Weekly Review: Good Eats, Friends Date & The Weekend

Another week of March has come and gone, what?! In exactly five days we are going to be into April and I am so excited! April is my favorite month! Why you ask?

It’s BIRTHDAY MONTH!

One of my favorite parts of life is being able to celebrate my beautiful sister’s and my birthday together since they are only two days apart! This year will be different, for the mister and I are traveling during birthday week, but that doesn’t mean anything in regards to birthday month! ūüėČ

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I thought we’d have coffee together on this dreary Monday and just recap our last week. Was yours good? I hope so! Not a lot of sunshine the past few days, but I know that it’s coming. “Be patient Melissa.”

Monday

Monday was a typical day in the life, meal planning, grocery store for vegetables, cleaning & organizing, and of course some time in the kitchen!

I made up a delicious Beef & Veggie Taco Pasta for dinner. Low carb ‚ąö, healthy ‚ąö, dairy free¬†‚ąö and easy¬†‚ąö¬†! I’m going to have to make it again, so I can share what I did, but all you need to do is make taco meat, add all the vegetable you want, pasta of choice, add a little pasta water to help make a sauce and there you have it!

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I also tried out a new recipe for dessert¬†Almond Flour Blondies. I substituted swerve sweetener for the sugar, and halved the amount brown sugar called for by using truvia brown sugar. Then used dairy free chocolate chips. OMG. Get on that recipe. It’s good!

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Wednesday

Wednesday started out on a happy note, the sun was shining and I got to enjoy a lovely breakfast while reading my early birthday present from a dear friend!

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Trim Healthy Mama cookbook is amazing! So if you are looking for great recipes to add to your current way of eating, get on that! Thank you so much to my Lauren for the awesome surprise!

I then joined some of my favorites from work to see Beauty & the Beast! It is everything you dreamed it would be. At one point I did feel like I might be tripping (although I never have so hmmm). Just go see it!

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We ended up getting a late lunch at¬†J. Timothy’s Taverne¬†and it was really nice spending time with these lovelies outside of work.

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Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

I’m very grateful to have a job where we can all get together on a Wednesday, it really made for a great midweek treat!

Thursday

By the time Thursday came around, I was feeling the need to slow down {for no apparent reason} so the day is a blur. I’m sure I spent most of it relaxing and looking at recipes, because that’s what a foodie does, when she wants to do nothing!

We did have some delicious¬†Roasted Cauliflower & White Cheddar Soup¬†paired with some leftover ham. I used Kerrygold’s grass fed white cheddar (which I know is not dairy free) but sometimes, we have to indulge a little!

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Friday

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Can you believe this sunrise? That’s what Friday started with before work, and it was just gorgeous. I really need to start using my “adult camera” more. I am amazed at how beautiful nature, life, everything is, if we just take a moment to really see it.

Before we knew it, the weekend was here!

Saturday & Sunday

Our plans for the weekend were up in the air and I’m happy with how relaxed it was.

We enjoyed a delicious weekend breakfast.

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We went grocery store hopping- Market 32, Costco, Adam’s and Whole Foods in one weekend! (I would live in grocery stores if I could)

We hit up Whole Foods Hot/Cold Bar for some lunch.

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I found some great new items to add to my list of wholesome products I love. We are prepared for some healthy good eats this week!

We ate our favorite The Best Turkey Sloppy Joes over spaghetti squash.

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We marathon watched Bridget Jones, all three of them! Well, the dogs and I did.

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We spent time with our family for Sunday dinner.

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This handsome boy is always on the go, so that’s the best we did! I still love it.

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And we ended our weekend on a sweet note. Sugar free Strawberry Banana Jello, strawberries and coconut whip!

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All in all, a great week of good eats, some wonderful moments with the ones we love, and another week to be thankful for.

Until next time, enjoy all your moments, whatever they may be. They all count!

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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!

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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Low Carb Magic Bars

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Is there anything you distinctly remember about your childhood? Something that when one of your senses is heightened, it brings back instant nostalgia? I have many and I am so grateful that our brains do the involuntary magic that they do.

While a lot of my memories are of things we did, places we went and who we enjoyed these moments with, it is no surprise that some of them completely involve food. Because food = life, right?

My mom always use to make seven layer bars when we were growing up. Ooey, gooey, chocolate, coconut filled mounds of delicious joy. It’s been so long since I’ve had one, but I still recall the kitchen I grew up with, the counter where all the treats sat and the warmth my mom always provided us with. Whether it be her love, her cooking, or her thoughtfulness, she has always been the best mom. We are very grateful for her and her seven layer bars.

