Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mexican Food Make-Over (Spanish Cauli-Rice Recipe)

I am a born & raised, Texas-loving girl to the core.  If there is one thing I miss about living in Texas, besides being close to family, it's Tex-Mex food!!  The husband & I are still going strong on an 80/20 grain-free life-style, and up to this point Mexican food has been a bit tricky.  We have adjusted to substituting lettuce leaf for tortillas.  However, I was still missing & craving spanish rice.  Insert cauliflower to the rescue!!!  I know I say this a lot, but this recipe has been tested, kid-approved, and this past weekend I served it at a dinner party and everyone was complimenting the "rice".  I loved seeing all the facial reactions & disbelief when I told them it was actually all vegetables.  I promise this is a sure win-win for your family!  It's super easy to throw together, lots of veggies, and tastes even better than that old bland Spanish rice from the box or bag.

Spanish Cauli-Rice
1 head of cauliflower, grated*
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped (can use any color, for a more authentic taste, use green.  I like to use a little of yellow & green for more pops of color)
1 jalapeño, seeded, deveined & chopped
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 cup water
Trim the florets of cauliflower from the stem & leaves.  Place the florets in a food processor fitted with the grating attachment.  Process until all the florets have been turned into "rice"  You can also use a box cheese grater & do this by hand.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the tomatoes, onion, bell & jalapeño peppers, and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions start to look translucent.  Add in cauliflower and continue cooking for 5-7 more minutes.
Add in cumin, salt, and water.  Stir to combine, and then cover for 5 minutes to let the cauli-rice steam.  Remove lid and continue cooking until all the water has absorbed, stirring every few minutes. 


Friday, May 2, 2014

Frugal Friday....a few tips and tricks to stretch those dollars

"A penny saved is a penny earned."  I am a stay-at-home mom, so I try to do what I can to be "fiscally responsible".  I am no where near the "extreme couponer" stage, although I have dabbled in that some and it is pretty impressive.  I would definitely encourage you to give it a go if you've got the time & energy to devote to it.  At one point I was so on my game that I had our weekly expenses (including household items, groceries, birthday presents, hygiene items, etc) down to a mere $100 a week...and that is for a family of FIVE!!!  In today's world, I would say that is pretty impressive - especially since we were not eating ramen noodles every night.  The Mr. is very much a steak & potatoes kind of guy.  Alas, I have let things slide over the years, but I would love to pass along a few tips & tricks for any beginners out there that I still use today.

First and foremost is the concept of price-matching.  This one is so simple, and I honestly still do it on a weekly basis.  It takes minimal time and saves LOTS of money.  I saved about $15 yesterday, which happened to be about 33% of my total bill.  A lot of stores are doing it now, and most cashiers are trained on it, so I think the "taboo" nature that it may have carried in the past is over and done with.  My favorite store for this is Wal-Mart.  Besides the bagged caser salad (which I blogged about a few weeks ago), it's the main reason I go there.  You can get all of your groceries at the best possible price without wasting days and gas driving all over town.

Price Matching

It's as simple as making your grocery list and then pulling the weekly grocery circulars out and looking to see if anything is on sale.  You don't even have to take the ads with you!  Just simply write where the sale is and the price and Wal-Mart will adjust it.  It is their policy to believe the customer.  I love that, especially if  I forget my ads at home.  I just hope people don't abuse it and make them change it.  These are actual ads that came to my house Wednesday.  So yesterday I bought 3 pounds of strawberries for 99 cents a pound, I paid 33 cents for avacados (we will be having avocado mousse for dessert this week & guacamole for Cino de Mayo!!), 49 cents for a mango (that I bought to make some fresh mango salsa to go on some mahi mahi fillets we are grilling tomorrow, YUM!!).  We go through shredded cheese like mice around here, and it keeps for up to a YEAR in the freezer, so you better believe I bought several bags of that.  You can get mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, all for 99 cents a bag!  Even the Wal-Mart store brand cheese is $2.19 a bag so that is more than half-off!  I also bought several capri-sun boxes at $1.49.  Not because I love them, but summer is just around the corner, and when you have a backyard full of kids, they get thirsty.  I could just go on forever, but I'll stop now.

A couple of quick notes, most grocery stores send out their ads on Tuesday in a mailer, but they also come in the Wednesday paper if you get that. 

I put all of my price-match items in the back of my cart and have the cashier ring them up last so I can watch him/her do it.  I also usually set the ads on top of the items so they know to expect it and we don't have to back-track and void a lot of items.  You may take a few trips/transactions to figure out a system that works for you, but I literally watched a sweet 70+ year old lady do it yesterday in front of me, so if she can do it, you can too! 

Target also price-matches, but it is less convenient because you have to check out with your non-matched items in the regular line, and then go to customer service with your items you want to price-match.  Consequently they do not have a scale there so if you're buying produce it drags on to be quite a lengthy and less beneficial process.  The one thing I do love to price match at Target though is movies when they are first released.  Target always seems to have extra discounts, bonus packages, coupons, or the beloved Cartwheel discounts, that you can add on top to get movies dirt cheap. 

