What have I been doing during our latest lockdown? Nothing too exciting, as is the point of said lockdown. Advised to stay home and socially distance ourselves from loved ones and not so loved ones alike, there is not much else to do. Grocery shopping has become an event on my calendar. Although a warm vacation would have been great, I have found other things to keep me busy. When all the local gardens are frozen solid and covered in snow, the part of my brain focusing on my landscaping/gardening business switches over to freelance writing. I have a few projects on the go in that department, specifically, a recipe book containing childhood recipes originating from my maternal grandmother at the farmhouse I have mentioned a few times.
Social Media to the Rescue
Social media, namely Facebook, has been a great tool to rekindle connections with my many cousins on that side of my family. I believe there are at least thirty of us first cousins and many more second and third cousins! This adventure is going to create quite a collaborative cookbook.
I volunteered to spearhead the project, appointing myself as chief collator, sorter, editor etc. Many of these recipes were handwritten (of course no one had any other method of transcription back in those days) by my Grandmother, back in the 1950s. Her short forms, terminology, and unique cursive writing often have me guessing.
Publishing Options for Recipe Book
So, when my eldest granddaughter is busy with heronline school classes, or during any other spare time I find (who doesn’t have spare time these days??) I am typing furiously, trying to get the recipes ready for publishing.
I have chosen Lulu, a self-publishing, online platform for this recipe book where copies are only printed as they are ordered. That way I do not have to pay anything in advance, worry about deliveries, or store unsold copies. When I am done, I simply send a link to my extended family members and they can order copies as they wish.
All proceeds from the sale of this recipe book will be donated to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, located just down the road from the family farmhouse, where many generations of this family are laid to rest.
Kids are back in school, and while this school year might look a little different, one thing that hasn’t changed is the snacks they love. Whether your kids are heading to the classroom or learning their lessons from home, they’re going to want something to eat at the end of the day.
Kids love sugar, but unfortunately, sugar doesn’t always love them back. Sugar is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it’s not the healthiest ingredient for kids or adults. Sugar intake contributes to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and a host of other problems for kids later in life.
Luckily, Stevia is a great alternative to sugar. Stevia is a plant that can be made into a fine powder that is 350 times as sweet as sugar, but contains none of the negative side effects that sugar does.
The best part? Stevia has a very low glycemic index – meaning your kid won’t get that spike in blood sugar that can cause them to act wild then crash.
Is Stevia safe for kids?
The short answer: absolutely – if you choose the right product!
Stevia can actually be a better choice for your kids, especially if you’re using it instead of processed sugar. It matters, however, which stevia brand you choose. Not all Stevia is created equal!
Stevia is a highly sustainable plant that is part of the sunflower family. It’s native to South America, but there are more than 250 species of stevia worldwide. Pyure Organic is the number one organic Stevia brand in the country, and it’s easy to see why. We focus relentlessly on quality, using a single-source, high-quality species and only use the very sweetest part of the Stevia leaf. We avoid chemicals, additives and any artificial processes that would make Stevia something you’d want to avoid. We’re also certified organic and non-GMO project verified.
Pyure Organic’s mission from Day 1 has been to make stevia taste great. That’s good news for parents; kids won’t even know the difference when you swap stevia into their favorite after-school treats.
How to swap sugar for Stevia in your recipes
Swapping sugar for Stevia in your kids’ treats depends partly on the recipe, and partly on the Pyure product that you’re using. Pyure products are a great substitute for table-top sweeteners, liquids, extracts and bulk Stevia blends. Substitute Pyure Organic Sweeteners for all or part of the sugar your recipes call for using the easy conversion chart below:
For baking pros, note that in some instances you may need to adjust your recipe to account for the loss of mass associated with the reduction of sugar.
Great ideas for kid’s treats
Every kid has a sweet tooth, as do many adults. Here are some recipes for tasty treats you can make using Stevia. They won’t notice the difference.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe is keto-friendly and only takes about 15 minutes to put together! Check out Pyure Organic’s tasty peanut butter chocolate chip cookies here.
Tropical Splash Popsicles
Even if summer is over, your kids will love one of these refreshing snacks at the end of a long school day of concentrating and learning. Check out this fruit-filled recipe here.
