Nourish & Calm Body Butter

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You may not realize it, but making many of your own body products is really, really, simple.

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Our skin is our largest organ and it’s important to really know what it is absorbing day in and day out. Many of the ingredients in store purchased body products are hormone disruptors and are extremely toxic. If you’re like the average person, years and years of using  products like that build up in your system and begin to cause issues with sensitivity, hormone imbalance, and allergies.

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The only way I’ve figured out how to control that since my skin leans more on the dry side and I cannot stand having dry skin, is to make my own body lotions and creams.

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I can make it with minimal ingredients that are easy to find, wonderful smelling, healthy…and it’s a lot of fun!

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Nourish & Calm Body Butter

*This recipe makes about 8 cups and will fill four 16 oz mason jars.

2 Cups of Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil (Costco)

2 Cups of Organic Shea Butter (Amazon)

1 Cup of Organic Cocoa Butter (Amazon)

2 Tablespoons of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Trader Joe’s)

30 Drops of Ylang Ylang

6 Drops of Lavender

6 Drops of Frankincense

6 Drops of Stress Away

10 Drops of Joy

In a medium saucepan melt the coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter on medium low. Pour into a bowl and place somewhere cool until it is almost completely solidified. This will take a couple of hours. Don’t let it solidify too much though so keep checking!

Scrape the oils into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip until smooth. Add the olive oil one Tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Add the essential oil drops and whip until light and fluffy. 

Spoon into decorated jars. 

Not So Simple Hot Chocolate Spoons

6 Comments

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Actually, they are very simple.

Just don’t do what I did and you’ll be fine.

It seems that my knee injury has made its way up to my brain because the whole last week has been a comedy of errors.

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First there were paint issues on another Christmas project…which I still have to repair. Then label issues. A list of forgotten ingredients for another project and trips to the store. Not one but two slips down the stairs…call me grace.  My knee is fine thank goodness.

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As if that wasn’t enough, I lost the ingredients list to one of the items I made and for the life of me, I cannot remember what I put in it. Wouldn’t you know it that the day I figured out the list had been tossed, the garbage truck was already driving out of the neighborhood.

The first time I tried to make the spoons, the chocolate set up too quickly because I set it outside in 20 degree weather and I couldn’t get the spoons into it…

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Then, trying to remedy the frozen bricks of chocolate,  I reheated it to start over and I burned it

…but wait, there’s more.

I was then out of chocolate and had to go back to the store, just to burn another batch of chocolate because I sat down and was distracted trying to figure out what I put in that gift that has the missing ingredients list.

I kept an eagle eye on that third batch of chocolate believe me…but…I slit the plastic wrap and slid the spoons in, when in reality to avoid a plastic wrap nightmare removal after full set up, I probably should have removed the plastic wrap prior to putting the spoons in the chocolate.

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Lastly, as I was wrapping the cute mugs I flipped them over to read on the bottom “Not Microwave Safe”. Now I’ll have to warn the recipients, thereby shattering the illusion that I know what the hell I’m doing.

At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I should just stop. Just throw caution to the wind, open a bottle of wine, and crawl into the bathtub.

Instead, I gave myself a pep talk. “You can do this. A first grader can make this project for gawd’s sake. Get a hold of yourself woman!”

I’m not one to let a challenge defeat me.

Instead, I self medicated with a lot of chocolate and marshmallows.

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Luckily for you, if you have your head on straight, this is an extremely simple and fun  project and works really great as cute little gifts.

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Now all my projects are finished (hallelujah and amen) and I’ll be sharing each one with you over the next several days.

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Note to self for next year:

Go to Fiji instead.

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Simple Hot Chocolate Spoons

*The amounts are based on enough for 4 Mugs*

12 oz or so of Your Favorite Chocolate

Cube Candy Trays or Ice Cube Trays (ice-cube trays will require more chocolate)

4 Mugs

16 Wooden Spoons (I found mind at a craft store)

Mini Marshmallows

12 Clear (or decorated, your choice) Long Cellophane bags, you will cut them to size

Different Types Of Ribbon For Decorating

2 Types of Card Stock, Photo Sticky Mounting Squares, and a Hole Punch For Hot Chocolate Directions (below)

Craft Scissors or a Paper Cutter

For the spoons:

*Don’t take your eyes off the chocolate!

