A Birthday Boy’s Dream Digger Cake (Gluten-Free)

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Recently, my oldest son had his third birthday, and as I write this, I can’t believe we have had three of these celebrations already. “Is he really three?” I ask myself. Then I remind myself of the importance of cherishing each moment, for I have learned this to be true: time does fly. ๐Ÿ™‚

In light of the conversation of cherishing each moment, one of the things I have always loved is the time to celebrate a holiday, a birthday, or a special occasion. Not only is celebration fun, but I truly believe that we must make time to honor those moments and seasons of joy. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (ESV, emphasis mine). Yes, there is a time to celebrate, and birthdays are no exception.

With that said, my son’s third birthday this year was such a wonderful time. He is in love with anything “digger” or “dumptruck”, and so I knew that our celebration would revolve around that theme. When I originally started planning his party, I had a full menu of which I planned to serve our few guests and then to top that off, I also wanted to serve birthday dessert (Of course, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want birthday cake?! :)). Let me tell you… this birthday was about learning to simplify. I feel like I am constantly learning this lesson (aren’t we all?!). By the time the planning was done, I had decided that we would skip a meal and instead, have a fun digger birthday cake with ice cream, strawberries & dip, and some leftover caramel popcorn I had in my freezer. I have always thought that simplifying like this would take away some of the fun and joy in the planning process; what I learned instead was that this actually left me (and my family!) less stressed it made planning much more of a blast. Plus it allowed for more time to relish in each moment of the birthday (cherishing the time, right? :)) rather than being concerned about details that, in all reality, didn’t matter “big picture”. Plus it gave me some time to give this cake a whirl; it truly was one of the best birthday celebrations.

So, what about this cake? ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me tell you that looks can be deceiving! This actually was a very simple gluten-free cake to make. I utilized one of my favorite gluten-free baking brands (Pamela’s) and I was set! I also looked at a lot of Pinterest pictures! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Enjoy this simple, yet fun way to spice up a boy’s birthday celebration. ๐Ÿ™‚

For the Cake:
2 Bags Pamela’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix
The remaining ingredients listed on the bag recipe (2 eggs, *1/2 cup oil, and 1 1/2 cups water) *I chose to use melted coconut oil for this recipe.

Directions: Lightly grease 2- 9 inch round pans and set aside. Follow the mixing and baking instructions for the “Luscious Chocolate Cake” recipe found on the bag. It is also important to fill the pans 2/3 full. You will have extra cake mix when you are done. Use it to make cupcakes! ๐Ÿ™‚ When the cake is done, cool for 15 minutes and then run a knife along the sides to loosen, but do not pop out of the pans yet. Cool completely. In the meantime, make the frosting.

For the sake of simplicity, click on this link to find the frosting recipe. Here a couple of my notes regarding the frosting:
1) Semi-sweet chocolate chips work instead of chopping up the chocolate.
2) I used Brown Rice Syrup instead of the corn syrup to make sure the frosting was gluten-free.
3) My frosting was pretty runny yet by the time I was done preparing it. I followed her instructions and chilled it in the fridge until it was a little more set. I actually popped it in the freezer for a portion of the time, just to speed up the chilling process. ๐Ÿ™‚
4) Follow the directions!!! Don’t skip the ice bath, etc. ๐Ÿ™‚ You will be glad that you took the time to follow the extra steps. ๐Ÿ™‚

Assembly Instructions:
1) On a large cutting board lined with foil, carefully pop out one of the cakes so that the flat side of the cake is face up. Frost the top of this layer with a generous amount of frosting. Carefully pop out the second cake and carefully lay it on top of the frosted layer, right side up. If your cake is rounded, may have to shave a little off the top of this layer to make sure that it is flat on the top.
2) Frost the remainder of the cake (top and sides). Don’t worry about being neat at first. Glob a generous portion on the top initially so that you have a lot of frosting with which to work. That way, you won’t get crumbs mixed in with your frosting.
3) Once your cake is frosted, smooth it out all over.
4) Cut a chunk out of one portion of the cake, but only cut down through one, rather than both layers. Set this piece aside.
5) Crumble the cut out piece and use this to fill the empty space in the cake. This will create the “dirt look”. You can also mix the cake crumbs with some crushed up gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies.
6) Use any remaining crumbs to add extra “dirt” around or on top of the cake.
7) Complete the cake by adding a few digger truck toys on the top as well as around the base of the cake.
8) Serve with organic vanilla ice cream (Make sure to purchase the kind without mono and diglycerides and carrageenan.)

