Homemade Flavored Greek Yogurt

More and more people are switching to Greek yogurt, and rightfully so. It has double the protein and half the carbs as regular yogurt. And depending on which variety of regular yogurt you normally get, Greek yogurt will have less sugar and sodium.

It has a thicker consistency so it can be used as a replacement for sour cream or other high fat ingredients in cooking. Eaten alone, though, it can be a little bitter and tangy for some people’s tastes, which is why I wanted to share the following versions.

This post is inspired by a dessert recipe that I recently tried. The dessert was a flop. But as with anything in life, it’s not a failure if you learn something from it.

What I learned was a low calorie, natural way to sweeten plain Greek Yogurt.

I ended up experimenting and came up with three different varieties.

The first is my favorite. It’s a honey-lemon version.

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I just blended about 1 Tablespoon of honey into a cup of yogurt. Then I grated lemon rind into it (about 1/2 teaspoon).

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Refrigerate for an hour before eating (nothing scientific here, but I found it seems to let the rind soften and the flavor settle a bit) and you have the most refreshing, lemony yogurt! It goes great with fresh fruit.

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The second one is a cinnamon-maple syrup version.

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Simply blend about 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup into a cup of yogurt and sprinkle your cinnamon in (about 1/2 teaspoon). Delicious! This one goes well with a cinnamon bagel.

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The third is a Vanilla-Nutmeg Yogurt.

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I blended about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract into a cup of yogurt and then sprinkled in the Nutmeg (just  a few dashes). This was has a warmer flavor and can be scooped up with graham crackers. No spoon needed!

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This is just the start of the different flavors you can create. I love that you can change it up without a bunch of sugar or additives.

Enjoy!

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6 Best Uses for Vinegar in the Kitchen

If you’ve never heard yourself say, “Vinegar is so amazing!” then please keep reading. There are so many reasons why I love vinegar (and hundred of uses for it) , but today I’m just going to share my top 6 uses for white vinegar in your kitchen. For about twenty cents, you can make a bottle of vinegar water that you can use for dozens of purposes.

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I usually do a 50/50 ratio of white vinegar and water in my spray bottle. That is strong enough to be effective, but diluted enough to not damage surfaces.

My husband was a little doubtful that vinegar would clean as well as a store-bought, chemical cleaner so I did a little research to assure him that his house really was clean.

I know people love their clorox, but vinegar has strong antibacterial properties and one test by Good Housekeeping’s microbiologist found that 5% vinegar is 90% effective against mold and 99.9% effective against bacteria. Because it is acidic, it can dissolve mineral deposits from glass and other smooth services.

The main reason it is so awesome is because it is all natural, so if you have kids or pets, you don’t have to worry about anyone ingesting chemicals. Also, if you’re pregnant (or even if you’re not), you are not inhaling any fumes while you clean.

Let’s travel around my kitchen and I’ll share the top 6 uses for your vinegar/water mixture.

1) Mirrors and Windows

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Amazing streak-free results every time. And when the kids fog up the mirror by pressing their mouths against the glass, you can relax. No chemicals.

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2) Cleaning the inside of the Refrigerator

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I really can’t image using anything else inside the fridge. It is filled with food. Plus, when you shut the door, you’ve trapped any leftover fumes from a chemical cleaner.

3) Outside of the refrigerator

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Vinegar/water mixture is wonderful on stainless steel, so you can use it on all of your appliances.

4) Clean Stovetop Surfaces

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Spray and wipe the surface for everyday cleaning. For stubborn stains or caked-on residue, spray and leave for 15 minutes. You can also soak your grates in the mixture.

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Our oven repairman told us to soak the metal piece on a gas stove (i’m sure it has a name) in vinegar overnight. This will remove any grease buildup in the hole where the pilot light lights.

5) Disinfect your garbage disposal and drains.

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Run garbage disposal and rinse well so that it is food-free. Then pour 1/2 cup or so of baking soda into your garbage disposal and then pour 1-2 cups of straight vinegar (not your mixture) down the drain. It will begin to fizz. Let it sit for 10 minutes then rinse with hot water for a few minutes.

