Flourless Almond Butter, Oatmeal, Pumpkin Seed & Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan)

I’m not sure about you, but I love a good peanut-butter cookie. I just love the taste of anything with peanut butter in general (I could eat it by the spoonful) but I especially am addicted to the peanut butter and chocolate combination. I’m sure you may have figured that out by now already, considering I’m always sharing combos of these two on the blog.

Take a look at my 5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars or my Chocolate Chia Sunflower Seed Cups and you’ll see how deep this affinity for this combo runs around here.

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Ironically, I don’t really buy a lot of peanut butter though (at all really.). I use mostly almond butter or sunflower seed butter. Almonds and sunflower seeds provide a much more robust nutritional profile than peanuts do and taste just as yummy so that’s the real reason why I use those two in all of my recipes vs. peanut butter.

Pumpkin seeds have more nutrients in them like iron, zinc and magnesium, just to name a few.

You can add these healthier nut butters to sprouted bread, oatmeal, muffins or throw them into a delicious cookie recipe, like I did here! Nut butters make a great fat and protein source and help to keep you full due to their high fat content.

Dietary fat from foods signals the release of the satiating hormone, leptin, which signals to our brains that we are full.

Fat is your friend people! Chocolate too, chocolate is your friend too.

So I added some nut butter, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips to my favorite Gluten-free oatmeal and made a cookie that your kids will keep asking for!

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Anyhow, I won’t make you wait any longer for this deliciously simple and addicting cookie recipe. You and the kids are going to love them!

Makes: 17 cookies
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural almond butter

  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar

  • 2 tbsp agave

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup gluten-free oats (I use this brand)

  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds (a few extra to sprinkle on top)

Directions:

  1. Set oven for 350 degrees.

  2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, agave and almond butter. Combine well.

  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, baking soda, coconut sugar and pumpkin seeds (save a few pumpkin seeds to garnish the tops with.) Take care to combine the baking soda well so that the cookies rise the way they should.

  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine well. Fold in the chocolate chips and give it a good stir.

  6. Make small 2-inch dough balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared parchment paper.

  7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottom just begins to crip (you want the top to stay moist). They will need to set for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

-Ashley

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Easy Peasy Sweet Potato Chips Your Kids will Love

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Raise your hand if you love sweet potatoes and you’re obsessed with guac!

I will admit that even though I am an enormous chocoholic and I love baking healthy treats, I would pick a bag full of chips over a cookie any day of the week. With a side of guacamole or queso. Definitely a chip girl, anyone else?!

Since I make these little guys so often and have used them in so many different varieties, I decided it was definitely time for them to get a recipe spotlight.

If you love sweet potatoes as much as I do and you are looking for a quick and easy side to any dinner or snack, look no further. These Easy Peasy Sweet Potato Chips are your guy(s). I love to pair them with my 5 Minute Guacamole for a crowd-pleasing party appetizer or to make my kids happy for a snack any day of the week. I also make them at least once a week as an easy dinner veggie that I know my kids will never turn their noses up to.

You can load these bad boys with guac, use them to make a bunless burger or if you really want to die and go to heaven, you can use them to make my Thai-Style Sweet Potato Sliders.

However basic or fancy you want to get with them, I know once you try them they will be in your life for a long time. Just think of them as your new best friend.

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Besides how well they pair with everything, they are darn idiot proof to make. They are seriously so simple. You cut up a sweet potato or two in thin layers on some parchment paper, spruce them up a bit with some oil and spices and then bake them until they’re crispy!

Ok guys, here you go. The easiest recipe you’ll ever make! You’re welcome.


Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cut into very thin slices

  • avocado oil spray or coconut oil spray

  • salt and pepper

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Wash and dry 2 sweet potatoes. Cut them into very thin slices, about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thickness (thicker if you want to use them as buns for sliders, thinner if you want them to be crispier.)

  3. Arrange the potato slices on the baking sheet, leaving 1/4 inch space in between each one (this helps them to get crispy).

  4. Lightly spray each side with a bit of avocado oil (or coconut oil). Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to each side.

  5. Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown but at the halfway mark, flip them to ensure they brown evenly on both sides.

  6. Wait 5 minutes before serving them with your favorite dip or dinner.

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No Bake Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (Gf, Kid-friendly)

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If you’ve hung around my site for any length of time, you know by now I’m a chocolate fiend. I add chocolate or cacao powder to pretty much everything, including even my morning smoothie.

But something you might not know is that as a child I was obsessed with Reese’s peanut butter cups (and still am, frankly). I’d say I’m pretty much obsessed with the idea of mixing chocolate and peanut butter together. I mean how much better can life possibly get than enjoying these two amazing things as a combo?!

What I’m not obsessed with, however, is the ingredient list on just one those those little Reese’s peanut butter cups. Just to name one shady ingredient on this childhood favorite, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (like palm oil) contain trans fats, which are not only particularly bad for your heart health, but are also known for causing inflammation in the body and interfere with the metabolic processes at a cellular level.

Ok, I’ll try to not go all preachy on you. To sum it up, if you read an ingredient list that includes partially hydrogenated oils, avoid that product at all costs.

And why eat something so bad for you when you can easily make something that tastes just as good, if not better AND is actually good for you?!

Its a no brainer in my book. I’m on a mission to teach my kids the joys of eating and enjoying healthy sweets but just making them in a way that nourishes our bodies.

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So I’ve made several different versions of these, including my Healthier Chia Peanut Butter Cups, but nothing has turned out quite as ridiculously satisfying of my chocolate peanut butter cravings as these No-Bake Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.

Oh and did I mention they’re not bake? They are so easy to make, 10-15 minutes from start to finish and include only a handful of wholesome ingredients.

And yes, your children will be as obsessed with them as you are. Try them out, guys, you deserve this mama!

Here’s how to make them.

Ingredients (Peanut Butter Layer)

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2 cups creamy organic peanut butter, I use this brand
1 tablespoon agave
1 cup almond flour, I use this brand
1 cup coconut sugar
2 scoops of collagen powder (optional) I use this brand

Ingredients (Chocolate Layer)

1/3 cup coconut oil
1 + 1/2 cup enjoy life chocolate chips
1 + 1/2 tbsp agave

Serves: Makes about 12-15 bars
Time: 15 minutes

Instructions

  1. Line a 9x13 glass baking pan with parchment paper on the bottom.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the peanut butter layer ingredients and combine well.

  3. Spread the peanut butter layer evenly in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.

  4. Heat the coconut oil in a stainless steel saucepan over medium-low heat. Once heated, add the agave and chocolate chips and stir quickly, being careful not to overheat or burn.

  5. Pour the chocolate mixture atop the peanut butter layer and then spread evenly with a spatula.

-Made with love, Ashley


Superman Spinach + Superfood Muffins (GF, DF, Kid-friendly)

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If I am being completely honest with you guys, I have tried this recipe about 762 times before finally getting it right. The thing about baking is that you have to be very precise and there’s a science behind it all (which, I am still learning by the way.) My point is that I don’t like being precise, I like to add it random superfoods here and there (just like I do with cooking) and unfortunately that’s just not how baking works (hence the 762 tries).

So when I finally got these green superfood muffins right, I did the biggest victory dance of all time.

Sure, I could have just used someone else’s green muffin recipe and called it a day. But I’m extremely picky and very persistent. I didn’t want just a regular green muffin recipe (I have tried many of those too!) I wanted one that was packed with nutrients for my littles.

