Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chinese Stir Fry, What Low Fat Looks Like, Part 2

Essie told me it's too bad I don't have the skill of cooking and having this much fun at the same time...All these years, I've been cooking, and apparently my kitchen methods are all wrong.

The best recipe for success, according to this Swedish chef, is to throw two spoons behind you before starting any recipe. It's a sure-fire method!

My kids and I have discovered the Muppets, and spent an hour watching and laughing at it yesterday. I know...I'm a little slow in jumping on the Muppet bandwagon. We thought you might get a kick out of it, too!

Anywho, Chinese Stir Fry makes for a great, low fat meal.

I've discovered a new passion for rice. Rice, rice, rice. Yummly. I go in phases on food. My poor family. Has to just eat whatever food is in that phase. Well, this month it's rice. Warm, chewy, tender, flavor-absorbing, filling rice.

Make a good soy based sauce, add some awesome, Asian-insipired veg, and you have a great meal.

Add fried tofu, and use pasta for the kids, and they love it.

Eating low fat without flour means eating a lot of veg, rice (whole grains), and sometimes beans. Over the next few days I'll try to show how I season rice and vegetables using Ethnic methods, to shake it up and make it taste great. No boredom, here.

I have grown to really love frozen veg lately. There is no waste. I use the entire bag, and the produce does not go bad. No chopping required.

So easy! And there are all kinds of frozen, stir fry veg mixes available. Even at Wal-Mart. Costco also sells a good one.

I used two of these bags, and then added some more veg from a Costco frozen mix.

There are methods to make a good sauce, and there are exact recipes. I usually follow a recipe, but I've just started to branch out and use methods. I really enjoy it.

Every good Asian-inspired sauce usually has these elements.

Chopped garlic and ginger are a great start.

With something:

*Hot (sambal oelek, or other red chili paste)
*Sweet (agave nectar or sugar)
*Sour (lemon juice)
*Salty (Soy sauce and salt)

Start by frying up your vegetables. Since they are frozen, they contain a lot of water and can saute themselves. Add your sauce.

You do not, not, not need oil. The fastest way for my vegetables to be ruined (happens at restaurants sometimes) in both flavor and texture, is to use oil. I don't enjoy it at all.

Get your rice going...or maybe that should be step one? Probably.

I am terrible at cooking rice, seeing as how I live at 7200 feet in altitude, anyone in this area knows they pretty much have to use a rice cooker in order for it to turn out right.

Maybe you are good at making rice. And don't need an automatic cooker. Awesome. In general, twice as much water is used than rice, for the proper ratio. Here I did six cups of water, and three cups of rice.

Most of the time I use brown rice, but sometimes I use white rice. Depends on my mood.

One word. Fickle.

Once my vegetables are cooked (tender-crisp, not too mushy!) I use a method to help my kids enjoy the meal more.

I remove 3/4ths of the vegetables from the pan, and then add cooked pasta, and more stir fry sauce.

Soba noodles are usually used in Asian dishes, I believe (correct me if I am wrong, please). All I had was brown rice spaghetti pasta. It worked in a pinch, but the pasta dried out a little too easily.

To the remaining 1/4 of vegetables is added pasta and more sauce, then lightly sauteed, or just tossed. Here I add nondairy butter and/or a tiny bit of sesame oil for my kids.

Add some fried tofu, and you have a meal that your kids will eat.

For the adults, throw rice together with vegetables, and eat up!

Something Simple Asian Stir Fry Sauce
By Ashlee Crozier

Note from Ashlee: Serve with freshly steamed rice of your choice, and fried tofu for your kids. For 2 pounds of vegetables, my family usually needs 3-4 cups of cooked rice.