Enjoy!!!
*This post contains affiliate links.
*Thank you to Pinterest for all of the many “digger cakes” on display!
*Thank you to Our Best Bites for the frosting recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚

Delightful, Nutrient Dense Strawberry Cake (Made with Coconut Flour)

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I have missed you all! I apologize for my “blog posting absence”, but I have been busy collecting a few more delicious recipes for you all! This one comes from Lauren Geertsen’s blog, Empowered Sustenance. She writes that she originally received this recipe from her friend, Melanie. I encourage you to check out Lauren’s great recipes and her insights on health and wellness. I believe you will find great resources for your health journey. ๐Ÿ™‚

Like I said, I have been collecting tasty recipes to share, and this one is sure to please. I decided to take on the adventure in making this for my family for Valentine’s Day, and it did not disappoint. I will admit that it was a little more time consuming to put together, but I believe the main reason was that it was my first time making it, and I wanted to make this cake GOOD! ๐Ÿ™‚ My sister and mom also decided to make it as well on Valentine’s Day, so it was quite fun to text and chat throughout the day as to how everyone’s cake was progressing. The pics that we shared at the end of the day (since we live a distance away from each other) were fantastic! I was pretty proud and so excited to serve it.

In addition to making a tasty treat for my loved ones, I knew that we were delighting in a cake that was full of nutrition: coconut flour, several eggs, raw honey, and grass-fed butter make this cake more than just a regular dessert. It is full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Talk about a dessert that you can feel good about eating. In fact, I am not going to lie… we did in fact eat leftovers for breakfast. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are interested in checking out Lauren’s recipe for this cake, you can click on this recipe link. I did follow her version of the cake recipe exactly, but I did make a few modifications in the preparation directions and in the frosting. For the sake of simplicity, I will post what I did here, and you can always refer back to her site if you’d like! ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy this delightful strawberry cake for any occasion. ๐Ÿ™‚
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Cake Ingredients:
8 eggs
1/2 cup raw honey
5 tablespoons chilled, grass-fed butter, grated (I like the Kerrygold brand; Costco sells a case of three of them for under $7. Otherwise, I have gotten mine at Trader Joe’s as well.)
1 cup coconut flour. (To measure it, scoop it and then level with a knife. Do not pack it. It is important not to add too much coconut flour.)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt (We like the Kalona brand.)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced (If possible, organic strawberries are best. They are one of the fruits on the “Dirty Dozen” list. More on that here.)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and coat the sides with butter or coconut oil. I did not have a cake pan, so I used my springform pan and just lined it with aluminum foil along the bottom and sides.

Put the honey and eggs in a large mixing bowl, and with whisk attachment, mix on medium-high for 5 minutes. It should be frothy and pale yellow. Add the grated butter and mix for another minute. Set the bowl aside for a short bit.

In a separate bowl, mix the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda together. Add these dry ingredients to the honey and eggs mixture. Mix for about 1 minute.

With a spatula, gently mix in the whole-milk yogurt, vanilla extract, and the diced strawberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan or springform pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Check the cake at 35 minutes to see if it is done. Every oven behaves differently. Lauren’s recipe states to cook for 35 minutes. Mine was not done that quickly. Cool completely (very important!) before frosting with the delicious strawberry buttercream frosting (Recipe below):

Frosting Ingredients: (This recipe comes from Honest Body)
1 cup room temp softened, unsalted grass-fed butter (Kerrygold works wonderfully.)
10 tablespoons raw honey
1 bag (mine was 1.2 oz) freeze dried strawberries
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup (grade B preferred)
1 tablespoon+ coconut milk or milk of choice (The milk should NOT be used if the frosting is already a
spreadable consistency. Only use if it is too thick for frosting your cake.)

Directions:
Blend the freeze dried strawberries into a powder in the blender. Pour the powder into a large mixing bowl. (Be careful when pouring or you will have a powdery mess! :))

Add the remaining ingredients, and with a mixer, combine on medium-high speed until creamy. Frost your cake. Decorate with additional strawberries if desired. Enjoy!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

*This page contains affiliate links.
*Credit for the cake recipe comes from Lauren over at Empowered Sustenance.
*Credit for the frosting recipe comes from Honest Body.

