Low Carb Italian Cookies

Can you believe that Christmas is really over?!

It just seems like yesterday that the season started and we pulled all our normal decor off the shelves and Christmas came exploding into our homes. What a wonderful season to be celebrated and I hope it was just as fabulous as you all imagined!

When the holidays come, what better way to indulge in the most wonderful time of year, than to bake our little hearts out! I love baking all year round, but there is something so amazing about making treats for all of your loved ones to enjoy on Christmas! This year, I sang Christmas carols and really enjoyed the whole process of making Christmas cookies.

I’ve decided, without a doubt, next year I will be hosting a christmas cookie exchange party, so my people better be ready! They do have a whole year now to prepare ūüėČ

One of my favorite cookies from this year, is by far this Low Carb Italian Cookie. It is moist, buttery and I bet you won’t be able to stop at just one!

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Low Carb Italian Cookies

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener {or equivalent sweetener of choice}
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup swerve confectioners sweetener
  • 2 tbsp half and half
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkles

Directions

Cookies:
Preheat oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with the Swerve until well combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
Then beat in the almond flour mixture until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. You will get 24 to 28 balls. Press the balls down with the palm of your hand to about ¬Ĺ inch thick.
Bake about 12 minutes, until just barely beginning to firm up. Remove and let cool on the pan.
Glaze:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the Swerve, half and half, and vanilla extract. Dip the top of the cookies into the glaze and set back on the pan. Sprinkle as desired.

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Seriously, make these.

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I really wish Christmas lasted a little longer, but it unfortunately goes by so quickly! That doesn’t mean we can’t make these all year long, just change your sprinkles!

In my opinion, there are never too many sprinkles in life!

Christmas 2016

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So this is Christmas and what have you done,

Another year over a new one just begun.

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And so this is Christmas, I hope you had fun,

The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

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A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

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And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong,

The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long.

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And so happy Christmas, for black and for white,

For the yellow and red ones let’s stop all the fights.

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A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

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So this is Christmas and what have you done,

Another year over a new one just begun.

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And so this is Christmas, I hope you had fun,

The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

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A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

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War is over if you want it, war is over now.

-John Lennon

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and wishing you the absolute best New Year!

A Grateful Heart

With Thanksgiving having passed and Christmas fast approaching,¬†there has been something on my mind that is so important to me. It is an attribute that I value not only in myself, but most definitely in others, a grateful heart. While I don’t believe that the holiday season is the only time we should notice¬†all we are blessed with, it is a time to slow down and take it all in, eyes wide open.

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Via

If there is one thing I have learned in the past years, it is that in our struggles is where we find our true selves, the meaning of this life, including the things we should invest our time and energy in. These are the things that we should feel most grateful for, because these should be what makes us the happiest.

This blog, Our Grateful Hearts, is so near and dear to my heart. Not only because it allows me to take the time to write about life, food and share the words that matter to me, it reminds me daily just in its perfect name, what I want my life to be centered around.

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While we have had our own struggles just like each and every one of you, we have been blessed in so many beautiful ways. I thought I would share a few things that make me feel most grateful, and they may not be what you would first think. There is no denying that my family, loved ones, favorite people and fur-children are my absolute number one priority in this life, and I do my best to appreciate them, love them, and support them. There are other things that I find myself appreciating more as I become older and wiser (hopefully!)

Currently, in this season of life, I am grateful for……

Timing

I truly believe that in his time, all things are made beautiful. It may not be the timing that we all had in mind for our lives, but when something is meant for us, it happens. It happens when we are ready for it, physically, mentally and emotionally. I reflect often about my life and how it all has unfolded in front of me. There are so many wonderful things that I have worked for, struggled with, and eventually timing worked on my side. If you are currently struggling with something that isn’t working out, please know that maybe it’s not time yet, and keep going!

Patience

This has not always been my strongest attribute, but with currently being in the wait, I have grown to be a very patient person. We can’t always control, plan and have what we want, when we want it. Sometimes, life is most definitely out of our control and we just have to embrace the moment we are in and be patient with what is meant for us. The virtue of patience has allowed me to be a more calm, productive, and happy person. I appreciate both people and things very differently, and I am so thankful for that. I really feel it has allowed me to live a life I love, while still dealing with our struggle of growing our family.

