Have you ever wanted to tackle making a family cookbook with your kids? I’m so excited to show you how we made a scrapbook of our favorite foods and food traditions together. Making a cookbook with your kids is a fun activity that any family can do together and we are so excited to show you how we created ours.
If you know us, one thing that our family is big on is traditions created around the dinner table. Whether it is our pizza night on Fridays, our waffle tradition on Sundays, or the way we commemorate every little occasion in life, we somehow find a fun food tradition to surround the event. This creative project is a way to truly document those food traditions by creating a family cookbook with your kids that can be a fun project to create together as well as a legacy of your family traditions to pass down to future generations.
1) Begin by cutting out and assembling the items you would like on your page by laying them out and positioning them on each page. I like to cut my recipes out with zig-zag scissors to add a creative detail.
2) Once you figure out the placement of your items, mount pictures and recipes with double stick tape or photo stickers on the back and secure them to your page.
3) Have your children answer writing prompts on scrapbook labels or have them draw pictures of their favorite foods. Secure these additions with colorful washi tape. You can also add your own reflections on the pages to finish your pages.
4) Have kids finish the project by adding stickers to the pages or filling in sticker labels. Be creative with sticker placement, placing them even on the pictures and recipes themselves.
5) Finish by sliding the finished sheets into the sleeves of your scrapbook album. Repeat this same five step process with the rest of your sheets.
Here is how our family cookbook turned out- we are so proud of how it turned out and it was such a fun activity to do together!
If you are unsure about theme ideas for your pages, here are a few fun recommendations:
Family Food Traditions
Dad or Mom’s Favorite Dishes
Your Child’s Favorite Dish
Cool Food We Tried
Kids in the Kitchen
Back to School Traditions
Food Through the Generations (sharing those recipes from your extended family)
As a mom, this activity truly brought so much joy to me and to my kids. With everything digital, I have grown increasingly bad about printing pictures and handwritten documentation of my memories. This project truly served as a reminder how wonderful it is to see my children’s handwriting and pictures as well as how much it might mean to them to see their mother’s handwriting (as pitiful as it may be!).
I hope you consider this family activity as a way to preserve your family & food traditions for future generations. I promise that it will bring so much joy to your life and will be something that your kids will truly enjoy doing with you!
What are some of your family traditions – do they center around food like ours?
*this post contains affiliate links- thank you for your support!
Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.
Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?
Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.
Quinoa is one of my favorite summertime ingredients because it is filling and gluten-free. Have you had quinoa before? It couldn’t be easier to prepare or more delicious!
Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. It’s a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, and it contains B Vitamins and iron.
Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, becoming tender but chewy, and expelling spirals that boast the slightest crunch.
To add more flavor to my quinoa I love to cook it in veggie or chicken broth.
To make these salads portable, I layer the salads in jars. You want to layer the salads in a way that everything stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
For these salads, I start with a scoop of cooked quinoa and add a drizzle of olive oil and squirt of lemon. I then allow that all to cool completely and then start the layer of veggies. The tomatoes go in first and then I fill the jar up to the tippy top with as much spinach as possible. I learned a lot from all those episodes of Popeye as a kid!
Picnic in a Jar: Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes
Recipe type: Salads
Take these along on your next family outing for a filling, easy meal!
1 pound spinach
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups cooked quinoa (follow the instructions for preparation on the packaging)
Salt and pepper
Prepare quinoa as directed on package (it’s just like rice with a 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid ratio- veggie broth, chicken broth, or water all work in this one). Season with salt and pepper.
Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl.
Once the quinoa is done, scoop it into equal amounts into four jars. Squirt the juice of your lemons on top of the quinoa and add a light drizzle of olive oil to each one. Allow these to cool fully before adding the rest of your ingredients.
Next layer on your tomatoes and then add your layer of spinach.
Lid your jar and store in your fridge for up to five days. Eat directly out of the jar or pour into a bowl for an easy picnic feast!
