Saturday, October 31, 2015

Leftover Candy Corn?

Well who knew this little candy corn hack? 

I will admit that as a child and even into adulthood 'Candy corn' was always been one of those Fall / Halloween candies that I thought was icky and would avoid at all costs ~ at least until a few years ago when I came across a recipe online for Homemade Butterfinger bars ~ and while iti s not hte 'cleanest' of treats it is a great way to make use of these often abandoned candies from the kids Halloween stash.  Also my apologies but I do not remember the initial 'source' of this amazing little treat cause it was before my introduction to Pinterest when I would just 'write down' recipes! 

Homemade Butterfinger Bars 

Homemade Butterfinger Bars
What you Need 
  •  3 cups of candy corn ~ Celiac Disease association has a great list of GF candies here
  • 1 cup of all natural peanut creamy peanut butter
  • 10 ounces high quality melting chocolate ~ milk or dark you choose
What You Do
  • Using medium heat in a large pot on the stove or if you prefer a bowl in the microwave melt the candy corn stirring often until it is smooth and lump free.
  • Add in the peanut butter and stir until well combined.
  •  Using either a parchment lined bar pan OR the handy dandy Epicure Petite Bar pan  that is little sprayed with some coconut oil pour the melted candy corn / peanut butter mixture and spread until about 3/4 inch thick allow to cool in the fridge until solid enough to keep its form. 
  • If using a bar pan cut the mixture into bite size bars about 1 inch x 2 inch while it is still soft enough to cut but firm enough to keep its shape once sepeated by the knife and than return the cut pieces to the fridge until HARD all the way through. If using the Epicure bar pan skip this step and just leave bars in the fridge until HARD and than pop out the bars onto parchment paper lined flat cutting board or bar pan.
  • When the bars are cooling melt the melting chocolate in a bowl over medium heat either on the stove or in the microwave stirring to keep it smooth. 
  • Using a fork dip the 'bars' into the melted chocolate and return to the parchment paper and continue process until all bars are dipped in chocolate. 
  • Return bars to the fridge to allow chocolate to 'set'.
  • Store in an airtight container until ready to serve or FREEZE and take out one bar at a time to have as a little treat! 
For those who need to know the calorie and nutritional breakdown here it is when the recipe makes 24 bars ~ if you make your bars bigger or smaller it will affect the outcome. They are definitely a 'treat' when you take in the size of the serving and the caloric and carb intake in comparison but they are such a very TASTY treat!

Here is a cool little video about the Epicure Bar pan that shows why it is a staple in my kitchen ... it makes the perfect size servings for 'little hands' or those of us who are watching our caloric intake ... we use it for muffin bars, pancakes for on the go, crust-less quiches, pizza muffin bars, granola bars and so forth ~ IMO it is a must have in the kitchen!

Have an amazing day!

Life Well, Laugh Often, Love Much!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Yummy Mummies with a warm bowl of Blood Soup

The older boys have finally started to notice 'Halloween' out in the community so we've been getting in the Halloween spirit the last few days with arts and games and well including having some fun with Halloween inspired FOOD! 

Today's lunch was a huge hit ~ it got a resounding 10 thumbs up around the table with everyone having seconds and one little muncher had fourths!

Mummies to Munch

What You Need
  • Pizza Dough ... you can use Pillsbury if you're ok with the processed as that is where I got the initial idea from was using their dough or you can make your own homemade from scratch. This time I compromised between the two because I still have a few left in the cupboard from before I went 'grain free' so I used the Glutino Pizza Crust mix 
  • Hot Dogs ... again your choice I sourced a All Natural Gluten Free option

