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It has been a busy week! We have been back in Austin for just one week, and things have been non stop, as usual. It’s one of the reasons we love Austin so much, lots to do!

I wanted to share with you some of our road snacks and things we found along the way to make traveling a little easier:

We took the following with us: 

  • Sandwiches for my husband (Made on whole grain bread). We used portobello mushrooms, spinach and hummus. It’s important to toast bread when you are packing it for a long trip.
  • My husband also had a lentil/rice veggie burger that he heated up on our dashboard! It was 118 degrees outside driving through Arizona!
  • Hummus and veggies. This was probably what we ate the most of on our trip. It’s so easy to make hummus, put it in a container and have little baggies filled with sliced up veggies, plus it’s not messy! And have I mentioned I LOVE hummus (plain) with apple slices? Has anyone else discovered this?
  • Grapes – easy no mess!
  • Oatmeal – we could get hot water anywhere, so we could make oatmeal anywhere.
  • Raisins (for the oatmeal mostly)
  • Water! Always make sure you have a water bottle filled up and ready to go on road trips.

Things we found along the way: 

  • We could find oil free hummus in just about every grocery store.
  • Chopped veggies in any grocery store.
  • Heart Thrives  (my husband likes these)
  • Dry roasted edamame.
  • Fruit! We found fruit in every gas station we stopped in, we even found a fruit bar at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, there was nothing near or around this town at all!
  • We also checked out some very small towns grocery store selections. We are happy to report that even if you are living in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Texas it is completely possible (and easy) to eat this way! We found dried beans, brown rice, vegetables and fruit in every grocery store we checked out, and even a few small gas stations!
  • Starbucks: Dried fruit.
  • We stopped for the night at our Aunt and Uncles house, they made us a meal of lots of different vegetables, hummus and we had brown rice and beans.
Places to stop along the way: 
  • Pei Wei has a few options that are animal free/oil free. Browned rice and steamed vegetables are on the menu. If you can have tofu, they also have steamed tofu. We were driving through a town near El Paso when we found a Pei Wei – we knew that between El Paso and Austin there would not be much in the way of food options, so we went with that for a meal of substance.
  • Whole Foods: Once we got out of Arizona we didn’t see another Whole Foods till we got to Austin, but we were able to get some of our fruits and vegetables at the last Whole Foods we did find.
  • Super Target: Great for baby carrots, grapes, sliced apples.
We’ve never gone hungry in all of our 1000′s of miles of driving, nor have we had to eat junk food! Sometimes you just have to look and think outside the box (or bag).
When we got to Austin, I was so happy because while I do love simplicity, I also love discovering new fruits/vegetables and products. We found this:
It is called “Cream of Balsamic” and we found it at Whole Foods. There is no cream in it, and it has the same nutrition has balsamic vinegar, so no oil, or weird stuff added. It’s thick like a sauce, and it’s amazing! It’s just what I’ve been looking for.
and it comes out all fancy, like this:
I’m not sure how widely available it is, but check with your local grocery store to see if they carry it, or if they can carry it, it’s well worth it.

We found ourselves living in Malibu, because of a nice streak of good luck on our part. It is beautiful, our small cottage is surrounded by the most beautiful landscaping that attracts various species of birds, including wild parrots.  We’re not really talking super remote, by any stretch of the imagination. But you’d be surprised, even when it seems like it should be easy to shop on a regular basis, sometimes we still stare into the kitchen as though it was completely empty.

We were living in a beautiful canyon, looking over the pacific ocean, which is amazing. The trouble (for me) is driving up and down the very curvy hills to get anywhere. Not my favorite thing to do. One day I was looking in the kitchen and thought that I had nothing to make for dinner, and I really didn’t want to drive out the the grocery store. It was then that I discovered I had plenty to make.

The only ingredients you need to make a fabulous meal are: whole grains/beans/vegetables. And often, you do not need all three to make a great meal happen. We generally keep frozen vegetables in the freezer, and most of the time we have brown rice in the house, and of course we always have a few spices on hand.