For the veg:
*2 pounds of prepared, frozen, stir fry vegetables

For the sauce:
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* 1 tablespoon grated ginger
* water, for sauteing (optional)
* 1/4 to 1/3 cup soy sauce
* juice of 1 lemon, fresh tastes the best (about 1-2 tablespoons)
* 2 tsp. agave nectar
* 2 tsp. sambal oelek (or other red chili paste)
* additional salt to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons)


Whisk all ingredients in a bowl, except salt, and add to vegetables after they are halfway cooked. Stir well to fully incorporate sauce into vegetables. Simmer until water has cooked out of the vegetables. When vegetables are tender-crisp, and have fully absorbed the sauce (it's okay if they are still a little bit wet, the rice will absorb it) remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings to taste. (Does it need to be more salty? Sweet? A more sour kick? More heat?)

Serve hot, with steamed rice.

For kids, add 1/4 of stir fry veggies to 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of pasta (cooked according to package directions), and add:

*2 tsp. nondairy butter
*1/4 tsp. sesame oil (toasted sesame oil would also work)
*juice of 1/2 lemon (a little less than 1 tablespoon)
*soy sauce and salt to taste

Lightly saute and toss for about 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly combined and pasta has absorbed most of the sauce.

My kids also really, really love the Thai sauce from this recipe, for their Asian pasta. There is never any complaints when I serve it; only empty plates!


On trips, or just going out to eat, I love choosing ethnic restaurants. On our trip to California, I think we ate a variation of Asian stir fry or pasta at least 3 times in one week. My kids love the pasta, and I feel so great after eating stir fry veg with rice.

Paul and the kids and I were crazy enough to get up at 5 a.m. on Black Friday and go shopping at the mall in California. While we didn't find anything to buy that we liked, we stopped at a Genghis Grill located within the mall, and ate this meal for breakfast! I asked them to water saute it all instead of oil saute, and all they added to the sauce was soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and red chili paste. It was so good!

What are some of your favorite places to eat out at on the road?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Low Fat/Fat Free Looks Like: Part 1, Low Fat Sneaky Red Lentil Hummus

Samuel and I at Disneyland, on the "It's a Small World" ride.

Sugar has been demonized. Don't get snookered into believing all "they" say about it.

In the words of Dr. McDougall,


*Is not health food
*Is not for eating
*Is not the cause of diabetes
*Is not the cause of obesity

"You avoided sugar and still got fatter. You used artificial sweeteners on your cereals and you gained...Why?

"Sugar has very little to do with weight gain. Carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy. Excess carbohydrate is stored invisibly in the muscles and liver as glycogen, or eliminated from the body as heat. It is too wasteful for the body to turn excess carbohydrate into fat. However, fat is easily stored."

Sugar is a measly 15 calories per 1 teaspoon.

Oils, fats, on average, are a whopping 130 calories per tablespoon.

What does that look like?

If you add 1 tablespoon of oil/butter substitute to your one cup of cooked potatoes, you have officially doubled the calories in your serving of potato.

My sister, Aimee, asked, "One question/request, can you post some tricks on how to better reduce/eliminate refined oils in baking and eating? Or update us on how that is going and tips on how to make it work?"

YES! I love requests. Thank you.

Here is my response.

Changing my plant foods to consist of low fat eating was scary.

I mean, I felt like I was about to jump off a cliff because I didn't know what to eat, and when I don't know what to eat, I panic.

It felt like I was transitioning to whole foods all over again, and in a sense, I was/still am.

Low fat (after eliminating all meat, dairy, and eggs) means eliminating and reducing nuts, seeds, coconut milks or shredded coconut, oils, avocado, olives, and higher fat soy foods.

My eating pattern/transition process has looked something like this:

*Soups (Vegetables soups are easily modified to be oil free, with water sauteing)
*Raw veggies
*With fat free/low fat dips and dressings
*Steamed veggies of all varieties
*Grains (oatmeal, rice, quinoa, and occasionally pasta or some whole kernal rye bread)
*Starches (mashed potatoes moistened with soy milk, yams, squashes, seasoned with salt and pepper)
*Beans of all varieties
*Raw fruit
*Green smoothies (low fat)
*Ethnic foods (Mexican, Asian, Indian)

I have not really been eating a lot of baked goods, as I am trying to avoid flour (ground up grains) but I can still post how to make fat free baked goods if there is interest in that.

