Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Coconut Vanilla Cupcakes with Greek Yogurt Frosting

 Have you ever tried baking with coconut flour? This was my first attempt and the results were delicious!  I can't say I'm surprised.  I mean I'm already a fan of all the other things made out of coconuts these days, like coconut oil, water, and butter just to name a few.  Replacing regular flour with coconut flour is a great way to make something gluten free, although it will change the flavor and texture a bit.  I decided to go with greek yogurt frosting because I have been wanting to try it out after seeing it on Pinterest and I felt like I couldn't just put something totally bad for you on top of hat was already a pretty healthy dessert.  These Coconut Vanilla Cupcakes were so good and healthy enough that you can convince yourself they are ok to have for breakfast :)  

I almost forgot to tell you! These cupcakes also have flax seeds in them! I always try to throw flax in baking recipes when I can and these cupcakes seemed like the perfect candidates!  It doesn't change the flavor much.  Maybe just a little nuttier?  I don't know if that's the right word but flax can easily be left out, I just thought it would be a nice healthy touch :)  


- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)

- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin (12 capacity) or grease it with coconut oil.  After making these with the liners, I would use coconut oil instead next time.  These cupcakes stuck a little bit with the liners.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
3. Spoon/scoop equal amounts of batter into the cupcake tin.
4.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are firm and slightly browned.
5.  Remove from oven and let cool.
6.  Meanwhile, whisk all frosting ingredients together until they form a nice creamy frosting.  Spoon frosting into Ziploc or frosting bag and frost cupcakes when cool.  Optional:  Sprinkle shredded coconut on top!
Enjoy :)

Recipe adapted from The Wanna Be Chef

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Homemade Strawberry Jam with Organic Cane Sugar

I had never been strawberry picking and this year I was determined to change that.  Especially when I found out that a local farm that sells Christmas trees in the winter and Pumpkins in the fall also does pick-your-own strawberries!! It is only about 5 minutes from my house so a few weekends ago, I dragged my husband along and it was so fun! Until we finished picking and got to the register only to find out that they only took cash or check! What?!  After searching our wallets and the car to make sure there weren't any loose bills or checks we had forgotten about, we had to drive home to get our check book then back again.  Thank goodness we live so close!  There was another family who had to leave their strawberries there too while they went to an ATM so I didn't feel completely silly.  Oh well, lesson learned.  

After all the trouble we went through to get our hand picked strawberries, I was determined to make something delicious!  We started with a batch of homemade strawberry ice cream using our Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment we got for our wedding.  It was amazing!  Next up on the list was this delicious Strawberry Jam with Organic Cane Sugar.  So, what makes Organic Cane Sugar better than your ordinary white refined sugar? And isn't any added sugar bad?  Of course you should avoid added sugar as much as you can, but if you are going to use sugar as a sweetener, organic cane sugar definitely has some major benefits over regular white refined sugar.  The major benefit is that sugar cane is less processed, so it retains nutrients present in cane juice, including different amino acids, minerals and vitamins.  Additionally, it lacks the chemical traces that white table sugar contains from undergoing the refining process.  You can read more about this here.  

So, this stuff was realllllly good.  And pretty darn easy for my first attempt at making homemade jam.  The only ingredients were strawberries, Real Fruit Instant Pection by Ball, and organic cane sugar. After just a few minutes of prep, the jam only took 30 minutes to set before it was ready for some whole wheat toast or some greek yogurt.  So good!   


Makes 2 (8 oz) jars of jam
- 1 2/3 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
- 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
- 2 tbsp Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin   (Buy it here)


1. Place hulled and sliced strawberries in a medium bowl and crush.  I used a potato masher.  How much you crush depends on how "chunky" you like your jam.  I like mine with some actual chunks of strawberries.
2. Combine the sugar and pectin in a large bowl.
3. Add the crushed strawberries and stir for 3 minutes.
4. Pour or spoon the name mixture into clean jars and let stand for 30 minutes.  
5.  Enjoy your jam within 3 weeks if in the fridge or within a year if you decide to freeze it! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

All-Natural Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink

Anyone else who suffers from frequent sinus infections like I do knows you will do anything to make the pain and congestion stop.  I've tried antibiotics, but at this point I'm worried they won't be effective after taking it so many times.  I'm also always scared to take them ever since dealing with a bout of C. diff after a long course of antibiotics I had to take for my lyme disease.  Not fun!  My doctor isn't really sure why I get so many sinus infections.  I've had an MRI of my sinuses which didn't show anything abnormal.  It's a mystery! I've recently started getting acupuncture which has seemed to help reduce how many I get.  It's been pretty frustrating but all I can do is try to keep my immune system up and reduce the duration of them when they do occur.  

