Monthly Archives: October 2013

Is it too late in the Fall for apple posts?? I hope not!!

We have been going to pick apples at the same orchard in Southwest Michigan for the last 7 or 8 years.


Sweet little Jake picking apples for the first time in 2008




Hailey getting a lift from Daddy at the orchard in 2008



In 2009, it was freezing cold and rainy and Jake was just miserable. Not many pictures from that trip!!!


A little bit bigger – picking apples at Jollay Orchards in 2010



Climbing up the ladder to pick apples in 2011



With their haul in 2011


This year, we lucked out with a gorgeous Fall day….



We were able to pick golden delicious and granny smith apples, but the golden delicious have by far been our favorite!!!


Being silly with their apples – I guess these apples passed the smell test!!!



A little bit bigger, but still getting a lift from Daddy to get the good apples at the top of the tree!

The very first thing that I made with our apples was crockpot applesauce. This hardly needs a recipe – it was about 10-12 apples, peeled and chopped with a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, slow cooked on low for a few hours. I left it pretty chunky and served it for dinner with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes and it was devoured before I could even take a picture!

Then, I decided to make some muffins with it. I have mentioned the grain-free raspberry muffins that I have been making lately. I love the nutritional profile of them, but wanted something more seasonal and thought apples and cinnamon would be a great addition.



Personally, I don’t mind eating these cold when I’m on the go, but they are amazing sliced and toasted or warmed up a bit. I even crumbled one into my Greek yogurt the other day for breakfast and it was SO good.


If you are experimenting with some of the grain-free flours or gluten-free recipes, I highly recommend giving these muffins a try!


Cinnamon Apple Muffins (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, no refined sugar)


2 c. almond meal/almond flour (you can make this by grinding blanched almonds in your blender until flour consistency)

3 T. coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1/3 c. pure maple syrup

1/4 c. melted coconut oil

1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce (I used the tiny bit of leftover homemade applesauce that we had)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin pan with melted coconut oil or butter. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine wet and dry and fold in chopped apples. Fill muffin pan 2/3 full and bake 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.









Hello!!!! Happy Wednesday!

Today got off to an amazing start! I was just telling my husband that I needed something new to mix up my workouts a bit. Then last night I got a text that a friend of mine was teaching a spin class in the morning. Just what I needed!

So, I made up this smoothie quickly before I headed out this morning. Absolute favorite new smoothie right here!! If you are into protein smoothies, you must try this!!!!


Ingredients:  1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 chopped up apple, 1 T. ground flax, 1 tsp cinnamon, sprinkle of nutmeg and ground cloves, 5 ice cubes…..blend it up until nice and smooth!

The ground flax will add a bit of a “texture” to the smoothie so if you’re not sure about that, you can leave it out. Or toss a little almond butter or dry oatmeal in there – just something to give it that “nutty” flavor of the pie crust.

The spin class was awesome and I was a sweaty mess with limp noodle legs afterwards. I can’t wait to go back next week!!!

I was starving and had an early lunch.  I made a Kale and Goat Cheese “omelette”.  I say that in quotes because I have don’t have the patience or the pan to make a proper omelette! So I sauteed some kale in a little grass-fed butter and threw in 2 eggs plus 1 egg white and topped it all off with a little bit of goat cheese and pressed it all together to sort of resemble an omelette. I had some organic red grapes with it.



My snack this afternoon was a spin on these Granola Energy Bites. I make a batch of these almost every single week for the kids lunches and snacks. For this batch, I reduced the amount of oatmeal and subbed in some protein powder instead (these are more for me, not necessarily the kids).



Darren offered to make dinner tonight since the we have after-school activity craziness on Wednesday nights. I am planning to start doing more crockpot meals on Wednesday nights, but wasn’t going to turn down his offer to cook. Especially after he made a special trip to the health food store to buy some local, free-range, grass-fed meats!  I love that we have found this great source for meat!!  They are located in Ravenna, MI and offer meats that are “raised on fresh air and sunshine and without grains, antibiotics, and growth stimulants…allowed to live low stress lives.”  The amazing thing is that these range in cost from $4.79 to $5. 29, which is cheaper than the factory farmed meats from our regular grocery store!



He always goes all out with his meals.  Tonight it was Swedish Meatballs, which I had with mashed cauliflower and some green beans. I always think food tastes so much better when someone else cooks it for me!! This was heavenly!!!!



That’s all for today. Have a great night!!!!!

Are you taking advantage of all of the great Fall produce at the markets right now? This is a great time to experiment with different squashes and varieties of apples. We are going to pick apples this weekend, and I am excited to try out some new recipes and some old favorites…crockpot apple butter and Butternut Squash Apple Curry Soup.

