Monthly Archives: March 2014

Chocolate Almond Butter Maca Smoothie

I think we’re official real-time homesteaders now! We had a very exciting and eventful weekend in which we became parents to these two:













They were VERY shaken up due to being  transported in the back of the truck for an hour in cold temperatures. I was really upset and worried that the pigs would get sick and die at first. They were shivering and whimpering and I was Googling away and of course when that happens it’s worst case scenario. However later that night they warmed up, started eating and drinking….and standing in their water dish….and dumping over their food dish.

So they should be a handful. I’m not expecting everything to go right…..but I hope that they become happier and enjoy a happy life while they’re with us. Stay tuned for updates!

Also, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up Saturday morning to find that some of my tomato plants I planted last weekend had sprouted!!!!! I was super nervous they weren’t going to work out because I made a huge mess planting them and forgot to label the cells in the planter. It was a mess. But here they are:














They are leaning towards the sun wondering why it’s still snowing. I was listening to the Paleo View podcast and Liz Wolfe said something that really made a lot of sense. She said humans MUST have evolved to eat animals because growing plants is DAMN HARD! Raising animals for meat/eggs/milk seems so much easier. Plants are temperamental and everything depends on the soil and weather. We’ll see what happens…..

Anyway, on to a delicious recipe….the other week I posted a recipe with Maca, a whole food root powder supplement used to balance hormones. Since then I have been trying new ways to incorporate it. I am actually growing used to and enjoying the taste more. Yesterday i whipped up this smoothie for lunch with the protein powder I recently got and the flavor was amazing! I thought it’d be worthy to share.

chocolate almond butter maca smoothie2


















OH- and the almond butter I used was a homemade recipe that I made from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. (Maple Vanilla Almond Sunbutter) OMG it is amazing- go make it now!!!! Her blog is becoming one of my favorites. I should have included her in my round up last week! Seriously everyone I’ve made from her blog has been fantastic.

Chocolate Almond Butter Maca Smoothie
Rich, creamy delicious chocolate protein shake with the added benefit of maca root powder.
Write a review
Total Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. 1 banana, medium
  2. 1/4 cup coconut milk
  3. 3/4 cup water
  4. 1 tbsp almond butter
  5. 1 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
  6. 2 tbsp maca root powder
  7. 2 scoops (28 g) vanilla protein powder*
  8. handful of ice cubes
  1. Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend away!
  1. *you can use chocolate protein powder and omit the cocoa if you want.
  2. *use sweetener also if you prefer
Pencils and Pancakes

So I hope you’ll stick around for more homesteading adventures! We’re hopefully going to get some chickens soon as well. I’m not expecting everything to go right but at least it will be fun and a learning process.

Have you ever had farm animals?

Any gardening advice??


Test Prep Memes

‘Tis the week before the NYS ELA exam. It’s really not as nerve wracking as I make it out to be. It is what it is. I do the best I can to prepare students but to stress out too much is a lot of work. We try to make it as positive as possible for the kids and not use “scare” tactics. Part of the way I’m trying to make it positive and not unbearable as we prepare is with an extra credit assignment.


Test prep memes!!!! I‘m sure you know what memes are if you have the internet. If you don’t….they’re kind of hard to explain. So instead, I’ll show you some examples of ones my kids made!

(AC2E is a writing format I teach my kids)




LOL….you get the idea. Students are loving it! Just a little something to make the week go by faster and remind them of strategies for the test! I also baked one of my classes cookies just because I thought they were working hard!! #bestteacherever










SO excited for after the test because I get to teach Omnivore’s Dilemma again!!!! My school ordered the books so it’s going to be way more in depth this year. So excited to drop some REAL FOOD knowledge on my little minds.

What have you done to make test week more bearable??



What I ate in Buffalo- Blue Monk

I really have just been slacking with the blog posts….been feeling so uninspired lately and feeling like I’m grasping at straws for topics. I don’t want to force a post and I’d rather wait until I have something legit to post about. I do want to share, however, a fabulous restaurant we went to over the weekend because it’s just too good not to. So I’m linking up again with Jen at Peas and Crayons for What I ate Wednesday!


 Peas and Crayons

Over the weekend I got the pleasure to attend the men’s NCAA Basketball tournament in Buffalo. We bought the tickets a month ago when Syracuse was riding high on a 25-0 season with an almost definite bid to be a #1 seed and land in Buffalo for the tourney. Well, I don’t want to get into what happened to their season after that. All I can say it’s been an incredibly stressful month worrying that we spent an uncomfortable amount of money on tickets to possibly not even see our team.