That’s why I added spinach, flax seed, seed butter and barley grass (just to name a few of the add-ins).

“What the heck even is barley grass and why would you add them to muffins?”, one might ask. Oh don’t you worry guys, I will fill you in. Barley grass contains vitamins A and C, as well as B vitamins and minerals iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also contains contains 20 amino acids, including 8 of the essential amino acids that body can't produce itself.

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Enough already about the arduous recipe developing story behind these little guys.

Just trust me on that they are delicious, your kids will love them and you will feel as victorious as I did for feeding your kids spinach and barely grass for breakfast!

Here’s how I made them.

Makes: 17-18 muffins
Time: 35 minutes

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats (gluten free)

  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 2 tsp barley powder (optional)

  • 2 bananas (very ripe)

  • 2 eggs (room temperature)

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach

  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1/4 cup agave

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter

  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Instructions:

  1. Set oven for 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

  2. In a high speed blender, blend up the oats until they are a nice fine powder. Add in the flax seed, baking soda, cinnamon and barley powder and mix together. Pour the dry ingredients out of the blender into a separate bowl.

  3. Now add the wet ingredients to the blender. The eggs, almond milk, vanilla, agave, sunflower butter, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and spinach. Blend until smooth.

  4. Add back in all the dry ingredients. Blend until smooth.

  5. Let the mixture set for about 10 minutes (if you can) before pouring them into the muffin tins. This helps the apple cider vinegar and baking powder to mix and react together so that the muffins will rise more nicely.

  6. Pour each muffin tin about 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes (or until they begin to slightly brown around the edges).

Enjoy!

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Simple Steps to Transition from a Bottle to Cup

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Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support!

So what do you really need to know about transitioning baby from a bottle to a cup?

The whole concept may seem daunting at first (especially if you’re a new mom) but I promise it’s not as complicated as you may think.

You can start teaching your baby to learn to drink from a straw and an open cup a little before or around the age of one year. It will just take some practice, a lot of repetition and a good role model along the way, too.

Firstly, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, please know that your child doesn’t need a transition period on a sippy cup in between breastfeeding/bottlefeeding and drinking from an open cup. That might come as quite a surprise to many parents, since sippy cups are such a mainstay in our toddler society today. Clever baby product marketers have convinced today’s generation of parents that transitioning from breast or bottle to the sippy cup is just part of the developmental process. However, from a therapists perspective, sippy cups are both completely unnecessary and also counter-productive to the development of strong oral motor skills.

Just to clarify, a sippy cup is a toddler cup with 3-4 tiny holes used as liquid spouts, that were developed sometime in the 1980s (by an engineer, mind you) to prevent toddlers from spilling their milk. They were never developed to teach a child any sort of skill. They were developed to keep parents floors clean.

“Why say no to a sippy cup?” you might ask?

  1. They Promote Oral Motor Passivity
    Well, for starters, sippy cups teach children to use their mouths passively and not actively (in other words, they almost have to do nothing to obtain liquid from the sippy cup) which both weakens and provides no oral motor input to the mouth. Oral motor input from a straw, an open cup or even from food can provide “awakening” sensory input to the mouth for better speech and language as well as feeding, chewing and swallowing skills. To the contrary, with sippy cups, a child is essentially doing nothing with their mouths and receiving little to no sensory feedback.

  2. They Can Promote Poor Oral Motor Habits
    Besides teaching children to not actively participate in the drinking and swallowing experience, they also teach the child to propel their tongue forward into a forward resting posture, which negatively impacts speech and swallowing skills. In a child who also uses a pacifier very frequently past one year, combined with frequent use of a sippy cup, this forward resting posture of the tongue can definitely become an issue with either feeding or speech.

If you occasionally use a sippy cup, I don’t think it should be a problem. However, if your child uses it every day and also constantly uses a pacifier, these issues I mentioned above can definitely become an issue.

So, what should I use instead?

Well I’m sure glad you asked, friend! There are SO many other great cups for toddlers out on the market today that will teach real life drinking and swallowing skills and wont interfere with speech and language development at all.

Don’t worry, some of these cups are spill proof too!

Here’s the two main pointers to look for in a good cup for your toddler:

  • Look for cups with either a straw or those that promote an open-cup drinking pattern

  • Look for open cups that are are good fit for the size of your toddlers hands

  • Avoid spouted cups at all costs

    Here are just a few of my favorite cups that I recommend below. Click on the image to purchase.

My favorite activities to teach drinking skills

  1. Teach your child the art of pronation/supination (flipping the wrists up and down - a skill necessary for bringing a loaded cup to the mouth and drinking from it). Here’s how: In the bath, give your child two cups (different colored cups work best). Model to them how to pour water from one cup to the next and say “pour, pour,” while you do this. This will help your toddler to learn that holding the cup upright keeps the water in. It also helps to stabilize the muscles in the wrists for cup drinking.

  2. Teach your child how to carry an open cup and not spill it by practicing outside with a loaded cup. Fill up a bucket with water and give your child a cup. Have them dip the cup into the bucket and fill it with water and then carry it to another location to pour it out. This teaches your child all of the skills mentioned above.

  3. Teach your child how to drink from a straw. You can do this by cutting a small straw in half, dipping it into water and placing the tail end into your childs mouth and slowly releasing. This will teach your child that water comes out of a straw. After they have mastered this passive skill, its time to practice it actively. Model straw drinking for them and show them how you close your lips around the straw and suck. When you drink some water up, make a refreshed sound like, “Ahhh.” (kids love games like this.) Have them continue to practice closing their lips around straws and sucking and keep on practicing. Larger straws work best at first, as baby is still learning the art of lip closure.

  4. Vibration input prior to practicing drinking can be helpful for younger babies or kids with low muscle tone. You can use a vibrating toothbrush for this. Simply touch a vibrating tip of a toothbrush to your childs mouth prior to drinking or eating or you can hand your toddler the brush themselves and let them explore it with their mouth independently. This will help waken up the mouth prior to feeding or drinking for better oral motor skills and awareness of the mouth in general.

  5. These honey bear cups are amazing for teaching straw drinking skills.
    You can find them here.

-Ashley





Broccoli + Mushroom Breakfast Fritters (Gluten-free, Kid-friendly)

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I’m not sure about you, but I absolutely love anything that resembles a dang hashbrown. Luckily, my kids do too because I love turning anything and everything into a fritter.

But better than a regular old run of the mill hashbrown, these little guys I dreamed up have all the veggies you could ever dream of, with more flavor to boot!

I used portobello mushrooms, broccoli, onions and garlic in these delicious fritters and the kids gobbled them up and even asked for more! (Veggies for breakfast -can we say “mom win?!” Insert virtual high five here)

I served these veggie fritters with some fried eggs and some blueberries and called it a day.

So if your little guy or gal isn’t a big mushroom or broccoli fan, but is a fan of hashbrowns, this might just be the dish to win them over to the other side of the rainbow. Not that you should hide the fact that there’s veggies inside (that’s always a little too suspicious). You can, however, get the kids involved by having them place the veggies into the food processor with you, so they can see how they’re made and feel that mixted texure on their hands a bit before mealtime.

My five year old had a great time helping me make fritter balls and then squish them into pancakes (I had to help him put them into the frying pan.)

