Berry Lemonade

Since late summer of 2014, I’ve been frolicking on beaches, dipping my feet in the cool water, enjoying the ocean breeze coming through my open windows, and never had to worry about bug spray. That was in sunny Oceanside, California. Cut to now, late spring 2019 in Dallas, Texas. I have sweat dripping from my elbows after an hour outside – I didn’t even know your elbows could sweat! The sun is so hot it feels like I’m living on it, my body is covered in bright red mosquito and chigger bites, and the humidity makes my hair look like a small dog that just rolled in the mud.

But nothing beats summertime here with our family. Everyone is a sweaty mess so we just let it slide while we sit around, watching the kids play outside, eating watermelon and sipping lemonade. Lemonade is a must around here – cool, sweet, tart, and refreshing – it’s a welcome treat in the hot summer sun. I decided to make my own refined sugar free version and add some berries for an antioxidant boost! It turned out to be a hit – well received by my daughter, niece, nephew, sister, and, most importantly, my husband – who isn’t a lemonade fan! In his words it was “the perfect amount of tartness”. High words of praise from a lemonade hater!

Zemirah and I had a blast having a tea party (well, technically a lemonade party) outside one hot morning, but because of those dreadful chiggers I put down our gorgeous Karastan rug from Rug Studio, and we drank our lemonade in peace from bugs! You can get my rug here – in different sizes to fit your needs. It adds such a cozy feel to our bedroom, and is luxuriously soft! Plus it makes a great bug protector 😉

However and wherever you choose to have your lemonade party, I hope you make this Berry Lemonade for a refreshing and immune system boosting treat!

Berry Lemonade

Makes 2 quarts.

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of  fresh or thawed (if frozen) berries (I used a blackberry/blueberry/raspberry combo)
  • Juice of 4 large lemons
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of raw honey

Directions:

  • In a blender, combine berries with 2 cups of water
  • Blend just a few seconds until combined
  • Strain berry juice through a nut milk bag and mesh strainer – squeezing all the juice out into a large pitcher (this is the most time intensive step, but it’s worth it so you don’t have berry seeds stuck in your teeth all day!)
  • On the stove in a small pot, combine honey (to taste) and 1 cup of water, whisking until combined
  • Add honey water to the pitcher with the berry juice
  • Squeeze all four lemons directly into the pitcher
  • Add remaining 4-5 cups of water (to taste)
  • Chill until cold or serve over ice
  • Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to a week

For more “berry” delicious summertime recipes, check out my Berries and Greens SmoothieChocolate Covered Strawberry Chia Pudding, and No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust! For some scrumptious treats to accompany your lemonade, whip up some Chocolate Banana “Nice” Cream, a No Bake Chocolate Date Cake, or a batch of  Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies! I sincerely hope your summer is off to a great start – filled with family, healthy food, laughter, and happy movement. Soak up your family this summer…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost for you, just a small commission for me – funding my experimental cooking. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am sure you know by now that I’m a die hard chocolate fan. Or some may say chocoholic, addict, but whatever. The point is, I love chocolate! And if I were going to pick a cookie, it would 100% be my Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies, but sometimes people just need a little space…even from good things. So even though these cookies may not be chocolate, they are light, sweet, chewy, and tasty! They are gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and make the perfect companion to your afternoon cup of coffee or can keep you company during your late night binge of reality TV. I hope you don’t discriminate against non-chocolate desserts – give these a try!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes 18 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup of raisins

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Line a baking sheet with a baking mat
  • Combine all dry ingredients (coconut flour through salt) in a mixing bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients (coconut oil through egg)
  • Stir until well combined
  • Add in the oats and raisins
  • Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on prepared baking sheet
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the top springs back when touched and the bottom is lightly browned
  • Store leftovers covered at room temperature

For more cookie recipes, check out my favorite Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies or my Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Bars. I also have browniescheesecake, and mug cake if you want something in a different direction. I am here to be open minded to all kinds of delicious desserts! When I bake with healthier ingredients, I can truly enjoy my dessert without any stomach aches, blood sugar spikes, or mental guilt – and let’s be honest, dessert feeds the soul. Find something on my site to enjoy for yourself, or share if you want 😉 Either way, feed your soul…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it doesn’t cost you any extra and I get a small commission. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Berries and Greens Smoothie

 

