Baby Kale, Apple & Grape Smoothie

I'm working to expand my green smoothie recipes, since it really is the best way for me to eat vegetables. Or in this case... drink them.

Baby Kale, Apple & Grape Smoothie
MAKES 24 OZ - 1 SERVING (334 Calories Per Serving)
  • 2 cups Baby Kale
  • 1 medium Banana
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 cup frozen Green Grapes
  • 4-6 oz Water
Place all ingredients in your blender, secure lid and blend until smooth. I use the "smoothie" button on my Blendtec which blends for roughly 36 seconds.


Homemade Almond Milk

I recently learned during my juice cleanse that I LOVE almond milk (you can read about my juice cleanse under my Project Skinny page, post 1.27.2015). But not the almond milk that is purchased at the grocery store. That stuff is horrible! But the fresh, homemade stuff? Amazing! Since my favorite drink of the cleanse was Just Organic Juice's AlmonDelight, I set off using Google to figure out how to make my own. And let me tell you... I'm glad I did.

First, you'll need a nut milk bag. I purchased this Nut Milk Bag on Amazon because it was bigger than what I could find locally, it was commercial grade and it was reusable. And {bonus} it arrived at my house in only 2 days.

Homemade Almond Milk
Recipe Adapted From: Everyday Paleo (Link HERE)
  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight in water
  • 3 pitted Dates, for sweetness
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 cups Water
Drain and rinse your almonds that have soaked overnight in water. Add to blender with dates, vanilla & water. Blend on high for at least a minute.  

NOTE: I do not think you need a high-powered blender (like a Blendtec) to make Almond Milk, since the Nut Milk Bag will catch and separate any chucks & leftover bits.

Pour the mixture into your Nut Milk Bag, that has been placed inside a large bowl.

Using your muscles, you're going to squeeze all the "milk" out of the leftover bits caught by the Nut Milk Bag. This takes a little bit of time and effort.

the "leftover bits"

You'll end up with creamy, rich, sweet almond milk.

I've been drinking 16 oz every morning for breakfast for the last 2 weeks. I don't miss dairy at all, and I'm completely full until lunch time. I add a few dashes of cinnamon to my morning drink because I love it, and because cinnamon is just another natural ingredient that is very good for you.

The Almond Milk will separate -- it hasn't gone bad -- so give a good shake before drinking. However, it will go bad after 4-6 days, so only make enough for what you need. I actually make 4x the recipe on Saturday mornings, which makes a full gallon, and will give me fresh almond milk through Thursday/Friday (unless Chris drinks some too).

Almond Milk is a bit pricey to make on your own. The Nut Milk Bag is cheap, and the dates are fairly inexpensive... it's the almonds that make a full gallon cost approximately $9.00. I purchased two large 3 lb bags of almonds from Costco for $15.99 bag. Each bag hold 8 cups, so one gallon of Almond Milk will use $8.00 worth of almonds. This begs the question...

Is it worth the cost?

Yes, it is. Here's why... Raw Almonds have so many health benefits and are linked to a reduction in cholesterol and risk of coronary heart disease. Almond rich diets help sustain healthy weight and have greater weight reduction in people trying to lose weight. Almonds lessen surges in blood sugar, which reduce your risk of diabetes. They contain healthy fats, B2 vitamins and trace minerals manganese and copper. Dates also promote a healthy heart and aid in digestion (helps with constipation). When you add Cinnamon you are again supporting a heart health, blood sugar regulation, diabetes protection and improving your brain function.

What's not to like about all that, right?


Christmas Cruise 2014

Let's speak candidly for a moment. Christmas isn't how I remember it once was. Or maybe I just don't remember it correctly? The past several Christmas' for me have been somewhat of a sprint... running here and there, accommodating loads of parties and battling holiday traffic. The ads, the wants, the craziness of it all has made me dread the season. Decorating the house isn't as fun as it once was and the entire month seems to be one big, giant chore.

Ba-hum-bug, right? Yup. That's me.

