Coconut Peanut Butter Stuffed Date Truffles

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My love for chocolate, peanut butter, and dates inspired me to give this recipe a whirl, and all I can say is, “Wowza!” These are AMAZING. I am not even kidding; you need to have made these yesterday. Not only are they delicious, but they are an excellent choice for a treat. Dates are packed with nutrients: fiber, potassium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamins A and K, just to name a few. (See more on the health benefits of dates on Dr. Mercola’s site. )

Before I go any further and give you the directions for these date truffles, I do have to thank Sylvie, from Gourmande in the Kitchen, who is the master behind the original recipe. If you want her original recipe without my modifications, head on over and check out her creation (She has named these treats Chocolate Covered Coconut Dates). Plus, she has some other wonderful recipe inspirations as well! 🙂

Without further ado, here is your tasty treat! 🙂

Ingredients for the Stuffed Dates:
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (Note: If your batter seems a little runny after the stuffing ingredients are mixed, add 1-2 extra tablespoons of shredded coconut.)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup, Grade B preferred
4 tablespoons organic, creamy peanut butter (You can also use sunflower seed butter or almond butter as well!)
Pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (Trader Joe’s sells one that is both alcohol free.)
About 20 large, soft Medjool dates (I actually have found a great deal on dates at Costco!)

Ingredients for Chocolate Dip:
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup, Grade B preferred
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Directions:
*In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the date “stuffing” (mixing by hand). You can also put all of the ingredients in a food processor for a smoother filling.
*Cut each date in half lengthwise one way, and take out the pit.
*Fill each date with the peanut butter stuffing.
*Chill the dates in the freezer. 20 minutes is a good amount of time.
*While the dates are chilling, make the chocolate dip. Place the melted coconut oil in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix with a whisk.
*Remove the dates from the freezer. Using a toothpick to hold each date, dip one at a time in the chocolate until fully covered. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If you desire, sprinkle the dates with chopped nuts, coconut, etc., right after dipping so that your sprinkles set with the chocolate. Place back in the freezer until the chocolate sets. Enjoy!! Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

*This page contains affiliate links.
*This recipe has been adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen.

GARLIC: A Powerful Ingredient in Your Kitchen (Guest Post by Sarah from Abundelicious)

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


I would like to introduce my friend, Sarah, the Founder and CEO of Abundelicious! Sarah is a
Certified Holistic Nutrition Counselor and is passionate about helping individuals pursue a life of balance and wellness. She has tremendous wisdom in the area of health, and shares a little today about garlic! Enjoy learning about all its benefits, and make sure to try the recipe at the end of this post!

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Garlic is one of the most potent natural medicines in the world. There isn’t much it doesn’t do! There also aren’t many cuisines in the world that don’t utilize it. In addition, it was given to the slaves who built the pyramids of ancient Egypt, as well as the Olympic athletes of ancient Greece.

People often shy away from eating too much garlic because of the smell. Don’t get too upset about garlic breath; It’s the stinkiness that makes it such a powerful antioxidant (not to mention mosquito repellant – seriously). These antioxidants guard against, and even reverse, heart disease and cancer. Garlic also supports the immune system and fights off seasonal allergies.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


In addition to the antioxidants, garlic is rich in vitamins and minerals. A few more of the many benefits of garlic include…

– lowering blood pressure
– blood thinner
– widens arteries
– prevents colon and stomach cancer
– stabilizes blood sugar by increasing the release of insulin
– antiviral (prevents the cold and flu)
– fights yeast overgrowth, as well as infections (use topically to treat athletes foot)
– better complexion
– tooth aches (press garlic oil or fresh garlic to the tooth and gum)

How does one best store garlic? Keep garlic uncovered away from heat and direct light. Fresh whole bulbs last about two weeks, but they only last about a week once broken.

Here is an easy and nutritious way to incorporate a little more garlic into your life! I have included a recipe that I hope you love. Substituting cauliflower for potatoes is also a great way to reduce starchy carbohydrates and inflammation.
Garlic
MASHED CAULI-TATOES
1 head of cauliflower
1-2 parsnips
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 shallots, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup coconut milk
thyme or parsley, to taste
sea salt and pepper

1. Cut the cauliflower and parsnip(s) into one-inch pieces, and steam until tender. Strain, and let cool.
2. Sauté garlic and shallots in half of olive oil.
3. Place cauliflower/parsnip mixture, shallots, garlic, extra olive oil, and coconut milk in food processor. Blend until desired texture.
4. Top with herbs, salt, pepper and butter/olive oil.
*Serve them with gluten-free crackers, avocado and olives. Or this can be a delicious side dish to your main course.
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If you would like to learn more about Sarah, some additional great recipes, and the services she provides, you can find her over at http://www.abundelicious.com. Be well!
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*This page contains affiliate links.
*Recipe and Cauli-Tatos Photo Courtesy of Abundelicious.

