June 16, 2018

Strawberry-Lime Watermelon Slush

This watermelon slush is the BEST summertime refreshment drink! All it takes is three simple, healthy ingredients... naturally sweetened with no refined sugar!

I walked into our food co-op the other day to find myself swimming in a sea of giant watermelons. (Melon heaven!) Which of course means one thing: summer is officially here! πŸ‰ My 5 year old daughter is obsessed with watermelon, and given my recent acquirement of said giant melon I wanted a fresh new way to enjoy it instead of the usual plain chunks or shapes. She's a big fan of tangy lemon/lime flavor and of course strawberries so it seemed like a perfect match. When I was a kid, slushies were my go-to choice on a hot summer day when we rode our bikes down to the ice cream shop... it always felt like the ultimate refreshment!

 And c'mon... this color?! Can we take a moment to appreciate how awesome nature is for providing us with actual HOT PINK food? I'm thinking these would make some pretty rad frozen fruit pops as well! Would love to hear if you give it a try. See the notes below the recipe for some additional tips/variations. Happy summer friends! 😎

Quick note: in my experience, there's a big difference in the quality/taste between organic non-GMO vs. conventional produce (in addition to the environmental & health benefits). If it's available in your area, I highly recommend buying organic when possible. Especially for this drink when ripe, sweet, flavorful melons & berries can make all the difference!

Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free
Makes 1 large or 2 small slushes

2 cups seedless watermelon (frozen)
1 heaping cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 juicy lime)
Optional: 1-2 tsp. coconut sugar or agave to sweeten, fresh mint or basil, ice cubes

Cube watermelon and place in freezer for at least an hour or two.*
When ready to make, rinse and hull the strawberries.
Place frozen watermelon, strawberries, and fresh lime juice in blender.
Blend until slushy and serve immediately.

Freezing watermelon: I set the melon cubes on a baking sheet (or shallow non-glass bowl) to freeze. They fully freeze after about 2 hours and become very hard. If you freeze them in a bowl, the cubes will be stuck together (and often to the bowl!) so just let thaw for 15-20 minutes before using.
If freezing a big batch of watermelon, it's sometimes easier to freeze them in a single file on a baking sheet first, then once they fully freeze to place them in a storage container for longer-term.
If your blender isn't very strong, only freeze the watermelon for about 60-90 minutes or let thaw a bit before blending.

Try this with lemon juice instead of lime (or a combo!)
If using fresh strawberries, you may want a few ice cubes to keep it extra "slushy", or you could freeze your hulled strawberries with the watermelon if you'd like.
Depending on how sweet your watermelon & strawberries are, you may need some extra sweetener to taste - agave, coconut sugar, etc.
Adult readers 21+ feel free to add some spirits to this drink... you know, if that's your thing ;)

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Other summer favorites!!
Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad
Come join The Garden Grazer on Instagram πŸ“ and share a pic if you make this! (Seeing happy hot pink goodness makes me smile.)

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June 13, 2018

Refreshing Carrot Ginger Dressing (Oil-Free)

Have you ever had that carrot-ginger-miso dressing over a fresh, crisp salad from a Japanese steakhouse restaurant? I haven't had it in years but the flavor (and awesomeness) still rings strong in my memory. I used that inspiration to create this oil-free version and am really excited about the results.

Feel free to start with the base ingredients (carrot, ginger, tamari, rice vinegar, water) then add the other flavors from there. During my many testing phases of this, I found it was a pretty forgiving & versatile recipe (so don't worry if you don't have one of the ingredients on hand.) Though for my personal preference, I found I really love the addition of all the extra flavors and the depth it brings... miso, tahini, onion, and maple syrup for a little sweetness. I think this dressing typically has sesame oil, but I opted for creamy tahini instead (which is a paste/sauce made from just ground sesame seeds.) Hope you enjoy it as much as we do and have fun playing around with the variable flavors! It instantly jazzes up even the most basic salad - I often just put this on a plain baby spinach salad and it's lovely!

Come join The Garden Grazer on Instagram πŸ“and share a pic if you make or adapt this! I love seeing what you guys cook up.

