72 Hour Kits

72 hr kitsI finally got our 72-hour kits finished last April after years of trying to accomplish this goal. I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas on how to make these. I read the Red Cross’ guidelines for the first 72 hours after an emergency occurs. I even found calorie recommendations for men and women at different ages. And then, realizing that I was never going to get it exactly the way I wanted it, I broke down and bought two 2-person 72 hour kits from Thrive Life (used to be Shelf Reliance).

These kits comes with enough supplies for two people, a small amount of water, packaged so that it lasts for five years, and two 3600 Kcal bars, which also last five years. There are four basic kits, each in a nice plastic bag. There is the hygiene kit, to which I added baby shampoo, a travel brush and mirror, Q-tips, and travel deodorant. I, also, took the sanitary pads out of my husband’s pack and put them in mine. To the first aid kit, I added fun band aids for the kids, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, and chap stick. I don’t know why these kits didn’t come with sunscreen. That seems like a pretty logical thing to put in a 72-hour kit, but a travel size was cheap enough, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I, also, moved the first aid kit to one of the front pockets on the backpack for quick access, and to make more room for food in the backpack. The survival kit, as I call it, comes with some basic stuff to help you get through some of the crazier things that can happen in an emergency. I didn’t add anything to this kit. And the warmth kit, is all about staying dry and warm. I added more hand warmers and an emergency blanket. There is, also, a very nice wind up flashlight. It’s the best one I’ve ever seen. As well as a large water bladder, water purification tablets, and an emergency preparedness guidebook. I added some tissue and plastic bags to the outside pockets.

For clothing, I added two pairs of socks, two pairs of underwear, an extra shirt, and extra pants for the girls. For entertainment, I added small coloring and sticker kits, extra crayons, puzzles, glow sticks, a slinky, a jumpy frog, a maze, a note pad, a magnifying glass, and dominoes. Most of that came from the dollar store. I made backpacks for the girls, which contain the toys, their clothes, and the half of the food that is for snacks. For food, since the girls will probably not eat the calorie bars, and my husband will need more calories than the kits came with, I added dark chocolate acai bites, dark chocolate pomegranate bites, M&Ms, Reese’s pieces, fruit leather, applesauce, raisins, slim jims, and beef jerky. For lunch and dinner we have tuna salad, chicken salad, and BBQ chicken salad.

72 Food

One thing to keep in mind is that things expire. All of the food expires eventually, so we made sure to get food that would last at least six months. Last night, since it’s been six months, we took out all the food that will expire before next April. Today we’re munching on applesauce packets, fruit leathers, and slim jims, because they haven’t gone bad yet. I’m going to buy replacements for them that may or may not be the same thing, but I will keep calories and food type in mind. The calorie bars will need to be replaced in five years, as well as the tiny bit of water. The deodorant and sunscreen will need to be replaced eventually. Clothes needs to be updated as children grow… and adults, too. Because my girls are so close in age, I actually just gave the younger one the oldest’s clothes and found some new clothes for the oldest. It was super simple, which is the best way to manage these kits. Entertainment needs to be kept age appropriate as well. We’re adding a few books this time.

Keeping on top of these kits has many benefits. The best, I think, is that you get to change your mind about what’s in them. I have decided that the slim jims are disgusting, so for myself, I’m going to try to find some other kind of protein that will last at least six months. Eventually we’re going to test the calories bars to see if my husband can even handle eating them, but until then, I’m adding antiacids and Digestzen, so that he can cope in an emergency. My kids will actually fit in the clothes in their packs, probably for another year. And, finally, when new family members arrive, you are reminded to make them a kit as well. I have a whole new kit to make for a baby, which hopefully won’t cost too much.

Here’s a quick list of what I’m putting in his backpack for those who need an infant 72 hour kit list, and then I’ll be off.