For they inspired these….

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I am a firm believer in ending the day with a little something sweet and with changes to my diet over the past few years, I have loved experimenting with new sweet treats that everyone can enjoy!

Low Carb Magic Bars

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener
  • 1/4 coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Magic Bars

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (measured to 66 grams), sifted
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp of swerve sweetener
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup slivered or chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped

Directions

To make the caramel sauce, place coconut milk, swerve sweetener, coconut sugar and salt into a sauce pan. Heat slowly and bring to a simmer on medium low heat. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the caramel is a nice golden color and has started to thicken. The sauce will thicken more as you remove it from heat and allow to cool. Add vanilla extract when you have removed pan from heat. (I doubled the caramel sauce recipe and saved half in the refrigerator for future use, which meant another batch, haha)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, add the coconut oil and 3 tbsp of swerve sweetener and mix well. Add the sifted coconut flour and mix until fully combined. You will have a wet dough.

Take an 8X8 baking dish (or comparable dish) and line with parchment paper for nonstick and easy clean up. Pour dough into dish and press evenly throughout. It will be a thin crust, but don’t worry.

Place into oven and bake for 7-8 minutes until the edges are starting to get golden brown. The dough will still be somewhat soft.

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Next, you will place the almonds and pecans on top of crust. Press down softly so that the nuts are slight pushed into the crust. Add the chocolate chips evenly, then the coconut flakes.

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Last, pour the caramel sauce over all the delicious ingredients. Gently shake the pan so that the caramel sauce can sink between the layers.

Place into oven and bake for 27-28 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

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Place the bars into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

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When ready, cut into bars and enjoy!

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The first time I made these, I brought them to a family birthday party and they were a hit!

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Just look at the layers of delicious goodness.

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Try to stop at just one, because it’s not possible.

Happy Eating!

Low Carb Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

 

How is it July already?! The time is sure flying and we are embracing our summer as much as we can! I hope you are too!

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There have been holidays, weekend projects, parties, concerts and lots of fun filling these days. It is no wonder that I haven’t taken the time to share a new and delicious dessert for you all to try! You will have to wait no longer, well maybe a little….

I hope you all were able to enjoy the 4th of July with the ones you love, doing something that made your heart happy. That is what life is about. Living it to the fullest every day you can and embracing as many moments possible.

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I was blessed with a lovely five day weekend over the 4th and I cannot put into words how wonderful it was! It was full of family, friends, good food, laughter and another home project to put down in the books. We redid our front porch! It still needs railings put on, but that will hopefully happen this weekend! I am loving it so far!

I will not hold you in suspense any longer! Here is what I’d describe as delicious, soft, pillows of¬†chocolate chip cookie that will leave you asking for just one more. They are easy to make and worth every minute of the small effort. Happy baking!

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Low Carb Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients

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  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 3 oz of dark chocolate, cut into pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl or stand up mixer, combine eggs, sweetener, and vanilla. Then add coconut oil.

 

Add the peanut butter to the wet ingredients and combine.

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In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine dry ingredients- almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Combine well, breaking up any big lumps from the almond flour.

Next add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, mixing on medium speed until combined.

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Then add your dark chocolate.

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (for non stick and easy clean up)

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Using a spoon or a cookie scooper, make 18 cookies and place spread out evenly on baking sheet.

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Bake in oven for 15-17 minutes until edges golden brown.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes.

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Then enjoy!

 

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Just the right amount of sweet chocolate, coconut and peanut butter. My favorite flavors married together to make the perfect cookie, with no guilt. If that isn’t winning, I don’t know what is.

Until next time! Happy eating!

A Weekend in Boston – Day 1

I cannot say it enough, I heart Boston. Everything about it, just makes me feel calm, happy and excited all at the same time.

There is just always something to do, see, eat, drink…. and be merry about!

I thought I’d share a little about our weekend away, because it is something I want to always remember. It will always be etched into memory but writing it out to look back on, just seems right.

We ventured up to Boston on a Friday afternoon. The weather was quite dreary but that didn’t stop our anticipation to meet up with two of our favorite people.

We arrived at the¬†Omni Parker House¬†around 3:30 pm where we were delighted to be gifted valet service right at the doorway. We don’t typically do valet so we already were feeling like a King and Queen!

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We checked in and went straight up to our gorgeous room where we were greeted with another surprise! Our weekend dates were spoiling us even before we got there, and we appreciate it all!

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After settling in, we met these beautiful people downstairs!

