Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook

512r7bijk2L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook is a great way to introduce yourself to gluten-free vegetarian meals and stay healthy in the process. It includes 150 healthy recipes for meals, snacks, sides, desserts and more. Within, you’ll find delicious recipes like the following one for a Sloppy June and Sprout Panini:

2 pieces gluten-free bread (there are recipes for different flavors in the book)
sliced avocado
hummus
1/4 c Sloppy June filling (recipe in book)
sprouts
sliced cheese or vegan cheese (optional)
coconut oil spray for the grill

  1. Lay 1 piece of bread on a cutting board. Place a slice or two of avocado on the bread; you may wish to mash it and spread it on the bread. Top with a small amount of hummus (about 1 tablespoon) and spread it out. Add the Sloppy June filling and spread it out, then add the sprouts and cheese. Place the second piece of bread on top.
  2. Lightly spray the top and bottom of panini machine or indoor electric grill with coconut oil. Put the sandwich in the grill and press it together. The machine should tell you when the panini is done, or grill until the bread is browned and the ingredients are heated. Save immediately.

Enter to win a copy of The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook on our Facebook page.

Book Spotlight: My Yellow Balloon

9780990337003_p0_v1_s260x420Teaching children about loss is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Pets, friends, and even family members may leave their lives at an early age, and it is important to help them understand the stages of their grief. Younger children may benefit from a little help from literature. That’s where My Yellow Ballon by Tiffany Papageorge steps up to the challenge.

The main character, a young boy named Joey, is given a yellow balloon at a carnival. He takes the balloon everywhere with him, until it slips off his wrist one day.

The poignant tale of love, loss, and letting go will help serve as a comforting guide to children who are navigating the complicated emotions of grief, and offer hope for brighter days ahead. Even if your child has not yet experienced loss, this is a great book to read and then revisit during a tragic time. We will be giving away a copy on our Facebook page this month— but you can also purchase one for your child on Amazon.

Hot Damn, Donuts!

If you haven’t visited Mama Crockett’s Food Truck, then you are missing out on an amazing and unique experience! They are serving up something that Dunkin Donuts and even Krispy Kreme can’t compete with: their signature apple cider donut rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

image2You never have to worry about them being stale, because they are made to order— customers can watch the entire process through the truck window! They are served hot and crispy, and I can already tell you, just one is not going to leave you satisfied (about three did the job!).

image3Mama’s is buzzing, not only because of these donuts, but also the awesome customer service by owners F.W. Willis, Coulter and Shad Sims. People leave happy with their purchases, and many of them eagerly await their next visit because of the interaction they have with these three gentlemen. They never miss an opportunity to make a customer feel special— associating great memories with donuts that already speak for themselves.

image7Today (Thursday, July 2) Mama Crockett’s is parked at Rivers Edge on Reserve Avenue in Roanoke AND at Miller Park in Lynchburg from 11 am until 2 pm. Follow them on Facebook to stay informed on their daily whereabouts— and believe us, they are more than worth the drive!

 

Written by Lani Maddox

Serve It Up Sassy: A Garden Fresh Picnic

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG


Grab your sun hat and head for the country, this seasons garden-fresh bounty turns into fine fare for a healthy impromptu picnic. Summer picnics are just ripe for picking with all of your favorite garden-fresh vegetables and fruits. Easy to make recipes utilizing homegrown ingredients is the perfect way to reap the benefits of your summer-time gardening efforts.

If your backyard isn’t brimming with rows of fresh produce, a nearby farmers market will offer everything you need for this summer-time picnic. Fresh peaches, blueberries, melons, sweet corn-on-the-cob, juicy ripe tomatoes, herbs, lettuces, squash, zucchini, peppers, onions and cucumbers—with ingredients like these at their best, picnics can’t help but be delicious.

Whether you dine by a lake on a blanket or roll out a wheel barrel under your favorite tree, these picnic recipes will please every palate.  An appetizer made with fresh herbs, basil, parsley, and arugula leaves makes a peppery pesto crostini. A vegetable spread is chock full of home-grown diced vegetables made with cucumbers, radishes, green onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes. Every bite is crunchy and delicious in a roast beef pocket sandwich.