What You Do
  • Prepare your dough as per instructions and roll out thin and slice in strips
  • Get the children to help you 'wrap' their mummies with the dough strips
  • Some samples online show using black olives slipped in for the 'eyes' but we just put a dollop of ketchup on ours cause we do not eat black olives normally so did not have any on hand.
  • Place on a parchment paper or greased cookie sheet and bake in a 375F oven for 15-20 minutes until your mummies are golden brown and the wieners are sizzling.
  • We served with the Blood Soup below ... aka Roasted Red Pepper and Butternut Squash

Roasted Red Pepper and Butternut Squash

What You Need
  • 2 cups of Roasted Red Peppers ~ approximately 3 red peppers. 
  • 5 roasted cloves of garlic 
  • 1 cup of leftover roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup of diced sweet onions
  • 2 cups of stock ... vegetable or chicken your choice, homemade or store bought, we make our own.
  • Fresh Ground Pepper to taste typically about 1 tsp
  • Pinch of Crushed Red Chili ~ specially if serving to children I add more to my own to taste afterward.
What You Do
  • For the roasted red peppers. We cut our peppers into 4 large pieces and roast ours on the BBQ rubbed with some coconut oil and pepper sear them on both sides and than move them off the direct heat and let the roast in the BBQ until soft but you could also use 'store bought' roasted red peppers in a pinch just be warned that it will add sodium and sugar to your recipe count.
  • Roast your garlic when you are doing the peppers ~ we just put them in a oil sprayed tinfoil on the BBQ or you could use a garlic roaster. 
  • In a large pot saute your onions in 1 tsp of coconut oil until caramelized
  • Put all the ingredients into your blender and hit the 'soup' button or puree button OR if you have a hand held immersion blender you could put them directly into your pot on the stove with the onions. Puree until smooth.
  • If using a blender ttransfer puree to a pot
  • Heat soup over medium heat until starts boiling and remove from heat.
  • Serve ~ I opted for a bit of shredded mozzarella on top of mine cause unlike the kids I was not having a 'mummy' to munch with mine so wanted some added protein.
Roasted Red Pepper & Butternut Squash Soup

 And for those who like a 'break down' of what this means nutritionally this is without the 'cheese' topping ... I think it was a BANG ON cause it was nice and filling but low calories and packed high with vitamins! They say it is high in 'sugar' but there is no ADDED sugar that is because with the low calorie compared to the naturally occurring sugar in the squash and peppers! 

 Have an amazing day!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Party Prep

Only a few more sleeps until Halloween ~ my other half is getting stoked and the older kids in the daycare have started to show some interest in 'pumpkins and ghosts' so we've started to play some games in the program and I have added a few 'costumes' for them to explore with including the Witches hat.

Here are two of our favorites DIY Halloween games we love to play

Witches Ring Toss 

What You Need
  • Witches hat ~ we got ours at the Dollar Store
  • Florist Wire
  • Washi Tape
What You Do
  •  Make 'circles' with the florist wire and twist the ends together to close into your ring.
  • To protect little fingers wrap Washi Tape (or duct tape) around the twisted ends to keep them covered while playing.
  • We used my 'yoga' mat for the play surface ... children at one end of the mat and the hat at the other end and they 'tossed' the rings trying to get them onto the point of the hat. 
  • So as my crew is all under 4 at the moment so they do not need to keep score in a game ~ the game is practicing taking turns and cheering others on!However with older children you could 'score' your ring toss like you would Horseshoes based on how close their ring gets to being 'on' the witches hat.
 Pumpkin Toss

What You Need
  •  Jack O Lantern or a Cauldron or other equally fun 'Halloween Themed' bucket
  • Styrofoam Pumpkins (good ole Dollar Store) you could also use 'orange socks' or soft balls or pom poms or something else to decorate as a pumpkin
What You Do
  •  Again we used our trusty yoga mat as our game surface and we tossed the pumpkins into the bucket ~ my crew is all under 4 at the moment so they do not need to keep score in a game ~ the game is practicing taking turns and cheering others on! 
 Other Ideas for Party Fun with things around the house
  • Witches Limbo ~ use a broom to play Limbo game to some fun Halloween Music
  • Pin the Tail on the Cat ~ make a big black cat silhouette for the wall and some 'tails'... no black paper? No worries use a washable marker on a patio door to draw your cat! When you are done wash it off! 
Have an amazing day!

