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Heart-Shaped Chocolates Recipe

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I helped put on my daughter’s school Valentine party on Friday and was put in charge of bringing the food. I love being in charge of food for my kids’ school parties because it allows me to know exactly what ingredient is in each snack or drink. I only bring what my kids can have and it allows them to be able to eat everything together with their friends, which honestly is very rare!

“Love Day” (as she calls it) is my daughter’s favorite day so she requested everything to be heart shaped. I ordered two types of heart-shaped silicone molds from Amazon (here and here) and made gluten-free banana muffins in one and these chocolates in the other.

*You can make them with or without the nut butter.*

Homemade Chocolate Hearts

3/4 c. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips 

1 TBSP almond milk

1/3 c. almond butter

 

Place the chocolate chips and almond milk together in a microwavable bowl and heat on high in the microwave for 30 seconds. Take the bowl out and stir the mixture until it becomes a very smooth consistency.

Split the chocolate mixture in half, and fill the bottoms of the heart-shaped silicone molds with one of the halves of chocolate. Take little dabs of the almond butter and evenly place on top of the chocolate in the heart-shaped mold.

Finish by placing the last half of the chocolate mixture on top of the almond butter in the molds.

Place in the freezer and once they are hardened, enjoy! Store the remaining heart-shaped chocolates in the freezer to keep firmed up.

 

*The links are affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, it helps support my website. Thank you! 

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Grocery Shopping from Home

Did you know that you can grocery shop from the comfort of your own home? And have it all delivered right to your door!?

I have used Vitacost for almost 2 years now and absolutely love them. I place an order about every 2 weeks, and love that I don’t have even leave my house in order to get the groceries! They carry a very wide variety of groceries and any order over $49 is free shipping.

If you sign up and order through this link, we both receive $10 off our next order. Win win! 🙂

Happy shopping, friends!

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I’m officially an AUTHOR!

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I have been putting a lot of time, energy and love into something new lately! I created an e-book. A cookbook that is something that I have been wanting to do for two years now. I can hardly believe that it is finally written, photographed, and complete!

I would love for you to check it out, purchase it, and SHARE this cookbook with others! It would mean so much to me!

Here is a little blurb about it: (you can purchase yours over here right now!)

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Are you looking for new, healthy, gluten-free meals that are family-friendly and easy to make?

Then this ebook is for you! I have created this cookbook as a go-to reference for those struggling to find allergy-friendly recipes. These recipes are our family’s absolute favorites, and I wanted to share them with you! Included in this cookbook:

  • 17 easy recipes
  • Gluten-free and allergy-friendly meals
  • Easy to source ingredients
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Pumpkin pancakes

I get a lot of questions regarding what our family eats because of all of our different food sensitivities. I wanted to post some of our favorites on here, 1) for me to look back at while I’m meal planning, and 2) for you to try for yourself if you’re stuck on what to feed your family if you are struggling to feed someone with similar food allergies/sensitivities.

Please feel free to share with someone you may know who has food allergies. For some of us, it is not always easy to find healthy, tasty, easy recipes that we can eat!

*While I do not consider myself a professional in any way, I do take our family’s food sensitivities very seriously. My husband and girls have been tested for food sensitivities and thus we know exactly what foods to cut out. If you are having any problems due to food (there is such a broad spectrum of symptoms!), I highly suggest getting the IgG ELISA test done by a professional. The results are very specific and our family’s symptoms have been completely eliminated due to our diligence. 


My girls absolutely love breakfast. They wake up and the first thing on their mind is food. I searched quite a bit to find something tasty all the while not upsetting their tummies from food sensitivities. I found a tasty “pancake” recipe that my girls could both have. If you have traveled this road with limited food options, you know how much these recipes are worth (which is why I’m sharing it with you today)!

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These are really easy to make, leftovers still taste just as good as fresh when heated up, and they fill up my girls’ stomachs!

Please keep in mind, these pancakes do not flip as easily as a normal pancake. I make them a bit smaller to help reduce mess.

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PUMPKIN PANCAKES  

(yields 15 small pancakes)

1-15oz canned Pumpkin puree (I use Farmer’s Market brand from Vitacost)

6-8 eggs (depends on their size)

dash of cinnamon

(sometimes we add Enjoy Life Chocolate chips instead of putting maple syrup on top)

*Mix all ingredients together really well. Spoon onto a hot skillet or pan. I like to use avocado oil when needed to ensure they do not stick. Pour a little bit of maple syrup on. Serve warm.

If possible, please use USDA certified organic/locally grown food and make sure your ingredients specify that they are gluten free. 

Does not contain: gluten, dairy, nuts

 

*I have linked my Vitacost order above by the pumpkin puree. If you sign up under this link, you will receive $10 off your first $30 purchase! I will also receive money off towards my next purchase. I use Vitacost on a very regular basis. They contain a lot of allergy-free foods and ship directly to your door! I highly suggest this company!

