Hit the Re-Start Button – Join Us This September

It’s been a great summer!  For many of us, there has been downtime, traveling, fun in the sun, and lots of crazy good times.  Likely there’s been some difficulty, frustration, and troubled days too.  Perhaps there have also been a few more than normal ice cream cones and trips through the fast food lane.  No worries.  We’re not perfect, nor are we health-nut-Nazis.

But now that Fall is upon us, who’s ready to settle into a nice routine?  Who’s ready to get some healthy food prepared ahead of time, get the house more organized and manageable, fine-tune the budget, start exercising regularly, get the natural medicine cabinet stocked for winter – any or all of the above?!

I always feel this way when September hits.  I super-love the flexibility of summer.  But I’m ready for routine, I’m ready to find more organization in my days, and I’m ready to breathe in a fresh breath of all that this season offers.

Who is with me?  Let’s hit the Restart button!

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Through the entire month of September, we’ll be hitting the restart button together around here.  We’ll have new recipes, freebies, sales, rockin’ giveaways, tips and ideas, and encouragement.  Hey, I’m doing this for me as much as I’m doing it for you.  Actually, technically, you’re doing this for me.  Sharing these ideas refreshes me – so thanks for the kick.  Bam.  Smack that Restart Button!  Here we go.

First off – let’s start with a giveaway.  All the books, eBooks, and eCourses in my shop are geared toward making your real food journey easier.  They’ll help you hit the restart button – so how about we give some away?  Leave a comment on this post sharing what you’re most excited about this fall as you hit the restart button.  Wednesday, September 3 I’ll draw 5 random winners who will each win a $10 gift certificate that can be used on any downloadable product or eCourse we carry.  Let your comments begin:

What are you most excited about this Fall as you hit the Restart Button?

Share Your Story: Teaching At-Risk Youth to Cook

Welcome to one of our newest features here at Heavenly Homemakers! I love hearing the stories of how you are using the recipes you find on our site or in our books. Do you have a story to share? Take a picture or two, then email me with the details of how you use your favorite Heavenly Homemaker recipe.  Share your story!

Share Your Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Story

This story, sent in by another gal by the name of Laura, is so inspiring!!

I wish I had pictures, but I don’t.  I had asked you a couple years ago for permission to use your Learn to Cook cookbook with my husband’s job. He worked with at-risk youth and had asked me to teach a cooking class once a week. I had eight students. Many of them were single parents and really still children themselves.

They were skeptical about some of my planned lessons from your book and balked at meal-planning homework. The week we made your Creamy Mac and Cheese.  I had brought in a boxed version so we could compare ingredients. They were shocked at how good the real stuff was and how easy it had been to make.

The week I made the Italian Pasta Bake they were unsure about cooking noodles in sauce, but when I left my portion on top of the stove while my children and I visited with coworkers we returned to find half of our dinner pilfered and several students raving about how good my snack was. Unfortunately my kids had to have fast food that night since we were headed to church after class.

The students kept coming back to see what new yummy thing we would learn to make using real ingredients and take home to share with their families.  Many of them planned to try other recipes in the book.

Thank you for sharing your book with these young people. It helped me have a place to start in teaching about healthy eating and encouraging children to eat well too.

What a fantastic way to bless and empower youth.  Thank you, Laura A., for ministering in this way and for sharing your story with us!

Keep sending in your Heavenly Homemakers recipe stories.  These are so fun to read and share!  :)

Coconut Fudge Bars

Whether it’s because I’m getting older or getting healthier, my body no longer handles sugar well.  This is a great problem to have, obviously.  I’m really quite grateful, as I used to eat wayyyyyyyy too much sugar.  But what is a chocolate lover to do when she has a chocolate craving?  Suck on a bar of unsweetened chocolate?  Mmmm, no.

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries to the rescue.  Also, last week I played with my Chewy Granola Bars recipe.  I used to make them with chocolate chips – but that obviously adds extra sugar.  This time, I came up with a dark chocolate variety that is only lightly sweet, super coconuty, and oh so chocolaty rich.

Coconut Fudge Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and cocoa.  Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut flakes.  Spread mixture into a 9×9 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.  Makes 8-16 bars, depending on how big/small you cut them.

Coconut Fudge Bars

These store best in the fridge, otherwise they are melty and will get chocolate all over your hands and face.  If this is not a problem for you, by all means, store them on the countertop.  If you want to pack these in a lunch, I recommend wrapping them individually, freezing them, and sending a spoon or fork along to make them less messy for the consumer.  If having chocolate all over your child’s hands and face at school is not a problem for you, by all means, send them without a utensil.

These are super rich and only barely sweet.  Feel free to add more honey if you prefer.

So tell me:  Are you a dark chocolate fan?

