Pass the Swerve Please


Whether you’re swearing off sugar, trying the Keto diet, or going low-carb, Swerve sugar replacement is such a game changer.

I am NOT a fan of the nasty after taste some sweeteners have. Swerve doesn’t have it, and it equals sugar measurements teaspoon for teaspoon so there’s no guessing when following recipes. Sometimes a simple change or swapping of ingredients goes a long way.

If you start your day off with a cup a Joe, you don’t wanna mess with your mix, right? Switch to Swerve – zero calories, zero guilt, and your coffee doesn’t have to change. Here is the science behind it:

  • Zero-calorie sweetness is achieved by the combination of erythritol & oligosaccharides
  • Erythritol naturally occurs in many fruits & vegetables through fermentation
  • Oligosaccharides are sweet, non-digestible carbohydrates sourced from select fruits & starchy root vegetables
  • Oligosaccharides are prebiotic fibers, so they’re not only tasty, but they help stimulate beneficial bacteria in your gut
  • Swerve does not affect blood glucose so there’s no spike in insulin!

If you’re not about “dieting” but into making better choices, then Swerve is the ultimate sugar replacement. There’s nothing worse than trying to make your go-to yummy recipe of muffins and using a sweetener that’s overpowering, ruining your favourite treat.

I switched to Swerve a few months ago and love it. What are some of your healthy swaps? 

***Links will take you to Amazon where you can purchase product if you like. I am an part of the Amazon Associates Program.***

Yummiest Blueberry Muffins!


I love blueberry muffins, but homemade, so I can see what’s going in. I’m going to share a muffin recipe that’s become a staple in our home. All of us enjoy them, even my picky kids. It’s a recipe that combines tidbits from a slew of recipes I have tried. I have finally got it right! Here we go…

Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Line a muffin tin or spray with Pam (I rub coconut oil all over mine)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 & 1/4 cups oats
  • 3/4 cups FRESH blueberries
  • 1/2 brown sugar (I use Swerve substitute – has no yucky aftertaste and doesn’t spike insulin) Get it here (affiliate): Swerve
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup applesauce

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt & baking powder
  • Stir in the oats, blueberries & sugar until just combined
  • In a small bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in oil and applesauce
  • Pour the egg mix into the larger bowl and blend till combined
  • Fill muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

The oats give the tops of these muffins a slight crunchy texture, so biting into one is amazing. They are moist and delicious and won’t last long! Store them in a sealed tupperware container in the fridge and eat within seven days.

 

Bumpkin Reusable Snacks Bags are My New BFF


71GtCCJibRL._SL1500_

I am currently obsessed with these Bumpkins Reusable Snack Bags! Waterproof, washable and absolutely adorable, they now replace my endless use of ziploc bags for carrying my kids’ snacks around in my bag.

They come in a bunch of cute designs including firetrucks, Dr. Seuss, dinosaurs and more. My kids love unzipping them and indulging in their snacks. And not only am I saving myself from a car full of little baggies, it’s way better for the environment too.

More info:

  • They’re labtested food safe 
  • Zipper closure
  • These ones measure 7″W x 3.5″H but there are other sizes!
  • BPA, PVC, Vinyl, Phthalate and Lead free
  • Machine washable & dishwasher-safe (top rack) 
  • Sold in single or multiple packs!

Bumpkins Reusable Snack Bags are the BEST for school snacks too. Tupperware can take up space so these are a great alternative. I highly recommend these adorable snack bags for daily use or even back-to-school gifting!

A is for Avocado


ganze und halbe avocado isoliert auf weiss

Avocado was the first solid food I introduced to Jacob. He ate it like he stole it. Today, he lunges for it when it’s in front of him. It makes me so happy that he loves such a GOOD vegetable. I give it credit for his amazing memory skills and vocabulary. I know I’m bias, but his little brain blows me away. He just turned two, and he’s putting sentences together already. And when he sees letters or colours anywhere, he hollers them out…and is usually bang on. I stare at him and wonder when the heck he learned all these things.

