Easy Peanut Butter Protein Cookies That Kids Can Bake

After having completed an 11,000 mile road trip one of the biggest things we missed being on the road was baking. There is something magical about the smell of something scrumptious wafting from the oven and the delicious anticipation of actually being able to then eat it once it’s done. Yep. That excitement is not easily replicated even if you were to buy baked goods on the road. 

(Un)Fortunately, for us, we don’t eat wheat and are gluten-free so even buying a baked good on the road proved to be difficult since everything is made out of wheat. Sigh. Nonetheless, we managed and are probably a whole lot better off! We did snack on some of the most delicious, fresh produce though, which was exciting.

  

So now that we’re home and Fall has arrived, we’re starting to find excuses to bake. The weather has been dark and gloomy in NJ the last few days, which provided the perfect excuse to treat ourselves. 

Now that my boys are ages 7 and 5, they are quite independent and do so many things on their own. One of best things to get them involved in is baking. Kids love to bake! But admittedly, certain recipes are just too complicated for them, so when I let them bake on their own, I try to look for recipes that have minimal ingredients but doesn’t sacrifice flavor. This peanut butter protein cookie recipe from asweetpeachef.com fit the bill! Four ingredients, and, more importantly, no wheat! 

  

This was super easy for the kids to make on their own! I just put the cookies in the oven once they finished. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Peanut Butter Protein Cookies Recipe

  

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup All Natural Peanut Butter 

2/3 cup Coconut Sugar

2 scoops protein powder 

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (optional)

2 eggs

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with oil and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix nut butter, coconut sugar, protein powder, vanilla extract, and eggs. Combine well. (Note: some nut butters are creamier than others, so if your mixture is too liquidy, just add more protein powder and adjust). 

3. Scoop two tablespoons of cookie dough into your hands and roll until you form a ball. Flatten the ball between your palms and place carefuly on the baking sheet. Repeat until finished.

Optional – the kids wanted to make Darth Vader cookies because why not? So they quickly took our Darth Vader cookie cutters and imprinted them on top of the soft cookie dough. You could do just leave it simple and as is! 

4. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. When finished, remove from oven, and let cookies cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

   
 

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A Stormy Night In The Badlands (Part 1)

We’ve driven over 2,000 miles across the country to end up in the Badlands of South Dakota! Seeing these incredible geological deposits is astounding. They are beautiful and  mysterious, practically begging you to ask, what was Manifest Destiny truly all about? What prompted the first American pioneers to want to claim even the most hostile of lands like the Badlands and make it their own? I’ve yet to arrive at the answers. 

  

Nevertheless, we decided to make the most of our time there. The first night, we camped in a campground inside the park. We chose a spot furthest away from everyone (as we always do) and happily settled in. We noticed there was a bit of a breeze going, but didn’t think much of it. As we sat down to dinner, the slight breeze turned into full-blown strong winds and we could see an impressive lightning show in the distance. By the time we tried to settle in for he night, our camper was rocking terribly! It was being pushed around by the wind so much, that Matthew and I actually moved everyone out of the camper and into the car for safety. We looked up the weather and, apparently,  a severe storm had developed. Winds were gusting between 45-50mph (yikes!).  Then the heavy rains came. There was nothing left to do but wait the storm out and pray that our camper didn’t blow over.

Thankfully, after two hours, the wind died down and all we had to deal with was the rain. When morning came, it was as if the storm never happened. The sun shone brightly and the Badlands looked completely untouched. 

My boys were back to running around and climbing.

  
  
They even made friends with another sweet little boy in the campground named Logan. 

  

  
 Baby girl got her chance to run around too. She spotted some beautiful wild horses in the distance and tried to run after them! 


After breakfast, we packed up and decided to head to a remote part of the park where there is no cell signal, no amenities, and where the buffaloes roam. 

  

Just Beet It, Gluten-Free Beet Brownies

My 7-year-old once told me half-jokingly, half in admiration, “Mom, you’re like a mad scientist in the kitchen!” I suppose if there were a more apt description of my approach to cooking, it would be that. I love to take foods that you normally wouldn’t consider as something that would go together and I bend the rules and make it work anyway. Thankfully, my creations so far have resulted in surprisingly delicious flavor blends.

And I’m excited to share them with you! Last week, as part of our CSA box, we received these beautiful organic beets. I was so thrilled because our family loves betters. Typically, we love to add them to salads, saute or grill them. But the beets that we got were a bit on the small side and there weren’t really enough of them to have enough for a side dish.


So I sat there thinking, what could I do with these beets? And then a light bulb went on! I have made spinach brownies, carrot brownies, why not make beet brownies?

The key to making these brownies is to shred the beets thinly.


I saved the beet greens because they are delicious sautéed!

And from here, it was a matter of mixing the wet ingredients with the dry.

The result is this ooey-gooey, super decadent, fudgey brownie that is just pure heaven! In case you’re wondering, if the brownie taste too beet-like, I had my kids and my husband try to guess what the secret ingredient was and they didn’t have a clue. Win-win!

I topped my brownies with chocolate frosting that I quickly made from scratch. Chocolate on top of chocolate? Yes, please!

I highly encourage you to give these brownies a try!

Brownie Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1-2 cups raw beets
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 4 eggs

Dark Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut cream (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish.
  2. Combine beets, maple syrup, vanilla, almond milk, eggs, and coconut oil. Fit together flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Food in until completely mixed well.
  3. Pour brownie mixture into baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until it passes toothpick test (toothpick comes out clean). Cool completely.

