Finding my Green Thumb

When I was a little girl, I remember going to a store in our small town in the River Valley of Arkansas and picking up a little sprig of a rose bush. It was in a little water cup and I remember it’s pink flowers vividly. It’s funny the things that we remember and forget. If I remember correctly, it was planted at the house I remember growing up in Clarksville on the side of the house.

My Back Porch Garden

My mom had planted a couple rose bushes and I remember loving to look at them when they were in bloom. My mom often complains that she doesn’t have a green thumb but I don’t believe that’s true. I’ve seen her do well. Actually, many of the woman on both sides of my family have green thumbs. My Aunt Linda on my mom’s side (her oldest sister) used to plant flowers in many creative manners. My Nana (on my dad’s side) has had a huge garden ever since I can remember with all manners of homegrown food.

It’s no surprise that I have tried for a few years to find my green thumb. I had it as a little girl and I’ve tried a few times to do some small herbs in my kitchen. If you’ve watched my YouTube videos you’ll realize this wasn’t the best because I have one tiny window in the kitchen and a large glass back door. So either the plants get no light or practically catch on fire.

Last Year's Potato Plants
Last Year’s Potato Plants

Last year I started an experiment to see if I could grow some potatoes from some old and gone potatoes. The idea sprouted (pun intended) from a Facebook video suggesting I could grow a whole host of potatoes in a pot on my back porch. It was a great experiment and I loved watching the green sprouts jump out towards the sun. Unfortunately, my father-in-law came to examine them because the leaves began to turn yellow. The soil we used was cheap and from the dollar store to keep this initial project cheap. The soil made the potatoes sick so they weren’t viable. However, the amazing thing was, when I dug up the plants there were in fact, more baby potatoes! From scraps to potatoes!

This year I learned my lesson. I used some savings and took a trip to my local Home Depot and decided to go with organic soil and try simpler plants like herbs, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers. My basil ended up dying because we had a couple late freezes this Spring. It was a really weird Spring as far as typical Arkansas weather. I was quite sad because I love basil. It’s probably one of my favorite herbs next to Dill. I currently have very healthy chocolate mint, sweet mint, lavender, and lemon balm. As far as larger crop plants I have a baby lima bean plant that Madison brought from school that is going amazing as well as romaine lettuce and another planter full of cucumber vines.

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about container gardening and I really love Gary Pilarchik, The Rusted Gardener. He has a lot of great tutorials and did a great job teaching me about my cucumbers. I also hope to use his awesome compost pipe idea if I can get my garden going in the yard rather than on the back porch. I’ve been worried with my lack of experience that I might not be able to combat the land because it’s been riddled with tornado debris twice in 2011 and 2014. There’s no telling what might be harming the composition of the dirt in our yard. However, starting by learning how our plants should look, how they grow, and the importance of good quality soil will be valuable for the future garden that is already growing in the garden of my mind.

20180521_200943

There’s still a long way to go before we’re able to see how this green thumb experiment will end up. Summer in Arkansas is extremely hot and they can often get really dry. Watering will be very important and managing the extreme heat. I’ve had a friend and local homesteader recommend that I bring my lettuce in about mid-summer because it doesn’t work very well with the extreme heat. Many lessons will be learned regardless and I’m so thankful to be able to go out to my back porch to grab some great herbs or more and more food.

Tell me about your favorite plants to grow where you live below! I’d love to hear from you and your plant babies.

Strawberry Tarts

Strawberries! What a wonderful berry indeed. Strawberries have certainly been a family favorite for years and years. We look forward to when local farmer’s markets start up and we’re able to buy some from our local growers. I took a quick trip to a local friend’s homestead to see how she’s getting her strawberries growing this year. She says that strawberries grow really great in containers but that they do just fine if you plant them in the ground.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Seeing her amazingly beautiful strawberry plants encouraged me to consider adding strawberries to my planter garden next season! Off I went inspired to procure some strawberries that were ripe and ready to eat. I was lucky to find some great local Arkansas Strawberries from ‘Sue’s Garden.’ It was a tough job fighting the kids off of these to make them into anything other than a snack.

