There is no need to give up your favorite desserts while getting ready to don shorts and tank tops this summer. Just for you I have prepared Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and you can check it out at SoFab Food. I hope you enjoy it! SoFab Food: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser. All opinions area mine alone. #TryALittleGoodness #CollectiveBias #Ad
The summer of 2015 was a whirlwind of activity for our family. Both of our daughters were married within seven and a half weeks of each other. To say that we were busy is an understatement. One of the biggest challenges for me was dividing my mother of the bride attention to them equally and knowing when to keep my opinions to myself. Looking back I think I did well.
Now that all of the glitter has been swept away we have time to get back to our normal routines. What’s normal for me are daily walks where I connect with nature. It is one of my most cherished activities and definitely my “me-time”. When I was teaching wellness classes this was something I stressed to my students. I drew the connection between finding time to regroup and renew and how this was an aid in staying healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. In addition my lessons included moderation in their favorite indulgences. When I found out that goodnessknows® snack squares are made with real fruit, dark chocolate and real nuts they became the perfect me-time indulgence.
Be sure and enter the sweepstakes to win some fitness prizes.
As well as being a great treat for me, I knew that my newlywed daughters would appreciate them as well. With all of the wedding activities it was also a challenge for them to stick with their health and wellness routines. With that in mind I put together baskets featuring goodnessknows® snack squares to encourage them to continue to reach their goals and to let them know how proud their dad and I are of their accomplishments. A quick trip to Wal-mart netted the the flavors I know they will love.
In their baskets, both girls received Cranberry, Almond, Dark Chocolate and Apple, Almond & Peanut Dark Chocolate snack squares. Peach & Cherry, Almond, Dark Chocolate snack squares are also available.
Charisse who was married in July is a Respiratory Therapist. She works 12 hour shifts sometimes 6 days in a row. She also has a 11 yr old daughter who is involved in lots of extra curricular activities. The items in her basket are me-time/spa oriented. A movie gift card for date night with her new hubby. Spa socks, a facial skin care kit, candle, lip balm and lotion. All perfect for pampering at the end of a long shift.
Samara was married over Labor Day weekend. She is a hair stylist and runs and online baking business. She is on her feet for long hours and her tired tootsies and hands deserve a little pampering. Included in her basket are hand and foot care items, soothing aloe socks and her fair share of the snack squares.
To keep the momentum going I gave them each a card with a handwritten sentiment inside. They are deserving of so much more, but it’s the series of little things that add up to big accomplishments.
Encouragement Gift Baskets For my Girls
These were quick and simple to put together. Even though my girls are grown women I still make sure that I keep all things equal between them as much as possible.
2 woven baskets
Shred to fill the baskets
2 small fabric flowers
Hot glue gun or other adhesive.
I hot glued a simple silk flower to the front of each basket. No fuss, no muss! Then I filled each one with their personal items and card. It couldn’t be simpler.
Charisse lives here in town so her basket it ready for gifting.
Samara lives in Dallas and I will pack her basket in a box and ship it to her.
I hope that these baskets inspire goodness to greatness and convey how proud we are of the women they have become. They hold a special place in our hearts and souls and we are always in their corner encouraging them along the way to all of their goals.
Zip on over to Wal-mart and stock up on goodnessknows® snack squares for you or someone you want to spur on to their goals. Follow this link for coupons. Here you will see how others are using goodnessknows® snack squares to motivate themselves and others.
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I received a free sample of Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha in exchange for writing a review. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own.
Matcha, green tea: what is the difference?
Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Matcha, also known as maccha, refers to finely milled or fine powder green tea. It’s said to have more health benefits than traditional steeped green tea due to how it’s cultivated and processed. It also has more caffeine.
My experience has been mostly limited to green tea. Either via tea bags or green tea capsules. The antioxidants in green tea prove to be beneficial health wise and the little energy jolt is great for a late afternoon pick me up or to last a little longer when working out. I’ve been curious about using matcha in baked goods for a long time. Until now, I’ve only used it once for baking. After trying Midori Springs Organic Ceremonial Matcha, I’m sure more recipes will follow.
The color of this matcha is so pretty that right away I knew I wanted to use it in Buttercream frosting. I also knew that I would frost cupcakes with it. I’ve done my share of baking in the last couple of weeks and happened to have some yellow cake batter in the fridge that I wanted to use. The cupcakes and the matcha Buttercream frosting were a perfect combo.