Somehow, they ended up a #3 seed and still playing in Buffalo. Annnnnnnd let’s not talk about the fact they ended up losing a heartbreaking game Saturday but all in all it was an amazing experience and I loved watching all the teams play.




























I love basketball! What an emotional season. I never knew I could get so pumped up, excited, or heartbroken over sports.

Another thing I get pumped up over- food. I wanted to find a restaurant in Buffalo to go to Saturday before the game that wasn’t too expensive, but was also good. I thought about choosing Anchor Bar, the acclaimed ‘original Buffalo wing’ place, but honestly the reviews were not good and we just had wings the night before. I landed on a place uptown in the Elmwood area called Blue Monk.

It was in a really cute area of the city, sorta trendy. The inside was unique, with a downstairs bar area and upstairs seating.










The beer selection was great! However I thought it was a tad overpriced. And there was this one beer I REALLY wanted to try which was a S’MORES FLAVORED STOUT that they were out of. S’mores beer guys. I need to find this somewhere ASAP. I went with an oatmeal/coffee stout instead which was delicious.

For dinner I didn’t take much time choosing the Duck Confit Reuben. It came with their specialty duck fat fries with chipotle bacon dipping sauce. WOW. This was really beyond words. Everything tasted amazing.











My husband got a regular burger, which I tasted and it was good and everything, but didn’t hold a candle to my duck sandwich.











They had a nice selection of different types of burgers including elk and boar. My friend went with the boar burger. I didn’t try it but it looked great as well.











They had a bunch of dipping sauces to choose from with their duck fat fries that sounded great. And it was delicious!!!! And great to spend time with friends!












Verdict: food was great! But food and beer were a little overpriced. I  mean not too much, but just enough to be annoyed by. The waitress made a big deal about splitting the check… not sure why. I definitely recommend this restaurant if you’re in the area though and want to forgo the chicken wings!

Have you ever tried a pork burger or duck?

Ever had chicken wings in Buffalo? What’s the best place?!?

What did you eat this weekend that was great?!?


New favorites

Excuse the blog absence! I am going to take a few days to mourn my loss, if that’s okay with all of you.



In the meantime, I’ve recently found some great new blogs to read as a result of browsing link-ups and WIAW. Just thought I’d give a shout out to a few of my *new to me* favorite blogs:

The Little Honey Bee

I had been following Amy on Twitter for some time but not her blog (I don’t know why!) Her and I have very similar (whole) food philosophies and I enjoy looking at and reading about her food creations!

It’s Progression

Another girl with a similar food attitude as me! I loved her piece about kids and school lunches, and that pretty much drew me in! She includes some great fitness advice as well.

Twenty Something and Starving

As soon as I started reading Jen’s blog, I was immediately drawn to her sense of humor and laid back tone.

The Real Life RD

I am absolutely in love with every message about food Robyn has to offer! As a dietician, I can trust her advice. I recently read an article about balancing hormones that hit home with me.

The Big Man’s World

I know most of you all know Arman’s blog but I recently started following. I wish there were more man bloggers!!!! I love how Arman always comes up with the most controversial/thought provoking blog posts!


Isn’t it weird how when you read a certain blogger, you either feel like you ‘get’ her (or him!!!) or just feel like you have nothing in common? That sounds creepy. Is it just me?? LoL

Anyways, I did a crappy job of selling these four because I’m tired, depressed and hungry right now. But you should definitely check em out!!

How’s everyone’s bracket doing? Heh.



WIAW- Soup for breakfast!

And three weeks in a row going strong for me and WIAW! (As always thanks to Jenn for hosting). I have some yummy goodies I’ve been munching on this week to share with y’all.

Peas and Crayons

First of all, who’s excited for March Madness !?!?!













Crickets? No one? I understand that food bloggers aren’t as obsessed with college basketball as I am. Just wanted to throw it out there. On to the food.

Of course I had to start the week off with a Paleo Shamrock shake for St. Patrick’s Day! I used to love shamrock shakes but I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole now-a-days. Waaaaay too much sugar.











I’ve also been snacking on my cashew-maca date balls as an afternoon snack. So good!

Cashew Date Maca balls 2









Last night for dinner I whipped up a quick recipe that I thought came together well- peppers stuffed with ground beef, onion, garlic and tomato sauce. And a side of green beans with ghee.












It took under and hour to prepare and ended up being delicious. I am embarassed that I only have one fancy napkin to take my blog pictures on. I am always embarassed about my blog pictures. It’s my pathetic attempt to make them better. After reading Hannah’s funny post yesterday about “You know you’re a food blogger when…” I decided I’m not doing enough food photo prop shopping. I will get on that ASAP. Right after I’m done spending all my  money on farming supplies.