 

 

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Easy Egg Casserole

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My husband’s work schedule changes daily. Some mornings he is out the door before 6am.  With the way our house is set up, we can’t be clanging dishes around in the kitchen at 5:30am while preparing breakfast because our oldest daughter will wake right up.

To save time and dodge a cranky child, I try to cook a large, healthy breakfast for my husband at the beginning of the week that he can quickly heat up on those really early mornings.

Insert this delicious egg casserole!

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This recipe is one of those quick, easy and healthy meals you can make ahead of time and eat throughout the week without it going bad before you finish it.

With our family’s many food sensitivities, I am limited to certain foods that I can use. You can cater it to whatever your family prefers.


 

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EASY EGG CASSEROLE 

1 onion*

2 bell peppers*

1 pound ground pork*

10 eggs*

salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop up onion and bell peppers and sauté in a saucepan in an oil of your choice (I use extra virgin olive oil due to our allergies). In another saucepan, cook up the pork. Once the pepper and onion mix is done, spread on the bottom of a greased 9×13 dish. After the meat is cooked, layer on top of the vegetables.

Mix up the eggs well in a bowl and pour over top of the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

I keep the rest of the casserole in our fridge and we take out whatever amount we need each morning and reheat in the microwave.

 

*I cook with organic, locally raised/grown foods as much as possible. I highly suggest finding a local farm that you can support! We love our local farm food!

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Homemade Wheat Bread Recipe

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My parents gave me a bread maker for Christmas and since then I had been on the search for a good, relatively healthy loaf of bread that my family would all enjoy. I asked around the bread maker community and was given some great recipes. I am happy to say I have finally found our family’s “perfect” bread recipe! I consider it perfect because it is made with whole wheat flour, doesn’t have the preservatives that the breads found in stores have, and my girls love to eat it!

I’ve had a few people ask me about a good bread recipe recently and since I’m not one to keep great things to myself, I wanted to share with you the recipe and hopefully you’ll find this to be a go-to bread as well.

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Whole Wheat Bread – 2 lb loaf 

1 5/8 cups water

1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I use pure cane light brown)

2 tsp salt

4 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s Whole Wheat. Sometimes I will substitute 2 of these cups with King Arthur’s 100% wheat unbleached bread flour – my girls like this version just a tad better)

3 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp wheat germ (I added this myself. It does cause the bread to not rise quite as much so you will have a more dense loaf but I like the added folic acid, protein, and vitamin E that is provides.)

1. Measure and add water to the bottom of the baking pan.

2. Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.

3. Use your finger and make a small hole (big enough for the 3 tsp of yeast) on the top. Make sure the hole doesn’t go down to the water. Dry yeast should never touch liquids before it is baking in the bread maker. Pour the yeast into that hole.

4. Snap the baking pan into the bread maker and close the lid. I then program the bread machine for a whole wheat loaf (mine is option 3), set it to a 2 lb loaf, and then I put mine on medium crust color.

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I was also asked about storing to keep it fresher for longer since there aren’t any preservatives in the bread. I have found these containers to be the answer!

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They lock on top with a suction-like button which then keeps them air tight and the bread fresher for longer. They are OXO brand and can be found here. Depending on what we eat for the week (how many breakfasts or lunches that we use the bread), one loaf usually lasts us about 5 days. I have never found the bread to be dry on that fifth day. We have not had a loaf survive longer than five days so I honestly can’t tell you just exactly how long these keep the bread fresh.

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Tokyo’s Fashion Night Out

Last night, my most wonderful and dearest friend, Kyra, and I went to Tokyo’s Fashion Night Out. We set out via the trains around 5:00pm in search of a restaurant we had found online that immediately drew us in from the name: Sweets Paradise.

It did not disappoint.

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Kyra and I both have a sweet tooth and Japanese desserts rate as some of the most delicious in this world. We walked in, each put around 1,500yen ($15) in a machine and out popped our tickets. We brought it to the ladies at the front desk and they ushered us back to our table. We were given a few instructions as to how the restaurant works (pretty much: stuff your face) and the next hour or so we indulged in some of the most delectable sweets I have ever had.

From there, we took a much needed mile walk (on a very big sugar high) to the beginning of the Fashion Night Out. Over 60 stores had their doors opened to the public while offering free drinks and other small collectables that signified the famous fashion night. It was so much fun.

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Our favorites stores included Burberry, Coach (obviously — see below) and Louis Vuitton.

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It was a wonderful, enjoyable girls night out that really included everything a lady could want: delicious food, great friends, fashion, and free alcohol!

 

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Even HEALTHIER Banana Bread

I had three really ripe bananas that either needed to be used today or get thrown out. I preheated the oven and then realized that I used our last two eggs for Brooklyn’s lunch. I didn’t feel like going to the commissary just for eggs, so I scrounged around in the cupboards for a substitute and came across my girls’ pureed sweet potatoes baby food. I figured if I was throwing these bananas out anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to try a new recipe and just throw it out if it tasted horrible. Thankfully, it tastes awesome!