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Then it was time to take a nice stroll through Boston to get our feet wet (no pun intended, for it was raining!) What I loved most about this hotel besides it’s perfect description “A classic soul with a modern twist”¬†was how close we were to everything. It is right on the Freedom Trail, and so close to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. It made walking around the city, so very lovely!

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We ended up walking to dinner which was at Mast. It was kind of a weird experience all around in the dining world but our company was spot on, so despite the vibe that was throughout, we enjoyed ourselves.

Why must dinner always be served with this scrumptious but evil food? Mmm, bread.

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We started with sharing the Calamari, a family favorite for sure!

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Sadly, all we could taste was the salt! I’ve never had such salty calamari but we don’t waste food, so….. it was obviously still eaten!

My sister and I shared two small plates and one of them stole the show! The cauliflower was tasty!

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Polpettine Trio- a meatball trio of angus beef al ragu

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Roasted Cauliflower- with a spicy chile goat cheese and baked four cheese spread

The men stayed true to their roots, one enjoying a pasta dish (Italian man through and through!) and my hubby sticking with a roasted chicken.

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Orecchiete Baresi- Orecchiete pasta, friarelli (sauteed broccoli rabe), fennel sausage, pecorino romano

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Pollo al Mattone Sette Spezia- half all natural chicken, grilled, smoked seven spice rub, Borretane onion agrodolce

We ate, we talked, we laughed, and were in the best company!

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After dinner we walked back to our hotel for a drink and dessert!

The hotel has a famed whiskey bar called the Last Hurrah. We sat down at one of their tables, each getting a drink of choice and we shared their famous Boston Cream Pie!

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After, we called it a night! ¬†We needed our rest for Saturday and it seriously was the best day! Stay tuned…..

Low Carb Pudding Parfaits

I don’t know about you guys, but some of my favorite sweet treats include cake, chocolate and pudding. If only I could eat my favorites everyday…. okay maybe that’s a little too indulgent.

What if we all could enjoy our favorites knowing that they aren’t as bad for you? That is my mission in this life and I truly enjoy sharing these creations with you.

A few months ago, I was craving my favorite chocolate cake. Costco’s chocolate cake, to be more specific. Layers of rich, dark, moist chocolate cake with sweet, creamy and decadent chocolate frosting, covered in delicious chocolate shavings. That is really what dreams are made of. I never looked up how much sugar is in that cake, although I know it’s probably right on the label. I didn’t want to cry after eating it.

So instead of venturing out to buy a huge cake that would leave me with a million servings (exaggerating, it’s probably more like 30ish), I tried my best to make a lower carb chocolate dessert that would kick the craving and leave our stomachs happy.

That’s when these were born. Yummy, healthier,¬†chocolate,¬†delicious parfaits. Layers of low carb chocolate cake, sugar-free pudding and whipped cream have completed my life. A dessert that is very versatile, for you can mix it with whatever flavors you like.

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In the words of Guy Fieri, “this is money”.

Low Carb Pudding Parfaits

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Ingredients for Cake

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener**
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup water

**You can substitute your favorite sweetener- 1/2 cup swerve = 1/2 cup of regular sugar. So use according to that ratio.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, breaking up any lumps in the flour.

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In a mixing bowl, add eggs, sweetener and vanilla. Mix together until combined.

Add dry ingredients into the egg mixture. You will have a thick batter at this point.

Mix in cocoa powder.

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Add melted butter and water, allowing for all ingredients to blend and batter to thin out.

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Pour batter into a 8 X 8 inch baking pan either greased or with covered with parchment paper. Spread evenly into pan.

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Bake for approximately 22 minutes or until the top is set, but cake feels moist. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

 

You could stop here, top with your favorite frosting, whipped topping, ice cream…the possibilities are endless. I took it a step further.

Ingredients for Parfait

  • Chocolate cake, recipe above
  • 1 box of sugar-free instant pudding (or regular pudding), any flavor
  • 2 cups of preferred milk (skim, whole, almond, coconut, cream etc)
  • 1 large container of cool whip (or make your own)

Directions

In a bowl, if using instant pudding, mix milk and pudding for 2 minutes using a whisk. Place into refrigerator for at least 5 minutes to allow to set.

Cut the chocolate cake into cubes.

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Using whichever cup, dish or bowl that you prefer, being to layer your parfaits.

First add cake, then pudding, then whipped topping, making three layers.

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Try not to put spoonfuls of pudding or cool whip into your mouth during this process. It can be difficult.

