Mocha-Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love coffee. I love chocolate. I love baked goodies (the healthy versions, of course). This recipe consists of all of all of these things. So by now you should have realized something.  And that is.. this recipe is awesome.

Oh. I almost forgot to mention that this recipe is free from any refined sugars, grains, gluten & dairy. BOO-YAH. …Who even says boo-yah anymore? Um. Moving on to the recipe before I embarrass myself any further…

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pureed butternut squash
  • 1 cup nut-butter of choice (peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or dark chocolate) (**I only only put 2 chips on top of each mini muffin, as I feel like there’s already enough chocolate in the muffins!)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350f/175c
  • Steam/Boil butternut squash until it’s tender (you’ll be able to easily stick a fork in it)
  • Use a food processor/blender to puree the butternut OR mash by hand (I’ve done both)
  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Evenly distribute batter amongst 24 mini muffins
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes

Substitutions:

  • Sweet potato in place of butternut squash
  • Crunchy or smooth nut-butters – your preference
  • Substitute another sweetener for the maple syrup (agave nectar, honey, etc)

Enjoy as part of breakfast, brunch, snack, dessert.. Hey, if you want them for lunch: go for it, who am I to judge? Though, I would recommend you accompany it with something a little more nutritious as well.

My excellent assistant, stirring away.

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Sniff test! Yup, that’s good and chocolate-y.

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Into the muffin pan they go! Bake for 15 minutes or so and..

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Voila! Look at these cuties!

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And a close up just to tease you.

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..What are you still doing on here? GO MAKE THESE!

Pumpkin cream bars

There’s a few foods that I realllly love, and one of them is pumpkin.  It’s one of those versatile foods that you can cook it various ways, each tasting different.  This recipe is a dessert, that is guilt-free, and could actually be served as a breakfast/brunch treat as well – being that it’s actually not THAT sweet (but totally hits the spot).

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Not all that long ago I wasn’t conscious of what I consumed, and I didn’t exercise on a regular basis. With that being said, I wasn’t as bad as I could’ve been, however I was no where near where I should’ve, needed, or even wanted to be. In 8 months I turned that around, and took control of my body. With eating a generally clean diet, and regular exercise, I’ve come a long way. Now, there’s no stopping me.

Look out world 🙂

Chocolate-Avocado Muffins

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I don’t know about you, but even though I eat clean, does NOT mean I don’t have a sweet tooth. And because of this, in order to refrain from having guilty pleasures ohh I don’t know..everyyyday: I find healthy alternatives to foods that usually would blow my diet completely out of whack.  (Also, can I just say that when I use the word ‘diet’ I mean it by the kinds of foods that I habitually eat – rather than a ‘restricted’ food list).  I’d apologize about stepping onto my soapbox buuut, I’m actually not sorry 😉

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cup Wholewheat OR wholemeal flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup or agave nectar 
  • 3/4 cup almond/coconut/OR soy milk (your preference)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa or cacao (preferably dark)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

OPTIONAL:

  • 1/2 cup (dark) chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)

 

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Mix avocado, oil, vanilla together in food processor or blender until smooth.
  • Gradually add the rest of the dry ingredients, adding milk as you go so that it makes them easier to mix

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  • Put in muffin tins, or even do in a bread loaf if you prefer
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean
  • Now.. ENJOY YOUR SCRUMPTIOUS AND HEALTHY MUFFINS 🙂

 

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Oh, and if you’re wondering if you can taste the avo; no, no you can’t. So enjoy those extra nutrients in your muffins without having to suffer through an avo (though, avocados are lovely anyway!)

Aloe Vera Benefits for Skin

Hi there!

It’s been a little bit since I posted about how to make aloe vera juice, and I really want to elaborate about the health benefits of aloe.  

Aloe is a superfood when you consume it; aiding in digestion, immune system, and even weight loss.  In addition to this, it’s amazing for your skin.  Yes, yes, yes – we’ve all bought the crap in the bottle when we are sunburnt to a crisp.  HOWEVER, sunburn is only one of the many ways aloe can be used.  Aloe vera has been used for more than 5,000 years – to the Egyptian times.  Aloe vera has been used to treat burns (not just sunburn!), cuts, eczema, psoriasis, and even acne. Yes, ACNE.  