If you only have a grain and a vegetable around, you have enough for a meal. Add some spice, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top (if you have it) , and you have something that tasted like you followed a recipe.

In fact, you might not even need that much! We recently had lunch with the director of the movie “Forks Over Knives” we had a large plate of delicious fresh figs, nothing else! Needless to say we were completely satisfied with our meal! I absolutely loved it! It made me realize that we could be even MORE simple about the way we eat!

I’ve made a big list of ideas. You can serve them as one big bowl or you can separate everything if you like. And be sure to try out different spices/herbs to go along with them. I’ve found that there is not much that can go wrong with adding spices, just add slowly and see if it is something that you will like. Here are some great combinations:

  • Sweet potato, kale, white beans, brown rice.
  • White potato, black beans, tomatoes, corn, spinach.
  • Quinoa, mixed greens, red beans, cauliflower
  • Brown rice, chickpeas, peas, zucchini,  curry powder, turmeric
  • White beans, fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts, garlic, kale.
  • Brown rice pasta, zucchini,  brocoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Lentils, collard greens, brown rice, artichoke
  • Potatoes, portobello mushrooms, green beans,  spinach, black beans
  • Brown rice pasta, lentils, strained tomatoes (or tomato puree), garlic, brocoli
  • Wild rice, onion, red lentils, greens
  • Brown rice, salsa, frozen southwestern veggie mix, black beans
  • Sweet potato, topped with black beans
  • Brown rice, black pepper, asian style veggie mix.
  • Cauliflower soup – cook cauliflower, blend add chickpeas.
  • Quinoa pasta cooked and chilled, cucumber, tomato, beans, balsamic vinegar
  • Mashed chickpeas, onion, garlic, chopped celery, cucumber served on whole grain bread
  • Lentils, chopped tomato, lettuce, spinach, salsa, served on lettuce or served in corn tortillas
  • Roasted vegetable mix & quinoa
  • Beans & brown rice
  • Spinach salad: strawberries, raisins, balsamic
  • Chop salad: chopped cucumber, celery, carrots, zucchini, tossed with quinoa.
  • Big salad: Whatever fresh vegetables you have on top of greens. (the whatever salad!)
  • *Salad is always a good option if you have fresh vegetables/greens laying around. You can use balsamic vinegar for a dressing, salsa or even just lemon.
  • Huge plate of steamed vegetables with spices.

Here is one of the dishes we made when we just had brown rice, mixed asian style vegetables, black pepper and some left over celery/carrot sticks:

I could go on for a while, but hopefully you get the point. If you have vegetables, grains, beans in the house you are all set. Start finding creative flavor combinations. It’s not only healthy for you, it will save you some money as well! When you are down to the last bits of everything, try to come up with a creative meal!

Food does not have to be complicated if you do not want it to be, enjoy food and enjoy your life in the meantime.

We spent part of last winter on a barrier island in North Carolina. During the summer the area is bustling with families and friends, and nearly every home is filled to capacity.

However, during the winter it is a very different story. We went weeks before we would see another person. Often, we were out numbered by the employees at the grocery store. We would go on long walks on the cold beach, and not see anyone for miles. There was hardly a sound that came from the island, no cars in the distance, no late night parties, it was just ocean and wind.

We were about 2 hours from the closest large grocer store. We did live near a small chain grocery store, that had a very small produce section and the essentials. A remote place, is the best time to figure out how to live a more simplistic life. You have to plan ahead a bit, and you have to be happy with the options (and lack of options) a place might have.

We have yet to find a place in which we can not grocery shop, no one is with a good excuse for not having a more simple, healthy life. In fact, I’d say if you are in an area with fewer options you are almost better off, less choices to make unhealthy decisions.

When we grocery shop, these are the basics we purchase:

Beans: 

Whatever whole beans they have in stock. We have a pressure cooker, so it makes it a lot easier. Canned is not always an option, because of the high sodium in most canned beans, and other health concerns with canning. So we buy whole beans, they are cheaper and with the pressure cooker they are fast and easy to make.