Momma Bird’s Nest Jewelry (Guest Post by Renee)

What a blessing it is to be able to introduce Renee, the designer of the lovely Momma Birdโ€™s Nest jewelry. She has a wonderful product with beautiful mission and message behind the making of these pieces, a line of jewelry of which I am honored to support. I own a necklace and earrings myself, and I can say that they are some of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry that I have. This may be the perfect gift for your mom for Valentineโ€™s Day! (Make sure you check out the special PROMO at the end!) Enjoy the following guest post by the maker of Momma Birdโ€™s Nest.
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I feel so honored that I have been asked to be a guest on Avocado Mommy. My name is Renee Abraham, and I am the founder and designer of Momma Bird’s Nest Jewelry. I am also, first and foremost, a follower of Christ, a wife, and a stay-at-home momma to 3 little munchkins!

Now that you know a little about me, you are probably asking, “What is Momma Bird’s Nest and why does it exist?” I’m glad you asked. Momma Birdโ€™s Nest is a line of superior quality, nature-inspired jewelry, handcrafted to celebrate Motherhood.
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The background and two-fold vision of Momma Birdโ€™s Nest:
This line of jewelry began after a multitude of compliments which I received as a result of the first nest of pearls I designed and wore as a symbol of my 3 children. To me, the nest is a parallel in many ways to my life as a Momma. It represents the natural instinct to create a safe home in which to nurture my children and the unexplainable “messes” that occur throughout the day but are part of what makes a “beautiful nest” (In fact, a few have occurred as I write this. Don’t worry; no risk to their safety was involved. :)). It also represents the idea that one day my little ones will spread their wings and fly while they will forever remain near to my heart.
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As other Mommas began requesting their nest, I was not prepared for the touching, joy-filled, heart-wrenching, and emotional stories each individual shared. Many were people I had known for years and had no idea the hardships they faced through infertility or miscarriage or even the loss of a child. I also was able to hear stories where individuals talked about their births and/or adoptions of each of their children and even grandchildren. My heart has become personally connected to each nest I design and the stories told through them. Seasons of elated joy to the deepest moments of sorrow, each Momma has a story to share, and yes, they’re significant and beautiful each in their own way. I have added many wings to nests to include a child or children whom they lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. Itโ€™s a beautiful way to symbolize how her child lives on in her heart and also a way to include babies who may not have been given a birth date. As I hear these stories, I’m more aware of the ministry that is found in women sharing their joys and heart-aches with each other. These stories inspire other mothers who have either faced or are facing those same seasons of life. If you’ve ever watched a Momma bird prepare her nest for her young, it starts out as, what seems to be a messy heap of collected debris, but when it is finished, it becomes an intricate and beautiful masterpiece. God is so gracious to use what seems like a chaotic mess to bring about a beautiful masterpiece, and that is true of each Mommaโ€™s story.
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The second part of the vision of Momma Bird’s Nest is to create a means in which to support the sanctity of life and to come alongside those who are on the “front-lines” of this battle every day. As a believer in the life of each unborn child, I feel even more compelled to do my part to preserve the value of life and encourage those around me. A portion of Momma Bird’s Nest proceeds is committed to a featured organization, foundation, or ministry that is fighting to preserve the sanctity of life.

Each nest is handcrafted by me in my home. I use only the finest materials so they can be worn and enjoyed for a lifetime! I love custom orders, creating new designs and even modifying my current designs for extra personalization. It is my goal to provide impeccable customer service!
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You can check out my full line of jewelry in my Etsy shop: http://www.mommabirdsnest.etsy.com
Also, you can follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/beautifulnest
Making a difference in the lives of many, one nest at a time!

Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young- a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.”

NEW CUSTOMER PROMO!

10% discount on all first-time orders! PLUS Momma Birdโ€™s Nest and Avocado Mommy is teaming up to support New Life Family Services (http://www.nlfs.org) by committing 20% of all Momma Birdโ€™s Nest purchases to their ministry!

