Apple and Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Apple & Cucumber Quinoa Salad

After a long and rainy April, it seems like summer is finally here in Minnesota! The forecast predicts today will be 86 degrees and gloriously sunny, and I am enjoying every minute of the sunshine, blue skies, and bright May flowers. This weekend I’m boxing up the last of my sweaters to make room in my closet for sundresses and shorts, and exchanging my boots for sandals. My wardrobe isn’t the only thing that needed a change for spring- so did my menu. Winters in Minnesota call for soups and casseroles- something warm and hearty to fill you up and keep cozy on a chilly night. Spring calls for something bright and refreshing, like fruit or a colorful salad. I found both in this quinoa salad.

Have you ever been served something delicious and felt the need to rush home and recreate it? A few weeks ago, I attended a work event and was served the most delicious quinoa salad. It was colorful and packed with flavor, and much better than any quinoa salad I’d had before. I swung by the grocery store on my way home, determined to have the same amazing salad the next day. After several attempts (and many tasty, but not quite perfect, misses), I’m proud to share my version. This quinoa salad has only a handful of ingredients- most of them might already be in your pantry!

Read More

Apple Cinnamon Oat Pancakes

These Apple Cinnamon Oat Pancakes are easy to make- just whip up the batter in the blender! Oats not only add nutrients, but make these pancakes naturally gluten free. These hearty and sweet pancakes are light, fluffy and packed with enough nutrition to power your morning.

Apple Cinnamon Oat Pancakes

Pancakes are one of my all-time favorite breakfast foods. I love the basic buttermilk pancakes my mom made when I was growing up, as well as trying all of the unique combinations at restaurants. Blueberry, Pumpkin, Chocolate Chip – trust me, I’ve tried and loved them all. However, one thing I don’t like about pancakes is the nutrition. Ever looked at the nutrition label of your favorite pancake mix? Turns out those light and fluffy pancakes are just nutritional fluff.

Oat pancakes are different. Rolled oats are a whole grain, which are a healthier alternative to white flour. Oat flour adds a heartier flavor, which blends perfectly with the sweet apple. I opted to substitute some of the liquid for fat-free yogurt, which adds protein and thickens the batter, resulting in a thicker pancake. These pancakes are much healthier than your traditional pancake mix, and will keep you full longer and give you plenty of energy as you start your day. And who wouldn’t want to start their day with a delicious stack of pancakes?

Apple Cinnamon Oat Pancakes

Read More

Apple Butter

Apple ButterMy grandfather passed away several weeks ago, after a long battle with emphysema and lung cancer. Granddad grew up in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, but spent the last few years of his life in Williamsburg, Virginia. Today’s recipe is inspired by a place he loved: Colonial Williamsburg. I love and miss you, Granddad.

When I was in elementary school, I was fascinated by the American Revolution. I was more interested in the time period than the politics and spent hours studying how people lived. My American Girl Doll, Felicity, provided a window into the past. Felicity’s character lived in Williamsburg in 1774, and I read her stories over and over, then dressed her up in historical outfits and made up my own colonial adventures. I was probably the only girl in my class who begged my parents to take me to Colonial Williamsburg rather than Disney World. We finally took a family vacation to Virigina and I finally got to see Felicity’s world first hand. (Unfortunately, this was before Granddad moved to Williamsburg- how he would have loved to take us!) I was able to bring back a little taste of Colonial Williamsburg with Felicity’s cookbook.

Felicity’s Cook Book provides historical recipes updated for a nine-year old palette and tips for throwing a proper 18th century party. I thoroughly enjoyed the cookbook as a child (and yes I did throw several colonial parties) and still find myself using it today. This apple butter recipe is easy (it was written for a nine-year old) and delicious. I’d describe apple butter as somewhere between apple sauce and jam, sweet, tart, delicious and perfect for fall.

Read More

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

Apple Cinnamon SmoothieI’ve never understood how people can skip breakfast. I’ve always been a morning person, and I wake hungry and ready to start my day. One problem is cereal doesn’t keep me full. By the time 10:00 rolls around, I’m foraging through my desk for a granola bar.

One of my breakfast favorites is a smoothie, where I can pack in plenty of healthy foods to keep me going until lunch. This Apple Cinnamon Smoothie is one of my favorites. Not a huge fan of spinach? That’s the best part- you can’t even taste it.

Read More

Afton Apple Orchard

Afton Apple OrchardIf I had to choose, I would say fall is my favorite season. I love watching the leaves change from green to yellow, orange and crimson. I like wearing boots and scarfs, and bundling up in my favorite peacoat. There are so many great things to do in Minnesota in the fall, like hiking, or going to a football game. And of course going to an apple orchard.

Last weekend, we were treated to summer-like weather when temperatures climbed into the 70s and low 80s after a week of chilly Afton Apple Orchardfall days. Luke and I spent every minute we could outside, soaking in the beautiful weather. We decided to take advantage of the weather and head to an apple orchard. There are several apple orchards around the Twin Cities, and we chose Afton Apple Orchard because my grandmother lives along the way and we had already planned a visit.  The apple orchard is located in Hastings, Minnesota, about 40 minutes from Minneapolis, but much closer for those in the southeastern suburbs.

Read More