Here are some other money-saving tips & tricks you might be interested in knowing.


They accept competitor's coupons! (so go ahead and pull up that 40% off Hobby Lobby one!)

Bed, Bath & Beyond

Coupons never expire, I mean NEVER!  I have an entire file in my office full of these.  Supposedly some stores will not honor the full discount if they are expired, but I talked to the manager at the store closest to my house and she said they changed the company policy on that.  You might check with your store first to be sure, but the ones in Kansas honor the printed value of the coupon. 

You can use one coupon for each and every item in your transaction!

If you forget your coupon, you can go back in with your receipt and your coupon at a later date, and they will refund you the difference.


Online coupons

Just go to and then click on "more".  It will drop down a menu and you can select "coupons".  Simply click and print the ones you like and voila!  You can also combine Target coupons with manufacturer coupons you find in the Sunday paper, online, etc.  For instance, right now there is a 50 cents off Clorox wipes coupon on  There was also a 25 cent coupon off Clorox wipes in the Sunday paper a few weeks ago.  So together you get 75 cents off.  Be sure to check when you print out the Target coupons if they say "Target Coupon" or "Manufacturer Coupon" at the top.  I know, lots of details, but after you do it once, it becomes second nature.

Price Matching

As I said earlier, Target does price match, you just have to go to the customer service desk and have it adjusted.

Text Messages

Target also offers great discounts/digital coupons via text messaging.  You can just text OFFERS to 827438 and you will instantly get coupons sent to your phone.  Right now they have a $5 off $25 shoe purchase, or a $2 off a $5 bakery item, along with lots of other great deals!  Again, you can combine these deals with cartwheel, so always scan those items before putting them in your cart just to see.  Who knows!  What have you got to loose except money!?!?


I have already mentioned this a few times, but this app saves me tons of money!  It actually keeps a running total and up to today I have saved $178.87 with it.  I have only been using it for a little over a year!!!  It's free to download and you just scan items with your phone as you put them in your cart to see if they have an additional discount.  Almost everything in the store is 5% off.  Sometimes as high as 25% off.  Be sure to have them scan your cartwheel bar code last, after you have applied all other discounts.


The most convenient place you will ever price match!!! 

Happy Saving Friends!


It also happens to be Frappuccino Happy Hour May 1st-May 10th.  From 3-5pm all Frappuccinos are 50% off at Starbucks!  I think I know where I'm headed after work today. :) 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Boredom Buster - The Most Boring Bathroom EVER gets a much needed Make Over!

Welcome to the saddest little room in my whole house.  The main floor bathroom.  I have never understood the thought process of what possessed the previous owners of our home to paint the absolute tiniest bathroom the darkest color possible, with the exception of actually painting it black.  This picture really does not do it justice.  It's like 70% cocoa dark chocolate brown, (somehow I can always relate things to chocolate, I consider it a talent. LOL!) and the room probably measures 5' x 5' if I'm being generous.   
I am actually in the process of refinishing our kitchen table & chairs, so the last thing I needed to be doing was starting another "project".  BUT.....  last week I woke up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea...I was going to stencil the bathroom walls!!!  Now I don't know about you, but when something comes to me in the middle of the night, I become completely consumed by it and well, I make it work.  Literally, the next day I headed out to get the necessary supplies.  After all, the Mr. was away on a business trip, so the timing was perfect.  I would "surprise" him.  Isn't that what every husband wants to come home to --- a fabulous bathroom makeover. LOL! 
My original plan was to repaint the bathroom a more tranquil color, like a pastel grey-blue, but my excitement got the best of me and I literally found myself taping up the stencil, climbing a ladder and stippling on my first square while still in my heels and skinny jeans.  (So glad I don't have a picture of that for was quite a sight. LOL!)   
I came across this fabulous metallic paint to help brighten up and embrace that boring, basic, dark brown.  This stuff is so super cool.  It's perfect for stenciling because it's so thick, almost lotion like.   

And in case you were wondering, this is the company that makes the stencil I used.  It took everything in my power to keep me from buying the zebra you'll soon discover, I have a tiny crush on anything animal print.

And here is the big reveal!!! 

Isn't it FUN!?!?!  Because the paint is metallic, it really shines when light hits it, otherwise it is very subtle.  My kids now call it "The Fancy Bathroom".    How cool is that???  My 10 year old daughter even brings her clothes downstairs, changes in it, and has practically claimed it as "hers" despite the fact that she has her very own bathroom attached to her room.  I assured her we will stencil something equally as fabulous in hers this summer, and rest assured she will hold me to it.

If you are interested in trying this for yourself, DO IT!!!  I am seriously the most craft-challenged person, and if I can do it, anyone can!  I learned a few tips & tricks along the way so please take the liberty to learn from my mistakes. :)

**  Change into appropriate painting attire before starting. LOL! 

**  Attach stencil to wall using painter's tape.  Do not use the stencil spray.  It leaves a film on the wall, and can effect the paint as well.