Life Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cheesy Cauliflower Sticks

Bread sticks are always a staple with Italian food ~ so this weekend when the boys wanted 'lasagna' this recipe which has long been a favorite with the daycare crew was a perfect option to pair while trying a Zucchini Lasagna for myself as well as the Cheesy Cauliflower sticks for our side instead of the traditional bread ones!

My spouse and I both really enjoyed them but the teenager turned his nose up and would not even give them a try ... one day hopefully we will stretch his palette to love his veggies too but cannot fault him because at his age I only ate corn, lettuce and ketchup as my veggies of choice!

Cheesy Cauliflower Sticks
Cheesy Cauliflower Sticks

What You Need
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese ~ we like a mix of mozzarella and old cheddar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Epicure Herb or 2 gloves garlic minced and 2 tsp oregano

What You Do:
  • Wash and chop cauliflower and than place in a blender and pulse until it is a 'rice' consistency
  • Steam in microwave for 8-10 minutes
  • In a bowl beat eggs until well mixed, stir in spices, steamed cauliflower nd cheese and mix well
  • Line a baking stone or pan with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly in a square shape
  • Back for 30 minutes at 425F and than sprinkle with 1 more cup of cheese and put back in until its melted
  • Slice into garlic bread sticks.
Bakers Notes
  • You can use this as a pizza crust base as well ~ either a square pizza or shape it 'round' when you are spreading it out evenly.
  • Bake for the 30 minutes as normal than add sauce, pizza toppings and cheese and bake again for another 10-15 minutes until toppings are hot and cheese is melted.
Have an amazing day!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Virtual Vacations

Love me a good ole 'virtual vacation' on a Sunday afternoon .... nothing like a fragrant aroma therapy blend in the diffuser while I do my weekly chores where I can pretend I am doing a funky 'hula dance' instead of the vacuuming I am actually doing! 

Benefits of Wild Orange
Cold pressed from the peel, Wild Orange is one of dō TERRA’s top selling essential oils due to its energizing aroma and multiple health benefits.* High in monoterpenes, Wild Orange possesses stimulating and purifying qualities, making it ideal to support healthy immune system function when seasonal threats are high.* As with many citrus peel oils, Wild Orange contains powerful antioxidants that help maintain overall health.* It can be taken daily to cleanse the body* or used on surfaces as a natural cleaner. Diffusing Wild Orange will energize and uplift the mind and body while purifying the air. Wild Orange enhances any essential oil blend with a fresh, sweet, refreshing aroma. 
Read more on its uses here

Benefits of Ginger

Newly sourced from Madagascara doTERRA Ginger essential Oil is derived from the fresh rhizome of the ginger plant—the subterranean stalk of a plant that shoots out the root system. A featured ingredient in many Asian dishes, Ginger has a hot, fragrant flavor when used as a kitchen spice. In Western tradition, Ginger is most often used in sweets—gingerbread and ginger snaps being two examples. Studies have been conducted on Ginger for its common effect on joint health;* however, Ginger is best known as a digestive aid and for helping to ease occasional indigestion and nausea*. Ginger essential oil can also be applied topically or inhaled to help reduce feelings of nausea.
Read more on its uses here

 Benefits of Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang essential oil is derived from the star-shaped flowers of the tropical Ylang Ylang tree and is used extensively in making perfumes and in aromatherapy. Similar to Jasmine, Ylang Ylang has been used for centuries in religious and wedding ceremonies. In aromatherapy, Ylang Ylang is used to lessen tension and stress and to promote a positive outlook. Ylang Ylang is frequently used in luxurious hair and skin products for its scent and nourishing and protective properties. Taken internally, Ylang Ylang provides antioxidant support.* Ylang Ylang blends well with Bergamot, Geranium, Grapefruit, and Vetiver 
Read more on its uses here

What do you have in the diffuser today?