I was going through the cupboards as well and decided I wanted to use some ingredients I had on hand to try to make something sweet. I pulled out some tart tins that I had bought but hadn’t used yet and away I went into the kitchen to experiment like a mad scientist. Strawberry tarts aren’t unusual but I do have the added complications of being dairy and egg free. I was also using a flour called “Tigernut Flour” which is a gluten free alternative made from a starchy tuber. What had I gotten myself into?

Strawberry Tart Pinterest Image

In the end, my experiment was a success with a wonderful crumbly crust, sweet strawberries, and a tangy chocolate sauce. I also used some chocolate mint that I’ve been growing in a container on my back porch to garnish to send this dish into outer space!

StrawberryTartwithChocolate

If you try to recreate this yummy treat please be sure to tag me throughout social media @workhardeatkind so I can see!

Strawberry Tarts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:                                                                       StrawberryTartwithChocolate

Crust:

  • 2 Cups of Tigernut Flour
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Cold Vegan Butter
  • A Few Sprinkles of Water if Needed

Toppings:

  • Strawberry Jelly (Preferably something organic without high fructose corn syrup.)
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Chocolate Chips
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Almond Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil
  • Chocolate Mint

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Mix two cups of tigernut flour and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add in pieces of very cold butter into the mix and stir until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. If needed add a few sprinkles of water to get it to combine into a thick batter.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
  6. In the meantime, slice your strawberries and melt your chocolate chips with the almond milk and coconut oil. You can do this by using a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring, and then repeating until you have a thin, runny chocolate sauce.
  7. Put your chocolate sauce into a reusable condiment bottle for easier drizzling.
  8. When your crust batter has chilled and is more firm, simply spread it out into tart tins, preferably with the removable bottoms for easier removal. Push it up along the sides. The thinner the better.
  9. Place all of the tart tins on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 18-20 minutes. You should check them at 10 minutes and poke the middle with the tines of a fork if they are starting to lift.
  10. Keep a close eye on them. The thinner the crust the less time. When it’s golden brown it’s done.
  11. Let them cool completely.
  12. Top each tart with a tablespoon or two of strawberry jelly or preserves.
  13. Layer the strawberry slices on top of the jelly.
  14. Drizzle with chocolate and garnish with chocolate mint.
  15. Enjoy!

You can now find the video for this recipe on YouTube by clicking here.

The Easiest Tofu Scramble (Basics)

Tofu Scramble Pinterest Image

** This post may contain affiliate/referral links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.**

Tofu scrambles are a hot ticket recipe for new vegans. You can see veggie laden scrambles and some people have even figured out how to do omelets. (I’m not there just yet y’all.) But, how does it taste? What do you put in a tofu scramble so it’s not bland? I’m going to tell you it’s really not as hard as it seems and my kids (one of which is allergic to eggs) enjoy this just as much as their regular chicken eggs but without the side effects.

Big Southern Vegan Breakfast Plate
Black salt is an inexpensive way to add an egg like flavor to your egg dishes. You can find the one that I bought at this link Black Salt 3.5 oz.. Trust me when I say, a tiny bit goes a very long way. You can also customize your tofu scramble by the types of tofu that you use.

For instance, if you like a softer, runnier type of scrambled egg then all you have to do is use a medium to firm tofu. You can also use a sauce to flavor rather than just adding seasoning. Me? I prefer a nice dry, fluffy egg. How do you obtain this firmer texture? Use an extra firm tofu! The options really are just as endless as using your conventional chicken egg. If you can dream it you can make it plant based.

20180130_100027
Our family favorite is to add some vegan cheese and some ketchup. One of my kiddos even loves a little touch of mustard on top. Do what you want! It’s your scramble. I’m just here to teach you the basics. But, be sure to come back and share with the whole class when you’re done. Tag me on social media @workhardeatkind and/or leave me a comment letting us know your favorite scramble.