Getting kids hands and eyes on the meal before the meal is served always works in your favor.

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The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for them to fry up, that does take some time. But if you work them in larger batches, things will move a lot quicker.

Here’s how to make them.

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Ingredients:

2 medium russet potatoes (shredded)
2 heads of broccoli (steamed and dried with a towel)
1 cup of mushrooms
1/3 cup red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
1 cup almond flour
coconut oil (for frying)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder


Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Serves: 4-5 (about 25 fritters)


Instructions:

  1. Remove the stem and steam the broccoli until soft and tender. Squeeze dry with a towel and place in a food processor.

  2. In the same food processor, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, eggs and almond flour. Pulse until it's all one even texture.

  3. Wash and shred the potatoes and place the shredded potatoes in a large bowl.

  4. Add the processed mixture in with the shredded potatoes. Mix them well with the potatoes and season with extra salt and pepper.

  5. Heat the oil on medium heat.

  6. Make small 1 1/2 inch balls, then smash into a small pancake and fry about 5-6 in the pan at a time. Use the back of a slitted spatula to smash them down flat. Fry for about 5 -6 minutes on each side, or until slightly brown.

  7. Fry them in batches and place them on a paper towel to catch any excess oil.

-Made with love, Ashley

Chocolate + Avocado Nut-butter Shake (Dairy-free, Kid-friendly)

We are gearing up for summer over here and I’ve been trying to remind myself of some tried and true classics for keeping us cool in this Miami heat. 

Since I’m already at it, I thought I might as well share with you all one of my kids’ all time favorite (and most requested) shakes:  Chocolate Avocado Nut Butter Shake.  This is the one my kids always ask for when I ask them “what kind of smoothie should I make today?”

It’s creamy, its dreamy, chocolately & healthy too!  I think it tastes like a healthy version of a frosty from Wendy’s!

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Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (in chunks)
2 tablespoons nut butter of choice
1 tablespoons organic cacao
1 tsp hemp seeds
4-5 small frozen cauliflower heads
1/2 avocado
2 tbsp agave
pinch of cinnamon
2 cups nut milk of your choice

Instructions:

  1. Place bananas and nut milk in first into a high speed blender.  Then add all the other ingredients.  Blend until smooth and creamy and enjoy!

-Made with love, Ashley

 

Ready for Summer 5-Ingredient Mango Papaya Popsicles

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As the end of the school year approaches, I ca’t help but get excited for summertime.  No more early morning rushing, late night lunchbox packing, shlepping kids in the car all day, etc etc etc.  To say the least, I am ready for this school year to be over. 

It’s also so ridiculously hot already here in Miami that I am resorting to pool days and home-made popsicles pretty much on the daily.  This easy as pie mango-papaya popsicle recipe only has 5 ingredients and will help your kiddos stay cool in that blazing summer heat! They also make after-dinner treats nutritious and delicious!

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I always look at deserts, especially something as easy as popsicles, as another way to add in a little nutrition. Who ever said desert can’t be healthy anyway?! I want to teach my kids that sweets can be both good and good for you and I want to teach them the difference between something made with real food ingredients and something fake that was made in a lab.

These popsicles are high in vitamin C, have a dose of healthy fat and as a kicker papaya is great for boosting digestion, something we could all use a bit more of after dinner.

Speaking of digestive health, did you know papayas are chalk-full of digestive enzymes that help us to break down our food and turn it into energy (so much so, that they use papaya to make digestive enzyme supplements)? They also have known benefits for liver health, hormone balance, healthy skin and are full of antioxidants. It really is one of my favorite fruits for those reasons but also because I just find them very refreshing.

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Ok enough already about my love for papayas…. Here’s the easy recipe for these delicious summer-time treats I’m sure your kids will love!

Makes 10-12 popsicles
Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large papaya (seeds removed)

  • 1 medium mango

  • juice from 1/2 lemon

  • 1 tbsp raw honey (not for kids under the age of 1)

  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (alternatively you can use kefir or full fat yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Remove the seeds and scoop out the fruit into a high speed blender with a spoon.  Add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth (add additional coconut milk if needed)

  2. Pour into popsicle molds and wait 4-5 hours until completely frozen.

Made with love,

Ashley

 

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (Kid-Friendly, Dairy-free, Gluten-free)

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support! 

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I am a big fan of Indian food and spice for that matter. However, my kids aren’t big fans of spice and that’s a problem for me sometimes, since we all eat the same meal as eachother around here.

Luckily, Chicken Tikka Masala is a very mild dish and I made this version even more mild for all kiddies at the table. If you’ve never had Tikka Masala, its a tomato-based creamy buttery dish and it’s a really great dish to introduce children to Indian cuisine since its so mild. Also, I love that the parts of it can be deconstructed into different compartments for kids. We put the rice in one area, the chicken in one area and the sauce in another for dipping.

Another selling point for this meal is that it is ready in legitimately 20-30 minutes from start to finish so its a great call for busy mom’s like me!

If there is one piece of advice I would give for busy working moms who are trying to eat healthy, it would be to GET an INSTANTPOT!! It will save your life and your sanity. Dinner in 15 mnutes, what could be better for a busy working mom?! Plus they are on sale right now on amazon for $69.95 so what are you waiting for??

You can make this dish in the crockpot or the Instant pot and it is so good and so simple! Great for making ahead of time for left overs throughout the work week as well.

I paired it with some white rice with basil and parsley and some broccoli and it was perfect!

Here’s how to make it.

Serves: 4-6
Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the chicken + sauce:

  • 2 packs organic chicken thighs

  • The cream top from 1 organic full fat coconut milk

  • 2 cloves garlic (shredded)

  • 1 thumb of ginger (peeled and shredded)

  • 1 + 1/4 6 oz cans of tomato paste

  • 1 yellow onion diced

  • 1.5 tbsp garam masala

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 2 tbsp ghee (this is the brand I use)

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (to saute)

  • salt and pepper to taste

For the rice:

  • 1 cup white rice

  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • 1 tbsp chopped basil

  • 2 tbsp extra olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the rice ahead of time. Add the herbs and oil right on top. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  2. In the instant pot, add the coconut oil and turn on the saute feature. Once heated, add the chicken and saute for 5-7 minutes. Then add the onions, garlic and ginger and saute for a few minutes together with the chicken (about 3 minutes)

  3. Turn the saute feature off. Add all the remaining ingredients (the coconut cream, the tomato paste, the ghee and all the seasonings) for the chicken and combine well. Turn on the pressure cook setting for 15 minutes and seal the instant pot.

  4. While the chicken is cooking, steam your broccoli for 10-15 minutes or until slightly tender.

  5. When chicken is finished, serve it over the rice with some broccoli and enjoy!

Made with love,

-Ashley

Chocolate Chia Sunflower Seed Cups - the healthier version of Peanut Butter Cups (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support! 

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Is it a crime that all I want to do for Mother’s Day is to sit alone in silence and horde all my chocolate peanut butter cups?? I’m sort of jk but not really.  We had a fun adventurous day at the beach and farmers market yesterday and now all I want to do is eat, rest, and do absolutely nothing.

if only doing nothing was an option as a mom.  Dang. 

Anyhow, if you watched my on my IG stories make a blooper in flip flopping the recipe ingredients for these bad boys, you can see now why I needed to update the recipe for them ASAP. Pouring the chocolate first and then adding in the seed butter layer made them EVEN MORE DELICIOUS than before and I didn’t think that was possible.