Hope

A single word, that holds so much meaning to so many people and by definition,¬†to cherish a desire with anticipation. Hope is what allows all of us to keep living, giving, learning and accepting what life throws at us, even if some days aren’t the best days. Not one person can say that life is perfect, but hope allows us to feel perfection surrounding us in an imperfect world. It allows us to be fully present in our current situations while allowing us to dream of what our future could hold. Hope wraps around us in our time of despair and raises us up to be able to love, laugh and live a life we truly enjoy. Hope is a beautiful thing and I hope you can feel it, because wonderful things are made¬†if you just believe.

Opportunity

So much of our journey through life happens due to the opportunities that we search for and those that fall upon us. I find myself in awe of how my personal goals over the past years have become my present circumstance. I feel so blessed with the changes I have made as an individual and also what my husband and I have accomplished as a team. I’m also fortunate for the opportunities that didn’t work out along the way. These are the things that have brought us closer together, made us stronger and made us recognize what wasn’t meant for us. It’s important to reflect on both the good and bad, because doing so gives you the opportunity to change.

That change can bring you to the next opportunity that you have been patiently waiting for, the life you have hoped for, all because you trusted his timing.

I hope this holiday season brings you great joy and has you surrounded by all the beautiful people you love. Take the time to really appreciate what is in front of you, and know that while life can be difficult, it is not without a purpose. 

 

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Happy Holidays!

     Melissa

Spinach & Bacon Smothered Chicken

The fall has been good to us this year. Beautiful, vibrant colors and the most delightful sunny days have been our normal. Such amazing weather can temporarily transport you back to the summer heat, but then you are reminded when the leaves continue to fall, that autumn is more than already upon us.

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We have spent a large amount of our time outside this year and I have loved the fresh breeze on our faces, and the pure happiness being outside brings.

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I hope you have been able to enjoy all that autumn’s beauty gives us and if not, it is not too late! Go outside and play in the leaves!

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If the weather is a little dreary in your neighborhood, then pour yourself a steamy hot cup of coffee or a nice smooth glass of wine, either works just fine. Then break out all the ingredients for this delicious dish and get cooking! While it is easy to make (always a winner in my book), it has so much flavor and feels like quite the fancy dinner! It’s definitely a hit with guests!

Spinach & Bacon Smothered Chicken

Makes 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder¬†{to season chicken}
  • 1¬†tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 9 oz fresh spinach
  • 2/3 cup light cream
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese of choice {more mozzarella, pepper jack, cheddar, etc}
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with nonstick spray and place chicken in baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Heat tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in medium/large skillet.

In the skillet, add your spinach and sauté allowing spinach to wilt down.  Add in minced garlic, sauté until fragrant. Then add in light cream. Bring to a light boil and remove from heat. Stir in your shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese. Place back onto heat, turn down to simmer and keep stirring until you have a smooth creamy spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon creamed spinach over chicken breasts evenly, then top with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese of choice.

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Place into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken cooked through. Then, turn the oven to broil on high and allow cheese to become slightly browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and enjoy!

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This recipe is delicious and easy to make! The best creamed spinach I’ve tasted! So you can try that as a regular side dish!

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Pair it with any side that you fancy. Or just eat it alone, you could do that. You can do anything you want.

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Happy Eating!

Do you have a favorite creamed spinach recipe?

A Mother’s Heart

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I have been raised by one of the most selfless mothers. She raised me to love, be kind and most importantly, she showed me what it is to be a good human being.

I have valued beyond measure all she has taught me in life, thus allowing me to learn things I didn’t expect to know.

If it weren’t for the strength of my mother, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post about my heart, a mother’s heart, who has no children.

For over fives years, we have prayed, cried, struggled, but still tried to expand our family. We have met obstacles, defeat and sadness, but we still have hope that our persistence will lead to a miracle.

As difficult as it is to write out the words no children, I most of the time do not see myself that way.

I have loved a sweet little bean that couldn’t stay with us long, for four years. I will never know what that little bean would have turned into, because for one reason or another, they weren’t meant to stay here with us.

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I have faith that despite when we had our loss, that there is another story to be told, we just have to keep going, turning the pages as they come.