It’s officially summertime! Which to me means pool parties, late nights, fireflies, and fresh berries. Growing up, we would pick blackberries and blueberries every Father’s Day; it was always hot, and there were bees everywhere, but we would run and hide in the bushes, sampling all our berries while filling up buckets full! That night, we would come home sticky, tired, and covered in thorn scratches, but we would sit down to a cool, refreshingly sweet bowl of berries and cream. This smoothie is an homage to the berries and cream of my childhood summers – berries and greens! Also cool and refreshingly sweet, this smoothie is delicious and packed with antioxidants (which gives it the pretty purple color), vitamins, healthy fat, and fiber. It’s as easy as tossing some ingredients in a blender, and I guarantee your whole family, kids included, will gulp it down! Your toddler may get super messy and turn purple, and may even have some chia seeds stuck in her hair the next day (true story), but messy, healthy fun will be had by all!

Berries and Greens Smoothie

Serves 4-5.

Ingredients:

  • Two large bananas – ripe with brown spots
  • 1.5 cups of frozen berries – I used a blackberry/blueberry/raspberry medley
  • 1 cup, packed down, of fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp of ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened coconut milk

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender
  • Blend and enjoy!
  • Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator and give it a shake/stir before drinking

I hope you give this short and sweet recipe a try – smoothies are a great breakfast or snack in the summer heat, and you’re giving your kiddos essential vitamins and nutrients! Without them complaining about eating veggies…which is an extra bonus 😉 If you like breakfasts in a jar/cup, be sure to check out my Chocolate Covered Strawberry Chia Pudding and my Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight Oats, and for more summer-y treats, check out my No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate CrustNo Bake Chocolate Date Cake, and Chocolate Banana “Nice” Cream. Wishing a happy start of summer to everyone! Get your antioxidants and vitamins in, stay cool…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me – helping me earn extra money to keep making recipes. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Chia Pudding

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a chocoholic, and I am a lover of all desserts. I don’t discriminate, each dessert is delicious in it’s own way (except you, Jell-O, you’re a sick food and can’t pass as dessert), but I have a special spot in my heart for milkshakes. When my husband and I first moved to California, we lived within walking distance of a burger place that sold those really big milkshakes like in a 50’s diner. Of course, after thoroughly enjoying my usual chocolate covered strawberry shake, I would feel sick from all the sugar and dairy and did not enjoy the stomach ache…but would still usually get one whenever we went. Oops.

The first time I made this chia pudding, I was instantly transported to sunny Southern California and reminded of the flavor of my beloved chocolate covered strawberry shake. It’s a huge bonus that this deliciously sweet pudding is refined sugar free and dairy free – so no stomach aches or wacky blood sugar! Chia seeds are small but mighty, containing 11 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein in just one ounce. Plus they are high in magnesium, which has a calming effect, zinc, B vitamins, and calcium. So when people find out you don’t eat dairy and ask about your calcium intake – tell them you eat chia pudding! This sweet treat is perfect for breakfast meal prep, and is delicious eaten as is, mixed with overnight oats, or on top of smoothies or even nice cream. Let’s grab a spoon and dig in!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Chia Pudding

This recipe is for one half pint mason jar. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk – this can change depending on the consistency you want
  • 1 tbsp of no sugar added strawberry fruit spread or preserves
  • 1/2 tbsp of 100% cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp of honey and/or pure maple syrup
  • Optional toppings:
    • more preserves
    • a drizzle of syrup/honey
    • fresh or frozen fruit

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a half pint mason jar
  • Stir to combine well
  • Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator overnight
  • Stir again before eating
  • Top with desired toppings and enjoy!

For more sweet breakfast treats, check out my Flax and Oat Pancakes or my Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal – both sure to leave your tummy, and your sweet tooth, satisfied. Don’t forget to pin this recipe by clicking the “pinterest” button down below – that way you can come back to it often. Chia pudding may be something new for you, but I dare you to try it! It’s light, sweet, refreshing, and high in fiber, healthy fats, and calcium. Eat your tummy-ache free “milkshake”, get your calcium in…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

My Postpartum Journey

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This is quite a different post for me, and to be honest, a little scary. However, May is Mental Health Month and we just celebrated Mother’s Day, so I decided to share. I wanted to share so I could share the hope that can be found in such a dark time, and so other mamas struggling can know that they are not alone!