Melt the chocolate until smooth and spoon carefully into the trays. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the trays and place them in a cool place for 5 minutes. Set a timer! Check them after 5 minutes, if they are still really soft to the touch, then allow them to set for another 5 minutes. You want the spoon to be able to slide into the chocolate but also have the chocolate set up enough that the spoon will stand on its own. Remove the plastic wrap, slide a spoon into the middle of each one and return to a cold place to set completely.

Fill four bags with a handful of marshmallows. Tie off with ribbon and cut the bag to size leaving a bit of fluff at the top so it looks nice. Cut four more bags using one of the spoons as a measurement. You want the handles to stick out, but still have plenty of plastic to tie a ribbon around. Place 4 Chocolate spoons in a bag, tie with a ribbon, and repeat the process for the spoons and the marshmallows for all four mugs.

The chocolate spoons won’t fit in the mug unless you buy very over sized mugs. Place the mugs in the cellophane bags, place the marshmallows in the mugs, and tie the bags around the mugs closed with a ribbon. My mugs were over sized but not huge and the chocolate was too large to fit inside the mug even without the marshmallows so I will simply package them next to the mug in a nice gift bag or box.

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For the tags I just printed out instructions on shimmery white card stock, cut them into squares, and placed them on a red sheet of card stock. Punch a hole and thread a ribbon and tie it to the cup.

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Grain Free & Dairy Free Pumpkin Pancakes

1 Comment

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I’ve noticed when pumpkin season rolls around, people are either beyond thrilled about it, or hate it. You already know where I stand. I can’t imagine hating such an amazing smelling, soothing, set of spices…but to each his own.

These are just a spin on my regular grain free pancake recipe.

Super easy. Fabulous.

I also topped them with a pumpkin spice dairy free butter. I may have layered each pancake with a big dollop too…

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If you have picky eaters in your family, they’ll never know you’re feeding them grain free, dairy free, pancakes. I’ve had them plain, with blueberries or huckleberries, topped with peanut butter, topped with peanut butter and chocolate shavings (a must try), topped with marionberry syrup, sliced strawberries, and now with a few tweaks have been able to enjoy them with the spiciness of the holidays.

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You can use buckwheat flour rather than making your own flour out of buckwheat groats however, it will result in a much darker and heavier pancake. If you have a really good blender similar to a VitaMix, it only takes a few minutes to grind up a gallon bag of flour. (I do mine in small batches so I can grind it as finely as possible.)

We had them twice last week. After looking at these photos, I’m thinking I may need to make another batch!

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Grain Free & Dairy Free Pumpkin Pancakes

*Makes about 12 medium to large pancakes

1 Cup of Buckwheat Groat Flour (I grind my own groats in the Vitamix)

1/2 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Arrowroot

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 Eggs, separated

2 Cups of Almond Milk (any milk will do, if you use full fat coconut milk you may have to add more)

1/4 cup of Plain Pumpkin Puree

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Measure all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Whip the egg whites to stiff peak and set aside. Add the eggs, almond milk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Gently fold in egg whites.

I served the pancakes with dairy free butter whipped with pumpkin pie spice and pure maple syrup. You could also infuse the syrup with the spices by warming them together on the stove.

Help For Arthritic Hands

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Over the last few years during the holidays I’ve been making body care gifts for friends and family. Last year I made a sleep potion with several types of essential oils. My mom has very arthritic knuckles and her hands are often in pain. She found that when she used the sleep potion on her hands that it relieved pain and with consistent use, reduced inflammation in her knuckles.

This isn’t surprising considering the benefits of each of the individual oils but I was very happy to hear that it gave her some relief. This year I’ve made a more concentrated batch for her in roller bottles rather than a dropper bottle that make it easier to use and easy to toss in a purse or in a pocket.

To purchase the essential oils up front is a bit of an investment but only a few drops of each are needed because they are so pure and concentrated. Well worth the investment as you can use them for many other things.