Something new I’ve been trying- soup for breakfast! It sounds weird, but I’ve been looking for ways to curb my snacking after work before dinner. I tend to become hungry monster while waiting for dinner to cook (and while cooking). For the past three weeks I had only been eating banana bread and a hard boiled egg for breakfast. I got the idea of trying soup from Stacy of the Paleo Parents. This soup is good! I just kind of made up the recipe (which I’m saving for another project). It has kale, butternut squash, pork meatballs and leeks. If you can get over eating savory for breakfast I highly recommend trying it! Yum!

And you guys….you HAVE to go right now to PaleOMG and try her “Peanut Butter and Jelly” Stuffed Muffins. They are freaking amazing! I’m making a new batch as soon as they’re gone.











One last thing I’ve been enjoying….these Annie’s bunnies. They are NOT paleo, or grain free but I saw them on sale and I couldn’t resist. So good. They are like Honey Grahms which I used to love. They are dangerous!!!! Gotta have a treat sometimes!












That’s what I’ve been eating lately! Seriously- go make those muffins NOW!

Do you think you could ever do soup for breakfast?

What is one thing you love but know you can’t buy all the time?

 Do you watch college basketball? Fill out your bracket yet?



Cashew-Maca Date Balls

Good morning and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This was probably the most tame St. Patrick’s Day weekend I’ve had in awhile…but I’m fine with it. I’ve been so exhausted stressed out lately that I really just want to relax. I wasn’t that good at that this weekend anyway….we are busy getting ready to intercept our piglets in a couple of weeks and had to get up bright and early to run some errands, which included loading a huge wheel of hay to use for bedding.


























You never know what’s going to happen when you make deals with people off Craigslist. After two encounters I’m glad to be alive. Just kidding, everyone we’ve talked to and run into in the farming world has been completely welcoming, helpful and friendly, however the man we bought the hay from caught us off guard yesterday.

After telling him we were planning to raise pigs through the window of the truck, he said

“Well as long as you’re going to raise pigs I have to show you something.”

We curiously shuffled out of the truck and trudged up the icy, snow covered driveway to his garage. I was sure he was going to try to sell us some more piglets or maybe some pork. Instead he brought us into the garage and reached down into his freezer and pulled out a bag. He proceeded to tell us a story about a sow giving birth on his farm thirty years ago. I had no idea where this was going but I started to get a little nervous thinking there was a dead 30 year old piglet in that bag and I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. 

Well I was right. There was a dead piglet in the bag. However the reason he was so excited to show us is that this particular, frozen, mummified, 30 year old pig fetus had one head, two bodies, and two more legs coming off of it’s back. Okay, I guess this guy’s not that creepy. I mean if he kept a normal dead pig fetus it would have been way worse, right? I feel like he should sell that thing to one of those carnival things you see with the two headed snake and stuff. You know what I’m talking about??

Moving on to something completely unrelated, aren’t you hungry for a recipe after that story?!?!? Just kidding- but seriously these things are amazing so you should be interested. I’ve been making this recipe for a couple of weeks and decided I wanted to mix it up and add a little staying power with the protein I just bought. If you don’t know what maca is or want to leave it out I would just double up on the protein powder. I bought maca as a supplement to use to balance hormones. I can’t really tell you if it works. I’ve had benefits but who knows if it was the maca or anything else that helped me. Nonetheless I bought it so now I am trying to use it up. It has a weird taste but it’s easily covered up in things like these date balls and smoothies. Blended with coconut butter and roasted cashews- these date balls make a great snack on the go!

Cashew-Date Maca balls











Cashew-Maca Date Balls
Yields 9
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
  1. 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  2. 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  3. 1/4 cup maca powder
  4. 1 scoop protein powder (I used vanilla)
  5. 1/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews
  6. 1 tablespoons raw honey
  1. Set about 2 cups of water in a saucepan and place dates in the water.
  2. Bring the pan to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes, to soften the dates.
  3. Put the dates and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and mix until it forms a thick paste.
  4. Form into balls, and place on a silicon mat lined baking sheet.
  5. Put the balls in the refrigerator to harden. You can transfer to a ziplock bag once they're set.
Pencils and Pancakes
Have you ever used maca before?

Can you top my interesting craigslist encounter??



Roasted Garam Masala Sweet Potatoes

How do you feel about recipe card? I did a couple of recipes using it because I see a lot of bloggers using it,  but I just didn’t like the look. I changed the format up a little and am going to use it for this recipe. We’ll see how it goes. Let me know how you like the look.