Cut carrots, celery, and cucumber sticks with cherry tomatoes are served up sassy in small containers with flavored olive oils for dipping. Individual desserts are half-pint peach and blueberry cobblers baked ahead for ease and travel. Better bake extra cobblers, with only a ½ cup serving with each jar they won’t last long! Last but not least, a summer picnic would not be the same without our southern sweet tea served in ice cold mason jars.

Packing a safe picnic lunch is important so here are a few safety tips when planning your meal:

“For a worry-free picnic, place perishable foods, such as hot dogs, burgers, poultry, deviled eggs, macaroni, potato salads, anything mayonnaise-cream cheese based food, in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. They need to be kept cold. Avoid leaving foods in the sun and do not cross contaminate cooking utensils when grilling raw meats.” Check out this website for more important picnic safety tips.

For an impromptu picnic setting, a quilt or blanket provides the perfect soft spot for a hard ground. To keep your quilt from being soiled, place a plastic tablecloth on the ground then add the quilt, or cover a picnic table with your tablecloth and quilt. Large pillows for lounging is always fun and of course a well-packed picnic basket. The basket should include your eating utensils, glasses and plates- paper or melamine, napkins, needed serving containers and utensils, trash bags, baggies, paper towels, wet naps, breads and non-refrigerated items.

Add a mason jar full of white hydrangea, zinnias, Queen Ann’s lace, and other wonderful summer flowers for a simple centerpiece. A bowl of apples and fresh fruit can also be a great centerpiece.

Dining or picnicking alfresco is one of summer’s delights. Call your friends and family and get the picnic going. A garden fresh picnic is a perfect way to celebrate nature’s bounty and a summer afternoon.

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®

Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com

Half Pint Peach and Blueberry Cobbler 
half pint peach and blueberry cobbler

6 half pint canning jars
3 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
½ cup blueberries-fresh
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup self rising flour
½ cup melted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup milk

Peel, pit and dice peaches. In bottom of each canning jar, place a teaspoon of dark brown sugar. Add diced peaches and blueberries on top of brown sugar. Mix together flour, butter, sugar and milk, pour over fruit in jar. Leave ½ inch space at the top, so batter will not run over. Place filled canning jars on a double layered baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with mini vanilla ice cream scoops. Dessert can be frozen after baked and cooled.
Yield:  6 half-pint mini cobblers

Deli Beef Pockets with Garden Vegetable Spread
Deli Beef pockets with garden vegetable spread6-2” slices French bread
¼ pound thinly sliced roast beef
1 cup arugula or other small leaf lettuce
Garden Vegetable Spread – recipe follows

Cut French Bread into 6- 2” wide slices. Hollow  one side of bread to create a pocket for the filling. Spread Garden Vegetable mixture inside the pocket and up the sides of the crusty bread shell. Fill the pocket with 1-1/2 slices of roast beef. Garnish with the arugula leaves if desired. Wrap sandwich with plastic wrap and keep cold for picnic.
Yield:  6 sandwiches

Garden Vegetable Spread
Garden vegetable spread

1-4 ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons Hellmans mayonnaise
2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/8 cup diced carrots, green onions, radish, cucumber, and yellow squash
red, orange and green bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, arugula leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt and white pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place cream cheese, mayo, and horseradish in a large mixing bowl.
Add diced vegetables and seasonings. Mix to combine. Serve spread with Roast Beef Pockets or crostini.
Yield:  1-1/2 cups

Garden Pesto Crostini
Garden Pesto Crostini

½ cup baby arugula leaves
¼ cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons + ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 – 4 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper- optional
20- ¼ “sliced crusty bread loaf for crostini
8-10 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

Brush crostini slices with olive oil and grill or toast in oven until golden brown. In food processor, pulse walnuts one or two times, add arugula leaves, basil, parsley, 2 tablespoons cheese and garlic, pulse until smooth. Scrape down sides and add softened butter and olive oil.  Pulse mixture until smooth and creamy.  Add salt and pepper if desired to taste. Spread small amount of pesto on crostini, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, top with sliced tomato.
Yield:  20 crostini or 1 cup of pesto

 

Common Good: From the Cover

We chose to feature peaches on our cover for the month of July— not only because they are in season, but also because there are so many delicious ways to enjoy them in the summer. Before you can choose the right peach to fit your needs, you should know a few important facts about them.

