In 13 hours, my hubby and I will be leaving for Redmond, Oregon to stay at the Eagle Crest Resort for our 4th anniversary which is on Thursday. Sometimes I cant believe its only been four years- I guess Tim and I are old souls. We desperately need a break and this could not have come at a better time.

Yesterday I made some delicious Paleo blueberry muffins but I cannot remember where I saw the recipe!! Eek. So, I am openly admitting this is not my recipe, but some genius who knows coconut flour better than I do.

I also made some uh-may-zing goat cheese and spinach stuffed chicken thighs. They were soooo good Tim ate them straight out of the pan (ok, so I did too). I paired them with whipped creamy sweet was a feast of the carb fanatics for sure.

Did I mention that my Magic Bullet blew up when I was making my morning buttered coffee?? Yup, butter, coffee and water all over my kitchen. So, I got a new one from Costco. It came with huge cups, multiple blades and a blender attachment. Kitchen geek heaven.

Heavenly Coconut Blueberry Muffins

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Red Copper Pan

Pans are required for practically every time of cooking preparation, and therefore have to stand up to the test of time and use. Most pans will often have to be replaced over and over due to minor mishaps or scratches. However, more people are now utilizing copper pans because of their durability, safety, and ease when cooking. And one such copper pan has been overwhelmingly reliable is the “red copper pan.” The following are a few reasons why the red copper pan is such a great addition to any kitchen.

Conduction of Heat is Amazing

Copper pans in general are amazing at conducting heat, allowing for foods to be cooked quicker and more evenly. Also, because copper is able to cool down faster, it will respond extremely well when you decide to lower the temperature on the stove, allowing you to have reliable control over how your food is being cooked. The red copper pan is nothing less of excellent at doing this same thing.

No More Worrying About Food Sticking

The red copper pan truly is a non-stick pan, free from toxic coatings that plague many other types of pans. However, the non-stick coating does start to fade away after some time, with this process being accelerated the more you use it. But if you plan on only using this pan for a few times a week, then this shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

Always use a bit of oil before cooking something in the pan however, to ensure nothing actually sticks. This property of the pan makes it extremely easy to wash, although the red copper pan is not actually dishwasher safe so a quick wash by hand is the best way to go.

Unreactive With Foods

This is something shared with many copper pans, as the material of the pan is non-reactive with acidic foods, so you don’t have to worry about how much citrus you’re using in your dishes. However, it should be noted that if for some reason you do end up scratching the inner lining of the pan, the pan should be immediately replaced. Even though many individuals believe that the red copper pan is scratch resistant against any utensil, rough use can eventually lead to scratches and expose the underlying metal making this pan unusable afterwards.

Final Thoughts

The red copper pan is great in terms of heating up evenly and cooling down rapidly, ensuring that the cooking process of any meal goes quickly and efficiently. Also, the great durability of the pan can help it withstand a bit of rough use, but do expect this to diminish as time goes on. As with any pan, avoid using utensils against the inner lining the pan, as this could easily scratch it up and potentially lead to harmful materials being in your food then next time you use it. Lastly, the non-stick property of the pan helps drastically when it comes time to clean up, but avoid using the dishwasher as the pan isn’t completely dishwasher safe. By using the pan in a smart way, you can be sure that it will last you a long time before needing to replace it!

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Smoothie Recipes for Kids

A lot of kids like smoothies. Especially certain kinds of smoothies.

Kids are sometimes picky, and each has their own preferences. But here are some smoothie ideas that usually go over well.

Anything that is thick and sweet, like a milkshake, is popular. To make a smoothie more like a milkshake, just add a couple of frozen bananas. Frozen strawberries help, too. You can also add a half cup or ice, or more.

Bananas are enough to make a smoothie really sweet, especially if you use really ripe bananas. But if you need the smoothie more sweet, you can try stevia powder. Honey is the next best thing. It has pretty concentrated sugar content, but it also has some health benefits. And the flavor it offers is wonderful.