Back-to-School Lunch Box Cards ~ New Free Printable

In celebration of all the back-to-school fun this time of year, we made another set of Lunch Box Cards for you to download and enjoy.  Print these, cut them apart, add your own personal message, then place them in your child’s lunch box.  Home school?  Place these cards under a lunch plate or inside one of the books your child is currently reading for a fun surprise. :)

Free Download - Lunch Box Cards

Download Free Printable Back-To-School Lunch Box Cards

Here are two more free sets of fun Lunch Box printable cards to grab.

Hey, did you sign up yet for the wonderful Healthy Living Refer-a-Friend program?  You don’t want to miss this opportunity to get a free Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!  Get all the details here.

Meals to Take to Families With New Babies

You know why I love taking meals to families who have new babies?  Is it because I’m so servant hearted, loving, kind, and eager to bless these tired families?  Oh please.  It’s all about me.  Really.  You should know this truth.  Blah, blah, blah – here’s your food, hope you like it, I made it just for you, now where is your darling newborn?

Of course, I am totally kidding.  (Oh she is so not kidding, said Matt.)  But I really do love helping families with newborns in their time of need.  (What-ev-er, said my four boys in unison.)

Yeah.  I love babies.  My babies are of the much taller, lankier, and less snuggly variety now.  I love them dearly - even more than when they were newborns.  Who knew that was possible?  It just is.  But given the opportunity to cuddle a newborn, and you know, give the tired mama’s arms a break (that’s me being graciously servant-hearted again, what-ev-er) – I take it.  Sweet, sweet babies.  I love them.

Taking a meal to a family with a newborn means that there are blessings all around!  Tired parents don’t have to cook, older siblings get some special attention, and I’m sorry, did I not already make my point clear?  I get to hold a newborn baby.  Blessing upon blessing.

Meals to Take to Famililes With New Babies

photo credit

No doubt many of the foods listed in this post are great to take to others for reasons other than a new baby in the house (surgery, loss of loved one, illness, loss of job, or any other trying or exhausting situation).  By all means, please use this list to take meals to anyone who might benefit.  However, this post offers suggestions specific for the family who has a new addition.

Some items to keep in mind when you take a meal to a family with a new baby:

  • Stay away from hot peppers.  Mom might be avoiding spicy food if she is nursing.
  • Check to be sure you are accommodating any allergies or dislikes the family may have.
  • Ask what time they prefer you deliver the meal.
  • If there are young children in the home, be sure to take foods that are easy to eat and typically enjoyed by kids.  We’re trying to make Mom’s job easier, not harder.
  • Give lots of attention to the baby’s older siblings when you deliver the food.
  • Consider taking a little treat just for the “big brother(s)” and/or ”big sister(s).”  This could be something like 100% juice boxes, mini muffins, or even something non-edible like a new coloring book with crayons or a matchbox car.
  • Fresh fruit is always so refreshing after just having a baby.  Ask what kind of fruit sounds good to Mom and pick some up to take along.
  • If you are able, it might be fun to take a little something extra for a quick and easy breakfast for the family to enjoy the next day.  See list below for ideas.
  • If possible, take your food in dishes the family won’t have to wash and return to you.

Now onto the list of food ideas so you can hand them something wonderful when you say, “Blah, blah, blah – here’s your food, hope you like it, I made it just for you, now where is your darling newborn?”

Those are just the main dish ideas.  Be sure to take plenty of fruit and veggie side dishes too!  (You know I had to say that.)

What about breakfast?

Breakfast items like Easy Breakfast Casserole can be a fun change of pace for dinner.  If you have extra time and resources, you can bless the family by taking along some Dark Chocolate Almond Granola or Giant Breakfast Cookies - something easy for them to eat in the morning after a sleepless night.  Muffins and other breads are always fun to receive.

What are your favorite foods to take to families with new babies?

Tell Your Friends, and Your Friend’s Friends, and Your Friend’s Friend’s Friends. And So On.

I have something to tell you.

Then you tell your friends, then they’ll tell their friends, and after that they will tell their friends and before you know it, we’ll have one big long run-on sentence plus a whole lot of people who know about the upcoming Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

You probably remember seeing this fantastic package in the past if you’ve been around here for very long.  But I promise – you haven’t seen anything like this one.  It’s new, it’s amazing, it’s so very useful to all of us who love learning about healthy living.  I know because I’ve peeked.  I am one of the authors who is blessed to include one of my eCourses in this bundle, so I got to peek already at everything included in this year’s Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle - the eBooks, the eCourses, the information, the encouragement, the really awesome free bonuses.

The reallllllllly low price for all of it.

I’ve seen it.  I need it.  I love it.  You’ll want it.  You need it.  You’ll love it.

