Hello, friends!!! Happy May! Did you all have a great month?? April brought us beautiful, summer-like weather, fun projects, and a six-year-old. I surprised Willow by making a mini layer cake using Natalie’s Easy Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe…I doubled the recipe and made a dozen cupcakes and then poured the rest of the batter into mini loaf pans to make the mini cake! Not only did it turn out really well, but Willow also requested I make this exact thing for her next year! Here are a couple of photos from her birthday:
Can’t believe she’s SIX!
April was also filled with new kombucha flavors and a couple of old favorite recipes! Throughout the entire month of April, I made a double batch of Brandi’s (The Vegan 8) ranch dressing every single week! Willow used it to dip carrot sticks in for snack time and it’s become her go-to for salads…yep, Willow requests salad for dinner a few times a week. Her favorite salad: a mix of organic baby greens, sliced carrots, cooked quinoa, hemp seeds, and ranch dressing.
BEST SKIN EVER (SEABUCKTHORN) >>Living Libations >>
I’ve actually been using this now for about two months and forgot to mention this in last month’s favorites! We are HUGE fans of Living Libations and over the years we’ve tried (and loved) all of our purchases. A few years ago, I tried oil cleansing and wasn’t a fan, BUT then I realized that it was probably due to the type of oil I was using (and the quality). Now, I can say that I will never go back to cleansing my face any other way! I’m amazed at not only how soft my face feels, but how I haven’t had any breakouts ever since I started using this. I love how a small amount goes a looooong way AND it can be used as a cleanser AND a moisturizer!
*I purchased this through Raw Food World (link above), but when I bought it, it was on sale. You can also buy it through Living Libations website or Amazon (which if you’re a Prime member, you’d get free shipping).
K O M B U C H A ….
This GT’S spring edition was my favorite among the three flavors here. At first sip, I tasted the elderflower, but then it was jasmine the rest of the way…floral-y without being perfume-y. Subtle and refreshing! Perfect after a couple of hours of yard work!
This watermelon one instantly reminded me of a jolly rancher!
CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI >> Trader Joe’s >>
When Josh brought this home from work, I had to read the ingredients over and over to make sure I could actually eat it! Such a rare treat to find a convenient, store-bought option that wasn’t loaded with junk. The first time we ate this, we pan cooked it and topped with tomato sauce…which was delicious, but a mess to clean up as they easily stuck to the pan. The second try was boiling them and then tossing in homemade vegan alfredo sauce. YUM! Next time we want to try boiling first and then ending with a little pan fry to get a slight crispy exterior…I find that gnocchi, in general, can be tricky to cook. I highly recommend this cauliflower gnocchi to my paleo and AIP friends! Or really anyone who loves gnocchi. These contain cauliflower, cassava, potato starch, olive oil and salt. If you’re not a cauliflower fan, you probably won’t like these 😉
ACTIVATED SPROUTED SEEDS (SMOKEY BARBECUE) >> Living Intentions >>
You know my love and addiction for crunchy snacks…well, this is my latest obsession! Great on its own or sprinkled on a salad. Crunchy, smokey, slightly spicy, with a touch of sweetness. The great thing about this snack is that you can’t plow through a bag super fast. The flavor is intense, so I find myself eating 2-3 tablespoons and being completely satisfied. We found this at Natural Grocers for around $7, but you can order through the link above or Amazon…although it’s more expensive to go that route.
‘NANA CHIPS >> Bubba’s Fine Foods >>
My weakness is chips and these have quickly become a favorite! Willow prefers the garlic ones over the nacho ones, but I like them equally! I almost grabbed a bag of the Blazing Buffalo ones, but figured we’d start with these two flavors. For those who don’t like banana, I SWEAR there’s no banana taste! They’re not even sweet. Just pure, crunchy, savory, addicting, goodness…we opened them immediately when we got in the car and I made sure to only try a little so we could save some for Josh! I love the ingredient list, too – no natural flavoring or citric acid! For example, the ‘Macho Nacho’ ones contain: banana chips (bananas, coconut oil), nutritional yeast, organic apple cider vinegar, sea salt, paprika, mustard, chipotle, chile, turmeric, onion, garlic. We found these at Natural Grocers for $2.99/bag.
