Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gluten Free Corn Muffins


This morning I made these delicious corn muffins with my sister, Mariah. :) We decided to try a new recipe, and were  very pleased with how these turned out. We chose a gluten free recipe from the blog Chocolate Covered Katie. It was really neat trying out a new recipe and snapping pictures along the way.

Corn Muffins:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups fine or medium cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 more tbsp sugar (this could've been omitted)
  • 11-oz can corn, drained
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
Mix the vinegar and the milk, and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and mix really well. In another bowl, combine the oil, applesauce, corn, and milk-vinegar. Then pour the wet into dry and mix.

 You can make muffins or bread. We chose to make muffins because they are a favorite in our family. :)

                                                     I had sooo much fun snapping the pics!

Bake on 420 F for 11 to 15 minutes. The recipe originally called for 25 minutes, but ours were already crispy and browning on the top. Just check them while they bake. :)

And they're done! Make sure you let these cool for at least 10-15 minutes. The original recipe warned that otherwise, they might be a little crumbly. These were not too crumbly, but were definitely more so than other corn muffins I have made. This recipe made exactly 16 muffins - like the recipe said it would. There are 100 calories per muffin. We had these muffins with chili for lunch, and they were delicious. They taste great with a bit of butter - of course. You could serve these muffins fresh and warm with chili, soup, or some other type of meal, or they make a great snack.

I hope you found this recipe helpful! If you make these muffins/bread, please comment and tell us what you thought! Have a wonderful weekend, and God bless.


Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Yesterday morning I made oatmeal cookies for my family.
I found this recipe in the "400 Calorie Fix" cookbook, and thought it looked really good, so I decided to give it a try. My dad loved them, and everyone else thought that they were super good as well. I was really pleased with this recipe and will definitely be making these again. They were a perfect snack.

When I saw this recipe I was really excited because these cookies were really healthy and low-cal. However, this recipe didn't make too many. I come from a family of eight, and a batch of these cookies made sixteen. It was perfect - two for everyone. However, I was hoping that these might last us longer than one day. Besides that, my version of these cookies had more calories. I'm not sure how big the recipe wanted me to make these, but their recipe is supposed to yield forty-two, and mine yielded sixteen. A serving size - two cookies, according to their recipe - is 110 calories. Since I only got 16 cookies, my sister calculated that these cookies were about 124 calories each. That was a bummer.

Anyway, they were still really good, and if you can figure out how to get more cookies from the batter - go for it! Below is my version of oatmeal cookies. They were quick and easy to make, with little clean-up involved. I hope you enjoy them! :)

Here are all of my ingredients and cooking utensils spread out. You will need a large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, and a wooden spatula. Now, if you have all of your equipment together, let's get baking!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. raisins
I made some slight adjustments to the original cookie recipe. I was out of whole wheat flour, so I just used 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Also, the original recipe calls for mini chocolate chips and cranberries. I omitted the chocolate, and substituted the cranberries for raisins. Lastly, I had to replace  the honey for our homemade syrup, because we didn't have any honey. Just a side note - next time I make these, I will reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup. They were just a bit too sweet for our family, and 1/2 cup of sugar doesn't seem necessary.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and ground nutmeg.
Then in a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar, oil, honey, egg, and vanilla.
(I did use two bowls this time, but I usually mix everything together in one bowl. It saves me from washing extra dishes.)

Once you have your two bowls of ingredients mixed properly, combine the two mixtures together and stir well. It should look like this -

Okay, now grease a baking sheet and drop your cookies onto it. As I said before, this recipe made 16 cookies. You could make them smaller if you want more, but I felt like these were the perfect size for me. While you get your cookies ready, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then pop them in and let them bake for 15 minutes.

When the cookies are done they should be golden and slightly firm to the touch. Let them cool for about five minutes and then you can enjoy these yummy treats. After they have cooled for a bit, they will be crisp, warm, and delicious.

