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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An Explanation & Apology

I thought I owed this to you guys since I haven't posted since- what?- June? Ugh. I'm really sorry. Trust me. I am.

It's just that lately I haven't been motivated to create recipes, write blog posts, or do anything remotely related to blogging. I haven't even felt like working on my novel! *gasp!* I think there are several reasons why this could be. And they aren't excuses. In fact, they're the farthest things from excuses you can get.

Over the past couple months I've been struggling with anxiety/stress. It's gotten so bad that my stomach problems have started to return, plus some new unwelcome symptoms. I'm starting a new school in about two weeks, so I believe this is causing most of the anxiety. The funny thing is, the last time I switched schools the same thing happened- upset stomach, nausea, anxiousness, etc. So I have a feeling my physical problems are caused by self-inflicted stress more than anything else. My anxiety has taken over my life to the extent that it's affected the things I love to do most, which include, blogging, creating recipes, and creative writing. This is not good! But I'm not quite sure what to do about. Hopefully it'll go away once school starts.

The second reason I haven't felt like posting is that I'm not getting much feedback from you guys. As the author of the post, I want to know if you enjoyed the post, any thoughts you have, what else you might like to see from me, or basically just anything you have to say. I love hearing from you all! It gets a little lonely when you're just posting your thoughts out into the interweb without any sort of response. Like shouting down into the Grand Canyon expecting someone else to shout back, but all you hear is your own echo. It also seems kind of pointless for me to keep writing and creating these posts when no one appears to be paying any attention to them at all. I apologize about how whiny and childish this sounds, but it's just what I've been feeling.

Now to the apology.

I'm not happy that I haven't blogged in three weeks. Actually, I feel really guilty about it. So I think the best thing to do would be to apologize. I'm really sorry that I haven't blogged in so long. Hopefully once I get this anxiety under control and school starts I'll be able to do a little more blogging. And hopefully my energy for the things I love to do will be renewed and we can start fresh. Yup. I think that sounds good.

But for now I'm taking a break. I'll get back in the kitchen, spend some time thinking up posts, work on my food photography skills and just start pulling myself back together. Until then, enjoy the rest of your summer and keep eating chocolate! ;)
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Favorite Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are kinda scary when you first start out. They can end up tasting like crap or like the best, most delicious and satisfying smoothie you've ever had. Plus, sometimes they turn out an ugly green color that could be the equivalent of pond scum. Not the most appetizing thing the world...

But luckily for you, mine turned out a little pretty than that. Not much, though. However, don't let that deter you from trying this smoothie. It is literally the best green smoothie I've ever made or had. It's sweet, creamy, full of flavor and nutrients.

I actually based this smoothie off of the one from Sally's Baking Addiction. I've been a little obsessed with her blog lately if you couldn't tell already. She's so creative and her recipes look and taste amazing. You should really go check her out.

Anyways, when I set out to make her detox smoothie I didn't have a few of the ingredients on hand. So I did a bit of improvising (read: a LOT of improvising) and came up with this beauty, which is one of my favorite smoothies in the world second to this one. So it's definitely worth trying. It also helps that you can get half a days worth of calcium, over 300% of a days worth of vitamin C, iron, and about 60% of a days worth of
vitamin A. You're not only making something that tastes great, you're making something that can boost your immune system and improve your overall health.

Win win! :D

1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c. Greek yogurt
1 c. frozen pineapple
3-4 large frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1 c. spinach, packed
2 T. flax seed

1. Add all ingredients to the blender in the order they are listed.
2. Blend and enjoy!

Question of the Day:

What's the worst green smoothie you've ever had?

I've had one once where I put peanut butter and spinach in the smoothie. Let's just say it wasn't very tasty...
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Fudgy Flourless Brownies with Cookie Dough Frosting

To borrow the words from Sally's Baking Addiction, "Step aside bikini."

I'm 100% serious about this. These brownies are the epitome of brownie baking. Dense, rich, chocolate-y, with not a dry crumb to be seen. That's how a brownie should be. Not cake-y, or dry, or anything less than fudge-like. You're going to want to eat more than just one. And that's not even with the cookie dough frosting on top.