Peaches are a member of the rose family— a group that includes apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums, and almonds. They are categorized in three different varieties: clingstone, freestone, and semi-freestone.

Clingstone peaches are often found in the northern hemisphere and are most often identified as those with bright yellow flesh streaked with red as you get closer to its core. This kind is most commonly used in desserts, jellies and jams, and for canning. They are the most flavorful of the three varieties.

Though flavorful, clingstone peaches can become difficult on the go. Freestone peaches are more convenient for carrying in lunch boxes or for mid-morning snacks. Though this variety is firmer and less juicy, they’re still delicious. They are also much easier to find in a grocery store.

Semi-freestone peaches are a combination of the two and can be used in many different dishes.

For a great summer recipe using peaches, visit Everyday Occasions.

 

Written by Lani Maddox

Backyard Fun!

backyardWhen summer arrives do you see even less of your kids than you did during the school year? Too many American children, tweens and teens spend those extra hours of free time indoors playing with technology, rather than engaging in healthy outdoor activities. Even when you know where your kids are, you may not understand what they’re doing with all those devices and game controllers.

This summer, why not help your children get excited about a healthy and fun time outdoors? You can make your backyard the neighborhood hotspot that no kid can resist by providing three key ingredients to a great summer: fun, food and friendship.

Fun in the sun

To compete with smartphones, PCs, tablets and other digital devices, you need outdoor excitement – the kind that only water can provide. Installing a backyard pool may not be practical for everyone, but a backyard water slide is a great substitute.

Easy to set up and use, a water slide is a cost-effective way to create outdoor fun this summer. For example, we love H2OGO! backyard water slides for their modern but comfortable products. They feature the Speed Ramp, an inflatable launch pad that creates a smooth belly-flop landing at the start of the superfast 18-foot slide. A Splash Lagoon funnels water throughout the entire slide, reducing friction and increasing speed. Learn more at www.bestway-global.com.

Food for fun

All that water sliding and other fun activity is going to make kids work up an appetite. They’ll need fuel so they can keep having fun. Look for fare that is easy, kid-friendly and nutritious. For example, instead of serving high-fat, high-sugar ice cream, consider frozen fruit or fruit pops. Replace sugary, calorie-laden sodas with flavored water. For kids who crave crunch, replace chips with fresh-cut crisp fruits like apples and kid-friendly veggies such as carrots or cherry tomatoes. You can serve them with a variety of delicious, yogurt-based dips. Whip up a nacho platter that incorporates low-fat shredded cheese, fresh salsa and lean protein like beans or grilled chicken.

Friendship and fun

With your backyard gaining the reputation of the neighborhood hot spot for great food and fun, you may notice some new faces showing up. Encourage children to engage in games that can help them get to know each other and create new friendships with others in the neighborhood.

Some of the simplest games are great ice-breakers. One game that’s great for getting to know each other is to have kids stand in a circle and toss around a bean bag or small ball. The child who throws asks a question – such as “What’s your name?” or “What’s your favorite sport?” – and the child who catches has to answer.

Another fun idea for older children is a biography building circle. Kids sit in a circle and start with one child making a simple statement about himself, such as “I like to play baseball with my dad.” The next child in line adds his or her own information by building off something the first child said, such as “My dad is an airline pilot.” The play continues with children each saying something new that is somehow linked to what the last child said.

Each of these activities will help keep your child healthy and happy this summer. Inspire them to grow and make good choices by fostering outdoor play in your own backyard!

