Warm Potato Salad with Bacon, Asparagus and Swiss Chard

Warm potato salad with bacon, asparagus and swiss chard. Forget the hard boiled eggs. This is now my favorite version of potato salad, ever.  {via Keeper of the Home}

You don’t even understand how good this potato salad is.

A month or two ago, Ryan and I were out on a date. We had just discovered that our new home came complete with a very responsible teenage girl living next door. After our year of non-stop togetherness with four kids, being able to go out on date nights sounded divine.

We found ourselves at Earl’s, a local restaurant chain we enjoy. Not feeling particularly picky, we ordered the seasonal special, which included a steak, together with a decent coleslaw and a warm potato salad, whatever that was.

Well.

It was phenomenal. Now, I’m definitely a red meat girl and I love me some steak. But for some reason, I just kept going back to this salad. The skins were browned to perfection, the bits of vegetables and bacon were succulent, the whole thing was just delicious. I knew I had to try to recreate this recipe.

A few weeks ago I attempted it for the first time on an evening when Ryan was out. Not wanting to waste any (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), I consumed a rather large portion by my lonesome. I happened to mention what I had made on Facebook and several friends gently hinted that I might have a blog on which I should share such things. Subtle, ladies.

Last week, I made it again since Ryan had missed out the first time. There were a few differences the second time around, namely that I substituted spinach for swiss chard (this didn’t really affect it, in my opinion), I used medium potatoes instead of the small nugget ones (again, not a big difference), and I added bacon instead of frying up turkey deli meat (mmm, yes, this was definitely the best change I made).

Ryan agreed with me. This was incredible. He thought it was even better than the one we had at Earl’s.

I know that the name sounds sounds a bit gourmet and I often shy away from fancy-schmancy recipes myself, but it’s really so simple to make, and not fussy at all. My 2-year-old liked it and the 4-year-old cleaned off her plate, so it’s definitely kid friendly as well.

Warm potato salad with bacon, asparagus and swiss chard. Forget the hard boiled eggs. This is now my favorite version of potato salad, ever.  {via Keeper of the Home}

Warm Potato Salad with Bacon, Asparagus and Swiss Chard

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium red or yellow potatoes, or 20-25 small potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped swiss chard (spinach is a good substitute)
  • 1/2 cup asparagus pieces (can use 1 cup, if you really like asparagus)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon from clean source of pork (I’ve also used fried deli meat, like turkey, which isn’t quite as good but still works well if you don’t have/like bacon)
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1-2 cup to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Warm potato salad with bacon, asparagus and swiss chard. Forget the hard boiled eggs. This is now my favorite version of potato salad, ever.  {via Keeper of the Home}

Method:

1. Roast potatoes at 400 F for about 15-20 minutes (baby potatoes) or 40 minutes for medium ones. You want them to be soft enough to poke a fork into, with brown, crispy skins. The crispier the skins, the better it tastes.

Last time I made this, I didn’t have small potatoes and in an effort to speed up the process, I cut my medium potatoes in half and roasted them with the cut side down on my stone baking sheet. This was serendiptious, because I had unknowingly added an extra surface that could be crispified.

2. While potatoes are cooking, get out a frying pan and saute your other ingredients. First, cook up your bacon then set it aside.

Drain out some of the bacon grease, and then use the remaining grease to fry your asparagus pieces, and once they’re almost finished (they only take 5 minutes or less if your pan is already hot), then add the swiss chard (spinach, whatever leafy greens you’re using) in for the last minute. You only want to wilt the greens, mostly, not cook them to death.

Warm potato salad with bacon, asparagus and swiss chard. Forget the hard boiled eggs. This is now my favorite version of potato salad, ever.  {via Keeper of the Home}

3. Let potatoes cool off for a few minutes after coming out of the oven. I cut them in half to speed this up.

In the meantime, measure out your olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise. Start with 1/2 cup, and you can up it to 3/4 cup mayo if you feel like the potatoes are a bit dry still. Chop up green onions and add them to the bowl, along with your sauteed asparagus, greens, and chopped bacon.

4. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces (about 1 inch). I actually like using my kitchen scissors for this job, but you can just chop them on a cutting board.

5. Mix it all really well in a serving bowl, add your salt and pepper, and let it sit for 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle a little.