**  Use a Styrofoam or a coated paper plate to pour a small amount of paint on.  I used about a tablespoon "glob" at a time.  It dries fast, and this amount is manageable and about how much you need for one square, so you can stop at any time without wasting paint. 

**  Buy an actual stippling stencil brush.  It helps contain the bleeding under the stencil and it goes much quicker. 

**  Dip the tip of the stippling brush in the paint and dab a few times on the plate to help evenly distribute the paint in/on the brush before starting on the actual wall.

**  Buy a stencil that has guides on it to make even spacing easy & quick.

**  Remember that walls are not all "square",  so make sure the stencil is level with a tool before starting.

**  Start in the middle of your wall and work to the sides.  Something I learned after-the-fact, and will have to cope with.  LOL!

Have a fabulous "fancy" day!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mama Want a Cracker????

I feel the need to apologize.  I have had a bad case of spring fever and have let all my "some day projects" take over my life.  I feel the proverbial clock ticking as summer approaches and my free/me time will be drastically reduced with all the kiddos around.  So I am attempting to get as much done as possible in what little time I have left.  Rest assured I have been busy in the kitchen too creating more delicious (& healthy) recipes, but alas there are only so many hours in the day and thus the blog has suffered great neglect.  The plus side is that I have a stack full of posts just ready & waiting to share with you.  Everything from chalk painting & stenciling walls (my newest obsession) to tofu & graham crackers.  Nothing like a little variety right?!?! 

So let's get crackin'....

I am not a big bread eater.  I've never been a fan of sandwiches, toast, buns, etc.  But crackers are a whole different category.  My absolute favorite snack is peanut butter & graham crackers.  Can you say "healthy nutter butter cookie knock off".  LOL!   I have been determined to recreate a somewhat simple, grain-free version to satisfy this childhood indulgence and I can finally say (in the words of Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady)  "By George, She's got it!"

Grain-Free Graham Crackers
(these are gluten-free, and dairy-free)
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup almond flour
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon honey
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine coconut flour, almond flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking soda, & cinnamon.  Stir to combine.
In a separate small bowl mix together honey, egg, and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Stir in melted coconut oil.  Dough should form a stiff ball.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
Roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness (i.e. super thin) between 2 sheets of parchment paper.

Remove top sheet of parchment paper and cut dough into desired shape using small cookie cutters or a pizza wheel.

Bake for 6-7 minutes, or until edges are starting to brown. 
Remove from oven, cool for 1-2 minutes & break into crackers. 
Store in an air-tight container.
I prefer to slather mine with some fresh-ground peanut butter and a slice of banana, but to each their own.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The ONE thing I Only Buy From Wal-Mart....

First things first, I have nothing against Wally-world...after all, they carry everything from bicycle helmets and hot glue guns to milk and bacon, (talk about one-stop shopping) PLUS they price match, so in all honesty I love Wal-Mart for that.  However, grocery shopping is my "thing".  I know it may sound weird, but it's what makes my heart go pitter-patter.  Some people go for long runs, others like a cup of coffee and a juicy magazine, but for me, it's a grocery store with a beautiful produce section and more cheese and meat than the eye can count.  It is truly my happy place!  For that reason, I tend to shop where there is a higher variety of foods versus a higher variety of merchandise.  I can hardly control my excitement when I think about the fact that all the local famer's markets open in just 4 short days!  Seriously, I would compare it to a 4 year-old anticipating Christmas morning.   The fresh flowers, the home-grown produce, and all the homemade goodies....I am pretty sure I will give myself new wrinkles from smiling so much thinking about it this week. LOL!

All that being said, there is one thing in my mind Wal-Mart has mastered and will always keep me coming back.  The bagged Caesar Salad. 

I am pretty sure you are laughing at me right now.   Seriously though, it IS delicious!  And I'm going to confess, if I am going to "cheat" and eat wheat/grains, those butter-flavored croutons in this kit are on my Top 10 list.  Every single time I make this for guests they ask for the recipe.  It still cracks me up when I write "trip to Walmart" on a card and give it to them.  That one never gets old. Lol!
Now that my big secret is out of the bag, you better believe it's on the menu for dinner tonight, maybe I'll have it for lunch too.   

Friday, April 4, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Aaah, the "all-American" quintessential dessert.  As a peace-offering to my husband for having to endure watching the children consume each and every girl scout cookie in the house, I made certain to finish tweaking my grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookie this week.  I can assure you I have the most proficient panel of palettes for my taste-testers in the dessert department, and they have all awarded this version the blue-ribbon seal of approval.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo)

(grain-free, gluten-free, and can be dairy-free with your choice of chocolate chip)


1 & 1/2 cups almond flour
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons coconut sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon almond milk (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (I prefer unrefined)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (can be dairy free)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl add almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, salt, and coconut sugar.  Stir to combine.