Really, we all should be thanking Tara Baker from A Baking Life for this marvelous recipe. They are the best brownies I've had, gluten free or not, and they're super easy. Plus, as she mentions, very forgiving. Perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or topped with caramel. Or even just by themselves. I literally dream about these things.

The cookie dough frosting really takes this dessert over the edge. I am a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, so naturally that was what I chose for the base of this frosting recipe. It has the thickness and flavor of cookie dough, while still maintaining a light frosting-esque (yes, I just made that a word) texture and keeps a bit of the tang from the cream cheese. No sugary butter cream frosting here. You really could just eat this with a spoon if you wanted. ;)

While the brownie and cookie dough frosting are great on their own, together they are possibly the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. (Well, besides hot Do-Rite gluten free donuts or this pie.)  It is the chocolate lovers dream dessert.  The light frosting complements the rich brownie wonderfully and the flavors really meld together perfectly.

Are you drowning in drool and chocolate/cookie dough dreams yet? ;)

Brownie Recipe:

225 grams semi-sweet chocolate (basically one bar of baking chocolate)
28 grams butter or coconut oil
100 grams granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 11 baking cups on a baking sheet.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in a double broiler or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave, stir every minute or so.
3. While your chocolate is melting, whip your eggs and sugar together to ribbon stage (or until they're very thick and pale) using a hand or stand mixer.
4. With mixer on low speed, pour in the chocolate mixture and mix until completely incorporated.
5. Add the baking powder and salt and mix until combined.
6. Scoop 2 T. of brownie mixture into each baking cup.
7. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Cookie Dough Frosting Recipe:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract (optional, but highly recommended)
1 T. coconut flour
1/2 T. almond milk or other milk of choice
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

1. Cream cream cheese and butter together.
2. Add brown sugar, vanilla, and coconut flour and beat together.
3. Add milk and beat until smooth.
4. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Put in the fridge for about 15 min to thicken up.


1. Once brownies are cool, add a heaping teaspoon of frosting onto each brownie.
2. You can spread the frosting around a little bit or leave it to give it a more cookie dough effect. You'll have some extra frosting but who ever complained about extra frosting? ;)
3. Now devour your brownies!

Question of the Day:

What's your go-to dessert recipe?

Mine is definitely brownies or ice cream sundaes. Or both. :)

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Stress, Sleep, and Exercise, Oh My!- A 3 Part Series (Part 1 of 3: Stress)

I've been thinking a lot about this post lately. Mostly I've been avoiding writing it, because I just felt like it would bore you guys. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I really need to write this post, for my benefit as well as yours. And as I was thinking it through in my mind I also came to the conclusion that stress is linked with two things other things that I think are very important: sleep and exercise. So I will be doing a series on these three topics! Yay! Don't worry, though. I will still be posting recipes in between. :) Oh, and please try to remember that I am definitely not a doctor nor any kind of health professional. These are just my thoughts and you may or may not choose to agree with them. 

Stress seems to be pretty common in our culture, whether it's self-inflicted (which is usually the case) or not. Originally, it is thought the stress response was used mainly during life-threatening situations. Imagine being in the jungle alone and suddenly you find yourself the prey of a lion. The natural response to this situation would be to focus solely on keeping yourself alive and completely forgetting, say, what you ate for lunch. This component in our brain, is thought to have adapted and now, every time we believe a situation to be dangerous we illicit a stress response ( This was good back in the stone age, but now… Not so much. Scientists aren't quite sure how our brains determine if a situation is dangerous or not, but, one thing is clear, the thing that once kept us alive is now making us fall apart. 

 I, myself, cause my own stress. I begin thinking about everything I have to do, everything that needs to be done, how little time I have this summer and how much time I have this summer, not being prepared for my 10k, and my stress levels are raised through the roof this year especially because I'm switching schools. Yes, that's right. I will no longer be home schooled. And it scares the crap out of me.