For a sweet little picnic touch, use a little twine to tie on forks or tape a plastic fork with washi tape on your lids. You now have the makings for the perfect summertime lunch wherever your summer adventures might take you!
Nothing says summer like dinner prepared outdoors on the grill. I relish those al fresco dinners even more because of how easy it is to clean up afterwards! What mom wouldn’t enjoy fewer dishes to wash and making dinner in the fresh sunshine?
Grilling success was harder to come by for our family. The first year we began grilling outdoors was a year of trial and error. Over the years, we discovered that our key to success relies on a good meat thermometer, an arsenal of good marinades, a little bit of patience, and these tips and tricks that make grilling even easier.
I’m also sharing with your our family’s favorite grilled corn recipe – it’s so simple, yet SO good! (Amazon affiliate links are included where appropriate for your convenience.)
Tips for Grilling Success
1. If you don’t want your food to taste like last year’s burger, start with a clean grill. My biggest grill-cleaning hack is this: I take the simplest approach possible when cleaning my grill racks by using the self-cleaning function on my oven. Simply bring the grill racks indoors and place them in the oven, run the oven through the self-cleaning mode and you’ll end up with a clean oven and beautifully clean grill racks!
2. Maintain those shiny grates by oiling them before you grill. When you’re done grilling, use a wire grill brush to clean off the grates while the grill is still warm.
3. Plan your menus in advance. Prepare meat in bulk and store in freezer bags (I double-bag mine to prevent messes) or freezer-safe containers. I love to prep a few different marinades at a time. Most marinades have similar base ingredients (olive oil, vinegars, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce) and it’s so much easier to do it all at once. Chop meat for kabobs and jot down any cooking times or special instructions on the outside of the bags. Then just stick the containers, marinade and all, in the freezer!
4. Consider investing in a digital meat thermometer. This will ensure that your meat is always fully cooked and at its optimal flavor. Look for a thermometer with a probe that beeps when the internal food temperature is reached. The best part is that some now come with a separate receiver that you can take indoors with you, letting you prep the rest of the food without worrying about burning the meat.
5. To get the best flavors from your meats, always:
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (to prevent the meat from sticking).
Season both sides of meat generously with salt and pepper.
Apply sauces at the end of the cooking time to prevent charred meat.
Let meat rest ten minutes after removing from grill, to allow the juices to redistribute.
6. Grilled vegetables are the perfect side dish. Large veggies like eggplant, squash or onions can be cut into chunks and placed on the grill rack. Smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes or sliced veggies work best in kabobs.
My favorite tricks are to throw veggies into a cast iron skillet right on the grill, to save on time threading kabobs, and grilling in a heavy duty foil. So easy and just enjoy the delicious taste of grilled flavor throughout!
Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe
Our favorite summertime food has always been grilled corn on the cob. Our new favorite is this herb-buttered version that you must try. This recipe is a great way to use up any herbs from your herb garden. The finished product is delicious, buttery and so fresh tasting!
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite sleepovers ever included a beautiful breakfast buffet for us in the morning. The parents got up early to make stacks of waffles and laid out a variety of toppings to make our own waffle creation. It was the stuff that little girl’s dreams are made of, piled high with whipped cream, strawberries, and unlimited syrup.
I want to be that mom who rises early and makes these sleepover dreams come true, but often I am the mom dragging her tail out of bed after telling the kids to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE, GO TO SLEEP IT IS THREE IN THE MORNING mom.
Are you her too?
That’s why I wanted to create a REALISTIC buffet that can be made in advance so you can just stumble into kitchen, put everything on the table, and curl up with a cup of coffee in bed with a little sweet silence.
Today I am partnering with Florida Department of Citrus to show you how to make this fun make-ahead sleepover breakfast buffet table complete with glasses of FLOJ for everyone at the party. Although waffle parties are fun, I wanted to create a healthy breakfast complete with a glass of Florida Orange Juice that provides 5 amazing nutrients in every glass for our guests. Not only are we loading our table with fresh fruit, but we are also getting, in just one single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice, our daily recommended serving of fruit! Winning!
