Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pin It Party 4.0

The Lean Green Bean is back at it again this month hosting another Pin It Party! Take a break, kick back and pin away! :)

I love to make greens and using the crockpot makes it that much better. No monitoring the pot on the stovetop anymore!

Both the pineapple and mango is unreal! Tastes just like candy but better. Good luck being able to stop at just a few pieces!

My favorite way to prepare beets. And clean up is a breeze; you just need to throw out the aluminum foil!

So somehow, I realized I suddenly liked pickled beets! Plus, they are super easy to make at home.

Another great way to enjoy oatmeal and reap all of its benefits!

Head on over to Lindsey's link up and check out all of the other amazing pin-worthy posts!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guest post on Sincerely, Jenni

Jenni, a fellow Iowa blogger has a weekly feature on her blog, Sincerely, Jenni, to highlight some other local bloggers. My guest post went live this morning!

Featured Iowa Blogge | Sincerely, Jenni

I hope you'll check it out! And stay awhile to read more about Jenni. She is a seriously so funny and covers a broad spectrum of subjects.


Also, while I'm here- Congrats to Erika for winning the Detour SMART bar giveaway! Thanks to all that entered.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January grocery budget

This month I wanted to really shrink my grocery budget to use up some of what I already had in the kitchen. My goal was to spend only $100. After getting a few things yesterday, my grocery shopping for month is done and we clocked in at $105.61. Pretty close!

I didn't document diligently all month as far as the meals we ate but I do have all of my receipts. Here's what I bought for the month. Grocery stores visited for January were Costco, Trader Joe's, and Aldi.

mangoes, 3
bananas, 2.5 pounds
baby carrots
spring greens*
apples, 6 pounds*
applesauce cups, 3 packages*
dried mango, 2 packages

cottage cheese
greek yogurt
farm fresh eggs from a co-worker
milk, 4 gallons
ricotta cheese

spring water, gallon refills
3 bags French dinner rolls- $.19 each! (used for French toast casserole)
Belvita, 5 boxes
bag northern beans
2 boxes whole grain pasta
whole grain mustard
snapcrisp peas
Clif Z bars
mini marshmallows
rice chex cereal

bread, 2 loaves
naan bread
Trader Joe's pizza dough
DeLite turkey sausage, egg, cheese sandwiches

*= organic items

I think that's quite a list for only $105!

Some of the meals and other things we ate this month included:

Homemade pizza
Turkey sandwiches
Crockpot bean soup
Crab and shrimp cakes
Steamed broccoli
Roasted brussel sprouts
Arugula salad
Greek yogurt with strawberries and blueberries
Steel cut oats with apple, cranberry, and pecans
Belvita breakfast biscuits
French toast casserole
Toast and eggs
Crockpot Greens
Bagels with cream cheese
Pesto gnocchi with chicken
Homemade hummus
Dried strawberries, pineapple, and mango
Applesauce cups

This isn't a complete list but is everything I had written down or can remember. Obviously, you can see that we ate a lot of things that I didn't shop for this month but instead was able to pull some things from our food supply and make some meals.

I'm really going to try to stick to $100 for the month of February, too. Although, I'm not too sure how close I'll be able to stick to that since I've already pulled a few things from my arsenal. I'm going to try, though!

Weekly Meal Plan, Jan 26-Feb 1
Crockpot Greens
Homemade pizza with naan bread
Friendship soup
Turkey sandwiches and salad
Dinner out

How do you save money on your monthly grocery budget?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Things Friday

Happy Friday, Everyone! I thought I'd throw out some random rambles for you today. :)

1. Yay! It's the weekend! Tim and I have a date night planned tonight. My mom is coming to town and she offered to stay home and hang out with Kaydin so Tim and I can get out of the house together without a 7 year old in tow. Kaydin and I's favorite babysitter-- her grammy and FREE!! :)

2. Mom is in town this weekend because Josh's fiance, Kerstin, is coming with all of her bridesmaids and the mothers to try on dresses. I'm a bridesmaid and Kaydin is a flower girl so we both get to try on dresses tomorrow, too. We're all pretty excited!

3. I've been on a tea kick lately. I still love my Celestial Sleepytime tea at night, but I've also been drinking a cup or two during the day at work. It pairs perfectly with the crazy cold temps we keep having this winter. This is a new favorite!

Tazo Wild Sweet Orange
4. I put myself on a tightened grocery budget for the month and only allotted $100 for groceries. I cut back and try to spend as less as possible every January and did just fine this month. I still have about $25 left. This will allow some produce for next week before the month is up. I do this to use up some of what I already have on hand in the cupboards and freezer. I took inventory and came up with so many things to make with (mostly) only stuff I already have. I didn't make it too far into my list of meals so I think I might restrict my February grocery budget, too. I'll try and document a little better and show you what I buy and make for the month.