These are really scrumptious and filling, and you can enjoy these with milk, coffee, cocoa, or tea.
I had a cup of green tea, and two of these yummy oatmeal cookies for my mid-morning snack. They were so good. I hope that you like these too! 

If you try this recipe, please let me know how you like it. Comment below to share your tips, other cookie recipes, or random thoughts on this post. Thank you! May God bless you abundantly now and forever. :)


Monday, July 29, 2013

10 Healthy Snack Ideas

Happy Monday!

It's the beginning of  a new week, and another chance to live a healthy happy life.
I love when a new week begins. I find it really exciting to make my meal plan for the week, prepare healthy snacks, and to plan my workout schedule. My family usually makes the meal plan on Sunday, and then we start cooking on Monday. This week's snack is oatmeal cookies. I just popped them in the oven and will be posting the recipe and some pictures soon. Until then, I wanted to share with you some snack ideas that you can enjoy this week.

I haven't tried all of these snacks, but here is just a basic list you can have some fun with. Some are really just ideas, and some have links to where you can find the recipe.  I hope you enjoy them!

(Photo: courtesy of Taralynn McNitt)

This yummy snack is from one of my favorite healthy bloggers - Taralynn McNitt. This recipe can be found at her blog "Undressed Skeleton." I made these one week and they were a perfect snack. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

My younger sister made these a few weeks ago. I wish I could say that ours looked like this photo. ;)
She added a bit too much oil, and her version of carrot straws/chips wasn't very successful. However, they tasted pretty good, and I know that when done properly, they will be fantastic. This is the perfect snack for when you're craving something crunchy and crisp, but want to keep it healthy.

Hard boiled eggs are some of the best snacks. They are so delicious and filling. I love angel eggs (our family's name for the more commonly known - deviled eggs), and they can be a great afternoon snack.

(Photo: courtesy of Taralynn McNitt)

What is better than sweet juicy fruit with cool, refreshing yogurt? I love fruit and yogurt for breakfast, or a mid-morning snack. Actually, it's perfect for anytime of day and any sort of occasion. This is good enough to be desert. You could throw in 2 tbsp. of chocolate chips, a sprinkle of cinnamon (I love cinnamon on yogurt!), and/or some coconut flakes. It's a perfect snack any way you eat it.

I have yet to try this delicious snack. I have always wanted to, but something always seems to prevent me from tasting this chocolate and cinnamon popcorn. Oh well, you try it and tell me how it is. This looks amazing! You can find the recipe by clicking the link beneath the photo. :)

I love zucchini, so I'm sure these are fabulous. Zucchini chips are on my list of recipes to make, I just haven't made them yet. They look amazing though, so try them out and tell me what you think.

I made these last month for my eight-year-old brother as a little birthday gift. He loved them, and everyone thought they were really tasty. I was so pleased with this recipe. It has a cheesy taste, even though there is absolutely no cheese in them! I'm sure kids will love these, so if your looking for kid-friendly snack ideas, try this one. 

I love Heavenly Greens shakes. They are healthy, delicious, and easy to mix together.  Here is a video of how I make mine. Now, this how-to video is really basic, and you can really change it up to your liking. These are delicious with frozen berries, apple juice, and a banana. Also, try this with mango, pineapple, banana, orange, grapes, and so forth.
Heavenly Greens is an amazing powder, and I always use it when my pH is a bit low. After only a few days of drinking these shakes, my pH is right where it should be. If you make this shake and change it up a bit, please share your recipe in the comment section below. I would love to hear how you made your shake.

