Holiday Gift Guide

Yup, had to do it! I am having the hardest time deciding what gifts to get people this year and I am loving everyone’s holiday gift guides! I read them every time and have even gotten some ideas from them.

So I decided to do one of my own! First up is a list of gifts I already have and HIGHLY recommend for any foodies/whole food enthusiasts in your life:

holiday gift guide 1

1.Spiral Vegetable Slicer – love this to make veggie noodles.

2.Silicone Baking Cups – These make EXCELLENT vessels for any paleo/coconut flour muffins or cupcakes.

3.Practical Paleo: The essential how to guide for anyone that’s interested in starting Paleo!

4. Silpat mats – use these for EVERYTHING that I don’t want stuck to the pan! I actually could use more.

 

Now here’s some gifts that I don’t have but are on MY list!

 

holiday gift guide 2

 

1.Clinique Happy – I love this scent! I got a free sample and now it’s out and I’m hooked.

2. I Pad cooking stand I also asked for a keyboard for my Ipad. I could use a cooking stand since I use my Ipad for recipes so much! I usually make a mess which isn’t good because my Ipad isn’t even technically mine….

3. I could also use a fancy looking apron for in the kitchen. Again, I am messy!

4. Shameless: Season 3 : Best show ever! I left off at season 2 and never got to watch it since we cancelled Showtime.

5. Funny shirts from LookHuman.com. This website is the best- they have the funniest shirts. Check it out!!

Okay, hope I gave you some ideas! Hurry up because the deadline for buying gits online is coming up fast!

Do you do a lot of shopping online?

What do you want for Christmas??

** Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I earn commission if you click and buy. As always, thanks for supporting Pencils and Pancakes.

signature

7 things I’m willing to give up in order to buy quality food

When introducing people to the “whole foods” lifestyle, one of the first reactions is regarding how expensive it must be to eat this way. I agree. And I am one of the cheapest, money saving people you will come across so I understand why the prices on things like grass fed meat, organic produce and other specialty food products may come as a shock.

Your mindset has to be in the right place of prioritizing food over other things in your life before you will be ready to adopt this lifestyle. I’ve talked about this before and have given some tips you can use when you go to the grocery store to save money on real food.

My mind is in this place where I consider some things to be a LOT less important than what I am actually putting in my body. You have to decide yourself where to draw the line. I get annoyed when people talk about how they could “never afford” grass fed meat at the same time they’re wearing designer clothes, have a perfect manicure and are holding a can of soda.

Here’s 10 things I’m willing to ditch in order to afford real food:

1) Aforementioned: monthly manicures. I used to get acrylics almost every two weeks. Not necessary!

nails

Here’s a  pic of when I had them! Throwback!

2) Expensive Clothes

This is really a no brainer. I’ve never been much of a fashion person. It’s not like I dress like a homeless person or anything, lol, I just stop myself before I buy clothing and think “do I really NEED this?” 9 times out of 10, I don’t.  A great website I use to get designer clothes on the cheap is Thred Up. It has quality pre-owned designer clothing at a DEEP discount. I got some great pieces on here for back to school!

thred up

3) Expensive Make-up Wearing make-up every day

Okay, so I admit that for most of the year I was getting my make-up couponing from drug stores. It’s easy to get really cheap make up for next to nothing this way. But recently the cheap-o make up was making me break out. So make up is definitely something un-important to me, but recently I decided to splurge and get some quality make-up with the concession that I don’t use it every day. I’ll really only put on full blown make-up if I’m going out or doing something special. I mean who am I trying to impress at school, lol, the kids?

farm

Yeah, yard work does not require make-up!

4) Hair products and monthly haircuts/color

My hair is long, so I can go 4-6 months between cuts! Not saying it looks pretty by month six, and when I go I just get a basic cut. I used to get hair color treatments but that gets wayyy pricey, especially if you do it once a month! Highlights and color can cost as much as 100 plus tips!