The Easiest Tofu Scramble

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:                                       20180130_100027

  • 1 Block of Tofu (Firmness depending on your preference.)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Pink Himalayan Salt, To Taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • A Pinch of Black Salt
  • A small amount of Oil for the Pan

Directions:

  1. Remove your tofu from the package and pat dry with a towel. You can lightly squeeze it to make sure that it doesn’t have excess water within the tofu.
  2. Add oil to a pan and bring it to medium to medium high heat. When the pan is hot you can add your tofu. Be careful! Any extra water can make it pop and sizzle.
  3. Start breaking the tofu apart with a spatula.
  4. Add your seasonings and mix well until well combined. You should see the tofu change color from the turmeric to a light yellow, egg like color.
  5. When the scramble is hot throughout it is ready to eat. This should only take 5 to 8 minutes.
  6. Enjoy in your favorite breakfast manner whether it’s topped with ketchup with vegan bacon on the side, or stuffed between two yummy pieces of bread.

Chocolate & Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

A few months ago I was on a health kick and I was watching a lot of Jon Venus (a vegan YouTuber/body builder). I tried out one of his baked oatmeal recipes and tweaked it a bit to make it my own. You can see the video where me and the kiddos tried this here.

It’s such an appealing idea because it makes a TON of oatmeal that can feed me and all three kids for more than one meal. Thank goodness that body builders eat a lot! Their recipes fit my family size just perfect! One night I was wanting to make some for the week ahead and decided to play around with ingredients that I had on hand. What we created was a bit of delicious, making stuff up magic.

Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oatmeal Pinterest Image

A small disclaimer… Jon’s measurements were in metric so I tried my best to do these measurements with what I had. However, I’m from Arkansas, raised in the South… We are chronic “eye-ballers” just throwing stuff together. Please don’t forget the value of tasting as you go. What can I say y’all? If you wanted a perfect recipe with perfect measurements you stumbled across the wrong gal. Give it a try! Tag me on social media if you do so I can see! Plus, I want you to share your favorite oatmeal and fruit combo in the comments below. Do you like peaches and almonds? Cranberry raisins and sunflower seeds? Sharing is caring my friend!

I have included a link to a few of my favorite ingredients that I love to use in these recipes below that I have tried and tested. Please feel free to check them out but please keep in mind:

*This post may contain affiliate/referral links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.*

Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 300 Grams of Rolled Oats
  • 600 Milliliters of Warm Water
  • 1 Small Bag of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 Cup of Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 2 Scoops of Vega Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup of Chocolate Chips (I typically use Enjoy Life.)
  • 1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup (Optional for added sweetness.)

 

Directions:

  1. Soak your oats for an hour ahead of time with the warm water and preheat your oven to 355F degrees.
  2. Add your soaked oats, almond milk, and protein in a bowl until well combined. The protein powder can be slightly clumpy so stir until smooth.
  3. Then, stir in any extras like chocolate chips. You really don’t need the maple syrup, but if you’re not used to less sweet plant based meals you may need to add a little sweetness.
  4. Pour into a deep casserole dish or baking pan.
  5. Insert the strawberries down into the oatmeal, slightly spaced apart. I used whole strawberries but feel free to slice them smaller if you like.
  6. Place the casserole dish in the middle of the oven rack for 45 minutes.
  7. Enjoy! You can eat this hot and warm straight out of the oven, but it also tastes great cold then next morning.

We Tried Homemade Toothpaste!

I sometimes feel sorry for my husband. I AM that wife and mom that will try all the “hippie” stuff to try and improve our health. It’s not limited to trying to get them to all eat vegetables… It crosses over into all places in our home. Whether it’s a household cleaner or making my own lotions and lip balm.. I’ve tried it all. Not always with success. Trying to make homemade toothpaste was my latest adventure. I was intimidated to say the least. The ingredients were pricey and strange but Lily Koi Hawaii assured me with the ease of her recipe that I could accomplish this.

