Easy Candied Walnuts ~ 4-Ingredients!

Here’s to everyone who needs a holiday munchie that is in the “healthier” and “easier” category. These salty/sweet Easy Candied Walnuts can be made in five minutes. (Kinda makes up for rolling, and cutting, and baking, and frosting of cookies, eh?)

candied-walnuts-4-ingredients

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s made quickly on the stove-top and ready to eat immediately. I’ve kept some in a bowl in our living room since Thanksgiving, and it’s been a great hit with guests!

Easy Candied WalnutsYum

Easy Candied Walnuts ~ 4-Ingredients!
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • ⅓ cup sucanat, brown sugar, or white sugar
  • 2 shakes of sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large skillet.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and sugar has been distributed over walnuts.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately spread the walnut out on parchment paper so that can cool and "candy."

easy-candied-walnuts-4-ingredients

Want some other fun nutty-type munchies for Christmas season? Here are a couple I’ve shared in the past:

Both are easy, and naturally gluten and dairy free if that is a need for you or for someone you love.

And for those who are interested in the rolling, cutting, baking, and frosting of cookies, here are some recipes for you:

As for me, I’m going to do everything I can to avoid rolling, cutting, baking, and frosting cookies this year. There simply isn’t time since we’re planning to travel so much over Christmas. I will instead stick with making easy treats like these Candied Walnuts.

How about you? Making lots of treats this year?

Simple Meals Are Great, But What About Simple Snacks? [32 Recipes!]

Many are enjoying our new Simple Meals plans, but as we all know:

Man shall not live on dinner alone. Sometimes he needs a snack.

simplemeals300

Every once in a while, I hear a mom say, “Oh snacks? My kids don’t eat snacks. They just eat big meals.”

I have no idea what to do with that. No snacks? Just big meals? I definitely know that could work for some, but this is not the case for my family. We eat big meals and we still need snacks.

You know it’s not just my kids that need snacks. I’m the mom and I need snacks frequently. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with snacking, though I do believe snacks should be just as nourishing as a meal – not just empty calories to fill a hole.

My current favorite nourishing snack:

fat-bombs-easy-and-delicious

 

These are amazing for energy and brain function. I like brain function.

Today let’s talk about Simple Snacking options. I’ve made it my goal to provide incredibly simple recipe options for all Simple Meals plans. So in keeping with the theme of simple recipes, here is a list of my easiest snack recipes that will keep your family fed but will not keep you in the kitchen very long!

Simple Snacks RecipesYum

That list contains 32 real food, Simple Snack Recipes that you can feel good about feeding your family!

32-real-food-simple-snack-recipes

Don’t forget the obvious – good ol’ fruits and veggies!

februaryfruitsm

The more you get to know me, the more you’ll find that I think healthy eating is important. But I think family time is more important. As I said recently in an email:

I want to be with my husband and kids more than I’m with my pots and pans.

I love to cook. I love playing with recipes and making great food for people to eat. But I love my family more, and stress in the kitchen makes me fight being a grumpy wife/mom/friend.

That’s why I’m sharing all these Simple Snacks today. That’s most definitely why I created Simple Meals. I want to make life in the kitchen simple for everyone so family time can be a higher priority.

So, look through the snack list above, and spend a few minutes making one or two. And check this out!

more-snack-ideas-and-recipes

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You get $56 worth of free eBooks with your Simple Meals subscription, and those freebies include a bunch more snack ideas and recipes.

Go Join Simple Meals!!

Share with me. Can your family stay full between meals or do you often need to provide snacks to keep everyone going?

P.S. Sometimes I get out fresh spinach and eat it as a snack straight out of the container. My 16-year old loves to tease me about my weird spinach snacking habit. I don’t even have a come back. It is weird and I admit it.

Related Posts:

16 Simple Recipes You Can Make in 5 Minutes

Good things come to those who wait. But good things can come to those in a hurry too, so let’s hear it for a few great recipes we can make in about 5 minutes!

Now, making these is all dependent on the fact that you have these ingredients on hand. But the ingredients are all pretty basic, so I’ll bet you do have these ingredients in your kitchen most of the time. (Cream cheese is a staple food, right?)