Lentils: 

Whole lentils are a great addition to any grocery list, they are quick to make (especially in the pressure cooker) and pack a punch to fill you up. During the winter, we loved lentil soup! I know most of you are burning up from summer right now, so you can just make nice cold lentil salads instead.

Grains: 

Brown rice is probably the easiest and cheapest whole grain you can find in any grocery store. If you’d like you can also buy things like whole grain pasta and quinoa as well. We also pick up oatmeal which is available everywhere.

Fruit: 

During the winter months, in this little grocery store, fresh fruit was scarce. So we opted to buy frozen fruit instead. Frozen fruit is often flash frozen in the field, so it can actually be more fresh than the fresh fruit found in most grocery stores. You can defrost the fruit if you like, or you can have a nice cold, tasty treat.

Vegetables: 

We ran into the same trouble with vegetables as we did fruit. In the winter, fresh produce on the island was not in abundance. We bought what we could fresh, and bought the rest frozen. You will want to be sure they haven’t added anything to the frozen vegetables like salt/oil.

Salt Free Seasoning: 

We’ve had a lot of luck finding salt free seasonings in stores. We also purchase things like cayenne, basil, oregano and garlic to add to our meals.

Balsamic vinegar: 

This is our dressing of choice when we need some extra flavor in dishes or salads.

Lemons/Lemon Juice: 

Another great way to add flavor to a dish!

Non dairy unsweetened milk: 

We have been to a lot of grocery stores, and we’re happy to report that finding unsweetened non dairy milk is easier than ever! We’ve even spotted it at 7-11′s!

Potatoes/sweet potatoes: 

Always easy to find, and you can cook a bunch at once so you have them for the week!

Parchment paper: 

If we plan to bake anything in the oven, we always pick up some parchment paper. We don’t keep oil or spray oil in the house! It makes things a lot easier and less sticky to use parchment paper.

Other tricks of the trade: 

Another secret to traveling full time around the country, is Amazon. We have an Amazon prime account which means we pay a little bit to get A LOT of 2 day shipping. And the best part? You can order food through Amazon. Here are some of the things we’ve purchased through Amazon:

POMI tomatoes
dry beans
gluten free oats
whole grains
lentils
unsweetened non dairy milk
whole grain cereals
Ground flax seed

We do this especially when we know we’ll be traveling with a packed car and might not be able to stop a couple of hours away from our destination to stock up on groceries. When we are in cities that have stores nearby, we don’t worry as much, but when we know that the closest store is a pretty long drive, we will often put in a grocery order right before we get there.

Benson’s Gourmet seasonings: 

This is by far the best salt free spice line that we’ve tried. You can only order it online, but it’s worth it (or at least we think it is).We stock up on our favorites every few months.

Ways to make your life easier: 

  • Avoid speciality products. Even if you live near 3 Whole Foods, a Trader Joes, a Nature’s grocer and a co-op, I think it is still important to keep things simple in the grocery store.
  • There is no need for speciality products, you can get all of your nutrition from simple ingredients and whole foods.
  • Buy dry beans/grains when you can, they will last you a while, and you don’t have to worry about things spoiling.
  • Have a decent supply of frozen vegetables and fruit. This will make your life a lot easier when you find yourself with out any fresh vegetables/fruits to use.
  • Make a grocery shopping list, and put things in 5 columns, it should fall under: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, salt free spices. If your item does not fit into one of those categories, there is a good chance you don’t need it!
  • Go into the store, turn right. Start your shopping trip out in the produce section. From there ONLY go to the sections of the store that you absolutely need to go to.
  • Bring your own bags! It’s so “in” right now!
  • Organize your food on the cashier belt at the store. This is going to sound silly, but if you organize your groceries the right way, chances are they will be bagged in a way that makes putting away your groceries a lot easier when you get home. So group all of your produce together, all of your frozen stuff and all of your dry stuff. When you get home, you will be glad you did!
  • Buy just enough! Be realistic about your grocery shopping, often we end up buying way too much of something we don’t really enjoy all that much.
  • Speaking of, buy what you like! There is a common misconception that we need this wide variety of fruits/vegetables. So people end up trying to get themselves or their family to eat things they might not enjoy that much. We are all for trying new things, but if you or your family just HATE cauliflower, don’t purchase it. Buy things that you love to eat. If you love spinach but hate kale, buy more spinach. If you love sweet potatoes, buy sweet potatoes. It will cause you a lot less stress, and you will enjoy eating A LOT more. As long as you are eating from those simple food groups, you are going to be pretty well off.
  • Spend less time at the grocery store. Have an attack plan, a list, get in, get out.
  • If you are wanting to try out a recipe, be sure to write down what you need. OR better yet, purchase a kindle or other e-book reader and put your favorite cookbooks on it! That way you can carry it to the store, and all of the recipes you need are at your finger tips.
No matter where you live, you can have a simpler grocery shopping life. Keep it simple and spend your time on other things, like enjoying the long walks on snowy beaches!