This journey is not something we expected, but we are embracing each day, and moment with each other as we faithfully wait for what is meant for us.

I yearn to hold our child in my arms, and even though this child does not exist yet, I love them. I have hope that the love my husband and I share, will help create the miracle we long for. I have never wanted anything so very badly, but find myself patient with this  very long, sometimes heart wrenching journey.

If you find yourself going through a similar circumstance, please don’t lose hope. I truly believe it is in these moments, when you truly find yourself and the life that is meant for you. It is a beautiful life, no matter how much you don’t understand your own personal struggle. So be patient, and most importantly be kind to yourselves during the wait. You deserve that.

While we wait, our arms may be empty, but our hearts are so very full. I do have a mother’s heart, and I can’t wait until the day I finally get to use it.

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This post is to honor and remember all the pregnancies and babies lost before their beautiful lives were truly known. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is a day that many parents both dread and are thankful for. All pregnancies and infants lost are something we carry in our hearts every day. You may not see them, but we still feel the love and pain all the same. Every child, both living or unfortunately not, are beautiful miracles- some just aren’t meant to stay. We will never understand the why, but to find strength in a community that unites because of this common pain, does bring us all comfort. To all the little perfect angels that watch us from above, we miss you, we love you, we celebrate you, we mourn you, we honor you.

Sausage, Spinach & Ricotta Frittata

Whenever I hear or say frittata, I immediately want to break out into dance, is anyone else with me?

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Whether or not the word invites you to move those hips, the aroma of this easy and delicious dish, will definitely have you running to the kitchen!

It’s light, fluffy and packed with some awesome ingredients, that will surely leave you asking for an extra serving!

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I originally saw this recipe on Racheal Ray Show, and adapted it with one tasty ingredient to make it just a little heartier for my dear husband.

It was a complete success and I am looking forward to the leftovers feeding me some breakfast and lunch over the upcoming days!

One of my favorite meals is brinner (breakfast for dinner) and to be absolutely the corniest person you will encounter today, this brinner was a winner!!

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Sausage, Spinach & Ricotta Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 oz of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, add the italian sausage. Break sausage up with a spoon and allow to cook. When mostly browned, add diced onion and saut√© for 2-3 minutes. If there isn’t enough cooking fat/oil in the pan from the sausage, this is when you would want to add a little olive oil.

Next add the minced garlic and thyme, allowing the ingredients to merry together and become fragrant. When the onion is translucent, add the spinach and allow to wilt and cook down.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, the ricotta and parmesan cheese together.  Season with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

When the sausage spinach mixture is cooked, pour the egg mixture over the top and evenly spread out the sausage and spinach with a spoon or fork.

Place into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the center is just set. Take out of oven, allow to cool or serve right away.

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Serve it along side a salad, or with some toast.

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You won’t feel guilty eating this, which as you already know is my favorite kind of meal!

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Do you have a favorite brinner recipe?

Life Lately…It’s Fall!

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The end of summer has come and gone so now it’s time to enjoy the beautiful season of fall! While I’m sure we were all sad to see the longer days of sunshine leave us, there is something so wonderful about this current season.

From the crisp, fresh air to the absolutely breath taking views of the leaves changing colors, these are just a few things that the lovely autumn has to offer us!

I know I am not alone in saying when fall rolls in so does my desire to be in the kitchen more. This is the time to make more hearty meals, bake more and time to slow down and enjoy the people in your life. Since fall is already here and the days seem to go by much faster as we age (thanks momma, for¬†always driving that point home ūüôā ) I am trying to embrace all our moments. There is no better time to do something than the present because every day is such a gift. Maybe that is what fall is all about. Learning to slow down from the hot and busy summer, and to really be grateful for everything you have in this life. ¬†It’s like a yearly reminder that the holidays are coming, and there is so much to be thankful for, every single day.

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There are many wonderful activities to do in the fall and I am hoping to cross these off my list this year!

Fall 2016 Bucket List

  • Big E¬† Done!
  • Apple picking
  • Make Low Carb Pumpkin & Apple Treats
  • Cornmaze
  • Haunted House
  • Pumpkin Carving/Decorating
  • New England Day Trip to see the leaves
  • Go on a fall picnic
  • Autumn Hike

These are just a few things I hope to do, I’m sure there are so many more!

