Holiday Ideas ~ My Favorite Kitchen Tools

I have always had a deep love for kitchen time and everything that goes along with it. Even washing dishes! Standing next to my mom or aunt dipping my hands into hot, sudsy water in my grandma’s kitchen (she of course didn’t have an electric dishwasher), and sitting at the kitchen island watching her cook, are some of my most relaxing and most cherished memories. The majority of my favorite family memories take place in my grandma’s house, with lots of family present and wonderful food. I wanted that same experience for my own family while our son was growing up and even now with only two of us, the kitchen is the heart of our home.

Of course, technology has come a long way since my childhood. We have an abundance of appliances and kitchen tools that make our lives easier and meal prep faster. I have a pantry and drawers full of gadgets! As I think back to my childhood, a large turkey roaster was the only “extra” fancy appliance I can remember my grandma having. She used it for roasting turkeys of course, but also for making huge batches of salty Chex mix during the holidays. Then, the “Fry Daddy & Fry Baby” hit the market, and her deep fried doughnuts were an absolute taste of heaven. Such good memories!

Below are some of my kitchen favorites. Any of them would make great gifts for your loved ones!

Multiple Blade Spiralizer $24.99

Such a simple way to make zucchini noodles and much more! It’s easy to clean and I really like that it suctions to the counter for safety.

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Zacfton Slicer & Shredder $23.99

Our son bought us this cheese grater for Christmas one year and we absolute love it! Comes with different blades for all of your needs, easy to clean, and suctions to the counter.

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Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker $29.99

I’ve had this yogurt maker for years and it works great every time!

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KitchenAid 7 Cup Food Processor $74.99

I make pesto in mine, chop nuts, grind meat for lettuce wraps, you name it – makes life so much easier!

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Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker $42.53

We use ours at least three times a month. Perfect waffles every single time.

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Non Stick Covered Wok $55.99

Our son bought me this wok one year for Christmas and I really like how versatile it is. Also love the easy clean up!

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Lodge Dutch Oven $59.99

I think the value and quality of Lodge products is really impressive. Yes, you can buy LeCreuset if you have the budget but Lodge works just as well and comes in all kinds of beautiful colors shapes and sizes too.  I use mine regularly and have never been disappointed!

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KitchenAid Stand Mixer $189.99

I’m pretty sure everyone knows the value of the KitchenAid Mixer! It’s fabulous and has all kinds of cool attachments to meet your needs. I’ve had mine for many years and it’s still going strong. I also purchased the ice cream maker that goes with it and I love it!

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Vitamix Blender $299.95

I know that price tag is frightening, but I promise you that a Vitamix blender is worth every single penny. I can’t believe how many years we wasted money on cheap blenders that couldn’t handle the work. We make smoothies in it regularly as well as grinding groat seeds for buckwheat flour. So easy!

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Instant Pot $99.95

This is not the scary pressure cooker from your childhood! Simple to use and extremely versatile. Even though I’ve used ours many, many, times I am always amazed at what it can do and how quickly it can do it!

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Retro Electric Kettle $39.99

I am absolutely in love with this adorable retro kettle! I really dislike having a tea kettle on the stove. They get dirty and have to be moved to make room. Electric kettles have a base that plugs in so you can put it anywhere you want. The kettle releases from the base to fill and pour.

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Omega Masticating Juicer $295.00

Another kitchen appliance that is worth its weight in gold! This masticating juicer removes every possible ounce of juice from your veggies and fruits. It’s not loud and obnoxious either and is easy to clean!

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Fluted Biscuit Cutter Set of 5 $16.95

I love all of the different sizes! I use them for biscuits and cookies.

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Fat Separator $14.99

No more skimming fat off of soups, sauces, and gravies with a spoon. This makes it so simple. The fat settles at the top and you just pour it right off leaving what you want underneath.

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Ice Cream/Cookie Scoops Set of 3 $16.99

These come in handy for more things than you would think.

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Set of Three Fine Mesh Strainers $12.99

More little gadgets that I find myself using all the time!

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KitchenAid Immersion Blender $74.99

I’ve had mine for years and use it for making creamy soups and gravies and amazing fruit sauces. This one comes with all kinds of fun gadgets too!

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Potato Ricer $23.99

This tool makes the lightest, fluffiest, potatoes you will every eat! You can leave the potatoes riced or you can rice them and then whip them up for creamy mashed potatoes. You can also rice cooked carrots, beets, whatever you like!