Instead of spending your morning flipping pancakes, take a peek at my make-ahead recipe for breakfast burritos. This recipe yields eighteen delicious burritos and you can even make them gluten-free with the use of a gluten-free wrap. They are filled with eggs, turkey sausage, spiced potatoes, and cheese- yum!
Make these ahead and tuck them in your fridge or use these instructions for popping them in the freezer until the morning. The beauty in this one is that no matter what time they rise, each person can have a hot breakfast!
I made a simple breakfast bar with burrito toppings like olives, sour cream tomatoes, avocado, salsa, and sriracha. You can just chop and set this in the fridge on a cookie sheet for the big morning.
After warming their burritos, they can fill it with all of their favorites or simply put the toppings on top and dig in with a knife and fork.
Putting this spread together took me under an hour, even with all the chopping, and the best part is that I got to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even with a house full of kids. WINNING!
Thank you so much to Florida Department of Citrus for letting us share a make-ahead buffet with you. Be sure to kick back a glass of FLOJ for us and may your bedhead game be as strong as your coffee.
This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!
This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
I am raising a big fan of the Star Darlings series and we are so excited to giveaway an amazing prize pack today for a tween girl in your life. Today’s craft is to show you how to make a mini star cakes that you can prepare out of just 3 items from the grocery store. These cakes are easy enough that your kid can put these together and impressive enough to share with your friends.
Emily’s fangirl status of the Star Darlings series is truly legit because the #1 gift she wants to share with her friends are these books. They also are the books she has been taking to school each day to read during her reading free time. Is it just me or do you struggle with finding tween books that you can really get behind? These books are positive and minus the sass. I am all about girl power and positivity so I am thrilled that these have been such a hit in our house. I am also so happy she is sharing the same message with her friends.
As you may recall, we shared a really fun dreamcatcher we made together in honor of the first six books! Today we are sharing an easy craft your daughter can do together after she has read the books. Did you know that books 6-9 are out on store shelves now? Yay!
Not only have the next four books hit the shelves, but they also released StarDarlings Collection Volume #1 which is a brand new bind up book that includes the first three books in the StarDarlings series. You can learn lots more about the Star Darlings series on their webpage. They have also expanded their line to include a doll series and even an app to continue the positive messaging for tween girls. Cassie Comes Through, Piper’s Perfect Dream, Astra’s Mixed Up Mission, & Tessa’s Lost & Found are the new books keeping my daugher up late at night reading.
In honor of these sweet books, Emily & I have created an easy 3-ingredient star cake.
1 frozen prepared pound cake
2 tubs of frosting (you should only need one, but we offer the advice of two for heavy pourers- wink, wink!)
Star Cookie Cutter
Directions for Mini Star Cakes
1. Allow your pound cake to thaw for a few minutes and then, using a serrated knife, trim the top to level the cake. Slice the cake in half lengthwise. (I did this for my daughter, but she was able to do the rest on her own).
2. Using a cookie cutter, carefully cut out your star shapes and place them on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the frosting avalanche.
3. Divide your icing into two microwave safe bowls and tint to your desired colors. Place the frosting in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir the frosting and then place back in the microwave for another 10 seconds (or until the icing looks pourable).
4. Pour icing over the stars and finish with sprinkles. Allow these to harden and then eat your masterpiece.
I am so excited to be partnering this year with the Florida Department of Citrus to celebrate National OJ Day today. In celebration of this fun day, I wanted to create an interactive way you can enjoy a glass of FLOJ and craft up a cute funny faces cup with your kids.
Did you know that one glass of Florida Orange Juice provides a total of 5 amazing nutrients in every glass? In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar!
More importantly for me, as a busy mom always striving to get our fruits and veggies into our diet, it’s good to know that a single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit.