5. Don't forget to enter the the Detour SMART bar giveaway. Finally, a clean protein bar!

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More Dehydrated Fruits {Pineapple and Mango}

More dehydrator adventures! This time I tried mango and pineapple. They both turned out so well!

They both taste like candy! So good and so much healthier! I could eat the whole entire batch but try to limit myself because I don't want it all gone too fast! :)

Dried Pineapple Rings (in a dehydrator)
1 pineapple, core and skin removed and cut into rings

1. Place sliced pineapple evenly on a dehydrator tray.
2. Turn dehydrator heat setting to 135 degrees and dry for 12 hours.

Dried Mango (in a dehydrator)
2 mangoes, peeled and cut into thin slices

1. Place sliced mango evenly on a dehydrator tray.
2. Turn dehydrator heat setting to 135 degrees and dry for 10-11 hours.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Detour Protein Bars {Review & Giveaway}

---------------------Giveaway CLOSED---------------------

Congrats to Winner, Erika.

I found a clean protein bar! And one that tastes good! Well, it actually found me! Let me back up a little bit..

At Blend this past May, Detour was one of the brands being represented. Being an attendee at Blend we were offered a box of their Neapolitan protein bars. Tim is always going through lots of bars for quick protein so of course I said yes. I'm always up for trying new bars. I don't have too many favorites so I'm always wanting to try new ones. For the most part, I usually stick with all Clif brand bars.

Tim liked it just fine. Me, well, it wasn't my favorite. It does have good Neapolitan flavor, but I'm just not a huge fan of that flavor in general. I will always turn down Neapolitan ice cream. It's just not a favorite of mine so that put these bars in that category, too. 

It does carry a large amount of protein, (15 grams in one bar), and a very small amount of sugar (3 grams) but one thing I didn't like about the bar was the high content of sugar alcohols (25 grams). 

     "sugar alcohol is a kind of alcohol prepared from sugars.[1] These organic compounds are a class     of polyols, also called polyhydric alcoholpolyalcohol, or glycitol. They are white, water-soluble solids that occur naturally and are used widely in the food industry as thickeners and sweeteners. In commercial foodstuffs, sugar alcohols are commonly used in place of table sugar (sucrose), often in combination with high intensity artificial sweeteners to counter the low sweetness. Unlike sugars, sugar alcohols do not contribute to the formation of cavities. " -Wikipedia

I suppose nothing too worrisome, but still not something I want to eat on the regular. 

I turned to my local grocery store to seek out some more flavors to see if any others satisfied my picky palate. :)

Turns out they carried lots of different options. I tried the peanut butter cream and caramel peanut, both of their lower sugar line. Both of these had great flavor! Really good! I would eat these all the time for a sweet fix and to also get a good dose of protein. If I remember right, though, these also had a high sugar alcohol content. Still a great option when wanting to satisfy my sweet tooth but not eat a candy bar to do it (but still get the same great chocolaty, sweet taste)!

I was excited to be contacted again, though, late last year by Detour to see if I wanted to sample their new natural, clean line of protein bars, their SMART line. I jumped on this! I'm a label reader and when something sounds funky or I can't pronounce it, it usually goes back on the shelf. I was intrigued by their new bar!

And definitely not disappointed! I really like these. I can't even choose a favorite between the two flavors. I usually eat one of these as my second half of breakfast in the later morning.

These clock in at 130 calories per bar, 10 grams of protein, and 4 grams of sugar, and NO sugar alcohols! :)

And gotta love the ingredient list.
Ingredients: Organic Rolled Oats, SMART Protein Blend [Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein, Calcium Caseinate, Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour)], Vegetable Glycerine, Organic Blueberry Pieces [Blueberries, Apple Juice Concentrate, Citrus Pectin, Natural Flavor, Rice Flour], Inulin, Water, Soy Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Organic Freeze Dried Apple Pieces, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Sugar, Greek Style Yogurt Coating [Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Yogurt Powder (Whey Protein Concentrate, Non Fat Dry Milk, Yogurt Cultures), Reduced Mineral Whey Powder, Lactic Acid, Soy Lecithin (as an Emulsifier)], Natural Flavors, Salt, Stevia. -Detour website
   And in case you were curious--"Hydrolyzed protein is protein that has been hydrolyzed or broken down      into its component amino acids"-Wikipedia

I'm getting close to the bottom of both the apple and blueberry boxes so I need to find out who in my area carries these. Lucky for one of you readers, though, Detour has agreed to send a box of their new SMART protein bars out to you!

To Enter:
1. Leave a comment on this blogpost. Tell me which flavor you would choose if you won. 
2. Like Sprinkles of Life on Facebook. (Leave a separate comment telling me you did.)