Have an amazing day!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

Friday, October 23, 2015

All-Natural Deep Hair Conditioner

As I get older my hair seems to change 'texture' and it gets dry so EASY especially when I am coloring it to keep on top of the grey. Buying deep hair conditioning products or getting a conditioning treatment at a spa can totally add up, and most treatments contain unnecessary and often harsh chemicals that are not good for you or the environment.

As always dōTERRA to the rescue with a DIY recipe!  This homemade deep hair conditioner is easy to make and will leave your hair soft, smooth, and free of harsh chemicals. Because my hair is colored and extra dry as a result I love to do my weekly treatment overnight ~ I put it on before bed ~ gives me a little 'aromatherapy' while I sleep and the coconut and oils do their thing and than I wash it out in the morning when I shower! I also like to add a little Tea Tree oil to the recipe below because I work with young children and tea tree oil is a wonderful repellent of the 'little critters' who often take up home in school age children's heads! 

DIY All-Natural Deep Hair Conditioner

What You Need: 

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 drops dōTERRA essential oils
  • Hand mixer
A few great essential oils for your hair include: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Geranium. You can use one or all four of the essential oils in your deep conditioner. 

What You Do:

  • Put 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and essential oils into mixing bowl.
  • Mix on medium/high speed for 5 minutes or until the ingredients are whipped to a thick and creamy consistency. 
  • Once whipped, apply to clean dry hair. Comb through with a wide tooth comb to evenly distribute. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse, shampoo and style as desired.
  • Repeat once a week or as often as you desire. Enjoy your soft, healthy, and chemical-free hair!
What is your favorite blend for your hair? 
Have an amazing day!
Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

YUM ~ I love Pumpkin seeds

Great thing about October is all the pumpkin ... pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving, carving for Jack O Lanterns with the kids and the guts make a great sensory experience to play in ... but best part is don’t throw away pumpkin seeds after making your jack-o-lanterns. 

Simply roast them in the oven with salt, extra virgin olive oil, and 1-2 drops of Cassia essential oil for a delicious treat. 

Or another option below is give them a boost of immunity and flavor with the On Guard oil blend!

Please note that not ALL essential oils are meant for 'ingesting' and that even those that are approved for ingestion you need to watch your DOSE to ensure that it is safe ... less is more with doTERRA a little goes a long way for both aroma and flavor!

Have an amazing day!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CHEMICALS a neccesary evil or should we ban them all?

So was reading a heated debate in a forum today around this meme .... the conspiracy theory of many that the meme is a attempt from the evil Monsanto corporation to trick us into thinking all their chemicals and genetically modified foods are good for us! Now do not get me wrong I am no fan of Monsanto and many of their practices but I do not believe this meme was planted to confuse consumers but rather to empower them!

IMO the point of this meme is that ...

1) EVERYTHING is a chemical and therefore labels on your stuff that read pick us we are 'chemical free' and so forth are VERY misleading ... reality is that everything even the air or oxygen we breath and water we drink are listed on the periodic table as a chemical by its chemical name Dihydrogen Monoxide as well as its abbreviation of H20 for example and BOTH can be totally toxic and deadly to human beings!

This website for example continues to play a huge social experiment on those in the Internet community who tend to believe that if its on the internet its 'true' and if the Internet says it is dangerous it must be \dangerous' literally in-sighting people to create petitions to the government and companies to BAN Diyhdrogen Monoxide ... all because they blindly trusted what they read, they cannot pronounce the word so it must be evil and it sounds convincing with links and science and it IS TRUE .... the fact is that WATER can be DEADLY to humans but fact is you will totally DIE without it. Nature is about BALANCE! I enjoyed this read from the Logic of Science website about the 5 Simple Things about Chemicals you need to know.