Until I am able to cross off those activities, I’ll take a step back and reminisce about the past month or so.

There has been fun activities with some of my favorites…

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There has been some delicious eats….

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Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad…last salad of the season!
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Philly Cheesesteak Mini Meatloaves
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Low Carb Blueberry Cheese Danish Coffee Cake

There has been the continued hard work on our new deck…

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There has been many strolls with these lovelies….

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Quiet time too….

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We also celebrated 12 years of dating each other by going out to Marketplace Kitchen & Bar for dinner! While it was a bit noisy, the company was amazing and we shared this awesome appetizer that I will one day recreate. So simple, but yet, so tasty.

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Fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, over garlic spinach and vodka sauce

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There is nothing more that I love to do, than just spend time with this handsome face. He really has been my rock, my best friend, and life entertainer for these past 12 years. I feel so blessed to have spent these moments with him, and hope for as many more that we are able!

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What are some of your favorite fall activities?

 

 

 

 

Carrot Cake Loaf

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Since finding out about my own personal struggle with insulin resistance and PCOS, I am on a mission to get my body where it needs to be. Weight loss is never an easy journey, pair that with crazy hormones, it’s been quite a ride.

I am working so hard at breaking this vicious cycle for myself, but in doing so, I can’t and will not give up my love for cooking and baking. Because none of us need to do that!

I have had so much fun in the kitchen, trying new recipes and making our old favorite recipes more low carb friendly for us, and ultimately for you!

I do not believe my joy for food will ever go away, because I can talk, read, write, browse, eat…. all day long. I have made a choice to put the right foods in my body, to make it work the best it can. I have also made a choice to indulge in healthy treats from time to time, that don’t derail me from my goals.

Life is definitely all about moderation, and if you can make your treats healthy for you, you aren’t cheating. You are living!

There are some things you can say that life is not worth living without, if I was dramatic I would say this Carrot Cake Loaf! I personally feel happier knowing I have found a slightly sweet bread that I can put together really fast, that gives me a tasty snack with delicious carrot cake flavor! Carrot cake is one of my favorites, and this did not disappoint! I hope you try it!

Carrot Cake Loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup swerve sweetener {or 1/2 cup sugar, honey, etc}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. {almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon}

In a mixing bowl, add eggs and swerve sweetener. Mix to combine, then adding coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixing bowl and combine.

Then add grated carrot to batter.

Grease a bread/loaf pan with nonstick spray {butter or coconut oil} and pour batter into pan, spreading evenly.

Place in oven and bake for 30-32 minutes until top is browned and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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Then it’s time to slice it up and serve!

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It is moist, delicious and just subtly sweet- making it the perfect bread to eat as is, put a little butter on it, or make it into french toast! I think next time, I’ll even drizzle a little cream cheese frosting over it!

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Happy eating!!

Do you have a favorite loaf or bread recipe?

Five Things I’ve Learned in Five Years

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June 10th, 2011 was a beautiful day. It was the day I married my best friend and life partner. I wouldn’t change anything about that day, despite how things have changed over the years. I am more in love and a better person since I met my husband. He has shown me more patience, honesty, kindness and trust than I could have ever imagined.

For twelve years he has stood by my side through both thick and thin. Not just during life struggles but even with my own battle with my weight. Never once has he made me feel ugly, embarrassed or any less beautiful than when I met him. He continues to support me with all my endeavors, and I am forever grateful for being blessed with having him in my life.

I have learned many valuable lessons through the years, lessons that have shaped me as an individual but most importantly, lessons that have helped keep our relationship wholesome. I thought I’d take a few minutes and share what has worked for us.

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Communication

I feel like this is the biggest and most important part of any relationship. Whether it be family, a friend or your partner, good communication is always key. I have not always been the best at spilling my guts when it comes to how I’m feeling. I hold a lot of what I feel inside and when I’m most vulnerable, I let it out and then some. It has not been effective in any way to making me feel better in the past, because things are said that were not meant. I have made a huge effort to speak up about things before they get to a point where this can happen. I’ve never had a problem talking with my husband, he is always willing to listen, but I did have to learn to actually listen and accept his advise. A relationship is a two-way street and the most successful communication comes from both parties being fully engaged.