5) A new car

car

Austin and I have had both of our cars for awhile. Not like getting a new one with a payment would make us go broke, but I’d rather not have the payment right now. I wish we could go down to just having one car, but it’s not feasible with both of us having jobs in different towns. Maybe sometime in the future when I’m a stay at home homesteader/blogger ;)

6) Expensive specialty “paleo” bars/treats

larabar

All the delicious paleo treats out there are very alluring and look delicious, but unless I’m getting a free sample, some sort of discount, or REALLY in a bind, I’m not buying them. Sometimes I’ll coupon for Larabars, or splurge on some Steve’s Paleo Packs when we’re going on vacation or something and I need something quick, but that’s the extent of it. I’ve even started making my own nut butter and sunflower seed butters to save a couple of bucks. Almond butter at the store is way too expensive!

7) Going out to dinner

gordon1

We used to go out to dinner maybe once a week….but to be honest the restaurants around me suck and I cook better food here so why even bother? I’m not going to go pay $10 for a freaking salad (because that’s literally all I can order) that sucks. I like to save going out to dinner for when we’re in Syracuse (back home) or on vacation.

Well I tried to make it to ten things but just couldn’t think of anything else that wasn’t too repetitive (new shoes…that falls under clothes) or obvious (like….soda and processed food, duh you already know I don’t buy those).

What things do you consider less important than processed food?

Do you eat out a lot?

signature

Thanksgiving 2014

Sorry for dropping off the face of the blog earth for a week. I was away from home without the best internet connection or motivation to blog much to be honest!  Just wanted to enjoy the holiday with family and friends. Now that I’m home here’s the highlights from the week:

 

We had to bring both of our animals back home with us…it certainly made for an interesting trip!

photo(7)

Here’s one of them lounging on the couch at home.

Saturday before Thanksgiving we got together with our friends for a “friendsgiving” it was fun to get everyone together since it’s hard for us living out of town!

image(21)

Yes I know Thanksgiving is spelled wrong. Our friends’ son made that and I thought it was too cute. Looked more like Christmas than Thanksgiving in Syracuse!

image(20)

Whatever! It’s not 6 feet so I’m cool with that. Last Tuesday I was able to catch an SU game. Not the

team we had last year but…here’s to a less stressful season…

image(17)

And now….for the Thanksgiving goodies I made…

Ample supplies for Paleo desserts..

image(19)

I made two pies from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Pumpkin and Chocolate Pie. This is my absolute favorite cookbook for special holiday treats. She really has some great dessert recipes. I made the chocolate pie for Easter too and it was amazing but I later dropped the pie dish which broke and got broken glass all in the pie…so I had to throw it away. So as soon as I remembered how delicious that pie was I HAD to make it again! I actually think the pumpkin was from her holiday e-cookbook. That’s a kindle version- you can get it for wicked cheap!

image(22)

image(23)

Pumpkin was good but Chocolate was best! The pumpkin lacked sweetness, which was fine for me since I just finished my 21 DSD. It also made a great breakfast the morning after!

I also made a sweet potato casserole…no recipe but it turned out great!

image(18)

And Brussels sprouts with bacon!

image(24)

Thanks pretty much all the photos I have to dump on you. Hopefully I’ll be back this week with some more posts.

 

How was your Thanksgiving? What’s the best thing you ate/did?

signature

Bacon and Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash {21DSD} {WIAW}

Happy Wednesday: one week and one day left til Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to eat food. Everyone is already flipping out about Christmas and I’m not against that or anything, I just feel bad for Thanksgiving. I think “the holidays” just get wrapped up into one “event” and Thanksgiving just gets lost…..but I think it’s awesome. Because you get to cook and eat food and be with family without spending ALL the money and worrying if someone is going to like your gift.

This week for What I ate Wednesday, I have a recipe that would make a GREAT Thanksgiving side dish…or any fall dinner side dish. I love all kinds of squash and while butternut it up at the top of my favorites, acorn squash is up there too.