Giveaway will be open for one week and end Monday, January 27th at midnight, CST.

Only open for US residents. 

*Disclaimer- I was given boxes of protein bars in exchange for a review, if I so chose. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own.

Do you have a favorite go-to protein bar?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kale, Shrimp, Chicken Sausage, and Feta Quinoa Toss

Happy Friday!

I think Mother Nature was confused yesterday. I woke up to temps that barely carried a chill in the air. It left a longing for spring. :(

That warmer morning temps didn't last too long, though, because in the afternoon the wind was howling and snow fell at rapid speeds. This caused one heck of a commute home! What usually takes me 15-20 minutes, including picking up Kaydin, took me an hour last night. The whole city was in grid lock! Crazy!

Hopefully we won't be dumped on with too much more snow during what's left of winter (although this year we really haven't gotten too much) but you won't catch me holding my breath for that one.

In the meantime while we wait for beautiful spring to arrive, cozy up with this warm, simple dish! It features many of my favorite ingredients and couldn't be easier to throw together!

Kale, Shrimp, Chicken Sausage, and Feta Quinoa Toss

1/2 lb deveined, tail-off cooked shrimp
2 chicken sausage links, any flavor
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups fresh kale, torn into pieces, stems removed
2 tsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp olive oil + extra for drizzling
pepper to taste

1. Add olive oil to pan and allow to heat. Add  kale to the pan and saute for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add shrimp and sliced sausages to the kale. Saute another 4 minutes or until shrimp almost cooked through. (Sausage is already pre-cooked so that just needs heated.) Stir occasionally.
3. Add quinoa, vinegar, and drizzle of olive oil to the mix. Stir occasionally until heated. Remove from heat.
4. Add feta at the end of cooking and stir together. Season with pepper to taste.

*The vinegar addition could be left out if that's not your thing.

What are you up to this weekend?
We don't have too much planned. We'll be hitting up Glitterazzi and also may be taking a quick trip to Iowa City so Tim can check out a new car. I'm riding along because I hope he agrees to a pit stop at a few stores at the Tanger Outlets in Williamsburg and the Amish bulk grocery stores :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

A new favorite kitchen gadget! {Dehydrating Fruits}

I had been wanting a food dehydrator for a couple years now but have been holding off as my current apartment kitchen is packed full! I started getting interested and wanting one again this fall as I anticipate lots of fresh produce from a garden next summer.

Wouldn't ya know it, I ended up with two this Christmas! Tim got me one and so did my parents!

 (Amazon link)

Over Christmas break, I tried out my new appliance on some cranberries and strawberries I had in the fridge.

 For the cranberries, I just rinsed them and laid them out on the tray.

I rinsed and sliced the strawberries in half and spaced them out on another tray.

After about six hours I noticed that the cranberries were not making much progress so I gave them a little poke with a sharp knife to speed the process along.

After 12 hours, the strawberries were dried perfectly. These are so good, they taste like a fruit roll-up!
We've made two batches so far and they haven't lasted very long!

24 hours of drying for the cranberries was about perfect. I think I'll use these in cereal and eventually maybe a batch of granola.

Dried Cranberries (in a dehydrator)
1 bag of cranberries, rinsed

1. Place cranberries in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two. OR poke each berry with a sharp knife.
2, Spread the berries evenly on a dehydrator tray.
3. Turn dehydrator heat setting to 135 degrees and dry for 24 hours.

Dried Strawberries (in a dehydrator)
1 carton of strawberries, rinsed and sliced in half

1. Place sliced berries evenly on a dehydrator tray.
2. Turn dehydrator heat setting to 135 degrees and dry for 12 hours.

Have you tried drying fruits or any other foods?
Next up for us to try is pineapple rings.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Glitterazzi {Giveaway}

---------------------Giveaway CLOSED---------------------
Congrats to Winner, Jacci.

I have a fun giveaway for all you locals out there!

Glam Event for Little Girls
A fun, stylish event for the girlie girl in your life. She'll be pampered with:
  • A quick 'do + they get their hair glittered up. First 100 little girls also get to pick out a cute chiffon bow. Hair expertise provided by Penelopie Beauty Bar
  • A mini manicure. 
  • A walk on the red carpet featuring cool backdrops and fun props. Photography by Khounlo Photography. (Feel free to snap some shots but our photographer's photos will be uploaded to a password-protected site, where you can access them for free after the event.)
  • A treat from the gourmet Cupcake Bar sponsored by Scratch Cupcakery!!!
  • A make-your-own-ring station.
  • A PHOTOBOOTH from A Special Event DJ & Photobooth.
  • An inspiring performance by our 8-year-old guest singer performing "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys.
  • A "Tattoo Parlor" by Airbrush Body Creations. (Leanne's airbrushed tattoos last 2-5 days and look amazing. They range from $3-5.) 
  • Balloon creations from Professor Von Air, Balloon Artist Extraordinaire.
  • Shopping at vendor boutique booths, like MintL.A. BoutiqueLincoln & LexiMiniJoops andStella & Dot.

