Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

This time of year is so truly magical, isn’t it? I not only love the colors and smells of the season, but the flavors this time of year are so cozy and wonderful.

I’ve been craving those autumn and winter spices lately and wanted to find a healthy way to satisfy my sweet tooth. This recipe was modified through one shared by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, when I first found it, it sounded amazing but I know that my stomach really struggles with milk so I needed to find a way to create something similar without the dairy.

This is my favorite dessert right now! It totally tastes like a drinkable pumpkin pie and there is no guilt involved. For the past few months I have been trying to eat healthier and as I have cut more processed sugar out of my diet I have noticed a big difference. I thought I would notice the change by feeling more fit – which is true, but more importantly I have felt more positive on an emotional level.

This recipe will make either 2 small snack smoothies or 1 meal size smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 almond milk yogurt alternative
  • 3/4 coconut milk (vanilla or original)
  • a little honey if you use unsweetened milk
  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ground cloves

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into glass container (or metal, or ceramic, or anything not plastic) and enjoy!

This is an easy way to enjoy dessert without feeling guilty! Or, if you are in need of a little pick-me-up midweek for breakfast, forget the sugary cereal or breakfast bar and make yourself this smoothie! It makes every day a good day, if I do say so myself!

What are your favorite dessert and breakfast smoothies?

love & light,

Lena

10 Reasons to Join a Crop Share

This past summer my husband and I decided to join a crop share through one of the local farms here in West Michigan! Our interest was sparked when a couple of our neighbors told us they were members of this particular crop share during a game night. We are so fortunate to have such like-minded friends living in our neighborhood – they’ve introduced us to so many community resources that we love!

Here are 10 wonderful reasons we’ve found for joining a local crop share…

  1. Supporting local business and agriculture. We all know how important it is for our local business owners and economy to support them!
  2. Eat local and seasonal. Eating local has so many benefits, many of them listed in this post!
  3. Connecting with local community. It is a wonderful thing to become closer with individuals in your community. Plus, if those people are also members of your crop share, you most likely have similar values.
  4. Building a positive relationship with your food and where it comes from. In todays busy world we are used to eating fast and rushing to the next thing on our “to-do” list. Eating local fresh produce allows you to not only to appreciate the way your food tastes, but where it came from, and all of the love and labor that when into harvesting it!
  5. Fresher produce. When your fruits and vegetables come from a local farm, you get them sooner because they don’t need to be shipped. Because of this the produce tastes fresher, better, and can be more nutrient rich.
  6. Less pollution caused by shipping produce thousands of miles.
  7. Produce is picked at its peak for ultimate health benefits and flavor since it doesn’t need be sent long distances.
  8. Enjoy your food again. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown makes eating a much more enjoyable event.
  9. Safer food. When you decide which farm to buy your produce from, you have the ability to be fully informed on the chemicals and methods used to produce your food.
  10. Encourages a plant-based diet. We still eat meat occasionally (once or twice a week) but I can’t believe how much better I feel when I am eating a plant-based diet. With our crop share, we get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to inspire our mostly-plant meals! Note: If you simply cannot stand life without meat, choose a farm that offers a Meat Crop Share option! 

What about you? Have you tried a crop share? What about buying your fresh produce locally? What surprising benefits have you experienced by making this easy change?

love & light,

Lena

zero waste cold brew coffee

It took me a really long time to jump on the cold brew coffee bandwagon. When I first heard about it all I could imagine was how bitter my coffee tastes when it has been sitting out a little too long and is a tepid room temperature. That is probably my least favorite taste. I love coffee when it is hot and I love coffee when it is ice cold, but anything in between is not acceptable.

My recent morning obsession has been a cup of cold brew coffee! I love that I can make a big batch and it’ll stay good all week long in the fridge – that makes my morning rush a lot easier.

This is an awesome zero-waste coffee option for anyone who needs convenience (& caffeine) in the morning too! I use the same glass jar every week, the grounds can be composted, and the cheesecloth can be reused! If you like the idea of cold brew but you like your coffee hot, this brew can be warmed up in the microwave and still tastes amazing!

Have you been wanting to make your own cold brew but haven’t known how to begin? No worries. Here are the simple steps I follow when making my own:

Directions:

  1. Grind your favorite whole bean coffee to a coarse ground. If you don’t enjoy grinding your beans fresh like we do, that’s okay, you can buy in bulk at the grocery store an
  2. d have them coarsely ground there!
  3. Place grounds at the bottom of your glass jar and fill with cold water. You should have a 1 part coffee to 8 parts water ratio, roughly!
  4. Cover jar and shake to combine well.
  5. Let steep in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours – I have let mine go as long at 48 hours before, it makes a strong coffee but I still love it! You can always add more water if it is too strong to enjoy.
  6. Place cheesecloth over the container you plan to store your coffee in and strain coffee into container.
  7. Store in the fridge and enjoy for the next week!

Tip: Carry your coffee in a reusable container and compost your coffee grounds!

Personally I usually drink my cold brew black but occasionally I like to add a little honey or coconut milk. This brewing method is my favorite because it takes all of the acidity out of the coffee but still leaves the bold flavor.

Have you experimented with cold brew at home? What are your favorite variations or ways to dress it up? I would love to hear your suggestions!

love & light

Lena

Bee’s Knees Honey Cocktail

I think honey is one of my favorite things on Earth, at least the organic, local, raw kind of honey. Growing up, I never liked that store bought, mass produced, clover honey but when I had my first taste of raw locally sourced honey, my fate was sealed. If it was acceptable for me to have a spoonful of honey for dessert every night, I probably would. But I can’t – so instead I’ll enjoy this lovely honey cocktail instead.

I discovered this cocktail while Will and I were testing out different signature cocktails for our August wedding. As soon as I read about the Bee’s Knees, I knew it was the cocktail for me! Not only because it has honey in it but because of the name too! Growing up my Dad would always call me Queen Bee, or Bee for short. Now at home Will calls me Bee too, so it is an ongoing theme in my life. My love for honey was merely coincidental…

This cocktail became popular during Prohibition – the honey and lemon were used to mask the not-so-lovely smell of bathtub gin. If it earned its name by being “the best” or the bee’s knees when it was made with bathtub gin, that gives you an idea of how amazing it tastes with a quality gin!

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 oz. homemade honey syrup
  • 2 oz. gin

Directions:

  1.  Make your homemade honey syrup by combining equal parts honey and water and heating it on medium low over the stovetop until completely combined – do NOT bring it to a boil. (Note: One cocktail calls for 1 ounce of syrup, I usually combine a half cup honey and half cup water and store it in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 5 days – but it is usually gone before I get to day 5…)
  2. In a cocktail shaker combined fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, gin, and ice.
  3. Shake vigorously and strain into glass. We use a coupe glass or martini glass.

Optional: Garnish with lemon twist!

So there you have it, my favorite refreshing summertime cocktail!

When we talk about maintaining life-balance one important thing is to make room for equal parts work and play. When it comes to play, Will and I have fun making artisan cocktails at home on the weekends and in the summer. Sometimes having a little something special at home, like this, is fun way give yourself a treat at the end of the day!

(*Also, here is a bonus picture of little Amelia, always loving the camera..)

What do you think? What are your favorite summertime cocktails to make at home?

love & light,
Lena