In a small mixing bowl combine egg, milk, vanilla, and maple syrup.  Mix wet ingredients until thoroughly blended.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir to combine.  Pour in melted coconut oil and stir to create a smooth, stiff dough.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Scoop dough on to parchment paper by rounded tablespoon mounds approximately 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. 

Cool on wire rack, or enjoy fresh from the oven!



* Chill dough in the refrigerator between batches to create optimal results. 
* Baked cookies can be frozen to help maintain the crispy outer texture. 
* Store in an air-tight container to maintain freshness.  Cookies will take on a soft, chewy cookie texture. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Fast Forward

Spring is one of my favorite seasons, second only to fall.  In my mind it just can not beat crisp cool breezes, college football, nights spent sitting in front of a fire pit surrounded by good friends, and the changing of the leaves.  Spring is filled with so many signs of new beginnings and growth, budding trees and plants, birds chirping, and praise the Lord for the end of snow and below freezing temperatures.  However, in our family spring is also like a tightly wound coil that lets loose and greatly accelerates the "speed of life".  The term "spring forward" takes on a much more literal sense for us besides changing our clocks.  The first month is a real challenge as indoor and outdoor soccer seasons overlap, resulting in even more games every weekend with 2 kids playing on different teams.  We also add back in running club, which I help coach, horseback riding, and my oldest just bridged over from cub scouts to boy scouts.  Needless to say we are living outdoors whether it is on the track, at the stables, on the soccer sidelines, or at a campsite.  I wouldn't have it any other way though.  The alternative of being cooped indoors with my three kiddos glued to Mine craft, Fashion Nails, Terraria or whatever "game/app of the week" makes my stomach churn.  In fact, we recently adopted a "no electronics during the school week" rule and I love it.  It was actually a formality because essentially we are never home, but nonetheless it exists. 

I say all this to preface why I have tentatively disappeared, and my recipe posting has been put on hold.  I am actively testing grain-free graham crackers, and my husband has requested an "approved" chocolate chip cookie to help compensate for watching the kids consume all the girl scout cookies in our house.  LOL!  They were the one thing I just could not throw away.  We have been eating clean for almost 8 weeks now and, after one last pantry clean-out last week, are essentially grain-free in our house.  Our vacation over spring break was very eye-opening.  After several days at amusement parks, and 5 days of eating at restaurants, it took my body almost a week to recover!  The optimist side of me would say it was a great learning experience.  I try to keep an 80/20 mindset.  80% clean-eating, and 20% "cheat".  However, I have quickly learned that grain-free for me is not simply a diet.  It is a life-style, and what works for my body to stay healthy, happy, and energetic. 

I have also adopted a few new hobbies recently.  After 7 years, I finally opened one of my Christmas presents and have started dipping my toe in the creative waters of sewing.  I have no earthly idea why I let my fear of perfectionism prevent me from it for so long, but alas, I'm glad I have finally overcome it.  I sewed 2 new pillows for our front porch last week, and I am literally having to discipline myself with a chore list to complete before my next trip to the fabric store.  I jokingly told a friend my kids may have new bedding by the end of summer and now I'm not sure that was such a longshot.  I find such similarities in cooking (which is my first passion) and sewing.  It's like therapy for me to watch the combination of ingredients or materials, mixed with passion and love come together to something wonderful, delicious, creative, and fun.

I also recently acquired another "toy".  After much thought, research, and debate, we joined the Vitamix family this weekend! (insert girlish squeal of excitement here)  Talk about love at first sight, I have a slightly concerning affection for it.  I use it every day for everything from hot fresh soups to ice cream.  The last time I was this excited about an appliance was when we brought home my keurig.  Poor guy probably thinks he's just sloppy seconds now, but I assure him every morning while Vitamix can do pretty much anything, the one thing he can not do is make coffee or tea, and that my friends, is crucial to this momma's happiness.  

Looking forward to posting more recipes this weekend.  I have almost polished up my chocolate avocado mousse, coconut milk ice cream, and my absolute favorite go-to weeknight dinner, Bruschetta Chicken over Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Garlic & Asparagus.  Yum!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I hear the washing machine calling me back to reality.  Have a blessed week my friends!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are you Coo-Coo for Cocoa??? (Coco Chip Puffs Recipe)

Some days I want to be like Adam Sandler in the movie "Click" and have a remote to life.  There are the seasons that I would love to fast-forward, the scenes I wish I could delete, the moments I want to rewind and relive over and over again, and then there are days like today where I wish that I could just hit pause.  You see, my oldest is home sick.  Thankfully he is in great spirits and it's a manageable case of strep.  So after the dreaded positive "swab test", and a trip to Target for meds, Clorox wipes, throat lozenges, and a new toothbrush, we had a leisurely afternoon of hanging out.  It was wonderful to soak up some long over-due quality one on one time with him.  He read to me from his latest book, quizzed me on things from the 2014 world records book, and then we watched a little Duck Dynasty.  After lunch he wanted to rest, so I set up camp in the kitchen to whip up his new favorite food for an "after school" surprise snack when his sisters get home.