Let’s say you have last minute company stop by and you need a quick snack to share. Or maybe you have only a few minutes of work time before you have to head to the next thing. Here are some recipes you can quickly throw together for your favorite people to enjoy.

16-recipes-you-can-make-and-serve-in-about-5-minutes

First a quick list of recipes you can make in 5 minutes:

And now a list with all the tempting pictures that will make you want to lick your computer.

Homemade Nesquik

This is a great one because you can use it to make both chocolate milk or hot chocolate!

Homemade Nesquik

Cream Cheese Salsa Dip

supersimplechipdipsm

Caramel Apple Dip

Cream_Cheese_Apple_Dip

5-Minute Stove-Top Granola

Stove-Top Granola

Coconut Fudge Bars

Coconut Fudge Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Bites

No-Bake Fudge Bites

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

No-Bake Snickerdoodle Bites

snickerdoodle bites2

Pineapple Fluff Salad

Pineapple Fluff

Pineapple Mango Smoothies

pineapple_mango_smoothie

Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee or for a Bowl of Fruit

Chocolate Whipped Cream - Perfect For Your Coffee

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries 2

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait 1

Chocolate Cheesecake Parfaits

chocolate cheesecake parfait

Easy Fruit Dip

strawberry_dip
French Onion Dip

french onion dip

What are some of your go-to recipes to make when you only have a few minutes to throw something together?

The Best Homemade French Fries (That You Can Pre-Make for Your Freezer)

Homemade French Fries are about the most amazing food in the world, my family loves them, and they’re easy to make except for one little thing: They kind of take forever. (Translation: easy and delicious but time consuming. Super bummer.)

The most amazing homemade french fries

Granted, I have a big family of big eaters. Making French fries is a big deal because I know I’m going to have to commit, you know? Between scrubbing and cutting and frying and cutting and frying and cutting and frying – I’m making fries for at least an hour.

Worth it? Oh my. So much worth it. But not often. It takes too much time.

But guess what I just learned to do? I learned the lovely tricks it takes to make fries ahead of time for the freezer. All the cutting is done ahead so all we have to do at frying time is…fry. Beyond saving me time, I’ve discovered that this method of slightly pre-cooking them before frying is what crispy, perfect fries are made of.

Come closer and learn with me.

The BEST Homemade Fries

How to Make and Freeze the BEST Homemade French Fries

1. Scrub a bunch of potatoes (or if you’re me, you ask your kids to scrub a bunch of potatoes, which they are happy to do because French Fries).

2. Cut the potatoes into fries – your preference on how thick or thin.

3. Put the cut potatoes into a big pot of water. Bring to a boil.

4. Once water/potatoes comes to a boil, remove the potatoes from heat and strain, running the potatoes under cold water to cool and stop the cooking process.

5. Blot the potatoes dry on a towel.

6. Transfer prepped fries into freezer bags for future use (although you might consider frying some immediately and I bet no one will argue).

7. Freeze prepped French fries in freezer bags for up to two months.

8. At frying time, get the fries out of the freezer a few minutes before you want to cook them.

9. Fry until crispy perfection has been reached. (I have a fryer similar to this and I love it. I use Palm Shortening for healthy and safe frying.)

WARNING: Watch that the fries aren’t holding extra water as they will splatter when frying! Blot prepared fries with a towel before frying if necessary.

How to Make and Freeze the Best Homemade Fries

You’ll never go back to making fries any other way after experiencing these.

Other fun Make-Ahead Recipes I’ve shared recently:

That list looks like a bunch of junk food, but it’s not! How great that we can make all of our favorites with healthier ingredients!

I also recently shared these gems:

Did you find some of these recipes to be helpful? Slowly but surely we can get ahead in the kitchen!

Easy 5-Minute Frozen Yogurt Cups

I think I just discovered my new favorite snack. Look at these adorable Frozen Yogurt Cups!

Frozen Yogurt Cups

How is it that just when I think there can’t possibly be any more great new food ideas, I come across another wonderful new way to make something delicious and fun? I love how many wonderful ways we can enjoy real food.