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Digital Food Scale $18.99

Sometimes the measuring in baking needs to be exact. This food scale is easy to use and works great!

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Maple Walnut Shortbread

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National Cookie Day sneaked past me yesterday while I was out doing my Christmas shopping. Not to worry though, cookies are tasty every day!

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I haven’t had shortbread in years and this maple walnut shortbread was delicious with my cup of morning tea. It’s so simple too – you could easily whip these up on short notice as a tasty gift or when company arrives unexpectedly and you’d like something sweet and flaky to serve with hot beverages. The maple extract adds amazing flavor your guests will love!

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 Maple Walnut Shortbread

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1/3 Cup of Powdered Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Pure Maple Extract

1/4 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Sea Salt

1 1/2 Cups of Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

For The Frosting:

1 1/4 Cups of Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon of Pure Maple Extract

Pinch of Sea Salt

2 Tablespoons of Almond Milk

1/4 Cup of Finely Chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

For the shortbread, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the extracts, sea salt, and flour and blend on low just until incorporated and the dough comes together. Lightly flour a piece of parchment, pat the dough into a circle, and roll the dough into about an 8 inch circle, smoothing the edges with your fingers. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 triangles. Press a fork lightly along the edges. I also used a scalloped cookie cutter for more design on top of the cookie. (Or you can use cookie cutters and cut out shapes, or roll the dough into a rectangle and cut squares…) 

Transfer the shortbread dough WITH the parchment onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a sharp knife down the previous cuts. Let the shortbread cool completely, then move to a wire cooling rack for frosting. 

For the frosting, whisk the sugar, extract, sea salt, and almond milk until smooth and of drizzling consistency. Drizzle each cookie and sprinkle with walnuts one at a time (otherwise the drizzle will set and the nuts won’t stick). 

Serve with hot tea, coffee, or hot buttered rum (recipe coming soon!).

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Holiday Ideas ~ My Top 10 Favorite Cookbooks

At one point before we moved across the country, I had close to 100 cookbooks. I loved each and every one, but needed to downsize so I didn’t have 15 boxes of books that had to be hauled to the other side of the US. I kept my absolute favorites and donated the rest. Below are my top 10 favorites that yes, I own and use. Each have their own style, unique flavors and techniques.

Farm House Cookbook 

Comfort food at its best from family farms across rural America.

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Hardcover $27.97 / Softcover $14.89

Ready Or Not Nom Nom Paleo

150 Plus mouth watering recipes with step by step photos. Very visual, fun to read!

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Kindle $10.69 / Hardcover $22.91

Gluten Free Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day 

Gorgeous, delicious, easy recipes for homemade gluten free breads.

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Kindle $14.99 / Hardcover $18.37

Rose’s Christmas Cookies 

Every delicious cookie you can imagine in one place.

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Hardcover $17.39

Down South Paleo

Delicious southern recipes for gluten free and paleo eaters. 

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Kindle $9.99 / Paperback $17.45

Every Last Crumb

She has some really interesting and delicious recipes with variations for people with multiple food allergies. 

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Kindle $9.99 / Paperback $26.35

The Complete Mexican, South American, & Caribbean Cookbook 

Full of fabulous recipes that I’ve used for dinner parties and gatherings. So flavorful!

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Hardcover $17.50

Mediterranean Paleo 

 Mouth watering, rustic, recipes that are full of flavor and even if you never try a single recipe, this cookbook is packed with wonderful stories, photos, and information. 

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Kindle $9.99 / Paperback $23.64

Old Fashioned Home Baking 

If I had to choose my top all time favorite baking cookbook, I think this would be it. Brings back memories of my grandma’s style of baking. 

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Hardcover $25.29

My Paleo Patisserie

This cookbook is absolutely stunning!! Both in the photos and the recipes. Two decades of traditional and modern patisserie baking that has been converted for the gluten free and paleo diet. A beautiful coffee table book that your guests will love thumbing through as well!

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Kindle $9.99 / Hardcover $35.46

 

Holiday Ideas ~ My Favorite Skin Care

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Christmas is right around the corner! Do you have your lists prepared, wrapping ready, and your holiday baking list all ready to go? Me either, but I’m getting closer. I do love to be organized so I can enjoy the holidays without feeling stressed and rushed. So today is the day I will sit down with my holiday notebook and map it all out! I write down meal plans, grocery lists, gift lists, baking lists and recipes, and gift ideas I run across that I think might be a good fit for the people on my giving list.