Minna, the mastermind behind this fun event reached out to me to see if I would be interested in hosting a giveaway for a ticket to the January 18th glam day for your little diva princess. 

If you are interested in attending with the little princesses in your life, visit this link to register and learn more details. (Adults do not need to purchase tickets.)

The Prize: 
One admission ticket to Glitterazzi.

To Enter:
You just need to share the event via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blog post, etc. AND comment on this blog post telling where you shared and who you will be taking if you win!

Giveaway will end Tuesday, January 14th. Winner will be announced Wednesday AM, January 15th. Instructions to redeem your ticket will also be given at that time.

And, ladies, stay tuned for more information to come about an upcoming wine event, Galentine's Day, held at Jasper Winery in February.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Easy Crockpot Greens

I made the best greens I've ever made! And in the crockpot!

Tim and I set out to the grocery store  last Friday night to find something to cook for dinner that night. Over an hour and a cart full of groceries later we headed home. Also, in the cart were these bargains finds of pre-washed and cut greens. Only $.99 per bag, a major steal!

I decided to take the easy route for this batch and try it in the slow cooker for the first time. It worked perfectly!

I just used the same basic recipe I learned years ago and watched them throughout the day. I altered the timing and temperature and had a bowlful of perfectly cooked greens for an afternoon snack.

Easy Crockpot Greens

1/2 bag turnip greens
1/2 bag mustard greens
1/2 bag kale
3 tbs butter or crisco
1 ham shank or hock
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2-2 tsp salt
~5 cups of water

Put all ingredients in the crockpot and cook on high for 3 hours. Then switch to low for 1 1/2-2 hours. Stir every hour.

*Any combination of greens can be used.
*Timing can be altered and cooked on only low for about 6 hours.

Don't be scared by these green veggies. Cooked this way they are tender and flavorful. Try 'em, you'll love 'em!

Do you make greens at home? Have you ever used the crockpot for them?

Friday, January 3, 2014

What I've Been up to Lately

It's 2014! Wasn't it just January 2013?!?

We've been busy with Christmas celebrations, some end of year shopping, cooking, organizing and purging and ringing in the new year the last couple weeks .We made it through Christmas and moved right on into the new year. Here's a quick look at what we've been up to. 

New jammies for Christmas Eve!

Santa came!

Meet Turbo, the newest addition to Kaydin's collection. Quote from Kaydin- This is the best thing Santa has ever brought me!

 Present opening at Grammy and Papa's Christmas evening.

Every year Kaydin stays with my parents for a little vacation between Christmas and New Year's Day. That gives me time to do some Christmas clearance shopping, put the decorations away, clean up and organize her room to make room for the new stuff, and spend some time with Tim. This year we actually didn't doo too much but spend time at home, cooked, and watched some movies. It was bliss!

 Perfect breakfast before heading out the door to do some bedside table shopping.

First time making crab legs. Turned out well!

Instead of going out to eat for the weekend we bought a bunch of great food at the store and stayed in and cooked together three nights in a row. That never happens when we're kid-free. It was a nice change of pace and I didn't have to do my hair all weekend :)

I got hooked on a new TV show over the holiday break. I had been hearing all the great things about Scandal so got sucked into season one and two on Netflix. This took more of my free time while Kaydin was away than I want to admit! lol Such a great show, though. One of my new favorites, for sure!

Of course with the new year comes the nagging obligation to put away the Christmas decor. I pulled myself from Netflix one afternoon to actually do something productive.

Tim went out of town to a conference over New Year's Eve so that left me home alone for a day to really dig in and clean up my closet and Kaydin's room before I headed north to ring in the new year with my parents and Kaydin. Last year on Dec 31 I turned all my hangers backward and when I wore something I turned it around with the hope being that I would get a good feel as to what I was wearing and what I wasn't. At the end of 2013 I finally had proof that there was a bunch of things that needed to be retired to the donation box. 

And yesterday brought us reluctantly headed back to work and school and back into our routine. I always look forward to Christmas and New Year's and enjoy the lazy days. It's hard to jump back in but I am also one that likes routine. It's nice to round the corner of December 31 into January 1 to get a renewed spirit and focus. I'm one of those that looks forward to the first day of the new year for that fresh start. Plus, it means a new calendar! :)

What did you get accomplished the last few days of 2013?