COCONUT FLOUR DONUTS >> Feasting on Fruit >>
Natalie has given us proof that coconut flour isn’t all evil. For a long time I was making this paleo flour blend that used coconut flour, but I stopped venturing beyond that. Almost every recipe that I had tried or in my own trials, the outcome was horrendous. These donuts??? A delicious surprise! Not only were they perfect in texture (cake-y and fluffy), but I also really enjoyed the flavor! That date + almond butter combo is magical and the un-glazed donuts were not coconut-y…unlike a lot of coconut flour recipes. Willow wasn’t the biggest fan of the glaze, but I liked it! Our glaze ended up with a lot of blueberry specks as I clearly didn’t strain the blueberry juice very well! I topped some of them with chopped chocolate chips since we didn’t have sprinkles. I want to make this recipe again and make them into muffins!
FLUFFY CHOCOLATE BANANA PANCAKES >> Feasting on Fruit >>I wish I had a picture to go along with this post, but sadly, we made these on a rainy, gray morning and things were very dark! I will say that they got devoured and received a giant TWO thumbs up from all of us! Even me!! I am so happy to report that quinoa is a friend of mine now and I am over the moon excited! So many possibilities! But back to these insanely fluffy and delicious pancakes. The texture is so perfect and while quinoa tends to have an overpowering earthy flavor, there was nothing but balance here! We added some vanilla extract and salt to our batter…out of habit! We made our own quinoa flour using the video link Natalie provided in the recipe notes. I don’t think I blended enough, as it wasn’t as finely ground as I would have liked, but that didn’t affect the flavor or texture…and it’s less expensive to make your own! These will definitely be a regular pancake recipe in our house!
P.S. – We’ve actually made these twice! And the second time I completely forgot to take a quick pic because I was too excited to dive in to a mini stack while they were still warm!
GLUTEN-FREE QUINOA BREAD >> Feasting on Fruit >>
I think April was all about Feasting on Fruit! Ha!! As I’ve mentioned in past favorites posts, I try a lot of Natalie’s recipes because our diets seem to line up more often than not. She encouraged me to try quinoa and since I had success, I knew I had to make her quinoa bread recipe! It’s been a really long time since I’ve had bread (over two years) and I’m beyond thrilled that I have a legit option now! It’s so perfectly savory and the topping possibilities were so much fun! I did notice that it did crumble a bit (it was fragile), but when I cut thicker slices, they held up a lot better…and I was excited to toast up some slices for breakfast and snack. My first round (the day we made it) was almond butter with banana slices. But I’d have to say my absolute favorite way to eat this bread was with sliced avocado, a pinch of Himalayan salt, raw hemp seeds, and a dash of hot sauce. I will definitely be making this again….and again.
CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD >> Feasting on Fruit >>
This is officially my favorite banana bread recipe…and I’ve tried a lot of them. Paleo-vegan, no added sweetener, no mushy center, and picky eater approved! Natalie absolutely nailed this recipe! As she mentions in her post, you won’t end up with a sunken loaf. I laughed at that because over the past couple of years, that has been our exact struggle…but not with this loaf! It held its shape and the texture is so wonderfully cake-like. It had the perfect amount of sweetness and I really enjoyed reheating leftovers in our toaster oven. Willow loved this bread because there weren’t any pockets of mashed banana…thanks to the batter being blended…and of course, chocolate chips! We didn’t have mini chips like the recipe called for, but I can definitely see how mini would better. But chocolate is chocolate; no complaints here!
B O O K S
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens by Barbara Pleasant
Josh and I have been working our way through the series Longmire (on Netflix) and we are really loving it so far! We’ve just started season two. We also checked out the first season of Fargo via DVDs from the library…it can be a bit dark and heavy at times, but we’re pretty hooked.
Please leave a comment below telling me some of your favorites!! I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by!!
So many things I want to try now! (Except the watermelon drinks 😉). I make those chocolate chip muffins often —it’s become a go to fave.
Right?! Those muffins are the best! Haha!! I still can’t believe you don’t like watermelon 😂 Hopefully while you’re here you’ll try some of these snacks and other kombucha flavors 😂 Can’t wait to see you!!!!! ❤️❤️❤️
Happy Birthday Willow!!! That cake looks so good & loved all your favourites 🙂 I’m definitly hunting down that watermelon kombucha
Thank you, Tara!! ☺️❤️ I hope you find that kombucha! I went to pick up couple more bottles this week and they were sold out! It’s so good! I hope all is well with you and your family!!
