Yummy Healthy Trailmix

Looking for a healthy trail mix to take to work that’ll help limit your sugar cravings and your daily run to the vending machine? I’ve found this to be incredibly delicious, easy to make and can last me all week (eating a spoonful at a time a few times a day).

Trail MixIngredients:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 c. almonds (dry roasted, no salt added)
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp gluten/sugar free mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. goji berries (wolfberries)

Trail Mix ingredientsPut the coconut oil in a 2 cup glass container (I prefer glass, but you could use plastic), place in the microwave for a couple of seconds until it softens up a bit (makes it easier for stirring/coating). Add almonds, shredded coconut, raisins, craisins, goji berries and stir until well mixed.  The coconut oil helps everything stick together and nicely coats everything. Yum!

If the glass heated up too much while softening the oil, let it sit for a bit before adding the cacao nibs and chocolate chips because you wouldn’t want them to melt!  Once everything is mixed together and looks good, go ahead and store and eat.  I usually eat a teaspoon at a time maybe 2-3 times a day to help with snack cravings. And the hint of sweetness really helps my sweet tooth!

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12 Days of Christmas done my own way

NOTE: I know its January, but I couldn’t post this in December for fear that “someone” would look and see what they were getting as gifts everyday! Great idea for someone/anyone to use next year.IMG_0288

This year my main man and I were both going our separate ways for the holidays. We were going to be apart for 12 days. So being in the festive spirit and getting way too excited about the holidays, I decided to do the 12 Days of Christmas with a twist.
Instead of starting on Christmas Day and going until Epiphany in January, I chose to start on the first day that we were apart and going until the day before we’d both be back home after Christmas. And so the plan was hatched…then the real work began. (ps. 12 gifts for 12 days takes a LOT of time!)

 

 

 

Step One: Google the 12 days of Christmas (figure out the hard way that there are a LOT of birds in the silly song)
Step Two: Determine fun/cute ways to incorporate the lyrics to gifts that are appropriate.
Step Three: Realize slowly that I may have taken on too much…oh the things we do for love.
Step Four: Buy all the gifts at a million different stores.
Step Five: WRAPPING (I won’t lie, this took me a really long time)
Step Six: Gift giving magic awaits!

I also had to hunt down cute tags to go with each day, and lo and behold the internet has so many options.  I chose this free printable: http://www.thedatingdivas.com/wp-content/uploads/Free-12-Days-Of-Christmas-Blank-Printable-Cards.pdf , but also liked these ones: http://todaysmama.com/2011/12/printable-12-days-of-christmas-tags/ .  For the ones I did end up using, I just used the front facing tag and wrote cute notes on the back of them to go with each days’ gift.

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I printed the cards out on cardstock they are a little heavier than just plain ‘ol white printer paper and got to cutting.  While wrapping I took a yarn needle and punched a hole through unto my carpet floor as I couldn’t find my hole-punch. Alas.  Okay, I’ll get to the point, here are each of the 12 Days of Christmas and their corresponding gifts:

  1. On the 1st Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree = Pear flavoured Jelly Belly jellybeans! (had to go to several stores to find these, thank goodness for bulk bin candy stores where they sell each flavour individually).
  2. On the 2nd Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, two turtle doves = a bottle of Dove men’s body wash and a small package of Turtles chocolates
  3. On the 3rd Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, three French hens = a 3-in-1 snow brush for the truck. Its telescopic and super practical.  The old one was’t long enough and I couldn’t reach the whole windshield…I’m sure you can only imagine how funny it must look to have a 5’4 woman trying to brush snow off a truck that’s about 6’6.   My arms are only so long.  haha
  4. On the 4th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, four calling birds = new cell phone case, to “call” me later 🙂
  5. On the 5th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, five golden rings = pfft, five golden rings? Yah right! So I got 5 Innes & Gunn bottled beer, they are yummy and their caps are gold!
  6. On the 6th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, six geese-a-laying = 6 marshmallow peeps, cadbury mini eggs and 6 fried egg looking gummy candy
  7. On the 7th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, seven swans-a-swimming….swimming with the FISH! Bag of cheddar goldfish crackers “you o-fish-ally have my heart” and a bag of Swedish fish gummies “out of all the fish in the sea, I’m so glad you chose me”
  8. On the 8th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eight maids-a-milking = two boxes of four (so eight) skinny cow treats. I thought the cow/lady image was clever for this one
  9. On the 9th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, nine ladies dancing (NOTE: this was also Christmas Day, so this gift is a bit bigger) = Bose bluetooth wireless speaker “nine ladies dancing to your sick beats” 🙂
  10. On the 10th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, ten lords-a-leaping = $10 gift card for Dairy Queen
  11. On the 11th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eleven pipers piping = $11 worth of scratch tickets (pipe up if you win!)
  12. On the 12th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming = a can of cashews, the circle kind with the plastic top that you ‘could’ bang like a drum

The day before I left for my flight home I gave him a Christmas card that explained that he’d be getting a gift a day for 12 days.  I have everything wrapped and in a box so it could be easily transported with him on his own journey home for the holidays.

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DIY Crochet Infinity Scarf

Love infinity scarfs? Love colour? Looking for an easy-beginner level crochet pattern that you can whip up in no time while watching tv!?  Well well, I have a solution for you!

I started making crochet infinity scarfs about three years ago as Christmas presents, then got a little carried away last Christmas and I made them for almost everyone!IMG_0437

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks cozy right? So right! Well this is incredibly easy to make and is just a bunch of back and forth and back and forth row after row after row with a twist and a connection at the end once its long enough.  I usually make the scarfs long enough to wrap around the neck twice and put a twist in it to make it look fuller when worn. IMG_0443

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it has come to my attention that I should perhaps post a tutorial on the essentials of crochet, that’ll come after the weekend when I’ve got some time to sit down and take step by step photos of the basic stitches 🙂  But for now, here is the way simple pattern (no joke…too easy).

Usually I stock up on yarn at Michael’s when it goes on sale.  I can typically get a scarf out of two regular sized balls of yarn.  I’ve used these brands in the past with great success: http://canada.michaels.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-MichaelsCanada-Site/default/Product-Show?pid=C_nw0435 and http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/vannaschoice.html  Both have great colours and are the same weight/texture so its easy to work with. I tend to work with 4-5oz weighted yarns. And the softer the better, as no one wants to wear an itchy scarf!  I’m not a fan of working with really thin or light weight yarn as I usually end up in a tangled mess!

I also like to use varying crochet hooks to get different gauges and thickness. Most of the time I’ve been using a size 5 hook, but the blue one up top I think I used an 7or8.  For the purpose of this post, we’ll stick to size 5.

  1. chain 25-30 (or more, this will be the width of the scarf.  You’ll want it wide enough to have a fold for warmth).
  2. chain one extra (as its the first dc for your second row)
  3. starting in the second “V” from the end, double crochet (dc) all the way across, making sure not to miss any stitches.  I find the first row always the hardest, and sometimes have to redo it if I made my initial chains too tight!
  4. when at the end chain two (which is again your first dc for the next row)
  5. flip over and dc all the way across again
  6. Repeat repeat repeat: chaining two, flipping, dc starting in second stitch all the way across, chaining two, flipping,dc starting in second stitch all the way across etc….

Occasionally I like to stop and count my stitches across. (You can count the “v” shapes across the top) to make sure you haven’t missed any. If you’re missing one, don’t despair just do two dc into one space on the way back.  If you’re missing a whole bunch, you may want to rip out some rows to get back on track.  Don’t sweat it, it happens.

Once you’ve gone back and forth what seems like a billion times, and the scarf can wrap around your neck twice with the ends touching and its not too too tight, you’re ready to finish it off.  Here there are two options. Both simple and easy.  But first: take the scarf so far and place one twist in it and take the ends to meet

ONE: With the edges touching and lined up all the way across, single crochet into all the spaces all the way across, tying off and weaving in the ends.