To redeem this Promotion, use COUPON CODE: AVOCADOMOMMY in Etsy shop checkout. http://www.mommabirdsnest.etsy.com

FREE SHIPPING on all orders!

Current turnaround time is 7-10 BUSINESS DAYS – If you need an order sooner please contact me.
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Testimonials:
“My husband recently purchased me a Momma Birdโ€™s Nest necklace with a stone egg for each of my children. He also added the wing, but not because we lost a child. Recently, our daughter was diagnosed with a bad case of epilepsy. While we were in the hospital my cousins bought us a plague with the Psalms 91:4. It says, โ€œHe shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.โ€ I had two other people call us and encourage us that we needed to run to the Lord and have Him be our covering. I was so blessed to get this necklace and love that the wing is a constant reminder that the Lord is our covering. Nothing it too big for our Heavenly Father! The wing has become a symbol of our trust in the Lord for our daughter.”
-Sarah from Bruce, WI

“When Lexi gave me a Momma Bird’s Nest necklace for Motherโ€™s Day, she didn’t know how perfect it was and how much it meant to my heart.
Being a mother is one of my favorite things in life. In fact when I was a young girl and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my reply was “a mother”! I am blessed with 4 beautiful, amazing children; one girl and three boys. Between my third and fourth, in 1999, I had a miscarriage. I wasn’t very far along but far enough that there was a precious little baby that we buried under an oak tree in a beautiful oak grove on our property.
Then on May 10, 2009, Motherโ€™s Day, more devastation came. My youngest son, Jedrek, 8 years old, was killed suddenly and tragically. After Jedrek’s accident, we were trying to find the perfect place for his grave so we went to the oak grove first, because the baby was there, it seemed like the right place. While we were looking around we noticed in one of the oak trees there was a place that had been hollowed out and there was a little bird’s nest inside. Jedrek’s daddy’s first thought was that the oak grove was too far from me; that Jedrek would be too far from me. But when we saw the bird’s nest and because the baby we lost was buried there, we knew it was the right place for our Jedrek’s grave. The comment I made when we discovered the nest was, “Momma’s nest”, and we knew it was the right place for my babies to be together; in Momma’s nest.
So when I got the necklace with the four eggs in the nest it couldn’t have been more perfect.
God is so amazing how He ministers His love and healing to us in meaningful ways when we are hurting.”
-Misty from Raton, NM

“I am so pleased with my Momma Bird’s Nest jewelry! I love that it was tailored just for me and for the story of my journey as a mother. It is so beautifully made and it is evident that it was hand crafted with special care. I love it, and I think it would be a perfect gift for any mother.”
-Grafton, WI

โ€œLove my necklace. I have received alot of compliments on it. It is beautiful! Thank you! Great to deal with.Fast shipping.Would order again!โ€
-Prairie Farm, WI

โ€œLoved the gift for my mother. When she received it, she was in tears. Thanks for making Mother’s Day so special for us.โ€
-Grove Town , GA

“Oh Renee~ They ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!!!! They (my daughters) all love them and have brought many tears…many thanks…much love and excitement…the best Christmas! Thank you again and again for such love put into each one of them ….you are precious Renee…Everything arrived beautifully.”
-Lafayette, MN
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*This post contains affiliate links.

Honey Sweetened Cupcakes with Buttercream

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Mmmmm….cupcakes. Let’s admit it. Most of us are huge fans of this tasty treat. Yet, many times, cupcakes are filled with loads of sugar as well as gluten. Where do we find a tasty substitute that still tastes like a cupcake? Well, let me tell you that I have a delicious cupcake recipe to share with you today from another “nutrition-minded” blogger. I recently discovered this dessert from Erica over at her blog, Comfy Belly. I’d encourage you to check out her website as she has fantastic ideas! In the meantime, whip up a batch of these, and enjoy them with no guilt. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have followed her cupcake recipe exactly because it is so wonderful just the way it is! The only slight change I made was to omit the seeds from the vanilla bean (as I did not have this on hand) and instead, I increased the vanilla extract in the recipe slightly.