1 small can of formula
3 bottles of Smart Water
1 bottle
15 size 3 diapers
travel wipes
diaper rash cream
3 size 9mo PJs (Just a guess as to how big he’ll be in six months. I’m going to the DI for these.)
3 size 9mo onsies
jacket
blanket
3 purees (Put as much as you think your baby will be eating in six months.)
toys
mylicon
tylenol

Good luck! Don’t over think this. The important part is that you have something in an emergency, not that it’s absolutely perfect. Also, keep the kids packs light, as you will probably be the one carrying them, and the kids, and your packs. Again good luck, may we never need to use these.

Wonders – The New Piano Guys CD

Wonders

The new CD. Also, be amazed that we still own a working Walkman. It’s ten years old.

First thing’s first. If you live in Utah, buy this from The Piano Guys website in the morning, using the cheapest shipping, and you will receive it the next day. At least that’s what happened for me. I was totally surprised, and so glad that I decided to do that instead of driving through two cities to the closest Barnes and Noble. Plus, I got the free “Thank You” album for buying before the 12th. It’s a bunch of songs from the individual artists before they became The Piano Guys.

Now on to the review. This is an all around great album. The songs go great together, and it’s relaxing and fun to listen to. I had quite a time picking my favorite song. At first I was thinking Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends. Then I heard Because of You and became quite torn as to which I liked better. And then Pictures at an Exhibition came on, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it long enough to listen to the other two so I can describe them to you. Hold on. I think I can drag myself away for a bit. Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends is a classic TPG song. It’s on par with Michael Meets Mozart, which is the reason I fell in love with these guys in the first place. Because of You is lighthearted and fun to dance to. It sounds like a combination of all the songs they’ve ever done, while still definitely being its own song.

Now back to Pictures at an Exhibition. It starts off with a quiet intro, that emphasizes the off beat, and immediately breaks into the beautiful Mussorgsky themes. It slowly builds into a full texture of epic celloness emanating from everywhere. Then augments the themes with grandeur, and finishes off with one last, beautiful statement of the main theme. I’m sure my classical training has something to do with why I picked this as my favorite. Mussorgsky is a Romantic composer (roughly the 1800s), which is my favorite musical era. The Romantic Era was the pinnacle moment for the piano, as it had finally evolved into the instrument we know today. This song represents my life at the moment, simple, but sometimes intense and a bit stressful, and through it all, I still love living it.

The other song that brought a smile to my face was Summer Jam. This is obviously composed mainly by Jon Schmidt. It is percussive and contains many of his favorite embellishments, and it is written in his typical rondo-like form. It was so wonderful to hear the style that I grew up learning to play and listened to all the time in this song. I have been wondering if he would ever write anymore the way he used to.

The one song that was just kind of sad was the Vivaldi/Let It Go combination. I didn’t feel like the two really meshed together well. Despite that, my girls still have fun singing with it whenever it comes on, and I enjoy pointing out to them the Vivaldi parts, where “you can tell because the cello is going nuts.” I really enjoyed studying Vivaldi at school. He was a fantastic composer for string instruments, but I don’t connect him with Frozen when I watch or listen to it.

Magnet Craft

The other day, I actually found the time to do some crafting with my girls. I  gathered the supplies over time, and then they just sat in my craft room forever, waiting to be used. Then, magically one day, the house was clean and I still had energy, so I piled the kitchen table high with flowers and sparkles and colors, and my girls and I went to town making fun magnets. This is what we came up with, and that is my husband’s programming on the fridge. We use it as a white board, which is totally awesome.

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We have been in serious need of magnets since we got married. Why don’t people give these as gifts? They’re absolutely necessary. I got the round magnets at Hobby Lobby. They’re strong, which is nice, because they can hold up a few pieces of paper, which most magnets that you just buy at the store can’t. We started off by putting stickers on the magnets and then hot gluing a flat marble over them. Many of those have already broken, so if you have little kids, I don’t suggest doing those. Then we glued some sparkly fuzzies on and then some bright neon fuzzies. Finally we made flower magnets, which you basically make the same way you would make a headband clip, only you glue it to the magnet instead of the clip. Everything took less than an hour to make, so we had a lot of fun, but didn’t get worn out.