These are seriously the bomb- not only do they taste exactly like your favorite childhood Halloween candy but they are pumped full of nutrition and antioxidant power too.  Oh, did I mention they’re only made with 5 ingredients?

They’re so healthy you won’t mind feeding them to the kiddos too (if you’re willing to share.)

Here’s how to make these new and improved delicious chocolate treats:

I used these awesome reusable silicone cupcake liners to make these guys.  They also double as lunch-box food dividers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 dark chocolate candy bars, chopped into smaller chunks (I look for 70% or more cacao and these Alter Eco chocolate bars are my favorite organic brand)

  • 2 tbsp organic coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (alternatively you could use peanut butter or almond butter)

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

  • 2-3 tbsp agave, depending on desired sweetness level

  • 1 scoop of collagen hydrolysate (this is my favorite brand) - this step is also optional but just adds some extra protein

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Instructions:

  1. Line a muffin tin with the silicone cupcake liners. (if you don’t have them, you can use parchment paper liners or coat the pan with oil but they won’t be as easy to remove)

  2. In a stainless steel pot, melt 2 tbsp coconut oil over medium low heat. Add in the chocolate bar chunks and stir with a whisk or fork until it turns into a thin consistency.

  3. Pour the chocolate + oil mixture evenly into each muffin tin.

  4. Sprinkle the chia seeds on top.

  5. Clean the steel pot and add the remaining tbsp of coconut oil to pan over low heat.

  6. In the pot - mix together agave, sunflower butter and collagen until its slightly thin.

  7. Pour 1 heaping tsp of the sunflower butter mixture to each chocolate muffin tin, right in the center. Swirl the tops of them with the back of a spoon and sprinkle any remaining chia seeds on top.

  8. Place in freezer for about 3 hours or until fully frozen.




    Enjoy!!

    -Ashley


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Bbq Chicken Pizza on Cauliflower Crust (Gluten-free)


Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support!
 

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Barbecue chicken pizza brings me back to my childhood years, when I was young and spry enough to down about 5-6 pieces of this glorious thing without batting an eye.

You guys know by now I am all about making healthy pizza’s so of course I had to re-create this childhood favorite. Lately I’ve been all about time saving, so this simple pre-made crust has been making my life a whole heck of a lot easier.

If you are a huge fan of BBQ chicken pizza like me, I know you will be hooked on this seriously EASY and healthy weeknight favorite.

I will save the recipe for how to make homemade cauliflower crust for another day. This recipe is all about time saving, healthy-goodness for busy moms like me.

I’m talking about the kind of crust you buy in the freezer section, except made of veggie goodness!

My absolute favorite frozen cauliflower crust brand, Caulipower, made with all wholesome ingredients. You guys know I am the queen of label checking when it comes to pre-packaged products. Caulipower’s ingredient list is so clean it will make any foodies head spin! You can check out their list of ingredients here.

I’ve posted about this crust before but I really love it. Throw on your favorite toppings, bake for 15 minutes and dinner will be good to go!

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Here’s how to make this ridiculously easy weeknight treat. It’s so fun to make with kids too!

Serves: 4 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pack of frozen cauliflower pizza crusts
1 pack of chicken thighs (cooked and chopped)
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 medium red onion
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the chicken ahead of time. In Instant pot, cook chicken thighs for 15 minutes on pressure cook setting (adding water at the bottom) Alternatively, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken. Chop into 1/2 inch squares.

  2. When you’re ready to bake your pizza, set oven to 425.

  3. Spread about 1/2 of the bbq sauce on the pizza crusts.

  4. In a bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 of the bbq sauce with the chopped chicken.

  5. Layer the pizza in this order: first the bbq sauce, then the chicken/bbq mixture, then the cheese, the onions, then cilantro

  6. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a pizza stone), place the pizzas in the oven for 15-17 minutes, or until the crust begins to slightly brown.

Made with Love,

-Ashley

8 Simple Steps to Detox the Liver

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support! 

My Healing Journey

At the height of my health challenges this past year, I was suffering from a debilitating case of insomnia and its evil counterpart, anxiety, which negatively impacted pretty much every area of my life. I just had stopped breastfeeding my daughter (for two years) and I just knew deep down something was majorly wrong. My hair was falling out in chunks, I had night sweats, I had lots about 15 lbs, lost my appetite, I had acne all over my face and I would go for 4-5 days in a row without being able to sleep for one single hour.

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But despite my ridiculous symptoms, no doctor seemed to be able to help me or point me in the right direction.  I took every drug known to man (natural and pharmaceutical) to help me sleep and went to just about every type of doctor you could imagine that might be able to help me get a restful nights sleep to no avail.  No doctor was giving me the answers I needed.  I felt hopeless.  I was a tired, frustrated zombie.  The longer I went without sleep, the more my anxiety would rise and it became a viscous downward cycle.  I became depressed and angry about everyone’s lack of answers about why the heck I couldn’t sleep. 

It wasn’t until I stopped playing the role of the victim and started to take charge over my health and healing and regain control over my thoughts that things began to change for the better.

In the end, though no doctor was able to be my saving grace and no drug proved to be my fix-all, by the Lords’ goodness, I managed to make it out of my pit of despair (what I lovingly call it now to my kids) and talk to all of you on the other side of this about how the heck I managed to get out of the awful mess that is insomnia

The insane amount of tests, pricks and physicians appointments I underwent during that time finally gave me some useful information to go off of  - I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (a  sluggishnish of the thryoid gland, which is especially common during the post partum period), and a possible autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid gland. 

Knowing what I know now, insomnia occurs for a physiological reason.  Toxicity, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, stress and thyroid dysfunction are all common culprits and they all feed off of one another.  Since the thryoid gland is the master regulator of the hormones in the body, it was no wonder I was having night sweats and excessive hair loss (a common sign of hormonal imbalances).  I also tested high in some heavy metals, which raised a red flag that my body needed to detox.

It was not by chance that I was handed Kelly Brogan’s gift of a book, A Mind of Your Own, right in the middle of some of my most desperate hours.  Kelly Brogan is a clinical psychiatrist who treats women suffering from insomnia, depression and anxiety strictly through diet, optimizing thyroid function, addressing adrenal fatigue, fixing the gut and naturally balancing the hormones.  Her protocol for healthy sleep and hormones involves detoxification, diet and nourishing the hormones, adrenals and thyroid.

In her book, I learned how gut health affects the function of the thyroid.  And the adrenals affect the function of the thyroids production of and balance of hormones.  I learned how a toxic liver can be a precursor to poor gut health, poor thyroid function and wacky hormones.  It finally all made sense to me.

I hoped and prayed that the protocol in her book would be the answer to all my prayers.  With her help, I sort of became my own doctor and began addressing each issue one by one.  I decided to start her protocol religiously as a last ditch effort (through a grain free, dairy free diet and supplements to heal the gut while nourishing the thryoid gland and adrenals) for 30 days, no looking back. 

And finally, after not sleeping for over 8 months, I began to sleep through the night on day 4 of her protocol and began my slow journey into feeling like myself again.  My hair slowly started to grow, I started gaining weight again, my skin started clearing up and I felt clarity and calm in my mind in the first time in forever.

I won’t lie that prayer and a whole lot of faith, in combination with a ton of internal work I had to do on learning how to control my thoughts to combat my anxious mind, played a huge role in this entire healing process.

