Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

13898142_10153760029602113_1235850181_o

I’ve been on the hunt for quick and easy meals that are healthy and delicious for my family. Join me on this series of ‘Quick and Freezable’ for some meal prep ideas for your family!

 

These were definitely a hit and could even be enjoyed by my 9-month old. If you’re like me and looking for meals to prep in the freezer, this one is definitely a keeper. Simply grab your freezer bag and mark on it: “Thaw. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken and serve on tortillas.”

Toppings are optional but I used diced cucumber and spinach and it was actually delicious. You could use sour cream, cheese, lettuce, sprouts, etc. So easy and so delicious!


5 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 Can diced tomatoes (15oz), drained

3 Peppers (Red, Orange,Green), julienned

1 Large onion, diced

1 Tsp Garlic Powder

2.5 Tsp Chili Powder

1 Tsp Paprika

2 Tsp Ground Cumin

1 Tsp Salt

1/4 Tsp Pepper

1 Tbsp Honey

Mix all spices together in bag, add in tomatoes and work spices in. Place Chicken, Peppers, and onions all in bag and work with your fingers getting the sauce/spices thoroughly mixed. Lay flat to freeze. Take out to thaw the night before and then toss it in the slow cooker the next day.

(NOTE: It also serves great over Quinoa or rice as a stir fry!)

Enjoy!

13874663_10153760029617113_2014466255_n

Advertisements

Simplify Your Crunch

It’s the idea that started this blog. Making my life simple while exploring ways to live a healthier more eco-friendly life.

Well, it ran away with me like many things I dive feet first into.

Simplify your cunchy life

It’s largely my own fault for being so damn ambitious  (I’m a dreamer and something of an optimist) and partially at fault is this big ol’ world of technology, the internet. A place where you can surf endlessly for how-to’s and DIY ideas. Anything you want, there’s a post (or a million posts) on just that. Kombucha? There are thousands of recipes. Backyard chickens? Learn all you need to know with a few clicks. Want to live off grid? There’s blog posts for that!

In an attempt to simplify I overcrowded my life with lists and stressed myself out. So I’ve decided to pick a few things to concentrate on and go from there. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Hopefully this is a good starting place for you as well. Here’s what I came up with:

1) Nourishing my body with good food. There are 7 billion people on the planet (give or take a few) and most have an opinion on what foods are best and what should be avoided. Here’s the most common one: Veggies are good for you. Furthermore local food is best for a number of reasons. What I’ve gotten from all the articles, blog posts, documentaries, and doctors I’ve read and listened to is that the majority of your daily food intake should consist of fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, and protein. Preparation of food is equally as important as quality and the way the food is eaten (ie. On the run vs. Sitting down to a meal). That all being said, my goal is to buy local when possible, prepare my own meals and snacks, and stop eating on the go. This is my number one because let’s face it, food is the single most important thing in your life. You literally are what you eat, so eat well.

2) Exercise. Sometimes I hate it and most of the time I love it. So why does it seem like it’s so damn hard to make time for it? Excuses no more! If you do one thing for yourself a day (excluding eating well) it should be exercise in some form or another. Yoga, running, lifting weights, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming, skating, biking, dancing, there are endless ways to fit exercise into the day. I’m going to make a list of ideas and put it on our family activity wall so that I can hold myself responsible. I don’t want to not exercise simply because I can’t think of what to do. (Post to come on the exercise board I’m going to make.) Whether or not you have kids, check out this post in the meantime to get some great ideas.

3) Bullet Journaling. I’m not really sure how I only recently stumbled upon 98e66f48bbff20969f1a313764b69cd1this idea but it’s brilliant! I’m a planner and I have a little OCD in regards to organization so this works with my chaotic brain to ensure I don’t forget
things or overwhelm myself.
I’m a Pisces so I like to dream and this allows me to be creative while holding myself accountable and staying on track with my goals.

4) Self Care. If you’re a mom you know all too well that it’s hard to find time for yourself. That’s not to say that if you aren’t a mom you don’t have the same problem but personally I’ve found that since becoming a parent it’s gotten much worse. It sank in when I realized that my #1 priority is my children being taken care of, and who takes care of them most of the time? Me. I’ve been left feeling burnt out at the end of the day and it’s not only me who’s suffering. If I’m not taking care of me then my kids (and hubby) are not getting the best possible version of me. That doesn’t fly with me. Of course nutrition and exercise are ways we take care of ourselves but I need something above and beyond this, so I’m going to reference this list when I need to take a moment for myself.