Purple Potatoes

The girls and I harvested the potatoes from our garden just a few days ago. This year, I planted red, Yukon gold, and purple potatoes. Like the purple carrots, purple potatoes also contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, making them extra healthy and pretty.

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The only reason I bothered to gather them was so I could cook the most delicious stew ever. Seriously, this is the best stew I have ever eaten. I leaned the recipe from my mom. When I got married, my husband help improve it with his phenomenal tastebuds. Then with my constant search for nutritional knowledge, this has become a truly fantastic, super nutritious meal that goes wonderfully with buttered toast. (Did I talk it up enough? I’m only being slightly facetious.)

The recipe goes something like this.

1 lb. stew beef
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb. baby carrots or large carrots, chopped
5-6 potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
2 – 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
Water
2 C. chicken stock

Brown stew meat in a soup pot. Salt and pepper. Add onion, carrots, potatoes, and tomato sauce to pot. Fill both cans with water and add to pot, 30 oz. total. Add chicken stock. Cook over medium heat until boiling, about 30 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 3-4 hours or until potatoes are falling apart. Stir occasionally.

Rainbow Carrots

I finally feel ready to get back into writing after having a baby, but with the amount of time I must commit to my kids, husband, and house, I’ve decided to start off small, almost journalesque with my posts. Today, I am super excited about what we had for lunch. I explained how I do lunch here, which is how I did it today. Sprouts had a sale on organic rainbow carrots, so I bought a bag and cut them into carrot sticks. The orange were orange, and the yellow were yellow, but I was pleasantly surprised that the purple were yellow on the inside. The girls thought it was super fun to have colorful carrots as well. Along with the carrots, I served a delicious Jonathan apple, with its soft texture and slightly tart flavor, my baked fries, and chicken nuggets. Sometimes I just have to go easy on myself, and the girls will always eat them.

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Carrots have always been a favorite of mine. They are loaded with beta carotene, which is great for eye and immune health, and they are super tasty. Long ago, I watched a Magic School Bus episode where Arnold’s skin turned orange, because he was eating some carrot snack. That was from the beta carotene, but I’m still skeptical about whether that can really happen or not, because I consume high quantities of beta carotene when I’m sick, and my skin stays the same. When carrots are left in the ground over the winter, they become sweeter. I haven’t done this myself yet, but the leader of the garden club in my neighborhood has, and I got to eat some. They’re amazing.
Knowing that different colors in food indicate different nutrients, I decided to figure out what else was in the purple and yellow carrots. Apparently the purple pigment comes from anthocyanin, which is an antioxidant that is, also, in blueberries. Yellow carrots are very similar to orange carrots. They contain xanthophylls and lutene, which are both similar to beta carotene.
And, if you were completely fascinated with those big words as I was, then I think you will find this article interesting.
Carrot Colors

Lunchtime

For the longest time, feeding kids lunch has eluded me. Once they got past the baby food and formula, and into the real stuff, I had no idea what to do for lunch. Breakfast and dinner were just fine, but lunch was impossible. Sandwiches simply aren’t an option for the toddler/preschool age, because they don’t understand why you would stack everything just so and then they can’t balance everything between the bread anyway. Even a simple tuna sandwich would be taken apart, the tuna eaten, and then the bread. For the longest time, I made soup, because it’s delicious and easy, but that was still too messy to continue for long. Then the raw foods craze came out, and I figured it out.

Chicken TendersOur lunches now consist of either chicken tenders or left overs and tons of raw fruit and vegetables. Protein and carbs, it’s a perfect meal for the middle of the day. I cook the chicken tenders in olive oil, so there is a bit of fat, but we get the majority of our fat from breakfast and dinner. (If you don’t know yet, I believe that saturated fat is good for you, and that olive oil is good in small amounts as well.…And actually I think everybody’s body is different so there is no one diet that will work for all.)