I have been sticking with the The 21-Day Sugar Detox for the last couple of weeks and it feels great! I can’t believe how much it drastically reduces my will to snack and eat all day. It’s crazy. Yes it’s hard abstaining from sweet and sugary things but it makes SUCH a difference. I should probably eat like this all the time…..it’s like one sweet thing and I fall down the rabbit hole. There’s not a lot of “moderation” when it comes to sugar because it makes you crave more! It’s also hard giving up plantains. SunButter and coconut butter
are essential tools to get through a sugar detox! I make my own to make it cheaper. BUT one more week! Here’s some meals:

21 Day sugar detox burgers

Burger Night! Finally picked up some beef from our farmer and I made Nom Nom Paleo’s bacon burgers with homemade relish and spicy carrot fries. And yes that is sun butter to go with my carrot fries. Because, why not?

dry rub pork butt

I made a pork shoulder in the pressure cooker the other night and created this dry rub for it. I forgot to take a picture when it was on my plate but this was a thing of beauty. The pressure cooker is magic. A 6 lb pork shoulder done and falling apart in 1 hour.

And of course these:

bacon and pecan stufffed acorn squash

You can basically add bacon to almost everything, I’m discovering. Especially squash. I made these for a quick lunch the other day but I think they’d make a great Thanksgiving side dish. You could easily add maple syrup if you’re not on the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I didn’t add syrup and they were just as delicious! Enjoy!

bacon pecan acorn squash

Bacon and Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2
A 21 Day Sugar Detox compliant Thanksgiving side dish.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 acorn squash, split and seeded*
  2. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  3. 2 strips of bacon
  4. 1/4 cup of pecans
  5. 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (**if not on 21 DSD**)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Melt coconut oil in the microwave. Spread the oil on the inside of the acorn squash.
  3. Place acorn squash face down on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 min or until you can press your finger into the back of the squash (be careful not to burn yourself, as I regularly do)
  5. While squash is baking, fry the bacon in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet until crispy and brown.
  6. Set the bacon aside, leaving the grease in the pan.
  7. Place pecans in the bacon grease and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside with bacon.
  8. Give the bacon and pecans a rough chop. **If using maple syrup, add the bacon and pecans to a bowl with the syrup and mix.
  9. When the squash is done, let it cool, then flip over and divide the bacon and pecan mixture into the "bowls".
  10. Mix to eat!
Notes
  1. *You could easily double (or triple!) this recipe to feed more people!
Pencils and Pancakes http://pencilsandpancakes.com/

*FYI: This post contains affiliate links. As always thanks for supporting Pencils and Pancakes.

What are you favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

Have you ever tried the 21DSD?

signature

Common Core Expository Essay Writing Tools

Whaaaat?  A school post. I don’t even remember the last time I did one…..

tools for an  informational essay

But alas, I have some tools to share with my fellow teachers. This year I have been making videos to accompany my lessons for students who are absent or struggling with concepts. Have you heard of flipped classroom? It’s when the students watch instructional videos and come to class with the material already “learned” so you don’t have to waste class time taking notes/doing direct instruction. Instead, class time is used to do “homework” or “practice” the skills you “taught” in the video. This isn’t so cut and dry with English. I don’t think it works very well with an ELA class, but a colleague is doing it with her math class and I think the flipped model is a great idea for math. I feel like in math the teacher has to give the notes on how to do the problem, and half the kids probably aren’t listening….then they go to do the homework and they don’t know how.

So with flipped classroom in a math setting the kids would watch the instructional video at home, then come to class and practice the problems. Now the kids who didn’t watch the video and or are struggling can get face to face time with the teacher while the advanced kids move on with the problems and videos. My friend has had great success with this method. I just don’t think it works for ELA per say. BUT…

I still like the idea of having instructional videos for lessons available for kids who were not here or are still struggling with a concept. With my short, 68 minute, every other day blocks it’s hard to differentiate or pick up students who don’t understand after the fact. I make videos for every lesson outlining what we did and the key concepts and students who are absent or struggling can just watch the video! We have a lot of attendance issues this year and it makes giving students back work a breeze. It becomes THEIR responsibility to learn what they missed.

Yes, making the videos is time consuming but I think about the fact that next year they will all be done. So I think it’s worth it. I know there are tons of resources like Learnzillion to get videos from but I really just like making my own stuff.