Vegan, gluten-free (with tamari), oil-free
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 medium carrots (about 1 1/3 cups chopped)
1/4 cup white onion
1-inch piece ginger (or about 1 Tbsp. grated)
1 1/2 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 Tbsp. tahini
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. miso, I use white
1/3 cup water

Peel and roughly chop carrots. Peel ginger.
Pulse/blend all ingredients in a food processor (or high-powered blender) until smooth.
Adjust flavors as necessary and salt to taste if desired.
Stores covered in the fridge for about 4-5 days.

Feel free to start with the base ingredients (carrot, ginger, tamari, rice vinegar, and water) then continue with the other additions from there. I find I really enjoy all the extra flavors added but you can cut back as desired or if you don't have a certain ingredient.
This is a pretty versatile & forgiving recipe, so have fun!
Serve it on salads or as a fresh, fun veggie dip.

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June 6, 2018

June 2018 Updates (15 Things I'm Loving!)

🌻 Happy June! 🌻

Summer kick-off has officially begun (woo!) and I thought I'd pop in with some behind-the-scenes updates. I haven't been posting as much, but I've been recipe testing (and re-testing and re-testing) like crazy and excited to share some new ideas soon!

But first, a few deeper thoughts on my mind lately: I've dedicated the past couple years to a conscious self-growth & improvement journey. That means less screen time. More reading & expanding the mind. Finding awareness behind my thoughts & emotions. Questioning things and approaching them with curiosity. Slowing down to live in the present. Practicing mindful consumption in all aspects - with purchases, what I eat, and what I allow my brain to consume (reading, watching, social media, etc.) I've been consciously striving to fill my days with truly meaningful, authentic, and gratitude-filled moments. Of course I'm human, so I make mistakes and there's always more progress to be made, but it feels like a worthwhile journey that can always be continued & improved upon every single day. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this and what it means to you to live consciously πŸ’™

Onward to 15 things I'm loving lately!

1. Lilacs! All the Lilacs.
There's so much beauty in this world and I've been nose-deep in lilacs smelling all the smells πŸ’œ One of my favorite scents! (And not too shabby on the eyes either.)

2. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone
Old Faithful geyser puts on quite a show just steps from this inn, but I LOVE this building just as much. It was built in 1904 with local logs & stone and is the largest log hotel in the world. I can literally feel the 100+ years of history when I walk in this place and it takes my breath away every time. I haven't spent the night here (yet!) but it's most definitely on my bucket list. Anyone else ever visited the inn?

You can read more about it on the Old Faithful Inn Wikipedia page, so cool!

3. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
One of the most powerful books I've read in a while and very well written. Bryan has done (and is still doing) absolutely incredible work, challenging and urging the reform of our criminal justice system in the United States by fighting for fair & equal treatment for all. A true eye-opener and profound read - highly recommend.

Check out "Just Mercy" on Amazon if you're interested.

4. Kindergarten Hike
My daughter finished up her kindergarten year with a class trip to a local hiking trail here in Bozeman, Montana. A fun day of sunshine, wildflowers, and happy kids!

5. Lost Cities Card Game
I bought this game for my husband for Christmas and we're fairly obsessed. It's a two person game with a simple concept but intriguing strategy - it plays a little different every time. I love that it's quick and easy to set up, plus one round only takes about 10-15 minutes, so you can string together however many you want. (We even keep track of scores and he puts them in a spreadsheet to analyze the data... #NerdAlert) πŸ˜‰

See "Lost Cities" on Amazon if you're interested! (There's also a Lost Cities board game but I'm not familiar with that version - would love to hear if anyone's played it.)

6. Ukulele
I just started learning ukulele and am really enjoying it so far. I played cornet in jr. high & high school and piano a bit as a kid (trying to brush up those skills as well) but was looking for a fun new challenge and ukulele called out to me. Music is something I continually strive to inject more of in our home (with the hope it'll keep inspiring my daughter to be musically inclined) ♫

Here's the ukulele I bought if you're interested! (I'm by no means an expert - just did some research, decided on this one, and am very happy with it so far.)

7. Herb Garden
Trying my hand at a wee little herb garden out on our front porch this year with basil, cilantro, and parsley. So far so good! I love being able to just walk outside and take what I need (or sometimes just to smell the basil) as opposed to buying big bundles that I have trouble using up. Less waste, more fun! We're in a rental place right now (read: no garden) so I'm also trying some container tomatoes and bell peppers. Fingers crossed they do well!