But then I remember the avocado. It REALLY is brain food. And he eats a ton of it. Mind you, I’ve also been reading to him since he was three months old. Not because I’m trying to raise a baby Einstein, but because I myself enjoy reading and it’s a great activity for the two of us to share.

I’m a proud momma for many reasons. But two reasons the mentions are

  1. When there’s candy and cereal, juice and chocolate around, Jacob will ask for the lone avocado on the counter
  2. When we’re sitting on the living room floor surrounded by toys and blocks, he walks over to his bookshelf and chooses one of many Thomas the Tank Engine books to read with me.

Thanks, Avocado

I owe you one.

 

Sweet Sundays: Zucchini Bread Recipe


zucchini bread

This recipe makes two loaves of zucchini bread – one for you, and one for the rest of the family! It’s so moist with a little crisp to the outer layer. Bring it to a potluck or to work and people will bow to you 😉

What You Need

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium-sized zucchini)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine the first seven dry ingredients
  3. In another bowl, combine eggs, zucchini, oil and vanilla extract
  4. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients ***When it’s all combined, the consistency is pretty pasty, that’s normal
  5. Fold the walnuts in
  6. Pour into 2 greased 9x5x3 loaf pans
  7. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes ***Some ovens will bake it in one hour, so do the toothpick check at the one-hour mark
  8. Let the loaves cool in the loaf pans for at least 30 minutes before removing

You can also add chocolate chips to this recipe. Just decrease the walnuts to ½ a cup and add ½ cup of chocolate chips. And for chocoholics…or those allergic to walnuts, replace the whole cup of walnuts with chocolate chips.

Cabbage Rolls


SAMSUNG

I had to call my mother before making this just to brush up on some steps I wasn’t sure of. The recipe is below if you’d like to try it. This is a great Sunday meal that’s filling and delicious! It’s also great to bring to a potluck.

What You Need

  • 1 cabbage
  • Tomato sauce (check out this post for my homemade recipe) or purchase a jar you like
  • Ground beef (one med to large pack)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup grated parmesan

Instructions

  • Heat oil in pan, add onions & garlic
  • Cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add ground beef
  • Mix in salt & pepper, oregano & pepper flakes
  • Brown & cook meat fully. Meanwhile…
  • Pull off a few outer leaves of cabbage and throw away
  • Carefully pull off cabbage leaves, you’ll need about 12
  • Wash leaves
  • Bring a pot of water to boil
  • Blanch leaves in batches for about 6 minutes each or until flexible, without breaking
  • Let air dry or pat with paper towel if in a rush
  • Lay out leaves and scoop about three tablespoons of ground beef on each
  • Top with a healthy pinch of mozzarella cheese
  • Begin rolling, tucking leaves inwards at the sides to hold meat in
  • Repeat for remaining rolls
  • Scoop some sauce onto bottom of oven-safe baking dish
  • Place rolls in dish
  • Cover each roll with sauce
  • Cover with aluminum foil
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until fork very easily pokes through cabbage roll
  • Top with grated parmesan before serving

Enjoy!!

Sweet Sundays: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


Cookies

Last night I had a sweet tooth. Normally I like watching Cops on Saturday at 8pm, but if I didn’t get my sugar fix, I may have been the one in cuffs by the end of the evening. I’m kidding – like 80% kidding.

So while I listened to Cops from the kitchen, I whipped up my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip recipe. They have a nice crunch on the outside, but inside, they’re gooey, chewy and delightful.