It doesn’t taste like green tea from a bag. With this Buttercream, there is a very pleasant and distinct flavor that I imagine will work great with multiple flavors. Along with the taste and hue, I was impressed with how easily the matcha powdered blended with the rest of the ingredients. As much as I love dessert, I will definitely try this matcha in a hot drink and maybe even an adult beverage. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Matcha Buttercream Frosting
½ cup of butter, softened
½ cup of shortening
½ cup instant white chocolate pudding, prepared
2 TBS Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha
4 cups of powdered sugar
Combine butter, shortening, pudding and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat on high speed with an electric mixture until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add Midori Spring Matcha and powdered sugar slowly and mix until very smooth. This Buttercream works well as a frosting for cupcakes, a layer cake, or even as a filling for sandwich cookies. Makes 4 cups.
There are several options for frosting your cupcakes.
1. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tube and pipe frosting on top.
2. Fill a zippered plastic bag with frosting and snip off a small section from the corner of the bag and pipe frosting on top as desired.
3. Use and angled spatula, butter knife or back of a spoon to spread frosting on top.
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Chocolate Truffle Cake, White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling, Sweet Potato Pie, Cake Truffles, and the list goes on. No doubt these heavenly treats along with many other sweet seductions can bring a smile to a dessert lover’s face. On the flip side they can also bring about extra pounds and a few health concerns if not eaten in moderation. Here are a few reductions that allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
If you search for healthy or low fat desserts inevitably you will come across many suggestions that recommend just having fruit. I’m in no way implying that this suggestion shouldn’t be followed. I indulge in fresh fruit daily and I enjoy it. That being said sometimes you want that fruit wrapped in dough, and drenched in butter and sugar. Just sayin.
In an effort to help you, and I, satisfy our sweet cravings without risking health problems or the size of our jeans, I have a few ideas that may help.
Let’s start with my all time favorite, cake. When it comes to cake I have a hierarchy of calories and fat. At the top of the list, layer cakes with frosting. The more you add on or in a cake the more the numbers go up. Instead of a multi layer cake, bake one layer and frost it lightly. One layer means less fat, sugar grams and calories. Applesauce, bananas, yogurt, prunes can also be used as a fat substitute. Will these give your cake the same taste and mouth feel as using butter? Nope.
You can slightly up the ante on health benefits by using oil instead of butter. Butter is saturated fat oil isn’t. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature for example, butter, shortening and lard. Oils are not. Too many saturated fats have the potential to raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good (HDL). Canola and lighter olive oils are best for baking. At the end of this post I’ve listed a butter/oil substitution chart.
Another alternative for cake lovers is to bake a pound cake. No frosting or glaze is required. A light dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa can be enough to enhance the flavor. This is another cake where it is wise to use add-ins like nuts, dried fruit and chunks of chocolate sparingly.
How adorable are cupcakes with festoons and swirls of frosting piled on top? Once again this is a case of less is more. Frost or glaze your cupcakes lightly and don’t add anything else on top.
Then there are pies. An endless variety with buttery flaky top and bottom crusts sometimes sprinkled with sugar and or glazed. To lighten them, bake your pies sans the top crust and you’re on your way to lower calories and fat grams. Here’s where you can also have a field day with fruit fillings. Go easy on the sugar by using the sweetest fruit available. This often means using fruit that’s in season which is likely to be sweeter. If sweeter fruit isn’t an option or if fruit based pies aren’t your thing, reduce the amount of sugar that you use. Many recipes call for adding butter to pies before baking. Leave the extra butter out there’ll be no harm done. For custard baked pies and fillings, substitute evaporated skim milk or 2% milk to lower the fat.
When it comes to feeding your inner Cookie Monster, try baking cookies with half regular and half whole wheat flour. Whole grains have the added benefit of fiber. A dolled up sugar cookie during the holidays is a time honored tradition in most families. To keep the family healthier reduce the amount of frosting, or skip it altogether and hold the sprinkles. If that isn’t an option make smaller cookies.
There is so much conflicting information about the use of sugar substitutes that it’s hard to know what has merit and what doesn’t. On occasion I have used Splenda which comes in brown and white forms and the taste wasn’t bad. I just prefer to use the most natural options when baking and cooking.
In a nutshell here’s the lowdown on making your desserts a tad more heart and waistline friendly.
- Use low fat dairy products. No-fat dairy will not always give you good results.