We wanted to celebrate National OJ Day in an interactive way so we have loads of cute printables for you to decorate your own Florida Orange Juice cup. A serving of fruit AND a fun way to keep kids busy? #winning
Print out our funny faces printable and have your child cut out the different mouths, shapes, noses, & Captain Citrus action graphics to decorate their cup. This is a fantastic way for your child to practice cutting.
Have your child flip each piece over and cover it in glue using their glue stick.
Finish by applying the pieces to the clear cups. Don’t forget to fill your glass with Florida Orange Juice
How fun is this? We hope that this post inspires you to celebrate today with your family. If that wasn’t fun enough today we are giving away a Florida Department of Citrus kit to one lucky reader. Follow the instructions in the widget below to enter to win!
I am the queen of adapting takeout food at home. From lo mein noodles to restaurant-worthy steaks to fish tacos, there is little that I haven’t been willing to try to save money. When I visited my friends in Colorado we enjoyed a delicious night of Indian takeout and I fell in love with Butter Chicken. Have you had it? It’s so rich and delicious, just as you would expect from its name. I knew when I got home that I wanted to attempt making the dish and I set out to find a recipe that would adapt to my small town supermarket.
One of the ingredients in this recipe is a spice combo called garam masala, that you will find is used in many Indian dishes. After standing in our spice aisle for a good half hour, I discovered our store did not have it (or apparently was out of it on the day I decided to be adventurous!). Since I had already visited three stores that day, I found this recipe for making your own garam masala spice combo out of spices you likely have lurking in your pantry. It was easy to know what I already had thanks to my newly organized spice cabinet and this saved me some money especially since I wasn’t sure if my family would love this dish as much as me. If your store doesn’t have this spice too, this diy recipe will do in a pinch or you can order the real stuff online.
With basmati rice in my rice cooker and my Ninja Cooker for my frying and then warming (The greatest gift of an appliance to busy moms. Amen. AND on sale. Ahem.), this was an easy dish to prepare and to double.
I also noticed that our ALDI has boneless skinless chicken thighs now and at around $4-5 for two pounds of meat, it is a very economical dish to make at home. You can basically make enough for your whole family instead of just indulging in one small takeout dish. For this frugal girl, that is a true bonus!
Although I intended to be flashy and show off my gluten-free naan to accompany this dish, I still need to work on tweaking the recipe.
Don’t worry, I haven’t given up yet (but maybe my poor mixer and dirty kitchen have).
If you haven’t had Butter Chicken before it is DIVINE and a great way to dip your toes into Indian cooking and eating. It’s a mildly spiced curry dish and you can do the majority of the preparations the night before which makes it an easy weeknight meal. The chicken is marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and a variety of spices (including that garam masala we talked about!) overnight. The next day, you simply cook the meat and add a creamy tomato sauce to finish it off.
I hope you can give this dish a spin in your house and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!
Butter Chicken is an affordable dish you can make at home instead of relying on takeout. Be sure to read my notes about substitutions for small town markets! Oh, and double it! You'll thank me!
½ cup full-fat plain yogurt (do not substitute with Greek yogurt!)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala (see my notes above to make your own spice combo)
½ tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper powder (you can go lighter if your family prefers a less spicy dish)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup tomato passata or puree (I used crushed tomatoes because that is what our store offered. If you prefer a smoother consistency substitute with tomato sauce and use a little tomato paste to thicken)
1 tbsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt
½ cup- ¾ cup heavy cream (we went a little lighter with half-and-half)
Combine the marinade ingredient in a bowl. Dice your chicken thigh meat and place in a food storage bag. Pour the sauce over the chicken, seal, and shake bag to coat your chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a large fry pan. Add the chicken coated in the Marinade and cook for around 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked on the outside. It has a yellow hue thanks to the tumeric!
Add the tomato passata (or crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce with the addition of a little tomato paste to thicken), sugar and salt. Turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt. Stir through the cream, then remove from heat.
Garnish with coriander/cilantro leaves if using. Serve with basmati rice.