But then, I guess it really is my own fault for getting sucked up in it all. That's why early in the year, Chris and I decided to take control and do something different for our family. We decided we wanted to escape, get away and make a memory as a family. And memories are exactly what we made.

We enlisted the input of some really great friends {who, coincidentally, were feeling the same} and a "Christmas Cruise" was planned and booked for a party of 9. And as it turns out, with Chris working out of town most of the year, this trip became something to look forward to for our family, and a great way to end a really challenging year.

The Itinerary
Depart From: Salt Lake City, UT
Embark On: Norweigen Epic Cruise Ship in Miami, FL
Visit: Nassau, Bahamas | Ocho Rios, Jamaica | Cozumel, Mexico
Return To: Bizzard in Salt Lake City

Returning to a winter storm was not on the itinerary, but it is, in fact, what happened. Let's just start from the beginning...

Pre-Cruise pedicures are mandatory. 

It turns out we're not the only people who opted for a Christmas Cruise. 4 giant cruise ships were leaving the Miami Port at the same time we did, sailing for warm weather and fun times. We got settled in our cabin and enjoyed the view of Miami from our balcony.

Note for future travels... a balcony is a must. No more cramped interior rooms for this family! We loved the privacy and the ocean breeze without having to leave our room.

Day #1 - At Sea
Not much to report. We explored the ship, swam, relaxed & enjoyed the all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream cones.

Day #2 - Nassau, Bahamas
We went to a beach at each port, but the Bahamas beaches are unlike any other beach I've been to in my lifetime. The water was the prettiest turquoise and the sand?

Not like any other sand I've ever felt between my toes. SO soft and SO white. Definitely my favorite beach.

If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were in a pool. And don't worry... our tans were much improved later on in the trip. Ha!

Not only did the Bahamas have the best beaches, it also had the funnest taxi driver. Ever.


Most of our time in the Bahamas was spent at the beach and walking around the local markets. Brielle insisted on getting every free charm that every free shop offered to cruisers. At every stop. And at every stop, either myself or Chris had to tell the salesman "no" 19-27 times when they tried to sell us additional jewelry. Brielle just got her charm and walked out.

Day #3 - At Sea
Each night, we'd race back to our room to see what fun towel-creature would great us. Our cabin-keeper was the best.

The first half of this day (for me anyway) was spent not feeling so great in our cabin. Again, another reason for a balcony. If you get sick, the view is always amazing. There's nothing that makes you feel smaller in a big, giant world than being in the middle of the ocean surrounded by nothing but water.

Brielle spent part of her day climbing the rock wall. It took her a minute to figure it out, but then cruised right up the wall.

Day #3 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Christmas Eve)
Chris and Brandon quickly found the nearest "Jerk Hut." It's as if they knew right where it was...

While Jamaica's beaches were not quite like the beaches in the Bahamas, we sure enjoyed the waves! Why no one has thought of starting a boogie-board rental shop along Jamaica's beaches is completely beyond me. These waves would have been perfect! We enjoyed them none the less.

Well, everyone's tans improved except Chris's.

Look closely. The one thing I was not thrilled with in Jamaica were the spiders. They are literally the size of a 50 cent coin. Huge. I almost couldn't handle it.

My favorite excursion of our whole trip was in Jamaica at the Dunn's River Falls. They are a series of water falls and pools that you climb UP. And slide down. These are not our photos and I don't have any photos of us climbing the falls. Because you get wet... really, really wet... and my iPhone is not water proof.

Of course we couldn't go to Jamaica without stopping for some Jamaican Jerk Chicken. It was amazing. Seriously, the jerk chicken at Rumbi's does not taste anything like the jerk chicken in Jamaica. Not even close to tasting the same. Brielle did, however, decide that Jamaican ketchup is different than US ketchup. She prefers Jamaican. I think she's nuts... it tastes the same to me.

Good thing our day was done by the time this storm moved in. Did I mention that the forecast for our cruise was rain, rain, rain, every single day before we left? We were terrified that our vacation was going to be ruined because of rain.

It didn't rain. Not once. At least not on us. Phew!