Frosting instructions

  1. In a saucepan, melt dark chocolate slowly over low heat.
  2. Once the chocolate has completely melted, remove from heat and mix in coconut cream and maple syrup. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Place in fridge to cool and to allow to set slightly so it becomes a little firm.
  4. Once brownies have completely cooled, spread the frosting over the brownie. Enjoy!

Firelight Camps – Luxurious Camping In The Fingerlakes

We love to camp as a family, but the truth is, ever since we had our little girl this past June, we weren’t able to go camping. Just the thought of packing for three kids on top of our tent, our sleeping bags, and all our camp cooking essentials just made me even more exhausted than I already am as a homeschooling mom of three!

So when I stumbled on to Firelight Camps in Ithaca NY, a “glamping” (glamorous camping) experience, I convinced my husband to jump on the opportunity to give it a try. Firelight Camps offered the best of both worlds, being out in nature while still maintaining creature comforts like king-sized beds and daily complimentary breakfasts. We are so glad we decided to give them a try!

Here are a few pictures from our trip:

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We stayed in Tent #9, which accommodated a king-sized bed and a double where my boys slept.

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The boys playing bocce ball at Firelight Camps

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We also spent some time doing easy hikes. One of our favorite ones was hiking to Lucifer Falls in Robert H. Treman Park. It is GORGEOUS there!

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We explored a little bit of Ithaca, stopping by the town commons and checking out the famous Farmer’s Market.

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We had a really great time. I don’t think I’d give up regular campig, but glamping certainly has a place in my heart now!

15 Minute Gluten-Free Chewy Snack Bar Kids Will Love

 Being a mom of three, I am always experimenting with being able to make healthy and delicious foods in a jiffy. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that my kids love snack bars. But store-bought snack bars are either expensive and/or loaded with too much sugar. So one day I started studying the ingredients of the snack bars that I bought and decided to see if I could come up with something just as delicious in the kitchen.

As it turns out, snack bars are SO EASY to make! All you need is solid base to start the bars off with and from there, you can throw in whatever suits your fancy. Here is the recipe for one of our favorites:

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1 cup of pitted medjool dates
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
1 tbsp raw chia seeds
1 tbsp raw flax seeds
1 tbsp raw hemp seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sunflower butter

1. Throw the cup of pitted medjool dates in the blender and blend on high for a few seconds until the dates form a soft clump.

2. Transfer the dates into a large bowl and add in the oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and almonds.

3. Combine the maple syrup and sunflower butter and heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.

4. Pour the maple syrup and sunflower butter mixture into the bowl. Mix well.

5. Spread the entire mixture on an 8×8 glass container lined with parchment paper for easy removal (optional).

6. Pop in the freezer for 15 minutes so it sets.

Enjoy!

 

A Baby Girl On The Way and My Maternity Photos

I took a long break from blogging after I found out I was pregnant with our third child. This pregnancy felt completely different from my first two. The first trimester I was running to the bathroom A LOT. I don’t remember that with my first two boys, so when I found out that I was having a girl, it made all the sense in the world that I was undergoing a different experience.

I am currently on my 37th week now and I am definitely starting to feel the excitement that we could expect our little girl soon. We’ve been doing so much preparation in our house for her arrival that this pregnancy feels like it has just flown by. I had contemplated on doing maternity photos, but felt too tired, big, and just plain old grumpy to go through with it. Thankfully, I have an extremely supportive husband who convinced me I would regret it if I didn’t. And so, I approached my brother’s girlfriend who has a passion for photography and she my brother were so gung-ho and excited to help me out, I couldn’t resist.

I knew that I wanted an “out-of-the-box” maternity shoot. And so I came up with the concept and my brother and his girlfriend helped me figure out how to achieve what I was looking for. These photos are a result of our collaboration. I am so glad I decided to do these photos. I can’t wait to share them with my girl one day!

Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation

Ahamkara Mudra  (energistic symbol of confidence and self-assertion for my baby girl)

Ahamkara Mudra
(energistic symbol of confidence and self-assertion for my baby girl)

Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)

Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)

Meditation

Once Upon A Time There Was A Celebration Spinach Salad with Sweet Apple Vinaigrette & Walnut Parmesan

I once stumbled on to this meme that said, “No great story ever started with a salad.” Boy, was that meme ever wrong! Fairy tales practically start with salads nowadays. Ok, maaaaybe not really. But salads have turned over a new leaf (ha!) and are as far from boring as they could be. Salads with the right dressings can go from everyday ordinary to a celebration!

I adapted this recipe from the Oh She Glows Cookbook and made it a little bit my own. Some days, when I am in the mood for something light but delicious, I make variations of this. I think it goes great with everything and is robust enough to be a standalone meal.

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Serves: 4 to 6

Prep time: 20-25 minutes

Cook Time 7-9 minutes

 

FOR THE WALNUT PARMESAN:

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1 1/2 tsp shredded parmesan cheese

1 1/2 to 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

 

FOR THE DRESSING:

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice (you can also use lemon)

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

12 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1 tbsp grapeseed oil (you can also use extra virgin olive oil)

2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

 

SALAD

2 cups spinach

1 apple cored and finely chopped

1/4 cup craisins

1/2 cup grape tomatoes

 

1. Make the walnut parmesan: preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven between 7-9 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Chop the walnuts by hand or in a mini food processor. In a small bowl, combine toasted walnuts, shredded parmesan cheese, oil, and salt until mixture gets crumbly. Set aside.

3. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, mix thoroughly the vinegar, lime juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, oil, and applesauce.

4. To assemble the salad, place the spinach in a large bowl and pour on the dressing. Toss the spinach salad with the dressing until the spinach is fully coated. Top the spinach with the apple, craisins, and grape tomatoes. Sprinkle the walnut parmesan over the salad just before serving.