Looking around the grocery store while shopping this week, I realized I had not bought any pears yet this Fall. Did you know that this seemingly simple fruit is full of amazing health benefits?!! For starters, pears are one of the highest fiber containing fruits, contributing about 6 grams in each medium-sized pear towards our daily goal of 25 to 30 grams. This helps to keep your digestive system working properly, lower levels of bad cholesterol, and reduce the risk of stroke. Pears are naturally high in vitamins C and K, as well as nutrients such as copper—all of which act as antioxidants to protect our cells from damage from free radicals. The wonderful combination of fiber and antioxidants in pears helps to prevent many different types of cancers.  Some other unique health benefits:

  • Pears contain boron, which our bodies need in order to retain calcium, so this fruit can also be linked to prevention of osteoporosis.
  • The hydroxycinnamic acid found in pears is also associated with preventing stomach and lung cancer.
  • Quercetin is another antioxidant found in the skin of pears. It helps prevent cancer and artery damage that can lead to heart problems, and a recent study at Cornell University found it may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

I honestly had no idea that pears were so healthy since I am always emphasizing the fruits and veggies with deep dark colors like berries and leafy greens. I will definitely be adding pears into the mix more often!

This salad is one of my absolute favorite Fall salads and it just so happens to feature pears. We had it for dinner last night with roast beef and veggies.  It was so good that I had it again for lunch today!  I have also served this with our Thanksgiving dinner in the past.

Start with a base of red romaine or spring mix (I used a combination of both). Layer on some lightly toasted walnuts, thin strips of red onion, and some crumbled blue cheese. Top with the thinly sliced pears just before serving so that they don’t brown.



Top it off with this sweet and spicy maple dressing that complements the salad perfectly!


Sweet and Spicy Maple Vinaigrette


2 T 100% pure maple syrup

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 T. extra virgin olive oil


Mix all ingredients in a sealed glass jar and shake vigorously. Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator.  This amount of dressing is enough for a very large family-sized salad or to make multiple smaller salads throughout the week.

So after a couple of “Thursday Night Pizza Nights” this crust has officially been deemed blogworthy!!!!

Healthy Plate Happy Family Paleo Eggplant Pizza Crust

If you are new to the blog, we have a family tradition (for the past 6? 7? years) to make pizza every Thursday night. I almost always make homemade whole wheat crust, unless we are in a huge time crunch. Then I will occasionally buy the store-bought 100% whole wheat organic crusts.

Our homemade crust is very good and we all love it. It’s especially great when you throw it on the grill! But I am always on the lookout for something a little lighter and more nutritious since we eat it every week. I have used everything from an Ezekiel clean-ingrediet pocket bread to these Millet and Flax Lavash flatbreads. I have also tried cauliflower crusts, just out of curiosity, since they seem to be crazy popular around the blog and Pinterest world. But, honestly, I just didn’t dig them.

Then I ran across a photo of an Eggplant crust and decided to give it a try. WOW! Instant obsession!!!!

Yummy Eggplant Pizza Crust by Healthy Plate Happy Family

To be honest, they are a little work. But you can make a bunch at one time and freeze them. I promise the taste is amazing!!!! Don’t expect it to be a “bread-y” replica of doughy pizza crust. It is a different texture. But still a healthy, tasty way to enjoy pizza!!

If you give this a try, please let me know what you think!!! I would love to hear if you like it as much as me :)

Paleo Eggplant Pizza Crust by Healthy Plate Happy Family

Eggplant Pizza Crust (paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)


1 whole eggplant

1/4 cup almond meal or almond flour

2 T. coconut flour

2 T. ground flax, flaxmeal, or ground chia seeds

1 egg

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Olive Oil or Parchment Paper (this crust is sticky!!!!)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the eggplant. This may be easier if you slice the eggplant into a couple of big chunks. Then grate the eggplant with a cheese grater – be prepared to get your arm workout for the day!!! :)

Put the pile of shredded eggplant into a couple of paper towels or cheesecloth, if you have it, and wring out all of the excess moisture. Do NOT skip this step!

Place eggplant and other ingredients into a bowl and mix well.

Grease a pan very well with olive oil or lay down a sheet of parchment paper.

Place the pizza “dough” onto the pan and shape into a thin round crust.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Flip over and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

At this point, you can freeze the crust. Or top with desired toppings and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Broil, if necessary, to get the cheese slightly browned and bubbly.

**Notes – I doubled this recipe and made it into 3 personal-pizza sized crusts since I’m the only one that eats these. Darren gave them the thumbs up approval, but he prefers his regular pizza :)

Happy Wednesday!

This is the day that I usually try to do a “What I Ate Wednesday” post to show everything that I ate during the course of the day.

This morning, I was really excited to have breakfast waiting for me in the fridge – overnight oats are the best for busy mornings!

Overnight Pumpkin Oats with cranberries and walnuts

Last night, I mixed up:

  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 (heaping) T. chia seeds
  • 1 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

This morning, I topped it with some chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. You can always throw it in the microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off if cold oats aren’t your thing.