Cupcakes:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour (Do not pack the coconut flour in the measuring cup.)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
*1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons coconut milk or other milk
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
*Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners and set aside. (This recipe makes approx. 8 cupcakes.)
*In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, add the eggs, melted oil, honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, and combine them using the electric mixer until they are well blended. Let the batter set for 3 minutes, and then mix once more for 15 seconds.
*Fill the muffin liners 3/4 of the way full, and pop the cupcakes in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them toward the end so that they don’t get too dark. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
*Cool and frost with the buttercream recipe below. I followed Erica’s buttercream recipe, but I decreased the honey by 1 tablespoon and I used Tropical Traditions Palm Shortening instead of Spectrum’s Vegetable Shortening.

Buttercream Frosting:
4 tablespoons organic butter at room temp.
4 tablespoons palm shortening
*4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*With an electric mixer, blend the buttercream ingredients until they are smooth. Frost your amazing cupcakes! ๐Ÿ™‚

*Note: If you can get your hands on some local raw honey, it is well worth it for this recipe. Raw honey has a flavor that is superior to regular pasteurized honey. ๐Ÿ™‚

*This page contains affiliate links.

*Find the original cupcake recipe here and the frosting recipe here.

Divine Flourless Chocolate Cake (Sweetened with Maple Syrup)

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Happy New Year to all of you, and many blessings as you begin another chapter of your life. To celebrate the new year, I thought it only appropriate to share a little chocolate goodness with you! I certainly can not take credit for this divine, rich, flourless chocolate cake, and I must thank Amee Livingston from Amee’s Savory Dish for this excellent dessert idea. She also adapted it from Mastering the Art of Paleo Cooking. I am so grateful that I found this recipe, as it is SO INCREDIBLY AMAZING. Each bite tastes of smooth, fudgy bliss, and it is excellent paired with a little homemade whipped cream. We have used it for entertaining many times as well, and it has never failed to be a crowd pleaser! Enjoy this recipe for years to come! ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients:
18 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (Ghirardelli chocolate chips recommended)
1 cup coconut oil
ยพ cup real maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
2 tbsp water
ยผ tsp sea salt
6 whole eggs
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

Directions:
*Preheat the oven to 275.
*Grease a 9 inch springform pan. Dust it with cocoa powder by tapping the pan so that the cocoa covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Surround the springform pan with aluminum foil (shiny side of foil facing toward the pan), making sure it is sealed tight! If you have to double up the foil in a few areas, that is okay. This will prevent water from seeping in while baking. Set this pan aside.
*In a double boiler, slowly melt the bittersweet chocolate and the coconut oil, stirring frequently to avoid any burning. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat. Beat in the maple syrup, water, salt, and vanilla extract until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. (It is best to use the whisk attachment for beating in the eggs.)
*Pour your batter into the springform pan.
*Cook your cake in a water bath (water should be half way up the side of the pan) for 50 minutes. The cake will be set but will still look wet in the middle.
*Let the cake rest for an hour at room temperature, and then transfer to the fridge for another 5 hours before serving. When slicing the cake, run the knife under hot water, and dry with a towel between pieces. Enjoy with homemade whipped cream!

*For more pictures of this cake, see the recipe on Amee’s Savory Dish. Head on over to Amee’s Savory Dish and Mastering the Art of Paleo Cooking for more delicious dishes. ๐Ÿ™‚

*This page contains affiliate links.

Gluten-Free Oven Ham and Swiss Sandwiches

As the New Year holiday approaches, many of us are either hosting or attending a gathering, and chances are, we are looking for some crowd pleasing recipes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have one to share today that is sure to satisfy your guests.

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I was first introduced to this recipe by my sister-in-law, who also received it from another family member. She served these sandwiches at her daughter’s birthday party, and boy! The guests couldn’t stop raving about them! I unfortunately was not able to try them that day, as the original recipe calls for King’s Hawaiian Original Dinner Rolls, which contain gluten. Yet, I made a promise to myself that I was going to find a way to make them gluten-free. ๐Ÿ™‚ The result was delicious, and I am incredibly excited to share the gluten-free version of this amazing recipe. Enjoy!