 

Hopefully some of what you’ve read will resonate with you and you’ll begin to live the life you want. What good is all that cleaning, planning, and pinning if what you’re doing it for is being pushed to the side?

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all”  – Laura Ingalls Wilder

What is an Essential Oil?

Essential Oils are all over the place these days and the benefits can’t be denied. From bug spray to baking and calming anxiety to fixing multiple ailments, Essential Oils are kind of magical. I say magical because for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how an oil could do anything outside the kitchen. Turns out there’s a science behind it and it took me far too long to actually sit down and learn about it.

So what are Essential Oils?

lemon essential oils

“Essential oils embody the regenerating, protective, and immune-strengthening properties of plants”

In scientific terms essential oils are volatile liquids derived from plant matter such as fruit, bark, leaves, seeds, roots, and flowers. Now what the hell is a volatile liquid you ask? Volatile simply means that a liquid evaporates easily at room temperature. This would be why when you twist off the cap to your oil your nostrils are quickly filled with the scent- yay aromatics! Essential oils also penetrate the cells in our body, even the blood-brain barrier, very easily due to the small molecular size of the constituents (the building blocks of oils). These two juicy facts are just a few reasons why aromatic, topical, and internal use of essential oil are so effective.

Scientific lingo aside, I want to go over how you get the oils from the plant and why quality is the single most important thing when purchasing your oils. You’ve probably seen oils in your local health food store, grocery store, at craft fairs, and in your family and friends homes. But what you may not know is that there is no real system in place to monitor the quality or purity of essential oils. Ridiculous right? Well did you know that each bottle of oil only has to contain 3% pure Essential Oil? THREE! That’s so bizarre to me. The rest can be fillers and liquids used to dilute. This is why I chose to go with doTERRA, because they have chosen to implement their own standards and pride themselves on Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils.  Anyway, I’m getting carried away. Essential oils are extracted from plant matter by two methods:

  • Steam Distillation: Plant matter is placed in a chamber and steam is added. The steam and oil rises to the top (remember, it’s volitile – easily evaporates) and guided to another chamber where the liquid is cooled and the oil separates from the water. The oil can then be collected easily. (FYI: It takes about three tons of plant material to produce a single pound of Melissa oil.)
  • Cold Expression: This method is most commonly used for citrus. Plant material (usually rinds) is placed under a large mechanical press and when pressure is applied the oil is released from the plants oil sacs and collected in a vat.

In today’s culture we want what we want and we want it fast. This way of living takes a huge toll on our bodies and the planet we live on. To produce the quantity of aromatic products we consume (perfume, smelly washer beads, scented cleaning products, etc) an unnecessary amount of pesticides are used on crops and loads of chemical solvents are added to aid in processing the oils as quickly as possible. Yes these practices will still smell wonderful but they will lack most, if not all, good benefits of the oils. So do your homework when it comes to the quality and purity of your oils and DO NOT take internally if you are unsure.

Relaxing lavender spray

Relaxing Lavender Spray

Aromatic, Topical, Internal

All the scientific lingo aside, there are three ways to use Essential Oils and they are listed above. Aromatic simply put is inhaling either a fine mist or a vapor – smelling. Topical use is when an oil is applied to any surface on your body. Your skin really is your largest organ and believe me when I say it may deflect many things, but it also absorbs much more. (Think about the use of nicotine or birth control patches.) And last but not least is internally which is ingesting oils for the purpose of aiding digestion, mental health, and even as a flavor enhancer. This method should be done with care and only with oils that are 100% pure (CPTG oils).

So as you can see, there really is a lot to know about oils but I hope that this post has helped you get a basic understanding. I plan to go into further detail on actually using the oils but that is for another day. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what your favorite way to use essential oils is.

 

Cheers!

 

Kombucha – I got this.