So as I look back on my year of healing, I want to firstly emphasize the mental and spiritual aspect of all of this.  That before I could actually heal, I had to firstly believe that I could heal and stop partnering with this fearful mindset of thinking I couldn’t ever get better.  The mind is a powerful place.  And if we partner with fear and panic over physical symptoms for too long, we can become overwhelmed by them and lose faith in the beautiful design of our bodies, that knows instinctively how to heal itself in the right environment.

I decided to partner with peace and healing and this was a crucial step to my healing journey.

When I realized I needed I needed to detox

After months of reading and researching gut health, hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue and thyroid related disorders, I became to quickly realize that the first thing I needed to address is the state of my liver.  After living on this earth for 33 years, as toxic as our environment and our food and water systems are, it was more than time to start getting rid of my congested liver, in order to properly heal all the other areas.

Gut infections and parasites within the gut can often hide within toxic environments both in the gut and in the liver.  A toxic or congested liver is not only a pre-curser to developing all sorts of cancers and hormonal imbalances but it also can manifest in symptoms of anger, anxiety, depression, etc.

I was also surprised to learn how an overburdened liver can manifest in leaky gut syndrome, which can negatively impact thyroid health and lead to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

So in part 1 of this series, I will talk about how I detoxed my liver, and in the follow up articles, I’ll write more specifically about adrenal fatigue, gut healing, thyroid health and hormone balancing.

Signs of a Sluggish Liver

To begin, lets just take a look at a few common symptoms of an overburdened or sluggish liver:

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  • Acne

  • Disrupted sleep patterns

  • Exhaustion or chronically tired

  • Brain fog or inability to focus

  • Inability to handle stimulants or depressants like alcohol or caffeine

  • Emotional outbursts

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Allergies or an inability to handle toxins in the environment (cleaning supplies or perfumes)

Tips to do an effective and safe liver cleanse:

If you’re serious about detoxing your liver, I recommend you stick with a detox plan for anywhere from 2-4 weeks.  Personally,  I followed these steps for 4 weeks and felt convinced I needed to continue, so I did it a second time again for another two weeks. Feel free to follow it for less or more time, depending on your individual needs and always consult a physician before starting any regimen.

The first thing I want to point out about starting a safe and effective liver cleanse is to be careful and to go SLOW.  Find a holistic practitioner who understands liver detoxification (this can be hard to do, since most western medical doctors like to pretend the body’s organs are all on their own islands and don’t work together synergistically and many don’t even recognize the gut-brain connection.)

Detoxifying your liver can actually be dangerous if your organs start to purge and release these stored toxins too fast and without the proper toxin binders (like chlorella or activated charcoal.)  Forceful detoxification methods may lead to potentially serious consequences.  There is something called a herxheimer reaction, or a detox reaction, which happens naturally during any detox but can be extreme in some cases.  What happens is that the liver begins to release these toxins but they often end up being redistributed right back into other areas of the body and in the brain.  You can actually end up in the ER if you go too fast.  Take my advice and move slow and always take a binder.  I personally experienced crazy herxheimer reactions the first time I began to detox (when I went too fast/forceful).  I experienced migraines, overwhelming fatigue, swollen lymph nodes as if I had strep throat, weird seizure-like activity and nausea. 

A detox reaction is not a sign that you should give up, it is a sign that your body is detoxifying (the lymph, stool and urine carries the toxins out of your body).  It is, however, a sign that you may need to go more slowly and take the right toxin binders.

Also note that intense detoxes are not safe for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women.

Steps I took to cleanse my liver:

  1. Eliminating (for at least 2-3 weeks) gluten, conventional dairy, caffeine, alcohol and non-organic food.  The biggest and first thing you need to do is to simply commit to detoxing for a set amount of time and dedicate yourself 100 %.  Personally, I set aside one whole month for detoxing and eating very clean, but I was in quite a dire situation.  Gluten and conventional dairy are the biggest culprits in leaky-gut and inflammatory bowel disease so they were the very first I knew had to go.  Other things to consider avoiding during this time period is all alcohol and caffeine (which can negatively impact liver purging).

  2. Focusing on eating a plate full of fruits and veggies with plenty of healthy fat and protein sources

    Whether you’re vegan or paleo, or whichever category your diet falls under, we all need to focus on eating a variety of plant foods and balance them out with healthy fat sources (olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, sardines, avocados, etc) and healthy protein sources (nuts, seeds, healthy organic pasture raised protein sources, organic liver is a great source of protein and nutrition for detoxification as it includes many key nutrients of both phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways).

    When detoxing, if you don't have a clear set plan of what you can actually eat, many people don’t eat enough.  Not eating enough is counterproductive, even in a detox period, as you to be nourishing and replenishing the body and the organs so that they can perform their proper functions. 

    Have a plan or protocol.  Have guidelines and recipes to use to nourish your body.  I highly recommend Kelly Brogans 30 Day Reset program (this has so many great recipes.)

    Helpful herbs to add in: cilantro, dandelion root, ginger, lemon, turmeric and milk thistle are some of my favorite liver friendly herbs.

  3. Reduce your Daily Toxic Load Exposure: 

    This is huge!  We live in a very toxic world.  We are exposed to toxins and chemicals in our water, in our food system, through our skin with personal care products, etc every single day.  During a liver detox, it is absolutely essential to rid yourselves of the toxins that clogged up your liver in the first place.  I started by replacing all of my makeup, lotions and investing in a high quality water filtration system.  Buying organic food significantly reduces your daily toxic exposure load.

    The Aquatru water filtration system was a key part of my healing journey.  It has a reverse osmosis system that even filters out chlorine and fluoride (most filters do not).  Fluoride is extremely toxic to the organs as well as the brain and it disrupts the function of the thyroid gland.


    Here are a few other extremely common toxins that occur everyday in our world: 
    -Xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body) Xenoestrogens are contained in a variety of self-care, beauty and cleaning supply products as well as in our food.  The biggest danger is that these estrogen-mimicking chemicals contribute to a rise in estrogen dominance, which is a pre-curser to breast cancer.  Xenoestrogens include BPA, GMO soy, phthalates and parabens.  Dump your toxic make-up brands and look for non-toxic labels.

    -Heavy Metals are found in foods, personal care products, supplements, cookware/utensils and vaccines.  Some common offenders are lead, cadmium, mercury, barium and arsenic.

    -Halogens including bromide, chloride, fluoride all mimic iodine in the body and therefore, take up receptor sites for iodine on the thyroid gland, disrupting thyroid function.  These halogens are heavy in water and food products, making buying organic even more important.

  4. Add in these healing foods any way you can

    Focus on consuming a lot of fresh smoothies and juices and salads with an array of healing plant foods. Try to work in at least a few fresh juices and smoothies every week.  If you can, try to start each day off with a fresh juice with all of these healing foods.