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Gluten-Free Oven Ham and Swiss Sandwiches

Ingredients:
2 packages of Udi’s Gluten-Free French Dinner Rolls (I found mine at our local health food grocery store.)
18 slices of nitrate-free, gluten free deli ham (Try your health food store; ask if they carry this product in their deli. If not, you can also use Applegate Farms Slow Cooked Ham.)
12 slices of mild Swiss cheese
1 1/2 sticks organic butter
2 teaspoons gluten-free Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions:
Slice each dinner roll in half completely, and place the bottom halves in a 9×13 pan. You should have room for 12 halves in the pan. On each half, lay 1 1/2 slices of ham and 1 slice of Swiss cheese. Cover each sandwich with remaining top halves of bread.

On medium heat in a small sauce pan, melt together the butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and onion flakes. Stir until the butter is melted. Pour evenly over the ham sandwiches. Sprinkle the sandwiches with 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds. Cover tightly with foil to avoid any drying out, and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours, even better, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, place the covered pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

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*Thank you to my sister-in-law for the inspiration for this recipe! ๐Ÿ™‚ It will be enjoyed often.

*This page contains affiliate links.

DIY Brown Sugar Scrub

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I am so excited; I am actually attempting a few DIY gifts this year for the Christmas holiday! ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, I am being totally honest here. Yes, I am doing a couple homemade gifts, but they certainly are not going to be complicated! ๐Ÿ™‚ I know that with two little ones, I have to be realistic about the amount of time I have in a day as well. The reason I am excited about this brown sugar scrub from A Delightful Home is that it is quick, super easy, and most of all, made with all natural ingredients! So you can feel good about giving this to your mommy friends this holiday season. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
*1/2 cup grapeseed oil (Depending upon your consistency desired, you may want to add 1/4 cup more grapeseed oil.)
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar and the oil. If you feel that it is too dry, you can slowly add 1/4 cup more oil. Remember that you don’t want it too oily. I found that the original 1/2 cup listed was plenty. Add the vanilla extract, and stir. Package in clean mason jars, and decorate with ribbon. Enjoy! This is a great gift for a spa night with friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Thank you to A Delightful Home for this great recipe.

*This page contains affiliate links.

*Note: I have found some brown sugar recipes that call for coconut oil. You could definitely give that a try. Be mindful that coconut oil sets easily in colder temps. I am not sure how that would affect the consistency of your brown sugar scrub. ๐Ÿ™‚
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How about you? Do you have a sugar scrub recipe that you enjoy?

Apple Pie (Grain-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Paleo)

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I am excited about this one, especially with Thanksgiving so quickly approaching! For many people with various food allergies, sometimes the holidays can be quite challenging, especially when having to avoid so many of the treats they used to enjoy. Wait no longer. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here is one that is sure to please your guests! It is free of the common allergens, but it certainly is not “taste-free”.

This recipe is a combination of my own creative twists and the help of Breanna from He Won’t Know It’s Paleo. I used her recipe for the crust of this pie. You can find this recipe here:

Apple Pie Crust

For the filling, I followed most of Breanna’s instructions, but I changed a few things. For the sake of making things clear, I will post the instructions right here:

Filling:
5-6 medium apples-peeled, cored, and thinly sliced ( I used a combination of Granny Smith and Gala.)
3 tablespoons of sucanat
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup (grade B preferred)
pinch of salt
*Place the apple slices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sucanat. Add to the apples and stir. Finally, add the maple syrup and salt, and stir until combined. Pour into the unbaked pie shell (which you have already placed into a pie dish :)).

Finally the topping… ๐Ÿ™‚
ยผ cup palm shortening
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons coconut flour
ยฝ cup sucanat
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
*Mix all of the ingredients with hands. The mixture will be slightly crumbly but still stick to your hands somewhat. Place the topping over the pie.

*Make sure the oven is preheated to 350. Once preheated, cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an extra 10 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Keep an eye on the crust. If it seems like it is getting too brown, cover just the crust edges with foil while leaving the center of the pie exposed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve with whipped coconut cream (or regular whipped cream if dairy is tolerated. :))

*Disclosure: This page may contain links of which I earn a small commission.

Post 1 of 5 in “Tidbits for Birth, Baby, and Growing Child”: Why a Birth Plan?

It is hard to believe that a year ago, I was approaching the birth of our second son. I have been doing a lot of reflecting the last few weeks on a series of posts that I could write in honor of his birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have decided to spend a little time sharing what I feel to be some great resources for moms or moms-to-be of a little one. Stay tuned for more blog posts on titles/topics such as “Why I Chose a Doula” and “Why Chiropractic for My Child?”. As a celebration of my little guy’s first birthday, I am also planning to include a brief post on his party and how to plan on a tight budget. Stay tuned!