From using essential oils, to making awesome real food recipes, to practical fitness routines that work for YOU, to all the other stuff I can’t tell you about because I’m sworn to secrecy for just a little bit longer….you are really going to love this.

So since I’m your friend, I’m telling you about it so that you can type your email in this little form right here.  That’s my refer-a-friend link.  I’m referring you, friend.  Consider yourself referred.

Once you type in your email, you’ll be the first to know once the bundle is live.  You’ll also receive your own refer-a-friend link.  You’ll want to grab that.  Why?  Allow me to take you on a little refer-a-friend tour…

If just one of your friends signs up to learn about the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle from your referral link, you’ll get an automatic $5 off the bundle.  Sweet!

bundle refer a friend 1

If 5 of your referred friends signs up to learn about the bundle, you’ll get a 12-Week Audio course for free.  See how this just keeps getting even better?

bundle refer a friend 2

If 10 of the friends you referred signs up to learn about the bundle, you’ll get the entire Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for abosolutely free.  Free.  FREEEEE.

bundle refer a friend 3

So, how many friends do you have?  More than 10 I bet.  :)  Sign up, grab your refer-a-friend code, then share it all over Facebook, Twitter, and Email.  You’ll be well on your way to huge savings on this already very low priced bundle of awesomeness.

Oh how I wish I could already tell you what this bundle includes, how little it will cost, when the sale will begin, and all the other details that are making me giddy.  But I can’t.  Just know that when you see it, you are going to gasp loudly, jump up, and perhaps bonk your knee on the table.

I’ll stop talking now.  You go sign up.  :)

Gratituesday: Swimming Season is Over – How I’m Coping

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We have friends who have a beautiful swimming pool in their back yard.  For three years now, they have been so sweet to let our family come enjoy the pool.  Here’s a picture from three summers ago.  The boys were so timid in the water then…

Now?  They are all over the pool – diving, having contests, and playing swimming games.  It’s awesome to watch.  We’ve been away from home most of this summer, so we haven’t had as much pool time as we would have liked.  Now that we’re home and settled into some sort of routine, we’ve gone swimming every chance we could grab.  It’s been great motivation to get our schoolwork done each day.  Ahhh, a fantastic, refreshing reward for hard work - and P.E. at it’s finest.  :)

I love sunshine, heat, Vitamin D, and pool exercise.  But alas, all good things must come to an end, at least for a time.  Tis the time of year for our friends to shut their pool down for the season.  This week we’re experiencing cooler weather – and by cooler, I mean that temps are what most people consider perfect.  Mid to upper 70′s.  Who doesn’t love that?  (me, maybe?)  I do - really I do.  This weather is gorgeous.  I just like 90° best - because I do.  ;)

Recognizing that swimming just wasn’t going to happen today, or tomorrow, or again probably until next summer – and because our house was actually a bit chilly (who knew?) I coped the only way I knew how.  I baked. 

I love everything about summer (like, I crazy love it) – but I do miss baking.  So yay for chillier weather (she said with a half-smile and a shrug).  Today I got to bake!

Malachi and I had fun making Chocolate Graham Crackers.  I’ve been pretty intentional the past few weeks about teaching him cooking skills.  He did most of the mixing and measuring himself, then decided that shaping crackers with cookie cutters would be way more fun than simply cutting them into squares.  But of course.

chocolate bunny graham crackers

Eek, a few got overdone.  My apologies to the blackened bunnies.  We will eat you anyway.

Justus and I made a double batch of Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.  This is so great to have on hand for quick breakfasts and snacks.  The house smelled so good while this was baking!

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola - A Great Make-Ahead Meal

Summer’s not over yet and you can bet I’ll be soaking up as much sunshine as I can during the next few weeks before…oh, I can’t even say it.  La, la, la, I am in denial in my happy, warm place - and that is where I shall stay for now.  But yay for all the blessings (like baking!) that come with the change of seasons.  I love how God shows us His goodness through everything.

And now I want to hear from YOU.  Tell me how you are, how God is working in your life, and what you are thankful for.  Go!

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad ~ Make-Ahead Lunch Box

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Rarely is my family of men pleased to see a lovely bowl of salad as the main dish at lunchtime.  You can almost see the “am I gonna get full?!” look of panic in their eyes.  After all, typically a tossed salad lunch just doesn’t stick with a person very long into the afternoon.  But if there’s bacon in it?  And boiled eggs?  And avocado?  And cheese?  Well, now we’re on to something.