(Lake Travis in Austin)

There are cities that we live in which we are constantly on the go, and every minute of time seems to be accounted for in one way or another. It is that way, with one of our favorite cities, Austin, TX.

We didn’t know what to except when we chose to live in Austin the first time. We didn’t know anyone in Austin, we didn’t really know anything about the town at all. But soon, it became one of our favorite cities. Our first trip there was around Thanksgiving, we didn’t know anyone at all, and we were going to be alone for the holiday. It didn’t bother us to be alone for Thanksgiving, and we were just expecting to spend the day at home. Well, that would soon change, someone else had found out we were in town through meetup.com and we got an e-mail inviting us to a big Thanksgiving (plant-based) dinner. We didn’t know anyone at all, not even the people who invited us! But we went, and had a great time, it was like we had all been friends for years. And that is how Austin has been for us, people have welcomed us, and our craziness with open arms. We have made friends for life. This also makes for a busy couple of months while we are visiting. I work with  Engine 2  which is located in Austin, which will keep me pretty busy in our upcoming fall visit.

We do lots of talks while we are there, we have lots of social things, and most nights we could easily fill with 2-3 different activities. We are on the go a lot while living there, thankfully there are some good places to eat that have really great simplified and healthy meals like Counter Culture , Casa de Luz, The Steeping Room, Green Island Catering (which provides personal chef services) and the Whole Foods – flagship store is located in Austin, it is like the Disney World of food, and offers lots of healthy choices.

Often we are rushing around, and don’t have all that much time, which is why Oatmeal has become a staple especially when we are super busy.

We have found a few different gluten free oatmeals, and in most grocery stores they now carry it. If you can’t find it, you can always find it online. So if you are gluten intolerant, no worries, you can still enjoy oatmeal!

Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast, low in calories, high in fiber, and it fills you up. It is a simple meal to fix. If you can make oatmeal your breakfast every morning you are getting in at least 7 healthy meals in your diet every week, that’s 1/3 of your diet, totally healthy! It doesn’t have to be fancy, just oats and some ground flax seeds are plenty! But of course you can add in fruit to make an even tastier breakfast.

And if you’d like, try making my “Apple Crisp” which is a great breakfast! And you can make a pan of it, and have it through out the week, you don’t even have to heat it up, it’s just there for you, like a good friend.

Let’s look at a few benefits to eating oatmeal: 

Lower Cholesterol Levels

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as oats, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.

Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, suggests a study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Significant Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women

A 3-year prospective study of over 200 postmenopausal women with CVD, published in the American Heart Journal, shows that those eating at least 6 servings of whole grains each week experienced both:

  • Slowed progression of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows, and
  • Less progression in stenosis, the narrowing of the diameter of arterial passageways.

Enhance Immune Response to Infection

In laboratory studies reported in Surgery, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system’s response to bacterial infection. Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there.

