Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Round-up

Well its HALLOWEEN today, so what would be better than a quick DIY round-up of special spooky treats that are fun & delicious!

1. Open Face Spooky Sandwich Faces:

These are such a fun way to serve a healthy treat to your kids, check out the post here.

2. Deviled Egg Eyeball:

This site has all the tip and instructions you need to create your own! Check it out here.

3. Skull Templates:

Make your own fun decorations that aren't too scary ;) Find the template here.

4. Jack-O-Lantern Orange Fruit Cups:

Here is another great healthy snack that is fun and cute replicating a carved pumpkin, instructions found here.

How to make jack o lanterns from oranges.

5. Easy Black Bean Spider Web Soup:

This is a spooky way to serve a perfect fall dish using black beans and pumpkin as the key ingredients. Check out the recipe here.

6. DIY Skeleton Pregnant Shirt:

I came across this and thought it was too cute not to share & such an easy last minute costume for any pregnant women. Check out tutorial here.

7. Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies:

These look delicious & are the perfect Halloween colors to share for dessert or bring to your party, recipe found here.

8. Halloween Plate Decorations for kids:

This is a fun and not too spooky craft to have fun with kids, most likely using the items you already have. Check out material list and tutorial here

9. Yummy Mummy Pizzas:

These look delicious and are fun for halloween, perfect snack or meal paring it with some veggies. Find out how-to here

10. Meringue Ghosts:

These are actually a healthier dessert treat using egg whites to create a fluffy and airy texture which looks just like a ghost! Check out how to create these yourself here.


Happy Halloween, have a safe evening and enjoy it with your family. Be sure not to eat too much candy ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Power Granola Bars

These granola bars are packed-full of wholesome ingredients and amazing nutrients to fuel your body. These bars have a slight chew and an incredible taste from the variety of seeds, dried fruits, and healthy fats, making these bars a perfect snack to curve your hunger or pre/post-workout food and all the while saving money on buying those fancy bars that often still contain 
too much sugar. 

Power Granola Bars: (10 servings)
Adapted from Bob Vivant

1/2 cup puffed amaranth
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raisins
4 dates
cup oats
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbs chia seeds
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 nut or seed butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet or a square pan with parchment paper. Combine the pepitas, 1/2 amount of oats, and dried fruit ( be sure to pit the dates) in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Add the puffed amaranth, remaining oats, and sunflower seeds. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until thoroughly mixed. It will resemble a thick, coarse paste.
Place and press mixture into prepared pan. Bake 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and pulling away from the parchment paper at the edges. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Cut the mixture 10+ bars while still warm. When bars are completely cool store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Enjoy in your yogurt, or just as a snack, or to cure that sweet tooth.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hummus Soup

This idea was a little out there... hummus soup, I mean seriously. But I love soup and I especially love hummus, so I thought I would give it a try with a batch of hummus I had made, posted yesterday. So why couldn't it be a soup, it has an incredible thickness & consistency from the bean puree, additional veggies depending on the kind of hummus of course, and well it tastes delicious! I savored every bite, I loved it! And to make it even more scrumptious I toasted some garbanzo beans to garnish and it gave it a nice crunch and added texture. 

Hummus Soup: (serves 4)
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove
pepper, cumin, chili flakes

In a medium/large sauce pan heat oil and add diced onions to saute. After a few minutes, add garlic and cook until onions become translucent. Add in hummus, vegetable stock, and spices to taste. If you are not a fan of little chunks in your soup, but prefer just a pure creamy texture, use immersion blender or regular blender to puree everything together. Note: you could also make the hummus from scratch simultaneously  by just adding the onion to the list of ingredients in hummus recipe. Serve warm and garnished with roasted garbanzo beans & chili flakes. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spicy Spinach Hummus

I absolutely love hummus and probably make a batch every week! I like to change up the flavors a lot and tried this one which has turned out to be my favorite so far. I also like the fact that I simultaneously get a serving of vegetables while pairing it with more veggie sticks, on top of eggs, or toast, and even went as far as making hummus soup-- sharing the recipe on Friday :)

Spicy Spinach Hummus: (serves 4)
(pictured is a double batch)
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans
1 1/2 cups soaked/cooked garbanzo beans
1-2 cups of spinach leaves
1 jalepeno, seeded (I don't, I like the heat)
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup reserved liquid or water
In a blender or food processor combine garbanzo beans, garlic, cumin, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, spinach, and jalapeno. Blend on low speed, gradually adding reserved bean liquid or water, until the desired consistency is achieved. Scoop into a dish and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Date Syrup

Here is a simple, easy, homemade recipe for date syrup. There really is nothing too it, just a little soaking time, a few ingredients, and a whirl in the blender. Date syrup is an excellent choice to pour on top of pancakes, french toast, morning bowl of oats, yogurt topping, use it for baking although be aware that it is however, a little less sweeter...  
but what's great about it, is that it's all natural!