I’ve always struggled a bit with acne.  I’ve never had very problematic acne, however I’ve never had a very clear face, and though I had to admit it, I get the few random pimples on my back, and chest, and worst of all.. arm pits!  A little over a month ago I started breaking out really bad in my underarms, due to a few different reasons.  With all of the lifting I’ve done over the past 6 months, my body has changed.  A lot of my shirts no longer fit; they’re so tight on my arms that the seam is right in my arm pit — causing an acne-like rash.  My sports bras were not helping this matter either, in fact they were just making it worse.  I became so self conscious of it that I wouldn’t wear a tank top to the gym like I typically would.  In addition to feeling like a hideous creature from this rash, it hurt.. and it hurt bad.

For weeks I had tried everything; various dermalogica (which is what I typically use on my face since I have extremely sensitive skin) products, scrubs, astringent, masks, toothpaste, the list could go on and on.  I tried different variations of all of these products and nothing worked, I wasn’t getting ANY relief. So after no prevail, I decided to use the aloe on my skin as well.  I put it on my face, neck, chest, and underarms twice a day.  

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When I say that after one day I could already tell a difference, I’m not kidding.  I couldn’t believe it.  After a week of using aloe vera the rash in my underarms was gone, and my face was very clear.  My face was not only clear, but very soft as well.  Last week I was told that I have such a good complexion.. I was in shock, I’ve NEVER been told that before.  

After using aloe vera on my skin I feel so much better about myself.  I’ve never been one to wear very much makeup, however I nearly always put at least a little foundation on the “problem spots,” even though the makeup is one of the things that makes me breakout in the first place. Now, I rarely use any foundation (except for maybe for the big, dark spots under my eyes) because my face is that clear!   

We spend so much money on all of these “beauty” products that are full of all kinds of garbage that aren’t good for your body.  We spend all of this money on beauty products that sometimes, and when I say sometimes I mean most of the time, don’t even work.  So then we spend more money buying other products to cover up blemishes, etc.. Where is the logic in this?! Simple answer, there is none.

Food for thought: When you put lotion on, your skin soaks it.  Have you ever thought of where it’s going? It’s absorbed into your skin, and goes into your body; to your blood, organs, etc.  Now, have you ever really taken the time to look at the ingredients in your lotion? I encourage you to take a look at it, and google the ingredients that you aren’t familiar with.  Are they ingredients you would want to eat? No? You wouldn’t want to consume these ingredients? Then why are you putting them on your skin, to be absorbed into your body.. just as if you ate it. Gross, right?

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup

This was my first attempt at this recipe, and it was sooo good (Is the cook allowed to say that?) Well, I think this soup is actually one of my favorite dishes I’ve made so far!  I found a recipe on instagram, and had to try it.  It was made without any of the additional things I added to it after the soup had been made (mushroom, chicken, cauliflower, etc) – to me just plain soup is not filling enough but YOU should cook it however YOU want it.

And without further adieu.. The recipe!

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Ingredients:

– 4 Tomatoes

– 1/2 Onion

– 1 Red Pepper

– Garlic clove

– 1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken, your choice)

– 1 cup coconut milk (your choice of milk – optional*)

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If you want more than just a plain (but still yummy) soup:

– 1/2 mushroom

– Chicken Breast

– 1 cup cauflower

– 1 diced tomato

Directions: 

1) Preheat oven to 350 F (or 175 c)

2) Dice the onion, red pepper, garlic, (3) tomatoes.

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3) Line a baking dish with aluminum foil for easy clean up, and put the above ingredients in the dish.

4) Add a few dashes of dried herbs to the mix; whatever you have and like: I did paprika, italian herbs, oregano, basil,  and parsley.

5) Bake for 20-25 minutes

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6) Scoop your now roasted vegetables into your blender or food processor (until you get a texture you’re happy with)

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7) Combine 1 cup broth, with the vegetables.  *If desired, add the coconut milk now.  I added it because it just made it smooth, and creamy, and lessened the kick of the paprika* and bring to a boil.  Stir often!

8) You can either stop now, or continue to add like I did.  I just boiled cauliflower, diced 1 tomato, sauteed the mushroom, and shredded a left over chicken breast – then topped with a little goat cheese.

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Bon Appétit!