This is a revision to THIS banana bread recipe I posted earlier:

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose white flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup light butter

1/8 cup organic fat free vanilla yogurt

3/4 cup pure cane brown sugar

1 (2.5 oz) container Organic Sweet Potatoes baby food

3 large bananas, mashed

*optional add-ins: semi-sweet chocolate chips or nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bread pan (I used a bundt pan this time.) Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix and set aside. 

Beat butter, yogurt, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add baby food. Stir in mashed bananas and beat until blended well. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir until all is moistened. Transfer to the bread pan or muffin tin. 

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes for bundt pan, around 15-17 minutes for muffins. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool just a few minutes. 

It’s so good and a healthier option! I just may bake with pureed baby foods more often!

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This Little Thing Called Sugar…

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I’ll be the first to admit I have a sweet tooth. I mean, I think everyone does to a certain extent, right? A few days ago I had a little incident. Due to the intense heat, I was in a hurry to get out the door by 7am so I skipped breakfast and went for a hard run. When I came back, I was busy with taking care of the girls’ needs, showered, and once I finally got them down for their nap, realized I hadn’t eaten yet that day. Bad, bad mistake. I had a hypoglycemic scare of shakiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, heart palpitations, and irritability for the rest of the day. I called my doctor and he agreed that is probably what was going on.

I looked up low blood sugar on the internet and they suggested how to combat another attack, which included to cut out all caffeine and sugar from your diet.

So I did. And realized the next day that even though I ate small meals every 2.5 hours (as my doctor suggested), I was still irritable, experiencing a foggy feeling, and had a headache. What the heck is going on?

I then looked up caffeine withdrawal and sugar withdrawal symptoms. Low and behold, they both follow the exact symptoms I was experiencing! Since I cut out both on one day, I probably intensified it times two.

I’m not going to lie. This sugar withdrawal is no joke. I completely eliminated all refined sugars from my diet. I know it’s probably not the best way to cut out sugars (they suggest doing it bit by bit) but since I’m already two days in, what’s a few more irritable days? After that – hopefully I’ll be home free! My body will thank me, I’m sure. Just after it gets over these annoying symptoms.

It’s funny, they actually suggest that sugar withdrawal can feel like a drug or alcohol withdrawal. I never realized that a little substance such as sugar could have such a hold over us! It’s quite scary, actually.

Oh, as for the caffeine withdrawal…

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 I get most of my caffeine from my coffee in the morning. I don’t drink any type of pop (soda/coke for you non-Michiganers). Before last November, when I started drinking the liquid gold*, I never had to worry about needing caffeine. Now, I apparently can’t live without it! It’s a slippery slope, I tell you. First, I started off with one cup a day. Then, gradually increased it to two cups. Now, I usually drink 2 cups a day unless I have a coffee date or something, then might increase it even to three cups in one day.

Yikes.

So, my plan is to get this sugar issue under control, eat at least every 2.5 hours every day (especially during this heat and while I’m nursing), and then I’ll tackle my coffee problem in a few weeks.

So, feel free to check in with me every once in a while. It’s always good to be held accountable and no better way than have people “bugging” me to see how I’m doing. 🙂

If you have ever tried to cut something out of your diet completely, what has helped you?

*It was brought to my attention that some reference breast milk as liquid gold. I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not, in fact, drink breast milk, but coffee. 🙂 

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I Love Baking

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It’s true. I love to bake. As long as the recipe is relatively easy and doesn’t require a lot of random ingredients I don’t have, I would bake every day. Unfortunately, baking usually means sweets, which means unhealthy. So, I try to only do it when I have a reason to. It’s usually for a coffee date I’m hosting, playdate, or somewhere where I’ll be sharing the goodies, not keeping them all to myself.

Today, I had some bananas in the house and in my quest to eating healthier lately, I wanted to try a new recipe. So, I found one online that looked good. I tweaked it just a bit, and ended up having a new, delicious and favorite go-to banana bread/muffin recipe! I love the fact that it doesn’t have as much butter and sugar as other recipes call for. Also, I used more bananas and switched out some regular flour for wheat flour.

I made half with semi-sweet chocolate chips and half without. (I only give my girls the non-chocolate version but thought others might like that little extra bit of sweetness added to it.) The muffins have just enough sweetness in them to make them good, but not an overly sweet bread that tastes like pure dessert. So, in other words, you might not feel as guilty eating one for breakfast. I made these in muffin form because it’s easier for Brooklyn to eat, but obviously you could make it in a bread form as well.

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Healthy Banana Bread Recipe:

1 cup all- purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter (I used light)

1/8 cup nonfat plain yogurt (I used organic)

3/4 cup (pure cane) brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 in. by 5 in. bread pan or line the muffin tins with cupcake paper. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix and set aside. 

Beat butter, yogurt, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in mashed bananas and beat until blended well. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir until all is moistened. Transfer to the bread pan or muffin tin. 

Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes for bread pan, around 15-17 minutes for muffins. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool just a few minutes. 

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Super simple, right? Enjoy!

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