Guest Post by Gorilly Goods: An Interview with a Vibrant, Local Organic Food Manufacturer

It is my pleasure to introduce to you today, Chris, the Co-Founder of the delicious, crunchy snacks, Gorilly Goods. Not only are they delicious, but they are snacks which you can feel good about as they are packed full of nutrition. Enjoy learning more about Gorilly Goods, and don’t forget to take advantage of the February PROMO at the end of this post! Give the Gorilly Goods a try for yourself!
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Chris: We met LeNay and her sweet young boys while visiting a couple of stores with our Gorilly Goods products. We are delighted and honored to be able to introduce ourselves through LeNay’s beautiful Avocado Mommy blog.

Avocado Mommy: What are Gorilly Goods?
Chris: Gorilly Goods are crunchy, organic snack “things”. They are packages of tasty goodness that are delicious with your morning coffee or tea, are excellent to grab for a snack “on the go”, and are great for long drives in the car to grandma’s house. In addition, these snacks are ideal for refueling on the hiking trail or after your workout. Finally, they are excellent for kids! Pack them in our kids’ lunch along with a few extra to share with their friends! There are three flavors of which to choose from: The “Original” and the “Chocolate” which are sweet and the “Savory” which are made with seeds and greens. They are handmade in Jackson, WI, in a small family business owned by people who care about others and live like it’s heaven on earth.
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Avocado Mommy: Wow! My mouth is watering already. What are some other aspects that make this product so exceptional for my family?
Chris: Gorilly Goods represent the next generation of nutrition snacking: 100% organic, gluten-free, raw, non-gmo, vegan, and certifiably delicious. They represent cleaner oceans,
fresher air, more fertile soil, sustainability, forest life, healthy dancing children, brilliant
sunsets, and a connection to nature. These are the “things” of Gorilly Goods snacks.

Avocado Mommy: What is the background/inspiration behind the company?
Chris: My husband, Stephen, and I are a conscientious couple that have spent our last
25 years following a passion. Much of the passion has been connected to food, how
food relates to life on our planet, how food impacts the well-being of animals and
humans, how it affects our outlook on life, and how our food choices matter in the
scheme of our world. In 1999, Stephen and I chose to live a raw-food lifestyle
which we embraced, with much study, for several years. During this time, we
developed the Raw Foods Foundation in St Louis, MO. Classes were taught, raw
retreats were held, and many delicious recipes were created. The best of these recipes are
now being produced and introduced to the world through our products, Gorilly Goods.
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Avocado Mommy: Tell us a little more about the production of this product.
Chris: Everything we use in our kitchen is certified organic – that’s important to us. Our first
product to be introduced was the Original Fruit and Nut Things. It’s made mostly of
bananas (fair trade from Ecuador), with California raisins, Texas pecans, Vietnamese
cashews, California walnuts, Philippine coconut as well as coconut nectar, and some
sea salt. The same ingredients are in the Chocolate Fruit and Nut Things variety, but
we coat the Original pieces with an un-roasted, certified organic cacao bean chocolate,
sweetened with coconut palm sugar. It’s all vegan, non-gmo, and created on the tropical
side of heaven – imported from Bali. This Balinese chocolate is 70% dark and full of all
the good antioxidants and nutrients that dark chocolate is known for! Besides fair trade,
it’s certified organic and undeniably, an excellent choice of chocolate. The Savory
variety is made with mighty pumpkin seeds and the cruciferous king: kale (locally
grown from Full Harvest Farm, when available). The seeds and kale are
seasoned with organic nutritional yeast from Germany (info on our blog), gluten-free
organic tamari, and tasty seasonings.
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Avocado Mommy: I have these on my grocery list! Can you share any other thoughts as to why your products are special?
Chris: (As my mom would say…they are…)
• delicious
• nutritious
• make you feel ambitious 🙂
• seriously, they are just good….good tasting, good for you, good for the earth, just
plain old good

We can’t wait for you to try our delicious products! Plus, we have a great promotion for all Avocado Mommy readers:

Rejoice! Use coupon code “avocado” at checkout. You will get you 25% off suggested retail price of any online orders. The coupon is good through February 28th, 2015.

