Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Blend

There are a lot of recipes out there for Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend, but this one is a keeper. 

The secret weapon? 
Sea salt flakes. Don't skimp on this!

6 Tbsp poppy seeds
8 Tbsp white sesame seeds
4 Tbsp black sesame seeds
6 Tbsp dried minced garlic
6 Tbsp dried onion flakes
9 tsp sea salt flakes (
Maldon is my fave)

(This fills an 11.5 oz shaker)

The Fab Four Smoothie

Until recently, I never really understood how to eat.  I would fill my plate with real foods, but I had a lot of blood sugar crashes and would need frequent snacks and I had a lot of cravings throughout the day.  And smoothies?  I never understood them.  I'd throw a ton of fruit in a blender, add a little liquid, and then I'd be starving 30 minutes later!  How on earth did anyone stay satisfied from a smoothie for breakfast?

Then I discovered Body Love by Kelly Leveque and it all started to make sense!  She explained that the best thing to do to stop food cravings, overeating, to balance hormones and to manage diabetes and cardiovascular disease is to balance the blood sugar curve.  When we fuel our bodies with what they need we have sustainable energy and we aren't reaching for a snack to spike our blood sugar.  

So how do we know what our bodies need?  

This is where the Fab Four Ingredients come into play.  

1. Protein helps the body build and maintain muscle. (Fish, chicken, lean meat, protein powder, nuts, seeds, and beans are all excellent sources of protein).

2. Fat keeps the body's cells and hormones functioning properly.  (Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nut butter, ghee, avocado, and coconut milk are all excellent sources of fat).

3. Fiber feeds the body's gut bacteria which improves digestive health and supports proper waste elimination.  (Chia seeds, flaxseed, acacia powder, and cauliflower are all excellent sources of fiber).

4.  Greens provide the body with vitamins and antioxidants to support normal levels of inflammation.  (Spinach, kale, and collard greens are all excellent sources of greens).

Keeping these components in mind allows for a lot of flexibility and variety with meal planning.  I can easily pick something from each category and fill my plate with food that I love without feeling restricted.  Keeping my blood sugar balanced throughout the day eliminates the urge to snack and keeps cravings under control. 

My favorite part about adopting the Fab Four Rule into our life has been that I've learned how to make smoothies that are actually filling and satisfying.  My kids can eat one and do NOT ask for a snack 20 minutes later! 

This is our favorite smoothie recipe!

Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie
1 Handful of Spinach
1/2 Banana
Coconut milk
Small handful of ice cubes

Toss all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy! This smoothie recipe is for one person.  Adjust accordingly if you are feeding your family! 

It's super easy to mix and match ingredients to make a Fab Four Smoothie of your own!

Kelly Leveque's Fab Four Smoothie Formula is:
Protein (20 g min) + Fiber (10 g min)  + 1 Tbsp Fat + a handful of Greens + Superfood (optional) + Liquid

Click here to check out Kelly's delicious Fab Four Smoothie Recipes!  

Our Real Food Guidelines

A few years ago I was exhausted and unmotivated.  My mental health was suffering.  I had two small children and couldn't find enough energy to make it through the day without caffeine fixes and sugar highs.  Then I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen and I knew that I needed to make changes immediately.  Before reading his food manifesto I had never read an ingredient label on the food I was consuming.  I had never considered finding out where my food was grown or how long it took to get to my grocery store.  I didn't even realize that what we were eating on a regular basis wasn't even FOOD.  

We were eating a lot of processed food and I had no idea where to begin so I adopted Pollen's Five Ingredient Rule from his book Food Rules: "Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.  The specific number you adopt is arbitrary, but the more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is."

There is a ton of information out there about what to eat and why to adopt a particular diet (Keto, Paleo, Whole30, etc...) but I've found the most help from Michael Pollen's Five Ingredient Rule and by applying this quote from Jillian Michaels, "If it didn't  come from the ground or the ocean or have a mother- don't eat it.  Think about it.  Twinkies and Cheetos- what the hell are these?  There's no Twinkie tree, and I'm pretty positive that nothing ever gave birth to a Cheeto."

As we've adapted to the real food life, I've added a few more personal guidelines to my food choices to help us feel our best. When you are setting up your own guidelines you will want to keep your personal budget and diet preferences in mind,

When I am grocery shopping, I ask myself these questions:

1.  Does this item meet the standards of the Five Ingredient Rule?  (Bonus points if the item is in its purest form and doesn't need a label!  Example: apple, carrot, brown rice)

2.  Did this item come from the ground or ocean?  Did it have a mother?

3, Does this item include refined white sugar?  (We prefer to use coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup for our sweeteners)

4.  Does this item include refined white flour?  (We prefer to use Einkorn flour or organic oat flour).

5.  Is the meat grass fed and local?

6.  Are the eggs organic and cage free?

7.  How processed is the dairy?  (Milk isn't bright orange when it comes out of the cow, so why is the cheese?)

8.  Are the fruits and vegetables organic if they fall on the Dirty Dozen list?

We have tried a variety of things in my home for various reasons (dairy free, gluten free, Paleo, etc...) but the one thing that has been consistent has been defaulting to the Five Ingredient Rule and finding food in its purest form.  