TWO: With the edges touching and lined up all the way across, take a yarn needle and stitch a seam all the way across, tying off and weaving in the ends.

Ta-da! You’re done! Easy wearable handy craft that can be done while binge watching Friends on Netflix…

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Healthy Carrot Muffins

Happy New Year!  Hard to believe its 2015 already…so of course I’m already baking. I’ve made these a few times now and everytime I add something or take away something else from the recipe, but I think I’ve got it down now.  So enjoy!IMG_0433

What you need to have in your kitchen:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3 c. shredded carrots (I needed about 9-10 small skinny carrots, but keep in mind that if you have larger carrots you won’t need to shred as many!)

And now the fun begins!

Preheat oven to 350F. (this recipe comes together pretty quick – unless you forget to shred your carrots ahead of time – like I always do)

In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and flax

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THEN, use another small bowl (or in my case a large glass measuring cup), combine eggs, oil, applesauce and brown sugar.  Give it a good stir to make sure all the wet ingredients are well mixed

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Pour the wet into the dry and mix. Making sure not to over mix as it can make the batter a little tough, mix just enough to moisten the batter.  Add in your mountain of shredded carrots

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Spoon into muffin liners and they’re good to go in the oven! (you could also lightly oil the pans with oil/butter, but I don’t like the extra oil it adds to muffin recipes. AND I somehow had Ariel muffin liners on the shelf! Special treat for me indeed!)  Fill the muffin tin about 3/4 full.  I got a full two pans out of this recipe so 24 muffins altogether.  Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 F oven.  Keep an eye on them to prevent burning as everyone’s oven is a little different.  I chose to freeze half of them so they’d keep longer too 🙂

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Easy Holiday Chocolate Covered Pretzels

These are almost TOO easy!   Which is perfect for the holiday season as things get crazy around this time of year.  That being said, I only had to buy a few ingredients for this delicious wonder. So enjoy! This is a great homemade gift idea as well and isn’t as labour intensive as making eight billion different types of cookies!

Ingredients:

  • Pretzels (if you can find the cute holiday shaped ones, go for it!)
  • Chocolate! (I bought the humungous bag of milk chocolate chips from Safeway, and I find this works great)
  • Coloured melting chocolate (red, green, white)
  • Candy canes (peppermint)
  • Festive sugar sprinkles

Tools:

  • Microwavable bowl
  • Two forks
  • Small spatula
  • Cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper
  • Magic Bullet or food processor/blender
  • Small ziploc type bags

Step-by-Step:

Start by melting the milk chocolate in a microwavable bowl. I start by putting it in for about 18 seconds, stirring and repeating as many times as possible to get the right consistency. Melted chocolate

Then I drop two pretzels in at a bowl (I find its easier than dumping a whole handful in the chocolate).

I slightly press the pretzels into the chocolate, then using the forks, flip them and slightly press again.  I’ve found this method leaves a good coating of chocolate on the pretzels without having to shake off too much excess.

Gently put on the parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Leave enough space between each pretzel so they are easier to break up later, but close enough that you’re not wasting space or the fancy drizzle later on 🙂

Chocolate covered pretzels in the making

Chocolate covered pretzels

   Then the real fun comes in!  Start by placing maybe a half cup or less of the melting chocolate in either red, green or white in a ziploc type bag.  (NOTE: the amount will totally depend on how many pretzels you’re dipping. I had about 35 chocolate covered pretzels on each sheet and had five sheets in total). Place all the candy melts in one corner of the bag and pop in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Pull out and gently massage the bag and repeat (microwave/massage) until you get the desired consistency.

Red melting chocolate

Red melting chocolate

Snip a TEENY hole in the corner and start to drizzle over your chocolate covered pretzels. This is the fun part. Promise.  Let your creatively out!

