Little One Eats: Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

Smoothie2WEBSmoothies. What’s not to love about a smoothie on a hot summer day? I have to admit, my first experience with smoothies came in the late 90s…at a Jamba Juice. I lined up with my older sister and we waited for our Pina Colada smoothies. The whirl of blenders, the cheerful cashiers, and the piles of fresh fruit in visible view made for a dining experience I’ll never forget.

Fast forward a decade or two and we’re still loving smoothies…but now we make them at home. Weary of smoothie joints that add a variety of sugars and overly processed ingredients to our blended drinks, we’ve brought the magic home.

Smoothie3WEBAnd so I’m happy to say that Lucy’s first memories of smoothies will be made in our kitchen. I’m able to buy the freshest ingredients and concoct unique variations based on what looks best at the market. I have no doubt she’ll have her own opinions about what she wants (and doesn’t want) in her smoothies in the years to come, so I’m taking advantage of this short season. This blueberry and avocado smoothie was a hit…and like all of my Little One Eats recipes, Ryan and I enjoyed it too. Blueberries and avocados are both loaded with antioxidants, making them a wise choice for health as well as for taste. And avocados are loaded with healthy fats, which are especially important for growing bodies.

SmoothieWEBBut let’s be honest: my heart finds its first allegiance in coffee…and it’s no surprise Lulu is already following suit. If this smoothie doesn’t win you over, take a quick few minutes to watch this sweet film Ryan put together while I was photographing a wedding in Crested Butte last weekend. I had left Ryan and Lu to spend the afternoon together, and Ryan used our spare camera to create this informal yet fabulous little film.

 Blueberry Avocado Smoothie


1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (organic)

1 banana, chopped and frozen

1/2 avocado

1/2 cup breast milk, cow’s milk, almond milk

1 TBSP honey (optional)

Combine ingredients in a blender…blend…and enjoy! How simple is that!

Stove-top Cheddar Chicken Pie and Healthy Essentials for Summer

Stove-top Cheddar Chicken PieOn Friday last week, we packed up our bags and headed towards the mountains. I photographed a beautiful and intimate wedding in the hills of Crested Butte while Ryan and Lucy explored that quaint mountain town. The next day we adventured together and stumbled upon this gorgeous mountain lake.

WalkingLakeWEBLulu is just now learning to walk, which means she takes most every occasion to try out her new skills. I tentatively let her take a few steps on our hike…and she did surprisingly well considering the gravel! Children are meant to play outdoors, to take steps, and even falls. I’m learning more and more to let go of control and embrace my daughter’s innate curiosity about her world. That being said, I’m thankful for products that can prevent sunburn and treat any small wounds that she might incur on her adventures. The kind folks at Healthy Essentials sent us a box of all sorts of summer goods–and we made use of them on our trip to the mountains.

Stove-top Cheddar Chicken PieWe drove home on Saturday afternoon, nearly missing a heavy rain storm. By the time we settled down and unpacked, we were all exhausted and in need of a good warming meal. Immediately I thought: chicken pot pie. But God knows I wasn’t about to turn on my oven for a solid hour. So this stove-top cheddar chicken pie was born…and it’s so very good. The majority of the cooking takes place on your stove-top, with the pastry circles only requiring eight minutes or so in the oven to reach this beautiful golden brown. Creamy, comforting, and made with fresh broccoli (a summer gem!), this cheddar chicken pie is especially good for the warmer months of the year.

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Stove-top Cheddar Chicken PieStove top Cheddar Chicken Pot Pie

2 large heads of broccoli

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (we prefer Organic Valley’s Raw Cheddar)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 Rotisserie chicken (light and dark meat shredded)

1 disc basic pie dough (this pie dough works great…just omit the sugar!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie dough to a circle 10 inches wide. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out discs of pie dough. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove to cool.

Chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Steam until just slightly tender. Set aside. In a medium skillet, melt butter oven medium heat. Add flour and stir until just begins to brown. Stir in chicken broth and whisk until all clumps have dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil and then turn stove off. A thick gravy should form. Stir in shredded chicken, broccoli florets, and shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with baked pie discs. If desired, return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes to warm.

This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie

Blueberry Sour Cream PieLulu and I spent the evening pulling weeds from our freshly laid sod. Despite the protestations of my father, I refuse to use weed-killer to rid our yard from the near constant presence of invasive vines and stubborn weeds. Instead, I take my daughter outside to play in the grass as I dirty my hands and pull the weeds out, one by one. I can spend a solid hour outside and make little noticeable progress…but my soul feels about a hundred times clearer (even though my yard is not).

Tonight, as I rooted through our blanket of sod to tear out the tiny vines that are choking the grass, I happened upon a lady bug village. They were crawling and pausing and eating. I watched them for a few minutes, and I relished how the simple act of pulling these stubborn weeds made me feel so alive. Here I was, with my daughter beside me, working our small patch of land. I’m no gardener (yet) but I can see why people find it to be the most therapeutic of hobbies. Just like baking, it reconnects me to the still, quiet part of my heart.