Stabilize Blood Sugar

Studies also show that beta-glucan has beneficial effects in diabetes as well. Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of oat fiber or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread. Starting out your day with a blood sugar stabilizing food such as oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day, especially when the rest of your day is also supported with nourishing fiber-rich foods.

Antioxidant Benefits

In addition to its fiber benefits, oats are also a very good source of selenium. A necessary cofactor of the important antioxidant,glutathione peroxidase, selenium works with vitamin E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful in decreasing asthma symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, especially colon cancer.

Fiber from Whole Grains and Fruit Protective against Breast Cancer

When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women’s Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as oats, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology).

A good alternative for people with gluten intolerance or celiacs. 

Start eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning, it’s simple, it is fast and inexpensive! Don’t make breakfast complicated, make it simple, let at least one meal a day (for now) be something you just don’t have to put a lot of thought into.

My breakfast: gluten free oats, ground flax seed, strawberries, peaches.

Our favorite town to live in, is a little town in Arizona called Jerome. Most people haven’t heard of Jerome, and for good reason, it is a town of about 400 people living in the switch back mountains between Sedona and Prescott. I’m sure I’ll be talking a lot more about Jerome, but for now I’ll tell you about the mornings. Every morning light pours into the apartment we live in, through the big picture window, there are sounds of birds, sometimes roosters, and very rarely, a car in the distance.

We would sit outside on the wrap around porch and eat our breakfast while watching the morning as the town woke up.

(view in Jerome)

Taking time to have a nice & healthy breakfast can get you started on the path to a simplified food life. Wake up a little earlier, enjoy the peace that early mornings provide, and start the day off on a great note.

Sometimes the best meals are just simple ideas. You don’t need a recipe, or something packaged, rather simply knowing what things go well together can make all the difference.

If you’ve been following me on twitter @simplifiedfood or on Facebook (Simplified Food) I’ve been posting simple meals for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

For now though, I thought I’d post some simplified breakfast ideas. If you do nothing more, eat a healthy breakfast! They are fast, easy and it ensures you get at least 7 healthy meals every week – that means 1/3 of your meals are totally healthy, and that is a pretty awesome start to a healthy life!

Simplified Breakfast ideas: 

  • Oatmeal w/2 sliced strawberries, 1 sliced peach, ground flax seeds
  • Quinoa w/ fresh blueberries, mango and ground flax seed
  • Soaked oatmeal (soaked overnight in rice milk) with rasberries, sunflower seeds, blueberries, strawberries
  • Cold cereal (matt uses a Barbara’s brand), rice milk, sliced up orange, sliced up grapefruit
  • Strawberries, blueberries, apples, dates chopped up + ground flax seed.
  • Left over apple crisp.
  • Sweet potato ice-cream (I mean if you can have ice-cream for breakfast, why not?!) I’ll be sharing the recipe next week.
  • brown rice pudding: brown rice, rice milk, vanilla, cinnamon, raisins, dates – heat up together.
  • white bean breakfast scramble: mix white beans, nutritional yeast, a little tumeric, spinach, mushrooms, tomato together in a pan (water fry) you can also add shredded potato for a hash-brown tasting meal.
  • sliced strawberries and bananas with sunflower seeds and ground flax
  • quick trail mix: sunflower seeds, raisins, dried chopped apples, dried cherries, dried peaches (make sure dried fruit has no oil or sugar added)
  • Applesauce (no sugar added) + 1 slice gluten free bread w/ sunflower seed butter.
  • Potato breakfast taco’s – in a pan throw in some dice cooked potato’s, add beans and salsa, some spinach if you are feeling sassy – stick it in some corn tortillas.
What is your favorite simplified breakfast?

A simplified kitchen.