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Respect

Life can be very stressful at times. Between different schedules, work, finances and other personal matters, tempers can get heated without intention. At least mine can. I married such a gentle soul, I am definitely the hot pepper of the relationship! With that in mind, no matter if my husband chose to marry me, this whole package, hot pepper personality or not, I make the choice every day to respect him. He makes it easy, but I choose to respect him because he deserves it. We all do. Every day I try to show him kindness, love and appreciation. I choose to respect his decisions and desires in life, because there is no I in this team. He is a vital part of our life, and I am so fortunate for all he does for us.

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Support

Life can change so quickly and a lot of the time it’s not by choice but by outside forces. The best relationships can get severely rocked by these circumstances and you must always lean on each other, supporting one another as best you can. Life is never going to be picture perfect, but wait, what is that? Life is what you make out of it, and it’s your own kind of perfect no matter what struggle you may have. The best relationships come from those who survive a storm together. At times, one may need to support the other more but it’s the constant give and take that makes a relationship survive and flourish. I know that my husband is my rock, but I’m a tough girl too. We lean on each other when needed and sometimes we can just stand tall separately. The most important thing you can do, is let your partner know that you are there all the time, if needed.

 

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Friendship

Friendships in life come and go. Some stay the long hall but a lot of relationships are found during certain seasons in your life. People relate to those who are going through similar phases at certain times more. There is nothing wrong with these types of friendships, because you met for a reason. I believe in order to have the best relationship with your partner, you need to be their friend as well as their lover. I 100% feel that my husband is my best friend and in conversation, he feels the same as well. We have the best times together, whether it be talking, going out, or just sitting quietly on our couch. He is my absolute favorite person and one of the best friendships I’ve ever been blessed to have.

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Laughter

Life can be so serious sometimes, and difficult. We all experience loss, rejection and uncertainty throughout this journey. I completely agree that the best medicine is laughter and it’s even better when you can laugh together! Nothing can perk up a bad moment faster than an inside joke or a funny thought. I think it also keeps a little spark in your relationship to be a little quirky and sarcastic. There is a lot of spice in this life, you just have to remember to be present and use it!

I am by no means a relationship expert and I do not claim to be. I just know what has been working for us for these years, and I wanted to share. What works for us, may not work for you but that’s ok. Find your own values, learn the lessons that make you a better person and/or couple. Most importantly, do what makes you happy!

I am thankful every day for what I’ve been given, and I don’t take my husband or our relationship for granted. I cherish every moment I have with him and hope we have some happy, healthy years ahead!

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I wish the same for you!

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Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

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Oh sweet tooth, you are at it again.

Forcing me to research, brainstorm and create a recipe just so you can enjoy one of life’s greatest creations….brownies.

Rich chocolate, fudgey, mouth watering brownies….that don’t cause your body to jump into sugar shock only to retreat into a carb induced coma.

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One of my greatest joys with experimenting in the kitchen, is when my chef husband loves what I’ve made. While he isn’t a tough critic in the sense that he is a food snob, his opinion and years of experience mean something to me. Ratings of 10/10 in anything I make, seriously make me feel proud of what I’m doing.

I think the best creations in the kitchen come from your heart. When you are passionate about what you are doing, it is always going to be a success. The recipe itself may take some tweaking but what is a passion without trying for your own standard of perfection.

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With that being said, this is not suppose to be comparable to a real brownie made out of sugar and flour (which are delicious, I might add). This is something different, and to me….better. I have no guilt eating this as a treat. I don’t think you will either. Its rich, dense and full of chocolate flavor.

Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Makes 16 Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips {can use sugar free chocolate}
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener {or 1/2 cup coconut sugar, honey, agave, sugar}
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium microwave safe bowl, add coconut oil (or butter), dark chocolate, and peanut butter. Microwave for 2 minutes until mixture is melted and smooth. Put aside.

In another bowl add eggs, swerve sweetener (or sweetener of choice) and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add coconut flour, unsweetened cocoa powder and salt.

When fully combined, add in peanut butter chocolate mixture.

Spray a 8X8 pan with nonstick spray or use parchment paper for easy clean up.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out batter. Place into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until set and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to fully cool.

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Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!

Happy Eating!

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