Blueberry Sour Cream PieThis blueberry sour cream pie was also therapy. After returning from Oregon and feeling a little homesick for a place I don’t call home, I needed to get into the kitchen. A fresh pint of organic blueberries along with a pound of hazelnuts had come home with me from the grocery store. A few hours later…this pie was made. Now my sweet husband eats a lot of pie. Because pie is my specialty. My dessert of choice. So when he declares that this blueberry sour cream pie is his absolute favorite, pay attention. He’s sampled quite a few contenders in his short thirty years.

Blueberry Sour Cream PieBlueberry Sour Cream Pie

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons (about) ice water


1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 egg, beaten to blend

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


6 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

2 tablespoons sugar

Blend flour, butter, sugar and salt in processor until coarse meal forms. With machine running, add water by tablespoonfuls until clumps form. Gather into ball. Flatten to disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie plate (alternatively, you can use a tart pan with a removable bottom). Trim edge to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold edge under and crimp. Freeze 10 minutes. Line crust with foil; fill with beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 12 minutes. Remove foil and beans.

Mix first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Mix in blueberries. Spoon into crust. Bake until filling is just set, about 25 minutes.

Using fingertips, mix flour and butter in medium bowl until small clumps form. Mix in hazelnuts and sugar. Spoon topping over pie. Bake until topping browns lightly, about 12 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature.


Little One Eats : Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

LuCookiesNow that Lulu is one, we’re spending a good part of our day eating. We’ve introduced her to adult table food from the beginning (no baby purees), and her palette is already impressive. She downs broccoli and kimchi without blinking, and she’s always eager to sample whatever ends up on our plates.

But I’m also learning that there are certain foods we love. Foods that are easy to make, nutritious, and appeal to a toddler’s senses. And so while I’m always excited when she picks up a soy-glazed drumstick from her high chair tray, I’m finding that sprouted bread and avocado or apples and almond butter are perfect every-day fair for my little one.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies. Free of refined sugar and perfect for little ones!

Each week, I plan on sharing another Little One Eats recipe. These recipes are geared towards children but can and should be enjoyed by everyone. They’re simple, healthy, and fun. And couldn’t we all use a little more fun in our meals?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

These peanut butter and jelly cookies seemed like the perfect recipe to launch Little One Eats. Lucy didn’t touch any form of sugar until the age of one, and I plan on avoiding as many highly processed cakes, candies, and cookies as possible during her toddler years. That being said, these peanut butter and jelly cookies are perfect for a once-in-a-while treat. They’re free from refined sugar (sweetened with a combo of honey and maple syrup) and comprised mostly of peanut butter. Luckily, we don’t have any peanut allergies in our family, but do exercise caution and don’t introduce nuts until your pediatrician recommends it! As you can see, Lucy approved of these cookies…and her mom and dad both sampled a few during the photo-shoot.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

1 1/3 cup all natural peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup milk

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins or cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, beaten egg, and milk. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold in cranberries.

Form dough into balls and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten cookies slightly with hands and press a fork along top to create a criss-cross. Bake cookies for 8 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown.

Green Bean and Quinoa Summer Salad

Green Bean and Quinoa Summer Salad | Anecdotes and Apple CoresI know I shouldn’t complain (after all I grew up in Houston and attended graduate school in Austin) but it’s been hot in Colorado. Ninety degree days coupled with the intense mountain sun leaves me both sunburned and slightly lethargic. Although I’m sure the cloud cover and drizzle would get to me after a few months, I find myself craving the moisture of the Pacific Northwest. Our near perfect trip to Portland certainly doesn’t help alleviate the desire for a dreary day, a warm cup of coffee, and a good book.

Green Bean and Quinoa Summer Salad | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

But meals like this green bean and quinoa summer salad certainly do help on these hot, unending days. Ryan and I made this together on Saturday morning as Lucy scampered under our feet. The green beans were blanched to retain their crispness, sunflower seeds were toasted with fragrant spices, and a homemade vinaigrette complimented the feta cheese nicely. While this salad can certainly be enjoyed warm, I prefer it after it’s had time to chill and settle for a few hours. It would be perfect to make on a Sunday or Monday evening as it would hold up well throughout the week and serve as an ideal mid-day meal.

Green Bean and Quinoa Summer Salad | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

Green Bean and Quinoa Summer Salad


8 oz fresh green beans

1 cup quinoa

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

4 oz feta, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Juice from one lemon

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling water for three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water. Meanwhile, prepare 1 cup of quinoa by combining with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and then simmer until water has evaporated (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet. Cook sunflower seeds, tossing often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Make vinaigrette: toast coriander, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant. Let cool, then chop. Whisk together with oil, vinegar, and mustard in small bowl; season well with salt and pepper.

Toss green beans, barley, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, feta, dill, lemon juice, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Adapted from Bon Appetit