So, for the past couple of  weeks I've been suffering from mini anxiety attacks, stomach pains, and feeling like I'm on the verge of crying or screaming a lot of the time. According to, these are pretty common symptoms of stress. Other symptoms include, frequent headaches, difficulty breathing, increased or decreased appetite, insomnia, racing thoughts/difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, difficulty making decisions, increased frustration, social isolation, or weight gain or loss. Does this sound like you? About 20% of Americans say their stress levels are high ( Not only that, 80% of the American population say that their stress has increased or stayed the same over the past year. Only 37% of America say they're managing their stress. While this isn't too bad of a number, it's not great either.

But do we really just want to manage our stress? Of course, getting rid of stress altogether is pretty much impossible, but can't we do better than just manage it? I think we can. 

Some forms of stress are unavoidable, such as, the death of a loved one or illness or a deadline at work/school, however, others are avoidable. Well, maybe we're not able to cure stress, but we can certainly lessen its affect on us. But what are the effects of chronic stress?

Chronic stress, when not dealt with, often leads to even more serious long term problems, such as, using tobacco, food, or alcohol to relieve stress  ( "Your body's stress response is perfect in the short-term, but damaging if it goes on for weeks or years. Raised levels of coritsol for prolonged periods can damp down your immune system and decrease the number of brain cells so impairing your memory. It can also affect your blood pressure and the fats in your blood making it more likely you will have a heart attack or a stroke ("

It can also cause chronic insomnia, which most people treat with medication leading to other undesirable symptoms. (You now are probably starting to see how stress and sleep are intertwined…) Most people treat insomnia with melatonin and this is okay for a short period of time, but when used for months melatonin, which is a hormone, can throw off the body's other hormones. This can lead to dizziness, mood swings, weight gain, depression, anxiety, and a number of other problems ( 

Yet the question still remains on how to affectively treat stress. My favorite method is eating right and exercising regularly. I know, you're probably rolling your eyes, but hear me out. When I was younger, I often had trouble sleeping and until a couple months ago I still suffered from insomnia. It wasn't until I began exercising 5-6 days a week that my insomnia almost completely disappeared. Of course, I do have the occasional sleepless night (who doesn't?), but I have not suffered from it as I did before. Albeit this may not work for everyone, exercise is very important for a number of other reasons, which I will discuss in a later post.

Other treatments include meditating, elderberry syrup, massages, passionflower, limiting the use of technology, B vitamins, aromatherapy (I swear by this one), and, of course, sleep. Sleep is probably the most underrated thing you can for your body and, you've probably guessed this by now, but I will be discussing it later.

And with that I conclude this post. Hopefully you learned something or, if nothing else, at least enjoyed this post!

Alvarez, Dr. Manny. "10 Ways to Relieve Stress Naturally." Fox News. FOX News Network, 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 June 2014.
American Psychological Association. "Stress in America." Missing the Health Care Connection (n.d.): n. pag. American Psychological Association. Web. 13 June 14.
"The Effects of Stress on Your Body." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 11 June 2014.
"Stress and the Brain." Stress and the Brain. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2014.
"Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance - Balance Estrogen Levels Naturally." NativeRemedies. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2014.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Brussels Sprout Salad with Dried Cherries, Bacon, and Pecans

So school's finally out. Hurrah! The bad news is that I'm already getting bored. And it hasn't even been summer for a week. Ugh. Maybe if it was actually warm enough to go swimming that would help. But, unfortunately, it's not warm enough. Oh well. I'll figure out some project to work on or something.

Anyways, I'm obsessed with this salad. It's truly amazing and a wonderful break from traditional salad greens. The raw Brussels sprouts add a fantastic crunch to the salad, while the red onion and cherries add a little tang and a little sweetness. The bacon is in there, because bacon. ;) What really brings it all together is the poppy seed dressing. I used this recipe, but you can really use any poppy seed dressing you want. I think this dressing might be good on the salad, too. 

The only little complaint that some people might have is the chewiness of the salad. Not like over cooked steak that takes thirty minutes to chew one bite chewy, but chewy as in a little more work to eat than a regular salad. I personally didn't see a problem with the raw Brussels sprouts, but if you're worried about it just quickly saute or blanch the Brussels sprouts. 

This salad comes together so quickly and it's just so tasty. It's definitely in our salad rotation now. The whole family loved it! 