Day #4 - At Sea (Merry Christmas!)
Christmas Day was spent relaxing. At this point, I'd finished 2 books and started the 3rd. I never have time to read like this back home. Chris and Brielle spent the day playing games on the ship and swimming. 

Since I'm not a fan of being in tight, enclosed spaces, I chose NOT to go on any of the slides. Because they were all enclosed. Who the heck likes being in a tube, not knowing when you are going to get out, sending you into a full on panic attack??? Chris and Brielle do. And they apparently can (without panic attacks).

Day #5 - Cozumel, Mexico
If the Bahamas had my favorite beach, and Jamaica my favorite excursion, then Cozumel had my most favorite food. But let's start from the beginning. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Our excursion in Mexico was snorkeling and swimming with the Sting Rays. Um..... I hated snorkeling. Two things: 1) sticking something in your mouth that you don't know who's mouth it was in before and not knowing whether or not it was cleaned and 2) there is something horribly unnatural with sticking your face underwater and trying to breathe normally. Both pretty much sent me into a panic attack. Snorkeling is definitely not my thing.

Brielle and Chris loved it! Both naturals who's faces never came up out of the water (I would know, since mine was never in the water), and snorkeled all over that place.

After snorkeling, the kids enjoyed some time on the water trampolines.

Oh yeah, and stingrays are creepy. Chris and Brielle loved those too. Me... more panic attacks each time they tried to swim through my legs. It's suddenly sounding like I have a lot of panic attacks... Hmmmm.

Okay, the food. I love me some good Mexican food, and where better to get some than in Mexico? These are "Tacos al Pastor" and they are amazing. How to explain this? You know how people roast pork on a stick that turns against a heating source? Like a fire or grill? Well, the meat is cooked like that, but with a pineapple placed on top so that the juices from the pineapple run over the pork as it cooks. Clearly, you need nothing else but just the meat on your taco. It really was that good.

Paired with some chips and fresh guacamole and I was a very, very happy person. Mexican food (especially authentic) is my happy place. Definitely my favorite meal of the whole trip.

Day #6 - Final Day at Sea (Heading back to Miami)
Not a lot to report on for this day. I think we were all a little ready to be off the ship. But this is when I finished book 3. 3 books in 1 week! Seriously, that really never happens.

Oh, and the creepiest of towel-creatures. Nothing like walking into your cabin at night to see two golden eyes staring at you.

Day #7 - Miami Fun Day
It was the final day of our trip before we caught an early flight home to Utah and the frigid cold temperatures the next day. We rented cars for the day and took the kids out to the everglades for an alligator boat tour.

Such a beautiful day! And the everglades area really was amazing. We'd never been before.

We got to see exactly what we came to see... alligators.

Brielle likes holding exotic animals. Wasn't quite sure if you'd caught on to that yet. By the way, it cost us money each and every time she held something. It's a good thing we love her {and that she's our only one}.

While in Miami, we wanted to find a place that made authentic key lime pie without having to drive to key west and "Fireman Derek's Bake Shop" was at the top of Yelp's list. As it turns out, while their key lime was amazing, it's their "Crack Pie" that is their best selling, specialty dessert.

Oatmeal cookie crust which is super crispy, and a custard filling. Yes, I said oatmeal cookie. Who comes up with these things? It did not disappoint!

The photo of the Crack Pie was the very last photo I took on this trip, so this will conclude our Christmas Cruise recap.

Since being home, a lot of people have asked if I missed being home for Christmas. In all honesty, I did not. We could not have spent our holidays better. We had so much fun together and were able to stay completely disconnected... from work, friends, technology, everything. We got a chance to recover from my not-so-favorite year and just really enjoy each other. I would do this again in a heartbeat! After saving up for a few years of course... {$$$}

But there was one thing I missed. This may sound silly, but I missed the spiritual aspect of Christmas. The church meeting Christmas program that focuses on Christ and his birth. The reflection of our blessings on Christmas Eve. That, I missed.

Utah sure did welcome us home with a slap in the face though! Snow, freezing temps, and that wind! My tan was all but gone in 2 days. I hope all our friends and family had as wonderful a Christmas as we did.