Anything with peanut butter is popular with kids, too. There are many peanut butter smoothie recipes available. Usually they include just one or two tablespoons of peanut butter. Some people add more, but I like to go easy on the peanut butter. It sometimes contains certain toxins.

If you do use peanut butter, make sure it is the natural kind. Avoid the sugary kinds, and the ones with low-quality oils added. Peanut butter with just straight peanuts, and a bit of salt, are the healthiest option. As a kid, I liked the unhealthy kind of peanut butter best, of course. But when my family switched to the more natural kind, I gradually got used to it.

It makes it even more fun if it is something familiar, like ‘peanut butter and jelly’, with the jelly being the strawberries or a teaspoon of jam.

If your child is hooked on sugar or desserts, try substituting a regular dessert with a dessert smoothie. At least, then, your child will be getting their sugars from a more natural source like bananas, apples and carrots. There are some smoothies with added goodies, like Oreo cookie smoothies, that kids will go crazy over. And some dessert smoothies have interesting holiday flavors, like eggnog smoothies or gingerbread smoothies.

If your child doesn’t like greens or salad, one thing you can do is hide a certain amount of greens in a smoothie. Baby spinach is the easiest to hide, because it has the least flavor. A carrot is easy to add and will often go unnoticed too. If you add enough banana, strawberry and peanut butter, you can hide anything. Strawberries and blueberrie add enough color to hide the green and orange color of the healthy stuff.

Here are a few kid-friendly smoothie recipes for you to try. Feel free to add more banana, or to use a different kind of non-dairy milk, if that is your preference. These recipes will make 2 servings of smoothie.

Easy Strawberry Milkshake Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk or coconut milk
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • a handful of ice (optional)

Strawberry Peanut Butter Smoothie

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 bananas
  • half cup strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • The Strawberry Oreo Smoothie
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • half cup strawberries
  • 5 Oreo cookies

To add more variety and fun, try adding other berries like raspberries and blueberries. They make a good low-sugar smoothie option. Also try tropical smoothie flavors like pineapple and mango, if you kids are in to that.

Smoothies are great for kids, because it is a healthier way for them to have a quick snack without resorting to junk food or refined sugar. Get your kids going on smoothies from a young age, and it will hopefully stay a natural part of their diet.

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Homemade Chicken Stock

For the past few months, I’ve been trying to live on a lot less income than I’m used to. And let me just tell you, it is the opposite of fun. But, I’ve been learning to be much more resourceful. Not only has this saved me money, but it’s been helping to make me eat more natural and homemade meals. I’ve been making a lot more things from scratch, and it’s cut out a lot of processed ingredients.

One thing that I’m super proud of making is homemade chicken stock. I roasted a whole chicken tonight for dinner with some potatoes and veggies. When we were done eating, I used the leftover bones and scraps to make stock. It’s super easy and it uses up ingredients that otherwise would have been thrown out. Plus, since I’m making it myself, I can control the amount of salt and other flavors I include. Here’s how I did it:

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 1 chicken carcass, plus cooking juices
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery
  • about 8 cups of water (enough to cover all the ingredients)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Add everything but the salt to a big stock pot. Simmer for 4 hours. Don’t bring to a boil; it will break down the nutrients in the chicken bones. Strain the broth into a big spouted bowl. Add the salt and pour into jars to store. You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to six months.

During cooking...and after

During cooking and after. Yummy!

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Papaya Strawberry Smoothie

Papayas are one of my favorite fruits. They are delicious, with a unique flavor, and they are super good for your digestion.

Whenever I find a papaya on sale at a good price, I buy one. I like buying whole papayas, but sometimes I will buy a half papaya if looks good and the price is right. I sometimes eat them with cereal, and sometimes have them in my smoothie. I will usually use about a quarter of a papaya in one smoothie. But even just a couple of spoons of papaya in my smoothie can be nice, too.