The above photo is the nice and fairly large kitchen we had while we were living in Corolla, NC. We hosted a lot of people in that house! It turns out during the winter season you can get some really amazing rates in the Outer Banks. For considerably less than what we were paying to live near DC in a small 700 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment, we were able to rent a 3 story 8 bedroom, 6 bathroom house with a game room, 2 kitchens, media center, a hot tub, and oh yeah, the Atlantic Ocean. We hosted friends for Thanksgiving, we hosted my husbands entire work team, which was 12 guys and 1 girl and me cooking every meal, dessert and snack! For 4 days I cooked for a group of non plant-based people, and they really seemed to enjoy it (no one snuck out to get bbq). And for Christmas we had my family over. One of the things we did for the large group was to go to the party store and buy a few disposable chafing dishes, burners and pans. It cost about 10 dollars for all 4 days. We don’t always have house that can host lots of people, but that house was a really nice treat in that regard.

And to contrast – this was one of our kitchens in San Diego (our small shack on Mission Beach) we couldn’t open the oven door with out hitting the cabinets across from it.

We have one medium sized duffle bag to fit all of our kitchen tools. Most of the houses we rent have a few pots/pans, but generally the supplies we carry with us are the only ones we need. We also have a few tricks for making the kitchen less chaotic overall. Some of the houses we have stayed in have huge kitchen spaces, other houses we are lucky if the two of us can be in the kitchen at the same time. We are always having to adjust the way we cook and use a kitchen. I think that an organized kitchen with few gadgets leads to a much healthier life overall, and makes life so much more simple and less complicated when it comes to the way you eat.

Simplified Kitchen tools: 

Pressure cooker: 

We cook all of our vegetables/grains/beans in our pressure cooker. Likewise, all soups & sauces are cooked in our pressure cooker. Many thanks to Christy Morgan (Blissful Chef) for encouraging me to get one, it is by far my favorite kitchen tool, even more than having a blender. We don’t necessarily pressure cook every thing – but the pot is fairly big, so we can cook any pasta’s or soups that we might not want/need to have pressure cooked.

If you have never used a pressure cooker – they are super easy to use, and you will LOVE it. Black beans take about 10 min to cook, chickpeas 15-20 min to cook, kidney beans 10-15 min to cook, cauliflower takes about 5 min, potato’s take around 7 min. It’s like magic. And we save A LOT of money over using canned beans, and we save lots of sodium as well, some of the places we have lived have 0 options for no salt added beans. It makes our food life a lot easier, and a lot faster.

Knife:

Just be sure it’s sharp and can do the job for anything from fruit to hard vegetables! You only need one knife!

Frying Pan

It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a large one that will last you for a while, ours does not have a lid (I think we left it at a house we were staying in). The more deep the pan is the more you will be able to do with it. We cook vegetables, mushrooms, spinach and make our “stir fry” in our frying pan. Don’t want things to stick? Instead of oil use water or low sodium vegetable broth!

Blender: 

We have a smaller Black and Decker blender, it was on sale at Target for 29.99 and has been working just fine for almost 2 years now. My husband likes green smoothies on occasion, and I enjoy making “ice-cream” and some other dips, sauces and dressings with it. No need for a fancy blender, although I prefer using one that has a glass pitcher, they seem to last longer.

1 nice spatula (one that won’t melt by accident)

We have an oxo spatula – has held up for about 2 years now. They are under 10 dollars.

1 small vegetable peeler: 

Again, we have an oxo. I mostly use it to peel zucchini and eggplant, so if you don’t eat fruit/vegetables that require a lot of peeling, you might be able to skip this one.

1 baking pan: 

We have a 11×13 pan, paid 8 dollars for it, works great, even when making things like cookies.

Keeping the kitchen less chaotic: 

1. Implement a “1 rule”. My husband and I use 1 glass, 1 plate, 1 bowl, 1 spoon and 1 fork. When we are done eating we wash whatever dishes we used to eat. This means we never use the dishwasher, and we never have a sink full of dishes. You could do this with kids that are old enough to do dishes, and you could even get everyone a separate color/design dish set if you wanted to get really fancy.

2. Clean as you cook. This is something I learned from my mother. By time you are finished preparing a meal, the kitchen should be nearly clean, except if you have something in the oven. Makes life a lot easier, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up after a meal.