I have discovered a new favorite food and it happens to be healthy for me too! Quinoa is a delicious protein-filled side or main dish that is as just as easy as rice to prepare. Today I want to show you how to make quinoa in your rice cooker. You won’t believe how easy it is to make rice cooker quinoa and the best part is that you can make a weekly batch and enjoy it all week long to add or create other dishes with.
What is Quinoa?
Thanks to a little site called Pinterest, quinoa is quickly becoming one of the hottest foods this year to try to create new recipes with.
Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron.
Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch.
What Does Quinoa Taste Like?
After cooking quinoa in a liquid of your choice (water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth), it becomes light, fluffy, and nutty. I find the flavor of quinoa to taste a little like couscous and a little like brown rice. It is one of those grains that is difficult to describe, but worth trying simply for the nutritional benefits it offers.
I Don’t Have a Rice Cooker. How Do I Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop?
To cook quinoa on the stove, measure two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa and combine them in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. This should take approximately fifteen minutes.
What Rice Cooker Do You Recommend?
A year ago I bought this inexpensive rice cooker for about $20 and I have been using it two to three times a week ever since. It provides consistently great brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, and quinoa for our family with very little work on my part. It does take up valuable space in my kitchen, but it has earned its rights to the space by saving me a lot of time hovering over pots!
Is Quinoa Good Plain?
I don’t really love quinoa plain, but I think it is a great building block for creating healthy dishes. For example, my favorite dish right now is to simply add the zest from one lemon to the cooking liquid (in the recipe I have shown you below). Then I chop a few handfuls of baby spinach and a pint of cherry tomatoes (halved) and place them in a large serving bowl. Cook the quinoa as directed and then put the hot quinoa on top of the spinach and tomatoes and allow it to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes with its heat for about five minutes. Then toss it all with the juice from one lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil. You can serve the salad warm or cold and I have found it to be a hit at every party I have ever taken it.
Other ingredients you can add are sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or white beans for a double whammy of protein power. Be creative with what you have leftover in your fridge, and put together your own flavorful combination.
Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water (Note: the brand pictured here does not require a rinse, but I wanted to show you how to do it if it does. Read the back of the box/bag to find out if rinsing is necessary).
Pour rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
Add your liquid and salt.
Turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker beeps, you will have perfectly cooked quinoa (approximately fifteen minutes)
Unplug the cooker. Allow quinoa to set for three to five minutes and then fluff with a fork.
Have you cooked with quinoa before? What is your favorite way to serve this food? Any tips or tricks for cooking it? I’m all ears!
Disclosure: The link to the rice cooker is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily.
Word must have spread how nuts our family is about these meals and the publishing house for the, Sheet Pan Suppers cookbook reached out to see if they could send me copy of the book to review. I had mentioned it had been on my radar, but my biggest struggles with cookbooks is that I don’t know how many gluten-free offerings are going to be in them and I have to stick to gluten-free meals in our house.
I was pleasantly surprised that the cookbook was well-balanced between gluten-filled offerings and gluten-free offerings. From appetizers to meats to vegetarian to brunch to dessert…this cookbook offers a little something for everyone. My biggest struggle was picking which recipe to start with. I figured the cover dish had to be a winner if it was showcased on the front of the book so we went with that. A delicious fish dish with fresh veggies tossed with a pistachio gremolata sounded like a winner for our house.
What is a Gremolata?
This was my first gremolata and I was intrigued by the pairing of pistachios with fish. If you haven’t heard of a gremolata before, you need not worry that this is out of your level of cooking expertise. This is a simple Italian condiment that is traditionally made with herbs, garlic, and lemon zest, and sometimes an accompaniment like pine nuts (or in this case, pistachios- YUM). You can use your food processor and pulse a few times (this is the one I have), but I prefer to avoid washing the food processor and opt for a quick hand chopper, which has been worth its weight in gold in my kitchen.
To save even more time, I purchased the pistachios already out of their shell at our supermarket. Although a bit pricier per pound, it saves a great deal of time on a busy weeknight or on a tired night with my vino in the evenings after a long day of running kids.
