Child-Friendly Recipe: Superfood Chocolate Truffles

superfoodchoctruffles Anytime I have the opportunity, I get my daughter in the kitchen. I have her there measuring, mixing, cleaning up – that is – learning.  I think it’s so important for all children to learn about where their food comes from – what the ingredients are, how things are made, how recipes are formed, etc.

There are so many times when a meal or baked good is too messy or complex for my daughter to help, but these chocolate truffles are a definite exception.  They were created one day when she requested to bake, although these don’t require an oven – and the only things to clean are a couple of measuring utensils and a food processor!  They are not only very easy for a child to help make, they are also delicious – very similar to a gooey, chewy chocolate… but they’re full of healthy add-ins. We like to keep them in the freezer so that they are very firm.

  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 T chocolate hazelnut butter
  • 1 or 2 T goji berries
  • 1 T coconut butter
  • 3 T almond milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 T cacao powder
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • 1 T unsweetened shredded coconut

In a food processor, combine the first 5 ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.

Use an extra small scoop or tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out the mixture.  Drop into the moist hands of a child helper so that he or she can roll them into balls and drop on a lined baking sheet so that they don’t stick.

Refrigerate or place in freezer until firm.  That’s it!

Enjoy making & eating these healthy chocolate truffles with your favorite little one!

makingtruffles

Favorite Products: Honest Healing Balm

honesthealingbalm

Switching to eco-friendly or natural products can be daunting.  Conventional over-the-counter antibacterial ointment was all my mom ever used when I was a child.  But many of these petroleum-based ointments contain chemicals that I refuse to put on my child.  The Honest Company Honest Healing Balm is the only all-natural ointment I’ve ever purchased, but it has worked so well and is so conveniently packaged that I haven’t felt the urge to try other products yet.

My family has successfully used this balm for minor issues such as:

  • dry cuticles
  • blisters
  • scratches
  • mild sunburn
  • minor cuts
  • razor burn
  • hand and foot balm
  • cracked skin

The smell reminds me of salted sunflower seeds, which isn’t a bad thing.  The texture is an ultra-thick ointment – it won’t be a runny mess when you’re trying to apply it to a squirming child.  It is in a plastic tube, which some people might not like, but it’s acceptable for me.  And I have to admit, the flip-top cap and the ability to squeeze a small amount out makes it wonderfully convenient and hygenic, as opposed to glass jars of ointment that must be scraped out with a finger or spoon.

The ingredients are very clean and I have no issues with anything listed.  The fact that I can use this instead of conventional ointments makes me very happy.  This retails for $12.95 and while that is more than a tube of ointment at the local store, the price is worth it to me because at 3 ounces, it has much more product and is healthier.

This balm is great for a myriad of minor skin irritations, but if someone in my family had a major cut or infectious looking skin issue, I would naturally look into a more appropriate treatment.  But for our everyday scraps, burns, and dry skin, this balm has been excellent.

 

Ingredients:

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Calophyllum Tacamahaca (Tamanu) Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Oil*, Tocopherol (Non-GMO)

*Certified Organic Ingredient

When all else fails, just walk

sneakersDue to a recent surgery, my typical exercise routine is comatose for the next few weeks.  I am slightly devastated, I have to admit.  For several months, I was in an amazing rhythm of working out at least 5 mornings a week, doing a combination of Pilates, HIIT workouts, and Yoga.  I was in the best shape I’d been in for over a decade.  I was making so much progress, and I was loving my workout routines.

Then my surgery closed that door, forcing me to stop my regular workouts.  I can’t even lift over 5 pounds.  I can’t do ab work.  I couldn’t do a plank to save my life.  It’s really hard to come to terms, but I know it could be much worse.  This is not permanent, and eventually I will be able to resume my regular workouts.  But for now, I can’t.  Knowing I’ll lose strength and some of the tone I’d worked so hard for is, at its core, mostly vanity, although I did really enjoy feeling stronger and having more endurance.

So, how do I deal with my normal fitness routine being forced into hiatus?

Walking has never been a source of exercise to me, but now it will be one of the few things I am able to do while recovering.  I plan on replacing my morning mat workout with a walk with our dog, followed by an evening walk. I also have a pair of 3 pound weights that I can use.  I’m also going to do light stretches to keep me as flexible as possible.

I have to remember to be kind to my body and not push it too much while it is healing.