I am one of the biggest food geeks. Nobody loves food as much as I. Except for maybe you, which is why you and I have so much fun together here. Isn’t food so very much fun!?!?!!!!!!

frozen yogurt2

At the very least, we all love to eat. It’s just that some of us like to also gawk at our groceries, get a thrill out of creating fun menus, and dream daily of new recipe ideas. Occasionally we might tear up when we look at the full shelves in our beautiful pantry. Some of us.

All this excitement over little frozen yogurt cups. Hey. You have no idea. I saw this idea and loved it, but I didn’t know that I would love it, love it. But the easiness of this idea! The endless options of what can be done to create variations that every family member will like! The deliciousness.

frozen yogurt4

Because making Frozen Yogurt Cups is so very easy, this would be a great “recipe” to hand over to your kids to make. Everyone can create these with their favorite goodies (granola, berries, nuts, peanut butter, chocolate chips…).

You can buy pre-made, flavored yogurt if you like, but since many store-bought options are so loaded with sugar and other not-so-great ingredients, I much prefer to buy or make Whole Milk Plain Yogurt and add my own sweetener and vanilla. If you don’t make your own yogurt, plain store-bought yogurt works just fine for this “recipe.”

It’s easy to make yogurt: learn more here.

Easy 5-Minute Frozen Yogurt CupsYum

Easy 5-Minute Frozen Yogurt Cups
 
Author:
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • Sweetener of choice (I used 1-2 Tablespoons real maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Toppings like fresh berries or peaches, granola, chocolate chips, etc.
Instructions
  1. Prepare muffin tins with liners (I used silicone liners which makes this very simple!)
  2. Stir together yogurt, sweetener, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Scoop 2-3 Tablespoons of yogurt mixture into prepared muffin cups.
  4. Top with fruit if you like.
  5. Freeze for 1-2 hours until solid.
  6. Serve.
  7. Transfer leftovers to a freezer bag and pull out for snacking as needed.

Easy Frozen Yogurt Cups

To Fantastic Frozen Yogurt Cup Tips:

1) These worked wonderfully in my Silicone Baking Cups. They popped right out once frozen and clean up was so simple!

2) You can use your Frozen Yogurt Cups to make smoothies! I mean, frozen yogurt and berries? This is what smoothies are made of. Throw some Frozen Yogurt Cups into a blender with a little milk and you’re set!

Raise your hand (and leave a comment) if you’re a food geek like me. Raise your hand (and leave a comment) if you aren’t a food geek, but appreciate that other are so that you can enjoy eating yummy food. See, everyone wins. :)

 

Granola Bar Cups – a Brilliant Way to Make Granola Bars To-Go!

If all the brilliant people continue to share all their brilliant ideas, we will never run out of great ways to improve our lives in the kitchen and the ways we feed our family.

This time, we’re learning (from wonderful readers like you!) that we can follow my well-loved Chewy Granola Bars recipe, but instead of making them into bars as normal, we can press them into muffin cups. Need to pack them into a lunch box or be able to easily offer a single serving to cut down on the mess?

Try these Granola Bar Cups!

granola cups2

Recipes that work fantastically with this Granola Bar Cup idea are:

These are both no-bake recipes, which makes them very fast to put together.

The beauty of both of these recipes is that you can make them according to your family’s preferences and allergy needs. The Coconut Fudge Bars are much lower in sugar than other recipes, so I stick with that one now. If you need to use gluten free oats, you can. If you need to avoid peanuts, use another nut butter or sunbutter. The recipes are very forgiving, very quick to make, and very fun.

But even more fun is that you can press the mixture into muffin cups for easy transport and lunch box packing!

Granola Cups

Once they have chilled, you can slip one into a baggie and pack it to-go.

Easy Granola Bar Cups

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, those look like high sugar No-Bake Cookies I love,” you’ll be happy to know that they taste a lot like the beloved cookie we’ve all grown up loving. The difference is that we can eat these made with healthier ingredients and way less sugar. How fantastic is this?!

Thanks to all who shared this fun Granola Bar Cup idea!

Free Download - Lunch Box Cards

Want something else fun to pack into a lunch box?

Check out these great ideas and recipes that are great for the lunch box!