Papayas, also known as pawpaw, are an interesting fruit. There are two main kinds that are culticated. One is a yellow-orange color on the inside, and the other is a reddish-pink color.

They are native to Mexico and Central America, and have been cultivated there for many centuries. They grow on tall plants that look like trees, with leaves that are about 2 feet wide. Papaya plants come in 3 sexes: male, female, and hermaphrodite. The hermaphrodite plants are the ones used on papaya farms, since they can self-pollinate.

Papayas are the third most popular tropical fruit, after pineapples and mangos. Although papayas are native to Mexico, the two main papaya-growing countries are actually India and Brazil.

In Southeast Asia, papaya is used in curries, and on salads. The seeds can also be eaten, and are sometimes used as a substitute for pepper. Scientific studies have shown that papaya seeds possibly have an contraceptive effect on men.

Papaya Strawberry Smoothies

Here are a few Papaya Strawberry smoothie recipes for you to try. I usually use almond milk as a base, but you can also use homemade coconut milk if you want to give it a more tropical feeling. Coconut milk is easy to make, and cheap too, and it is healthier than using coconut milk from a can.

Easy Papaya Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • half cup strawberries
  • 1 cup papaya

Pear and Papaya Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1 banana
  • half cup strawberries
  • 1 pear
  • 1.5 cups papaya
  • 1 cup spinach

Pineapple Papaya Smoothie

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 cup papaya
  • half cup strawberries

Mango Papaya Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup papaya
  • half a mango
  • 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

All of the above recipes make fairly thick and juicy smoothies. If you want your smoothie a little thinner, then add an extra half cup of non-dairy milk or water (or ice).

Papayas have a nice flavor that is neither too milk or too strong. So, you can use quite a bit of it in a smoothie. Some people do not like the flavor in a smoothie, but most do. Just make sure the papaya is fully ripe when you use it. Unripe green papaya is sometimes used in Asia, but I prefer it ripe and soft. If you want the flavor to come out more in the smoothie, use less pineapple and less strawberries in your recipe.

Happy smoothie making!

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Rice Cooker

Buying a good, hefty, efficient and dependable rice cooker has always been a challenge. As someone who used to make rice in a boiling pot of hot water, rice cookers have definitely freed up so much more time that I can devote to my work, friends, and family. But sometimes, at the expense of convenience, rice may just not taste as good, and this has certainly been the issue for me when it comes to getting a rice cooker.

Going out to buy the best rice cooker certainly requires a bit of research, but after having gone through numerous rice cookers, there are certainly a few things your cooker should have.

The first is that the cooker should be as quiet as possible. Older cookers often make unnecessary noises which can definitely become frustrating as you’re chopping away at vegetables or trying to concentrate on something else. Luckily, many newer rice cookers luckily take care of that with no problems.

A few more important qualities of a rice cooker certainly revolves around the maximum capacity of the cooker. For me, having many people come over often means that my rice cooker definitely has to be as big as possible, usually requiring at least 6 cups of rice. This size has definitely been right on, as I always find myself finishing each batch of rice whenever guests are over!

Another important thing for me is the amount of time it takes to make my rice. Again, with having people over frequently, I don’t like to leave them in the dining room waiting around hungrily! That’s why my rice cooker has a pressure cooking option, to ensure that batches of rice come out as quickly as possible and so people can chow down just as fast!

Lastly, probably just as important as the characteristics mentioned so far, is ensuring my rice cooker is dishwasher safe. After huge meals, I hate having to take out time from my schedule to hand wash items in the kitchen, especially since I have a brand new dishwasher that’s just waiting to be used. Cookers that are dish washer safe mean that I can simply remove the lid, give it a quick rinse, and then have it finished up in the dishwasher without me even having to think much about it. And this certainly means that I can spend more time with my guests after a delicious meal.

A few of the best rice cookers that I’ve recently used include the “Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker,” which as the name suggests, comes equipped with a pressure cooking option as well as a host of other useful features such as reheating any leftovers that may be lying around.