I am happy to report that I am no longer the exhausted and unmotivated mother I was a few years ago.  When we started consuming nutritious food, my energy levels came back and our bodies and minds were nourished.  My brain fog is gone. My hormones have balanced out.  My husband's skin has cleared up.  And my kids have improved digestion.  We are enjoying the meals we are preparing together in the kitchen and we know our bodies will thank us in the long run.

I know that I said mean things about Cheetos and Twinkies.  And I don't want to lead you astray and believe that we never have a treat.  We tend to follow the 90/10 rule.  90% of the time we follow our Real Food Guidelines.  And 10% of the time we have treats.  We enjoy a big slice of birthday cake on family birthdays.  And we love ice cream on a hot day.  I want my kiddos to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want them to recognize that some foods make us feel icky if we eat them all of the time but occasionally as a treat they are enjoyable! 

How do you determine the Food Guidelines for your family?

Homemade Yogurt in the Instant Pot

I started making yogurt in my Instant Pot a few years ago and I've never looked back!  Homemade yogurt is cost effective and it tastes delicious!  It is a bit time consuming, but it isn't difficult to do and once you make it part of your routine you don't even notice that the Instant Pot is working its magic in the background.

Step One:  Clean your Instant Pot.   I know you wash it after every use.  But taking this extra step will improve the flavor of your yogurt. This is especially helpful if you've been using your Instant Pot to make something spicy.  Just pouring boiling water into the inner pot will suffice and should take the spicy flavors away.  Pour the boiling water out and allow the pot to dry.

Step Two: Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the Instant Pot, put the lid on, and hit the yogurt button.  Adjust the yogurt button until it says Boil.  Allow the Instant Pot to boil the milk and when it beeps indicating it is done (approx. 45 min later), remove the lid.  Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk.  It should have reached 180 degrees. Leave the inner pot inside of the Instant Pot for 5 min after it beeps. 

Step Three:  Remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot and allow the milk to cool to 105-115 degrees.  This will take an hour if you allow it to cool on the countertop, or you can speed up the process by inserting the inner pot into a large bowl or sink of ice. 

Step Four: Remove the skin from the top layer of milk once it has cooled to 105-115 degrees. 

Step Five: Whisk in a yogurt starter.  The rule of thumb is to add 1 Tbsp of yogurt per quart of milk.  So if you are making 1/2 gallon of yogurt you would whisk in 2 Tbsp of yogurt. Use plain yogurt from the grocery store that has live cultures and has not been sweetened. If the yogurt has live cultures the ingredient list will include Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophilus.

Step 6:  Give your yogurt 8-12 hours to incubate in the Instant Pot.  Place the inner pot back in the Instant Pot and hit the Yogurt button until it reads 8 hours.  (I personally love to adjust it to 12 hours).  The longer you let the yogurt sit the tangier it will be.  When the yogurt is done, transfer it to Mason jars and store in the fridge. 

***If you would like to make Greek yogurt, follow all of the steps above except for transferring to jars and storing in the fridge.  Once the Instant Pot indicates that your 8-12 hours is up, put a piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and pour the yogurt mixture over the cheesecloth so the liquid can filter out.  The yogurt on top of the cheesecloth will be thick and can be scooped into jars to store in the fridge once the liquid has drained away.

If you'd like to flavor your yogurt, you can do this once it is already made!  I've stirred in honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and/or berry compote.

Pro Tip:  You can use your own homemade yogurt as the starter for your next batch.  An easy way to make sure you always have some on hand is to freeze it in a silicone ice cube tray. (Each section holds 1 Tablespoon).

Do you have any tips or tricks for making yogurt in your Instant Pot?

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Our garden is thriving this summer!  We are bringing in more cucumbers than we can eat so we decided to start making batches of Refrigerator Dill Pickles and we have zero regrets!  This recipe has just the right amount of tang and flavor.  It's super easy to just make one batch at a time.  Because there is no canning involved, these pickles should be stored in the fridge and consumed within three weeks. 


1. Bring water, white vinegar, coconut sugar, and sea salt to a boil.  Stir until sugar and salt is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to completely cool.

2.  Put dill and garlic cloves in the bottom of your jars and pack cucumber spears into the jars.  Pour the cooled vinegar/water mixture over the cucumbers and seal the jars with lids.  Refrigerate for 3 days before consuming.  This recipe will store in the fridge for 3 weeks.

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