That’s it. Serve while still warm. Though not quite as good, this salad still tastes great as cold leftovers the next day, if you actually have any left over. Enjoy!

Warm potato salad with bacon, asparagus and swiss chard. Forget the hard boiled eggs. This is now my favorite version of potato salad, ever.  {via Keeper of the Home}

 

PlanToEat-150x150This post is sponsored by Plan To EatIf you know that you need to make strides towards regular meal planning and you’re looking for a tool to help you do it, I highly recommend that you check out Plan To Eat’s tour (so that you can see what it’s all about) and then sign up for a free 30-day trial to see how it would work for you! Plan To Eat was born from a desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

The Decorating Truths You Won’t See on HGTV @ nesting place

A prayer for all the weary Thursday mothers @ Lisa-Jo Baker

Pecan Bar Recipe (Grain-Free) @ Mommypotamus

The Single Easiest Habit Change to Improve Your Life Forever @ Becoming Minimalist

Waste your time @ Simple Homeschool

Rhubarb Salsa @ GNOWFGLINS

I Am Clay @ The Better Mom

Faces over Facebook, People over Pixels @ (in)courage

What are some tasty recipes you’ve tried lately?

Risks and Benefits of Sun Exposure {+ A Roundup of 5 Homemade Sunscreens}

Risks and Benefits of Sun Exposure-Keeper of the Home

By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

As a redhead with fair skin, sunscreen has always been a staple in my summertime skincare regimen.

The few blistering sunburns and sun poisoning that inflicted me when my parents forgot to slather it on me as a kid left a lasting impression: Going without sunscreen hurts!

But over the course of the past few years I’ve started to change my tune on sunscreen and sun exposure.

When I became aware that many Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, which we get naturally (and freely!) through sufficient sun exposure, I began to question whether or not sunscreen was always a must.

On top of that, I began to grow wary of the ingredients in most standard sunscreens on the market today. Putting potential carcinogenics on my skin to protect myself from skin cancer didn’t really make sense.

When I became the mom of three little fair-skinned redheads, I knew that I had to intentionally decide the risks and benefits of using sunscreen versus sun exposure. I didn’t want their delicate skin absorbing chemicals, but I also didn’t want to leave them open to the same blistering sunburns and sun poisoning that I remember getting as a child.

To create a balanced approach, I began investigating the benefits versus the risks of sun exposure and how to maximize those benefits and minimize those risks. I also began seeking out alternatives to conventional sunscreens.

Benefits of Sun Exposure-Keeper of the Home
image by Public Domain Pictures

Benefits of Sun Exposure

The sun is vital to our health.  In fact, without sun exposure, we’re likely deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and is necessary for bone growth (source). Studies have also shown that maintaining proper vitamin D levels can help boost the immune system (source).

In addition, it is possible that low vitamin D levels can contribute to depression and psychological disorders!

But many Americans are deficient in this vitamin.

A few years ago my husband discovered he was vitamin D deficient. His doctor prescribed him heavy doses of vitamin D3 in an attempt to boost his levels.

I later found out that I was vitamin D deficient as well. During this time, I also experienced some thyroid problems. I had thought I had postpartum depression, but I now theorize that many of my health issues at the time could have been traced back to my vitamin D deficiency.

The puzzle pieces began coming together when I discovered that vitamin D deficiency can actually be a precursor to thyroid disease (source).

It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D solely through diet (source). My husband and I began taking about 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day during the winter, and I give our girls up to 1,000 IUs per day. But perhaps the very best supplement to boost your vitamin D levels is cod liver oil.

During the warmer weather months, when we spend plenty of time outside, I cut down our supplementation to account for the best vitamin D we can get–straight from the sun.

Besides the benefits of vitamin D, sun exposure can also help improve mood (source).

Risks of Sun Exposure-Keeper of the Home
image by digasalinas

Risks of Sun Exposure

Although I tout the benefits of the sun for proper vitamin D intake, I have no doubt that too much sun can be a very bad thing. I’ve witnessed it in my fair-skinned siblings and experienced it myself as a child. Blistering sunburns and sun poisoning are not something I want my children to ever experience if I can help it.