If you live somewhere where you have access to great fresh fish, the author utilizes Arctic Char in this recipe. In Indiana, salmon fillets are affordable and easy to come by in our frozen section of the store. Resting these on top of fresh asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and topped with lemons, this is a sheet pan guaranteed to satisfy all your taste buds. The gremolata adds the final touch on the cooked fish, adding that salty crunch that takes this from a basic meal to a restaurant-worthy one!
I really loved this cookbook and my family is already looking forward to us eating this again in our house! Thank you to the publishing house for sending us a copy of, Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert to give a spin in our kitchen! We are big fans!
Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata
Author: Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4 servings
An easy sheet pan meal with salmon and veggies topped with a quick pistachio gremolata for a fancy crunch to this beautiful dish. Company-worthy and easy? Winning!
1 bunch asparagus (roughly 1 pound total)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless fillets Arctic char, salmon or trout (5 to 6 ounces each)
½ medium red onion, sliced into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
½ lemon, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup roasted, salted, and shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 350 with a rack in the center position. Mist a sheet pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
Gently bend one asparagus spear between your fingers and snap off the bottom where it breaks easily. Line up the rest of the bunch and slice off the bottoms at the same distance from the tips. Place the trimmed asparagus on the prepared pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and spread the asparagus in an even layer.
Place the fish fillets on top of the asparagus, evenly spaced apart, and sprinkle with an extra pinch of salt and pepper. Scatter the onion, lemon slices and cherry tomatoes around and on top of the fish.
Bake until the asparagus is crisp-tender and the fish is almost opaque (20 to 30 minutes if using char, other types may vary). For my salmon, I cooked thawed fillet for just 12-15 minutes!!
While the fish cooks, mix together the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and pistachios in a small bowl- this is your gremolata.
Sprinkle the gremolata over the fish and asparagus before serving warm.
*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though!! xo
There are a few great gifts I give myself in the morning. The first, is to rise an hour earlier than necessary to get in an uninterrupted hour of reading (BLISS!). The second is to always program my coffeemaker the night before so I wake up to a fresh brew (HEAVEN!). The third? Packing my freezer with smoothie packets that make creating a morning smoothie filled with greens and fruits incredibly easy and practically effortless (WINNING AT LIFE).
I posted about my make-ahead smoothie packets on Instagram and got a lot of questions about it. Something I have come to think of as a weekly routine really sparked a lot of questions about my recipe, what the smoothie looked like, and what to do for fruit substitutions. I thought it deserved its own little post because it has become a very vital part of my morning routines and sets a good foundation for healthy eating the rest of the day.
Not only does this strategy save you time in the morning, but it also puts ripe fruit to work and is a great way to utilize spinach before it goes bad making the most of every grocery dollar. I never waste a banana in our house or any greens anymore because they always have a home. If I have run out of frozen berries, I just add the rest of these ingredients into a packet and get them ready for my next grocery day when I can get the frozen fruit to add to it. As someone trying to reduce their food waste, this has been an awesome use for those often tossed items.
Also, if you buy smoothies regularly, you know they are not cheap. A typical smoothie around these parts (said in my best Midwest accent) is around $4-6. Even if bought weekly, that can add up fast!
Here were a few of your questions for me!
Do you store these packets in the freezer and for how long?
Yup, I recommend freezing in quart-sized freezer storage bags and making sure to push out any air in the bags to keep these ingredients as fresh as possible. I would recommend using these in one month for optimum flavor.
How many smoothies do these packets make?
I drink an enormous smoothie in the morning (24 ounces) and my daughter has the size I am showing you in the cup below and this packet with my recipe I have listed makes enough for that. For “normal” people, maybe it might make three, but this is my breakfast, people, and I’m a big eater. I got one of these for me to help make toting these in the car a little easier since I drink these on the way to the gym in the morning. I also have this giant water bottle from the same company and it has improved how much water I intake as well as my healthy smoothie habit for breakfast. I have been happy how they have held up (over a year now!) compared to some other insulated cups I have tried.