Thank you for reading! Thank you for checking out our products. Thank you for caring
about life. You can read more about us at http://www.gorillygoods.com
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*This post contains affiliate links.

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 Bird’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 Valentine’s Day! (Make sure you check out the special PROMO at the end!) Enjoy the following guest post by the maker of Momma Bird’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 Bird’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 Bird’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. It’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 Momma’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 Bird’s Nest and Avocado Mommy is teaming up to support New Life Family Services (http://www.nlfs.org) by committing 20% of all Momma Bird’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 Bird’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, “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.” 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 Mother’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, Mother’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

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

“Loved the gift for my mother. When she received it, she was in tears. Thanks for making Mother’s Day so special for us.”
-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.

Calm Babies & Kids with Lavender Essential Oil (Guest Post by Sue from Pure Home and Body)

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I am so excited to introduce my friend, Sue, from Pure Home and Body! She has wonderful information about essential oils, and I am sure you will find it fascinating! But first, here is a little about Sue…

Sue is the mom of 6 kids ranging in ages from Kindergarten to college, enjoying each season of childhood as her kids grow and change. She looks at each day as a new discovery of what her children are learning and how she can make the world a better place for them by making more natural choices in home and personal care. She loves to color and craft with her kids on their sticky kitchen table and hang out with the teen girls in their church Lifegroup each week. When she’s with friends, she loves to share Green Living Habits and Aromatherapy Tips to help make motherhood less daunting and more joy-filled. You can stop by and say hi at her website http://www.pureHOMEandBODY.com.

Aromatherapy has become a hot topic on blogs all over the internet. Companies are jumping on the bandwagon and adding essential oils to their product assortments, and writers are filling posts with how to use essential oils in pregnancy, with kids and adults. I’ve been studying aromatherapy almost 20 years, the past 6 more intently, and I’ll be the first to admit I even have a lot to learn. I started being a “green, natural” mom when I became pregnant with my first baby 18 years ago, and it has been quite a journey.
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When it comes to topics of health, we often feel overwhelmed. The feeling that we need to be “supermom” kicks in; as mom’s we want to conquer everything overnight, but living a natural life style is a process. Yes, there are situations that require an overhaul, but if we want any natural-living changes to become life-long habits, it is important to ease into the adjustments. Your loved ones will thank you. This is definitely the approach I have taken with adding essential oils into our family’s daily routines.

Over the years I’ve used many green and natural products, but essential oils are by far my favorite resource. I like to think of them as whole foods for your body. Just like you may give your children a raw avocado for a snack, essential oils are some of the “raw materials” for home and personal care. Now, when it comes to the topic of essential oils, be patient with yourself; there is definitely a learning curve when starting on this journey. It may feel foreign, and you may find yourself looking at health and healing in a different perspective, but I am convinced the outcomes will be happier kids, savings on doctor and drug store visits, and the satisfaction knowing you are making good choices for your family.

So where do we begin in our conversation about essential oils? Let’s start by talking about the mainstream products found at our local pharmacies and stores. Our store shelves are packed with products manufactured to improve our lives. Unfortunately, there are products which are filled with toxic chemicals and many are not tested for safety [by the FDA] ( http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm262353.htm. Several are even labeled as “Natural” which really doesn’t mean anything in ingredient purity. You can check http://www.EWG.org for the safety of products you already use. When you layer different products on your body and in your home in the form of cleaners, air fresheners and scented personal care products, you are creating a giant chemistry experiment where outcomes can cause adverse side effects to your health. It’s similar to conducting a chemistry experiment where the outcomes are unpredictable. The statistics in our nation’s health, however, do speak loudly: we have greatly increasing numbers of kids with asthma and attention disorders compared to even 10 years ago. Many of the toxic household and personal care items contain synthetic fragrances that are actually passed on to developing babies in utero, which can disrupt hormones and the endocrine system ( http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns).

So where does this leave us? Yes, this can be heavy information, but I believe that our children are our future generation. Adding pure essential oils to your daily routine is a great way to eliminate lot of those toxic chemicals in your home. Just make sure you are purchasing essential oils that are pure. When choosing your essential oils, you have to ask the right questions and know your source. There are no national standards of purity in the essential oil industry. Most oils from the health food store have questionable purity and manufacturers don’t need to disclose any chemical fillers on those essential oil bottles; this of course leaves consumers in the dark. Yet, there are things you can look for. For example, if a bottle says “not for ingestion” this could be a flag that there are additives or fillers in that essential oil, no different than a bottle of perfume. There are several companies who now have developed food grade essential oils to show they are pure enough to ingest.