The weeks are draggggggging for me lately. I just want winter to be OVER. On the plus side, I’ve been able to photograph a couple of recipes this week because of daylights savings time. I suck at food photography, but if I at least have light the pictures come out “fine” instead of “embarrassing”.

Roasted Squash







Garam masala is an Indian spice that typically contains some sort of mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, mace, cumin and nutmeg- although it may vary from mixture to mixture. I love putting an Indian flair on dishes that would otherwise be boring. I found the spice a while back at a specialty organic food store and haven’t used it much. Since I just received a giant jar of coconut oil from Vitacost yesterday (I swear it’s like Santa coming) I decided to roast up sweet potatoes and thought the garam masala might be a nice pairing and a different choice than my usual salt, pepper and garlic powder.



 I am trying a new protein powder. I’m not a huge fan of them, but they’re handy to have around sometimes. I’ll update you after I have some!












I also want to shove my face into a jar of this and eat the whole thing. But my face is too big.











Anyways, back to the story at hand- I decided to use the spice to roast up some sweet potatoes. If you need a garam masala recipe- here’s one to make your own!

Garam Masala Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2
Sweet and spicy roasted sweet potatoes!
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and diced (peeled if desired)
  2. 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (or ghee)
  3. 2 teaspoons garam masala
  1. Pre heat the oven to 400
  2. Prep your sweet potato and peel if desired (I like the skin!) and place on a baking sheet
  3. Sprinkle the spices on the potatoes and pour the melted oil over them
  4. Mix to coat and place in the oven
  5. Cook for 20-25 mins and then mix the potatoes around and cook for another 20-25 mins
Pencils and Pancakes
Anyway- THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY!!!! Hope everyone has some fun stuff planned for this “holiday” weekend. I’m pretty depressed I won’t be joining my family at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Syracuse like last year….so I’ll have to make up for it.



What’s the word on recipe card? Love or hate?

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Have you ever had Tera’s protein powder?


Things I ate last weekend

TGIW- Thank God It’s Wednesday- and like I said last week, What I ate Wednesday is SERIOUSLY getting me through the week. As you will see, I am completely exhausted from this weekend and being swamped at work and just have not had time to chill out. Luckily I’m linking up with Jen from Peas and Crayons for another WIAW to take my mind off TEST SCOREESSSS!

Peas and Crayons

This weekend we did something unusual- went home on a regular weekend. I generally don’t like to do that because it’s just too exhausting (case in point, how I feel this week), but I suppose it was worth it looking through all the fun stuff I did.

We started out Friday night at a great restaurant in Syracuse called Empire Brewing Company. The wait was an hour and a half but we were happy to be with friends and it went by fast. I totally forgot to take a picture  of my meal though. #Badblogger. The next morning I woke up and made myself a delicious breakfast at my paren’ts hosue before going to a local yoga class:










Roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and peppers with two eggs.


The next night I was heading out in Syracuse again with my two sisters. We were supposed to go to another one of Syracuse’s great restaurants, Pastabilities, however the wait was AGAIN an hour and a half and none of us felt like waiting. We grabbed drinks and dinner at a close by bar instead. I started with a Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout. I don’t know what it is with me and stouts this time of the year.

























I couldn’t really decide on dinner, but since we were supposed to go to fro yo after dinner, I wanted to err on the light side with a meat and cheese plate. My plan to go “light” backfired when I received this:

cheese plate











Different, and so #notpaleo, but it was tasty! I took some leftovers home and we headed to the best Fro Yo place ever, Yogurtland. Yogurtland was my first experience with frozen yogurt and after that I thought all frozen yogurt places were legit, until I tried some random frozen yogurt place and realized that Yogurtland was superior. It was a very hard decision between maple cookie and mint, but mint won out since it is March! I topped it with cacao nips, chocolate covered waffle pieces, crushed oreos and rainbow sprinkles.













Man, I don’t have fro yo often…it’s so good. But my stomach hates me afterwards!!!

As I said, I brought home some leftovers and I incorporated that into my breakfast the next morning which was delicious:











More sweet potato, chopped up prosciutto, avocado and scrambled eggs.

It was a great weekend, before we knew it we were back on the road. I even convinced my husband to stop at Wegman’s on the way home, so I’d say it was a win!

Are you partial to frozen yogurt places? What’s your favorite?


Is eating meat ethical?