So, here we go. Let’s start from the beginning: June 3rd, 2016, the day I peed on a stick and saw those two pink lines. I was pregnant. I took a picture of the test and periodically looked at it all day at work to make sure it was actually real. We weren’t planning on having kids until my husband was out of the military so this pregnancy was quite the shock, and in those first few weeks I often had the thought that I should give the baby to a couple struggling with infertility. I thought ‘it’s not fair I can be pregnant without even trying when they can’t, and I’m only 24, unprepared, and scared.’

Obviously, I didn’t follow through with my thoughts, and I knew they were irrational – I was in a loving marriage and we were financially stable (though, of course we could always have more money) – but I was in shock. Probably the first 6-10 weeks of pregnancy, I felt terrible. Not only due to morning sickness, but I just didn’t feel like myself, and I wasn’t excited. I actually felt nervous to tell our families because I was afraid they would say we were irresponsible for getting pregnant. Again, irrational, because plenty of people have surprise pregnancies, and everyone was excited for us.

I continued on to have a healthy pregnancy with no complications; excitement and fear would come and go in waves, and occasionally a bout of sadness. I don’t do well with change, the unknown, or failure. Everything was changing, I didn’t know what to expect (though I read that book and plenty others), and I was afraid I would fail at motherhood, though I had always dreamed of being a mom. All in all, pregnancy was a breeze for me physically, but tough emotionally and mentally.

We had a beautiful birth (you can read Zemirah’s birth story here) and, aside from the usual soreness/bleeding, no problems with nursing. I know birth trauma is real for some mamas, and breastfeeding challenges can bring on a whole host of mental health issues, so I truly feel blessed that we didn’t struggle there. However, immediately following birth, I simply wanted everything to return to “normal”, and had a hard time accepting our “new normal” as a family of three.

About 4-5 weeks postpartum, I got it in my head that the house was crowded. I was feeling claustrophobic (looking back now, I should have just strapped Baby Z on and gone for a walk outside!), and randomly decided to put our coffee table out on the curb, re-do the garden, and put together a new set of patio furniture. After all of this work, my postpartum bleeding picked back up heavy and bright. I should have taken that as a sign to rest more, but I wanted to feel “normal”, and normal for me was busy and working. I was missing my job, my students, and feeling like an adult. Now I felt trapped and isolated in the house, with only my fussy baby to keep me company.

That brings me to Zemirah’s infancy. She was a tough little cookie! The lactation consultant in the hospital called her a “piranha” (so you can imagine how that felt!), she was holding her head up and halfway rolling over at 2 weeks old, and she cried. a. lot. I tried everything to make her stop crying, and I never understood why she was crying. That instilled fear in me because I thought, ‘I thought moms were supposed to know their baby’s different cries, and usually babies stop crying when their mom holds them. She screams even more when I hold her – does she hate me?’ I struggled to feel that magical bonding that moms talk about; in between feedings, I didn’t want to hold her, and I resented her for crying so much. The fear grew more and more, and the isolation felt worse and worse.

David (my husband) was preparing for a deployment, which meant he worked a minimum of 12 hours a day, and oftentimes weekends. He would sometimes work 15 or 16 hour days, and sometimes go a full 3 days without seeing Zemirah at all. I resented him for it, though it wasn’t his fault; we hit our first rough patch in marriage, and I didn’t know how to deal with it, or who to talk to. Most of my stay-at-home-mom friends had moved (military wife life), and we were 1,300 miles from family. I had never felt so alone, so afraid, and so…incompetent.

The incompetence came into play because of my personality type and my fear of failure. I felt emotionally incompetent in my marriage; I remember telling David, “I need more from you, but I don’t know what I need” and, “I feel distant but I don’t know how to fix it.” I felt incompetent as a mom; I remember when Zemirah was 3 weeks old, David had overnight duty so it was just she and I in the house. I thought, ‘I’m not old enough/mature enough or a good enough mom to be trusted alone with a baby all night.’ Again, I didn’t know her “different cries”, I didn’t know the best way to comfort her (usually only David could), I didn’t know how to play with her, and I especially didn’t know how to get her to sleep. I would feel fearful of taking her to the doctor if she had a diaper rash or an eczema patch because I was afraid they would lecture me on how to parent better. One time I accidentally bonked her head (I’m pretty sure all new parents do it!) and I was afraid she may have a concussion, but couldn’t take her to the ER because what if they took her away from me?!