Yet, what are some other aspects to consider when looking into essential oils that are right for your family? When choosing your oils, it is also important to work with someone who has some training in aromatherapy. It is never prudent to use large amounts of essential oils in any situation, especially ingesting. Even experienced aromatherapists take a very conservative approach to using essential oils for ingestion as do I because these are potent substances. I am really a minimalist when it comes to aromatherapy, especially with babies and children. Their senses are much more heightened than adults and they respond much quicker to the oils than someone with a lot of health history or those on pharmaceutical medications.

Once you have your essential oils, what are some aspects of safety to keep in mind? Essential oils have been used in other cultures for centuries; they are amazing tools when used with common sense and some simple reminders. If you are going to add essential oils to your routine, as well as if anyone in your family is on prescription medication for any chronic condition, talk with your doctor first to make sure there are no contraindications to your current treatment. Here are some other safety precautions:

1. Always dilute essential oils for babies and children: Take one drop in the palm of your hand and pick up some with your pinky on the other hand. The amount on your pinky is just what you’d need for a small child. It is not much.
2. Repeat frequently rather than one large dose. For example, apply 1 diluted drop of lavender essential oil each hour to the soles of your child’s feet for 4 hours, rather than applying 4 diluted drops on the feet once every 4 hours. Essential oils metabolize in the body in about 1 hour.
3. Do not drop essential oils into the eyes, ears or nose. If someone gets an essential oil in their eyes, dilute it with a vegetable oil like jojoba or olive oil, or even milk, but no water as this will make the oil spread.
4. Keep it simple. There are a lot of complicated recipes on the internet for mixing oils. Again, make sure you know who is recommending the blends and that they are thoroughly trained and experienced in aromatherapy as well as oil blending. Babies and children are pretty easy to work with, and they respond pretty quickly to single oils in aromatherapy; they don’t need large quantities or complex blends.

So, now that we have discussed some basics to remember, I’d like to share one of my favorite oils for babies and young children: Lavender. Lavender is one of the most gentle essential oils (and also one of the most filled and adultured, so make sure you have a pure lavender) and can be applied undiluted (called “neat”). It’s safe enough for newborn babies! My favorite kiddo uses for lavender are:
• Massage a drop on momma’s tummy during the last trimester of pregnancy and have a bottle with
you at the hospital so baby has a familiar scent after birth.
• Apply an undiluted drop to the soles of baby or child’s feet to cool the body during a fever.
• Drop on a fresh burn to cool the skin and begin healing tissue. The sooner the better. This has
saved fun at several campfires where a burned hand could have ruined the evening, lavender to
the rescue brings comfort in minutes.
• Place a drop at the foot of baby’s bedding to calm baby at bedtime and to combat the sniffles.
• Apply a drop to small scrapes to start healing skin.
• Mix 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil with 1 tsp of coconut or other vegetable carrier oil and
massage into dry, chapped skin.
• Make your own baby wipes: add 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil to a wipes warmer filled with
1 cup of warm water. Drop in folded flannel cloths or thick paper towels and use to clean baby’s
bottom without chemicals.
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Want more tips on using essential oils? Read more on Lavender as well as other great oils for your home– http://purehomeandbody.com/essential-oils-2/single-and-blended-essential-oils/singleoils/lavender/
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Are you looking for some experienced support in integrating essential oils into your family? I’d love to work with you! Stop on by Pure Home and Body and let’s connect! Email me Susan@pureHOMEandBODY.com or connect with me on Twitter @pureHOMEandBODY.
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*This page contains affiliate links.
*Disclaimer: Avocado Mommy does not assume any responsibility for any results of any health program. This website strictly shares my own personal beliefs as result of what I have experienced and also supports those whose views are consistent with the mission of this website. When beginning any new health program or products, always make sure to check with your health practitioner.

Research/References:
Tisserand, Robert. Lavender is not estrogenic. http://roberttisserand.com/2013/02/lavender-oil-is-not-estrogenic/
Synthetic Fragrance Chemicals: http://www.fleurchem.com/synth.html
Synthetic chemicals used to dilute lavender essential oil : http://www.ebi.ac.uk/chebi/searchId.do?chebiId=CHEBI:6469
Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne: http://www.ewg.org/research/not-so-sexy
S.F. Van Vuurena, G.P.P. Kamatoub, A.M. Viljoenb, ,. Volatile composition and antimicrobial activity of twenty commercial frankincense essential oil samples. South African Journal of Botany Volume 76, Issue 4, October 2010, Pages 686–691. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629910001705. Abstract: Study finds extreme variance in essential oil chemistry of numerous constituents including (a-thujene .3-52%) (myrcene 1.1-22.4%) (β-caryophyllene (0.1–10.5%). Minimum anti-microbial activity varied from 4-16 mg/ml depending on the oil sample.