Homemade Toothpaste Pinterest Image

Lily often inspires me to try new things. I feel like she’s my vegan spirit guide. If Lily can do it… I know I can do it. The only thing I didn’t do (because I can’t ever seem to follow recipes) I couldn’t find calcium carbonate. Yes… I know. Key ingredient but I wanted to try it to see if it was ordering and waiting on Amazon.

the ingredients for the homemade toothpaste (2)

The ingredients were pretty simple and easy to use. I just used a generic old tablespoon to measure by parts (instead of exact teaspoon/tablespoons and such). Lily stressed in her video, that you can find here, to add the water ever so slowly. The outcome was quite intimidating with it’s dark black hue but my boys got most excited.

the kids brushing their teeth

I wasn’t initially going to make this a family project but my kids thought it would be SO COOL if they got to brush their teeth with black toothpaste. To the bathroom we went with our paste in tow. I put a tiny amount on each toothbrush and explained clearly for them to not swallow it just like they aren’t supposed to swallow their normal toothpaste. We all began to brush, taking turns spitting and rinsing our toothbrushes off. The results?

We all frankly have tartar build up issues. I usually try to brush my kids teeth for them and floss for them every so often. My teeth are insanely sensitive and so I often use a sensitive teeth toothpaste and I often have plaque build up regardless of what I use. As I sit here writing I can honestly tell you… This worked. My kids even did this themselves and their teeth are MUCH improved. I keep swishing my tongue over my teeth to feel how immaculately clean they are. I can’t attest to how much more white they appear but they do feel incredible. Incredible enough that I had to write about it today. Enough that I found a container with a lid so that I might keep this in my bathroom to use.

the kids with toothpaste

I am so happy that I decided to try this. It was really fun to do it with my kids as well. We all agreed that this version is not very tasty but it did do an awesome job at getting our teeth very clean. Thank you Lily for your experimentation and sharing. This family greatly appreciates it.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Sheet Pancakes

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook and happen upon a great looking recipe video? I get a ton of great ideas and inspiration from a lot of the Tasty Vegetarian videos that often have plant-based recipes. But… It seems like I can’t ever find a link for the full recipe! That’s okay though, because here at my house we just make stuff up.

sheet pancake thumbnail

I had happened upon some kid friendly breakfast posts and I’m not even sure that the initial recipe I watched was vegan. My youngest boy is actually allergic to eggs so I’ve been doing egg free dishes for a long, long time. I decided to use a flax egg in this recipe but there are several options on the market for egg replacers. You can also find charts on Google to help you decide which one is most beneficial to the type of recipe you’re doing. I also made this gluten free by using some gluten free Bisquick mix. You can follow the instructions on any old box of pancake mix or make you’re own if you like but I thought it turned out pretty awesome sans the gluten.

I will have a video up on my YouTube channel for all of my visual learning friends if you’d like to check that out you can find it here.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Sheet Pancake Pinterest Image

This dish will surely become a Sunday morning favorite at our house. If you try it out be sure to tag me on social media (especially instagram) at @workhardeatkind so that I can cheer you on. Y’all should know by now I will break out those pom poms any time for you guys!

See how easy it is below and most of all I hope you and your family enjoy.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Sheet Pancakes

  • Servings: 5 to 6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Cross Section of Chocolate Chip Banana Sheet Pancake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Gluten Free Bisquick
  • 2 Cups of Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Flax Egg (1 Tbsp Flax Meal to 3 Tbsp Water)
  • 2 Ripe Bananas, Sliced
  • A Ridiculously Delicious Amount of Chocolate Chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Add one tablespoon of flax meal to a small bowl with three tablespoons of water. Stir gently and then place in the refrigerator to firm up for about five minutes.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients to a large mixing bowl. When the flax egg is ready you can add it at the end. Stir until well combined.
  4. Line a deep baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Pour the pancake batter over the parchment paper and spread it evenly.
  6. Add the sliced banana’s across the pan then add the chocolate chips.
  7. Press everything down lightly to make sure everything is in the batter.
  8. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. You may check often after about 15 minutes to make sure due to oven variability.
  9. Slice and enjoy.

Recipe Notes:

I listed the ingredients I used and so my outcome is based on these ingredients. I am sure that the outcome could differ if you use eggs, or use regular wheat based flour so be sure to keep an eye on the oven time if you do change things up. You can always stick a tooth pick in it like a cake to test for doneness.

I also think parchment paper was a big helper in the success of this recipe. Please don’t skip out on it if you can help it. It is typically pretty expensive but I found that the roll I bought from Brandless is only $3 and lasts an exceptionally long time.