4 c. shredded Brussels sprouts (make sure they're shredded pretty finely)
2 1/4" slices red onion, diced
1/3 c. dried cherries or cranberries, chopped
3 slices bacon, diced
1/4 c. pecans, chopped
poppy seed dressing or dressing of choice

1. Combine the Brussels sprouts, red onion, cherries, bacon, and pecans in a bowl. 
2. Pour dressing over the top and stir gently to combine. 
3. Divide into three bowls for relatively big salads and four bowls for smaller salads. 

Fingers crossed that I'll be able to get back into the kitchen this summer. Oh how I miss just being able to create recipes and not having to worry about time or if the results turn out horribly. I truly love being creative in the kitchen and the fact that I haven't been able to do that in a while is really getting to me, I think. 

Question of the Day:

Do you love Brussels sprouts or loathe them? 

I used to loathe them until I tried them roasted and my life changed forever! ;)
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Best Burgers Ever

I feel like I've been posting a lot of burger recipes lately. But it's that time of year isn't it? The time when you break out the grill and cook basically everything you can on it. It minimizes the amount of pots and pans you have to use, plus it makes everything taste amazing. Like pineapple. Pineapple is delicious by itself, but when you grill it, it becomes a million times better.

This recipe was kind of an accident to be honest. I was making pickle chips one night and I had leftover egg mixture so I dumped it into the burgers, added some crushed potato chips, and hoped that they would turn out all right. They actually turned out to be some of the best burgers I've ever had. Crispy on the outside, while still remaining juicy on the inside. They're packed with flavor and the perfect vehicle for all your favorite condiments. And did I mention how thick and juicy these babies are? Really. It's unbelievable.

On a separate note, school's finally over! Hurrah! No more math tests, history lessons, or packing lunches. :) Well, okay, I have to take PE over the summer and read a couple books, but, other than that, no more school. Seriously, though. How do you take an online class for PE? And then have a final exam over it? I work out 5 days a week, isn't that enough? Apparently not. Oh well, I'd rather take the class during the summer than during the school year. I shudder just thinking about the locker room...

Okay, that may or may not have ruined your appetite. (Thinking of sweaty clothes and gross showers makes me kind of nauseous myself.) I apologize. But you should still go make these burgers anyways. ;)

2 lbs. ground beef or pork (we used pork)
2 tsp. BBQ seasoning
2 eggs
2 T. almond flour
2 T. tapioca starch
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. crushed potato chips

1. Combine the eggs, almond flour, tapioca starch, garlic powder, hot sauce, Worcestershire, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until pretty much smooth. If there are some lumps that's okay. '
2. Add your ground meat of choice and BBQ seasoning. Stir until just combined.
3. Fold in the crushed potato chips.
4. On a cutting board lined with wax paper, shape the meat mixture into eight thick patties. They should be about 2-3 inches high and about 3-4 inches across. These make ginormous burgers people. Don't say I didn't warn you.
5. Grill on direct medium heat for about 6 minutes a side. Or you can pan fry them for about the same amount of time per side.
6. Serve with ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, pickles, pesto, aioli, really it's up to you.

Question of the Day:

Did you ever have to take summer school? 
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day Recipe Round-Up

Memorial Day is quickly approaching and I can't wait. Soon the pool will be open, school will be out, and it'll be totally acceptable to eat popsicles and ice cream everyday, right? ;) But, seriously, I can't wait for summer. I'm not even sure why. Summer just makes me happy. Unless it's raining. Then I'm not so happy.

If you're anything like me, I know you procrastinate. A lot. And that's perfectly fine until a day before Memorial Day, you find out your in-laws are coming over and you still have no idea what to cook. Hopefully, you'll find some ideas below. Generally, Memorial Day is all about the grilling, so I've of course added some grilling recipes, but coleslaw and cool desserts are also big Memorial Day things usually, so I've added some of those recipes, too.

But let's just hope that it doesn't rain on Memorial Day and interrupt your grilling plans....


I'm coming up with a new recipe that I'm very excited to share with you guys. Like, seriously, I can't wait. So stay tuned for an amazing recipe (which involves chocolate, of course)! :D 

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