Date Syrup: (1 1/3 cup)
10  dates
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

First, rinse dates just in case to remove any dirt. Slice the dates open and remove seeds. Place dates in a bowl covered in water to soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain water and put in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, lasts up to about 2 weeks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

All about Natural Liquid Sweeteners

After posting about Chocolate Covered Coconut Bites, my Aunt brought to my attention the real health risks of using Agave as a sweetener, which I had already done a little research here and there, but was not truly aware of the actual risks of the so called good for you" sweetener. By reading more and more, I realize this is not as good of an option as it's been hyped up to be. Continue reading to find out more about the health risks of Agave, as well as learn about better options for a whole food and  healthier way to sweeten your food.

Agave is thought to be natural, but in actuality it is processed just like any other sugar. Most agave comes from the blue agave plant as a natural "honey" and when fermented used to make tequila, but when bought has been completely processed into a nectar. 
As Agave is higher in calories, about 60 per tablespoon, at the same time it is sweeter than sugar, 40 calories,  so you can use less which then equates to about the same amount of calories. 

Here is the real situation, agave sweetener is not necessarily healthier than sugar, honey, corn syrup, or high-fructose even because it acts similar to high-fructose. The amount of fructose  ("a simple sugar that occurs naturally in fruit") ranges from 55-90%  and the remaining is glucose. Although Agave does contain some nutritional benefits, it is not enough to make them matter. 

Some studies have shown that consuming fructose may be less healthy than eating same amounts of glucose. As it is known that fructose causes increase an appetite leading to gaining unhealthy fat, and instead of your body processing the sugar as a glucose, but as blood fats, but doesn't increase you blood pressure to it seemed as though a better choice. However, now it is believed that it actually contributes to insulin-resistance, causing your body to to be less sensitive to insulin and making it hard to control blood sugar levels and puts you in a greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. [source]

Honey is a rich liquid produced from honey bees and is naturally a great alternative to table sugar. Be sure to buy raw honey (not filtered) as it gives the most nutritional value as well as safety. Some people might place the container of honey in the microwave to make it less thick, but that alters the taste as well as increases the HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) content. [source] 
Raw honey contains ingredients similar to those found in fruits, which help the digestive system. Actually, when mixed with ginger and lemon juices, it can relieve nausea, as well as supply energy. "It promotes body and digestive health, is a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies, and is an excellent remedy for skin wounds and all types of infections. Raw honey can also stabilize blood pressure, balance sugar levels, relieve pain, calm nerves, and it has been used to treat ulcers. Raw honey is also an expectorant and anti-inflammatory and has been known to effectively treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma." [source]


Maple syrup is an amber color with a rather earthy yet sweet taste and made from the sap of  black or red maple trees. Maple syrup is  an excellent source of manganese and zinc. As both these are great in boosting your health, fighting against colds and admirable source is of antioxidants which help against many other diseases and acts a natural anti-age. The quality of the syrup varies by its color, taste and consistency. The lighter the color, the less intense of flavor. However, all maple syrups are labeled with a grade based by the official USDA grading system.   [source]

Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, folate, vitamin B-6, and the list continues on.  And benefits oneself in a number of ways, for example, weight gain, help maintain a healthy heart, intestinal disorders, and even fight against abdominal cancers. [source
Dates can be soaked and turned into a syrup, which is considered a whole food having just one ingredient, itself. It looks similar to molasses, but less sweet than honey. It is a perfect substitute to table sugar, cooking, baking, and topping foods. [source]
Coming next week I will share a recipe on how to make your own date syrup at home! As well as other ways to use them to sweeten your food.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chocolate Covered Coconut Bites aka mini-Mounds!

Well, with Halloween just around the corner, I am sure that lurking in every corner are all those candy treats... but instead of including in those unhealthy, full of who knows what :/ 
So how about making your own delightful mini-Mound bites at home with all natural and healthy ingredients. I must admit, Mounds bars are my absolute favorite candy bar, no doubt about it! But have you looked at the calories are listed ingredients-- yikes! So when making this I was floored that it tasted just like it without all that junk. These bites are quick easy, and most important delicious! 
I only made a batch of 6, but you can easily, double, or triple this recipe-- stock some up in the freezer for that moment when you need a little nibble of sweet, this indeed will do the trick of satisfying that sweet tooth! And you could go even further to add a an almond on top to make it that Mounds of Joy.

Chocolate Covered Coconut Bites: (makes 6)
1 cup coconut*
1/4 cup liquid sweetener*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoon melted dark chocolate
1 tablespoon milk or coconut oil (optional)

In a food processor, combine coconut, agave, and vanilla and pulse until well combined and clumps all together. With a tablespoon, pack it full with the mixture and place on a lined (Parchment paper) baking sheet, until all the mix is gone. Let cool in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes. Place chocolate in a microwave and warm up in small timed increments  watching carefully not to burn such a little amount. Add milk if desired, I used it to make mine a more thin consistency  its up to you. Remove the pan from the fridge and begin coating with chocolate with a spoon or brush, however you prefer. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve as they will melt a little. Note: you can mix coconut oil in with the chocolate, maybe a tablespoon, which will give the chocolate coating a thicker and more durable coating. You will most likely have leftover chocolate sauce, so maybe scoop yourself some ice cream and drizzle it on top ;)
* You want the mixture to be pretty thick & easily spoon-able, like pictured below. If that's not the case add more coconut or syrup to achieve a good consistency.
* Originally I used Agave in this recipe, but it was brought to my attention that there has been research concerning Agave and its health risks and well not being all it has been hyped up to be, so as a better choice  use an all natural/organic honey, maple or fruit syrup.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quinoa Carrot Cake Pancakes

These pancakes sure are delicious! Sweet, but not overly. Hearty all the while being super healthy. Easy, but more than satisfactory. Any Sunday should be honored by having this meal being served, and since its extremely nutritious, why not make it any day breakfast treat. 