I love a good gift idea list! It’s always nice to get some fresh ideas and integrate them where you can. I often get asked about my favorite products. So I thought I’d start with my favorite store-bought skin care products that can fit very nicely under the tree and in your favorite someone’s stocking. If you’d like some ideas for homemade skin care products you can go to my holiday list for Healthy Homemade Body Products.

~~~~ For The Bath and Shower ~~~~

DRY SKIN BODY BRUSH $9.95

Dry brushing should be done before a bath or shower and is wonderful for lymphatic circulation, skin elasticity, and for preparing your skin to absorb moisture.

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EPSOM SALTS Two for $12.00

.Epsom salt baths are a healthy way to absorb magnesium, relax, and get your lymph moving. It’s also great for soaking aches and pains, scratches, and shingles.  You can find them at any drug store, pricing varies

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AVEDA STRESS-FIX SOAKING SALTS $42.00

These soaking salts are heavenly and come in Aveda’s fabulous signature scent. If you are a Pure Privileged Reward Member at Aveda (you don’t have to purchase much to earn points) you can often get this $42 value for FREE! They are very generous with their free points products and often give full size products.

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DOVE SOAP SENSITIVE SKIN 8 Bars For $9.39

I’ve tried all kinds of different types of soaps. Organic, natural, essential oil, herbal, bar, liquid…you name it. I always keep coming back to Dove. It’s gluten-free, inexpensive, doesn’t upset my more delicate areas, and leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized.

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JACK BLACK TURBO WASH 33 oz. $50.00

We absolutely LOVE this product! First of all the smell…invigorating and healthy! I use it on my body and my husband uses it all over. The best part is that one 33oz bottle lasted both of us an entire year. You can buy it on their website or Nordstrom (they carry they whole Jack Black line).

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~~~~ For Moisturizing The Body ~~~~

WISE OWL ORGANICS EAST AFRICAN SHEA BUTTER 8 oz $24.97

Hands down my absolute favorite shea butter! It differs in texture from the more popular sold shea that originates in West Africa. This East African shea has a mild aroma and is naturally rich in vitamins A, E, and F. It is smooth as silk and when you combine it with the Shea Moisture body lotion below, it will cure you of ever having dry skin again! I love to mix a dollop of each after I towel off from the shower. Leaves your skin moisturized and fabulous.

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SHEA MOISTURE COCONUT AND HIBISCUS BODY LOTION $9.99

This lotion mixed with a dollop of the shea butter above, is your cure-all for parched alligator skin, chapped hands, and any other area of your skin that may need a healthy dose of TLC. All Shea products are free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, DEA, petroleum, formaldehyde, and propylene. They are also natural, organic, and sustainably produced. The best part though…they ARE AFFORDABLE! You can find their hair and body products at almost all pharmacy stores and Target.

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SUZANNE ORGANICS WILD ORANGE NOURISHING BODY LOTION 8 oz $24.99

If you’re looking for a lighter body lotion, this goes on like silk and smells fantastic (but not too strong).

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SKINFOOD ORGANICS CAMELINA BODY SILK 4 oz $38.00

I keep this on my bedside table and use it on my feet, hands, and elbows at night. It’s rather pricey and luxurious so I don’t use it on my whole body. It has a light frankincense scent and makes your hands, feet, and elbows feel very pampered!

When inhaled, frankincense has been shown to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure. It’s anti inflammatory, antibacterial, strengthens and improves skin tone, acts as a sleep aid, and helps reduce pain.

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~~~~ For The Face, Neck, & Lips ~~~~

MIA PRIMA SONIC FACIAL CLEANSING BRUSH $99.00

 A bit on the pricey side (although this is the less expensive Clarisonic choice). However, I’ve had mine for almost 7 years and have never had one issue and have only had to order a replacement brush once. You can order different types of brushes to fit your skin’s needs. They can also be used in the shower!

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TRADER JOE’S JOJOBA OIL 4 oz $14.87

I’ve been using this jojoba oil (they are not all created equal!) to remove my waterproof mascara for many years. It leaves my lashes nourished and keeps them healthy and thick. It can also be rubbed between your hands and pulled through dry hair as an extra moisturizer, and you can use it as a shower oil or just rub a little on elbows and hands. Very versatile.

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SHEA MOISTURE FACIAL WASH & SCRUB WITH FRANKINCENSE & MYRHH 4 oz $10.99

Gentle enough to use every day, leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized, and is affordable! I even use it with my Clarisonic.