I’ve always struggled with confidence, but this was a whole new level. I loved my baby, and thought she was so cute, but I didn’t know what I was doing or who I was anymore. Finally, we got involved in a new church that we loved, and I got involved in a women’s bible study. I met a nice, more experienced mom, and asked her to mentor me, but when she stopped reaching out to me, I retreated from bible study. I thought ‘She probably thinks I’m weird and a terrible mom.’ Again, my isolation got worse.

When Zemirah was almost four months old, both of my grandparents on my mom’s side passed away, only 12 days apart. I couldn’t fully grieve because I was dealing with so much emotionally already, and I felt so stressed about traveling with this cranky baby who didn’t sleep. David flew with me to the funeral, thankfully, but I was planning on staying a little longer to be with my family, and was going to fly back with Z by myself. The day of the double funeral arrived, and I could hardly take in the service because I was so stressed figuring out when/where to pump, and having to leave Zemirah with a baby sitter for the first time, not to mention driving from the hotel, to the funeral home, to the church, to the graveside with a cranky baby who hated her car seat. I took her to the babysitter at the church nursery and almost lost my mind when she SHOOK my bottle of hard-to-come-by pumped breast milk. I then snapped at my darling husband for going to the bathroom without telling me – I was coming unglued.

I was feeling more and more trapped inside my head, and just wanted to sleep. I sought all sorts of advice on baby sleep, I read all the books and blogs, I put her on a schedule, I let her cry, I did “gentle” sleep training. Nothing. Worked. I remember one night specifically: by 5 AM I had only slept for 20 minutes all night. It was partially due to Zemirah waking up every hour and a half (ugh), but also because my anxiety and fear would prevent me from sleeping, even when she was. I started to be afraid of the night. As the sun would be setting, I would feel my anxiety rising, and when I was up in the middle of the night, whether it was for night nursing or insomnia, I was afraid.

When Zemirah was five months old, things really went south. I started having what I later found out were nervous break downs nearly every night. I’ve never really struggled with anger, but every time Zemirah would wake up, I would fly into a panicked rage. I was mad at her for not sleeping like every other baby did, I was mad at David for his useless nipples and the fact that he could sleep so soundly, and I was mad at myself for not knowing how to get this baby to sleep! It was terrible – I would turn into a monster I didn’t know. I would pace, throw things, scream, scratch myself, and pull my hair. Now I was afraid of myself. My new thought was, ‘What if I’m one of those women that hurt my baby? What if David comes home from work and I’ve completely snapped and hurt Zemirah and myself?’

These scary thoughts (which I now know are called “intrusive thoughts” and are normal) started to take over (the “taking over” is not normal). I was afraid to be in the kitchen with knives, I had visions of throwing myself off bridges, I had nightmares of watching people commit suicide; I was in a dark yet anxious place. I prayed for rest and relief, but felt that God was far away. Yet I KNEW He wasn’t, so I sought solace in church. There were many Sundays when David couldn’t come due to work, and I would take Zemirah to the nursery, sit in the back, and cry silent tears during worship.

Around this time, a childhood friend’s little brother passed away unexpectedly in a car accident. Such tragic and untimely deaths always make people reflect on the fragility of life, and this sweet young man’s passing was no exception. But in my current state, it amped up my fear. I went through the stress of traveling again, this time alone both ways, with a heavy heart and a panicked mind.

Upon returning home to California, I decided I needed to seek help. That decision alone brought along so many more anxious thoughts. I didn’t feel like I had the mental strength to deal with our health insurance and try to find a provider in network, so instead of asking for help, I just sat on the decision for a while. Finally, I found a free counseling center for military families, but didn’t want to go alone, so I had David come with me. I honestly thought we needed marriage counseling because we were struggling – imagine my surprise when, on our first meeting, the counselor suggested that I come in alone.