The risks of too much sun exposure include:

  • dehydration,
  • immune system suppression,
  • eye damage,
  • skin aging, and
  • skin cancer (source).

DIY Natural Sunscreen

So should we use sunscreen?

How can we take advantage of all the sun’s benefits while protecting ourselves–and our families–from the sun’s harmful effects?

I believe it takes an intentional approach.

Some studies indicate that slow and steady exposure to the sun over time is much safer than heavy doses of sun exposure all at once (source). A Scandinavian study of melanoma risk published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2003 found that adolescence is actually the most dangerous time to get a sunburn (source).

And could some sunscreens actually accelerate skin cancer?

A few years ago, I came across this article referencing a study that theorized that some sunscreens may actually accelerate cancer because of ingredients like vitamin A.

“…the EWG researchers found the initial findings of an FDA study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, meaning the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.

“In that yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream,” the report said (source).

Also, according to the The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, sunscreens could possibly be to blame for widespread vitamin D deficiency:

“The same DNA-damaging, sunburn-causing UVB wavelengths that sunscreens are designed to block also do some good: They kick off the chemical and metabolic chain reaction that produces vitamin D. Research shows that many people have low vitamin D levels. There is a well-documented relationship between low vitamin D levels and poor bone health. Now links have been made to everything from multiple sclerosis to prostate cancer. ‘Linking’ low vitamin D with these diseases doesn’t prove cause-and-effect, but it suggests that possibility.” (source)

I do not believe we can live our lives in fear. But my research led me to allow my three daughters–who are currently 1, 3 and 6–to get a decent amount of unprotected sun exposure while they are young. Now is the time to be slowly building up their sun exposure.

My girls play outside nearly every day. And I do not slather on the sunscreen. What has shocked me the most? My little redheaded, fair-skinned girls have not had sunburns. In fact, I burn far more easily than they do. (And my husband is a fair-skinned redhead himself, so they aren’t getting any tanning genes from him either!)

I believe the slow and steady sun exposure is already helping them not to burn–along with the mostly whole foods diet I have fed them since birth (source).

We use a natural sunscreen if we are going to be outside for an extended amount of time. (Check the EWG Skin Deep Database for safe sunscreen ratings as well as some of my personal reviews I have linked to at the end of this post.)

Minimizing Sun Risks Without Using Sunscreen-Keeper of the Home
image by Public Domain Pictures

Minimizing the Sun’s Risks Without Using Sunscreen

It’s important to remember that there are ways to minimize the sun’s risks without using sunscreen, such as:
  • seeking out shade via an awning, umbrella, tree or even hat.
  • wearing swimsuits that cover a lot.
  • checking yourself and family frequently for skin changes that may indicate cancerous growths.

5 Homemade Sunscreen Recipes {+ Natural Sunscreen Recommendations}

The very best way to make sure your sunscreen is safe is to make your own! Check out these 5 homemade sunscreens to get you started:

DIY Natural Sunscreen @ The Humbled Homemaker

Homemade Sunscreen Lotion @ Keeper of the Home

“Diaper Cream” Sunscreen @ One Good Thing by Jillee

Essential Oil Sun Protecting Blends @ The Encouraging Home

Homemade Sunscreen Bars @ Wellness Mama

A few years ago I had the opportunity to review several top-notch natural sunscreens. You can read those reviews here:

Kabana Organic

MelanSol

TruKid

And here’s my nitty gritty on all three natural sunscreens. I’ve also since discovered Lexie: Naturals and Made On sunscreens, which I personally recommend.

(Stephanie’s note: We use either my homemade recipe linked to above, or else we buy Badger Sunscreen which is fantastic, though I think Erin’s recommendations are all great choices as well!)

The Risks and Benefits of Sun Exposure-Keeper of the Home

Were you aware of the risks and benefits of sun exposure? Have you ever tried making homemade sunscreen?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am simply a mom who loves to research. Please conduct your own research and consult with your trusted health professional before making any decisions regarding your health. This blog is for entertainment purposes only.

Disclosure: Keeper of the Home earns a commission through purchases made through some of this page’s links. Thanks for your support of this site!

top image by jstn

Simple, Nutritious Snack Solutions

Simple, Nutritious Snack Solutions {Keeper of the Home}

By Hilary Kimes Bernstein, Contributing Writer

Looking for simple, nutritious snack solutions for your hungry children this summer?