The recipe is below. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg & salt in a large bowl, set aside
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugars until fluffy
  • Add egg whites & eggs in, one at a time
  • Stir in the vanilla
  • Gradually stir in the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go
  • Stir in the oats & chocolate chips
  • Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes
  • Let the cookies stay on the cookie sheet for 5 mins after taking out of the oven
  • Transfer cookies to cookie rack to continue cool
  • Eat them all yourself! Ha, kidding – like 80% kidding 😉

**Makes approximately three dozen cookies**

Guest Post by Michelle Pino: DIY Home Spa Treatments


medium_4189114299

Hello friends and followers! I have a treat for you. Michelle Pino was gracious enough to offer some amazing DIY recipes for home spa treatments. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Michelle Pino has provided these DIY recipes based on the treatments currently being offered at Skana Spa, at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge as well as finding ways to live a frugal, healthy and happy lifestyle. To connect with Michelle, email her at MichellePino@turningstone.com! Read her article below and pamper yourself a little:

 A Mask for Your Hands, A Mask For Your Feet:

A DIY Facial and Pedicure Just in Time for Valentines Day

Almost everyone enjoys berries and chocolate, and who doesn’t enjoy spending time relaxing at the spa? Why not combine the two this Valentines Day for a great do it yourself spa treatment that can be done from the comfort of your own home? Enjoy these recipes alone or with friends, either way you will not regret pampering your body and yourself to something naturally special.

Chocolate Strawberry Fruity Face Mask
Strawberries are great natural ingredient for controlling oil balance in your skin, as well as for the banishment of unwanted pimples and acne. The hydration from the honey will leave your face feeling fresh and smooth.

Ingredients:

½ cup Strawberries, pureed
¼ Cocoa powder
3 tbsp Honey

1 Egg White

Directions:
Combine the above ingredients in a small bowl making sure everything is thoroughly combined. (You may find you need to add more cocoa powder if the mixture is too runny, or another egg white if it’s too clumpy.) To apply the facemask, begin by washing your make up and any other skin products off. Next, apply the mask to your face with your hands. The texture of the mask should be smooth, not too runny or clumpy. Avoid your mouth and eyes. Allow the mask to set for about 15-20 minutes. Wash the mask off with warm water, followed by a splash of cool water to close your pores. Ta-da!

Homemade Chocolate Pedicure

Body wraps can be applied to the entire body or be made specifically for any one area of the body. Either way they are great for moisturizing and hydrating the skin, leaving it soft to the touch. They also provide great relaxation and allow the skin to become firmer, temporarily reducing the appearance of wrinkles and aging. This specific mask is targeted for the feet and can be done as a pedicure! Try doing it alone, with a significant other or with a friend!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
5 strawberries
1/2 cup champagne
1/3 cup honey

*Note: You will also need a microwave, blender, and paintbrush.

Directions:
Place the chocolate chips in a glass microwave-safe dish. Put the dish into the microwave and heat for about two minutes on medium heat, or until the chocolate chips are completely melted and smooth. Separately, add the strawberries, champagne and honey to the blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Next, blend the strawberry mixture and the melted chocolate until it forms a paste. Let cool so that it is still warm to the touch, but not uncomfortably hot. While waiting for the paste to cool, clean and exfoliate your feet using either a scrub or brush. This removes dead skin cells and will give you better results from the foot wrap. Apply the chocolate berry mixture to your skin using the paintbrush. Leave this on for approximately fifteen minutes. During this time, kick your feet up and relax. Sip on champagne, indulge in some chocolate covered strawberries or place a warm cloth over your eyes. After fifteen minutes wash the wrap off your feet and pat dry.

*Note: Remove nail polish, cut and file toenails prior to this!

Strawberries and chocolate might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Valentines Day,” but they are not just for eating anymore. They offer great benefits to your skin and will leave you smelling heavenly, not to mention it’s an inexpensive way to spend quality time with someone you love. Light some candles and turn on some relaxing music, and you’re ready for your own do it yourself spa at home!

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/4189114299/

I Wish Pasta was Good for Me


lasagna

I’d eat it all the time. Even for breakfast.

We’re being hit by a major snow storm today. It’s the kind of storm that makes you stay indoors; venturing out only if it’s a MUST. Naturally, I want to warm up my bones, but not with a cup of tea, with a huge plate of lasagna with layers of cheese, meat. cheese, and more cheese.