Thankfully, I had recently made friends with a new neighbor, who openly talked about her struggle with postpartum depression, how counseling helped her, and she was willing to watch Zemirah for me so I could go to counseling. So I did. I found it so helpful to talk with my counselor about all my struggles adjusting to motherhood, and she didn’t criticize me! She sympathized with me! We worked on how I could effectively communicate my needs to David, practical ways to handle Zemirah and all her sleep struggles, and we did some EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy, which is commonly used for victims of trauma, to help my emotional and logical brain sync up in my times of extreme stress. She didn’t judge me when I told her about my anger/panic fits in the middle of the night – she told me they were nervous break downs and told me to work on lightly touching my arms or having David stroke my hair during these times so we could calm my nervous system down without me hurting myself. She suggested melatonin to help me sleep, which was a welcomed idea. As David’s deployment approached, she encouraged me by saying that if I could have a medication-free birth, I could do anything, even make it through this hard time! She also helped encourage me that it probably was a wise idea to move in with my parents during this time. I was afraid it would make me appear weak, but David and my counselor knew it was the best decision.

When Zemirah was around nine months old, she started only waking up once for an early morning feeding, then eventually sleeping 12 hours (most nights) straight. The counseling, in combination with more sleep, improved my mental health significantly. There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is a literal form of torture. I finally felt like the scary fog was lifting, but it was overlapping with the sad cloud of saying goodbye to my husband for six months. He was my rock through this time, though he was probably confused by my actions and words because I didn’t share openly enough, and it was hard to say goodbye to both him and the house we brought our baby home to.

Though there were sad times during David’s deployment, such as him missing Zemirah’s first Christmas, birthday, words, and steps, I was so grateful to have a big support system around me, and I felt like Zemirah and I finally experienced that magical bond. And it was during this time that I discovered the Whole30 (you can read more about my journey with food and anxiety here) and my mental health improved even more! I had no idea what kind of journey I was starting on, but I am so glad I started it! Moving back to California after David’s deployment, I was a little afraid I was going to sink back into loneliness, but instead, I found my Stroller Strides mamas and a new, healthy village. David, Zemirah, and I enjoyed our summer to the fullest, knowing it would be our last one in California; I basked in the Cali sun and the joy of having my family back together again.

Now here we are, homeowners and civilians in Texas, close to family, and getting involved in a new church. My mental and physical health are the best they’ve ever been, I sleep like a rock, and, though I have some very challenging days with my now two-year-old, I love her to pieces and love seeing how far we’ve come.

I wanted to share this story because, though it’s dark in places, there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel. God isn’t far, He’s near, and He wants to comfort you. Humble yourself and let Him be your strength. And mamas, if you are struggling with your mental health, you are not ALONE! There are so many moms out there having the same struggles, but no one wants to talk about it for fear of judgement. We may not even want to tell our husbands, family, or friends because we don’t want to appear “crazy” – I know that was the case with me. But as soon as I started opening up, both to David and my counselor, things seemed less scary.

So, if you are a new mom reading this and think you’re alone, I beg you to reach out to someone before you sink down deeper in the hole. My Facebook, Instagram, and email are below, and you are more than welcome to reach out to me! You are important, mama, you are strong, and you love your babies, even if they drive you crazy 😛 So, the moral of this very long story is – reach out…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

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Who out there doesn’t love tacos? I don’t mean the greasy yet crunchy tacos with questionable meat sold by what I think is a clown…? Although those tacos are tasty, and have their place in college at 2 AM, they do not compare to soft tacos full of tender, shredded chicken topped with guacamole and a squeeze of fresh lime. Yum!

I’ve talked before about my affinity for slow cookers – flavorful yet simple meals ready for you when you walk in the door. Can’t be beat, right? Wrong! Let’s combine slow cooker simplicity with the deliciousness of tacos!!!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of boneless, skinless dark meat chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Juice of two limes
  • Optional toppings:

Directions:

  • Place chicken and garlic in your slow cooker (I have this small one – it’s on sale right now!)
  • Cover with seasonings
  • Squeeze lime juice over chicken (I suggest using a manual juicer to get all the juice and none of the pulp or seeds)
  • Cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 4-5
  • Shred chicken
  • Serve on tortillas or lettuce wraps with plenty of toppings, and don’t forget the side of guac and plantain chips!
  • Leftover meat will keep covered in the fridge for up to a week – it goes great on a taco salad.