Try fresh fruits and vegetables.

God has a marvelous way of creating snack food to be easily accessible and nourishing. You can curb your children’s hunger by letting them munch on something fresh and natural.

You don’t have to worry about getting all Pinteresty cute with your preparation and presentation. If you do, your kids would probably get a kick out of it. But I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never taken the extra time to create Bento Box-inspired little radish flowers or ladybugs made of cherry tomatoes and black olives.

Simple preparations – washing and cutting the produce into age-appropriate bites – are all you need. Or, in the case of bananas, just bring your snack along, peel and eat. It truly doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Simple, Nutritious Snack Solutions {Keeper of the Home}

Learning from experience

I’ve found that my children are happy to fill their bellies with nutritious, fresh snacks because it’s all we have in our house. Because I don’t buy pre-packaged, processed snacks, we’re not tempted to eat them.

My kids do eat Goldfish crackers when they’re served in Sunday school, and they know their friends eat prepackaged granola bars and yogurt in a tube. They’re happy to try those splurges when they’re at playdates. But as long as I’m the mama serving the food, I stick to healthy snacks. By doing this, I’ve found that even the pickiest eaters find something fresh that they like to munch on.

I’ve become the mom who serves the healthy snacks partially because I wasn’t raised like that. I preferred Oreos to apples since they were served in my home.

When my babies were old enough to start solid foods, I wanted healthy eating to come naturally to them. I didn’t want them to have to battle unhealthy food preferences well into their adult years. So I stuck to real fruits and vegetables in order for the flavors to become familiar and their favorites. To this day, my 6-year-old son’s favorite foods are vegetables.

Simple, Nutritious Snack Solutions {Keeper of the Home}

How to encourage your own children to eat healthy

Vegetables may not become your child’s favorite foods – and that’s OK. Just getting them to eat any vegetables may be a huge accomplishment in your family. Some fresh produce in a diet is better than nothing.

If you have the luxury of starting to feed your baby solid foods, start with simple mashed fruits or veggies. Mashed avocados or bananas are fantastic first foods. Slowly move on until you introduce a wide variety of fresh foods.

For older children, finicky eating habits could be pretty well-established. Yet it’s not impossible to help your son or daughter change. Just start small and expect a slow process. Keep trying.

If you don’t think your kiddos like veggies, watch what they’ll try when you serve a plate of baby carrots, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper slices and snap peas. Most children I know would love to graze from a plate of blueberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries, chunks of melon, and apple slices.

One way to entice your children (or spouse) to eat healthier is to try a new fruit or vegetable as a family. Buy something you’ve never tasted before, cook it together and eat it. You may not care for the taste – or you may love it. Trying it is the only way you’ll find out.

Simple, Nutritious Snack Solutions {Keeper of the Home}

Time savers

If you don’t have time to prepare a platter of fresh produce, offer a simple choice like apple slices or carrot sticks. Your child will be happy to get to choose what he or she would like to eat, and you’ll be happy that the decision is a healthy one.

If at all possible, try to prep your veggies for snacking once you bring them home from the store or garden. Wash and cut vegetables, then store them in containers that are easy to grab from the fridge. It’s much easier to munch on celery, carrots or peppers when they’re ready to eat. 

Be encouraged to keep introducing different vegetables just so your family can try a variety of foods. And if you’re really determined to curb processed food, you can do what I do – just stop buying it. If you only have healthy food in your fridge and cupboards, your family will eat when they get hungry.

Want some more snack ideas and recipes?

What are your favorite fruits and vegetables to munch on? What are some of your simple, nutritious snack solutions?

What’s Helping Me Conquer Our Runaway Grocery Budget

What's helping me conquer our runaway grocery budget - Keeper of the Home

I bet you’d never guess the tools I find most useful when it comes to sticking with and maximizing our grocery budget.

You might think it has to do with meal planning. Or perhaps a kitchen appliance like a grain grinder or crockpot. Maybe it’s planting a garden or using my farmer’s market. Or finding ways to get great bulk prices.

Actually, it’s so much simpler than that. Almost too simple and it barely seems worth sharing EXCEPT that I so often forget to do this, and every time I do it, I’m reminded again how powerful it is.