We actually came up with the name for these while sitting in the waiting room at the walk-in clinic this morning.  These little guys are super easy to whip up, and after some feedback on the brownies, I will say this is definitely a beginner-level recipe. And BONUS, you will be happy to know it only dirties three bowls.  The best way I can describe these little guys is like a fluffy chocolate chip cookie.  It even melts in your mouth.  Mmmm! 

Coco Chip Puffs
(the taste of chocolate chip scone combined with the ease of a drop biscuit)
(these are grain-free, gluten-free, and can be dairy-free with your choice of chocolate chip)


1 & 3/4 cup almond flour/meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (I prefer sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground flax
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 Tablespoons coconut milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I prefer the mini ones so you get a little chocolate in each & every bite)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl combine flours, salt, baking soda, and flax.  Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl add honey, vinegar, coconut milk, egg, and vanilla.  Stir until evenly blended.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until all ingredients are mixed together and moistened.  Pour in melted coconut oil and stir yet again.  Now just stir in the chocolate chips and your almost done.

Drop dough by the spoonful onto the parchment-lined baking sheet into 9 biscuits and slightly flatten using the back of the spoon or fingertips dipped in water (to prevent sticking).
Bake for 12-14 minutes until slightly browned around the edges and it feels "set" (or slightly firm) in the center.  Let cool on pan 10-15 minutes before transferring to a plate/storage container.  Honestly, we can not resist waiting and eat them right off the cookie sheet fresh from the oven, but they tend to crumble if you do not let them cool slightly first.

Store leftovers in an air-tight container.

Nutritional Information: (approximate)

Serving: 1 puff

Calories: 200 calories
Fat: 15.5 g
Carbs: 15g
Sugars: 9g
Protein: 6g
Fiber: 3.5g

I promise, this is the closest thing you can have to a cookie for breakfast, not feel guilty about, and will still leave you satisfied for hours.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cookie Dough Balls (Protein-Power Packed)

It has been another busy week in my kitchen, and I have two more amazing recipes to share with you.  These are hands-down my kiddos absolute FAVORITE things to eat for an after-school snack or before a practice, training session, or soccer game.  They have truly enjoyed the "taste-testing & experimenting" process for this recipe, and now request that we have a constant supply on hand.   My husband has even given them his stamp of approval and packs them to eat before or after a workout, or as a quick snack in-between his constant meetings at work.  I have tested them on practically every adult and kid that has entered our home over the past 2 weeks, and even the finickiest eaters have given me a smile and a thumbs up. 

It is always bittersweet to post a recipe.  It's like a baby bird leaving the nest.  I honestly put so much work into them, tweaking them until I find that perfect balance of nutrition and yumminess.  Although I have opted for an alternative way of eating, being grain free, I refuse to give up on taste and texture.  This southern girl will never solely think of food as a source of energy.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Power Balls
(these are grain-free, gluten-free, and depending on your protein powder & chocolate chip, can be dairy-free)

9 medjool dates, pitted
1 & 1/4 cup cashews, unsalted
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


Combine, dates, cashews, flours, protein powder, flax seed, and salt in a food processor.  Blend until combined and evenly ground.  While food processor is running, add in syrup and vanilla.  Blend until a stiff dough forms. 

Transfer dough to a medium mixing bowl and stir in chocolate chips. 

Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

Makes about 24 balls.

Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 1 ball

Calories: 90
Fat: 4.5g
Carbs: 8.5g
Sugars: 5g
Protein: 5g
Fiber: 1.5g

Seriously, compare that to your average chocolate chip granola bar that has: 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 18 carbs, only 1 gram of both protein & fiber and 6 grams of sugar.  Which one do you think is going to fuel your body better???

Peanut Butter Power Balls
(these are grain-free, gluten-free, and depending on your protein powder & chocolate chip, can be dairy-free)

These little guys are a throwback to my all-time favorite candy.  In my mind, chocolate and peanut butter were meant to be together forever just like me and yoga pants.  I seriously came up with this recipe one afternoon after we purged our pantry of all candy.  Yes, there were tears in our house for sure.  Now I can enjoy that same beloved combination and not feel guilty about it or have that nasty sugar high & low.  I have yet to not have a kid ask for seconds of this tasty and power-packed snack.


9 medjool dates, pitted
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons ground flax
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (optional, but included in nutritional info)


Combine, dates, peanuts, flours, protein powder, flax seed, and salt in a food processor.  Blend until combined and evenly ground.  While food processor is running, add in syrup and vanilla.  Blend until a stiff dough forms. 

Transfer dough to a medium mixing bowl and stir in chocolate chips. 

Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

Makes about 24 balls.

Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 1 ball

Calories: 90
Fat: 4g
Carbs: 8.5g
Sugars: 5.5g
Protein: 5g
Fiber: 1.5g


Monday, February 24, 2014

My new diagnosis...

I have recently diagnosed myself with "Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder"...It is truly "SADD"!  (How's that for coincidence and a play on words? Ha!)  Let me just recap my week for you.  It was a doozie in terms of commitments.  I mean, I may not excel at taking pictures of food, or keeping a perfect house, but I am a rock star at over-committing, stressing, and stretching myself so thin I'm practically transparent.  I know I'm not alone in this, because a lot of my friends are right there with me.  Just modern day Gumby dolls being pulled as far as our arms can reach.  I think a lot of it is the culture we live in, but I digress, I am the one saying yes, so I can only blame myself. 

So, rewind all the way to a week ago Sunday.  On the way to church we were talking about the 10 Commandments and the kids were trying to see if I knew them all from memory (surprisingly I did, but definitely not in order).  When I got to the one on the Sabbath, my 7 year old stopped me and asked me what it meant, and why God would make that one of his "favorite rules".  So, we stopped to discuss the importance of taking time for God, and thanking him for all of our blessings.  Coincidentally the sermon that day was about the Holy Spirit that lives in us and walks with us as our guide, and how important it was for us to "pay attention", and have quiet time to stop and listen for direction. 

That night, out of nowhere, my daughter brings up that she wants to do a family devotion "like old times" at dinner.  We go through phases when we are really good at incorporating it, but currently we were in an "off season".  She randomly flipped through the book and chose one called "Time Out".  It was all about how on the 7th day of creation God rested, and how important it was for us to do the same. (Are you seeing a theme yet...)

Just a few short days later I was doing my Bible study homework at 4 am on Tuesday because I couldn't sleep, and honestly, confession time here, we were meeting later that morning and I was WAY behind. Care to guess what the topic was.... yup, that's right....  resting and observing the Sabbath, taking time to relax, breathe in life, exhale stress, and reflect on our blessings.  I was starting to catch on, but in my busyness continued to operate in "survival mode" the rest of the week. 

So, yesterday was Sunday again, and we finished up the sermon series on the Holy Spirit, focusing on his role as "communicator" and how important it is to be still and QUIET to listen, and the importance of carving out time to commit to doing just that... SIT and LISTEN.  Let's be honest, God in all of His infinite wisdom does not need my "to do list" or "tattle tale sheets" in the disguise of prayer requests, and as I reflected back on the times I had done "quiet" time, the last thing I would describe it as was quiet.  So last night I picked up my other Bible study (that I actually lead) to "refresh" (I mean complete) my homework and readings.  My eyes welled up with tears when I realized it too was about slowing down and resting.  If Jesus had a megaphone, it is pointed right at me.  But no, He doesn't shout.  He just continually pursues me, even in my disobedience, with frequent gentle reminders that "I am here.  Come and sit with me.".   He never gives up on me, and His love never fails me.  His grace is more than I can even begin to understand and that right there is enough to bring me to my knees. 

That brings me to this morning.  I have the absolute pleasure of meeting with some pretty amazing women, and even though I am the leader, they are constantly teaching me new things and sharing wisdom that has grown and blessed me beyond measure.  As a measure of accountability I asked them to check-in on me with my quiet time, to ensure that I was following through and turning off the "static" of life, and the accessibility of my ever-ringing/dinging phone.  Just like a workout at the gym, it is going to take time to build up resistance to the constant thought process of "What's for dinner?, Who has what activity tonight?  Did I switch the laundry? Did I even start the laundry?  Is it trash day?  How long has that cob web been there?" and the list goes on and on.   

When I got home this morning from my study and a few errands, I received a reminder text from one of my absolute favorite friends telling me it was time for me to take a "time out".   And that's exactly what I did.    For the first time in as long as I can remember I sat in silence.  It took me about 20 minutes to still my mind, and it only lasted about 20 minutes, but it's a start.  I won't be cured of my "SADD" in one day, but slowly in time, I hope that I can find peace in the stillness.

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

I also came to this realization this morning.  I do not have to say yes to every opportunity presented to me.  If I say no, it does not mean it will not get done, it simply gives someone else the chance to serve and say yes.  That may sound simple to you, but it was incredibly freeing for me.   


Recipe Remix

I don't know about you, but I tend to get stuck in a dinner rut.  About once a month I try to infuse some new recipes into our dinner rotation, but sadly I always find myself falling back to my good ol' standbys, especially when my husband is traveling for work.  After helping three kiddos with homework and shuttling them around to various activities every evening, the last thing I want to do is "negotiate" dinner.  Seriously, you know you have those nights when you feel like you're playing a poker game rather than eating a meal.  Your child asks, "How many more bites to I HAAAVE to take?", you in turn throw out a number, and the negotiations start until someone folds. Therefore I have 2 standbys that I know I can always go to that will ensure happy plates and faces all around.... tacos & pizza. 