Here’s the recipe:

10ml Roller Bottles (I buy them on Amazon)

Avocado Oil

Lavender (6 drops in each roller bottle)

Frankincense (4 drops in each bottle)

German Chamomile (3 drops in each bottle)

Valor (4 drops in each bottle)

Cedarwood (3 drops in each bottle)

Copaiba (3 drops in each bottle)

Eucalyptus Globulous ( 2 drops in each bottle)

Remove the rollers from each bottle. Measure essential oils into bottles first, then fill with avocado oil. Replace the roller and the lid and shake well. Rub on each knuckle (or area that is sore). These are concentrated so a little will go a long way.

Essential Oil Benefits:

Lavender ~ Calms nerves, mood balancing, restful sleep, eases dry irritated skin, allergy relief, aids in burn healing, anti-inflammatory, eases sunburn pain.

Frankincense ~ Eases nervous tension, eases anxiety and depression, anti inflammatory, stimulates immune system, eases restless leg, disinfects cuts & wounds, eases arthritis, eases allergies, promotes healthy skin

German Chamomile ~ Eases nervous tension, eases upset stomach, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, promotes sleep, eases muscle tension, promotes skin health.

Valor ~ Calming, eases anxiety, eases joint pain, eases tension headaches, eases snoring, eases sciatic pain and joint pain.

Cedarwood ~ Supports the lymph system, eases anxiety, eases insomnia, antibacterial, eases respiratory issues, aids sleep.

Copaiba ~ Relieves pain, anti inflammatory, aids in digestion, eases joint stiffness, eases aches, antibacterial, aids circulation.

Eucalyptus Globulous ~ Eases muscle aches, cough suppressant, boosts the immune system, anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, decongestant.

Grain Free & Dairy Free Gingerbread Trifle

3 Comments

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Well hello there. Did you think I’d disappeared? Maybe just a little.

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I’ve been working on creating some fabulous treats for your holidays. Also, I had a bit of a freak injury.

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While walking our dogs, Abigail our 45 pounder ran full speed into the side of my knee. I have what they call a moderate tear in my MCL. Of course I was a mile and a half from the car and had to walk back because when I reached into my pocket to call our son, my phone had died. It was one of those days.

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I’m in week three now and am seeing a bit of improvement. Three more more weeks with a hideous and cumbersome brace, along with physical therapy twice a week until January.

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In January I’ll see the orthopedist and will hopefully be feeling much, much, improved.

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It’s been an interesting lesson in patience for me. After being sick the majority of the last 9 years of my life, I was feeling pretty darn good and was finally able to begin to get some real exercise and begin building back muscle strength and endurance. Then…the mishap.

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Good lessons in waiting and taking life slowly are being learned.

Thankfully I have a husband who is being very helpful. I can move more now but the first two weeks were rough and being someone who prides herself in having a high pain tolerance…wow, I was in for a surprise.

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Now that I’m able to move around a bit more without as much pain, I’m back in the kitchen. Between now and Christmas I’ll be sharing a few creations that you’ll hopefully find as exciting as I do.

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Like this grain free, dairy free, gingerbread. I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of this recipe. It took a couple tries to get it to where I considered it, perfect. Perfect texture, perfect moisture content, and perfect flavor. We’ve been eating gingerbread for days and I haven’t heard one complaint.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

xoxo ~ Gluten Free Zen

Grain Free Dairy Free Gingerbread Trifle

For The Cranberry Sauce:

2 Bags of Fresh Cranberries 8 oz each

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup Water

Simmer the cranberries until cooked down and thickened. Refrigerate until completely chilled.

For The Gingerbread:

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 Cup of 100% Full Fat Coconut Milk (I use ArroyD)

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

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

Divide evenly and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

For The Whipped Cream:

I use chilled Arroy D full fat 100% coconut milk. Tip: I keep four boxes (1 cup each) in my fridge at all times. Pour the chilled coconut milk in a heavy duty mixture with the whisk attachment and whisk until thick and fluffy. Then add powdered sugar and vanilla to your liking and continue to whip until thickened. Coconut whipped cream holds up very well in the fridge for 24 hours. The coconut milk will separate to the bottom a bit, but just simply pour it off.