My family devoured this last week when I made it – even the boys who don’t typically love eating avocados.  With all the other flavors mixed in, this salad with all its goodness works for even my pickiest eaters.  Along with the salad, I served fresh pineapple, fresh cantaloupe, and a new recipe I was experimenting with: Coconut Fudge Bars.  (That recipe will be shared soon.)  We were all very full after our meal – and stayed full until after we got back from swimming that evening at 5:15.  At that point we were all ready to eat our own beach towels – but that’s typical no matter what we’ve eaten for lunch.

This recipe is hardly a recipe.  Simply throw together whatever amounts of each ingredient you feel is best for each family member.  We all ate great big bowls full, because that’s what we do around here.  Need to this be Gluten Free?  Check – it’s gf without having to try.  Need it to be Dairy Free?  Leave out the cheese.  You might have been able to figure that one out by yourself.  ;)

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad

Bacon, cut into bites, cooked, and drained
Boiled eggs
Avocado, cut into bites (as well as you can cut an avocado into bites)
Cheddar or Colby jack cheese, cut into small chunks
Mixed greens, lettuce, and spinach of choice
Tomatoes, chopped
Salad dressing of choice

Toss ingredients together and have a feast.

To prepare for the lunch box:

Prepare all ingredients in advance, from cooking the bacon to boiling the eggs to chunking the cheese.  Toss the fixin’s into a jar or bowl with a lid before heading out for the day.  Put the dressing into a separate container to add just before eating.

These ingredients, prepared in advance, will last a week or two in the fridge for quick salad prep.  If you chop your avocado ahead of time, simply place the avocado pit into the container to help maintain the nice green color.

Side dish ideas:

You really have to try this salad.  Really – even people who don’t normally love salad should love this one.  It has bacon in it, for crying out loud.  It’s happiness in a bowl.

Hey, have any of you tried the “Salad in a Jar” idea?  I am excited to try that sometime, both because it’s a great packaging idea…and of course, because it involves a jar.  It’s happiness in a jar.  With bacon (for crying out loud).

Find more Make-Ahead Lunch Box recipes and be sure to follow along in this series for more fun ideas!

Menu Plan for the Week ~ With Honey Dew Melon Right Out of the Garden

Our garden is doing great, kicking out loads of fresh produce for us despite the spring hail storm we thought wiped it all out.  We are enjoying okra, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, spaghetti squash, and the latest:  honey dew melon.  We’ve never planted these melons before.  We will be planting them again.  They are soooo yummy right out of the garden!

Beware, the picture below looks a little bit like St. Patrick’s Day just made a surprise late summer appearance.

honeydew

If you look real closely, you’ll even see a green twist-tie hanging out on the table. 
That’s how good I am at this blogging photography thing.

Here’s our menu for the week:

Sunday, August 24
Chocolate whipped cream on strawberries, chocolate chocolate chip muffins
Tuna salad on lettuce and tomatoes, pickles, olives, honey dew melon
Youth group family picnic – taking watermelon, carrot sticks, cucumbers, and tomatoes

Monday, August 25
Cheesy scrambled eggs, strawberry-peach smoothies
Taco corn fritters, fried okra, watermelon, sweet peppers
Tuna casserole, peas, cantaloupe

Tuesday, August 26
Coconut flour muffins, honey dew melon
Spanish rice, raspberry lemon cream cups, tossed salad
Teriyaki chicken and veggies with broccoli, carrots, and zucchini

Wednesday, August 27
Cranberry white chocolate chip breakfast cookies, pears
Sloppy cornbread muffins, carrots and cucumbers with ranch, seven minute strawberry ice cream
Pizza boats, tossed salad, fruit salad

Thursday, August 28
Fried eggs, cinnamon apple toast
Pasta salad bar with lots of veggie options, watermelon
Italian roast wraps with lettuce and tomatoes, green beans

Friday, August 29
Whole wheat waffles, blueberries
Chicken burritos, carrots and cucumbers, black olives, cherries
Cheesy salsa enchiladas, tossed salad, cantaloupe

Saturday, August 30
Cereal
Leftovers
Chicken salad, pita bread, tomatoes, grapes

Who found the green twist-tie?? (I know you looked for it.)

Final Day: Get 1-2-3 Menu Planning eBook FREE With Oh, For Real Purchase

Don’t forget!  If you purchase our Oh, For Real printed cookbook, you’ll also receive our new 1-2-3 Menu Planning eBook for FREE!

Buy this….

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Just want 1-2-3 Meal Planning?  Grab it for just $5.

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Saturday, August 23 is the final day for this freebie offer – so act now!  Let these helpful resources make your real food cooking life easier!!!!!  Get all the details of this offer here.

Oh, For Real: Real Food, Real Family, Real Easy with 1-2-3 Menu Planning free bonus
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Cost for a book shipped to Canada is $34.05. If you are from Canada or another country outside the U.S., please email me before purchasing. Thanks!