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A healthy dessert alternative – Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

19 Aug

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I love me some coconut. And not just food, coconut everything. Coconut oil, candy, body wash, body spray, shampoo, soap, candles, beverages. You name it. I haven’t met something with coconut anywhere in the description that I didn’t like. Seriously. As many of you have picked up, I am working to lead a healthier lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat well or live a good life. I still enjoy food, and the whole act of eating. I just choose to make better choices. Organic as often as I can, growing and preserving as much food as possible, and doing much of my cooking from scratch. I have cut back on my beer consumption since that and too large portions are what contributed to my weight gain (fall beers are starting to arrive though, so I’ll have to be strong!!!) I don’t follow any particular diet or eating fad. I’m not gluten free, paleo or vegan. I like meat. I like dairy. I like bread. I don’t stop myself from eating the things that I like, I just limit myself to how much I’m eating. I’ve stopped boredom snacking. When I have a craving for something that may not be the healthiest food choice, I wait a few days. If I still have the craving, I indulge in a small bit of whatever it is I have a hankering for. Like a slice of pie, or a piece of cake. If the craving goes away, it was just a random craving. I certainly don’t exercise as often as I should. My days have been pretty busy as of late with cleaning, gardening, and taking care of my 10lb back surgery dog. So I’m not sitting around. I have actually lost 10lbs of the 30 that I want to lose, and that is mostly with diet changes. It’s amazing how great it feels when a pair of pants that had previously not fit FIT. Like you can button them up and not struggle to breathe. There is no muffin top or unsightly bulge. It’s a total victory. I’m not FAT, but I’m certainly not at my healthiest weight. So this lifestyle change is working, and I can see results. Therefore I choose to continue making healthy food choices. BUT…that doesn’t mean this girl doesn’t want something sweet from time to time. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have it be a healthy sweet treat. Enter in the Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites – aka Coconut Klondike. Coconut is a healthy fat to ingest. Coconut oil has so many benefits I won’t even go into listing them all here. Dark chocolate is also beneficial. One of these little Coconut Bites satisfies a craving without blowing your daily progress and on a hot day, the frozen texture of them helps give you a mini cool down. I love that they are a 2 bite treat (on if you are a man and toss the whole thing in your mouth), there are no added sugars, no processing, no ingredients that can’t be pronounced or identified. They are actually a HEALTHY treat!!!  Go figure!

Your yield for these can vary depending on how much you fill up those muffin liners. I got 30, but know I could have gotten less if I would have packed in the coconut. I also chose to add in some more of the shredded coconut – probably 1/4 cup more so I got a larger yield. The original recipe called for making these in the standard size muffin papers but I chose to do mini so having 2 would feel like a real indulgence.

If you like coconut, are trying to be healthy, or both definitely give these a try. I’m so glad I did!

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Yield 20-30

Adapted from PaleOMG

 

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup coconut butter

½ cup organic coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of your food processor, add all of your ingredients with the exception of the dark chocolate chips. Blend it until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and you have a silky texture with bites of coconut.

Line your mini muffin pan with paper liners, adding a scoop of coconut mixture smashing down the mix with the back of a spoon to level it. You will fill your liners ¾ of the way full, leaving room for chocolate.

After filling all of your muffin cups, melt your chocolate chips. To melt, I used a double boiler, but you can also use the microwave if you want to do it quicker.

Top each coconut cup with melted chocolate until tops are completely covered.

When done, place muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes until coconut cups are set and firm. Remove from freezer, transfer to an air tight container and store in freezer.

When you want to eat one, remove it from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the coconut and chocolate soften a little.

The DIY Life: Homemade Lotion Bars

25 Feb

I know I’m not the only one suffering from dry winter skin. Between the constant hand washing, hot showers, and the furnace sapping the moisture out of the air, my skin is THIRSTY!  I always apply lotion when I get out of the shower, and in the winter I will use coconut or body oil since it seems so much more in need of the additional moisture! I’ve been seeing lotion bars popping up everywhere – at beauty stores, online shops, and make your own recipes floating around on the internet. Since I’m more of a DIY girl, I figured I would just make my own! These were so simple to make. I did a total of 6 bars with shea butter and olive oil on the first batch, adding a little bit of lavender essential oil to half of the batch as a nice little bonus since I was gifting them. For my 2nd batch, I did a combo of shea & cocoa butter mixed with coconut oil. They smell lovely! I love these lotion bars. Rubbed directly onto the skin, they offer soothing, much needed moisture. They are all natural, so it’s nice knowing there are no weird additives or chemicals in them that can give my sensitive skin a reaction. I hope that you enjoy these as much as I do!

lotion bars unmolded

Homemade Hard Lotion Bars

The formula for these is very simple – equal parts beeswax, a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut, and shea or cocoa butter. When using shea butter, be sure to add this last since if you add it with the beeswax and carrier oil it can turn grainy, which would be gross.

Here’s the process.

I made a double boiler out of a pot and glass bowl, filling the pot up about halfway with tap water.

Add in your beeswax and carrier oil. It took about 20 minutes for the beeswax to melt for mine, but I was using chunks of it and did 12 oz of each item for this batch so I could have 1/2 dozen 2oz bars.

Once your oil and beeswax are combined, add in your shea or cocoa butter, stirring until dissolved. Once all the ingredients are combined, immediately put the mixture into molds. I used square silicone muffin molds which made them easy to pop out and gave them a cute little shape. If you want to add any essential oil, you will need to do it at this stage – add a few drops of the oil of your choice, using a toothpick to incorporate. Don’t wait too long since the mixture cools rather quickly and this could affect the look of your lotion bars.