And I need powerful right now, because since returning from our trip, our grocery expenses have skyrocketed. We’ve jumped up from being able to maintain about a $500 monthly budget, with which I had to be intentional but we ate really well and bought high quality foods, up to an average of $900 per month. In just over a year.

Of course, there are many factors at play here. Our youngest was an exclusively breastfed baby, and he’s now a 2 year old with a hefty appetite and chunky thighs. Our other three kids have grown as well, and their appetites have kept pace. We’ve been eating mostly gluten and/or grain free, which means less reliance on cheaper foods like grains bought in bulk, which fill up tummies faster. When we left, we used up or gave away our entire pantry and freezer stash that I had worked hard for years to build up. Not to mention, food prices have increased while we were away.

So there are reasons. Real ones. I get why we’re forking out more for our food these days. It’s driving me crazy, but I get it.

I’m working on a long-term plan to cut costs. It’s funny, because I sort of wrote the book on this subject (no, literally, I wrote a book about how to eat healthy food for less) and I’ve had to go back and re-read my own words, remind myself of the strategies that I had been implementing for so many years to make our budget work. Some of it I had forgotten. Some of it I still knew and wasn’t implementing, because we recently moved to a new town and I’m still sourcing out the best places to even shop right now. And some of it I was doing, but not carefully enough.

But what I reminded myself of the other night is that a big part of saving money is so much simpler than we think it is.

It requires three little things:

  • paper
  • pen
  • calculator (I use my phone)

See, this month we decided to just force ourselves to stick to $700. We’d like to ultimately get it even lower, but that will take time, re-establishing a pantry and freezer bulk stash, and possibly, going back on grains (we’ll see). For now, we’re just taking baby steps to do what we can, since summer is historically a lower-income season for us with our family businesses.

Well, I needed to do a big grocery shop the other night, keeping in mind that we still had 2 weeks left in the month. I looked at our $700 budget and saw that after an online order I had just placed for more almond flour and stevia, I was down to about $236 for the month. Yikes.

Here’s what I did: I wrote out a quick list of meal ideas that we could eat. Nothing fancy, just things we like and that I know I can make easily. Then I wrote out a list of foods that would make a lot of simple meals, that we enjoy, that I know to be mostly frugal choices (ie. cheaper cuts of meat, adding in some lentils, shopping from bulk bins when possible, and no just-for-fun extras). I guesstimated what those items would cost, so that I had a working total before I even set foot in the store. I was aiming to spend no more than $125, to leave us with a remaining $100 for produce and fresh dairy or a bit of extra meat to help see us through the month’s end.

Then, I went to the store, list in hand, and I pulled out my calculator. As I went along, I put items in my cart. Each time, I stopped and added the cost of those items onto my calculator. I kept a running tally the entire time.

I spent extra time looking really carefully at the meat section to find the cheapest cuts and the things I thought I could stretch into the most meals possible (we’re still looking for local farmers to buy higher quality meat from since we moved). I bought the produce that worked out to the best per-pound prices instead of being picky. I found some marked down produce and picked that up.

I made a few hard choices to put things back or buy less of something else so that I could buy more of something really practical. And I never let my $$ goal leave my mind.

calculator and receipt_

As I walked up to the till, I was pretty sure I had $136 worth of food in my cart. I had decided the extra $11 was acceptable because I was coming home with more meat than I had expected to buy, which would give us more meals, so it was worth it.

When I checked out, my total came to $136.45.

And that was the best feeling I’d had in a long time. As I packed up my food haul and drove back to our house that night, I knew I’d been faithful with what I’d had. I had spent carefully. Wisely. Intentionally. And now I could go home and make a workable, delicious meal plan, knowing that I had the food I needed to make it happen.

No extra items made their way into my cart. No splurge buys. No guesstimating that I was spending sort of the right amount and then getting to the till and realizing I had gone $50 over (how many times has that happened? Too many to count!).

All because I planned it out, and kept track of what went into my cart. It’s sooooo simple. It feels silly to even write a blog post about.

But it’s true and it works.

Meal planning and working out a carefully planned, carefully executed food budget are two of the things I feel like I go on and on about. Have you gotten tired of me yet? :)

If not, and you really want to learn to make a tangible difference in the money you’re spending and what you’re doing with the food you buy, then I’ve got a great deal for you (because it won’t do to have you spend extra money when you’re actually trying to SAVE, right?).