- Use a single crust for pies.
- Reduce sugar whenever possible
- A light glaze or dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa is a great icing on the cake.
As I said earlier you can substitute olive oil for butter most any recipes. The listing below shows the substitution amounts for butter in imperial and metric measurements.
|Butter||Olive Oil||Butter||Olive Oil|
|1 tsp||¾ tsp||5 mls||3 mls|
|2 tsp||1 ½ tsp||10 mls||7.5 mls|
|1 TBS||2 ½ tsp||15 mls||12.5 mls|
|2 TBS||1 ½ TBS||30 mls||22.5 mls|
|¼ cup||3 TBS||60 mls||45 mls|
|⅓ cup||¼ cup||80 mls||60 mls|
|½ cup||¼ cup + 2 TBS||125 mls||90 mls|
|⅔ cup||½ cup||160 mls||125 mls|
|¾ cup||½ cup + 1 TBS||185 mls||140 mls|
|1 cup||¾ cup||250 mls||175 mls|
|2 cups||1 ½ cups||500 mls||375 mls|
I hope I’ve given you some options that will allow you to have your favorite treats in moderation and without guilt. If you have any suggestions or tips please share them. Speaking of sharing, I’m taking these tips to the following blog parties this week.
Over the years I have come to love granola as more than just an after workout snack and I’m super excited to be a part of this blogger recipe challenge through Golden Girl Granola. Golden Girl Granola is a family granola business based in Shirley, MA. They started out selling their granola and other baked goods at farmers markets in the summer. Quickly they were selling at markets year round. Due to its growth Golden Girl moved to a shared kitchen and then on to having their own retail space and focusing solely on their granola. You can find out more about their story here.
In the past I’ve had granola with way too much sugar and preservatives that I can’t pronounce. An over abundance of preservatives is something that I don’t want to consume them. I’ve also made my own granola several times and my favorite way to have it is with warmed almond milk and maybe a bit of dried fruit.
For this challenge I went a different but equally delicious route using Golden Girls Home Sweet Honey Granola. It’s mildly sweet and very adaptable to other flavors and leaves lots of room for creativity. This Golden Girl Granola variety contains rolled oats, honey coconut non GMO/expeller-pressed canola oil and sea salt, that’s it.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you. Everything in it is natural and good for you. Unless you’re feeding a small army there will be enough leftovers for a few days and it keeps very well. I used a combination of Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola, steel cut oats, regular oatmeal, diced fresh mango, almond milk, maple syrup and sliced almonds along with some pantry staples. What I didn’t use was additional sugar. As stated previously the granola is mildly sweet, the mango was some of the sweetest I’ve had in a long time and I did add a small amount of pure maple syrup. Depending on the sweetness of your fruit you may want to add sugar to the recipe or sprinkle a bit on at serving time.
This is very filling so it will keep you fueled for a long time. It also makes for a great meal or snack any time of the day. Love it!
- 3 ½ cups almond milk
- 2 TBS coconut oil
- 2 TBS butter
- 1 cup Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola
- 1 ½ cups regular rolled oats
- ½ cup steel cut oats
- 1 cup chopped mango
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 1 ½ quart casserole and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan almond milk and coconut oil and butter.
- Bring to a boil and gradually stir in granola, steel cut and regular oats.
- Next stir in the chopped mango along with the maple syrup, almond extract and salt.
- Cook and stir over low heat for three minutes and add ¼ cup of the sliced almonds.
- Spoon mixture to the prepared pan and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle with remaining sliced almonds and bake uncovered for 10 minutes more or until bubbly.
- Cool slightly and serve with a dash of almond milk.
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Disclaimer: “I participated in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. I received a product samples to use in my recipes. The views expressed here are entirely my own.
Color me delighted with these little gems! This was not my original choice for this month’s Cake Slice Bakers option. The other selections sounded and looked incredible and initially for me it was the chocolate marble sheet cake. I decided against it because I knew it was going to be very good. Sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it?
With these Lemon-Rosemary Cornmeal Madeleines I figures I would taste one or two and be satisfied and politely send them to work with my daughter. Gosh darn it these things are good, especially when they’re still slightly warm.
I did have two maybe three and I was satisfied. After the pictures were taken I packed them and put them in the freezer where they will wait until Charisse goes back to work. Fingers crossed that I don’t decide to serve fruit salad with a side of cornmeal madeleines for Memorial Day.