Let's start with raw vegetables. I have three good salad dressings for you which are fat free, and thickened with applesauce or apples. Today, however, I want to post a great dip that I have loved, and have also thinned out and used as salad dressing.

A trick to surviving on the road (traveling as a whole foodist) is to bring a lot of your own food.

This is how Paul and I spent our day getting to Arizona (the halfway point to Cali for Thanksgiving).

I have found that mostly, we really just want to munch and crunch.

Eating raw veggies, with a great, low fat dip, really hits the spot, and doesn't make you feel like you-know-what afterwords.

We also brought boxes of cuties oranges, bananas, and apples.

The kids had Ziploc snack baggies with a mix of popcorn, pretzels, and whole grain crunchy cereal. They loved it, and ate their whole bags, while munching on fruit, also. Additionally, I made them a bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

This is the bag of pre-cut veggies I brought. Paul and I ate 96% of it in one day.

On to the recipe!

Sneaky Red Lentil “Hummus”
From Angela Liddon's

Note From Angela Liddon: Make this spread as a fun alternative to chickpeas! It’s not only similar in appearance, but taste too. Red lentils also tend to be easier to digest, so if you have problems with chickpeas I encourage you to give this a try.

Note From Ashlee: Making fat free hummus (no tahini!) is actually really kinda' super-de-duper hard, hard, hard. So far, in my experience, it doesn't taste good, either. This is, by far, the best tasting reduced fat hummus. I usually double the recipe, and thin it out more with water if I am using it for a salad dressing. As you can see, I removed the oil. I am sure this would still taste great if your tablespoon of tahini was scantly measured. Some hummus calls for 1/2 cup of tahini! I like to think of this as a veggie dip, not a veggie bath...

Yield: 1 heaping cup


1/2 cup uncooked red lentils + 1 & 1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, peeled
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice (please, oh please use fresh squeezed! This is where the flavor is at!)
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste
water to thin out, if needed
Herbs & seasonings of choice, if desired (I didn't add anything extra)

1. Pick through the lentils to make sure there are no pebbles and rinse in a small colander. In a medium-sized pot, add the lentils and 1 & 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover, simmering until the water is absorbed or about 10-13 minutes. Stir the lentils frequently to prevent them from sticking to the pot.

2. With the food processor running, drop in the clove of garlic to mince. Add the cooked lentils, along with the lemon juice, and tahini. Process until smooth. Add a touch of water if necessary to thin out.

3. Add salt to taste and other herbs and seasonings if desired.

Nutritional info: (per 2 tbsp) 45 cals, 1 gram fat, 7 grams carbs, 60 mg sodium, 1 gram fibre, 3 grams protein.


Over the next few days I hope to be able to show some of the low fat meals (the soups, salads, and ethnic foods) my family and I have been enjoying. Forgive me if I get distracted, or am too busy to get it all done in short order...

Luv ya! Thanks for reading!

P.S. My kids are NOT fat free, or flour free. Every day they have nut butters, breads, soy foods, olives, and I often add a touch of nondairy butter or oil to their pastas, or individual serving plates.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Broccoli, Carrot, and Potato Alfredo

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We had a great time in California. It was great to go and see all of the family and good friends who took care of us.

It's also great to be back.

I love cooking in my kitchen!

We went to the beach, Disneyland, visited with friends and family, and just had a great time being with our kids.

Cauliflower Bechamel has been a popular post as of late. I decided to change it up. One of my taste testers tried the new version, and said it tasted much like chicken Alfredo.

I added potatoes to the cauliflower sauce to give it more body, and changed the seasonings. This is definitely my new favorite version.

The sauce is simple, but very delicious.

I love adding steamed carrots and broccoli.

This is a version I have been wanting to try for a long time (adding potatoes and changing seasonings) and I am so glad I did. I am very pleased with the results.