(Photo: courtesy of Taralynn McNitt)

I was so pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of this smoothie. This was one of the first smoothies that I tried from Taralynn. It was super easy and delicious. My shake didn't look nearly as good as this one, but it tasted great! I didn't have any chocolate chips or chunks to garnish mine with, but it was still fabulous. It's the perfect smoothie for a summer's day. Enjoy! :)

(Photo: courtesy of Taralynn McNitt)

I love peanut butter banana shakes! They are one of my very favorite shakes ever! I could seriously have them for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. I love bananas, and I LOVE peanut butter! Peanut butter and banana is the best combination for yumminess. :)

Well, hopefully you found this list helpful. Thanks for reading! Please comment on your favorite snacks from this post, or tell me about some of your favorites that weren't included here. May God bless you and may your day be one of victory and joy.

"This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." ~Psalm 118:24


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Mediterranean Feast

I absolutely love Mediterranean food. It is so healthy for you, and also incredibly delicious. Friday night my family prepared a Mediterranean feast for dinner. Albeit, we were missing the grape leaves, but other than that it was perfect. Having help makes cooking go so much faster, and our feast was fun and easy to prepare. We made tabouli, falafels, hummus, and baba ghanouj. This was eaten with some pita bread, baby carrots, and tomatoes. It was a fabulous dinner, and I wanted to share with you the recipes we used so that you can have a feast of your own.

As I was helping my mom make the falafels, she told me that falafels are a street food in Israel. She said that they are on every corner and are super popular. A falafel stand in Israel is more common than a McDonald's in America.

As I mixed the tabouli, she commented on how healthy and fibrous this food is for our bodies. That triggered my thoughts toward this blog, and I thought I would share our meal with you. With so much healthy and yummy food being around, I couldn't resist snapping some pictures to show you guys. I decided to post the pictures and recipes, and then I thought I should tell you a little bit about the incredible benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet. So, before I get into the recipes and all that stuff, I just want to tell you a bit about the Mediterranean diet.

First of all, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. A diet such as this is high in fiber - which prevents dips and swings in the blood sugar level - and aids in digestion. In the New England Journal of Medicine, a study was published which showed that rather than a low-fat diet, a limited-calorie Mediterranean diet could be more effective for weight loss. The Mediterranean diet consists mainly of plant based foods, and limited portions of meats and animal proteins.

It is important to note, that besides consuming mostly plant-based foods, the people of the Mediterranean are also more active than the average American. Including at least 30 minutes of some type of exercise in your daily lifestyle will not only make you healthier and stronger, but also bring faster results than a healthy diet alone.

If you are interested in the Mediterranean diet, and are considering a healthier diet and lifestyle, you can just Google "the benefits of the Mediterranean diet," or "how to follow a Mediterranean diet." There is an abundance of information you can access about this on the internet.

Now it is time for recipes!
Even if you aren't interested in making a Mediterranean feast, you could always have one of these dishes for lunch or dinner, or even a snack. I'm sure once you try these scrumptious dishes, you will fall in love with the Mediterranean diet.

We shall begin with the beautiful, healthy, fibrous, sensational Mediterranean salad - tabouli.



1 cup Bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
Dash of cayenne pepper

1small onion (chopped)
1 bunch fresh parsley (chopped)
1 large tomato (chopped)
1 can black olives (sliced)


In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over the bulgur wheat. Let sit for 1/2 hour. 
In a shaker, mix together the oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne pepper and shake well. In your medium bowl, add the vegetables to the bulgur wheat (after letting it sit for 1/2 hour) and mix. Pour in your oil mixture (dressing) and stir well.

Ta-da! There you have a lovely bowl of tabouli salad. You can serve this dish over a bed of lettuce if you so choose. I, however, prefer to eat it without the lettuce. It tastes really good with a heaping scoop of hummus on top, though.


And now it is time for the beloved falafel. These came out so well! They had the perfect shape and they were soooo delicious. If you have not tasted a falafel before, you are in for a real treat!