Keeping a Journal

Any writer will tell you that there is something to be said for journaling. Not only does it help you organize your thoughts and remember important and inspirational moments down the road, it also puts things into perspective and can change your outlook for the better.

I’ve kept a journal since I was a teenager. The old ones are long gone, and only their most important pages remain in storage. However, I have kept my journals from the last few years, transferring important quotes onto fresh pages every time I start a new one.

In college, I met a professor who inspired me to dedicate a few moments of every single day to journaling. At first, it was difficult. But, like any habit (watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, playing video games), over time I began to enjoy it. The difference between this task and the aforementioned habits is that I could look back and learn from the moments I recorded in years past. They inspired me and helped me realize how much I had grown over the years.

Often, in the moment, we are bogged down by the stress of every day life. It is hard to feel like you have accomplished anything when you are still surrounded by challenges and rejection. Last year, we had a writer talk about filling up your salt shaker with joy so you can empty it out during the trying times. It’s a concept so important that it is worth reiterating.

Journaling is a great way to make sure your salt shaker stays full– even if you have never really thought of yourself as a writer. If you need a little help getting started, try one of the following books:

41OwjGJym1L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_10 Mindful Minutes: A Journal by Goldie Hawn is inspired by the actress’ advocacy for mindfulness. It is a guided journal with simple meditations and prompts, along with thoughtful quotations that will inspire you to focus on specific qualities from optimism or gratitude to anger or fear. The goal is to enhance the positive qualities and help the negative ones by incorporating a meditative practice.

 

51q1RK95cvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_You may find yourself inspired by a simple quotation, and less in need of the guidance of a writing prompt. If that is the case, a great resource is The Last Word: A Treasury of Women’s Quotes by Carolyn Warner. With more than 2,000 timeless quotes by women, representing everyone from Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots to pop megastar Madonna, The Last Word is a must-have for any woman looking for inspiration.

 

 

51XI3IzeqML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_My personal favorite isn’t new, but it is great for all levels of journaling. Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling by G. Lynn Nelson will change the way you write for the better by explaining the distinctions between private and public writing. If you need more proof that journaling can help you discover your true self and heal psychological and spiritual wounds, this is the book for you.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page next week for a chance to win your own copy of 10 Mindful Minutes and The Last Word!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Top Ten Kid-Friendly Apps

It’s unavoidable, we live in an age of technology. Our children seem almost glued to anything with a screen. There are many ways that you can use your child’s love of smartphones and tablets to your advantage. One way is to foster continuous learning, even during summer break. There are an abundance of apps designed specifically for learning.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Unknown-2Duolingo is a free language learning app. You can choose from ten different languages to learn. It is a great app for all ages, so you can learn alongside your child.

Lumosity is a fun brain-training website that helps you increase your attention span and increase memory retention. The app is free and was designed for all ages.

Star Chart by Escapist Games Limited allows kids to learn all about the universe. You can hold it up to the sky and find out exactly what stars or planets you are looking at. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

THE aMAZEing Labyrinth has puzzles and mazes that will challenge your kids to think and problem solve. It costs $3.99.

toca lab logoToca Lab allows your children to learn about chemistry, magnetism, and electricity in a safe and fun way. The app costs $2.99.

Kids Numbers and Math by Intellijoy focuses on helping pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade children learn numbers and early math skills. There is a free version, but the full package costs $2.99.

Unknown-1Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc. teaches youngsters the alphabet and basic vocabulary with fun and engaging games. A smaller version of the app is free, but the full package must be unlocked by an in-app purchase.

Dr. Panda & Toto’s Treehouse is a fun app where kids can play with and take care of Toto the Turtle. The app includes many activities, so there’s endless replay value. The app costs $2.99.

UnknownFarFaria Free Children’s Books includes hundreds of choices so your child isn’t stuck reading the same story over and over again. It is best for ages 1-9. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

The NASA App allows you to view video hundreds of photos and videos to learn more about different ongoing projects. It is free and is a great resource for young rocket scientists and astronauts.

 

Written by Krista Knauer