Broccoli, Carrot, and Potato Alfredo
By Ashlee Crozier


2 medium-sized gold potatoes, scrubbed
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 teaspoon vegetable base concentrate, (I use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base) or 1 cube vegetable bouillon, I like Repunzel brand
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy or almond milk (start with less, add more for preferred consistency of sauce)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons dried parsley (high quality)
Additional salt and pepper to taste (don't skip this step, or it wont taste good!)
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano (optional)
4 carrots, washed and coined
4 cups broccoli (measured before cooking)
1 pound of spaghetti pasta, broken in half and cooked according to package directions (I use brown rice spaghetti pasta, but white or whole wheat would also work)


1.) Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot on the stove top. Place scrubbed potatoes and cauliflower florets in the pot and cover with lid (make sure there is enough water to just cover the potatoes and cauliflower). Boil on high for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender and crumble when pierced with a fork. I actually use my electric pressure cooker to cook both vegetables at the same time on the high pressure setting, for 8 minutes.

2.) Meanwhile, bring a sauce pan of water to boil (about 1 quart of water) and place carrots in the pot. Boil for about 20 minutes or until tender, adding the broccoli florets during the last 7-9 minutes of cooking. Carrots take longer to cook than broccoli, so they need to be added to the water at different times. Optionally, you can cook the carrots and broccoli in two different pots.

3.) When potatoes and cauliflower are fork tender, remove from heat and strain. Pour all of it into the blender, being careful not to burn yourself! Add nutritional yeast, vegetable base concentrate (or vegetable bouillon cube), 2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 cup of milk. Blend on high for 30 seconds to one minute. If sauce is too thick (think of how it will look when combined with pasta) then add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

4.) By this time the broccoli and carrots should be done. Strain, and place in large pot. Combine with prepared pasta. Add sauce, and season with Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, oregano, cayenne pepper, and additional salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve warm.


My kids love this with fried tofu, and I like to eat it with a big salad. This sauce is fat free, which is totally awesome! It has lots flavor, body, and is very creamy. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember that it's dairy and fat free.

When is the last time your kids happily ate cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, and carrots, all in one meal? They will now!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Vegan Shepherd's Pie & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I proudly present to you, a fabulous Thanksgiving and Christmas main dish.

It has all the familiar tastes and smells of the Holidays.

Thyme, in a thickened savory broth, roasted with celery, carrots, parsnips, and onions. Reminds me a little of stuffing.

Topped with comforting mashed potatoes.

You and I, we like being sneaky. Sneaking more vegetables and grains, legumes, into everything.

These savory mashed potatoes are sneaky, too. They incorporate an entire cup of red lentils.

And no one will know. It will be our little secret.

I am here to be your mashed potato guide. Sometimes there is stress in trying to make the perfect mashed potatoes.

Comfort is here.

A mashed potato tutorial.

Start with 2 and 1/2 pounds gold potatoes. I never peel my gold or red potatoes, just because I'm lazy like that. You can peel them if you want.

Cut them in larger chunks. I learned my lesson with cooking cut potatoes: if they are cut too thin, then they become very starchy and gooey during the cooking process. Cook potatoes for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, measure 1 cup of red lentils, and simmer in a high quality vegetable broth for about 15 minutes.

(Leave the lid off!)

Transfer the cooked lentils to your food processor.

Process lentils with garlic, until it is smooth and silky.

By this time your potatoes should be cooked through. Drain them well, and immediately mash with potato masher or kitchenaid stand mixer. (Don't wait till the potatoes are cooled. They should be piping hot!)

This is the most important part. Don't add liquids yet!

Add your lentils, and continue to mash/mix until the potatoes have NO LUMPS. Once the lumps are completely gone and your potatoes are smooth, then add liquids.

I like to use soymilk. We don't need any butter. Gobs of fat and grease. Goodbye. These potatoes are comforting, not guilt-ridden!

You will not miss the butter. (Whether it's non-dairy or not!)