I made a set of videos that explains how to write an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion of a common core expository essay. This essay would work for any simple, explanatory essay especially to prepare for state exams. Our essay was based off of the short story “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros (excerpt from the novel- first chapter). So for your students you can just tell them to plug in the applicable story. Here is the example of the essay question I give my students. This is for the first chapter of the novel “The House on Mango Street.”

Introduction

Body Paragraphs

Conclusions

Also, I have a great graphic organizer that students can use, available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site! This organizer corresponds to the items in the videos. It is also completely aligned to common core standards! This is for 8th grade but anything in the middle grades is pretty much the same.

Informative Essay Graphic Organizer

What do you think about the “flipped classroom” idea?

 

signature

How to roast my favorite vegetables

Whenever someone says that they don’t like vegetables, my first thought is that they are probably cooking them in an unappetizing manner. Growing up the only vegetables I can remember eating were vegetables from a can (gross) or vegetables that were steamed (boring). Sorry but steamed veggies just don’t do it for me. The only thing I really enjoy eating steamed is fresh green beans from the garden. I don’t mind those raw, however, either.

how to roast vegetables

It wasn’t until I started cooking and eating real food that I discovered roasting vegetables. Add some fat and spice to virtually any veggie, roast in the oven and it’s magic! Vegetables are now delicious! Who woulda thought?!?!

Some of my favorites:

Roast Carrot Fries
Carrot Fries2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries

Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries 2

Plantain Fries (duh)

plantain fries

Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Squash

I could go on and on- the possibilities are endless! Instead, I’ve created a handy guide for you to roasting vegetables with tons of combos. It includes two spice combos for each vegetable, recommended roasting fats and temperature and time. I’ve provided this guide for you FREE! All you have to do is enter your email and you’ll be able to download the PDF. I promise to not spam you! I hardly even remember to do newsletters with my mailing list. Once a week is the VERY MOST I will send out emails and often times it’s less frequent than that! Thanks for reading :)


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

 

signature

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

I have a lot of random stuff to share today so I decided to linkup with one of my fav bloggers, Amanda, for her thinking out loud thurs series!!!

1. I’m so excited that Hallmark is already playing its Christmas movies. I was obsessed with them last year and although it’s a little early I was happy to spend last Saturday on the couch binging on them. So corny but so good at the same time.

IMG_0987.JPG
Love this one

2. I know Halloween is long gone and everyone is ready for the holidays but I was so happy to finally find this beer a couple weeks ago at Wegmans. Considering I looked for it for a straight two months before hand after seeing it on the Southern Tier Brewing Instagram hashtag. It’s like a slight pumpkin flavor but a thicker, stout type beer.

IMG_0988.JPG

3. Haven’t really mentioned much about her since we got her in July but I think you could say Anna is part of the family. We got her a dog bed a couple weekends ago because she preferred the couch to the floor….. Problem solved.

IMG_0989.JPG

4. Please tell me you are aware of the extremely entertaining time wasting site The Berry!!!!! If you aren’t I don’t know what you are doing with your life. Actually you’re probably doing pretty productive things because this site is awesome for distracting me from doing actual work. But it’s always great for a laugh when I’m stressed or bored.

5. The 21 Day Sugar Detox is going decent. I’ll be honest and say that I did have a couple of cookie dough bites) that I made for a ‘book release’ party last week because I was starving and unprepared. They had dates in them so that’s a no go. I’m not starting over though. I consider it win that I stayed away from the wine I served. I think there’s a lot worse things besides dates to eat anyway. I’ve stayed away from all processed stuff and fruit. Here’s a Breakfast I made the other morning: soft boiled eggs, peppers and onions with bacon and a sweet potato with coconut butter.

IMG_0990.JPG

Although I had to endure this mental torture at BJs the other day….. OMG.

photo(5)I am getting my hands on one of those in the future. Except it might be seriously dangerous knowing that the tub is that big!!! One day…..

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Have you been to The Berry Website??

signature

WIAW- Trader Joe’s Haul!

Happy Wednesday! The week is flying by. We have a busy weekend at home seeing every possible person we could see. We hadn’t been home together since February because of all of our animals (of course now they’re in the freezer).