The first time my friend Angela gave me a scoby I felt clueless and overwhelmed, and Shawn was terrified of it. (‘It’s going to climb out and suction onto our faces while we sleep!’) Well I assure you that it’s not from Alien vs Predator and it’s so easy I’m certain anyone could do it. The health benefits of this delicious elixir far outweigh the awkward first handling of the scoby.

Fermented Kombucha

This time around, despite what almost every blog told me, I didn’t use organic tea. I happened to have some Monks Blend from my days as a Steeped Tea rep and it worked wonderfully. So I wanted to write out a few tips that I learned along the way, some of which I would have never thought of.

  1. Wash everything thoroughly, including your hands. First with a soap that is not antibacterial, and then with apple cider vinegar. This cleans everything and ensures your batch and scoby aren’t compromised. Be sure to rinse really well.
  2. After boiling your water and steeping your tea of choice, let it cool down to room temperature. Also be sure to remove your scoby from the  fridge about an hour before you put it in so that it also is at room temperature. I used a gallon jar and I ended up leaving my tea to cool for the afternoon. My first batch I didn’t let it cool enough and the scoby sank to the bottom – I later realized that this is totally fine.
  3. If your scoby sinks, don’t worry. This can be caused by a difference in temperature in the tea or if the scoby culture is weak. Sweat not, a new culture will grow across the top.

I’m currently on my second batch and am about to get ready to head out the door to deliver the scoby baby to a friend. I’m excited to learn more, try new teas, and share this with friends and family. As I learn more I’ll post, but for now I’m really enjoying experimenting.

Kombucha

It took me almost 3 years to feel like a mom.

 

supermom

always felt like a novice, honestly. But as I stood in my kitchen today washing my hands franticly (after wiping the booger-riddled face of my poor sick toddler) so that I could quickly tend to my antsy 5 month old, I actually felt like I had my shit together.

It’s funny how some of the toughest trials of motherhood tend to be the ones that show us just how awesome and put together we really are. (Seriously, you’re doing a f***ing awesome job.)

Now my ‘mom moment’ didn’t happen overnight by any means. As the title says, it took me almost three years (and two kids) . I’ve lived in the just-for-now apartment with the ridiculously small kitchen. I’ve wiped my fair share of snot, poop, and god knows what else off me and my children…and Shawn. I’ve survived on less than 2 hours of sleep numerous times. (I assure you, being a parent is a true test of your sanity.) But I’ve also given and received thousands of hugs and kisses. I’ve heard “mommmmmmmm” called repeatedly because I’m the only one in the world she wants, and I’ve learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life from a child. The good by far outweighs the less desirable, as I’m sure you’ve been told.

Through all the trials and tribulations of being a mom, your child(ren) become your number one priority. That of course leads to reading the endless myriad of articles on parenting: parenting techniques, vaccinations, what foods to feed them, how to dress them, if they should watch TV or not, wooden vs. plastic toys, cloth diapering, amber necklaces, breastmilk vs. formula, and on and on. I thoroughly believe that we live in a society that has lead us to believe our gut instinct cannot be trusted. As a new mom I leaned heavily on an online mommy group for support and answers in my times of need. I surveyed Pinterest for posts on how not to be a helicopter parent, and why I shouldn’t force my child to hug. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff all helped me tremendously. But it was when I actively started participating in my life (instead of just planning and wishing it was a certain way) that I started to feel at home in my skin and confident in my moming skills – yeah, that’s a technical term.

So #1 pieces of advice, don’t try to be the Pinterest mom. It can lead to pinning a million things you want to accomplish and overwhelming yourself, holding yourself to an impossible standard and feeling let down frequently, and just general anxiety from over analyzing every single thing you do. Read with an open mind and form your own opinions. Yes, it is totally acceptable to both cloth diaper AND use disposables – you won’t go to granola hell. Yes, there are times where your gut may tell you yes (like co-sleeping safely in my case) and your doctor will make you feel like a quack. Do your homework, be educated, listen to your doctor, and trust your instincts. It takes time to become comfortable in your mommy shoes, but you brought a human into the world – you can do this.