Quinoa Carrot Cake Pancakes: (makes 6 medium)
Adapted from Martha Stuart
1 cup cooked quinoa*
3/4 oat flour
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
1 small carrot, shredded
1/4 cup mashed banana
1/4-1/2 cup milk (of your choice)*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sweetener (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, carrot, chia (if using dry) sweetener, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, banana, milk, vanilla, and (if using liquid) sweetener, until smooth. 
Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine.
Lightly grease a nonstick skillet and heat over medium. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet (about 4 tbsp ea). Cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes until golden brown. Wipe skillet clean and repeat remaining batter. Serve with honey or sweetened Greek yogurt for that frosted glazed carrot cake taste, delicious!

*Martha says you can also replace the quinoa for brown rice, but I have yet to try that option.
*My batter seemed a little too thick, so I needed a tad bit more milk & just added it by 1 tablespoon at a time. So start with the 1/4 cup and see how your batter is from there.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Curried Lentil Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is a perfect combination of every flavor-- spice, sweet, savory-- and is filling, all the while being healthy.  I topped it with some additional chili flakes as I like my food pretty spicy and ate it everyday for lunch until it was gone, it was so delicious. 

Lentils are a great source of nutrition as just one cup (cooked) of lentils contains less than 1 g of fat and no saturated fat, has almost your daily amount of folate, which helps you to produce new cells, as well as aids in iron production. And also has magnesium, vitamin B6, and an incredible 17 g of protein. Read more here.

Curried Lentil Sweet Potato Soup: (serves 4-6)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 garlic, minced
2 small sweet potatoes, diced 1/2 in. cubes
1.5-2 T curry powder
1/2 vegetable bulloin cube*
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
4 cups water*
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
1 small lime, juiced

In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for a couple minutes. Next add garlic and seasoning, let cook for about a minute. Next add in remaining vegetables and combine. Add water, bullion cube, and lentils, with a squeeze of lime. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat. Let simmer for 20 minutes, until lentils & sweet potato are tender. The lentils will absorb the liquid, so if the water seems too low, you can always add a tad more. Serve with additional chili flakes. 
*If you don't have a bullion cube, simply replace 1/2 water amount with vegetable stock to give additional flavor.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Devotional of Dietrich Bonhoeffer #3

As I mentioned before in other devotionals that Bible Gateway sends me daily devotionals from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, so I thought I would share some along the way. This is particular discusses CHEAP grace which we learned about here too. However this message explains how cheap grace influences and impacts the Church, which sometimes I think we don't realize its seriousness and entirety when we allow it to rule as well as settle for, it is in then that a Church loses its saltiness...

"Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.
Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgive­ness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacraments; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without cost…
Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby conveys such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God’s living Word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.
Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. “Our action is in vain.” The world remains world and we remain sinners “even in the best of lives.” Thus, the Christian should live the same way the world does. In all things the Christian should go along with the world and not venture…to live a different life under grace from that under sin…
Cheap grace is that which we bestow on ourselves.
Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ."

"What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."
Romans 6:15-18

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit. 
Psalm 51:10-12

I challenge you to take a look at the characteristics that Bonhoeffer describes as cheap grace and analyse your own life and that of your community of faith. And ask the Lord that you might be free of this cheap grace and live in God's costly grace spoken of in more detail here, and live free in the beauty of Jesus Christ. 

Prayers and Blessings to you!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Yogurt Ice Cream

Well this is the last of my pumpkin recipes as I finished off all the cans my sister brought down until my next shipment ;) But this is a fantastic way to bring in the fall during those last summer hot days & in a healthy way too. This has a nice sweet tang from the Greek yogurt & lovely taste of pumpkin, & of course the addition of cinnamon spice makes it a perfect combination & special treat that you don't have to feel guilty about. This dessert is a light, refreshing, and delicious ice cream-- the husband loved it!
And this is also a super easy method to making ice cream, no ice cream maker needed! I am excited to experiment with all different flavors, the possibilities are endless.

Pumpkin Yogurt Ice Cream: (serves 2-3)
1 cup natural Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to your taste)
1 tsp cinnamon/ pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla

Combine everything in a blender, mix, and taste to decide if need to add more sugar. Pour into a freezable container. Place in the freezer and stir every hour if possible. The mixture will slowly turn into a creamy frozen delight, when ready 3+ hours, serve & consume. Enjoy!