 

 

 

 

Chocolate covered pretzel - red

Chocolate covered pretzel red-green

Chocolate covered pretzels - candy cane

The next pans I placed about 4 peppermint candy canes in my magic bullet and crushed them up until it was almost powder. Using a spoon I sprinkled the peppermint sugar over one of the pans.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate covered pretzels - sprinkles

On the last pan I shook festive holiday sugar sprinkles over the sheet.

I left all the pans out for a few hours to let the chocolate harden before breaking up off the cookie sheets and placing them in holiday tins for gifting.

 

It’s best to work in batches. So I’d finish a cookie sheet and sprinkle the candy cane pieces over the whole sheet (while the chocolate is still wet, as it helps it stick).  Same with the sugar sprinkles.  The coloured melting chocolate though, can all be done at once.  I had three sheets done before I used any of the coloured stuff, that way I wouldn’t have to remelt the coloured chocolate melts over and over again.

Anyway, this whole process is crazy simple, so enjoy! and Happy Holidays!

Chewy Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Craisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wow!  That’s a mouthful! I guess it really just is my oatmeal cookie recipe with other add in’s, but still. Its more fun with longer titles.  These are easy and simply delicious (and moderately healthy because its got oatmeal in it…right??)

I really do have a problem with baking cookies.  Some weeks more than others.  And really, who doesn’t like things like chocolate, cinnamon and other yummies? Makes it a easy sale for me.  I can whip these up pretty quickly so I’d consider them really easy and not very time consuming.  You could always double the batch too 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½  tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I never measure salt, so this is my guess)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¾ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 heaping c. brown sugar (the more the merrier-AND chewier!)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract (again, the more the merrier, I seriously love the smell of this stuff)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups rolled or quick oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1cup. raisins
  • ½ cup craisins
  • ½ cup (or more) white chocolate chips, but really any chocolate chips could work here.

 Recipe:

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside.

Soften the butter in a large bowl (don’t melt it, but you can soften it up with a few seconds in the microwave).  Add the brown and white sugar to the butter and mix together until well combined.

Add in the vanilla and the egg to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until creamy and light.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and keep stirring. If the dough is super sticky you can add a bit more flour.  Once there are no remnants of flour lingering around the bowl, add in the oatmeal, raisins, craisins and white chocolate chips and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.  Stir until well mixed, or just until there are little bits of the good stuff throughout the dough.

Roll in your palms a heaping tablespoon and drop onto cookie sheet. My perfect cookie comes from the Panderno sheets with the air-pocket underneath it for even cooking, worth the investment I promise. Slightly press the ball of dough to flatten just a little. The balls I make are maybe the size of a golf ball or slightly bigger (to give you a reference point)

Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes. Until the edges of each cookie are browning, but the middle is still soft and doughy. Wait a minute to transfer the warm cookie to the cooling rack, as they might try to fall apart. Be strong, and don’t let them. Makes about 2 dozen, depending on how big you make the cookies. Remember, if you make them smaller, they won’t need as long in the oven.

Enjoy them while they last. I always find these don’t last very long in my kitchen…!

Incredible Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Yummy cinnamon buns!  I mean really, who doesn’t love these? And then with the added twist of pumpkin its like a special fall treat!

If attempting to make these, make sure you’ve got the time, as the whole process can take up to say 3 hours. Other than that, I simply say enjoy!

The Ingredients

Dough
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup milk
2 ¼  teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope)
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (+extra for kneading), *you could use Bread flour if you have it on hand.

Filling (yum!)

1 cup golden brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp  butter

Notes:

Make sure the pumpkin is pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix, as its not quite the same, and the results won’t be the same.

The Incredible Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, lightly brown the butter (2 tbsp). Let it bubble slightly but don’t burn it.  I like to keep stirring it slightly as I find it helps me keep an eye on it.

Once it’s a nice warm brown colour remove the saucepan from the heat and add the milk ( ½ cup).  Its easiest if the milk is room temperature.  Put the pan back on the heat and let it heat up again.