So, this is how lunchtime goes for us now. Starting around noon, I heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Then I add 3-4 frozen chicken tenders (Costco has the best.) After about five minutes, I flip them over and season the partially cooked side with Emeril’s Original Essence. It’s a fantastic spice blend that has become a staple in our household. Five minutes later, I flip them over again and season the newly cooked side. Then I flip them 1-2 more times until they are completely cooked. When the chicken is done, or very close, I get out a plate and pack it with fruits and vegies that are cut up or prepared in such a way that they make easy finger food for my kids. For example, baby carrots just go straight on the plate, grapes are washed and left on the vine, oranges are peeled and pulled apart, bananas and cucumbers are peeled and sliced into discs, and apples are cut into slices.

Fruit and Vegie PlateThen I stick the fruit and vegie plate between my girls, give them each a chicken tender, and we say a prayer on the food. Yes, I make them exercise self-control to not touch the food while we pray. It’s only 30 seconds max, and they handle it just fine. As soon as we’re done praying, they eagerly load their own plates up with whatever looks good to them. There are a few rules that they are required to follow. First, they must have one bite that they swallow of everything on the fruit and vegie plate. Second, they must have at least one more bite, beyond what they have already had, of chicken before they go for seconds from the fruit and vegie plate. They were resistant to these rules at first, but I stood my ground and stick to my word. If they have had one bite of a food and decided they don’t like it this time around, then I don’t make them eat any more of it. When they are finished, I have them clear their plates off the table, but leave the fruit and vegie plate out with whatever is left over for them to snack on whenever they want. Around dinner time, I give whatever is left over after snacking to our chickens, who devour the rest of it.

Sometimes I pick one color as the theme of the plate, and other times I try to make a rainbow of colors. When I first started, almost everything I put out were fruits and vegetables that they were already used to, but over time, I have been trying to expand their palates by trying a new fruit or vegie every so often. In the past I have done strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, pears, grapes, bananas, oranges, clementines, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and black olives. This week, I was able to buy more fruits and vegies than normal, so we have cucumbers, yellow cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, and pineapple to try. When I put the sweet peppers out, the girls we very excited to try them, because they’re actually the ones who picked them out. As it turns out, that’s the one food they only took one bite of. Unfortunately for them, I have a whole bag of them, so they’re going to have to take one bite of them every day this week. Maybe I’ll give them some salad dressing to help with the taste. The cucumbers were devoured so fast that I almost didn’t get any for myself.

A Year of Dates

For Valentine’s Day, I gave my husband a year of planned out dates. I got the idea from What’s Up Fagans? I planned two dates per month, with a few bonus dates thrown in for fun. These are geared towards being pregnant and then having a little one to tote around as well. I discovered that planning dates, especially this many all at once takes a lot of effort, so I thought I’d share them, and maybe they’ll help you find something to do or inspire you in some way to go date your spouse.

February

Visit the chocolate exhibit at the Utah Museum of Natural History.
- This was a fun one and it is open until June, so you can still go. They have chocolate tastings on Wednesday and Saturday, but they sell out very fast, so you have to buy those tickets early. For us out of countyers, that’s a little difficult.

Organize photos on computer together.
- We didn’t get to this one in February, because we were invited along for a lot of other dates. I think it might be our date for this week. Basically, when the kids go to bed, we’ll snuggle together and reminisce over the millions of digital photos we have, and try to sort them so we can actually do things with them.

March

Go to the Festival of Colors.
- I have been dying to go to this for years, but my husband is so wary of taking the kids that I planned this one for just the two of us.

Pick out a new puzzle and put it together.
- I love putting puzzles together, and it’s always fun to have a companion helping out.

April

Go see Peter Pan at the Hale Center Theater.
- We both love theater, and I’ve wanted to see Peter Pan on stage since I found out it was a stage play, not just a movie, as a kid. Strangely, I found out it was a book last. Completely backward chronology.

Pick out a 3D puzzle and put it together.
- This one is geared more towards my husband. Sometime in the first year of our relationship (tons of stuff happened in that first year, so it all gets blurred together), we went to a hobby store, which we both love, and he mentioned wanting to put one of these together with me.

Bonus Date: Captain America
- I already know I want to see it, so I stuck it in there at the last minute.

May

Visit the Red Butte Gardens.
- I seriously debated putting this one in, because I’ll be massively pregnant when this happens, but I’ve been wanting to go, and the gardens should be pretty by then.