SUMMER SALE 2This week only, I’m putting all of my ebooks on a huge half-price sale. Every KOTH ebook is 50% off.

I have a 3-pack ebook bundle, which contains Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for LessPlan It, Don’t Panic (meal planning guide), and Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time. Bought separately, they’re worth $38 and I usually sell the bundle for $28. But this week? It’s yours for $14.

Just use coupon code HEALTHYSUMMER to take 50% off of any individual book, or off of our 3 book bundle. You can see all my books HERE.

Happy summer savings!

If this topic interests you, you might also want to read:

What I Would Feed my Family on a Monthly Budget of $250 (granted, prices would have gone up by now, as I wrote this about 2 years ago, but the principles are all the same)

How I Would Improve my $250 Budget Even More

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

The Filthy Shepherd @ Redemption Pictures

How Food Sensitivities Affect Behavior @ Wellness Mama

Ginger-Lemon Mocktail: The Perfect Summer Drink @ GNOWFGLINS

7 Invisible Benefits of Living Simply @ Be More with Less

A Way We Can Make Each Other Feel Safe @ (in)courage

Foolproof BBQ Chicken {Plus BBQ Sauce Recipe} @ The Nourishing Home

How do you find good friends? @ Money Saving Mom

Why Groups and Programs Struggle @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

How do you keep cool during the hot months of summer?

Pea Guacamole Dip Recipe: Guacamole That Stays Green!

Pea Guacamole Dip Recipe {Keeper of the Home}

By Andrea Green, Contributing Writer

The first time I made this pea guacamole dip recipe, I served it to my family without telling them what the secret ingredient was.

They could taste the avocado. They could taste the tomatoes. They could taste the cilantro.

NO ONE detected the peas!

On my honor. This guacamole tastes like the real deal.

So why add peas to guacamole? They certainly aren’t a traditional ingredient.

The benefit to adding peas to guacamole is it will keep the guacamole looking bright and green overnight.

Think of the possibilities!

You can now include guacamole in a picnic lunch and not worry about it browning before it is time to serve it.

Or, make pea guacamole dip the night before to add to brown bag lunches the next day. It makes for a tasty dip for carrots and red peppers.

Preparing your peas

Now, this recipe calls for peas that are blanched. If you have never blanched peas before, it is quite simple. Boil the peas for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they turn bright green. Then, drain them and immediately plunge them into ice water.

You’ll see here how I sink a strainer into the ice water making it easy to drain the peas.

Pea Guacamole Dip Recipe {Keeper of the Home}

The second trick to this pea guacamole dip recipe is to run the peas and avocado through the food processor longer than you may think is necessary. The pea skins are hard to get smooth. Keep testing it until you get close to smooth.

It isn’t necessary to get it completely smooth. Once you add the other ingredients, it gets chunky anyway.

Pea Guacamole Dip Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup frozen peas
  2. 2 avocados
  3. 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  4. 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons lime juice
  6. sea salt to taste
  7. chopped cilantro to taste
  8. optional: 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
Instructions
  1. Add peas to boiling water and boil 3 to 5 minutes, or until bright green.
  2. Drain peas and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water.
  3. Add the avocados and peas to the work bowl of a food processor and run until relatively smooth.
  4. Stir in tomato, red onion, lime juice and jalapeno if using.
  5. Taste and add salt to taste.
Keeper of the Home http://www.keeperofthehome.org/wp/
Your guacamole is ready to serve. It is perfect on Mexican Meatloaf with Guacamole Frosting or Lime Baked Tortilla Chips.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, you help to support this site (at no extra cost to yourself!), so thanks!

Stocking Your Summer Medicine Cabinet (Plus 23 recipes)

Stocking Your Summer Medicine Cabinet {Keeper of the Home}

By Jami Leigh, Contributing Writer

As I scroll through my Pinterest board for home remedies, most of the things I see are flu remedies and cough medicine. While you might need these during the summer, it’s more likely that you will be hunting for bug bite spray, poison ivy salve, and sun burn relief.