It will be interesting to reflect on my mindset after the healing process is over and I can resume my regular workouts.

Have you ever dealt with an injury or surgery that kept you from your typical workout routine?  How did you cope and what alternative exercises worked best for you?

Ginger Pillow Cookies

gingerpillowcookiesI got the idea for this recipe from one of my favorite blogs.  I thought they looked delicious and wanted to give them a try since, due to nausea, I’ve been drinking ginger ale like there’s no tomorrow .  I also love anything ginger and love to bake.

I thought this recipe would be fun to “tweak” to make it more my style – no added refined sugar with some healthier additions. As a side note, I know there are a lot of people who don’t use traditional wheat flours at all and opt for choices like coconut flour.  But what I had on hand was some wheat flour I’ve had for a while that I occasionally use.  In the end, eating healthy shouldn’t be black and white – I’m not perfect and I try to make the best choices possible every day. It is not necessary to use organic versions of these ingredients, but I try to use as much organic food as possible.

I decided to name my version Ginger Pillows, because that is exactly what the soft texture reminds me of.  The flavor is light, not-too-sweet, with the soft taste of ginger and molasses.  So good with coffee or in a child’s lunchbox.

  • 2 T stevia
  • 3 T organic raw honey
  • 1/3 cup softened unsalted organic butter
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used this because it’s what I have on hand right now)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Preheat your oven to 350-375 degrees, depending on how hot your oven gets. My cookies turned out perfectly at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients and blend well. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients and blend until mixed.  Refrigerate the dough for about an hour so that it’s easier to handle.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls, slightly flatten, and place on your baking sheet. I use an eco-friendly baking sheet very similar to this and I love it dearly and can’t recommend one enough!  They really work perfectly, hold up well, and save so much parchment paper from the landfills.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, allow to cool and move to a cooling rack. I used a 1 T measuring spoon for portion control and it yielded 2 dozen cookies.

gingerpillowsandcoffee

Learning to Listen To My Sick Body

medbottlesJust when my health and wellness goals were really on-track and I was feeling pretty fantastic in body and mind, my body decided it was going to shake things up with a sudden health issue.  But after this health scare, I learned that I was right all along to trust my instincts about my body.

The first indication that something might be wrong was during a mundane afternoon at the office.  It was about 3:00 and I suddenly felt a twinge in my stomach.  It wasn’t the kind of ache that made me sound the alarms, but more, “Did I eat something bad?” I shook it off, but was still feeling bad enough the next day to cancel lunch plans with friends.  I called my OB/GYN and they told me sometimes women have cramps without bleeding.

The next two days, I felt awful cramping pains very similar to menstrual cramps, though I wasn’t on my period.  In the middle of the night, I would wake to excruciating pains on par with childbirth.  I knew something wasn’t right but couldn’t bring myself to actually go to the ER.

I called my doctor’s office first thing Monday morning.  I felt that unless I was really adamant about my pain and that something was wrong, they wouldn’t get me an appointment that day. I was persistent and got an appointment, where an ultrasound revealed that I had one cyst on my ovary, and one cyst that had already ruptured. I was prescribed a high-dose BCP and went home with hopes that I would feel better in a couple of days.  That was not the case.

For the next two evenings, the excruciating pains kept coming back, nearly sending me to the ER both times.  Just when I thought I couldn’t withstand the pains any longer, they would subside enough for me to fall back asleep.  The only things that got me through that pain were a heating pad, hot baths with Epson salts, and honestly, a lot of love and support.

By Wednesday, I hadn’t worked all week and called an overloaded OB/GYN office begging for help.  Again, if I wasn’t persistent, odds are they wouldn’t have gotten to me as quickly – not because they don’t care, but because they had been so busy.  Finally, they told me to come in first thing the next morning to be re-examined.

The end result?  After my second exam and a review of my ultrasound by another physician, it was determined that immediate surgery was best in order to take care of the situation.

I am a remarkably healthy girl, so this health issue blindsided me and my family.  However, because I listed to my body and advocated for the care I knew I needed, I believe I got help sooner rather than later. The lesson here is to listen to your body!  You usually know best what it needs.

All Natural Manuka Honey Face Mask

facemaskOne thing I love to do on weekends is take the time to use a mask on my face.  Masks are good for different skin conditions – there are masks for dry skin, problematic skin, oily skin, and so on. My skin is combination – a mixture of more oily areas and drier areas.  In the summer, my skin is more oily and in the winter much drier.