Phew!  Now it gets more exciting and science-y! (I love baking because it is basic chemistry in my kitchen!)

Pour the butter/milk mixture into a large glass bowl. (I find glass works best as metal bowls can sometimes leave a funky taste in bread dough, it’s a yeast thing). Making sure that the mixture it’s too too hot ( I don’t own a thermometer so I always guessitmate this part), but still warm enough add the yeast (2 ¼ tsp) and sugar ( ½ cup) and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  The yeast will react with the warmth and start to froth/foam up. (Hurray for science!) If it doesn’t foam, your yeast might be old.

After its all foamy add the pumpkin (1 cup), salt (1 tsp) and about half the flour (1 cup).

Stir together until all the major parts are combined, and then starting adding more and more flour (about a ½ cup at a time).  At a certain point stirring makes no sense and its best to wash your hands and get in there!  Kneading bread dough is very therapeutic, or at least I think so! (if you need to use a bit more flour, don’t be scared to do so).

Once the dough its smooth and not super sticky put a bit of vegetable oil in a clean large glass bowl (1 tbsp), form a ball with the dough and place the ball in the bowl with the oil, I usually wipe the bowl with the dough to cover the ball and get the oil on the rest of the bowl. (The oil keeps the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises; I find it helps later on).

Cover the bowl with a clean teatowel and leave to rise in a warm place.  *Now I like to cheat this part, especially when its dark outside… Typically if I’ve got sun streaming in one of the big windows during the day I’ll put the covered bowl in the sunlight and let the sun keep it warm, it not, I’ll turn the over on super low for a bit, turn it off, then put the bowl in the oven with the door open (so it doesn’t cook the dough, only keeps it’s a bit warm. OR turn the oven on for a bit and turn off and put the bowl over the vent the heat comes out from.   Maybe I’ll take some pictures next time…Confusing I know.* If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to explain better

Now the tricky part, walk away and leave it alone for an hour or so, until its doubled in size. Depending on timing this can take anywhere from between say 60 and 90 minutes. So sit and watch some tv, knit a scarf or tackle the laundry pile. haha

Once it’s a big doughy ball of goodness, take off the teatowel and PUNCH IT! (honestly my fav part, it’s so satisfying).  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and flop the dough on to it.  Work the dough and knead with clean hands for about 2 minutes.

Roll the dough out on the floured surface into a nice big rectangle.  I flour my rolling pin as well, keeps the dough from sticking to it.  I never measure, I just roll til I’m satisfied.  (I know that’s really vague… my bad). Either way, you need a big rectangle, if I had to guess say 12 x 20 inches?

Once rolled out and even cut the butter (2 Tbsp) into small chunks and lay out ALL over the dough. *you could melt the butter and brush on as well*. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on the dough and then do the same with the brown sugar. After you’ve covered every square inch of the dough with the yummy goodness, start to roll it up starting with the longest side (photo).

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Rolled out pumpkin dough

 

Grease some circular pans (I used two, but depending on the thickness of the dough, and how thick you cut the pieces this can vary). Take your yummy rolled up log and start cutting.  I ended up with 14 rolls and two little end pieces. 🙂

Place them in the greased pans, making sure to leave some room (as they will continue to rise and expand). Place in a warm place again *see above* and cover with a teatowel for about 30 minutes. Just long enough for them to grow and touch each other (photo).  I forgot to take a picture before they rose, but I left about half an inch in between each roll.

 

 

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Risen pumpkin cinnamon rolls

 

While waiting, preheat an oven to 350 degrees. After they’re done their second rise, bake them for 30-40 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown.

Let cool, and EAT! You could also make a simple icing for these to drizzle on, but I like them just the way they are.  Once cooled, store in an air tight container, and I highly recommend 10-12 seconds in the microwave when eating them the next couple of days.  Because really, nothing is better than a warm pumpkin cinnamon bun!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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baked pumpkin cinnamon roll deliciousness

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