Easy Blue Raspberry Salad

Blue Razz Salad

Back when we embarked on a Shaved Ice Business (which seems like thousands of years ago), the favorite flavor many kids chose was “Blue Razz.” Those were the early days of our healthy eating journey when I was learning more about the nastiness of artificial colors and flavors. I just couldn’t get over the fact that fun and gimmicky names really did market themselves well, even if they didn’t make sense. After all, raspberries aren’t blue.

I’m such a boring, practical mom type.

Me: Children, why would you want to eat something that isn’t true to its name?? Raspberries aren’t blue, you know.
Children: Maybe because we’re kids and it’s FUN!!?!?!!!!
Me: Fine. Turn your tongue, lips, and teeth blue. Rot your insides. I don’t even care.

None of these words were actually spoken out loud.

All of this is irrelevant to what I’m about to share, but it did occur to me as I was playing with this recipe that indeed, we were creating a Blue Razz Salad. But instead of a fake blue with a freak flavor, we’re using real blueberries and actual raspberries. Who knew real food could turn out something so fun and trendy? (We all knew this. None of this shocks us. We already know that real food tastes good and that actual fruit is very pretty.)

Blueberry Raspberry Salad

Blue Raspberry SaladYum

Easy Blue Raspberry Salad
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice (I used 10ish drops of stevia)
Instructions
  1. Make a blueberry "syrup" by cooking blueberries in a small saucepan on low until they have cooked down and thickened. (Add a little sugar or honey to this if you like.)
  2. In another saucepan, make a raspberry "syrup" in the same way. Both fruits take 10-15 minutes to cook down and thicken. Stir occasionally.
  3. If you want your salad to be creamy, blend the cooked fruits until smooth. If you don't mind chunks of fruit, leave the cooked fruit as-is.
  4. In the meantime, whip cream, vanilla, and sweetener until thick.
  5. Fold thickened fruit into the whipped cream until just mixed.
  6. Cover and chill salad for at least 2 hours before serving.

Blue Raspberry Salad - no sugar added!

I find this salad to be perfectly sweet because of the fruit and stevia (read more about stevia here), but we all know I’m the one who likes unsweet tea and barely sweet treats. Therefore, if you find that you would like this to be sweeter than it is, simply add a few teaspoons of sugar or honey to your fruit while it is cooking.

Now I invite you to make and eat what tastes delicious and will not make your mouth look like you are turning into a Smurf.

How to Make Raspberry Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea

Yep. I’m on a fruity tea kick. You probably will be too after you try these. So far we’ve got:

raspberry tea

Today I present you with Raspberry Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea. Before you add a bunch of sugar, you might test it to see if you like it as-is, or at least with less than your usual amount of sugar. The fruit really adds a delicious natural sweetness that we are loving!

Raspberry Sweet (or Unsweet) TeaYum

How to Make Raspberry Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea
 
Author:
Serves: ½ gallon
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts of water, divided
  • 4 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 4-8 tea bags of your favorite black or green tea, depending on how strong you like your tea
  • Liquid stevia, honey, or sugar to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 quart of water and the raspberries to boiling. Add a teaspoon of sugar or honey if you like. This will help make a "raspberry syrup."
  2. Simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Mush the raspberries in the water and add the tea bags.
  4. Allow tea to steep for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Strain tea into a ½ gallon jar or pitcher.
  6. Add a quart of water.
  7. Stir in stevia or sugar if you want your tea sweetened.
  8. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  9. Serve over ice.

How to Make Raspberry Sweet or Unsweet Tea

Notice how the Raspberry Tea naturally has a red tint while the Mango and Peach teas have a naturally orange-brown tint? This is the stuff “no artificial colors or flavors” is made of.

Consider the Combo

I’m now excited to try different varieties and combinations of these and other fruits. I’m thinking:

  • Peach-Mango
  • Raspberry-Peach
  • Strawberry?? Do you think that will be good?
  • Something with Lemon and/or Lime?
  • This is where you leave comments giving me your ideas… :)

I’m loving the treat of these iced teas this summer!

How to Make Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea

Y’all. (Because I think it’s a given that sweet tea and y’all must be said simultaneously.) This mango tea is happiness in a glass and yet one more reason to love summertime.