Add salt and pepper to taste. Potatoes look like this before adding milk.

Slowly add milk until the potatoes reach the consistency you are looking for.

Light and fluffy, thanks to our soymilk and seasoned lentils.

Protein-enriched. Salt and peppah. Delicious. Eat daily. And may all your mashed potatoes be infused with garlic and savory red lentils.

On to our Shepherd's Pie base. Normally we see about 1-2 pounds of ground beef here. Today we are using a savory mix of hearty vegetables.

Onions, parsnips, celery, and carrots.

Sauteed in water, and mixed with Thyme-infused savory broth.

Lightly tossed, and place in a baking dish.

Top with garlic mashed potatoes, sprinkle with paprika and freshly cracked pepper.

Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Serve warm, with a salad, or with these fabulous and easy drop biscuits!

I used to be so scared at the thought of cooking festive dishes for guests, but this will be a crowd-pleaser.

Comforting Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Sneaky Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from Angela Liddon at

Yield: 6 generous servings

For The Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This version sneaks in a cup of red lentils, packing in eight grams of protein and six grams of fiber per serving.

Serves 4

What You Need:

2-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and roughly chopped
1 cup dry red lentils
2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (I didn't have any, but they still tasted great)
1/4 to 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
1-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika, for garnish

What You Do:

1. Into a large pot, add chopped potatoes. Fill pot with water until potatoes are covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes until fork-tender. Drain potatoes.

2. Meanwhile, rinse and drain lentils. In a medium-sized pot, add lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently until water is absorbed and lentils are fully cooked.

3. In a food processor, add garlic and rosemary and lentils and process until smooth.

4. Mash the potatoes and pureed lentil mixture together while still very hot, using a potato masher or kitchenaid stand mixer, or your favorite method. Add salt and pepper to taste, until potatoes are smooth (no lumps remaining). Careful not to mash too much, or they might get to starchy.

5. Slowly add nondairy milk (soy and coconut work best, but almond is also very good) until the potatoes are light, creamy, and fluffy. Garnish with paprika sprinkled on top and freshly cracked pepper. Serve by themselves, or spread on top of Shepherd's pie vegetable filling for a great casserole your guests will love.

(P.S. I tried making these mashed potatoes by just incorporating the lentils into the potatoes, without processing the cooked lentils in the food processor first. The lentils did not blend well with the potatoes, and were a bit chewy -- distracting from the smooth texture that mashed potatoes normally have. I also prefer my potatoes to be creamed with nondairy milk, instead of oils and fats. I honestly can't tell the difference by taste, but I know which version makes me feel happiest!)

Vegetable Filling

1/4 cup water, for sauteeing
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled & small dice
2 parsnips (or other root vegetable), peeled & small dice
4 celery stalks, small dice
1 cup, full sodium vegetable broth (or more as needed)
1/4 cup red wine (or more broth)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2-3/4 tsp kosher salt, to taste + black pepper
3 tbsp flour (I used 4 Tbsp Spelt flour)


1. Preheat oven to 425F and lightly oil a 2.5 quart/2.3 litre casserole dish.

2. Prepare the vegetable filling. Chop the onion and mince the garlic and add to a skillet along with the oil. Cook on low for about 5-7 minutes. Now add in the chopped carrots, parsnip, and celery. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients (broth, thyme, and flour). Add this liquid mixture to the vegetables in the skillet and stir well. Add your salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5-10 minutes or so until thickened. Season to taste.

4. Scoop vegetable mixture into casserole dish. Spread on the mashed potato mixture and garnish with paprika, ground pepper, and Thyme. Bake at 425F for about 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Mixture will be very hot in the middle so be careful! I suggest serving this with homemade vegan gravy. Makes 6 generous servings.


This Sumptuous Shepherd's Stew by Angela Liddon also looks incredible; I will be trying it soon! She has my respect...(and loyalty, and jealousy, and...)

Do you have to cook Thanksgiving dinner?

