Dairy Free Delicious Homemade Cinnamon Buns

dairy free sugar free cinnamon buns

Sometimes it’s just a make cinnamon buns, coffee and movies kind of weekend.

I have been craving cinnamon buns for weeks. I have no idea why. I just wanted a big sticky gooey, yummy, sweet cinnamon bun. But I also wanted to respect my needs (and not feel awful after) so I wanted it dairy free and naturally sweetened. So I couldn’t just run out to the store and get one – I decided I was going to make some sugar free dairy free cinnamon buns.

Of course my biggest issue was time. When I am baking and/ or creating in the kitchen I like to have the time to do it. I don’t like to feel rushed or hurried, or that I have to get to the next thing. I just want to move from one step to the next at whatever pace I choose. Often enjoying a favorite movie in the background as I work.  I like to take my time, enjoy the experience and give myself space to do it. I also need to feel motivated or ‘in the mood’ as they say. I find if I don’t want to then I won’t enjoy doing it either and it certainly won’t turn out.

dairy free sugar free cinnamon bunsThis weekend the stars aligned and I had all these things in place, time, desire, all the ingredients (as sometimes that is a big barrier to lol). It was the kind of weekend that was just for me, doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. A soulful weekend I like to call it. A time where I can do things that I love and fill up my soul. Sure I had work to do, and other tasks that certainly could have used my attention, but sometimes we really need to take a break, get away from work and I needed this more. I needed to rejuvenate and reconnect with myself and well baking and creating in the kitchen is one way that I like to do it.

Now you have to understand what kind of undertaking making cinnamon buns from scratch was for me. Growing up I had tried a number of different bread type recipes and could never get them to rise successfully. No matter what I tried or how I did it, I just had no success. You know when they say you should let it rise til it doubled in size? I was lucky if it rose even a little, if at all, and that was after hours of waiting. Failed after failed attempt, I watched others do it successfully, my aunt did it with ease, I think even my sister managed it once, but for me it just wasn’t happening. So to even attempt a cinnamon bun recipe where rising was involved was a big thing – I had absolutely no idea if they were even going to turn out as the light and fluffy cinnamon buns I desired, or if I would end up with rocks in the garbage once again.

I was also playing with ingredients – creating a recipe that was naturally sweetened and dairy free, I put some things in and took some out. I laughed as I was telling my girlfriend about it when I went to yoga, leaving the buns behind hoping they would rise and double in size by the time I got back. Because of all the tweeks I had made I really thought it would be a miracle if they worked.

To my delight, when I returned home from a lovely yoga and essential oils class, the cinnamon buns had in fact risen and doubled in size! I was so excited I took a picture and sent it to my girlfriend right away! (I have no idea if she was as excited as me to see this but I sent it anyways).

I giddily turned on and preheated the oven, preparing them to bake. I couldn’t wait to pull them out of the oven and taste them! hoping that my cinnamon buns had not only risen but that they tasted good too.

The good news is, they did. In fact, I have had a hard time not eating them all and am grudgingly sharing them with the kids. The beauty of it is the recipe is so easy the kids could make them themselves with a little supervision. And since they devoured theirs today afterschool they announced that they are very willing to do so!

Sugar Free Dairy Free Cinnamon Buns

Dough:

dairy free sugar free cinnamon buns2 1/2 – 3 c. flour

3 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. salt

2 1/4 tsp. quick rise yeast

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk or choice of unsweetened non-dairy milk

3 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

1 egg

Filling:


3 tbsp. softened Earth Balance Vegan Spread (this softens quite quickly so don’t leave it out too long as it will actually melt)

3-4 tbsp. cinnamon

1/4 – 1/2 c. coconut sugar

1/2 c. raisins (can add more if you really like raisins)

Mix 2 1/2 c. of flour, salt and yeast together. Create a hole in the middle of the dry mixture and add the honey to the hole, but do not mix. Set aside.

dairy free sugar free cinnamon bunsHeat the water, non-dairy milk, and Earth Balance on low heat on the stove. DO NOT bring the mixture to a boil, make sure everything has melted, mixed together and is hot but not boiling. If it boils the temperature of your mixture is too high and may not turn out. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients by pouring liquid in the middle over the honey – this is so the honey will melt and dissolve into before mixing. Ensure that the honey has completely dissolved before beginning to mix.

Using a dough hook on the stand mixer, mix together on a low setting. If all the dry ingredients are not mixing as well you may stop the mixer and mix in the rest by hand, then put it back under the mixture to complete. If needed, add the rest of the flour a tablespoon at a time to form a smooth dough (I found that I did not need the extra flour but you may depending on where you live). Continue to mix for 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 3-5 minutes.

After you have allowed the dough to rest, use a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle shape about 1/8 inch thick. Spread the softened Earth Balance over the dough. Then sprinkle evenly with desired amount of cinnamon and coconut sugar. Sprinkle with raisins.

Beginning with the long end of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough so that you’re filing is on the inside. Cut the rolled dough into 10-12 even pieces. Place the pieces in a well greased 9×13 inch pan.

Place the rolls in a warm draft free place and cover lightly with a clean t-towel. Let rise til they are double in size.