This is another example of meme making the rounds on social media this week with everyone sharing and saying Subway needs to take action and remove this chemical .... people are totally missing the point that they are asking Subway to remove WATER from their subs! It is making a joke on the previous social media campaign for them to remove the azodicarbonamide from their bread ~ which they did to appease public outcry but the fact is it is FLOUR in general out there so anything you eat with flour you are eating this 'chemical' that YES is also in yoga mats .... it is an FDA approved chemical in food in SMALL DOSES so if you are not 'making your own flour' you are likely ingesting this daily anyway even if you are boycotting Subway. 

 Another example of a 'April fools joke gone bad' when a radio host announced that this 'dihydrogen monoxide' was coming out of the local drinking taps and it had the community in an uproar and made it all the way to SNOPES in an attempt to stop the rumor from continuing but yet still here it is circulating the Internet! 

2) Speaks to the fact that we need to understand 'chemicals' and the role they play in our lives as well as that being reminded that even 'good chemicals' can become BAD if not used in moderation, properly and so forth!

The great 'paraben' debate is a prefect example .... parabens can occur both NATURALLY in food such as  blueberries, mango, barley, strawberries, black currants, peaches, carrots, onions, cocoa beans, vanilla, to name but a few well-known foodstuffs ... and yet blueberries are toted as many to be the 'miracle antioxidant' at must have to live a long healthy life the same time! 

According to the FDA Parabans them self, either naturally occurring or synthetically mimicked, are not 'evil' and they serve a benefit in nature but the challenge is that like water if you are allowing too many into your lifestyle than you will have challenges with your health and well being as some research has shown ... however we do not BAN water from our life we find the BALANCE ;) 

While we are talking about understanding 'chemicals' the same argument holds true with the marketing label 'all natural' which people will pay MORE to have but is also one of my biggest pet peeves that people do not understand are you truly GETTING what you are paying for?  

Everyone assumes 'all natural' means SAFER but the fact is that as a easy example cyanide can be extracted from the pits of peaches and reality is it is ALL NATURAL but I would not want it in my skincare or smoothie or anything that is going to be absorbed through my skin .... yet lots of skincare companies LABELLED ALL NATURAL will use 'peach pits' in their exfoliation products or you find then all the time in processed peaches, baby food purees and juices where they do not bother to remove the pit before tossing them in the big ole processing plant ... so what is the long term damage to the human body ingesting those small amounts of cyanide cause we know in large quantities its DEADLY? 

For me the biggest lesson in this was the whole GLUTEN FREE labeling ... the FDA allows for a certain amount of gluten to be present in something and still be labelled gluten free because for the 'average Celiac' does not show any adverse health effects with that amount of gluten. However after 10 years on a traditional 'gluten free diet' I was still SICK and exhibiting all the signs of Celiac not as 'severe' as when I was eating a full gluten diet but not 100% better. The removal of ALL GRAINS from my diet and limiting processed foods and dining out I have seen a huge change in my health in the past 12 weeks so for ME the 'approved amount' was having a cumulative affect in my body making me sick. So we need to pay attention to our bodies and what is going in them to find a way to BALANCE our own health needs through watching our eating and living habits.  

3) Is empowering us to remember that the reason we often cannot pronounce ingredients on labels is that the labeling laws typically require the 'Latin name' for things first and foremost verses the common known because the common name may change depending on where you live, the language you speak and we send our wares all over the world now  ~ not many of us learn Latin these days to be able to easily 'pronounce' a name? 

So unlike the Internet Urban legend that all long complicated word  are EVIL the fact is many of those long complicated words are things we NEED, there is no conspiracy theory to trick us into being poisoned.  Some manufacturers, who have the space on their label, will also add the 'common name' beside it in brackets but if the space on a label is limited they just do the required Latin cause they have no choice ~ its the law. If you are unsure about a chemical's 'properties' LOOK IT UP the information is at our finger tips!