I miss out on that privilege (buahaha) this year. Paul's family is having it catered. Cross my fingers that they will have something I can eat...if not, oh well!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don't Be In A Hurry

I did a Google search for, "don't be in a hurry," and this is one of the images results. Fitting, I think.

Each month our church sends out religious magazines with counsel from leaders. Yesterday I happened upon an old magazine article from a June 2010 issue titled, "Don't Be In a Hurry."

It starts out by relating a story from one of the church leaders from the early 1800's. He is given counsel from another church leader with a degree of sharpness, "Don't be in a hurry. Brother Brigham, don't be in a hurry. Don't be in a hurry."

Recently I feel very much in a hurry. A large part of me would love to skip this California trip, and just enjoy this Thanksgiving at home. Not in a hurry. These portions of the article struck me, and really have me pondering,

"We live in a world of fast food, rapid transit, instant messaging, and constant claims about how to get rich quicker, get fit faster, succeed now. Despite the proliferation of supposed time-saving tools, we often feel pressed and stressed by the demands on our time...President James E. Faust (church leader, now passed on) observed, 'Our hurry to meet the relentless demands of the clock tears away at our inner peace.'

"...In the midst of our modern-day frenzy, how well do we remember that our time on earth is actually a gift from God? While we go about our business, this earth is spinning on it's axis, and all the while the Lord is 'preserving us from day to day, by lending us breath that we may live and move and do' what we will, and 'even supporting us from one moment to another.'

"...In return for all He gives us, the Lord invites us to love Him. Jesus taught that the first commandment is to 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart...soul,...mind,...and strength. ' (Mark 12:30) 'When we put God first, President Ezra Taft Benson promised, "all other things fall into their proper place, or drop out of our lives.'...'We will move faster if we hurry less.' Undistracted by other things, we trust the Lord to help us allocate our time and talent to their very best uses each day. As a result, we do more good and we make real progress."

Trying to allocate my time and talent "to their very best uses each day" is perhaps, one of the biggest things I struggle with as a Mother.

I had a phone conversation with my Mother on Monday that went something like this,

Me: It is so hard for me to figure out what are the most important things I am supposed to be doing with my time. I have so much to do, I can hardly keep up. And then I feel guilty that I am not doing it all.

Mom: Oh, yes, I know what that is like! (She had seven kids!) It's that guilt that says 'you should be doing something else!' No matter what it is you are doing, you should be doing something else.

Me: Yeah! I feel that way all of the time. If I am doing laundry, I feel guilty that I am not cooking. If I am cooking, I feel guilty that I am not playing with my kids. If I am playing with my kids, I feel guilty that I am not doing the dishes. I always, always feel like I should be doing something else.

Yesterday I told Samuel that I wanted him to be with me, while I worked in the kitchen and exercised. Usually he tries to sneak as much instant Netflix time in as possible, and I had had enough of being in two separate rooms -- away from each other. I locked the computer, and asked him to be with me.

Because if there is anything I feel guilty about the most, it is the act of not being with my children, and the people I love. President James E. Faust also said something that has stuck with me for the last five years,

"If you do everything for your children, then you will never be with your children."

I have found this to be true in my own life. If I do all the dishes, all of the laundry, and cleaning and cooking for my family, then I will never be with my family.

I found a great deal of peace yesterday, inviting Samuel to help me with my household tasks. I am always surprised by how much he enjoys it, too. It is the best way that I know how to get my work done, pay attention to, and be with my children simultaneously.

I often try to have my kids help me cook.

We exercise together.

Shop (and play in the toy section at Target) together.

Clean together.

Yes, and even play at the park together.

When I go to the park, I try to actually play with them. Instead of sitting my tush down on a park bench like I used to.

However, while it is essential that I spend time working, playing, and being with my children, I also find it essential that I take time for meditation, pondering, and introspection. Time to slow down and think. Remember.

