Tomato Basil Salad

What’s your favorite lunch?  My favorite spring and summer lunch is hands down tomatoes tossed with basil, olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Husband’s garden is beginning to show glimpses of the seeds he’s planted.  It won’t be long until our backyard bears the fruit of his labor and our CSA begins delivering bushels of freshly, hand picked produce.  My taste buds can hardly wait!  Just this past week, really yummy tomatoes started popping up at the various stores around town.  I indulged in our first pint (or three) of the season and bought these succulent, sugar plum cherry tomatoes.

I believe simple is best, and this salad is best left unadorned.  Although, I have to admit it’s super yummy with goat cheese tossed in too.  But, then I feel like I need to add olives, and grilled chicken or salmon for protein.  One thing leads to another and before long my simple sweet tomatoes are just part of the mix (albeit a good one). Today I wanted them to be the star of the plate.

Tomato Basil Salad

1 pint tomatoes (cherry, grape, or mix), some halved, some left whole

4-5 large basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade

splash of balsamic vinegar

splash of good olive oil

coarse sea salt

freshly ground pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Lunch is served.

What are your favorite add ins to a simple tomato & basil salad?


Hipstamatic app for iphone

One of the things I would love to accomplish is learning to take better photographs.  I oooh and ahhh at fabulous photographs on various blogs and always think to myself — next week. Next week I’ll learn all about aperture, shutter speed, ISO and meters.  Well, four years of next weeks have come and gone and while I’ve definitely learned a thing or two, I still do not have the thriving, healthy relationship I crave with my Nikon.

I feel certain I am up for the task.  At least I’m telling myself mastering the art of photography is a time constraint rather than an ability issue.  I long for the day when I fully know and appreciate my Nikon. I dream of several lenses I can change with ease and of tossing around phrases like ‘hand me my macro lens, I’m trying to get a close up of the osso buco while the light is perfect’.  Traveling with my well loved camera and all its accoutrements will be a breeze, not to mention uber-stylish because I would definitely carry my wares in an Epiphanie bag.  (Which do you like best? Personally I’m partial to the turquoise…)

Until my fear of photoshop subsides and/or I find myself on a deserted island with my camera, laptop, and a full-time photography instructor I’ve found a very trendy solution.

Have you seen the Hipstamatic app for iphone? Rush over to your app store and download it now.

This artsy rendition of my morning coffee was taken with a John S lens, Ina’s 1969 film, and a Dreampop flash.  See, I already sound like a better photographer. I like the ethereal beauty of my ordinary cup ‘o java.

Of course this is all tongue-in-cheek, and I have no intention of permanently breaking up with my Nikon.  But, this fun little app will certainly come in handy on the days when no matter what my photography skills may be, the perfect shot just ain’t happening.

Strawberry Smoothie

We are big fans of smoothies at The Schell Cafe.  Smoothies are a quick and tasty way to get a good dose of fruit, protein, and vitamins into the Littles’ diet.  Going gluten and dairy free doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our smoothies! Here’s a remake of our favorite standby.  Guess what?!?!  It scored a unanimous four thumbs up!

I don’t really use a recipe for smoothies, so I guesstimated on amounts.  This yields enough for all four Littles to enjoy the smoothie for an after-school snack.  Sometimes I add or subtract ingredients based on what I have on hand.  If I’m making a breakfast smoothie I’ll add more.  The following is our favorite smoothie variation.  (OK, not really. We like a peanut butter & chocolate smoothie better, but it’s really a dessert and worthy of another post). Stay tuned.

Strawberry Smoothie

3/4 cup frozen strawberries

3/4 cup milk (we used vanilla Almond Milk)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 scoop protein powder (we use Whole Foods 365 Vanilla Whey) ***

1/4 – 1/2 cup yogurt (we use So Delicious Coconut Milk Strawberry)

Blend all ingredients. Pour into individual glasses and enjoy! The Littles claim the smoothie is best consumed through a brightly colored straw.

What’s your favorite smoothie combination?

*** This protein powder contains milk.  I still have 2 containers of this protein powder and plan on using them before switching to egg white protein powder.

Gluten & Dairy No More? Oh my!

What is the first thing I fed the Littles for breakfast the morning after confirming two of the four have intolerances to gluten and dairy?


And, the best granola in the world.

Yes, I understand what intolerance to gluten and dairy means.  But, before you go alerting the authorities that I jacked the Littles up on the newly verboten, allow me to set the stage.

I am grateful.  So very grateful that these aversions to gluten and dairy are intolerances.  The Littles do not have celiac or life threatening allergies.  In the eighteen months that I have suspected the culprits in our diets, I have read and learned so much from people who have dramatically and completely reordered the way they eat because their health, in fact their very lives, depend on it.  I can’t wait to share the websites, stories, and best of all recipes from my friendly gluten-free resources.

Our transition to gluten and dairy free has been a long time coming.  There are days when I’ve asked myself why I keep fueling our family with food that does not help us feel the best we can feel?   Because it tastes good and it’s convenient is the short answer! We love cheesy quesadillas, spaghetti, grilled cheese sandwiches, and smoothies.  As a mother of four, I’m constantly looking for a balance between healthy and convenient.  For the most part, I’ve done a good job of eliminating the obvious ickiness like high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  But, the pantry and fridge are still full of wheat and dairy snacks and quick dinner options.

I think time will prove that yesterday was a turning point.  It was the Ah-Ha Moment for me that started two years ago when I first read  Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food.

So, if I’ve had an epiphany why the yogurt and granola this morning?  Because I’m also realistic.  It’s spring break and three days ago, before the official diagnosis, I spent a mortgage at Whole Foods stocking up on healthy fare for our week long vacation.   Some of these provisions include whole wheat snacks, pasta and diary.  As I said, this seed of wellness through our diet was planted over two years ago.  And thank goodness or I might feel even more overwhelmed at the prospect of going gluten and dairy free than I do now!

Truthfully I’m excited.  And, I feel a bit relieved.  Making the commitment to eliminate gluten and diary from our food repertoire is the first step of the journey.  I hope you’ll join us!

Have you made the transition to either a gluten and/or dairy free diet? Please chime in!  We’ll all benefit from sharing.