This was the first time I used my Madeleine pan and it served me well. The pans are very easy to find and not at all expensive. Check out this one on Amazon.com
The pan is shell shaped and can be used for sponge cakes or cookies. To find out the origin of the Madeleine check out this link.
One of the most fun parts of making these was going outside and snipping rosemary from the plant I just potted. Too many times I’ve bought the tiny packages of fresh herbs at $2.99, used a tablespoon and the remaining went to waste. The plant cost me $3.78 and I’ll have fresh rosemary all summer. Yay me!
- 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 TBS finely chopped rosemary
- 1 TBS lemon zest
- 2⅔ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup milk
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Whisk together cornmeal mix, flour, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, lemon zest and rosemary.
- Whisk together just until blended.
- Spoon batter into lightly greased shiny madeleine pans, filling three-fourths full.
- Bake, in batches, 156-17 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from pans immediately and let cool slightly.
- Dip both sides in lemon glaze and cool on wire rack.
- Let stand until glaze sets.
- Garnish with small sprigs of rosemary if desired.
Please take a look see at what my fellow bakers came up with this month.
I’m also sharing these at the following weekly parties:
Hello my name is Sandra and I buy lots of baking utensils that I don’t really need. I also often have said baking utensils for years before I use them. Please tell me I’m not alone with this habit. For some reason I am a magnet to baking pans and equipment that are on clearance. If I see a pan that is less than $10.00 it’s almost a sure bet that I’m going to buy it. Such was the case with my mini doughnut pan that I’ve had for almost two years. [Read more…]
In the past I’ve used protein shakes as a pre/post workout drink and drank them as a means to quell my voracious sweet tooth. Lucky for me I had the opportunity to sample Pure Whey Protein Isolate from Summit Nutritions. One packet is one serving and has 25 grams of protein which is roughly 2 TBS. I mixed my shake with almond milk and that may have added to the sweetness. The next time I’ll use skim milk or even try it with water. The taste was very chocolaty and it was very filling. The only slight drawback was that it didn’t dissolve easily, and I did shake it for 25-30 seconds as per the package directions.
I liked the fact that this is pure whey protein isolate. Only 110 calories, <1% carbs, no fat, no lactose and most important it is a non-gmo product. Over the course of my fitness career I’ve tried many varieties and brands of protein shakes and this one ranks at the top. You can find Pure Whey Protein Isolate by Summit Nutritions at Amazon.com
It just so happened that over the weekend I went with Charisse to the bridal shop so that she could get reacquainted with her wedding dress. While there I looked over their Mother of the Bride dresses. Some were very stylish and some clearly were just downright frumpy. Just because you have a daughter/son getting married doesn’t put you in the matronly category. Who’s designing these dresses?
There were few that were my style and figured I’d come back later to try them on. In my mind come back later meant after losing about 15 pounds. The associate that I asked about availability informed me that these dresses should be ordered for months out from the wedding. Oh dear. Houston we have a problem! The wedding is in July.
I’ve ridden the weight loss rollercoaster way too many times in my life to even think about an all or nothing crash/fad diet. At this point in life I’m not going that route again. It’s hard on the body and the weight loss isn’t permanent. I know all the rules and how it happens, and yes, I know I should have been more serious about it many months ago. Wish me luck on the dress, stuff is about to get real around here. Treadmill here I come!!!!
I received a free samples of 2% Whey Protein Isolate in exchange for writing a review. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own.
This is the perfect time of year for baking with apples and here in Michigan we’re blessed with an abundance to choose from. Some tart varieties are:
Granny Smith – have a sweet/tart flavor which makes them great for snacking as well as sweet and savory dishes. They hold their shape very well when cooked.
Braeburn- these don’t turn brown easy, and are tart and juicy. Great for snacking too.
Cortland- tart, dense, juicy and also holds it’s shape. Nothing worse than an apple pie that’s too mushy.
Jonathan- another tart variety that retains its shape.
Ginger Gold – doesn’t turn brown easy and also tart, sweet and juicy.
Having difficulty shaking the salt habit? Try adding spices, seasonings, or herbs instead of table salt. Another good alternative is flavored sea salts. The flavors are more pronounced and you won’t need half as much as you usually use. Recently I found an even better solution than flavored sea salts. I was sent packets of Healthy Solutions Spice Blends to use and review. The views and opinions of this product are entirely my own.
www.spiceblends.com [Read more…]