For an nice year-round mask, I like mixing One Love Organics Brand New Day scrub with Manuka honey, which is known for its anti-bacterial and healing properties. Although the OLO scrub can be used as just that, it can also be used as a mask.

In the palm of my hand, I take a small amount of the OLO Brand New Day powder and add 1-2 teaspoons of the honey.  Sometimes I add a few drops of water to get it to a thin enough consistency to spread over my clean skin.  The texture is slightly sticky, but not too bad.  Once on my face, I let it set for at least ten minutes.  The smell is fantastic – Brand New Day contains pineapple fruit extract, and mixed with the honey, it smells like a tropical fruit salad face mask.

This mask works for me to calm my skin and tame down any redness or irritation.  Personally, I’m still undecided on how effective Manuka honey is for actually healing the skin, but regardless, it has definite benefits such as calming and hydrating the skin.  Once I’ve used Manuka enough times, I may be able to determine what I think about its topical healing properties.

What are your favorite facial masks?  Do you have a favorite face mask product, or do you make DIY face masks?

Fall Natural Beauty Wishlist

Fall Beauty CollageI never tire of discovering amazing skin products, sampling, and gushing over amazing ingredients.  Winter was brutal around here last year, and my skin was a wreck from the cold Artic air.  I had to really go into damage mode around December and found myself scrambling to find products that would soothe my poor dehydrated skin. This year, I’m going to be more proactive and have been searching out products to pamper my skin as soon as the weather starts to get dry and cool.  These are a few products that I would love to get my hands on.

1) One Love Organics Skin Savior – This is a waterless beauty balm that OLO says is suitable as a makeup remover and a super moisturizing balm, which would be ideal for fall and winter. No, this isn’t the most wallet-friendly product ever, but a little goes a long way with balms, so this would easily last months and months.  I have tried a few of their products and they have yet to disappoint – in fact, the products I’ve tried have been amazing and I have a feeling this one would be, too!

2) Ilia Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner in Nobody’s Baby – I adore lip balms and have them stashed everywhere – and I mean everywhere!  But a fusion of lipstick and lip balm?  Perfect!  I have Ilia lipsticks and love them, but am curious how their coveted tinted lip conditioners would work on my sensitive, dry winter lips.  Nobody’s Baby is a beautiful pinkish nude that would be a great go-to shade.

3) Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator – I think I need a hydrating toner for fall and winter.  The great thing about a product like this is that you can mist yourself throughout the day as needed, even if you have makeup on!  Sometimes my skin gets that dull look in the middle of the day and I’m thinking this would be a great moisturizing pick-me-up.  Plus, the ingredients sound amazing!

4) Alima Pure Sombra Contour Powder – I’m currently finishing up a sample of Tarte’s Park Avenue Princess bronzer, which is nice, but it’s shimmer is best suited for summer.  For fall, I’m really anxious to try this beautiful matte powder that has cleaner ingredients. I think it would be perfect for adding natural color to cheeks.

5) RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up – I have had my eye on RMS products for a while but have yet to take the plunge.  They are a bit pricey, but if I could snag a great deal, this is the product I think I’d try first.  Not only does it get glowing reviews, but I think the coconut oil base of this product would be simply perfect for hydrating my skin during fall and winter. My only issue is deciding between shades 00 and 11 for my fair olive skin.

Have you tried any of these products?  What products are you looking forward to using this fall?

 

Why I Loved Reading “Walden”

waldenThoreau’s Walden has to be one of the most enjoyable pieces of literature I’ve ever read.  This book has so many of the qualities that we look for not just in literature, but in other people – integrity, warmth, liveliness, joy, perseverance.  I didn’t know much about Walden before I read it, other than the basic idea that Thoreau had written it about his time spent in solitude on Walden Pond in Massachusetts.  Written in the mid 19th century, Thoreau’s Walden appreciates nature at a level most people never will – not because people don’t care, but because it isn’t something we think about consciously.

Walden helped me to look at  nature in an even more profound way, with deeper appreciation, with humor, with fascination.  One of my favorite passages was Thoreau describing an ant war in great detail. His writing is readable and yet highly poetical at the same time.  If you love nature or want to develop an appreciation for nature, read this book.  You’ll never look at nature the same way again.

Have you read “Walden”?  What is your favorite book about nature?