I decided this week to start a 21-Day Sugar Detox (affiliate link) before the madness of the holidays start. I am declaring on this blog that I am doing the detox so you all can hold me accountable. I also did it last year at this time. First treat made- 21 DSD almond butter cups. I think I can do this!!

 

I didn’t manage to get many pictures of anything but I did happen to have my first Trader Joe’s experience on Saturday and I wanted to share the goodness for What I ate Wednedsay. I had never been to Trader Joe’s and one opened in Syracuse earlier in the month……. I knew it was going to be busy but I wasn’t prepared for the craziness. My friend’s husband basically summed up the atmosphere with this sentence “People will ram their carts into your baby. All they care about is getting their nut butter.” LOL. So true. Alas the one product I really wanted to try which was the cookie butter was NOT IN STOCK. Arghh. Oh well, maybe it’s for the better. I would definitely shop there if I lived near one, but it didn’t compare to Wegmans. There was still a lot of name brand stuff that I wouldn’t be able to get there. I thought it was really small, but I probably just felt that way because it was so busy. Here’s what I did end up with after throwing a  bunch of random stuff into my cart in order to get out of the craziness in as little time possible:

dark choc

So happy to find these 3 ingredient dark chocolate mints. They are the perfect treat and have clean ingredients! Won’t be having these for another 21 days!

DSCF4180

Looking forward to having this in my coffee!

 

DSCF4181

Good deal on sardines! Make sure you look for wild caught.

DSCF4183

This was a great deal for 3.99 considering the gluten free oats I buy at Tops are 6.99. I use these to make the gluten free chocolate chip granola bars in my cookbook! Did you miss my cookbook release last week?? It’s still available! Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, whole food recipes!

 

granola bars2

Check it out!

landing page

What are your favorite Trader Joe’s products?

What grocery store do you prefer?

signature

Pampered Chef- Best tools for Paleo cooking and baking!

I generally tend to loathe the “sell stuff” parties that seem to be all the rage- candles, Tupperware, make up, purses, nail art, etc etc. It can get annoying to deal with……so that’s why when I decide to actually do one it has to be a product that is WORTH annoying people with. I absolutely LOVE pampered chef products and use them all the time- every day in my kitchen. Instead of having an actual pampered chef party I’m having a book party online- that way anyone can shop any time without the hassle of actually going to a party. I wanted to share the link with you as well as my favorite products in case you’ve never heard of Pampered Chef and are interested. Every product I’ve gotten from there has been worth the price because they are quality and last.

My favorite that I use every day-

Flexible cutting mats

I hate getting out a gargantuan cutting board every time I want to chop up an onion or tomato for a salad or something. That’s why I love these flexible cutting boards. They’re light weight, easy to clean and easy to store. I’ve had my same set for over 2 years.

baker

Rectangular Baker

scrapers

Pan scrapers

I think any of the stone wear is great. This baker is particularly useful for casseroles that contain egg or coconut flour (for Paleo baking) because nothing sticks to it. It’s way easier to clean than a class casserole dish that half of my casserole would be stuck to. I am also thinking about buying the scrapers this time to make clean up even easier!

I don’t have this yet but I am also thinking about getting this stoneware muffin set. Every.single.time. I make Paleo muffins or cupcakes with coconut flour they stick. Doesn’t matter if I grease the pan, use papers, etc. So maybe this is the answer!

Okay this next thing I actually have 4 of….they are amazing. These silicone baking sheet liners can literally be put under ANYTHING and you have NO stickage. Clearly food sticking to pans is a huge issue for me, haha. But with coconut flour and eggs it’s always tricky. I lay these silicon liners down under any granola bars or brownies or paleo breads and nothing ever sticks! They are basically the Pampered Chef equivalent of Silpats.

baking

I know it can seem crazy with people trying to sell you stuff left and right these days but these products are awesome! Especially for Paleo baking where everything has a tendency to stick and you need to be organized and efficient in the kitchen. This post could easily turn  super long so I will leave you the link so you can check out the awesome products yourself! Great for Christmas presents too!!!

What pampered chef products do you love?

What tools for Paleo baking do you find most useful?

signature