One of the latest natural remedies I've added to my list of what to when I get a sinus infection has been to make this All-Natural Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink, AKA homemade Gatorade.  The actual sports drink, Gatorade, is great for restoring electrolytes so your body can stay hydrated and function properly, aiding with recovery.  However, it also contains high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives and colors, something I don't want in my body, especially when I'm trying to get over a sinus infection.       

Luckily, this All-Natural Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink is very easy to make and contains electrolytes as well as other vitamins and minerals your body needs, especially when trying to recover from sickness or activity.  The only ingredients are fresh squeezed lemons and oranges, pure coconut water, pure honey, and salt.  I used Pink Himalayan Sea Salt because some people think that it has added restorative properties, but this is debated.  I figured it couldn't hurt, but you could also just use sea salt.  Either way, this great tasting drink is a welcome addition to my natural remedies list :)   

All-Natural Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink
adapted from: Don't Mess with Mama

- 2 fresh squeezed oranges
- 2 fresh squeezed lemons
- 2 cups pure coconut water (you can substitute filtered water)
- 2 tbsp pure or raw honey
- 1/8 tsp sea salt or Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until combined.  Serve cold or over ice.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

DIY Citronella Candle with Essential Oils

DIY Bug Repellent Candle with Essential oils

Some people think that now that it's past Memorial Day, it's officially summer.  However, summer doesn't technically start until June 21st this year (the summer solstice).  This hash't stopped the bugs from coming out in full force though!  Growing up I can distinctly remember the smell of those citronella candles that supposedly repelled bugs.  They were usually in a big metal container of some sort and had an overpowering scent.  Before buying one for this summer, I decided to do a little research to see if they really do the job.  

Seems like a lot of citronella candles only contain citronella scent, and not the actual essential oil- which is what has the bug repelling properties.  Also, they come in ugly buckets… So, I made my own!  They were super easy to make and I put them in cute little mason jars.  I also added eucalyptus and lavender essential oil, which also have bug repelling properties.  They smell so much better than the store bought ones!  I have yet to use them but I plan to soon and want to take them with us when we go camping later this summer.  

On a side note, one place we do not have a bug problem is on our deck.  I decided to add two planters to the deck this summer and I am growing some fresh herbs in them.  It has been so convenient to just take a few steps out onto the deck and grab whatever herbs I need while I'm cooking.  Anyways, the point of all this is that my mini herb garden has been working like a charm to keep away bugs.  Seriously, I never see any out there.  The herbs I have are lavender, basil, rosemary, mint and parsley.  All of which I picked just because they are what I use the most in my cooking.  Turns out, all of them are known to repel bugs!  A lovely coincidence for me :)  

Making Your Own Citronella Candle
Adapted from: Growing Up Gable

What you need:
- glass jar or container (I used an 8 oz canning jar and my directions are for a jar that size so adjust accordingly)
- soy wax candle flakes
- candle wicks 
- Citronella essential oil 
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Optional- these little double stick tape things to keep your wick in place

1.  Set up your glass jars with the wick.  Lay a pencil over the top of the jar and wrap the end of the wick around the pencil to keep it straight and centered.  Set aside.  
2. Place an old pot or cleaned out metal coffee tin in a large pot filled with water about 2 inches high on the stove - to make a double boiler type set-up.  Turn the heat on medium.  Add soy wax flakes. For my 8 oz container I used about 2 cups.  Stir with an old metal or wooden spoon continuously until the wax is totally melted and clear.  
3.  Very carefully remove the pot with the melted wax from the bigger pot with a pot holder and slowly pour the wax into the jar.  
4.  Add all of the essential oils into the wax.  I used 20 drops of citronella, 10 drops of eucalyptus and 10 drops of lavender.  
5.  Don't move the candle until it has completely cooled and set.  Cut the extra wick off the candle, leaving only 1/4 inch.  

* To maintain your candle, let it burn for a decent time the first time you light it, so that a significant pool has formed around the wick.  This will ensure that the candle burns properly.  One hour should do the trick.  