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You can make ahead and place back into refrigerator or enjoy right away!

 

Happy eating!

Disclaimer: This cake is meant to be light and easily crumbles for this parfait. If you are looking for a more dense cake, come back when I create that *wink wink*

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Dear Future Me,

If I could share one tiny piece of advice with you, it would be exactly this…

Live your life being the best you that you can be and don’t have regrets. If you want the stick, go get the stick!

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Do what your heart leads you to do and know that despite the outcomes in life, your intentions are always pure. The sky is yours beautiful.

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Lastly, when in doubt, make this Dark Chocolate Banana Bread. It will make your head, heart and tummy very happy!

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If you are looking for a moist banana bread with sweet dark chocolate throughout, this is your lucky day!

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

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Ingredients
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup or sugar)
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix dry ingredients together and put aside.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, vanilla, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce and sweetener. On a medium-low speed, mix these ingredients together until combined. You can also mix these by hand.

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Add dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl with wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

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Then fold in your dark chocolate chips.

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Grease a large bread pan with butter or coconut oil. For easy clean up, you can use parchment paper.

Pour batter into prepared bread pan and place into oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges and top of bread are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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When done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from pan.

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You can store the bread covered on the counter or in the refrigerator. We enjoy our sweets cold for some reason!

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Happy Eating!!

A Comedy Show & Ice Cream Date

The end of last week didn’t go as planned, which in life tends to happen often. A regular visit to the dreaded foot doctor left me with many unfortunate needle marks and pain for a few days.

Then on Friday, a regular visit to another doctor confirmed my fears on my endometriosis front and my emotions got the best of me, I suppose.

So to make up for my lack of enthusiasm, the mister planned an impromptu date night that turned out to be a lot of fun!

We headed down to the casino in the late afternoon to grab dinner and watch a comedy show!

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Here is where I offer up some advice to those who probably don’t need it- make sure you go earlier to grab a bite at one of their nice restaurants. Because our decisions were made last minute, we didn’t have the time and the place was way too busy.

After walking around for far too long on a foot that should have been home, we got some early seats at the comedy show and ordered some food to share. I wish I had pictures to share but I ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad that came out soaked in dressing. It was disappointing. So my mister who is a saint, split half his burger with me. I picked a good one, thats for sure!

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The show was good, we had quite a few laughs listening to some crude and playful jokes. The main comedian spent a good amount of time in the audience and it was amusing to see how well everyone took the personal jokes. All in good fun, right?

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After the show we walked around the casino a bit and then had an ice cream party together. This right here can be put in my top 10 of favorite ice cream experiences. Okay maybe my top 100 ice cream experiences haha, but I love ice cream!

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This is Coconut Seven Layer Bar from Ben and Jerry’s. You all need to indulge in this delightful treat because it is worth it!

We stopped in some of the shops, I drooled over some Coach bags and regretfully walked away. Insert sad face. I saw this very cute sign too. Then, it was time to go!

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My kids do have paws!! For now!

It was just lovely spending time with my mister, and I can’t wait for our next little adventure!

Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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You know those days that just keep on giving, even when you’ve asked the man upstairs to please stop?

I have the solution to those days.

Chocolate. Dark, rich, gooey, delicious chocolate.

It’s right up there with ice cream, which would probably be my first choice to dive my face into, but I’m trying to be healthier in my indulgences.

Because any dessert that you make with fruits and vegetables is considered a summer salad, right?

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These babies are ready for baking!

Not quite. A girl could dream though, and dream about these, I will!

Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Yields 8 muffins

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Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup nut butter**
  • 1 ripe medium-sized banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sweetener (swerve, honey, agave or sugar)**
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

**I used this brand of peanut butter (amazing! but rather thick) and swerve sweetener (to make lower carb) but it didn’t allow recipe to have enough liquid so I added 1/8 cup of coconut oil, melted and 1/4 cup of water to recipe. If using honey or agave, you shouldn’t have that issue. It depends on the nut butter you use too, so if feeling that the batter is too thick- add 1/4 of water! (It won’t dull the taste, I promise)

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I used the chocolate coconut peanut butter and it’s yummy!
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place nut butter, banana, egg, sweetener of choice, cocoa powder, ground flaxseed, vanilla extract and baking soda into a blender. Blend until smooth.

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Fold in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips.

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Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cavity.

Place a few chocolate chips on top if desired.

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Bake for 20-22 minutes until tops of your muffins are set and a inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Then enjoy!

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These muffins may be little, but they are fierce! Have fun trying to stop at just one!

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Happy eating!