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JACK BLACK FACE BUFF 6oz $30.00

Jack Black is a men’s skin care line…but I have hijacked it and use it for myself! I love the scents they use, they’re healthy, and their products work really well and don’t upset my skin. I use this face buff 3x a week in the shower and it leaves my skin feeling smooth and invigorated!

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JACK BLACK PRO SERIES AGE CONTROL POWER PEEL 40 Pads $38.00

Another fantastic product from Jack Black! My husband received a free facial at Nordstrom with all the Jack Black products and I could not believe the difference in his skin after that one visit. I use these Power Peel pads at least 4 nights a week before applying my moisturizer.

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HONEST HAZEL EYE GELS 10 Pack $36.00

I like to keep these handy for puffy eye days or to use on self-care spa days when my skin needs a little pampering. You can also keep them in the fridge. They feel fabulous and will leave your under eyes de-puffed and nourished.

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TRUSKIN NATURALS VITAMIN C SERUM FOR FACE WITH HYALURONIC ACID & VITAMIN E 1 fl oz $19.99

I use this after I use the Power Peel Pads. My skin loves it and it’s gentle enough to use twice a day if you’d like.

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SHEA MOISTURE PEACE ROSE OIL COMPLEX SENSITIVE SKIN FACIAL MOISTURIZER 2 oz $9.69

Another great product from Shea Moisture! I use this in my morning regimen. Smells fabulous and leaves my skin silky soft. On days where I feel like my skin needs a bit of extra moisture, I combine this with a tiny dollop of Wise Owl Organics Shea Butter. Keeps my skin moisturized and glowing all day long.

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SHEA MOISTURE COCONUT & HIBISCUS SPOT CORRECTING MOISTURIZER 2 oz $10.97

I use this moisturizer at night and combined with the Power Peel Pads & the Vitamin C Serum, I really notice a difference in my skin texture and notice my age spots disappearing.

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AVEDA TULASARA RADIANT AWAKENING RITUAL KIT $89.00

This oil is just pure bliss! I was able to get the oil free with my points and then purchased the brush, but you can buy the kit all in one. The oil smells absolutely heavenly and I’ve used it all different kinds of ways! Sometimes I layer it on in a hot shower after I do the Jack Black Face Buff and just let it sit for a few minutes while I’m washing up and shaving. Other times I’ve used it in the mornings on a clean, dry, face with the brush and it leaves my skin rosy and healthy and nourished. I’ve also used it as a cuticle oil and a hair oil!

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AZTEC SECRET INDIAN HEALING CLAY 1 lb. $10.95

I use this about once a month. It draws out all the yucky toxins from your skin wherever you put it! Just mix a bit of the powder with a little warm water (using a non-metal utensil), pat it on, let it dry, and wash off. Leaves the face with a rosy glow and a healthy little tingle. Because it draws out impurities, I’ve also used it on mosquito bites and other bug bites.

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SHEA MOISTURE RAW SHEA BUTTER HYDRATING MUD MASK 6 oz $15.99

I use this mask about once a week! I love the way it leaves my skin feeling super clean and moisturized.

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SKINNY & CO LIP BALM TUBE 3 PACK PEPPERMINT VANILLA & SWEET ORANGE $16.95

Once you use these, you’ll never go back to any other lip balm. They. Are. Heavenly.

 

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Stay Tuned For My Next Holiday Post with My Favorite Kitchen Tools!

 

 

Grain Free & Dairy Free Gingerbread

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This gingerbread is FABULOUS! It’s full of flavor, versatile, freezes well, will make your house smell wonderful, and your guests will be in awe when they figure out it’s grain free and dairy free. Well…that is if you tell them!

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You can serve it with coconut milk whipped cream and a little sprinkle of cinnamon like I did here, or you can warm the gingerbread and serve it with dairy free vanilla ice cream (my favorite brand is Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island).

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You can also just sprinkle it with powdered sugar, or if you’re looking for a dessert to serve after a holiday dinner, you can incorporate the gingerbread into my individual Gingerbread Trifles.

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It’s very versatile, and because it can be made ahead and stores well in the freezer, it’s nice to have on hand during the busy holidays when people tend to stop by unannounced. I also like to keep a couple of boxes of chilled coconut milk in my fridge and have powdered sugar and pure vanilla extract on hand so I can whip up some cream on a moments notice.

Grain Free & Dairy Free Gingerbread