I hope this taco recipe can “spice” up your weekend! For more spicy meals, check out my One Pan Chicken and Shrimp FajitasTaco Stuffed Potatoes with Avocado Chipotle Ranch, or Spicy Garlic Chicken Nachos. And if you like slow cooker meals, you may also like my Slow Cooker Potato and Kale SoupSlow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies, or Slow Cooker Meatballs – can you tell I use my slow cooker often?! I hope these tasty tacos can help simplify your life, and bring peace knowing that you are feeding your family well. Nothing beats taco night! Go ahead and get another scoop of guacamole…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Baked Falafel

Recently, I’ve been trying to work two vegan or vegetarian meals into our week; I always feel kind of bloated and gross when I consume too much meat, and it saves money to not buy so much meat! Win win! The only problem is that I sometimes struggle with creativity to come up with vegan meals – we’ve done plenty of roasted veggies with rice, veggie fajitas/tacos, and beans and rice – and I was wanting to spice it up. Then I remembered many years ago making a baked falafel recipe, and decided to try my own!

Falafel is a Middle Eastern street food – a patty of sorts – made from ground chick peas, herbs, and spices. I looked up recipes for inspiration, and saw that most of them used dried chick peas that they then soaked. Well I don’t have the time for that, nor do I have a health food store close by to try and find any. So I went the canned chick pea route…and totally failed. The first time I made this recipe, my falafel was mush. I then attempted to fry these little bean balls, hoping to bring a some crispy life to them, but they completely disintegrated in the oil. Total disaster! But I wasn’t going to give up!

A big part of why I started this blog was to show that healthy food and convenience can be synonymous. So while baking falafel and using canned chick peas may not be traditional, it’s a heck of a lot simpler than running around town hunting down dried chick peas, letting them soak for hours, then making a mess with hot oil in your kitchen by frying them. In fact, it’s as simple as combining ingredients in a blender or food processor and lopping blobs onto a baking sheet. Sounds sexy, huh? 😉 Convenient, tasty, healthy, and even loved by my toddler! It took her a few tries, but now she loves eating “waffles”. If you need a break from meat, I hope you give this Baked Falafel a try!

Baked Falafel

Serves 6-8, depending on patty size.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 of a yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 1/3 cup of parsley
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp oat flour
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut flour

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor
  • Pulse until semi-smooth
  • Spoon large patties of the mixture onto a prepared baking sheet (greased, parchment paper, or a silicone liner)
  • Bake for about 25 minutes
  • Flip each patty, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until both sides are brown
  • Serve warm

For more vegetarian meals, check out my Slow Cooker Potato and Kale Soup or Creamy Tomato Basil Soup to lighten up your weeknight meals, and for another chick pea recipe, check out my Classic Garlic Hummus. My cooking philosophy after becoming a mother is to KISS (keep it simple, silly!) and keep it healthy. If you’re looking for healthy yet simple recipes that fit into your busy lifestyle, whether that be slow cooker recipes, one pan recipes, easy baked goods, or quick meal prep ideas; I’ve got you covered! KISS…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies

Who doesn’t love a slow cooker meal? Minimal prep, and you come home at the end of the day, the house smells delicious, and dinner is waiting for you – pretty perfect! On one particularly Crazy day, I knew I would need to have a slow cooker meal waiting for us when we got home, and my mind instantly went to pot roast. However, upon perusing the meat section at the store, I realized that beef roast wasn’t in the budget for the week, but saw that pork roast was much more affordable!

My southern mother-in-law has often cooked pork roasts for Sunday dinners, and they are always delicious. So with that southern taste as inspiration, I made my first pork roast, and oh my word! It was delicious! It was so tender that it was literally falling apart, the fatty richness gave it a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs flavor, which was perfect paired with the lighter vegetables; we all cleaned our plates! In fact, after dinner was over, I was cleaning up, turned my back on the table, and next thing I knew, Zemirah had climbed up on a chair, eaten the remaining carrots, and another serving of pork. I urge you to try this simple slow cooker meal – fancy enough for Sunday dinners (Easter dinner maybe? 😉 ), yet simple enough for a weeknight. It’s so good, you’ll have to keep the leftovers hidden from your kids!