3. Organize your refrigerator and pantry:  (helps you eat healthier!) Have a place for everything. Make sure that healthy food is easily accesible. When you get home from grocery shopping, chop and prepare any vegetables and fruit so they are ready to go when you are really craving a treat. If you buy grapes, wash and de-stem them, and put them in a container so that there is no effort involved in eating a healthy treat. Same goes for vegetables like carrots, celery, brocoli, cauliflower, make sure you can easily grab cut up, cleaned vegetables, you will start to make a lot more healthy choices!

4. Clean kitchen sink every night. There is this funny organization site online called “Fly Lady” one of her rules is to have a clean kitchen sink every night, if you’ve been following every thing else, this should not be a huge problem, but if not, getting the kitchen sink cleaned before you go to bed is a great habit, and you’ll have a fresh start in the morning!

5. Get rid of things you don’t use! Before we started traveling, we had tons of kitchen tools that we never used. Sure, we might use them once a year or something, but was it really worth that item taking up valuable real-estate in our condo? Figure out what you really do need, then get a big box, put every thing you don’t think you’ll use on a daily basis in that big box. Store the big box, and if in 6 months you don’t touch the big box, it’s time to give it away or sell the stuff in it. Make your kitchen de-cluttered! One of the first things we do when we get to a new house is clear out cabinets and move things to a hall or bedroom closet, all that stuff gets in the way. So if you are giving up coffee (which you really should) get rid of your coffee maker, free up some space! If you’ve decided you don’t want to have bread anymore, get rid of your toaster. Getting rid of convenience kitchen tools will help you get healthier as well!  (you really DON’T need that fondue set anymore!) :)

Think about ways you can simplify your kitchen, start this week by getting rid of 5 things in your kitchen!

some more kitchens we’ve had:

 

(large kitchen in Sedona)                      (small kitchen in California)

and lastly, this is every thing we own, plus a few bags of groceries! That black duffle has all of our kitchen supplies.

Apple Crisp

Our first home in our life of travel was a little tiny beach house on Mission Beach in San Diego. The house was the closest I’ve been to camping. The kitchen was tiny, and I would soon realize that we were going to have a much simpler kitchen life. We did not have our fancy kitchen appliances. In our kitchen of the house we were renting for 6 weeks we had: 1 small pot, 1 medium baking pan, 1 plastic spatula, a couple of plates and a few random eating utensils. The only thing I bought at the store was a dollar store measuring cup, and for 6 weeks that is how we made all of our food.

The nights on Mission Beach were cool, and the best part of our little run-down shack, was the view from the little front porch. We would spend each evening watching the sun go down, with our neighbor, Barry, a man in his 60′s who would tell us wild stories from  his past. We would listen to stories of the lovers he chased around the world, the life threatening situations he got himself into, and his career building wooden boats in Seattle. This was how we spent our winter, and I could not imagine a better way to spend those months.

I had a love for pie, in our wedding, rather than having a wedding cake, we served a buffet of various pies. One of my favorite pies is apple pie, and on those chili winter nights in San Diego, I craved the taste of warm apple pie. I also wanted something I could share with our good friend, Barry, that he would also enjoy.

I only had a few ingredients on hand, and not much in the way of baking supplies, I was determined to make a healthy, simple dessert. I created an apple crisp, that soon became our favorite dessert, and best of all? It makes a delicious breakfast as well.

(ps Barry also loved the creation)

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Apple Crisp:

4 sliced apples (you can leave the skin of the apple on, or not, it’s up to you)

3 cups of oats

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups non dairy milk (unsweetened)

2tbs cinnamon

1 cup raisins.

mix non dairy milk and cinnamon.

layer a baking dish with the following:

layer of apples and raisins

layer of oats

pour liquid with cinnamon and vanilla

put in the oven at 350 for at least 45-60 min (depending on your oven)

nutrition:

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 152.8
  Total Fat 1.9 g
  Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 24.1 mg
  Potassium 271.8 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 44.6 g
  Dietary Fiber 5.6 g
  Sugars 4.1 g
  Protein 3.1 g
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