This is pretty ironic that I’m writing this after devouring a huge steak.


said steak- I only ate one I promise


I know there are a multitude of vegetarian bloggers out there coming up with creative and delicious meals sans meat, but I know for sure that I would never last without it. I tried for a week one time when I accidentally ate raw chicken ( I feel like I’ve mentioned this before on the blog) and it lasted all of three days. Have you ever thought about the ethics of eating meat? Do you care? Does it cross your mind that a creature had to die for your Paleo Shepard’s Pie?
As if we didn’t have enough to think about when it comes to the choices we make about food. Calories, fat, carbs, macros, micros, cholesterol, fiber, Omega-3s… do we really need to add another thing to worry about when it comes to food? Is it worth it? I certainty take issue with how industrial meat is produced in this country and decided not to endorse supermarket meat anymore.

The way I see it, if you DO care about how animals that you eat are treated and the substances that go into the animals YOU eat, you need to make a choice. Be a vegetarian or find a farmer who you can trust regarding how your meat is treated and fed. Being a vegetarian doesn’t work for me. I don’t think you can honestly get adequate nutrition without meat. So that option’s out. And buying grass fed and pastured meat from a local farmer is great, and it’s what I’ve been doing. but it’s not cheap. Which is why at the end of the month, we’re going to be the proud owner of two of these:

(not this pig…when we went to the farm yesterday I forgot to take a pic)


No, we’ve never done this before and we know nothing about it. Yes, I assume that not everything is going to go as planned. But if you want to do something in life sometimes you just have to start.

When we bought a 26 acre farm, it was our intention to try to grow and raise our own food. Not to make astronomical profit, but to at least supplement the aforementioned expensive meat from local farmers. To me there’s really no other option. There’s no turning back as far as I’m concerned in the eating factory farmed meat department. I don’t need to go into details about the conditions that animals endure in these facilities. You can Google it for yourself…I’ve seen a video circulating on Facebook about it lately. There’s always the movie Food Inc. In my opinion once you know the only logical step is to not support it. Maybe you don’t care. That’s fine too. I personally don’t like my pork chops with a side of antibiotics.

When I tell people that we are going to raise our own chickens and pigs their immediate reaction is:

“But how could you kill and eat them- they’re so cute!”


I’m not gonna lie I will probably have a hard time. But to me there’s no other option. This is something I have to do. I feel like I have to do this in order to continue to eat meat. The fact that people consider this cruel and abnormal is completely ironic. If you’ve eaten meat from the supermarket you’ve supported treatment of animals that is way worse than me raising a pig in my backyard that’s given  space and fresh air to run around and have a good life. Many people then say:

“Well I’d rather just not know about how my meat is killed.”

Really? That’s convenient. Because it’s easy not to know. Because once you know, like I said, there’s no turning back. As Micheal Pollan states in Omnivore’s Dilemma “The meat industry understands that the more people know about what happens on the kill floor, the less meat they’re likely to eat.”

As Joel Salatin would put it, it’s just “not normal” for people to be so disconnected from their food these days. The pork chop you’re eating isn’t a pig- it’s a fatty pink rectangle you extracted from a Styrofoam tray sheathed in plastic and slapped with a 15% coupon.  See how this makes it so simple? You don’t have to care about where it comes from.  When it comes to animals, we’re all kind of mixed up. As Pollan writes, “Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of the pig…that becomes the Christmas ham.”

Should we care about the feelings of animals? I really don’t think that’s the main argument here for raising your own meat or going vegetarian. Like I said with all there is to worry about when it comes to food I really don’t want to add one more thing. I think we should eat meat. Human historically have. It’s just a simple fact. We shouldn’t sugar coat this fact and make it seem like people are inhumane for eating meat because animals have feelings like bambi or something. The best I think we can do is honor the animal’s life and respect the “pig-ness of the pig” (as Salatin says).

Joel Salatin

pretty  much my idol

That being said, this wasn’t a specific attack on anyone- just a general rant I wanted to put out there mostly because I feel alone in my opinions on this topic. I feel like I just wrote a research paper for college or something.  I respect that people care about different things in life.

What’s your take? Do you think we need to make a decision between vegetarianism or local food?

Have you ever raised your own animals? Advice needed?




Happy Belated National Pancake Day

Woops! I missed national pancake day that was on Tuesday….I’m a bad pancake loving blogger. I’m making up for it with a round up of ALL the pancake recipes on my blog. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s probably my most common recipe. This is Pencils and Pancakes after all.



Almond Flour pancakes

Coconut Peanut Butter Pancakes

Protein Pancakes Two Ways

Paleo “PB & J” Pancakes

Coconut Rutabaga Pancakes

Caramelized Plantain Pancakes

Simple Paleo Pancakes

Giant Baked Paleo Pancake

There’s nothing that kicks off my Saturday of Sunday better than a plate of delicious pancakes! It’s almost a Saturday tradition in my house.

What are you favorite types o’ cakes?