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies

Serves about 8.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 lb boneless pork roast
  • 8 oz of baby carrots
  • 8 oz of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 russet potatoes, chopped into one inch pieces
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1.5 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of chicken stock/bone broth (homemade version here)

Directions:

  • Place your prepared veggies in the bottom of your slow cooker (I have this one which is perfect for our little family)
  • Place roast atop the veggies
  • Season everything, kind of rubbing the seasonings into the roast (don’t worry about getting it too even, the flavors all meld together eventually)
  • Add apple cider vinegar and broth on top of everything
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5
  • Shred pork and serve, top with juices if desired
  • Keep leftovers covered in fridge for up to a week

Slow cooker meals are a great way to ensure your family gets a hearty, healthy, and nutritious dinner in even on your long, Crazy days. For more slow cooker meals, check out my Slow Cooker Potato and Kale SoupSlow Cooker Meatballs, or Spicy Garlic Chicken Nachos. In the same vein, if you have a little more time available for prep, one pan meals are a great way to get a well rounded meal on the table with minimal time or mess. For some easy yet tasty one pan meals, check out my Roasted Chicken with CarrotsSheet Pan Salmon, or One Pan Chicken and Shrimp Fajitas. I hope you can find some meals that will easily fit into your schedule and make you feel good about feeding your family a healthy meal! Happy Easter, celebrate with family and friends…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

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Spicy Deviled Eggs

Just in time for Easter: deviled eggs. But with a twist! Made even more “devilish” (why are they actually called “deviled”???) with pickled jalapenos and cayenne pepper. Use some of my homemade aioli or store bought avocado oil mayonnaise for healthier mayo options. The ingredients in those dips are simply vinegar (or lemon juice), egg, and a healthy oil – nothing to be afraid of! The only thing you should be afraid of is how devilish these are *insert evil laugh*!!! No, but really, these are pretty spicy and my two-year-old couldn’t handle them, so scale back if you wish, but they are the perfect spicy appetizer to bring to the Easter potluck!

Spicy Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 deviled egg halves. 

Ingredients:

  • Perfect Boiled Eggs, peeled
  • 3 tsp mayo (healthy options linked above)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I made them with about a 1/2 tsp and found them too salty, but my husband didn’t think so; adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 8-10 pickled jalapeno slices, diced
  • Optional toppings:
    • sliced fresh jalapeno
    • sliced pickled jalapeno
    • a sprinkling of paprika
    • chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • With a sharp knife, cut boiled eggs in half length-wise
  • Scoop out yolks and place in a small mixing bowl
  • Add remaining ingredients (besides toppings) to the bowl
  • Mix/mash until combined
  • Evenly scoop filling back into egg whites
  • Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight until ready to serve
  • Top with desired toppings just before serving
  • Keep leftover eggs covered in the fridge for 3-5 days

For other Easter/spring time meal ideas, check out my Mustard Potato SaladCrispy Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Potatoes for sides dishes, and my Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey with Gravy or Celebration Steaks with Pan Sauce for main dishes. For spring-y desserts, check out my No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust or No Bake Chocolate Date Cake. I know you’ll find something you and your family will love! Bring these Spicy Deviled Eggs to the Easter potluck, spice it up…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the link, it is of no extra cost to you – just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Breakfast is important, but hard to make time for, so every Sunday night I do breakfast “prep”, which usually includes boiled eggs, overnight oats, and some form of breakfast casserole. It helps us get our days off on the right start nutritionally, without making us run late! I’ll admit it – I used to hate hard boiled eggs. The chalky texture, the gray ring around the yolk, the smell… yuck! Turns out, that was the wrong way to boil eggs! Well, unless you are trying to boil them to death… then that would be the correct method. So here it is, just in time for Easter, the perfect (in my opinion) way to boil eggs!

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Use as many eggs as desired. I usually do 6-8 for weekly meal prep.

Ingredients:

  • Eggs – as many as you need
  • Water – enough to cover all your eggs
  • A bowl of iced water

Directions:

  • In a large pot, bring water to a gentle boil
  • Just as it starts bubbling, gently add your eggs
  • Cover and let the eggs boil for 8 minutes
  • After 8 minutes, immediately submerge your eggs in the iced water to prevent them cooking further
  • Store eggs in fridge until ready to use

There you have it; a simple way to make tasty eggs with jammy yolks, not that chalky gray stuff. These are easy to peel, too! Eat them with a sprinkling of salt and pepper – perfect for breakfast meal prep or a quick snack on-the-go. For more breakfast prep ideas, check out my Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight OatsTurkey Sausage Breakfast Bake, or Fruit and Nut Granola. You can eat your most important meal of the day and still get out the door on time! Drink some coffee, get a nutritious breakfast, slay that morning carpool or meeting…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!