    Here’s what a sample day menu looked like on my detox:

    Breakfast: I started my day with a fresh juice or my go-to smoothie of wild blueberries, a greens powder, collagen, coconut oil, banana, cilantro, nut butter/avocado and coconut water.  I add in lots of healthy fat sources to keep my body fueled and my blood sugar stable.
    Lunch: Arugala salad with avocado, kalamata olives, onions, sardines, sunflower seeds and an olive oil based salad dressing.  Pastured eggs are great to add in too, because they contain choline, which is a co-factor of detox.
    Dinner: Lots of veggies with a protein of choice.  Veggie soups and bone broths are very healing as well to incorporate.  Quinoa is a safe gluten-free, detox friendly grain.
    Snacks: veggies, fruit, nuts, hot lemon water and a hot dandelion tea with honey.
    Juices to add in: Celery juice, my detox juice (ginger, apple, carrot, celery, lemon) fresh carrot juice

    Healing foods to add: Cilantro, celery, arugula, papaya, pineapple, wild blueberries, beets, carrots, turmeric, ginger, apples, lemons, etc.  Dandelion tea and hot lemon and ginger water are great add ins as well.

  5. Take liver supporting herbs to support all the pathways for detoxification (phase 1 and phase 2)

    The liver expels toxins via two different pathways - first through phase 1 (which is more complicated) and then through phase 2 (through the urine, bile and stool).  Phase 1 and phase 2 pathways require different vitamins and nutrients.  It is essential during any detoxification period that the body has all of the essential nutrients to help the toxins to exit the system along each pathway properly.  If a toxin is expelled and makes it out of the phase 1 pathway, but doesn’t make it through the phase 2 pathway, it will likely get recycled back into the system instead of exiting through the urine or stool.

    Phase 1 detoxification pathway requires: B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12, folate, glutathione & flavanoids
    Phase 2 detoxification pathway requires: Methionine, cysteine, glutathione, magensium, B12, B5, Vit C, glycine, taurine, glutamine, folate, and choline

    My favorite liver detox herbal capsules are made by Dr. Jess and you can find them on her website here and liver pills provide many of the additional detoxification nutrients.

    The best herbal support for detoxification is milk thistle, since this herb naturally boosts glutathione levels, which is involved in both phase 1 and phase 2 of detox.

    Other extremely helpful supplements to take during any detox period are both N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and glutathione.  NAC is a wonderful supplement because it turns into glutathione, which aides both detox pathways AND it helps to heal intestinal permeability.

    These supplements are great to take daily to support the natural detoxification process but they are especially beneficial if you are going on a specific detox protocol

  6. Make sure to take a binder to help to bind and eliminate toxic heavy metals that emerge from the liver. 


    To put it simply, binders help to capture and eliminate the metals and toxins that are being expelled during the liver cleanse.  My favorite heavy metal binder is chlorella but I’ve heard many people use activated charcoal or bentanite clay.  The downfall with activated charcoal is that it can also bind to important vitamins and minerals and essential pull those nutrients from the body as well.  I feel personally, chlorella is a bit more gentle but also very effective.


    Here is the brand of organic chlorella that I use and trust.

  7. Sweat every day

    Sweating is the one of the bodies most effective and most natural methods to detox or rid the body of toxins.  This is so important!  Make yourself exercise for at least 20 minutes or until you get a nice sweat going every day if you can.  Saunas work well for this too.  I personally, worked out in my garage or my home gym and intentionally left the AC off to sweat out more toxins.

  8. Look into the science behind coffee enemas

    Well, I truly never thought I would see the day when I was talking about coffee enemas openly on the internet (my husband will likely die of embarrassment).  While I’d honestly love to leave out this “dirty” little detail from my healing journey, I would never feel right about omitting it, since it was such a key element to my healing process.  If it even helps just one person feel better, its worth the temporary embarrassment in the short term.

    Coffee enemas are known for supporting the liver in detoxification by means of increasing the production of bile.  They help the liver to purge toxic heavy metals that are clogging it up and they also help to clean out the digestive tract of undigested foods, biofilm, gut pathogens and parasites.

    Do your own research and decide if this is best for you.  I personally have never felt better than when I was doing these.  I felt an immediate improvement in my energy levels and I felt clear headed for the first time in my life.  For me, coffee enemas worked wonders and I truly feel they were necessary.  I did about 2-3 enemas a week.  Here is some great information about this practice here.

    Tips for safer coffee enemas: drink plenty of fluids beforehand.  Take your binder with lots of water and a teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil (atleast 30 minutes before) to help bind the metals that are expelled.  Replace your electrolytes with plenty of coconut water and fluids.

    Here is the coffee enema kit that I use and trust.
    Here is the organic enema coffee I use and trust.

Supplements, Supports + Herbs I love for Liver Detox:

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support!   

-Happy healing, Ashley

Healthy Gluten-free Peach Cobbler (Gluten + Dairy free)

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support! 

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I love teaching my kids that sweets don’t necessarily have to be vilified as the bad guys but they sweets can be both delicious and healthy too!

This Gluten-free Peach Cobbler can double as both dessert and breakfast the next day because it’s that healthy)

We had a bunch of tiny peaches from our surprise peach tree (true story - we didn’t know it was a peach tree until they started falling ) so we turned it into this yummy dish right here!

Here’s how to make it!


Ingredients:

Peach layer:

2 cups peaches
1/3 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup agave


Crust layer:

1 1/2 cup gluten-free oats (we use Bob’s Red Mill quick-cooking gluten free oats)
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp coconut butter
1 tsp agave
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
Optional: splash of vanilla


Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Heat all the peach layer ingredients in a stainless steel pot over medium low heat for about 5 minutes- stir and combine well.

  3. Layer a ceramic baking dish with the peach layer.

  4. Combine all the crust ingredients well and then sprinkle them on top.

  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust begins to turn slightly brown.

-Ashley

Chocolate Avocado Mousse (Dairy-free, Vegan)

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If you’re anything like me and you are a huge fan of chocolate pudding or mousse, this little guy has got your name written all over it. I’m literally sitting on my couch eating it right now thinking why didn’t I think of this sooner!?! Midday chocolate is essential in my household.

You wouldn’t believe it if I told you it was made with all wholesome ingredients and you could eat it until your heart was content without feeling the least bit guilty!

Made with organic cacao and lots of avocados to round out the blood sugar spikes with some health fat (fat helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels) you really can’t go wrong with this easy and delicious weeknight treat.

Here are the details on how to make it. It only takes 5 minutes!!

**Affiliate links below.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 semi-soft hass avocados

  • 1/3 cup organic cacao (this is the brand I am loving lately)

  • 1/3 cup agave + honey mix

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1/4 cup water or coconut milk

  • optional: a scoop of collagen peptides

Instructions:

  1. Add the liquid to the bottom of a high speed blender or food processor first.

  2. Then add in all of your other ingredients.

  3. Combine on medium to high speed until you reach a pudding consistency.

  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

-Made with love, Ashley

If you make this kitchen favorite of mine, comment below and tell me what you think!

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support! 

Thai Style Chicken Vegetable Curry (Gluten-free, Dairy free, Paleo)

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If I had to pick one of my favorite moments of all time, I might just have to choose the time I went to Chaing Mai Thailand with just me and my hubs (pre having kids) and got to spend all day with a Thai chef, learning how to cook Thai food.

Seriously a foodies dream come true.

We got to first shop for fresh produce (including a visit to a local stand that made fresh coconut milk right before our eyes) and then got to cook three traditional Thai dishes from start to finish.  The best part was getting to eat them afterwards.

Red curry was always a favorite of mine but it became extra special after this moment.  As soon as I got home from our trip, I started to recreated this traditional Thai dish in my own kitchen and I haven’t stopped since.