Pumpkin Spice Bars
Perfect for autumn, or any other time, these bars are guilt-free, with none of the processed, artificial flavoring found in many coffee chains’ pumpkin spiced lattes. The frosting is a bonus! Get the recipe here.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream
If kids are allowed to bring birthday treats to school, these cupcakes are a great option! They’re sugar-free, using Pyure Organic All Purpose Stevia Blend and Pyure Organic Liquid Stevia Blend, but the class will never know it. Get the recipe here.
Spiced “Sugar” Cookies
These cookies make great holiday – and every day – treats, with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice in addition to Pyure Organic All-Purpose Stevia Blend. Check out the video for how to make spiced “sugar” cookies here.
We have tons of recipes that use stevia in place of processed sugar. Read more and explore our products. We’ve even got brownie mix and chocolate chip cookie mix for those days when you’re not inspired to test out a new recipe, or don’t have the ingredients on hand to make treats from scratch.
I have not yet tried these Stevia products, but do admit the idea of using a sugar alternative does appeal to me, especially with Christmas baking on the horizon. I will keep you posted!
I would love to share my recipes for homemade soup. If I had any. I used to make soup for my mother-in-law years ago. Her only complaint was that I could never produce a recipe for the different varieties.
I was just reminded of this dilemma when my daughter-in-law asked for the recipe for my last batch of homemade soup.
Since I was diagnosed with a sensitivity to wheat, I put much more emphasis on ensuring the ingredients I use for my soups (and any other cooking and baking) are completely natural and healthy. No preservatives or artificial ingredients are allowed in these recipes. This is also particularly important if you are sharing your soup with friends or family undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Tips for Making Great Homemade Soup
Most of my soups are meat-based, but you could make them to your specific dietary needs or preferences. Here are a few tips.
store large bones from chicken and turkey dinners in ziplock bag in your freezer
also store pan drippings and liquid from vegetables in the freezer. I use a plastic bucket for this purpose and just keep adding to the contents. Don’t be afraid to mix the different meats and vegetables , the mixture adds unique flavor to your soups. As soon as your contributions cool off, the fat will rise to the top and create a layer. You should scrape of this layer (it comes off easily) before you add another one.
On soup making day, place the bones in a large pot, fill the pot with water and simmer for several hours.
Add garlic cloves, a chuck of ginger root and or turmeric (the stuff curry powder comes from), bay leaves or any other seasonings large enough to remove easily. You can use powdered forms at a later stage if you don’t have the fresh stuff handy. I have also added broccoli stalks (frozen, stored in freezer like the broths) at this stage.
After a few hours, remove the bones and seasonings, set aside to cool.
Next add frozen chunks of broth you have stored in the freezer. You now have your base.
When your bones have cooled, pick off any meat from them and add them to the pot. Crush any softened garlic, ginger, adding to the pot. Discard bay leaves if used. Puree or chop broccoli stalks if used. If you are using powdered spices like ginger, garlic, curry powder etc, add it now.
This is the time to add rice, quinoa or barley for added nutrients and chunkiness.
Add vegetables and or legumes. Cherry or grape tomatoes, beans, frozen corn are my favourites. When using beans, I do use canned, but the “no salt added” kind. I rinse them really well before adding to the soup.
If you prefer creamy as opposed to chunky soups, you could puree everything at this stage.
Add salt (I use pink Himalayan) and or pepper to taste.
Add milk (I use almond milk) if your soup is too chunky or thick.
Don’t be afraid to mix up your variations. I prefer the hearty, chunky varieties with lots of ingredients, but others prefer simple broths. I also like lots of garlic and ginger but reduced these ingredients in my last batch so I could share some with my breastfeeding daughter-in-law.
If you like to record your recipes (and you might if you share your concoctions) write down what you have added. For some reason, I never think to do so.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is that gardening magazines and catalogs start coming in. I love to curl up with a cup of tea to start planning what I am going to do in my garden this spring. I have numerous gardening books I consult, but the catalogs inspire me to be creative. Plants ordered from catalogs will arrive in time for planting in your area.
My garden is always changing as I love to try new plants and move others around to achieve different effects. I tend to stick to low-maintenance perennials (plants that come up each year) and small shrubs, but do add some annuals (plants you have to replace each year) for instant and continuous color. My children joke that our lawn gets smaller and smaller every year because my gardens keep growing.
Purple is still my favorite flower color, followed closely by yellow. I also pay close attention to the foliage (leaves and stems) of plants, choosing ones that continue to look good when the flowers are not in bloom. Last year I purchased more ornamental grasses, they looked great all summer and fall; I am anxious to see if they all survived the winter.