8. Sudoku
The past few months I've upped my Sudoku in an effort to sharpen my brain. I've been trying to swap out a lot of the time I used to spend consuming things with doing things instead. (Puzzles, learning new skills, music, etc.) Any other sudoku fiends out there? I'm almost finished with the "Essential Book of Sudoku" and I've got my eye on this advanced puzzle book next - hopefully my skills are up to the task!

9. City of Asheville's Vegan Challenge
I recently came across this article and I'm pretty sure it's the coolest thing I've seen in a while.  Apparently the city of Asheville, NC declared the first-ever city wide vegan challenge week (complete with a proclamation signed by the mayor!) They're raising awareness about animal justice, environmental/climate justice, and plant-based nutrition to improve health. Even restaurants and businesses are getting involved - how awesome is that?! Great & inspiring things happening in the city of Asheville, I love it.

PS - check out the "City Vegan Challenge" website and see how you can encourage your own city to try it too! 🌿 Let me know if you give it a try!

10. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
I don't watch The Daily Show but I've been intrigued by Trevor's story & background for a while and this book was a fantastic read about his experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. It was an awesome recommendation from someone on Instagram - I always love getting your recommendations, so keep 'em coming!

Check out "Born a Crime" on Amazon if you're interested!

11. Peanut Butter Cookies
The lovely Ashley from Blissful Basil is the mastermind behind our favorite (vegan & gluten-free!) peanut butter cookies. My daughter loves helping with the criss-cross before baking and I love the simple ingredients - plus they taste so darn good. We're at a higher altitude so I usually cook ours a bit longer (about 15-18 minutes typically.) Huge thanks to Ashley for posting them! πŸ’› See the recipe from Blissful Basil here

12. House Plants
I'm a semi-minimalist at heart, but in the case of plants... more (most definitely) = better. This is our newest friend (a variegated snake plant) which, as a bonus, is also on NASA's Clean Air Study list. One plant closer to jungle-izing our home!

13. Mumford & Sons
No matter my mood, I'm pretty much always down for a rock-out jam session with Mumford. So many awesome songs... Lover of the Light & Hopeless Wanderer are still a couple of my favorites.

14. Ayurveda
I've been diving into the wonderful world of Ayurvedic medicine/lifestyle for a few months and love the incredible knowledge packed into these books. If you're not familiar with Ayurveda (like myself until recently) it's the world's oldest healing system that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. The word Ayurveda literally means "the knowledge or study of life". It addresses the root causes of our health challenges at all levels (body, mind, and spirit) and empowers us to take control of our whole-body health through natural methods. I've really enjoyed trying out several of the practices (like adding in more beneficial spices, seasonal eating, striving to wake up at 6am every day, giving oil pulling a try, etc!) Many of the recipes/tips in Ayurveda include dairy and some meat, but I alter the methods to stay aligned with my plant-based lifestyle.

Check out Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom and The Ayurveda Way on Amazon if you're interested! Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom is a bit more in-depth and full of wonderful knowledge (more textbook-like), and The Ayurveda Way is a simplified version of 108 practices you can put into use - both are absolutely lovely books I recommend!

15. Zero Waste Journey... Continued!
I'll dedicate a future post to things I've implemented towards a more sustainable lifestyle (less waste, less plastic) but it's been SO fun making these small, continual changes. The past several months I've been going through our home, lifestyle, and diet to basically question everything and refine our habits to strive for the lowest ecological footprint. It's sort of a fun game seeing what changes you can make to refuse, reduce, reuse as much as possible. I've been fascinated with this topic for a while, but the book "Zero Waste Home" by Bea Johnson inspired me even more to expand my efforts.

Again, I'm pretty passionate about this so I'll dedicate a future post to it. In the meantime, feel free to check out The Garden Grazer Shop page where I list a few reusable products that help us reduce waste/plastic - would love to hear your favorites as well or steps you've taken!

That's a wrap! What have you been loving lately?

Share below in the comments or come join The Garden Grazer on Instagram! πŸ“ I love connecting with & hearing from you all. Wishing everyone a lovely start to summer! -Kaitlin

Disclosure: The Garden Grazer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites. I only share things I absolutely LOVE and personally use! (There is no additional cost to you in clicking the affiliate link.)