I think that as moms we need to look at what we think is mundane and realize just how awesome we really are. For example, moments like when I’m walking quickly to grab my daughters water bottle from her room. I swoop down and throw soiled clothes in the hamper, pass my little man a toy to keep him occupied, pick up a few toys and toss them back in the basket for the 5th time, and all in one fowl swoop I’ve done chores while keeping my sick toddler hydrated and my 5 month old content.

#2 piece of advice – appreciate yourself and ALL that you do. As a mom there really is no such thing as an unimportant task. Diapers need to be changed,  food needs to be made, dishes done, bills paid, and so on. Some have help with these things, some don’t. Regardless, parenting is difficult. You are raising tiny humans to function in society – that’s a big job! I know I felt like so much of what I did went unnoticed in the first year of being a mom. (I had PPD because I felt trapped, drained, and little like a drone doing mundane things over and over. But that’s another story.) I wish I had been easier on myself and realized that I was doing so much. You’re a superhero, believe it because you already act like it.

I’m sure I could go on and on about what I’ve learned being a mom but in the end what matters most is that you create your own identity as a mother. No article or YouTube video is going to show you how to do it in one easy step. It takes time. Be patient. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the ideals and advice, take it all in but in the end be active in your life and learn from that. Ultimately experience will be your guide.

 

I am so done with moving

Taking a break to relax and draw

I’ll start this post with a big ol’ sigh! Holy, I forgot how much work it is to move. Luckily we moved right next door to a bigger place so it was easier than it could have been I’m sure. Thank goodness for coloring breaks with Aurora, made things a bit less stressful.

Tonight I finished up cleaning the old apartment and man I can tell you my hands are tender. I really need a day/night of TLC for this body of mine, and soon. Bring on the bath salts and lotions!

I’ve been meaning to get to my blog more frequently however when I have that thought it is immediately cut short by a diaper change, a trip into town, organizing the new apartment, or a toddler meltdown (for fun reasons like the garbage man is taking the garbage away – how dare he!) So needless to say my posts have gone unwritten and Simplify Your Crunch neglected.

I have a few great posts coming up though and I’m hoping to get myself on a writing schedule so that weeks don’t go by without a post. Here’s to holding myself accountable and getting shit done.

Cheers!

 

Posts To Come:

Toddler Activities

   Toddler Activities

organization

Kitchen Organization

Sweet Potato Veggie Lasagna

Healthy Lasagna

I was a little hesitant to put sweet potato in a lasagna but I was very pleasantly surprised! Now let me start by saying I found the recipe on Pinterest, however I modified it slightly and loved it.

As far as the veggie base goes you can really add just about anything to make it good and hearty. In this household broccoli is a must, and since it’s one of the only things my toddler will eat currently we also put a whole can of corn in. I’m sure I could have used a healthier type of noodle, but I just used the Our Compliments Oven Ready ones. Quick and easy – exactly what I need as a new mom of two. I don’t have time to fight with noodles, I still have to try and convince my three year old to eat her supper.

Our Compliments Lasagna Noodles

To ensure it was nice and soft, I threw my broccoli florets into the steamer for about 3 minutes until they were a beautiful bright green and then added them into the veggie mixture.

Without further ado here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Even Shawn loved it (“Best lasagne I’ve ever had”).

 

INGREDIENTS

2 Small onions, diced

2 Cloves of garlic, diced

1-1.5 Cups of mushrooms, chopped

1 Head of broccoli, cut into small bite size florets (I’m a bit of a broccoli fiend so feel free to adjust the amount.)

2 Sweet Potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 Large carrot, shredded

1 Large pepper, chopped (color is your preference)

1 Can of corn, rinsed

2 Tbsp Oregano

1 Tsp Onion powder

1 Tbsp Basil

1 Cup baby spinach

1 Jar of pasta sauce

2 Cups (approx) Shredded cheese

1 Box of oven ready lasagna noodles

9″x 13″ Casserole Dish

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place onions and garlic in a skillet on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until onions are soft and slightly transparent. Add in mushrooms and heat for another 3-5 minutes. Add in broccoli, shredded carrot, peppers, and corn stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes add in the spices and mix well.

Time to layer!

Cover the bottom of your casserole dish with sauce and put down a layer of noodles. Top the noodles with a little more sauce and then a thick layer of the vegetable mixture. Next is the baby spinach and a generous helping of cheese. Another layer of noodles, then sauce, and then the rest of your veggie mixture. Load on the sweet potato, covered with some sauce and then topped with noodles. Put the remaining sauce on the top and then another generous layer of cheese.