I decided I needed to update my board (and my medicine cabinet) with all my favorite summer home remedies and recipes. I encourage you to pin these recipes and remedies and even make some of them now, before you need them.

Summertime means fun adventures outside and if you have kids, that means lots of boo boos including bug bites, sunburns, scrapes, bumps, poison oak, bee stings, and more. Don’t wait until you get home from a long day at the beach – your entire family sun-burnt and exhausted – and try to figure out a natural, home remedy to soothe the pain. Stock your summer medicine cabinet now.

My advice is to order the ingredients and make a few of these ahead of time so you have them on hand to grab at a moment’s notice. Here’s my guide if you need baby steps for stocking a natural medicine cabinet (including where to buy ingredients).

Dealing with Pests and Bugs

Bugs and their bites are a common problem through summer. The easiest way to deal with these pests is to avoid them in the first place with recipes below, but you might find yourself having to deal with bites!

Indoor/Outdoor Homemade Bug Spray by Your Thriving Home

Essential Oil Insect Repellent Spray by Tasty-Yummies

Homemade, Natural Bug-Spray Recipes by Wellness Mama

Natural Insect repellent Lotion Bars by Thursamaday

Dealing with the Sun

Choosing which sunscreen to use is a big deal as most commercial sunscreens are full of harmful chemicals and can cause more damage than good. But avoiding sunburn is also really important so here are a few natural, homemade sunscreens to try or whip up a batch of sunburn relief if you need.

Homemade Non-Toxic Sunscreen Lotion Bars by Homemade Mommy

Make Your Own Sunscreen Lotion by Keeper of the Home

Natural Shea Butter Sunscreen by Day2Day Joys

Herbal Remedies for Sunburns by Keeper of the Home

DIY Sunburn Relief Spray by Modern Wellness

The Best Natural Sunburn Cream by Modern Wellness

Treating Bee Stings & Bug Bites

Ouch! Bee stings can ruin a great trip to the park and mosquito bites can ruin your camping trip. Have these remedies on hand to quickly help heal the pain and get your family back to fun this summer!

Activated Charcoal for Bug Bites and Other Itchy Situations by Crunchy Betty

How to Treat Bug Bites Naturally by Keeper of the Home

Bug Bite Relief Stick by Live in Art

20 Natural Bug Bite Remedies by One Part Sunshine

Herbal Bee Sting Paste by Keeper of the Home

Dealing with Allergies

Hopefully you are getting over seasonal allergies, but if you are still battling pesky allergies, here are some great natural remedies to try!

Say Goodbye to Allergies with Raw Local Honey by Simply Rebekah

The Ultimate Guide for Dealing with Allergies Naturally by Common Sense Home

Treating Allergies with Essential Oils by The Encouraging Home

How to Treat Seasonal Allergies Naturally and Without Medications by Nourished for Free

Other Essentials for Summer

Here are some other things that you might be really happy to have this summer in your natural medicine cabinet!

Homemade Natural Chapstick (better than Burt’s Bees) by Young Wife’s Guide

Simple Summer Skin Refreshers by Keeper of the Home

Homemade Daily Facial Moisturizer + SPF by Homemade Mommy

Homemade Calamine Lotion by Nourishing Joy

You might also want to check out our suggestions for what to include in a simple, summer first aid kit!

Frozen Banana Bites: The Perfect Summertime Treat!

Frozen Banana Bites {Keeper of the Home}

By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer

In just a few more days, summer will officially arrive, and we simply cannot wait! In anticipation of “no more pencils, no more books” … we’ve already dusted off the ice cream maker and of course, our ice pop molds.

That’s because making homemade frozen treats is one of my family’s favorite summertime traditions. In fact, the ice cream man has given up on visiting our neighborhood since my boys and I whip up a never-ending supply of delicious ice pops and other frozen concoctions that keep us (and their friends) well supplied. Besides, making your own frozen treats isn’t just FUN – it’s economical and healthier too!

The good news is, you really don’t have to invest in a fancy ice cream maker or even ice pop molds to enjoy a refreshing frozen treat. One of our favorite super-duper easy frozen treats are these incredible frozen banana bites from my FREE “Healthy Ice Pops & Frozen Treats” eBook.

Made with fresh banana slices, a dab of nut butter and homemade chocolate hard shell, these little bite-sized gems take only minutes to make and seconds to eat. (Warning: It’s impossible to eat just one!)