“Spaghetti” and Homemade Meat Sauce

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Who doesn’t love a delicious plate of spaghetti and sauce? I know I sure do! 🙂 Plus, now that I have discovered how wonderful it is to use spaghetti squash in place of noodles, I can’t say enough about this dish. Of course, if you are still craving noodles with your sauce, there are plenty of gluten-free options out there. In fact, Trader Joe’s sells an excellent brown rice noodle which actually cook up quite nicely. Without further ado, here is the recipe for homemade meat sauce! 🙂

Meat Sauce Ingredients:

1 pound organic ground beef (grass-fed is best)
1 pound organic italian chicken or pork sausage (I get ours from the local health food store.)
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves of crushed garlic
*1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes (If you can find the crushed tomatoes with basil, this is definitely the best option.)
*2 (6 oz.) cans of tomato paste
*13 oz. canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons organic white sugar
1/2-2/3 cup chopped, fresh basil (This is so much better than dried! Trust me! 🙂
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 tablespoon sea salt (If you can, choose the Himilayan Pink Salt for the health benefits.)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

*Note about canned tomato sauce: Make sure you look for BPA-Free cans. The acidity in the tomatoes causes this chemical to be leached a lot more easily.

Directions:
In a large pot, brown the beef, sausage, onion, and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. Add the crushed tomatoes, paste, sauce, and water. Stir. Add the remaining ingredients, and combine well. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure there is no burning on the bottom of the pot. Your house will smell amazing!!! 🙂 Serve over spaghetti squash or gluten-free noodles. This makes a very large batch, so it works well to freeze the leftovers. It also works well as the sauce base in lasagna. This meat sauce recipe has actually been adapted from John Chandler’s Recipe: World’s Best Lasagna. If you feel ambitious, go ahead and make the entire lasagna recipe, subbing the lasagna noodles for your favorite gluten-free option. You still will have leftover sauce! 🙂

*This page contains affiliate links.

Paleo Sweet Potato Brownies Topped with Ganache and Cassava Root Chips (Grain-Free, Egg-Free)

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So, I tried something a little new today, and I seriously was incredibly pleased with the results of these ultra gooey, flavorful, and nutrient-rich brownies! 🙂 I am so excited for you to try these! They are very similar to the Gooey Goodness Brownies on my blog, but there are a few changes. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to post this slightly altered recipe for you. Enjoy every bite, knowing that you are getting not only a delicious brownie, but you are also consuming a dessert containing dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. 🙂

Brownie Ingredients:
4 tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, 69% Cacao if possible 🙂 (Otherwise, the semi-sweet still work wonderfully!)
¼ cup Natural Value coconut milk (I like this brand because there is no guar gum or thickeners.)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup pure maple syrup, Grade B preferred
½ cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons coconut flour
4 tablespoons arrowroot flour

Directions:
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, cooked sweet potato, and vanilla. Beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together the coconut flour, cocoa powder, and arrowroot, salt, and baking soda. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a spatula until just combined.
Place in a greased 8×8 pan, and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, and remove from the oven. Don’t worry about under baking a little. 🙂 While the brownies are still warm, poke holes throughout the top and pour this amazing ganache recipe from The Comfy Belly over the top. Spread out evenly. These are delicious when the ganache seeps down inside the brownies! 😉

Cassava Root Topping:
*Cassava Root Chips? “What on earth?!” you say. These are a delicious alternative to potato chips and are divine when crushed on top of brownies. The salty-sweet mix is heavenly. Right before serving, crush a handful of these chips over the top of your dessert. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised!

*Of course, you can always use regular kettle cooked potato chips as well. 🙂

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*Remember, if you have never ordered from Vitacost before, make sure to use the $10 off coupon I have provided on the sidebar of my blog! 🙂

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. 🙂 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! 🙂

*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. 🙂

*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! 🙂

Ingredients:
18 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (Ghirardelli chocolate chips recommended)
1 cup coconut oil
¾ cup real maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
2 tbsp water
¼ 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. 🙂

*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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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! 🙂 It will be enjoyed often.

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