Once the bars are totally set, pop them out of the molds and store them in a container for easy use. I packaged up a few as a gift in a clear bag with a cute little tag and bakers twine. The ones that were left for myself I stored in a wide-mouthed deco mason jar so they were easy to get to.

lotion bars packaged

The Shea and Cocoa butter as well as the beeswax I used were raw and unrefined, purchased through some great sellers on Etsy. I have a tub of organic unrefined coconut oil on hand at all times for all kinds of uses which I purchased at a local health store. The olive oil I use is purchased right from the grocery store! Links listed below if you need somewhere to get the ingredients that you can’t just walk into the grocery store and purchase!

raw, organice unrefined shea butter

raw, unrefined beeswax

raw cocoa butter

essential oils

The DIY Life: Candy Cane Salt Soak

12 Dec

We’ve got a theme going here – Candy Cane bath items. Yep. I love it. These were SO SIMPLE to whip up. I had extra so that I could enjoy them myself. Awesome! This is a thoughtful gift to give, especially around the holidays because so many of us are busy busy busy. Lifting packages, decorating, cooking. Our muscles get sore. We are tired. Epsom salts are great at relieving achy muscles. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for dry winter skin. Peppermint and vanilla go great together. Bliss in a mason jar!

Fret not when you smell these – the smell will be very potent. You want it to be this way, because over time the smell will start to decrease. I promise it’s not overpowering when they are added to the bath. It’s a light scent that leaves your skin super soft and your body soothed and relaxed. I was able to skip my usual after bath lotion application because the coconut oil helped soften my skin!

candy cane salt soak

Candy Cane Salt Soak (Peppermint Vanilla Salt Soak)

4lbs epsom salts

2 tablespoons peppermint extract

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

4 tablespoons vanilla extract

Place your epsom salts in a large bowl. Drizzle the vanilla, coconut oil and peppermint all over the oil. Using your hands, mix up the salts until everything is nice and combined. Add to containers of your choice and decorate with a ribbon for gift giving.

To use: Add 3 tablespoons to bath water, swirling around to dissolve salt. Enjoy a long soak!

The DIY Life: Candy Cane Lip Gloss

10 Dec

This is another simple and easy gift to make for your lady friends – Candy Cane Lip Gloss. Simple, natural ingredients. I wanted this to be simple. I didn’t use any waxes – like beeswax – so it’s nice and melty when you touch it with your fingers making it easy to apply. To thicken it and make it less able to melt in your purse on a hot day, I’d recommend adding 1/2 oz of beeswax. You’ll want to heat it on the stovetop to get everything combined if you do that. If you omit the tint, it can also be utilized as a hand cream for those dry chapped areas, especially around this time of year. How big your yield is will depend on what type of container you utilize. I got a dozen little tins out of this batch.

peppermint lip balm

Candy Cane (Peppermint Vanilla) Lip Gloss

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Agave Nectar

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

tint (optional. I used kool-aid)

containers for gifting (I used stainless steel clear lidded tops used for favors)

Place all of your ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, and heat in 15 second spurts, until coconut oil is melted. Stir well so everything is combined, and pour into containers. Let sit overnight until set. Add some ribbon and you are ready to gift it!

The DIY Life: Candy Cane Sugar Scrub for holiday gift giving!

13 Nov

In the retail world, Christmas has officially arrived. There is Christmas music on the sound system, holiday decorations overflow into the aisles, holiday t-shirts are front and center. And that leaves me a little twitchy and itchy over the thought of gift giving. It’s too soon. We haven’t even made it through Thanksgiving yet. I haven’t yet decided on a home made gift to give!!! Last year it was a canister of this Homemade Laundry Detergent – it went over well and was easy to do. This year, I thought what about something pampering for the ladies? Something the boys can use too if they wanted, but it was pretty for the girls? And then while I was at the local Bath & Body Works it hit me – body scrubs! Sugar scrubs to be specific, because salt dries out the skin, and it’s winter, and we are all already dried out. Wait…maybe that’s why I got twitchy AND itchy about the upcoming holiday – because I’m all dried out!!! I searched the wonderful world of the internet and found a recipe that had a cute photo as well as the directions/ingredient list and adapted it for my use. I wanted a deep moisturizing scrub that would help cure that winter dryness we experience once the furnace is on while exfoliating all those dry flaky skin particles. I think this recipe does the trick. And it yields a nice batch – 6 1/2 pint jars, with about 1/2 a jar of leftovers for me to use myself!

I’ll be jazzing these jars up with some shimmery ribbon and a candy cane. What a cute gift that I hope the ladies will love! It takes very little time – I think I whipped this up in about 15 minutes and it’s easy on the budget.

Candy Cane Sugar Scrub

adapted from here 

Yield: 6 1/2 pint mason jars

5 cups granulated white sugar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cups coconut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the coconut oil until melted, in 30 second bursts. Once melted, add the olive oil and peppermint extract, stirring to combine. Add your sugar and mix until no dry sugar remains. Add to jars up the 1 inch head space mark. Wipe rims, add bands and voila!

If you want to do the layering effect to make it look like a candy cane, take half of your sugar mixture and add it to another bowl. Use food grade GEL food coloring – this works the best. Mix until you have a nice consistent color and then layer it in your mason jars – one layer red, one layer white, and keep going till your jars are full up to the 1 inch head space. The red layers may leave some red coloring on your skin, but it easily rinses off with some soap.

Note: Since this is an oil based scrub, you’ll want to be careful after using it in the shower since it will leave a slick film on your tub. I usually just rub the slippery areas with my foot and it’s all good.

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