DIY Bug Repellant Candle with Essential Oils

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Healthy Banana Protein Smoothie with Flax Seed

I am a big fan of bananas.  From baking with them, to eating them plain, to adding them to smoothies, they just go so well in anything.  As a kid, one of my favorite desserts was banana milkshakes.  Now that I'm an adult I still love a good banana milkshake from time to time, but I also discovered that if you take away the ice cream, you can treat yourself to an incredibly healthy, high protein, low sugar smoothie that tastes just as good as the banana milkshakes I used to love as a kid.  

I feel like bananas really don't get enough credit, but they really are a super fruit.  They contain a ton of vitamins and minerals.  Manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin C just to name a few. Here's a long list of all the great things that bananas can do for your body, but just trust me, they are great.  I try to eat at least one a day, and that really isn't hard considering how versatile they are for baking, etc., but for those late night sweets cravings they are particularly helpful if you try making this Healthy Banana Protein Smoothie with Flax.  Ground flax is another wonderful superfood to incorporate into your diet, which is why I like to sneak it into as many things as possible.  However, you can easily leave it out if you don't want to enjoy all it's health benefits (or just don't have any on hand!)  

- 2 bananas, sliced and frozen
- 1/3 cup almond milk (or other milk or milk substitute)
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed 
- 1 scoop of vanilla flavored grass-fed whey protein powder

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or Nutribullet, etc.  Blend well until all ingredients are combined and consistency is smooth.
2.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Entryway Coat Closet Makeover

Ok, there's the lovely after picture of our entryway coat closet makeover.  Now, brace yourself for the ugly before picture.  It was bad.  Really bad.  

We were so fed up with how bad our coat closet looked that we decided to finally do something about it!  All it took was some Pinterest inspiration and a trip to Home Depot and we were saying goodbye to having to dig around in the bottomless pit for our shoes every time we left the house!  It's been a few weeks now and the closest is still super functional and it still looks nice too.  

The most important things we wanted in a closet were shelves for shoes (because the flimsy rack we had just wasn't cutting it) and plenty of hooks for our coats.  We also thought it would be nice to have shelving on top to take advantage of the tall space, so we threw that in there too.  The nice thing about this project is that we had to do very little work at home, because I had the boards pre cut for free at Home Depot and the board we used for the coat hooks was already primed.  

Here's a list of the materials:
- three 12 x 36 in shelf boards (can't remember the type of wood, but are specifically for shelves and found in the lumber section)
- 5 in wide preprimed board (cut into 3 pieces to use for screwing coat hooks into)
- 2 x .5 in board (cut into 4 pieces to use as supports for the shoe shelves)
- white paint (used to paint all wood, leftover from earlier project)
- gray paint (used for painting closet, leftover from earlier project) 
- 6 coat hooks
- wood screws and anchors for where there weren't any studs

We also used 3 wire bins from Walmart to store all of our winter gear in. 

I think the instructions are pretty self explanatory based on the materials and the pictures.  Overall, this project was so simple and I can't get over how much better it looks!  What do you think?!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

Today was Mother's Day!  My mom has a major sweet tooth so I decided to make her these Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting.  My sister and I also treated her to a pedicure.  Later on we headed over to my in-laws house for a Mother's Day cookout.  It was a beautiful day celebrating beautiful ladies!  

The reason I call these "healthier" is because they only have 1/3 cup added sugar in the whole batch.  That's not too bad for cupcakes. Especially ones that taste as good as these!  The best part is the frosting, which is actually made of fresh strawberries.  I found the original recipe for these lovely treats on Honestly Blog which is the blog affiliated with the Honest Company natural products.  I love Honest products and now thanks to this cupcake recipe I'm a fan of their blog too! 


- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla 
- 1/4 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons

Strawberry Frosting
- 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature 

(You will make the frosting first so it has time to harden up a little bit before topping the cupcakes with it.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To make the frosting, puree chopped strawberries until smooth.  Add the honey, cream cheese and butter and continue to puree until the mixture has a very smooth consistency.  Spoon into a ziploc bag and refrigerate until you are ready to frost the cupcakes.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside.  
3. In another medium bowl, beat sugar and softened butter together with a hand held mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, then sour cream, vanilla and milk and mix well.
4.  Slowly pour in the flour mixture, and mix just until combined.  Divide evenly into a 12 capacity muffin pan, lined with cupcake liners.  
5.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting (or you will have a goopy mess!)
6.  Frost and immediately refrigerate.  You do not want to let this frosting get too warm or it will get runny.  I recommend refrigerating up until you are ready to eat or serve these.

Recipe from Honestly