The article goes on to say,

"[Be] cautioned against a frantic, heedless busyness...[that often] crowds out contemplation and leaves no time for renewal. [Likening] thoughtful intervals between our tasks as to the green belts of grass, trees, and water that interrupt the asphalt...When we plan some time for contemplation and renewal we will feel drawn to our work instead of driven to it."

My mornings start early, most days. Sometimes at 3 or 4 a.m. It is so quiet in my house at that time. Peaceful. I can hear myself think, and often my priorities become clear as I study, ponder, meditate, pray, and exercise. After doing these things I quickly feel motivated to attack the tasks ahead of me. These renewing practices are like water in a desert. On days that I go without them, I feel parched and unable to handle my responsibilities.

It is very easy for me, during the busyness of "Holiday" season, to forego that daily renewal. To forget to include my children and use the excuse that I have too much to do.

This year I feel differently. I would love to simplify. Slow down. Do the things that matter most and then forget the rest; simply let the less important things fall by the wayside.

As one of my friends stated on her way out of my home yesterday, "You know, we forget, that it's Jesus' birthday. He was born. We don't need any of the rest."

Thanksgiving. A time for Thanks. A time to ponder what things I am grateful for.

Remembering these wonderful things, I slow down. Take a deep breath. Enjoy my family. Look forward to California, and even the long drive. That long time to be with my family without interruption.

It may even mean that I don't get all the recipes that I have for you, posted. But I will certainly try. I will try, because it is something I love, and I hope that in some small way, these recipes bless your life, and give you time to slow down and enjoy your families.


My favorite excerpt from the article, by our current church President, Thomas S. Monson,

“Before we can successfully undertake a personal search for Jesus, we must first prepare time for him in our lives and room for him in our hearts. In these busy days there are many who have time for golf, time for shopping, time for work, time for play—but no time for Christ.

“Lovely homes dot the land and provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no room for Christ.

“Do we get a pang of conscience as we recall his own words: “The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ (Matt. 8:20.) Or do we flush with embarrassment when we remember, ‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.’ (Luke 2:7.) No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been.

“As we undertake our personal search for Jesus, aided and guided by the principle of prayer, it is fundamental that we have a clear concept of him whom we seek. The shepherds of old sought Jesus the child. But we seek Jesus the Christ, our Older Brother, our Mediator with the Father, our Redeemer, the Author of our salvation; he who was in the beginning with the Father; he who took upon himself the sins of the world and so willingly died that we might forever live. This is the Jesus whom we seek.”President Thomas S. Monson, “The Search for Jesus,” Ensign, Dec. 1990, 4–5.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Breakfast and Power Snacks; 3 recipes to Fuel Your Day

Thanksgiving or Christmas fab, quick, and filling breakfast and snack ideas.

All of which are Gluten Free. Easy. And low in fat.

First, cake for breakfast.


Carrot cake.

In oatmeal form. You will think you are eating cake. Literally.

Guilty confession: I was eating the oatmeal as I was snapping pictures. I couldn't help myself.

The first words out of my mouth after trying my first bite: "Oh, Heavens."

Paul's first words: "Wow, this tastes exactly like carrot cake."

You can have confidence in following the recipe exactly, and ending up with the best. breakfast. ever.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal
From Angela Liddon over at (she has gorgeous photos, hop on over and take a look!)

Note From Angela: This one is for all of the carrot cake fans out there! Creamy, crunchy, chewy, and sweet, this recipe packs in a full cup of carrots and a handful of healthy ingredients that will keep you feeling full for hours and hours. This oatmeal is also wonderful as part of a holiday breakfast with loved ones. If you are adapting this recipe for several people, I suggest pouring the oats into a large casserole dish when they are ready, adding your toppings, and using a large spoon to scoop portions onto plates or bowls.

Note from Ashlee: I have only tried the low-fat version. Which excludes the nuts, shredded coconut, and coconut cream (I use almond milk instead). I suggest following this version if you are avoiding higher fat foods. I loved it this way and was full for hours. The only change I made besides reducing the fat was to double the recipe.