**This is best when served on day two or three  – when the flavors have a chance to mingle and the gingerbread becomes more moist and dense. Or, you can freeze it up to a month and then defrost and serve**

1 1/4 Cups of Coconut Flour

3/4 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

1 teaspoon of Ground Cloves

6 Eggs

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Soy Free Butter

2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Unsulphured Molasses

1 Cups of Full Fat Coconut Milk

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I use convection so cooking time may vary) Spray two 8×8 square pans with non stick spray and set aside. This can also be made in one 8 1/2 x 11 pan or two 8-9 inch round pans.

Measure the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter (cool but not cold) and the remaining wet ingredients. Whisk thoroughly until fluffy and combined.

Divide evenly among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. *Cool and cover with plastic wrap. Serve on day 2 or 3 or cool and cover with plastic wrap and tinfoil and freeze up to 30 days.* 

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Holiday Ideas ~ Healthy Homemade Body Products

The holidays are just around the corner! Are you ready? I’ve purchased a few gifts but I’m nowhere near ready. I really love taking in the whole holiday season, so I try not to jump too far ahead. I love all the shopping with crowds and Christmas music playing in the background. The crisp air, the food, the light and window displays. What I love most though, is choosing a gift each year to give that’s a little crafty.

Sometimes it’s just a nice Christmas treat tray or box that’s decorated nicely for family and neighbors. Other years I’ve gone all out and made lotions, scrubs, lip balms, facial toners…all kinds of fun self-care items with my own personal touch.

I thought I’d share some of those items in case you’re in need of some easy but fun homemade gifts. If you’re not really crafty, no need to worry. Throughout November and December I’ll be sharing my “Favorite Things” from skincare to supplements, to kitchen tools. Lots of ideas for great items to slip under the tree and into your special someone’s stocking.

EPSOM BATH SALTS ~ 3 WAYS

BARKIN’ DOGS FOOT RUB

NOURISH & CALM BODY BUTTER

HELP FOR ARTHRITIC HANDS & JOINTS

HEADACHE & MIGRAINE RELIEF ROLLER

SLUMBER BEDTIME POTION

QUENCH ~ INTENSIVE ORGANIC NIGHT CREAM FOR FACE & NECK

LEMON & LAVENDER FACIAL TONER

ESSENTIAL OIL BODY CREAM ~ 5 WAYS!

A WHOLE WELLNESS PACKAGE IN ONE! (Lemon LIp Balm, Dreamy Sleep Salve, Calming Chamomile Night Cream, Shower Bombs, Luxurious Body Lotion, and Sugar & Spice Hand and Elbow Scrub)

 

 

 

 

Grain Free Dinner Rolls

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These rolls are inspired by My Gluten-Free Kitchen’s Pull Apart Dinner Rolls. I have made her fabulous rolls many, many times using her gluten-free recipe and we absolutely love them! They turn out perfect every time.

I strive to be about 90% grain free and save the gluten-free goodies for maybe a Sunday dinner or special occasions. So when the cold weather hit and I started craving all things comfort food…I worked with the recipe a bit to come up with a grain free option. Still super easy and still delicious!

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They’re not just for dinner either! I love to toast leftovers for breakfast or use the buns for sandwiches. My next attempt with the recipe will be to see how the batter holds up for chicken and dumplings, so stay tuned!

Grain Free Dinner Rolls

2 3/4 Cups Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

2 1/2 teaspoons of SAF Instant Yeast

1/4 Cup of Granulated Sugar (You can use white or coconut sugar – coconut sugar will make the rolls look more like a whole wheat roll)

1 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1 Cup of Warm Filtered Water

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance Soy Free Butter, plus extra for roll tops after baking

1 Large Organic Egg

1 teaspoon of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

Spray a 9″ round pie plate, set aside.

Add the dry ingredients to your stand mixer. Heat the water and add the butter, let it sit until it melts. Turn the mixer on low and add the water and butter, the egg, and the vinegar. Mix on low until combined, scraping down the sides once. Beat on high for 1 minute. Scrape down sides. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 9 mounds of dough into the pie plate. The dough will be soft. You can leave them for a rustic baked look or you can wet your fingers and gently smooth out the tops. 

Set the oven to 375 degrees Spray a piece of plastic wrap and gently lay it over the top of the pie plate. Cover loosely with a light kitchen towel, and let rest for 45 minutes. I do mine on top of the stove where it’s warm. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. (I use convection for all of my cooking – if you use conventional, set your oven at 400 degrees and start keeping an eye on the rolls around 25 minutes). Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes before brushing the tops lightly with melted dairy free butter. 

Here I’ve used the buns for lunch and for a breakfast sandwich. Delicious!

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