Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fuel Your Family: Chocolate Almond Protein Bites

Our family takes "active" to a whole new level in the summertime. Last week, our schedule included 3 play-dates, a soccer tournament, 2 soccer games, 2 baseball games, and 2 different hockey camps, plus various practices, library runs, and errands. All that running can leave us worn out and HUNGRY, which is why I love this healthy and yummy snack.
On days when we have multiple events, I always pack a cooler with drinks and healthy snacks. I usually grab things like fruit, cheese sticks, and granola bars, but homemade energy bites are a perennial fave. I've made different versions of this recipe in the past- that's part of its beauty; it's very flexible and can be easily adapted to the ingredients you have on hand. 
The good folks at General Mills were kind enough to send me a box full of protein-packed goodies as the inspiration for this recipe (and an awesome bicycle bag that my kids quickly nabbed). I wanted to make something healthy, tasty, and simple that would help fuel my family during our busy summer.
Chocolate Almond Protein Bites
{yield: about 20 "bites"}
1 cup oats
1/2 cup chocolate almond butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Cheerios Protein (Cinnamon Almond flavor)
1/4 cup chopped goji berries (cranberries or raisins would also work well)
1/3 cup honey
1 T.  ground flax seed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Stir everything together in a medium bowl until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (this helps everything hold together a bit better).

Once chilled, roll into 1-inch balls. I used a cookie scoop; it worked like a charm, and I didn't get my hands all sticky. Store in an airtight container (I like to keep mine refrigerated).
 My family LOVED these things. They are a great, energy- packed snack for summer!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Full Swing Into Summer

Happy first day of summer! We jumped into summer at full speed as soon as Caitlin finished school. Since then, it's been a whirlwind of baseball practice, soccer tournaments, and hockey camps. Throw in some mega cleaning and organizing projects and the days have been flying by. At this pace, I'm better at sharing on Instagram than here, so be sure to check there for more frequent updates. 

 Caitlin and Hunter actually collaborated to sort and organize all their Legos. I'll take any cooperation I can get from these two, even if it is short-lived.

 In the hopes of inspiring a bit of creativity this summer, I put all our art supplies out where they would be easily accessible, not to mention look pretty on display.
 It worked too! We collaborated on some summer chalk art and made watercolor rainbow fish.

Hunter has been baseball crazy.

 And Caitlin has been consumed by soccer. She has to get in the zone on the way to games with her tunes.

She had a big tournament over Father's Day weekend, so we treated Chris to breakfast between games.

The kids got Chris got a smoothie maker and we've been putting it to good use already.

 I put some of my pretty blue transfer ware on display. I love the pop of pink from the peonies. My favorite summer flower!

And I finally tackled my disastrous upstairs linen closet. Now if I could just get motivated to paint the door and trim. Being on the second floor, it's easy to procrastinate and let the "out of sight, out of mind" things go. Someday!

Even with all the busy-ness, we've managed to squeeze in some relaxing cuddle time. Sam is a spaz most of the time, but he does love to snuggle.
Happy Summer!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Books for the Armchair Traveler

With summer break fast approaching, many of us will be setting off on vacations, road trips, and adventures. If, however, like me, you will be putting the "stay" in stay-cation, you can still do a bit of arm-chair exploring with some great books set in exotic locals.

I've read these three books over the last month or so, and enjoyed each one thoroughly. The are set in wildly different locals and time periods, but each transported me to a unique setting and introduced some unique characters.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I know I'm a bit late to the party in discovering this series (published in 2001, it's since been made into a TV series on HBO), but I'm already hooked. Set in Botswana, this book chronicles the adventures of Precious Romatswe, proprietor of the detective agency from which the book takes its title. Mme Romatswe is all that is charming: clever, wise, and confident, she reminded me of bit of Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple." Mme Romatswe tackles everything from snakes to kidnappers, but her heroic actions are tempered with gentle humor and a pervading love of Africa.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Another book that has been around for ages but that I've just gotten to, this memoir is every bit as delicious as the recipes Julia Child perfected. Having seen "Julie and Julia," I was familiar with a bit of Julia's biography, but this book renewed my admiration for her bravery, persistence, and immense talent. Julia's lively spirit infuses this story of her struggle to master the art of French cooking, and how she shared that mastery with the rest of us.

A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside by Susan Branch
A must-read for any Anglophile, this book is part love story, part travel guide. It's filled with pretty photos, charming illustrations, clever quotes, and yummy recipes. Susan shares her journey over the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, and throughout England including stops at Beatrix Potter's farm and Jane Austen's home (be still my lit-loving heart!). Seriously, it is my dream vacation, all packaged up in a sweet little book. Until I can make it there, this book is a wonderful substitute.

I've got a long list of books I want to read this summer, but if you're looking for a book that will transport you to another time and/or place, I recommend any of the above. Happy Reading and Bon Voyage!