My husband and I are both obsessed with this meal, and my two year old daughter gobbles it up too.  My son - not so much a big fan of spice.  It can be tricky trying to enjoy different types of foods with kids who are learning to appreciate different textures and flavors. I shared the other day on Instagram about how kids need to feel comfortable with foods solo before they will like them/accept them as a mix with lots of other foods.

This applies to casseroles, lasagna, soups, rice bowls, etc (anything with suspicious unknowns in the mix)

So when I serve it to my kids I take into consideration whose eating it and which one of my kids would be less intimidated if I separated the foods out into individual compartments aka deconstructing the meal.

Here’s how I serve it two ways to my two year old and my five year old.

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Anyways, I want to get right down to business and share one of my all time favorite meals with you all because I love you, that’s why. 

Im guessing you are a fan of spice like me if you decided to read this far but in all reality, this dish isn’t super super spicy.  “Medium spice” I would call it.

And of course, you can always kick it up (or down) a notch just by adding more or less curry paste.

Here’s how I make it.

Serves: 6-8 people
Cooking Time: 1 hour
*Affiliate links below

Ingredients:

  • 2 packs organic chicken thighs (skin and bone removed)

  • 2 cans organic full fat coconut milk

  • 1 + 1/2 jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste

  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 pack of portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped

  • 1 pack frozen broccoli & 1 pack frozen cauliflower (alternatively you can use 1 larger bag of frozen mixed veggies)

  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen pineapple

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1 32-oz container of chicken broth (I like this free-range brand by Pacific Foods)

  • 2-3 tsp curry powder

  • 2 tsp onion powder

  • 2 tbsp agave

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup rice or quinoa to serve over

Instructions:

  1. Prepare your rice or quinoa ahead of time so that when the curry is ready, you can pour it over.

  2. In a large stainless steel or ceramic pot, bring coconut oil to medium heat.  Add the chicken thighs and par cook them each, about 3 minutes, flipping to brown each side a bit.  Remove chicken onto a cutting board.

  3. In the remaining oil (you can add a bit more if the pot is lacking) add the onions first and then the mushrooms and cook until they are soft (about 7 minutes).  While the onions and mushrooms cook, go ahead and cut your chicken thighs into about 1 + 1/2 inch strips.

  4. Remove onto a separate plate.

  5. In the pot, add 1 full jar + 1/2 of another jar of the red curry paste (or more or less depending on how spicy you want it to be) plus the white fatty part of the coconut milk over medium heat.  Stir the coconut fat and the curry paste together while it heats up and begins to combine together.

  6. Once it combines, you can pour the rest of the coconut milk into the pot and bring to a medium heat.

  7. At this time, add the chicken broth, the onions and mushrooms, the veggies and the chicken.  You can add the salt and pepper, onion powder, agave and curry powder at this time too.  It will take some time to bring to a boil. Stir well.

  8. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid.  Cook on low heat for about 30-40 minutes.  Add the pineapple chunks to top it off.

  9. It tastes best when it is allowed to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Serve over your favorite rice or grain.

-Made with love, Ashley

If you make this kitchen favorite of mine, comment below and tell me what you think!

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link.  If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission.  The commission is paid by third parties, not by you.  I only recommend products that I genuinely love.  Thank you for your support! 

The Importance of Making a Mess

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As a mom of two kids under the age of five, I know first-hand how mess making during mealtime can really drive a type-A mama like myself to the brink of insanity.  (Over and over again, every day.)  But as a pediatric occupational therapist, who specializes in sensory related feeding issues and picky eating, I also know that the benefits of letting my kids get messy when they eat, far outweigh the downfalls of messy mealtimes.

I’ve seen firsthand how many type-A moms like myself, delay letting their little ones self-feed during the food-introduction period, to avoid the mess.  The problem with delaying self-feeding and not allowing babies to explore foods with their hands is that it can, in some instances, lead to an interference with normal feeding patterns and can contribute to more selective eating patterns in the long run.

There are many ways that delayed self-feeding can contribute to the development of normal feeding and interfere with the development of oral motor skills (the skills that help the mouth, tongue, lips and cheeks work in a coordinated way to mash up and swallow food).

Babies Learn through Touch

It might be helpful to first take a look at how babies learn about the world around them within the first year of life.  Babies are naturally driven by their tactile sense and explore the world around them with their sense of touch.  They touch, feel and explore objects within their reach by bringing items that they’ve discovered to their mouths.  This helps them to understand more about their environment.

The fingertips and the lips and tongue just so happen to house more sensory receptors (cells that receive tactile or touch information to the brain to help us to understand what it is and what it feels like) than any other region in the entire human body.

Babies learn about accepting new textures in this very specific order of touch: first their hands, then their mouth (we call this proximal to distal sensory acceptance in the therapy world.) That is just the progression of tactile sensory exploration, the way that babies learn about the world around them.  Babies (and toddlers too) need to be allowed the opportunity to touch, feel and smell their foods in order to determine if they are willing to try it with their mouths.

I think if we understand that concept, we can appreciate why babies are constantly chewing on and mouthing everything they can possibly get their hands on.  I think we will also understand, then, why it is important to let babies explore different food textures with their hands and mouths.

Babies Naturally Crave Autonomy

Another important characteristic of babies is that they are naturally driven by a need for autonomy and independence (meaning they want to figure out how things work on their own).  This can describe why sometimes a toddlers very first words are often “no,” “myself” or “me” or “mine.”  Sure, some babies are more passive than others, but for the most part, kids want to do things for themselves.  This is especially important during the critical food introduction period, in my eyes.

It is important to let babies explore foods on their own terms, when they are ready and to not encroach on this innate drive for feeding autonomy.   This matters because feeding autonomy can set a framework for both 1) developing a healthy relationship with food and b) helping kids tune into their own internal nutritional cues.

The moral of the story here, is that the more that we let our children take the lead around the dinner table, the more comfortable they will feel with food and mealtime.

Issues With Spoon Feeding

While I have no problem with a feeding purees for a short period of time (1-2  weeks at the most), or helping babies spoon feed with more difficult food items (like soup, for example), I do think that long term spoon feeding of puree’s can encroach on a babies natural drive to explore and learn through their sense of touch and it also takes away a babies innate drive for autonomy.

Often parents choose to spoon feed purees for longer period of time because they fear choking.  The irony in this is that the longer a baby or child goes without learning the concepts of how foods feel and how to go about manipulating, biting, chewing and then swallowing these foods; the more likelihood they will have an actual problem with an over-reactive gag, poor tolerance to different textures and choking.  This is because the more times the gag reflex (a protective mechanism that inhibits aspiration of food being lodged in the airway) is elicited, the quicker the body self-teaches more efficient movement patterns within the mouth. 

An example of a more efficient oral motor pattern would be learning how to swipe food from the airway with the tongue and move it into the molar region. 

Furthermore, many children who throw up often during mealtime (with no underlying medical causation) have an over-reactive gag-reflex, which has been set in motion due to a lack of experiences with real foods in the first few years of life.

Getting Messy Helps to Desensitize the Tactile System

Over-protecting and over-sanitizing has taught children that being messy is not okay.  Because many children in this generation have had limited exposure to the natural elements of nature (like sand, mud, etc),  they are generally lacking in real life experiences with different textures.