I spent the morning getting things done around the house and then got to head out and paddle with a friend. Another gorgeous Fall day here!  I love paddleboarding because it gives me the chance to be outdoors, socialize with friends, and get my workout in all at the same time!

20131009-221203.jpg   20131009-221219.jpg


We paddled for over an hour and I was starving when I got home! Lunch was some of the leftover California Quinoa Salad from yesterday. I am loving this stuff!!! I promise you that it is worth the effort to chop all of the ingredients to make this salad. Good stuff!!!!


California Quinoa Salad


I was pretty busy the rest of the afternoon and needed a snack after running some errands. This is my second batch of these grain-free raspberry coconut muffins that I have made in the last two weeks. I bought some coconut flour awhile back and have been wanting to experiment with it, so I tried these muffins (and a new pizza crust recipe to come!).  I was really impressed with the texture of them. And they have a great nutritional profile – 150 calories, 7 grams of (healthy) fat, 5 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein!!  They have become my afternoon snack staple!


Grain-free coconut raspberry muffins


For dinner, we grilled up a marinated steak and made fajitas. I turned mine into a Steak Fajita Salad topped with guacamole and my favorite Trader Joe’s Garlic Chipotle Salsa.


Steak Fajita Salad by Healthy Plate Happy Family


That’s it for today. Have a great night!

This past Spring Break, we took a family trip out to California….and pretty much fell in love with it. We especially loved Southern California! Luckily, being in the Stand Up Paddleboard business, we have a lot of opportunities to travel out there. Actually, Darren just spent a week in Laguna Beach and Coronado for some meetings, networking, and a race. I loved seeing all of the pictures, but was kind of bummed that I didn’t get to make the trip with him this time. I shouldn’t complain too much since we have some pretty awesome beaches and trails near us. Whenever I need my “beach fix” I just head across the street to this….



Today was the perfect day for a jog on the trails –


running the stairs-



and a cool down walk on the beach –



Ending with a few yoga poses since I missed my usual class this morning.


I was definitely ready for lunch by the time I got home!  It only seemed fitting to make this quinoa salad inspired by the flavors of California. My fellow SUP and yoga-loving friend made this for me this summer and I completely forgot about it until just recently.

It’s a lot of chopping…..

California Quinoa Salad Ingredients by Healthy Plate Happy Family


But I promise it’s worth it!

California Quinoa Salad by Healthy Plate Happy Family


California Quinoa Salad

Ingredients (amounts are estimates, use more or less based on your taste preference!)

1 cup quinoa (red, white or a mix)

1 ripe mango, diced

1/4 large red onion, finely chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup pre-steamed or frozen edamame (shelled)

1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

1/2 avocado, diced

1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

handful of cilantro, chopped

2 T. balsamic vinegar (she suggests fig vinegar if you have it, but I used balsamic)

juice of 1/2 of a lime

1 T. olive oil


Rinse quinoa and cook according to package. I usually bring mine to a low boil (covered) for about 15 minutes and then let it sit covered off the heat for another 10 minutes. Place in a dish to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Chop all veggies and toast almonds if necessary.

Mix balsamic, lime juice, and olive oil.

Combine cooled quinoa with all of the other ingredients and toss with dressing. Season with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.


What a day! Super busy morning and a dead phone battery meant no What I Ate Wednesday pics :(

Luckily, there was a little time this afternoon for this…..

stand up paddleboarding


Seriously gorgeous Fall day! I couldn’t pass it up!

Pure Michigan


With Michigan weather, any day could be our last day out on the water, so we had to take advantage of it.

paddle yoga


Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about dinner since it was already prepped. I threw a jar of my mom’s canned summer tomatoes into the Crockpot with a few fresh veggies and dried herbs and made my first homemade marinara sauce. Have you ever tried this? I had no idea it was so easy! And it made the house smell amazing! It was kind of an experiment so I don’t have an exact recipe yet.

I do have an awesome recipe for the meatballs that went with it though!

spinach feta turkey meatballs


I actually made these on Sunday. I used the spinach feta turkey mixture to make a burger and just rolled the rest into meatballs and baked them. They are easy and come together really fast. And they are out of this world good! I served the meatballs and marinara over a bed of spaghetti squash that was roasted earlier in the day.


Spinach Feta Turkey Meatballs (or burger)


1 lb of lean ground turkey (see if you have the option of some local ground turkey or organic since the regular grocery store stuff contains extra flavoring additives)

Spinach (a big handful or two of fresh or you can use about 1/2 a bag of frozen spinach, defrosted, water squeezed out)

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1 egg, beaten

Salt and Pepper


If making meatballs, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Chop spinach finely if using fresh. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Form into patties or meatballs. To make burgers, cook patties over medium heat for about 6 minutes on each side. For meatballs, sear in the skillet to brown the meatballs and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

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