Trying to incorporate wheat-free and healthier alternatives made me put on my thinking cap to give these two family favorites a much needed make-over.  I had a light bulb moment while strolling through the produce section of my favorite grocery store.  Portobello mushrooms would be my new pizza crust!  Why had I never thought of this before?!?!  It is absolutely my new favorite go to lunch and the kids love it too.  "Make your own pizza" nights have always been a huge hit in our house and cleaning a few mushrooms and snapping off the stems is much easier, healthier, and less elbow grease, than kneading pizza dough.  And bonus, dinner is ready in minutes with little to no prep work!

Portobello Pizzas


Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Clean & remove the stem of the mushroom.  Place on a baking sheet, top with pizza or marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and favorite pizza toppings.  Bake for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

The taco make-over was a little more tricky.  I have been substituting turkey for our tacos for over a year and the kids have honestly never caught on.  However, getting rid of the tortilla or mound of chips my kids eat the meat on was a little more tricky.  I have found that with children, at least in my household, presentation is EVERYTHING, starting with what I call dinner.  For example if I say we are having turkey taco meat on avocado, I would immediately get resistance and groaning, but simply by eliminating the turkey reference, and calling the avocado a "boat", voila, they are instantly excited to try something new and think outside the "taco shell".  I came up with this little gem of an idea last week, and honestly I can't wait to have it again.
(ps.  To address the 2 questions that must be at the front of your mind... Yes, I do have other dishes, and no, I do not have a professional food stylist.  I know, you're shocked.  Lol!  These are my actual dinners that I have taken a picture of with my phone no less.  If they are blurry, it is because I was in a hurry so that I could dive in to my meal.  Remember, this is the beginning, and I'm keeping the "expectations" bar low.  Ha!) 

Taco "Boats"
1 pound ground white turkey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder, or dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper (or for a spicy kick, add a pinch of red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon coconut flour
3/4 cup hot water
4-6 ripe avocados
Garnish: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, plain greek yogurt (tastes just like sour cream, but so much better for you!)
In a large skillet brown turkey meat until cooked through, stirring as needed.  While meat is cooking, combine chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, & flour in a small dish. When meat is browned and cooked through, drain off any grease and return pan to burner.  Add seasoning mixture to meat, and stir to evenly distribute.  Pour in hot water and continue cooking on medium heat (stirring occasionally) until sauce is thickened. (About 5 minutes) 
Slice avacados in half, remove seed, and fill with turkey taco meat.  Garnish as desired.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Better Batter Brownies

It has been an exhausting day, but I wanted to post this because well, this is the first (of hopefully many) recipe I have ever written and I can not wait to share it with you!  It is by far one of my new favorite things to eat, and the fact that it's healthy definitely makes me feel less guilty when I eat it every day.

My family recently went "wheat free".  Well, technically I did, and my family has followed suit, with a few compromises.  Nonetheless, that really narrows the field when you take grains off the plate, especially when it comes to sweets.  To help aid in the transition I decided to start with sweets, and have slowly started incorporating wheat-free items into the breakfast rotation.  Those are the two areas we have the most wheat impact in our house.  I have several muffin, breads, & pancake recipes still "in progress", but there is one recipe that I have figured out, and it is the "healthy brownie".  I have to say, my passion for the kitchen was reignited when we, I mean I, decided to make this dietary change.  I had many reasons for doing so, that I will discuss another day, but the catalyst was the encouragement of my personal trainer to read "Wheat Belly" after a lengthy discussion one day.  I have to admit, second only to the Bible, I don't think another book has changed my life so drastically.

I'm sure the most ideal scenario would be just to eliminate all sweets from your diet, but I'll be honest with you...that's never going to happen.  I grew up having dessert after every meal.  My mom swears it's part of our German heritage.  I searched the internet, even tested the waters of Pinterest, and checked out several books from the library for recipes that looked delicious enough to try.  Sadly they only resulted in many attempts and complete disappointment of making creations that claimed to be "the world's best healthy brownie", "most delicious melt-in-your-mouth cake", and coming up with things that tasted nothing short of a baked banana rolled in cocoa powder, with expensive ingredients no less.  A single pound of almond flour runs about $10.  Compare that to a 5 pound bag of enriched white flour that runs less than $2, so you're looking at about 40 cents a pound, and I'd say that's a pretty significant difference.  And that's just one ingredient!

So, without further ado, here is my recipe debut!  I wish I had some kind of catchy name for them, but I don't.  This recipe has been my baby for over a month.  I've been tweaking it and  after I stopped making things that tasted like sour bananas, my family gladly offered to be my taste-testers.  I knew when my husband said he would eat this version every day and then helped himself to one after lunch AND dinner this weekend, it was a done deal.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  I am sure you can modify them to make them even healthier, I just have not had the time to test out all the variations.  We are happy with this combination in our home, and after all, they are brownies, and a dessert.  So, in my book that makes a little sugar ok.  Hey, I'm new at this & I never claimed to be a health expert. :)

"Better Batter Brownies"
(these are wheat-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free)


1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup, plus 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (I prefer unrefined here)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 6-7)
1/4 cup chocolate almond milk, or coconut milk (updated 4/2014)
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.

