made Strawberry Peach jam (not pictured)

First time making my own freezer jam. It will be awesome cracking a jar open in the winter! Fresh strawberry all year round. It was seriously delicious and so fresh tasting. I also made Strawberry Peach jam (not pictured)

 

Strawberry Muffins - so moist and delicious.

Strawberry Muffins – so moist and delicious.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

 

Seriously my new favorite pie!

Seriously my new favorite pie!

What summer foods have you and your family been enjoying!??

 

 

Recipes:

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

Vegan Challenge Update

As most of you know, I decided to do try a Vegan Challenge for the month of June. My first week started off great. I had a bunch of recipes planned out. Made a bunch of recipes and frozen things so it would be quick and easy to prepare and I would always have options on hand. I have enjoyed every new recipe I have tried and look forward to sharing them in the coming weeks as part of my “Meatless Mondays” series. However, by the end of the first week, I was feeling extremely fatigued and just not myself. My brother and his fiancĂ© came into town for the weekend and we were out and about visiting and out to eat. So I ended up giving in and had a burger 😩 So I made it a full week vegan. And even though I did cheat, I am still eating mostly vegan and in fact most days, I eat completely vegan. Not even on purpose. I came to the conclusion that although I think being vegan is a great thing health wise and for the animals, with everything going on right now, I cannot fully commit. I do eat vegan about 80-90% of the time just because they are foods that I enjoy! I guess you can say I am a flexitarian but vegan style… flexiegan?? hehe. Anyway, I think labels are lame and I am going to continue to do what I do: enjoy delicious vegan foods, try new vegan recipes and eat shrimp or a burger every once in a while. Maybe one day I will work my way to being 100% vegan, maybe I won’t. All I know is I am doing the best I can for myself and my family. I feel good the way I am eating and have a come a LONG way from the days of eating 80-90% processed, boxed meals and fast food. The way I look at it is I have done a complete turn around in the way we eat. I enjoy cooking now and trying new things. About 80% of our food is from scratch or fresh, real ingredients. So I don’t look at this like I “failed” my challenge. I will continue to work towards a more healthier me. I will continue sharing yummy vegan recipes I discover and try. In fact, I will leave you with some of the vegan foods we enjoyed this past month and will continue enjoying from here on out. Although I am not 100% plant based, I know vegan foods will be a part of our lives for as long as I live.

Vegan Burger from VeganRicha w/ homemade vegan ranch. THE best vegan burger EVER! and it's grill-able!

Vegan Burger from VeganRicha w/ homemade vegan ranch. THE best vegan burger EVER! and it’s grill-able!

Coconut Milk Yogurt with fresh fruit and Nutty Granola Clusters from Oh She Glows. Great snack or breakfast and the boys LOVE it!

Coconut Milk Yogurt with fresh fruit and Nutty Granola Clusters from Oh She Glows. Great snack or breakfast and the boys LOVE it!

Vegan Lemon Vanilla Pound Cake from VeganRicha with coconut whipped cream and strawberries. GREAT dessert!

Vegan Lemon Vanilla Pound Cake from VeganRicha with coconut whipped cream and strawberries. GREAT dessert!

Olive Angel Hair Pasta with Brussel Sprouts. Delicious, whole family loved this one! Recipe out of Isa Does It cookbook

Olive Angel Hair Pasta with Brussel Sprouts. Delicious, whole family loved this one! Recipe out of Isa Does It cookbook

(bad cell phone pic) Falafel from Isa Does It with salad and fresh fruit

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Falafel from Isa Does It with salad and fresh fruit

Cauli-power Alfredo with broccoli from OSG. Served with homemade biscuits.

Cauli-power Alfredo with broccoli from OSG. Served with homemade biscuits.

Brussel Sprout Fried Rice from theppk.com

Brussel Sprout Fried Rice from theppk.com

One of the many smoothies I tried. This was made using Green Matcha Tea. So good!! From 365 Vegan Smoothies

One of the many smoothies I tried. This was made using Green Matcha Tea. So good!! From 365 Vegan Smoothies

Apple Sandwiches

Apple Sandwiches

Spaghetti and Beanballs

Spaghetti and Beanballs

Resources for Recipes

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved