Food Trickery and Healthier Sweet Potato Brownies

Yum, the sweet potato.  A Native American root vegetable packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.  In my quest to fill our plates with colorful and unprocessed food, we eat sweet potatoes.  A LOT of them.  I like them plain, I like them with sea salt, I like them in chicken pot pie, I like them as a sauce on noodles.  I like them period.  So when I saw a recipe for sweet potato brownies a few weeks ago, I had to enlist my little baker to help me make these almost healthy brownies.  (I mean sugar is still sugar…)

We didn’t have all the ingredients readily available, so I used the recipe I found at Deliciously Ella as a starting off point and winged it.  I didn’t get a picture because we were rushing out the door and by the next day they were gone they were so good!  Here is a picture of Deliciously Ella’s brownies.  Mine looked very similar in texture and size.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Ingredients

Yields 20 brownies

  • 3 cups sweet potato (about 5 small potatoes already baked)
  • 3/4 cup almond or cashew butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup almond meal flour
  • 1/4 honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • sprinkling of cacao nibs or dairy free chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 flax egg (1T flaxmeal mixed with 1T water let to sit for 2 minutes before pouring into batter)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Sea Salt to taste (for the top)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, or lightly grease with coconut oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix together sweet potato, coconut oil, honey, almond milk, vanilla and the egg.

3. Then combine the cocoa, almond flour, cacao nibs/chocolate chips, cinnamon, and baking soda.

4. Add the cocoa mixture to the wet ingredients. Blend thoroughly. Pour brownie batter into baking pan. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes.

5. Enjoy!

The Best Book for Big Siblings To Be

When I was pregnant with Baby #2, my son was so excited he was going to be a big brother!  We talked a lot about the “baby in mommy’s belly”, but he had no idea how much his little world was about to change.  I am a worrier.  A huge worrier.  So I worried a lot about preparing him for the arrival of his younger sibling.

We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so we started reading general books about mommies and babies.  We started with mommy and baby animals.  Then we moved onto classic books like, “The New Baby”, “Are you my Mother”, and “Big Brother”.  He started asking a lot of questions.  “When will the baby come out to play with me?  What will the baby eat?  Can the baby sleep in my room?”  It was all very cute coming from a just turned 2 year old.  Next, we started focusing on being gentle and how he could help take care of “his baby”.

We brought out my old cabbage patch doll, Baby Ace, for some practice.  He carried him around and cradled him and used his head as a hammer kissed the top of his head.  And then we decided to focus on the meaning of the word “gentle”.   I came across the best book while searching for a “gentle” book, and it turned out to be our favorite bedtime story for months and months.

It’s called One Special Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and I love it.  It focuses on the big sibling, a little boy named Spencer.  “He’s as strong as a bear, as funny as a monkey, and as wild as a tiger. But on one special day, everything changes. Now Spencer is strong, funny, wild, brave, free… and gentle, too.”

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The story is a very sweet look at Spencer and his family as they change to welcome their new baby.  The words are minimal and pointed, and the pictures lead to a lot of great conversation.  My son loved acting out the animals and looking at the picture of Spencer with his baby at the end of the story.  We were even able to practice “gentle” because he really loved to pretend he was strong, funny, wild, and then gentle with baby.

We did a few other things to help him get prepared too.  We called the baby his baby, bought him a gift from his new sibling and had him pick out a gift for the baby, talked about what babies do and why they need momma, talked about what he did when he was a baby and what he can do now that he’s a big boy, tried to keep his schedule as normal as possible after his sister arrived, gave him lots of special time with mommy, daddy, and grandparents when they were in town, and gave him some special tasks to help.  His favorite was taking the diapers to the pail with his dump truck!

I will never forget the moment we introduced him to his new baby sister.  He looked around like he wasn’t quite sure what was going on and then kissed the top of her head.  He named and pointed to her eyes, nose, mouth, and ears and kissed the top of her head again.  A very sweet moment.  I wish we would have gotten it on video!

I have a lot of friends who are pregnant with their second babies right now.  Comment below if you have any tips and tricks for preparing baby #1 for baby #2!

Math is Cool.

Math is cool.  I should have liked Math.  But I didn’t.  I’m not sure why.  My Mom is an amazing Math teacher.  She tried her best to “coolify” math.  The mini van blared “multiplication rap” for years.  It didn’t stick.  Reading was my jam.  But, I hope, I can make the math stick for my little dude and dudette.

Pizza Math.  Fun.  We love pizza.  And, you need math for almost everything.  Even deciding what kind of pizza to order. Apparently you should always order the bigger pizza.  Why?

The math teachers response to Pizza Math:

“Yup area is pi times radius squared…pizza is measured by diameter! So 8″ area is 16pi and 12″ is 36 pi and 16″ is 64pi….math rules”

-My Math Teacher Mama (sent from her I-Pad)

The bigger pizza is always just a little bit more expensive, but almost twice as big!

Microfiber was a bad choice…

I have been cloth diapering for over two years now and I’ve made a huge mistake.

I have been trouble shooting a “stink problem” for months, which I’ll spare you the details on.  I sensed that my diapers just weren’t getting clean enough.  I’ve stripped them, switched detergent, sprayed them down in my sink with hot water, soaked them in funk rock, literally sprayed them down with a hose in my backyard.  The problem always went away for a week or so and then came back with a vengeance.

One afternoon, about two months ago, M got a really nasty diaper rash.  I put Lusa all over her cute little booty before bed time and put a fresh diaper on her bum.  In the morning she cried when I took off her diaper and there it was:  ammonia burns.  She’s been in disposables for the past two months.  (The honest disposables are admittedly easier, and cute and all, but holy cow are they outrageously expensive!)

Here’s the problem.  My HE washer just doesn’t get the diapers soaked enough to agitate the ammonia out of them.  75% of my inserts are microfiber.  Those puppies do a great job of sucking the liquid in, but they don’t release it very easily.  They need lots of water and tossing and turning in the water to release the ammonia in the pee.  No matter how clean my diapers smell coming out of the dryer, as soon as any liquid hits them, pee or not, they smell like pee.

In hindsight, I NEVER should have purchased any diapers with microfiber because of my HE washer.  That was a bad choice.  With that said, I still really like my Bum Genius diapers.  The covers have held up really well, I haven’t experienced leaks, and the fit is great for a one size diaper.  I could have sold my diaper covers, but I am going to keep them and just replace the microfiber inserts with organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo.  It’s going to be a little bit pricey.  It almost pains me to think about this, but I’m going cut the microfiber inserts out of my Bum Genius Freetimes.  The thought just makes me cringe.  Probably because they are the easiest cloth diapers and were a little pricey… But, I would never sell them due to the ammonia burns M experienced.  Once I cut out the inserts, I am pretty sure I can just add a couple of inserts to them and have a great overnight diaper.  I continue to be a huge fan of my Best Bottom diapers.  I actually prefer those for older babes.  They are a little bulky on little newborns, but fit my kiddos from 6 months on like a charm.  I have 4 Best Bottom covers that I love and will get organic cotton inserts for.  The insert snap in and they are seriously a breeze.  I am not a fan of stuffing!

 

So there you have it.  More than you wanted to know about my cloth diapering situation.  Just wanted to put out a warning to all the Mamas with HE machines!  I’ve made a huge mistake, microfiber was a bad choice!

Natural Skin Care and 100% Pure

When I started eliminating toxic products from my beauty routine, I tried out many different brands to find what worked best.  (Honest Co, Lusa Organics, Dr Bronners Soaps, and 100% Pure, to name just a few)  I fell in love with 100% Pure after trying their cheek tint.  It inspired me to try a few more of their products and I was hooked.    100% Pure is leaping bunny certified.  I feel really good about using the products on myself and my kids.  No animals are harmed in their making or testing, they are 100% natural, and they WORK.

Considering making the switch to a natural beauty routine?  Through Tuesday, October 28th, If you spend $35 at 100% Pure, you will get a free 7-piece gift set!  The gift set includes some products I already own (LOVE the Coffee Bean Eye Cream!!) and some I am really excited to try.

Need some suggestions on things to try?

To get the gift set, just load up your cart with 100% pure goodies.  No code necessary!

If you haven’t checked out the EWG Skindeep Database to see what is in the products you use everyday, you should! Your biggest organ, your skin, will thank you for it!

***This post was not sponsored by 100% Pure.  I use their products because I love them and what their company stands for.  Also, if you think my blog is big enough to have sponsors, I am flattered.  I’m pretty sure only my Mom, and my Aunt Nan read this 🙂

Straight from their website:

“100% Pure is truly 100% Pure – that means all our products are healthy, nourishing and do not contain any synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances, chemical preservatives or any other toxins. Another exciting thing about 100% Pure is that our cosmetics are colored from antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables (whereas every other cosmeticss company uses dyes or minerals to color their products). We love animals and refuse to support anything that hurts animals which is why none of our formulas are ever tested on animals. All our makeup brushes are from synthetic fibers. No animals were hurt for their fur and no animals were hurt for any of our ingredients”

Mothers

I thought this quote was so beautiful.  I can only hope that I am this for my children, as my Mom is to me.  Happy Birthday Mom!  I will never stop needing you.

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts." [Washington Irving Berlin]

Oh Darling, Let’s be (Fall) Adventurers!

The air is crisp and cool, folks!  The leaves are changing.  I’ve been drinking hot tea like it’s going out of style and wearing wool socks like it’s my job.  I’m ready to snuggle into my favorite season.  Every year, I have a long list of fall fun I want our family to experience together.  We have done some amazing things already, and I can’t wait for more adventures!  Below are my favorite things to experience in fall!

1.  All Things Apple!  Apple picking, check.  Apple pie making, check.  Next on the list, my favorite recipe for apple crisp.

2.  A trip to the Adventure Farm- We have some awesome farms around these parts.  Our favorite has a 50 foot long slide and a rooster rustle!

3.  Corn Maze-  Another awesome farm with one of the top 10 corn mazes in the US!

4.  Pumpkin Patch-  Hayride?  Yes please!  I can’t wait to pick my pumpkin off the vine.  Our first gardening attempt came up empty.  Our pumpkins took over the whole garden and we have nothing to show for it but a baseball sized green pumpkin 🙂

5.  Soup- ALL THE TIME.  New favorite!!!  Lemon Chicken Orzo.  I was a little bit scared of this recipe, because it involves tempering, but it was so worth it.  And… I learned something new.  (With the help of my Mom!)

6.  Smart Wool Socks- I get mine on Sierra Trading Post because they are way less expensive!

7.  Pumpkin Muffins-  100 days of Real Food people!  Loving this cookbook and the recipes I’ve been trying.

8.  Maple EVERYTHING, but especially Maple Almond Butter Cookies, I’ll share the recipe soon!

9.  Pumpkin Carving- ’nuff said

10.  Halloween Costume Making- My favorites from the past few years are the penguin hoodies (similar to these), Minnie Mouse for me, and Jack’s DIY sock monkey from a sweater from two years ago.   Last year, I had the cutest little Lightning McQueen charging around in his homemade out of a diaper box costume, and the sweetest little Queen Bee made from a yellow onesie, yellow and black baby legs, and an Aden and Anais swaddle.  All items we already owned!  I can’t wait to show you what I’m cooking up for this year!

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11.  Hot Tea– ALL DAY LONG.  Still rocking my favorite lactation tea this year!

12.  Football Games and Tailgating- Big Ten Football!  We were already able to go to a game this year!

13.  Hiking in the foliage and taking pictures!

14.  Raking leaves and jumping in them

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15.  Scaring the bejeezus out of myself by watching scary movies.  (must have husband or parents close by!)

16.  Thanksgiving crafts- Last year we had so much fun making pilgrim and indian hats!

17.  Halloween crafts- We are going to the handprint witch this year.

18.  Watchlist:  Scream, Halloween, Practical Magic.  Note to self:  Binge watch Ghost Whisperer on Netflix…a lot.

19.  Hot Yoga-  I love nothing more than getting all hot and sweaty and then walking outside in the cool air but not feeling cold!

20.  Fall Nail Polish:  I would love to try this one by Scotch Naturals.

Happy Fall Ya’ll!