Yield: 4 servings


2 cups finely grated carrot (about 2 large)
2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp full-fat coconut milk cream (or use more almond milk)
2 tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4th tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 cup regular oats
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional, I didn't add this)
2 tbsp chopped walnuts, divided
2 tbsp raisins, divided
4 tbsp pure maple syrup
4 stevia packets (optional, for added sweetness)
1 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut, for garnish
1 tbsp coconut milk cream + 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup, to garnish (optional)

Directions: Finely grate 1 heaping cup of grated carrots. You want to use the fine grate and not the large one so the carrot shreds are very small. This helps the carrot blend in more.

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, whisk together the almond milk, optional coconut milk cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a pinch of salt.

Stir in the grated carrots and oats. Adjust heat if necessary or bring heat to low if it starts to boil. Cook for about 8-9 minutes, stirring frequently. When the mixture has thickened up, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, 1 tbsp walnuts, 1 tbsp raisins, and 4 tbsp of maple syrup. Remove from heat and portion into bowls.

Top the oatmeal with the remaining walnuts, raisins, and shredded coconut. If you are using coconut cream, you can mix a bit of the cream with maple syrup and drizzle on top of the oatmeal, as shown in the photo. Sprinkle with cinnamon for garnish.


Megan loved this stuff so much that she stole Paul's oatmeal, and then scooted a little chair up to the stove to devour the pot!


Something green. Nutrient-packed. Creamy.


Sweet apples, combined with creamy bananas and creamy sweet dates, some almond milk. Jam-packed with baby kale or spinach.

Apple pie in a jar.

Your taste buds and energy levels will be very happy.

Apple Pie Green Smoothie
By Ashlee Crozier


2 cups baby kale or spinach, tightly packed and heaping (don't be shy! really pack it!)
1 and 3/4 cup almond milk
2 ORGANIC (NO CHEMICAL SHAKES, HERE!) large Gala apples, or other sweet apples
1 1/2 to 2 frozen bananas
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 Deglet Noor Dates (or 3 medjool dates, but I have not tried using medjool yet)
4 stevia packets
1 cup ice


Put almond milk and greens (spinach or baby kale both taste great) in blender and blend until all greens are pulverized.

Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

I like to blend the greens first, with the milk, so that I have enough room to add more greens (on my ambitiously green days) and room for the remaining ingredients without killing my blender.

I was introduced to deglet noor dates by my sister, Aimee. They are only 26 calories per date! They are so delicious. I bought mine at Costco -- huge tub! Perfect in this shake, and they don't give me a tummy ache like blended medjool dates sometimes do.


Lastly, pumpkin pie smoothie, revisited.

Lower in fat. Quite delicious. Ready in minutes.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, Revisited (Low Fat, Easy prep)
By Ashlee Crozier (inspired by this smoothie)

Note From Ashlee: Removing the chia seeds and oatmeal also removes the issue of the shake being too thick. It also means you can have your insta-shake; no more overnight preparation. That's more like it! I feel very hydrated after having this snack, and it meets all of my energy needs for hours. Yummy little treat.


2 cups almond milk
1 and 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 frozen ripe banana
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup ice cubes (creates better texture, and makes it cold which enhances flavor)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
3-4 packets of Stevia (don't skip! This makes the smoothie sweet without adding sugar!)


1. Throw everything in your blender all at once.

3. Blend until smooth. One full cycle in my Blendtec does the trick. Drink, and enjoy!


I hope to be able to post two fabulous main dishes to grace your Thanksgiving table. They are loved by meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

I am also re-working Cauliflower Bechamel to taste similar to Chicken Alfredo. Loved by my kids, and taste testers (thanks, Rachel!).

We leave this Saturday morning for California.

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving?

How do you survive the Holidays and stay healthy?

Paul says he will have Turkey on Thanksgiving day, just to shake off the title, "vegan." He says he's a whole foodist, not a vegan.

Wherever you're headed, I hope you stay safe!