Excuse me while I share this EVERYWHERE because it’s the best, most thorough testament to basically every recipe I’ve posted in the past month😂 Ha! Oh Mandy, you are the best❤️ Before I get so excited and feel the need to comment on everything and write a novel…from the top. Okay um I’m with Willow, you need to make me that exact cake next year for my birthday too (even though I already saw it, still it’s perfect). I’ll make the plane trip, don’t you even worry😊 Brew Dr, get your act together down here in FL because I NEED strawberry basil kombucha in my life! I’ve been really into herby drinks lately, and gah it sounds amazing🍓 Ugh I wish I was on better terms with cauliflower because the ingredients on that gnocchi are amazing–the TJs love just keeps on growing. Yikes I’m rambling already! Your donuts look even better than mine (love the shade your glaze turned out💜) and I am thrilled the pancakes and nana bread were a Willow-approved success. I feel you on the fragile-ness of the bread, I definitely liked it best toasted too. But you + quinoa–that makes me very happy😊😊 I’ve been doing overnight oats this week and it’s going surprisingly well. Small victories! I finally embraced the audio book thing and just finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (quite good, although a bit sad), and started Stardust. An America Marriage sounds great, just added it to my wishlist. I am really into fiction right now, I forgot how much I love getting into a good novel. Anyways, as always feel free to respond in much fewer words hehe…I just can’t help myself🙃 xoxo
First of all, I am SO SORRY for this delayed response!!! Second…I actually typed out a super long reply about a week or so ago, but for some reason it never posted!!!! 😭 Third…I love reading your comments! Willow and I have decided either you NEED to come visit us or we need to come to you! And there will be cake (with extra frosting) involved whether or not there’s a birthday 😂😘😘 hahaha!!! April seriously felt like an ode to Natalie!! Not a week goes by where we don’t make something from your blog…it’s usually those delicious brownie cups or muffins 😂 and I’m making another batch of quinoa bread because it makes me happy ❤️ I still get all giddy at the fact that I can eat quinoa!!!! I am so happy to hear that you and overnight oats are buddies!! When Julie was here, she soaked her oats overnight before cooking them and got Willow hooked. It got me thinking that maybe by soaking them, it might make them easier to digest?????? I’m waiting for a stretch of a couple of days when we don’t need to be anywhere and I’m going to test that theory 🤞🏼 I’m determined to be friends with oats!!! Kinda funny…either I over did it with cauliflower or my system decided it needed a break! Literally a couple of days after I published this post, my tummy hated me after eating cauliflower 😂😂 go figure! OK, I’ve added those books to my list! I still need to give audio books a try. We’re putting a list together for our road trip next month (kid friendly of course) so I hope willow gets into them! Fiction is the best!!!! I’m so glad you’re getting back into reading ❤️ OK, I tried to keep this response somewhat short and obviously failed 😂😂😂 Lots of love to you, sweet friend!! I’m looking forward to sitting down and catching up on your blog this weekend!! 😘 xoxo
Haha I thought I was on Natalie’s blog for a second, LOL! Look at all those remakes! I love how your donuts turned out, the glaze is so purple and pretty! And thank you so much for making my ranch so often. So glad you all love it! You remind me I need to make some more of it! I have so many dressing recipes that forget about some of them, haha. I absolutely love how you decorated Willow’s cake with the ganache around it, so pretty! I can’t believe she is 6!! WOW! Such a beautiful little girl! I absolutely love your favorites roundups because I learn about so many amazing products from you! I definitely need to check out this oil facewash because I would fear the same thing, breakouts. But if sounds amazing! Thanks for always sharing your amazing product finds!! xx
Bahahaha!!!!! 😂😂😂 Right??? It was all about Natalie in April….but guess what??? While I started typing up my May Favorites I realized that it’s a lot about you ❤️ We’re still on the ranch kick – that stuff is magic! Awww!!! Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read and leave a sweet comment ❤️ I know you’ve got a lot going on! That oil face wash is amazing!! I really think you’d like it! Really anything from Living Libations is incredible…definitely worth the money and lasts a long time. Thank you, again, sweet friend!! Xoxo