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Soup

Last night I must’ve known that today was going to be a hectic, long day.  I say this because I told myself, make a crock-pot dinner tomorrow morning before work – and I am SO thankful I did.  I got this recipe from someone I follow on instagram – and her website is actually: http://paleonadime.blogspot.com.  I tweaked the recipe a bit, and am really happy with how it turned out.  However, I did add corn which is not paleo; therefor this version is paleoish! 😛

Recipe:

1 lb chicken breast (diced or shredded – your preference)

1.5 cups carrots (I sliced full carrots but you could use baby carrots)

1 diced sweet potato 

4 cloves minced garlic

1 diced onion

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 – 3/4 cup hot sauce (Use as little or as much as you like depending on your preference)

1 can(15 0z)/cup diced tomato

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce 

1 can (15 oz) white kidney beans

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

Salt / Pepper to taste

Mix all of these together in your crock pot; cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.
I actually cooked mine on low for 6 hours and it was fully cooked & the veggies were soft.
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Keep in mind that if you don’t like some of the veggies or other ingredients in here – you can either A) substitute ingredients OR B) simply not include them.  The original recipe called for 2 ribs of celery, sliced.  However, I don’t like celery so I omitted it.  One of my favorite parts of cooking is tweaking the recipe to make it a little different each time – so don’t be afraid to alter recipes and try new things!!

Homemade pesto

 

 

 

 

Who knew that pesto was so easy to make? I surely didn’t! Not only did it take under 5 minutes to make, but it’s also only FOUR ingredients.

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Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup dry pine nuts

1 bunch of basil

Juice from 1 lemon

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Now put all of those goodies into your food processor, and puree until you get this consistency:

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Voila! No need to buy store made pesto again!

I have to thank one of the lovely moms I work for, for sharing this recipe with me today. A real eye opener! If I’m capable (and it’s not super pricy) than I would much rather make it myself rather than purchase “store bought” any day!  When you do it yourself you KNOW what you’re putting into the recipe, therefor you KNOW what you’re putting into your body!

2 ingredient pancakes

Now, who doesn’t love pancakes? Only weirdos, right?  Well believe-it-or-not I was one of those weirdos not that long ago.  I’ve just never been that big of a fan of pancakes. Usually they’re just huge, too thick, and get soggy from all of the (very) sweet syrup..Gross! However, since my newfound lifestyle change, I’ve found myself craving them.  This is probably because I don’t eat sweet things often other than fruit.  So this put me in a bit of a predicament.. How can I satisfy my pancake craving without really indulging?

After a few minutes on google I came across this uh-mazzz-zing 2 ingredient pancake recipe.  Yes, you read that correctly: TWO ingredients; that’s all.  Those two ingredients you ask? Egg, and banana. That’s it!  Okay, okay, okay, I’ll stop ranting and give you the recipe already 😀

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • Optional: Chocolate chips, pecans, almonds, raisins, etc

Preparation: 

  • Mix the eggs and banana together.  (I prefer to use it blender/food processor – use whatever is easiest for you)
  • Add fillings if you fancy
  • Now just cook these bad boys like you’d cook any other pancakes
  • Top with fruit, nuts, syrup, nutbutter – ENJOY!

Tips:

  • I let the mixture set for a few minutes before cooking them otherwise you get extremely flat (yet still delicious) pancakes.
  • Look out for the little air bubbles on top of your pancakes – when there’s a bunch that means it’s time to flip those flap jacks!

I hope you enjoy these guys! They’re full of potassium, fiber, vitamin c,  and protein but you’ll feel like you’re indulging big time.  These pancakes are one of my absolute favorites now – I can’t get enough!

Lifestyle Change

Only a few short months ago, in May 2013, I decided it was time for a change.  I’ve always been relatively active, ate fairly healthy, and have been “skinny.”  However, one day it just hit me (quite possibly while I was dunking chips ahoy in a glass of milk) that I could be living life much, much healthier. And therefor much happier as well.

I never paid all that much attention to  what I was eating: never taking into consideration certainly not the calories, nor the ingredients – and definitely not the serving sizes.  On random occasions I would go on those “health kicks.” You know, we’ve all been there: “Oh, I’m going to start working out and eating healthy” Perhaps for a day or so you eat “healthy” and maybe even work out some.  Only for a few days to pass and you’re back in the cookie jar, sitting on your bum watching How I Met Your Mother.

Well, here I am 4 months later and I’m here to say that it is possible to make the change!  You’re more than capable of eating healthy, exercising on a regular basis all while not wrecking your budget, maintaining your work/school life, and even your social life.

Don’t believe me? Then allow me to prove you wrong. 🙂