Layer the trifle and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. I used mini trifle dishes but this  gingerbread recipe will easily make a full trifle. The only thing I would do is add one more bag of cranberries and another 1/2 cup of  sugar to the cranberry sauce while simmering.

 

50 Of My Fall Favorites

7 Comments

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Cinnamon Spice Crepes with Coconut Sugared Peaches

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Crepes with Sauteed Bananas & Caramel Sauce

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Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

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Maple Almond Raisin Granola

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Sunday Morning Quiche

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Coconut Chai Sipping Chocolate

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Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

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Brazilian Iced Coffee 

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Chocolate Chai Tea Latte

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Sweet Potato Veggie Hash with Egg

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Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk

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Cherry Braids

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Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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Pumpkin Biscotti with Belgian Chocolate

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Grain Free Cinnamon Date Rolls 

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Grain Free Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

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Apple & Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

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Grain Free Cinnamon Rolls 

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Pumpkin Spice Buckwheat Bake

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Maple Nugget Corn Bread

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Spicy Pumpkin Bread

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Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

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Pumpkin Bread with Honey Cinnamon Butter

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Sweet Potato Biscuits

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Spicy Pork Loin Soup & Cheesy Jalapeno Flatbread

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Apple Chicken Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Raisins

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Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch

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Broccoli & Kale Soup

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Spicy Sausage & Bean Soup

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Baked Oysters with Chorizo & Spinach

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Fall Salad with Pomegranate & Clementine

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Grandma’s Potato Soup 

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Roasted Tomato, Pepper, & Basil Soup

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Crockpot Turkey Meatball Soup

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Spicy Sausage & Cabbage Soup

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Chicken & Vegetable Soup

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Broccoli & Spinach Soup

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Rustic Vegetable Tart

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Cherry Turnovers

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Pumpkin Pie

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Apple Crumb Pie

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Apple Galette 

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Ginger Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Apple Pumpkin Upside Down Cake

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Pumpkin Macaroons 

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Fig Pillows

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Gingersnaps

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Caramel Corn

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Clementine Carrot Cookies

Grain Free & Dairy Free Double Chocolate Cherry Chip Cookies

2 Comments

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This recipe is adapted from James Trenda’s Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. His chocolate chip cookies are my all time favorite. They. Are. So. Good. They don’t taste grain free or dairy free either. I tweak his chocolate chip recipe a bit by using coconut sugar instead of maple sugar and lowering the amount from 12 ounces to 10 ounces. I also just use arrowroot instead of his combination of arrowroot and tapioca. I’ve  tried different combinations of grain free flours, to no avail. And really, why mess with something so delicious?

The other day I was thinking about his chocolate chip cookies, as I often do…and wondering…what if I were to switch it up a bit with other tweaks and additions? That is where the double chocolate cherry chip cookies were born. The first time I tried, it was a flat cookie failure.

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With a few tweaks here and there, the second attempt resulted in a delectable chocolaty cookie with the surprise of cherry filled bites.

Double Chocolate Cherry Chip Cookies

Depending on size, this recipe makes about 18 cookies

2 3/4 Cups Chestnut Flour

1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon of Sweet Potato Flour

1/2 Cup of Arrowroot

1/2 Cup of Cocoa Powder

1/2 teaspoon of Espresso Powder or Instant Coffee Powder

1 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 Cup plus 3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (solid, not melted)

2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

3 Tablespoons of Full Fat Coconut Milk

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

1 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips

3/4 Cup of Dried Cherries

Measure the chestnut flour, sweet potato flour, arrowroot, cocoa powder, espresso powder, sea salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of your mixer, add the coconut oil and coconut sugar and beat to combine. Just until it comes together. Add the coconut milk and vanilla. Then add the eggs, one at a time mixing thoroughly. Add the chocolate chips and cherries and mix on medium low until incorporated.

Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 35o degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment and take a spoon full of cookie dough. Flatten it out slightly with your fingers (sometimes it’s somewhat solid from chilling).  Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

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