7) Clean fruits and veggies

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Buying organic fruits and veggies can get expensive. A great alternative is to clean fruits and veggies with this mixture. It can remove most of the harmful residues that remain on our food. Simply spray the item well and rub under water giving the fruit or veggie a good massage.

Some bonus uses: To clean the inside of your dishwasher, place a cup of vinegar (in a dishwasher safe cup) in the top rack of an empty dishwasher and run a hot cycle. To clean the inside workings of your coffee maker, pour 2 cups of your vinegar and water mixture into the machine and run a cycle. Follow with 1-2 cycles of plain water to rinse.

Caveats: Vinegar is acidic, so do not use it on any wood surfaces like kitchen tables or wood floors. If used regularly, it will damage the wood. I promise and can show you proof 🙂

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Healthy Ice Cream (non-dairy)

If you are avoiding dairy or just looking for a healthier version of ice cream, you will love this recipe.

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It is so easy and tastes amazing. Plus, it has no dairy, added sugar, or weird ingredients.

All you need are:
2 (frozen) bananas
1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
3-4 tablespoons almond milk.

For a low-fat version, just omit the almond butter.

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First you will want to slice up some bananas and put them into a freezer bag.

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Be sure to separate the pieces so they freeze flat. Otherwise you can get a big clump of banana slices when they all freeze together.

This is a nice way to save a bunch of bananas that aren’t going to make it much longer.

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Slice them up and freeze them so you have them ready when you get a sweet craving. You can freeze them in single serving bags to make it easier. I usually do two bananas per bag.

When you are ready, pour a bag of your frozen bananas, carob powder, almond butter and almond milk into a food processor.

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Blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and you are done. If you want more of a milkshake consistency, just add more almond milk.

I love this treat because kids think they are getting a sweet dessert but it’s actually all good stuff!

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You can also do this with frozen strawberries for a version of strawberry ice cream. I’d love to hear your variations on this. I’m sure there are a ton!

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Fall Squash Pumpkins

If you have picky eaters and need to disguise your vegetables or if you just want a fun fall idea, these little squash pumpkins are perfect.

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All you need is Butternut Squash, nutmeg, cinnamon (or whatever spices you enjoy), raisins for the eyes and mouth and pieces of walnut for the stem.

DSC04335Cook the squash as directed (I usually slice mine in half and bake or microwave it until it is soft). Mash the squash up in a bowl and add nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Then just scoop about 2 tablespoons out and make a small ball with your hands. Poke raisins in as eyes and a mouth and a piece of walnut for the stem.

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This makes a great side dish with dinner or as a snack.

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The nutmeg and cinnamon give the squash a sweet taste so it actually also goes well in ice cream.

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Yum! Enjoy!

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Donut Hole Acorns (The Healthy Version)

I was at a work event recently and someone brought donut hole acorn balls that looked something like this.  (This image is credited to Evi-Enjoying-Life from Pinterest)Evi-enjoying-life Acorn Balls

I thought they were so cute! I had never seen them before. My coworker told me it was just a donut hole, Nutella spread over the top, nuts or sprinkles and then a pretzel stick for the stem.

Unfortunately for my family, whenever I find a yummy, fun recipe, I always find a way to suck the fun right out of it. I figure they will thank me some day (or not) when they learn for themselves that being healthy IS the fun part. But for now, they need to eat what I serve.

My version of the acorn is a pumpkin bread ball with almond butter and granola. A stick of apple will be the stem.

I just used a pumpkin bread mix.

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If you want to get crazy, you can add ground flax or chia seeds to your bread batter before baking.

Then I used almond butter and a pumpkin granola mix. I sliced an apple into sticks.

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If you have a cake pop pan, they are the best for making ball shapes.

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Once the bread is baked, let cool and then spread a layer of almond butter over the top.

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Then immediately dip the almond buttery side around in a small bowl of granola to coat the top.

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Poke the tip of a small, sharp knife into the top to make a small hole and insert an apple stick to make the stem.

Now you have a beautiful, healthy acorn treat!

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Enjoy!

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