Game Night: Little Big Planet, Ticket to Ride, and Phase 10.
- Those are just some of our favorite games to play together. I’m, also, open to new games, which I’m sure we have somewhere.

June

Bowling at Fat Cats.
- This is a date that we both enjoy, and that I would feel comfortable taking a newborn on, especially if its not on a typical date night.

Make paper airplanes.
- I fully intend on making the most epic paper airplanes we possibly can. I will probably have a Pinterest board for this one.

Bonus Date: How to Train Your Dragon 2
- The first was awesome. Hopefully the second will be, too.

July

Bookstore Scavenger Hunt
- Some of our best dates have been in bookstores (R.I.P. Borders), but we have seriously different taste in books, so this will be a way to do something together before we go our separate ways, and then meet back up together for some hot chocolate.

Watch the sunset.
- Around here, it’s very easy to find a high perch on a mountain to watch the sunset, and see the city lights come on.

August

Make a movie about an invisible man.
- I think this one is just going to be super dorky, but I really hope we have fun with it.

Enjoy a dessert bar at home.
- Yum.

Bonus Date: See the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Scera Shell Outdoor Theater.
- This is a favorite show of ours, so I’m really excited to see it live.

September

Chalk the Block.
-We’ve been to this before, but this time we’ll leave the kids at home. It’ll be way less stressful. We enjoy the farmers market that’s attached to it as well.

Build a campfire in the backyard and enjoy marshmallows and hotdogs.
- Fun. Relaxing. No stress of having to find a baby sitter. I can’t wait for this one.

October

Go to a corn maze.
- Can you believe that we have never been to a corn maze as a date? I don’t know how that’s happened for so many years, but I’m making it right this year. For the baby, I’m thinking baby wearing and nice warm clothes.

Fondue Night
- This will be a fun at home date. We were given some great fondue pots when we got married, and we get them out every now and then. Plus, it’s fun to see what mixes well with chocolate.

November

Go to a comedy theater. Desert Star or Off Broadway.
- Neither of us have been, and they sound like a lot of fun. Now that I think about it, this doesn’t sound baby friendly, but I’m not going to write it off until I see how things are going at that point. If need be, I’ll switch it up for something else.

Paint a Bob Ross painting.
- This is a super fun one to do. Basically, you get a Bob Ross DVD, pick a painting, and paint along with him. It doesn’t matter what kind of paper or paint you use, so long as you have fun and finish your painting when he does.

Bonus Date: Recreate our first date, getting ice cream at the Union.
- We met at the University of Utah. On the second day that we got to spend time together, he bought me ice cream in the middle of a blizzard at the Union. We became facebook friends, and started “chatting” like crazy that night.

December

Visit an art museum.
- There are so many all over the place, and many of them are free.

Relax with a movie and popcorn at home.
- I saved this one specifically for the holidays. It’s a stressful, busy time of the year, and I want to make sure we get a break from all of that.

January

Go to Tucanos Brazilian Grill.
- If you’ve never been, it’s worth it. Never ending meat, and a salad bar that beats just about any other salad bar out there. Grilled pineapple. Fried bananas. Sushi (for those of you that like sushi). Death by Chocolate Cake.

Build a computer together.
- “Like with all new parts?” “Yes, with all new parts.” I think a trip to the Fry’s in Vegas is in order for this one. This date is 1) his birthday present, 2) a celebration of working so hard to become financially stable, and 3) a chance to let him show me all the nerdy stuff that he is always dying to show me.

Cow’s Milk Free Quiche

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Quiche is a family favorite, but given the amount of milk and cheese in it, we haven’t had it in over a year. Our chickens gave us so many eggs recently, that I could think of no other way to use them other than in a quiche. So, I experimented, and it worked the first time, which is amazing. The texture is not perfectly the same as if it had milk and cheese, but the flavor is very similar, and my kids still eat it, so it must be good.