Combine almond flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, sugar, baking soda, salt, pitted dates, and flaxseed in a food processor.  Pulse until combined and dates are processed.  Pour this into a medium mixing bowl, and set aside about 1/2 cup of this mixture in a separate mixing bowl.

If you've never pitted a date, this is what that looks like.  I had never touched a date before I started eating cleaner, and now I have a constant supply  in my fridge.  Sometimes I start to panic if my "stash" gets down to my last container. LOL!  Costco is a great source for these if you're lucky enough to have one near you.

To remove the "pit" from a date just gently slice it down the middle and remove that seed-looking thing.
In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until medium to stiff peaks form.  About 1 minute with a hand-mixer on high.  You should be able to lift the beaters from the foam and see "peaks" on the end.
Okay, we are going to get just a few more dishes dirty before putting this whole thing together.
Take the reserved 1/2 cup of the date mixture and gently fold it into the egg whites.
If you've never "folded" eggs before, just stir softly until it looks about like this. :)

Spoon 1 Tablespoon coconut oil into a separate small microwavable dish.  Heat until melted.  It usually takes about 1 minute for me.  I prefer unrefined coconut oil because it still has a hint of coconut flavor, but refined is good here too, or you can also use olive oil, but you would just skip the melting step.  Once it's melted stir in the remaining 3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder.  Add this mixture to the remaining date mixture (not the egg whites).  Stir in the almond milk and vanilla until a smooth paste forms. 
You could stop right here and eat this straight out of the bowl!  It would make a great dip with a little more milk or you could roll it into truffles.  Remember, this bowl is egg free so far.  You better believe that's my finger and I ate that.  Hey, "quality control" right?!?! LOL!
Now it's time to put everything together.  Gently stir (or fold) the egg white mixture into the date mixture until it's combined.  Pour into your 8 inch square pan that is lined with parchment paper and smooth it out until it's somewhat even.

Bake for 20-22 minutes at 325, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  This is a dense, chewy brownie, so it may not be completely clean when you pull out the toothpick, but as long as it's not ooey-gooey and well, brownie like.
And the beauty of the parchment paper is you can lift it straight out of the pan, no mess, and enjoy!  Store these in an air-tight container.  My favorite way to eat them is with a heaping pile of berries on top (my family prefers sweetened whipped cream too).  Absolutely delicious!!
Nutritional Information: (approximately), 12 brownies
Serving: 1 brownie
Calories: 103
Fat: 4.5g
Fiber: 2.3g
Protein: 3.25g
Sugars: 9.5g

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In the beginning....

Nothing makes you feel old like technology...can I get an AMEN?!?!  I look at my little blog and try not to be embarrassed, we all have to start somewhere right?  So, I ask for your grace and patience in advance as I stumble my way through trying to figure out this whole blog thing.  I also would welcome any tips, tricks, & feedback. 

I would not consider myself "technology challenged", but I seem to have reached that age when my kids are already teaching me shortcuts and tricks on all the devices in our home.  My 7 year old daughter is constantly wanting to ensure that my phone and all of my "apps" are current, and that I do not have any updates to load.  And my 11 year old son is just one of those gifted people that "gets it" and he's constantly showing me how to navigate my way around our laptop & ipads.  Speaking of the laptop, just this past weekend I had to sit through "personal training" for Windows 8. hour of "training" for some 19 year old kid to tell me how to use our new computer.  Granted I probably brought it on myself for texting my husband about how much I hated said computer every time I have logged on for the past 4 months.  Or, maybe it was the long grunts, sighs, and stomping fits that would ensue if he happened to be in the vicinity while I was trying to accomplish something on it.  Obviously I'm too old to keep up with technology, but not too old to throw a good ol' fashioned temper tantrum.  Regardless, my sweet husband is such a peace-maker, and bless his soul, extremely patient with me.  He scheduled this session after I called him, on Valentine's day no less, to vent again about how much of a waste of money I thought this machine was.  Thankfully now I am a little more "tech-savy", less stressed, and much more pleasant to be around when on the laptop. 

So, this is the beginning...a starting point.  Hopefully no where to go but up right??  I have a full day today, but I am literally giddy thinking about coming home this afternoon and whipping up my absolute favorite recipe so that I can post it soon with pictures.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Here We Go!!!!

I've been debating this blog for months now.  To blog or not to blog....that was my question.  After much encouragement, and a leap of faith, here I am.  Please do not be misled, I am by no means an expert on absolutely ANYTHING, nor am I trying to be the next "pioneer woman".  I am just a passionate southern girl that is living the dream out here in the Midwest.  Every once in a while I come across something pretty special and I figured it would be fun to share it.