Mango Sweet Tea

Last week when we took a trip to Arkansas, a friend of ours took us to McAlister’s Deli with the claim that their sweet tea was the best, insisting that we must try it. Now, I trust my friend, but I was also skeptical because it’s tea. What was the big deal? How amazing could it really be?

And then I drank some.

Y’all.

We all drank and drank, and sure, maybe it’s just because we were all in vacation mode, enjoying the treat of eating out and enjoying friendship and “the famous tea” – but we all loved the tea and took full advantage of every offer of, “Can I get you a refill?”

(Why yes. We did have to stop several times for potty breaks as we headed further up the road. Thanks for asking. At least it wasn’t just for me every time. That’s a first.)

I agree with my friend and declared it to be the best tea I’ve ever had even though I didn’t even get the sweet tea. I ordered an Unsweet Mango Tea, and I could not get over how much I loved it. I’m certain my family didn’t get tired of me saying, “Wow, this tea is good” after every sip during our next 100 miles of travel as we headed down the road toward our next destination.

It goes without saying that I decided that I would need to try and create a recipe to make this at home. Not surprisingly, I used actual mangos instead of whatever it is that comes out of a squirt pump. I do not want to know.

How to make Mango Tea

As if it’s hard to cut mangos and put them in water with tea bags. C’mon now.

Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) TeaYum

5.0 from 3 reviews
How to Make Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea
 
Author:
Serves: 2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts of water, divided
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1-3 teaspoons honey or sugar
  • 4-8 tea bags of your favorite black or green tea, depending on how strong you like your tea
  • Liquid stevia or sugar to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 quart of water and the mango to boiling. Add 1-3 teaspoons honey or sugar to draw out sweetness in fruit.
  2. Simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Mush the mango in the water and add the tea bags.
  4. Allow tea to steep for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Strain tea into a ½ gallon jar or pitcher.
  6. Add a quart of water.
  7. Stir in stevia or sugar if you want your tea sweetened.
  8. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  9. Serve over ice.

If you glance over the instructions quickly, you might think it says to “serve over rice.” But it doesn’t. Ice and rice are different and ice is the obvious better choice for this tea.

Ice Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea

Now of course, I will be experimenting with other varieties such as Peach Tea and Raspberry Tea. Watch for updates as I get these figured out!

Are you a sweet tea drinker or an unsweet tea drinker? 

P.S. My favorite black tea is Newman’s Own Organics Royal Black Tea. My favorite stevia is Nunaturals.

This post contains some of my affiliate links.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

It seems we’re starting off this week with a bit of a strawberry theme. This Strawberry Spinach Salad is a little bit different than the Strawberry Blueberry Parfaits – so feel free to eat them during the same meal.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I’m typically a pretty boring salad maker – as if adding fruit and nuts to salad is difficult (which, of course, it is not). I blame it on the fact that I am a meat-and-potato-farm-girl at heart. I grew up eating the basics. The only way we ate pecans was in pies. Strawberries were made into jelly. And spinach? The only kind I’d heard of was the slimy canned variety – and I didn’t touch it.

Now that I’ve branched out into loving all kinds of different foods (like actual strawberries – you should try them), I figure it might be time for me to try a few different salads beyond the basic kind with mixed greens and ranch dressing. Last week, I was out of mixed greens, but had a big container of spinach and several containers of strawberries. I did a little searching and came across this, which I tweaked and made for our lunch.

It was surprisingly very tasty. (Why was I surprised? I don’t know. Because it wasn’t basic mixed greens with ranch?) The combination of roasted pecans with the strawberries with the easy-to-make dressing packs a great punch of flavor.

Look at me. I’m such a big girl now – eating salads with fruit and nuts and vinaigrette.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette DressingYum

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 cups fresh spinach (give or take)
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced into fourths
  • ¾ cup pecans
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 shakes of sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, roast pecans by warming them over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir them frequently to keep them from scorching. (I didn't find it necessary to add any oil to the pan.)
  2. Toss the roasted pecans into a large bowl with spinach and strawberries
  3. In a jar, mix the oil, vinegar, mustard, and salt.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad just before serving.

Isn’t it pretty?

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Are you brave with your salads or do you typically stick with the basics?