A child who lacks basic experiences with textures on their hands and has never been exposed to messy textures in nature can become over-sensitive to tactile information (these children will cry or scream if they get their hands or face messy or will refuse to walk in the sand or grass.)  Sensory-related diagnosis’ are on the rise more than ever before.  We need to teach our children (and retrain ourselves as mothers, too) that being messy is okay and a very crucial part of play and child development.

Babies and kids need to be allowed to get messy and feel their foods with their hands because this important part of sensory play promotes a tolerance to a wider variety of textures.  The more textures they are allowed to explore with their hands (and feet too), the more they can put a name to different textures like “mushy” “crunchy” “lumpy”, etc.  The more we broaden their understanding of different textures, the more likely they will allow these textures into their mouths in the form of new foods.

Self-feeding Promotes Age Appropriate Hand-eye Coordination + Fine Motor Skills

The last but certainly not least important reason that getting messy benefits babies during feeding is that it enhances the development of both hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.  These hand skills impact a child’s performance in many life-related skills and school.  A few examples of life skills that depend on refined hand-eye coordination are things like dressing, handwriting, shoe tying, utensil use and cutting.  The building blocks for hand-eye coordination begin in the hand to mouth exploration phase, which is typical from 6-18 months of age.

 

-Ashley

Matcha Mushroom Magic Latte

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Shortly after having my second child, I had to give up coffee.  Looking back now it was probably the best move ever for me, but at the time it seemed like the end of the world.  With the endless nights of breastfeeding a newborn and the sleep deprivation that came, all while trying to care for a toddler too, I wanted coffee more than anything. 

“Why did I give it up?” You might ask.  I will tell you why.  I noticed whenever I drank even the slightest bit of coffee, my daughter wouldn’t sleep well at night and wouldn’t take naps during the day well either.  So not only would I be sleep deprived but I would also have to deal with a very cranky over-tired baby.  Its funny she was so sensitive to caffeine because I have always been very sensitive to it too.  Coffee has always made me wired and jittery so I would just allow it in tiny bits or drink half-calf to deal.

But this situation called for a complete cessation and I was desperate for something else that could help me stay alive during that crazy post-partum year.

I had heard of matcha but I wrongly assumed I could handle it because it was still caffeine after all.  But then I read about its alerting but calming affects and I thought “That’s exactly what I need!” So I gave it a try.  I was surprised at how it gave me a little boost of energy but never made me (or my babe) feel jittery one bit.  I was absolutely in love.  Then, I began to research the benefits and I was floored at how nutritious matcha was and how beneficial it was to my body.  It was exactly what I needed!

Matcha Benefits:

  • Supports the liver and the detoxification process

  • Supports a healthy hormone balance

  • Gives a calm but alert feeling

  • Contains more antioxidants than 10 cups of green tea

  • Its heavily supported in research to be one of the best natural breast cancer preventatives (it helps to remove excess estrogen from the body)

So without further ado, I feel I am way over-due to share my favorite Mushroom + Matcha Magic Latte recipe with you. I have been drinking it for about 2 years and I have tried almost every organic matcha brand under the sun.  This brand I use doesn’t even compare to the other brands on the market.  Its quality and taste is above and beyond anything else I have tried in the past.

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I use my favorite Ippodo Tea matcha and mix in a bit of my favorite immune supporting Red Reishi mushroom powder and it’s a wonderful, magical thing that gives me mom super powers and just makes me so happy, you guys!

Red Reishi is an incredibly powerful mushroom, that has been used for centuries for its healing and longevity properties. It’s been studied extensively for its anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties (breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, just to name a few) It improves liver detoxification pathways, protects against infection, fights asthma + allergies, promotes better sleep and stabilizes blood sugar.

Here’s how easy it is to to make this God send:

Mushroom + Matcha Magic Latte

**Affiliate links below

Blend with a hand blender and enjoy!

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission. The commission is paid by third parties, not by you. I only recommend products that I genuinely love. Thank you for your support!

-Ashley

Cauliflower Crust Sweet Potato & Sausage Pizza (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo, Kid-friendly)

It has been a while since I made a recipe and though “Oh, my gosh. People NEED this in their life!” Not trying to brag, even though I kind of am, but this pizza is so legit you guys. So nourishing and so delicious too. Did I mention its not only gluten free but also made with cauliflower crust and a bunch of other delicious veggies and real foods?!

Wow. I’m such a foodie that I even sound ridiculous to myself. I’m sorry you guys, but it really is that good! Even my husband, who would rather eat real pizza any day was raving about this Sweet Potato Pizza.

Whoever even thought of the brilliant idea of cauliflower pizza crust anyway?! Seriously!! What a genius. I very much would like to high five this person and become their friend. If you have never tried it, don’t hate. It actually tastes pretty darn amazing considering its made out of a cruciferous veggie. And your kids won’t have any clue either. Unless they’re one of those super suspicious guys.

And no, I don’t really hide it from my kids that I’m serving them pizza made out of veggies. They pretty much expect veggies to be part of every meal equation in my house at this point but I don’t really have to highlight it either because after all, it is PIZZA.

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I know what you’re thinking though. You’ve tried making cauliflower crust before and you DO NOT have time for that. And its messy as heck too. You’re so not going there again.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered boo. I don’t bother with homemade cauliflower crust anymore either. Unless I have a lot of time on my hands and a lot of patience, nope, not going there.

Thankfully for you and I both, I finally found a store-bought cauliflower pizza crust that is made out of legit ingredients with no fluff or fillers and tastes delicious. Most other brands I’ve used in the past have odd fillers and use mozzarella cheese (I don’t eat conventional dairy). But this brand below has all wholesome, real food ingredients that make a gluten-free organic mama like me very, very happy!

One more thing, I forgot to mention before I give you the recipe. Its a total week-night dinner time saver. It only takes about 30 minutes total cooking time to throw together. A win-win-win in my book!

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*Affiliate links below.

Serves: 5 people
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cauliflower Pizza Crust (store bought, I love this brand)

  • 1 + 1/2 large sweet potato precooked until soft (in oven or crockpot/instant pot)

  • 1 pack of nitrate free Italian sausage, casings removed and chopped

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

  • 1 jar or can of pizza sauce

  • coconut oil or ghee for cooking

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • salt and pepper

  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped and diced

Instructions:

  1. Before hand, cook your sweet potatoes. I threw 2 sweet potatoes into the Instantpot for 15 minutes on pressure cook until they were fork tender. Scoop out the insides of the sweet potatoes and set them aside.

  2. Remove crusts from the package and set them on a baking sheet. Set the oven for 400 degrees.

  3. Chop the onions, garlic, sausage and sun-dried tomatoes.

  4. Heat your oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage to the pan and let it begin to cook for about 3 minutes.

  5. Add the onions and garlic and saute in the oils until they begin to soften and soak up the flavor of the sausage, about 7 minutes.

  6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the pizzas sauce and combine well. Turn the heat to low and cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

  7. Remove the cover and add in the softened sweet potato mix and stir it into the pizza sauce mixture until its fully combined.

  8. Add your salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil and combine. You can garnish with fresh basil on top if you would like.

  9. Once the sweet potato sausage sauce is ready, spread it evenly onto the two cauliflower crusts and bake for 10-14 minutes or until the crust begins become slightly crisp.

  10. Enjoy!

Any of the products on this page may be an affiliate link. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase within a specific amount of time, I get a small commission. The commission is paid by third parties, not by you. I only recommend products that I genuinely love. Thank you for your support!

-Ashley