How to Make Frozen Banana Bites

Frozen Banana Bites {Keeper of the Home}

Step One

Peel and cut 3 to 4 large bananas into thick slices. Add a dab of nut butter (or sunflower seed butter) to the center to create a banana nut butter sandwich. Then, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once you’ve finished assembling your banana sandwiches, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours, until the banana sandwiches are frozen solid.

Step Two

Make homemade chocolate hard shell, following the recipe below. Allow it to cool on the counter while your banana sandwiches are freezing. Go do something fun while you wait, like make some more ice pops – here are a few great recipes that will definitely keep that ice cream man at bay.

Frozen Banana Bites {Keeper of the Home}

Step Three

Once your banana sandwiches are frozen, place a toothpick into the center and use it to dip them into the homemade chocolate hard shell. Hold the frozen banana bite over the dish to allow the excess chocolate to run off. Then transfer back to the parchment lined sheet to finish hardening.

Frozen Banana Bites {Keeper of the Home}

Step Four

Enjoy! You can gobble up your frozen banana bites right away, or save them for later. If you opt to save them for later, place the baking sheet full of chocolate-dipped banana bites back into the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, you can transfer them to a freezer safe container. Be sure to remove the toothpicks if serving to small children.

Frozen Banana Bites {Keeper of the Home}

Homemade Chocolate Hard Shell

Recipe courtesy of the Healthy Ice Pops & Frozen Treats eBook

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet, fair-trade chocolate chips
• 1/3 cup coconut oil
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil and chocolate chips, while stirring constantly.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
3. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a small glass dish. If using the chocolate hard shell for dipping fruit, be sure that the dish is deep enough to allow you to completely cover the fruit.
4. Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature before using, then dip away and enjoy!

Frozen Banana Bites {Keeper of the Home}

Looking for more delicious ways to use this easy and scrumptious chocolate hard shell topping?

• Drizzle it on top of homemade vanilla ice cream or homemade custard and top with nuts for a yummy ice cream parfait.
• Or drizzle it on top of a luscious ice cream concoction like strawberry goat cheese ice cream and top with sliced strawberries.
• Use it as a decadent fruit dip for your favorite summertime party trays.
• Or go ultra-fancy and make irresistible Blackberry Bon Bons.

And … you can discover even more fun ways we use homemade chocolate hard shell to create a whole host of frozen ice pop treats by grabbing your free copy of Healthy Ice Pops & Frozen Treats.” Have a happy & delicious summer!

Do you and your kids enjoy making homemade frozen treats? If so, what are your favorites?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Dads Aren’t Dumb @ Shauna Niequist

11 strategies for a morning routine (when you can NOT wake up before the kids) @ The Art of Simple

Probiotic Powerhouse Popsicles @ The Humbled Homemaker

Why the World Needs the Makers to Say No Boldly @ Nesting Place

Happiness Versus Joy and Why We Choose Happy Too @ Life Your Way

Gluten-Free Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Paleo Satay Sauce @ Food Renegade

Coffee with Osama @ Shaun Groves

Concerned About a Lifetime of Unhealthy Product Choices? @ Accidentally Green

SOS-Cover-Sm

A fun writing tool for your kids this summer

Since we’re still keeping up with a bit of school this summer, I thought I’d share something we’re using right now. Whether you’re a homeschooler or your kids are on summer break from public/private school, keeping them writing over the summer holidays is a really good idea.

To keep things light and fun, we’re using this ebook from my friend Tsh at The Art of Simple. It gives kids a bit more insight into the different parts of a story, and what makes a good one. Then it gives 10 story prompts that you could use over 10 weeks (or just at your child’s own pace), with questions to help them think through their characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution, etc.

My 9 year old, Abbie, is using it right now. She’s currently writing a story about a girl named Julia who goes on a bike ride one day, when her bike suddenly develops a mind of its own and leads her to discover a secret river that she didn’t know existed in her own backyard. Fun, huh?

The ebook is just $4 and comes with all the printable pages you need to create a journal or writing binder, so I love how it’s all just ready for me to use. It’s called A Summer of Stories and you can grab yours here.

How do you keep your kids entertained during the long, summer months?