I am so excited to share a little tidbit with you today on why I chose a birth plan for not only my first child but for my second as well. You may ask, “What is a birth plan?” “Why would I need one?” “If I do need a birth plan, where on earth do I start?” “How do I write one?” I know that several of these questions crossed my mind. In effort to share what I learned, allow me to address each of these questions to the best of my ability. ๐Ÿ™‚

1) What is a birth plan? A birth plan is basically a document in writing that lists your desires/wishes for both you and baby during the labor process, the birth, and post birth. It includes things such as how you desire your pain to be managed, how you want to labor, delayed cord cutting, what your wishes are in regards to vaccinations for your baby in the hospital, etc. It is a valuable document for your team of doctors, nurses, and/or midwives to have and to be made aware of (ideally prior to the time you are admitted to the hospital) as it clearly defines your wishes and desires for your ideal birth experience. Please remember that although you desire everything to go as planned, there are also situations where you may need to be flexible if the health of you or baby is at risk. ๐Ÿ™‚

2) Why would I need a birth plan? As mentioned above, this document lists your desires and wishes for an ideal birth and post birth. It also gives your medical team an opportunity to be on the same page as they work with you. It is important to talk through your birth plan with your midwife or OB prior to the birth so that they fully understand what your document entails. Understand your rights as the mother and present your plan with confidence, but also be open to talking through any areas that may need to have some flexibility. Understand also that your midwife/OB may present some concerns or areas where he/she disagrees. To best prepare for your presentation of the birth plan, do your research. Know what you are able to ask for. If you can, speak with a doula (Stay tuned for my upcoming post on “Why I Chose a Doula”) or a friend who has found success with a birth plan. Look up sample birth plans that are available online. There are great resources! ๐Ÿ™‚

3) How do I write a birth plan? Where do I start? As I thought about my birth plan, I found great support in looking through several birth plans that others had used. Using samples and research as my guide, I formulated a birth plan that I felt quite good about and was able to use for both of my boys’ births. I have decided to include my birth plan in this post for you. Feel free to use this as a sample/guide as you put your document together. ๐Ÿ™‚

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SAMPLE BIRTH PLAN
Birth Protocol Agreement For: Your Name Here

Location: Place where you will be giving birth
Certified Nurse Midwife: Name of your nurse/midwife
Name of Father and Mother: Your name here
Baby Due Date: Your babyโ€™s due date
People Present at Birth: People you wish to have with you in the birthing room

We are pleased with our choice to work with the Certified Nurse Midwifery staff as well as the staff at Name of Your Medical Center. Throughout the pregnancy, we have received excellent care, and we are looking forward to working with you as we give birth naturally to our baby.

We feel that we have educated ourselves well during the pregnancy by attending the Bradley Method classes and have done our best to do everything we can to stay healthy and low risk. As a part of the preparation for a beautiful birthing experience, we have put together the following documents that discuss what we desire for labor, delivery, and postpartum. Since this is a very special event in our lives, we have put much thought and consideration to what we have listed in this document. We respectfully ask that you help us in achieving our birth goals.

Above all, we are looking forward to having a natural and peaceful birth experience. The following is very important to us regarding what we desire and what we would like to avoid:

โ€ข Please do not offer us any pain medication, drugs, epidural, or Pitocin at any time.
โ€ข Please help us to avoid any induction of labor at any time unless it is absolutely necessary. I would like to try non-medical techniques to help the process of labor start on its own (walking, teas, etc.). We feel very strongly that we would like my water to break on its own. If induction is necessary, please use a minimal dose.
โ€ข It is very important to us that I am allowed freedom of movement as is comfortable to me during the laboring process. Therefore, we would like to avoid IVโ€™s. We also do not wish to be hooked up to any fetal heart monitors as these would restrict freedom of movement. As an alternative please only do occasional fetal heart monitoring as necessary (intermittent monitoring). If possible, we would like if you could use a fetoscope to monitor the heart rate and do occasional doptone checks when necessary.
โ€ข We strongly desire that vaginal exams are minimized.
โ€ข It is important to us that we are allowed privacy during the first stage labor. Please understand that we feel strongly about laboring in a way that seems natural to my body. We do not desire for me to labor on my back. Rather, it is important to us that I am allowed to use alternative methods to work through labor (tub, walking, squatting, sitting, various body positions that are comfortable to me, birth ball, music, etc.). I am looking forward to wearing my own clothing as long as possible during the labor process. My husband and I would like to have our own cooler of food available to us during the labor, delivery, and hospital stay that would contain items such as snack bars, dried fruit, an electrolyte drink, water.
โ€ข During second stage labor, it is important to us that we are allowed the freedom to give birth in a position that is comfortable for me, such as squatting or using a bed with a squat bar.
โ€ข Please help us to avoid an episiotomy.
โ€ข Please allow the placenta to deliver on its own.
โ€ข Please understand that we feel very strongly about having skin to skin contact with my newborn right away where I am allowed to start immediate breastfeeding.

In addition to our wishes that we have expressed above, we also have put together our wishes specifically dealing with the care of our baby. We respectfully ask that our informed decisions be honored.

โ€ข Please do not give our baby the Vitamin K1 vaccination, the Hepatitis B vaccination, the eye drops, and the sugar water at any time after birth as well as during our entire hospital stay. It is also important to us that no supplementary bottles with formula be given to our baby during our hospital stay.
โ€ข It is important to us that there be a delayed cutting/clamping of the umbilical cord until the cord stops pulsing unless there is an emergency where cutting the cord immediately would be necessary.
โ€ข Please understand that we feel strongly that the vernix skin not be removed from our babyโ€™s body. Rather we would like this covering to be left to rub in for immune support.
โ€ข We are looking forward to and respectfully request that our baby remain in the room with us as much as possible. Please do all weighing, measuring, and any evaluations right in our room.
โ€ข If our baby is a boy, we feel strongly about waiting 8-9 days before the circumcision happens.

Please know that we will be flexible on all points listed in this entire Birth Protocol Agreement if an absolute emergency/complication arises. Although we feel confident that everything will go normally, we trust and respectfully ask that you inform us if any problems come up so that my husband, doula, and I can discuss the choices to be made and choose our new plan of action. We take our responsibility of being good parents very seriously and want to do what is best for our baby.

Thank you for your kind attention. We look forward to sharing this, one of lifeโ€™s most miraculous events, with the very special people on your staff. Again, it is a privilege to be able to work with such a qualified and wonderful team of people.

Sincerely,

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What about you? Have you used a birth plan? Did you find it valuable? What would you recommend be included on this document?

Gooey Goodness Brownies with Avocado Mousse Frosting

If you want a bite of chocolate goodness, keep reading. This recipe is worth every bite. Not only is it tasty, but it is filled with nutrient dense ingredients and healthy fats as well. Plus, they are egg-free, gluten-free, and dairy free. I think I found a winner recipe for my son’s birthday cake, and I am so excited!! Enjoy the gooey treat (and don’t feel one bit guilty!).

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Ingredients for the Brownies:

4 tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
ยผ cup Natural Value coconut milk (I like this brand because there is no guar gum or thickeners.)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
ยฝ cup pure maple syrup
ยฝ cup organic pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
ยผ teaspoon sea salt
ยผ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cacao powder
4 tablespoons coconut flour
4 tablespoons arrowroot flour
1/4 cup Enjoy Life Chips to fold in (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Stir constantly. Pour into a medium sized mixing bowl, and add in the maple syrup, pumpkin, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together the coconut flour, cacao powder, and arrowroot. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a spatula until just combined. Fold in additional chocolate chips if desired.
Place in a greased 8×8 pan, and spread out evenly. Bake for 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean (Don’t worry about under-baking a little! ๐Ÿ™‚ Cool completely. While cooling, prepare the mousse frosting. ๐Ÿ™‚

For the mousse frosting, just follow ** this recipe. Frost with half of the mousse, and save the rest just for eating! ๐Ÿ™‚

These brownies are great cold or warm! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another great option is to sprinkle the brownies with a little coconut butter. ๐Ÿ™‚

**Please note that I have changed which coconut milk I use since posting the mousse recipe. I now use Natural Value instead of Native Forest. ๐Ÿ™‚

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