Every good quiche starts with an amazing crust. I use this crust recipe for every crust I ever make, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chicken pot pie, and quiche. This is a butter crust, so if butter is on your list of no-nos, there are shortening and oil crusts out there that some people prefer, but the butter crust is my favorite, and thankfully our lactose intolerees can handle it.

Butter Pastry Crust

1 C flour
1/4 t salt
6 T butter
1 egg

Combine flour and salt in a small bowl. Cut in butter and mix using a pastry blender. Add egg and form dough into a ball. Flour a flat surface and a rolling pin. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Gently place crust into pie pan and form edge as desired.

For a quiche, cover crust with foil and place rice or beans on top of the foil to keep crust from bubbling up. Cook in a 450°F preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove crust from oven and lower temperature to 325°F.

Filling

4 T butter or oil
4 T cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 1/2 C coconut milk, divided
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t pepper, divided
3/4 t salt, divided
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 C FD* onion or 1/2 fresh onion
7 eggs
3 C swish chard, chopped

*freeze dried

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in cornstarch. Add 1 C of coconut milk all at once. Stir to incorporate with butter mixture. Add cayenne pepper, 1/4 t pepper, 1/4 t salt and garlic powder. Stir continuously. Sauce will start to boil and then thicken. Remove from heat when it has the same consistency as gravy, and allow to cool.

In a frying pan, brown ground beef and add onion.

Place eggs in a medium bowl, and add 1/2 C of coconut milk. Whisk in coconut and butter sauce. It will be lumpy. Add beef and onion mixture and swish chard. Pour into crust and cook in a 325°F oven for 60 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Apple Butter

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Apple butter is a deliciously, thick, dark sauce that was a huge treat when I was growing up. We put it on pancakes, waffles, toast, probably my mom’s homemade bread fresh out of the oven if the two ever happened at the same time. I love the stuff. The first time I ever went grocery shopping for just myself, I found some and enjoyed the entire tiny, little bottle. My mom made it just using applesauce, but I had a box full of Jonathan apples, the best apple on the planet, and I wanted to turn them into the best tasting sauce on the planet. My husband said I made the whole house smell like wassail.

10 apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 T cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t nutmeg

Put apples in crock pot, and cook on high for 2 hours. Stir every 30 minutes or so to keep the apples from burning. Mash the apples with a potato masher. Cook on low for 6 hours. Continues to stir every 30 minutes. In the last hour, mix spices in with a whisk. Makes about 4 cups.

After mashing, the apples will look very similar to applesauce, you could probably stop there and have applesauce. As the apples cook, they go from the yellowy cream of an apple, to a pinkish, to a brown, and then when you add the spices, you will get the very dark brown color.

While, in the picture it shows that I put them in glass jars, I did not properly can them, so I will be freezing them after the 24 hour waiting period. The sauce was hot enough to seal the jars, however, so be careful to let it cool down before putting it in anything plastic.

Granola Trail Mix

imageI made a goal to make granola as part of my 101 Goals, but when I started the Paleo diet, I figured that one would never get accomplished. But, I’ve switched back to my hypoglycemic diet, so that my body can get the benefits that diet offers, and oats are not evil for the time being. I stumbled across this Applesauce Granola recipe, happened to have all the ingredients already on hand, and decided to make it. I cut out the brown sugar, so the only sweetener is a tablespoon of honey. By itself, the granola is quite bland, and I was worried that it was just going to sit around for a few months, before I threw it out. Then I got the idea to make a snack out of it, and I created this delicious trail mix. The practically unsweetened granola allows the other flavors to stand out and shine. I’ve even considered eating this as a cereal, because it would be fantastic. My girls are constantly begging to snack on this, and I’m okay with them doing so.

2 C Granola
1 C FD* Raspberries
1 C FD Strawberries
1 C FD Vanilla Yogurt Bites
1 C Raisins
1 C Unsalted Pumpkin Seeds

*freeze dried

Mix together and store in an airtight container. If you really want to be super healthy, leave out the yogurt bites, as those have sugar added, made glaringly obvious by how my girls eat all of those first. If you don’t have any of the freeze dried foods, it’s still really good with just the raisins and pumpkin seeds.