1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 small onion (roughly chopped)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3-5 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
Vegetable oil for frying (canola, peanut, or grapeseed will work)


Your chickpeas will need to soak overnight, so pour them into a bowl and cover with about 3 inches of water. In the morning you will notice that they have doubled in size. You should have more than enough chickpeas for this recipe.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Then in a food processor, pour in the chickpeas, onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, pepper, and cardamom. Pulse these ingredients until a course meal forms. Occasionally scrape the sides of the processor and push the meal down. Be careful not to process this mixture too long. We will be forming little balls with this, and you should be able to handle the mixture. It should be a paste-like mixture, so don't overdo it. :)

When the mixture reaches the proper consistency, remove it from the food processor, and pour into a bowl. Stir it up a bit, as this will even out the texture. Now it will need to chill for a while. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Now you can really cook these in anything - a skillet, a fryer, etc...
We used a fryer. So depending on what you use, the cooking techniques may vary. However, the important thing is to have whatever it is you are using filled with oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.

 (I just want to mention that you could always bake falafels. I don't know what the results would be for this recipe, but I have seen falafel recipes that bake them rather than frying.)

Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. Now that your falafel mixture has cooled, wet your hands and form into little balls. 

When your oil is at the proper temperature, you can place the falafel balls into your fryer. It should take about 2-3 minutes for them to brown. If your oil is at the right temperature, the total cooking time per falafel should be about 5 minutes. You fry falafels in batches, usually about 4-5 at a time. Once the falafels are nicely browned, you can remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs. Place the cooked falafels onto a plate covered with paper towels and let them drain. 

These taste best served fresh and warm with a bit of hummus for dipping. You can also eat these in a sandwich. You could make a delicious falafel pita sandwich. Yum!
However you decide to eat these, they are amazing, so eat up and enjoy!

Now that we have the main dishes cooked, we can whip up the scrumptious dips that really top off our Mediterranean meal - hummus and baba ghanouj. I love hummus. It is incredibly good and can be used in so many ways. You can eat veggies with hummus, hummus on bread/toast, hummus in sandwiches, hummus on salad, hummus with eggs, hummus pizza - the possibilities are endless!
However, even though I love hummus, I love baba ghanouj a bit more. It is so creamy and has such amazing flavor. It is a taste sensation. I could eat baba ghanouj by the bowl. (I actually have...)
It can be a meal. Just pour a bowl of baba ghanouj and eat it with veggies, or pita bread, or sliced bread, or tortillas. It is just as versatile as hummus - only more creamy and delicious.



2 (15oz.) cans of chickpeas, drain (reserve the liquid)
(we cook our own chickpeas, and use 6 cups of them)

1/2 - 3/4 cup lemon juice
3-4 tbsp. tahini (heaping tablespoons)
4 garlic cloves (add more if you like a stronger garlic flavor)
1/2- 3/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt


Place all the ingredients into a blender (or food processor). Add 1/2 cup of the reserved chickpea liquid.
Blend until smooth and creamy. You may need to add more liquid if the mixture isn't blending well. Add as much as necessary to yield desired consistency. Transfer to a small bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with paprika. You can let this chill for several hours, or you can eat it immediately. Serve this dip with veggies, pita bread, or anything that strikes your fancy. It is fabulous any way!


I forgot to take a close-up picture of the baba ghanouj. This is the only one I got.


3 large eggplants, pierced with a fork
3-4 tbsp. of tahini (heaping tablespoons)
6 garlic cloves, peeled & whole
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper


Preheat the broiler and pierce the eggplants in several places with a fork. Place on a baking pan or on some foil wrap to prevent dripping. Broil for 20-30 minutes until skin is charred and the insides are soft, turning as necessary. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove the skin and place only the filling of the eggplant in the blender along with other ingredients and blend until smooth. Place in a medium bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours if possible to blend the flavors. It tastes better cold, but you can eat it warm if you prefer. Serve with pita bread or vegetables. We ate ours with some pita, tomatoes, and greek peppers. 

Well, there you have it - a Mediterranean feast. I hope that you enjoyed learning a bit about the Mediterranean diet, and found these recipes useful. Check back for more recipes, photos, tips, and articles. Have a blessed day!