Do you blend these with milk or use a milk substitution?
My stomach can’t process a lot of dairy so I use unsweetened almond milk in mine. I do use Greek yogurt though (either vanilla or unsweetened) and that doesn’t seem to bother me. You can definitely use milk, soy milk, or coconut milk if you would prefer. I’m a big fan of the flavor of the almond milk!
Can I make these without spinach? I don’t think my kids will drink these if they are green!
I just want to show you how very slightly these are tinged with green when you only add a cup or so of spinach to them. Additionally, if I am really concerned an extra handful of frozen blueberries cancels out all other colors so sometimes if I am really generous with the blueberries, these look more blue.
Are you using frozen spinach? Frozen berries? What does the spinach look like when it is frozen?
Here is a packet that has been frozen for three weeks and this is what it looks like. The spinach is fresh spinach (I don’t want to hassle with the frozen stuff- personal preference), the berries are frozen, and the bananas are fresh. I like to cut the bananas in half to help them break down a little easier in the blender. As you can see, the spinach looks almost the same as it did when I threw it in there.
The bananas may brown over time, but they will still taste the same. As rapidly as we go through these though, I have rarely even seen that happen.
By freezing these fruits and veggies, you eliminate the need for ice in your smoothie which creates a much creamier consistency and a smoothie that holds together longer. Sometimes I will make these in the morning and pop one in the fridge for my daughter for her afternoon snack. It always looks just like I had just made it. When I add water or ice, it tends to separate and grosses her out.
Should I flash freeze any of the ingredients?
If you aren’t familiar with flash freezing, I do this a lot with foods for our freezer. Typically, I fan whatever I am freezing out on an open parchment paper lined cookie sheet, freeze just until frozen, and then toss in a bag.
I experimented with this and here is what I will say about that. You can cut the bananas in half and flash freeze and they will stay separated, making it easier to pour into your blender and it is really great. It’s an extra step though. My lazy freezer routine is to cut them in half right in the bag, freeze (where they tend to fuse back together) and then smack the bag as hard as I can on the counter until they loosen from each other while I listen to the political crap insight on NPR. It’s kind of like a therapy session. You can do it whichever way fits your lifestyle best.
What kind of protein powder do you use? What can I use if I am vegan or dairy-free?
When I was dairy-free, I experimented with a lot of terrible protein powders so I can honestly tell you this is the only brand that I really liked that was plant-based. Now that I’m not dairy-free, I just purchase the store brand protein powder at our local grocery store in a vanilla flavor. Like I said, we had to try a few before we found the ones we liked best and I always try to keep my eyes peeled for a sale to maximize the savings. The goal is to keep this as a frugal routine for us.
What kind of blender do you have?
I have had the same blender for probably eight years or so and, unfortunately, they don’t make mine anymore. When mine bites the bullet, I will probably invest in this one because I have heard they last forever. In order to blend up these fruits, you really need to have a high powered blender though. If you have a $20 blender, it will burn out your motor. I say this because I did it. Twice. Invest in a good blender and it will more than pay for itself, I promise you!
I can’t eat bananas. Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for my smoothie?
Do your kids really like these? My kids are really picky!
They really do and so do I. My daughter was a terrible breakfast eater, like her mother, and I worried a lot that she wasn’t eating enough to be fueled for her day at school. This is what she “eats” and she stays full until lunchtime. If she is running late, it is something that can be finished while she waits for her bus. Fun straws are always a great addition to this morning treat especially when first pitching this idea to your kids. She says it tastes like a milkshake.
For me, it’s been an incredible way to get fueled before I workout. Working out on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea for someone with low blood sugar. Eating something too heavy made me feel like I was going to be sick. These smoothies are a great option to be fueled without a lot of heaviness in my stomach. Sometimes I drink half and pop it in the fridge until I get done exercising and finish the other half when I’m done.
I hope these tips are helpful and I hope you love these as much as our family does!