Needless to say, having that as my main rice cooker has definitely saved time and energy in the kitchen so I can spend it enjoying myself with friends and family.

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Veggie Pizza Crust

There are very few things in this world that I care for more than pizza. I’m not kidding. I love pizza so much. So it’s always been my mission to try to make a healthy pizza recipe. It’s pretty hard because pizza is basically just fat on sugar on processed carbs. That’s probably why it’s so delicious. I made a few tweaks to clean it up a little. Instead of gobs of fatty, greasy cheese, I chose a small amount of reduced fat mozzarella and a tiny bit of full flavored parmesan. Instead of a sugary pizza sauce, I made a flavorful marinara with lots of spices and an added punch of spinachy nutrition! Instead of oily meats I used fresh ingredients as my toppings. And finally, instead of a nutritionally empty white pizza dough, I used shredded cauliflower and zucchini. I know, I know, sounds weird. But it’s actually really good! It came out really crispy and flavorful, but without all the guilt of takeout. Now, this isn’t exactly like regular pizza, but it won’t let you down.

For the crust:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, shredded (use the other half for my cauliflower fried rice!)
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup low fat mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, red pepper flake, dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, garlic powder

For the sauce:

  • 14 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. strained tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, red pepper flake, dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, garlic powder


  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup sliced heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Shred the cauliflower and the zucchini in your food processor. You can use your box grater, but trust me, just don’t. I did, and it was a huge mess. Just go with the food processor. Anyway, heat the veggies in a large sauce pan over medium heat. You just want to soften them a bit. Once they’re soft, put them in a strainer lined with a cheese cloth. Let that sit for a minute and drain out. In the same pan you cooked the veggies in, you can make the sauce. Just combine all the ingredients over medium heat and let it simmer. Once the veggie mix cools a little, squeeze the extra water out. Combine with the remaining ingredients and form into 6 thin patties on a cookie sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Flip the crusts, and top with a little sauce. Top with the cheese, tomatoes, and basil. Bake for another 5-7 minutes. Let them cool for a minute and enjoy! They’re more of a fork and knife kind of thing, not really a fold in half and let the grease run down your hands kind of thing. There will be a lot of sauce left over. You can have it over pasta or zucchini noodles! I like to make extra so that I have quick meals for later in the week.

This recipe makes six little mini pizzas. Yum!

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Zucchini Pasta in Lemon Cream Sauce

This is one of my favorite meals. First of all, because it’s so easy to make. Second of all, because it’s delicious, versatile and tastes like spring time! Plus, it only takes a few minutes to make. It can be made either vegetarian or with chicken, shrimp or sausage. i’ve had it all three ways and it’s always good. You can add whatever veggies you like, use zucchini noodles or regular pasta or even ravioli!

If you want to have zucchini noodles,which I highly suggest you do if you haven’t tried them, you do need a spiral slicer. I use mine all the time!

Anyway, I don’t want to waste any more time before I show you this amazing recipe!

Zucchini Noodle in Lemon Cream Sauce

  • 2 Zucchinis, spiral sliced into noodles (you can substitute pasta or ravioli!)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Juice and zest  from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Toss the zucchini and tomatoes in and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 2 minutes. The cream cheese should melt down and make a creamy sauce.

And that’s that! 4 minutes of cooking. Maybe 5 minutes of prep. And dinner is ready. If you want to add chicken or shrimp or sausage, cook that first and then follow the rest of the steps. Some other options would be to sauté some asparagus and broccoli, add the cream cheese, lemon juice and zest, tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and then toss that with some whole wheat noodles. I had that for dinner tonight and it was amazing! Last week I used some sundried tomato and goat cheese ravioli and made the sauce with a little pesto stirred in. What I’m trying to say here is that there are so many variations that you can make here that you can have it 100 times and never have it the same way.

Let me know if you think of any other yummy ways to make this!

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