Cover with foil and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes.

voilà!

Sweet Potato Veggie Lasagna

Feel free to share!

 

Toddler Approved Play Sand

Play Sand (Also known as Cloud Dough)

Cloud Dough up close

I’ve been on the hunt for activities to keep my oldest busy during the days she’s home. I think I found a good one! First she used her mini kitchen tools to make food, fried up some ‘eggies’ in her frying pan, stepped on it, made sand castles, and now she is currently using her Case tractors to load, push, and dump it in different locations.

Not only is it super easy to make, the clean up is pretty simple, though I don’t suggest letting them use it on any fancy carpet or rugs since one of the main ingredients is oil.

Cloud Dough playing2

When I mixed it all up I only added half the ingredients the recipe called for. Next time I’ll definitely use the full recipe. I tried to add food coloring to it after I started mixing – yeah it didn’t really take. You’ll want to mix the coloring into the oil before you add it to the flour. My coloring process made for a bit of a marble-like look but nothing solid. Feel free to add some glitter or confetti to the recipe to make it more interesting as well.

Enjoy!

Cloud Dough playing

You will need:

Food coloring (optional)
1 Cup Vegetable Oil (I used Olive Oil and it worked great)
4 Cups All Purpose Flour
Medium-Large bin for play and storage (think Rubbermaid)

If you are using color, add it into your oil before adding it to the flour. When you have everything measured out it’s just a matter of mixing it up until you get a sand like consistency. It should hold together when squeezed in your hand, and then crumble at your fingertips.

Happy mixing!

 

Edited: It can be a pain in the butt to clean if you get it on certain surfaces. Those mats are foam and were a huge inconvenience to have to soak, scrub, and wipe down. Definitely buying a larger storage bin for her to play with it in.

Finding your voice as a writer

Finding your voice as a writer isn’t always easy. I find it ridiculously hard at times to write exactly what I’m feeling and it often comes out too damn formal. Ever notice yourself doing that? Trying to make yourself sound all put together like you’re Stephen King or JK freakin’ Rowling?Finding your voice

My grammar and punctuation may not be as on par from here on out. I really would like to have my voice heard in the way it is intended and not all tied up in grade 12 english class.

So I’m definitely in no way a renown writer nor am I really sure why you should even bother reading what I write, but I enjoy it and I do feel that some of you can relate.

All that being said, I really do find it difficult to write and not constantly be critiquing the words I use or the way I word something – ugh. So what I’ve started to do in my personal journal is to write as it comes to mind. Less criticism allows me to write and get it all out before it escapes me or I edit it to death. Then after it’s all done I can go back and check it over to make sure it flows as you read.

Because really, who the hell wants to read a post that looks like a legal document? Well maybe you, but not me.

Oh, and since my first main concentration for this blog is homesteading I should probably post a little something on our gardens here soon since they’re starting to come along nicely. Also I need to get my butt into gear with getting things ready for preserves and finding a few more recipes for salsa and relish.

Well that’s it for now. I went into the kitchen to get a snack and realized I want to make chocolate chip muffins…see ya!!

5 Important Self Reminders for my 2015

> Less technology time.
It wastes your time, distracts you from more important things, and is a bad influence to A (My little girl). I don’t want her seeing me with my face in a phone – not cool. Cut that shit out.

> Meal Planning.
Don’t plan out every damn detail, but have a list of meals so that you know what to buy and you waste less. Don’t be lazy, make healthy food! (Big/double batches are great time savers.)

> Yoga. Daily.
Seriously. Quit making excuses and just do it. Involve A and do mommy and toddler yoga (she loves it so that’s a bonus), go to classes, or do it at night instead of screen time. Just do it.

> Find time to destress every day.
Find ways to unwind because stress is not a pleasant or productive thing. Epsom salt bath, running, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, etc. Enrich your life with things you love.

> Quit the unrealistic expectations.
Both of yourself and of others/experiences. If you expect nothing then everything will be a bonus and you’ll spend a lot less time feeling unnecessary disappointment.