Garlic bread on the side would be nice too. With melted cheese on top of course! I could make one right now. But the problem with that is my lasagna can feed about 8 people. So my husband and I, who have no will power when it comes to my lasagna, will eat the whole thing by the end of today. We’ll have a plate for dinner. But throughout the evening we’ll periodically grab a fork and take mouthfuls right out of the dish it’s baked in. This happens until it’s done.

If only eating lasagna was like having a big bowl of fruit. Chock full of nutrients that feed my immune system, rather than full of carbs that make my butt bigger. If only a plate of pasta a day would keep the doctor away, instead of that boring apple.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/exlibris/

My Tomato Sauce Recipe – Learned from Dad


When I was younger, I’d come home from school and quickly do my homework so I could enjoy some TV before dinner. And like clockwork every day my dad would holler my name from downstairs to help him start dinner. I used to dread it. I was at school all day and just wanted to relax, was that too much to ask?!?!

I always wondered why he even needed me there. It’s not like I chopped, diced, sliced or mixed anything. I just passed him things. I was the nurse and he was the surgeon. Instead of “scalpel, scissors, needle…” it was “spoon, salt, pepper, etc.” It drove me crazy. But I knew better than to complain. You don’t complain to Edoardo Capano.

He’d sense my annoyance and would always say: “If you watch me cook every day, you’ll learn how to do it yourself one day. You’ll memorize every pinch of salt and every dash of oregano.” In those years, I’d roll my eyes – but not so he could see of course, that would be a stupid thing to do.

Today, my husband would kill someone for my tomato sauce. He loves it. And I have my father to thank. So I’m going to share my recipe with you. It’s pretty simple, and simply delicious. You can use it for everything from spaghetti to lasagna, poured on top of stuffed peppers and baked or poured on top of breaded and fried chicken or veal and then baked. Once you’ve got the sauce, the rest is up to you. 😉

My family makes our own tomato paste every fall, so I use one jar of our paste. However, two 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes at the supermarket will do.

What You Need

  • One large pot
  • One large jar of tomato paste or two 28oz cans crushed tomatoes (you can use a blender to puree into a super smooth consistency)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Kosher salt (depending on your taste buds, add a little at first and try sauce, then add more if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves (can be minced or added whole for picky eaters)
  • 1 large onion (can be chopped or added whole for picky eaters)
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Handful of fresh basil, not chopped
  • 1 whole banana pepper – don’t chop!! Keep it whole

Instructions

***For picky eaters, you can toss the onion and garlic in whole so they can be taken out with tongs towards the end of cooking. However, if chopped finely, they’ll pretty much dissolve or blend right into the sauce while cooking.

  • Put olive oil in pot at medium heat
  • Chop up garlic & onions
  • Add to pot & mix to coat with olive oil
  • Cook till onions are translucent
  • Add whole jar or cans of tomato
  • For a less-thick sauce, add ¼ cup of water, otherwise leave out
  • Add salt, oregano, parsley & black pepper & stir  
  • Add whole banana pepper & handful of basil
  • Cover pot & bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning the sauce
  • After 5 minutes turn to med-low heat
  • Cook for about 1 to 1 ½ hours
  • If it begins to get watery, remove lid after 30 minutes
  • Before you serve sauce over pasta, make sure to use tongs & remove banana pepper & basil

Once you have this basic sauce down to an art, you can experiment by adding more veggies like red peppers, mushrooms, etc. I enjoy a plain sauce, some others like a super hearty one. So do what you love 😉

TIP: Some people find that tomato sauce gives them heartburn because of the acidity in the tomatoes. An easy fix for that is to add a whole peeled carrot into the sauce at the same time as basil and banana pepper and remove before serving. The carrot will absorb any acidity in the sauce plus also add a little extra sweetness.

Hope you enjoy it!