IMO the challenge if you are wanting to eat and live as 'clean and natural' as possible is ensuring you are sourcing foods, cleaning supplies, skincare and anything else that are not full of TOXIC chemicals be they 'all natural' or 'man made' chemicals .... find the MODERATION of chemials that are of benefit to you and limit and remove those that serve no purpose! 

For example I love cleaning with my ENJO cleaning cloths because it is just the specially cut fiber cloth and the cold water from the tap that gets you the deep pore clean result that leads to less bacteria and no residue left behind. They save me loads of money on additional 'cleaners' natural or otherwise cause they clean the whole house for me. HOWEVER my ENJO is only as healthy as the WATER I use with it ... so if I have toxic water source as my supply even though water is 'all natural'  than I am not going to be getting the SAFE BENEFICIAL HEALTH results that they quote in their research for their products despite the fact that everything I used is ALL NATURAL.

In my humble and long winded opinion THAT is the point I believe the above meme is trying to make ... because of FEAR and MISS-EDUCATION the fact is ALL chemicals are getting a BAD RAP because people no longer have a basic understanding of 'chemistry' and many will believe anything they read on the Internet as Gospel without researching for themselves and as a result and they lobby and push for the removal or banning of things that in reality were not the issue but were just 'misunderstood' by the public! 
So what do we DO to help ensure we are eating as clean and living as healthy as possible .... rememeber the rule about MODERATION!

The challenge with processed foods is not the chemicals we cannot pronounce but that often they are full of 'unnecessary chemicals' things that add calories, sodium and FAT to them to give them longer shelf life or better flavor so we are willing to pay so much for them ... because they are full of fillers and additives THAT is what makes them unhealthy choices for a 'stead diet' and the reality is THAT practice occurs in processed foods labelled 'organic' or otherwise.  Convenience foods are not meant to be a LIFESTYLE CHOICE they were meant to be just that convenience they are not BAD for us on their own WE make them BAD for us by making them a steady part of our diet so that the cumulative effect of their ingredients make us unwell!

Combined with the fact that manufacturers want to sell their products to us, they will use BUZZ WORDS to market their food in order to get you to buy it over their competitors ... they always have and always will. I see things all the time labelled 'fat free' or 'gluten free' that should not even HAVE those ingredients ADDED TO IT in the FIRST PLACE but people will buy it over the other brand cause the buzz word about fat and gluten being evil in the media caught their eye. 

So in conclusion this meme is not an attempt from Monsanto to get us to stop reading labels so they can slowly poison us ... fact is YES we definitely NEED to be reading the labels and counting the chemicals in our food but we need to be reading and counting for the RIGHT information not get caught up in the 'buzz words' specially when it means PAYING MORE for something but not getting anything different than the other company.  

Instead I suggest we focus on how MANY ingredients are in a product, do they NEED to be the product, what purpose do they serve? We want our food to fuel us and not be full of 'empty fillers' cause it allows them to make a product cheaper or increase their profit margins. What is the point of having a 'full belly' if you are still starving cause you've chose nutritionally void food choices?  

Educate ourselves and do not rely solely on the word of OTHERS cause there is far too much misinformation out on the internet as well. I have always found the Environmental Working Group website a useful resource to start when trying to learn about what is in my food, skincare, cleaning supplies and what to avoid.

I myself love to read, I am a hoarder of information and I have never taken anything anyone has told me at 'face value' until I have read and confirmed it for myself from a source I trust and even than in somethings I still remain questioning of it. Been that way for as long as I can remember ... I encourage others to do the same. Do not take MY word on things .... it is just my opinion and perspective ~ I share it to get myself and others thinking. Feel free to question and push me back ~ I love to hear alternative rationales ... so go forth and read, question, debate .... stretch the mind and nourish the soul! 

Have an amazing day!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much