Preheat oven to 350 F and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Now we found these sweet enough and enjoyed them without icing and honestly they really don’t need it. But if you would like to ice your cinnamon buns you can certainly do so. I have this yummy dairy free sugar free cream cheese icing that is to die for! So I am definitely going to try that on these cinnamon buns the next time we make them. If I can find it that is… I can’t remember where I put it… I’m sure it’s in that ‘safe’ place. (Once I do find it I will share it with you here).

These cinnamon buns certainly did not disappoint, in fact I may have just enjoyed one slathered with Earth Balance on it once the kids were in bed… we must try out all options of course! I will definitely be making them again. Though I would like to try a gluten free version and see how that one will turn out…maybe I shouldn’t push it…


Goji berries

Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking

essential oils for hiking

Hiking is one of those summer activities that I really love. It’s one of those go anywhere activities that is always an adventure, an exploration of the natural space around you and different every time. It’s inexpensive and is available to everyone of all ages and all levels. All you really need is a good pair of hiking boots. (Ok I know to hike safely there’s a few more things you should bring – backpack, first aid kit, water, etc. – but in essence your equipment is minimal and it can be an inexpensive but very enjoyable activity).

Hiking also provides us with many health benefits from strengthening your core, lowering blood pressure and improving your balance. Not to mention the benefits of simply being out in nature (like leaving that technology behind!) I always feel fantastic after a day of hiking, whether it’s been a 3 km loop on a flat trail or a good hike up the side of a mountain. I always feel more alive and invigorated than when I left.

What does not always feel so great though are some of the after effects of hiking. From sore achy muscles (especially if this is my first hike of the season), to possibly a few scrapes and bruises or some insect bites. Even though sometimes that nice all over achy feeling can be a good feeling, I like to avoid the “Oh my God now it hurts to move” the next day.

Last summer, quite by accident, I discovered a combination to help reduce these aches and pains and a few other hiking ‘side effects’ while using my essential oils. I had been an avid user of essential oils for the past year and was discovering more and more about their benefits and uses. I just naturally started to bring them along on trips as I usually needed an oil for something. What I hadn’t though about yet was how I could use them specifically for hiking.

essential oils for hikers

I had just done a hike with the kids around Moraine Lake, which is near Lake Louise. It was only a short hike that day, but we had done a bit of climbing and I was already starting to feel achy. Taking what I knew, I quickly decided to take a drop of Frankincense internally* and apply some Deep Blue to my muscles. (I love Deep Blue, I think it is one of the most amazing blends for aches and pains. I love how it penetrates and gives you that nice cooling feeling). Then I carried on with the evening making supper and sitting around the fire. The next day when I woke up I fully expected to be at least a little bit achy. But to my surprise I wasn’t at all! I was thrilled! and happily put my boots on again for another hike with the kids, this time a 12 km adventure.

Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking

This also made me think about what other essential oils would be beneficial for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. So I explored more and as a result give you the Top 8 Essential Oils for Hiking (really must have’s don’t leave home without them list).

  1. essential oils for hikersFrankincense – supports cellular health and cellular restructure and rebuilding. Perfect for supporting healing those muscles after a hike or any workout.
  2. Deep Blue – formulated to soothe and cool, this wonderful blend does just that. It reminds me of my Grandpa’s old formula of A5-35, but nicer smelling and all natural! Apply topically where needed.
  3. Peppermint – this one does a lot for hikers. It supports opening up your airways, can soothe aches and pains as well as cools and refreshes (place a drop on the back of the neck) when your feeling hot. It is also a wonderful oil for giving you an energy boost – you know if you need it to get up that last little bit to the top.
  4. Eucalyptus – is the oil of wellness, so great all around for hiking to feel well – will also open up your airways. Apply 1-2 drops topically across the chest.
  5. essential oils for hikersWild Orange – is an uplifting and energizing oil. You probably already feel great cause your outside enjoying the outdoors, but that extra little lift wouldn’t hurt, nor that boost of energy to get to the top! Drop 1-2 drops into your hands, rub them together, cup gently over the nose and mouth and inhale deeply for 30-60 seconds.
  6. Cypress – this one is excellent when hiking at higher elevations as it provides circulatory support. Use 1 drop topically across the chest.
  7. Lavender – eases sore achy muscles, supports anti inflammatory and is great for reducing itchiness from bug bites! Apply topically where needed.
  8. Myrrh – has powerful cleansing properties and when combined with lavender (which is also anti fungal and anti bacterial) in a spray bottle makes an excellent foot spray to use in your hiking boots to prevent foot fungus.

**Essential oils can be used 3 ways, aromatically, topically and internally. Depending on the intended outcome (and kind of oil) will depend on how best to use it.

I use these in a combination of ways from preventative to after care. I usually do my frank and deep blue combination after the hike, but often use my peppermint topically across the chest before heading out and I always take a drop of Wild Orange in my hands rub them together and breathe deeply before I start any day.

Depending on what kind of hike I am doing I’ll use the cypress topically for the higher elevation hikes and I always spray my boots with the lavender myrrh combination before heading out.

Of course I bring a little ‘mini’ first aid kit of these oils (and a few others) so I have them on hand should the need arise – like lavender for bug bites and Terra Shield for bug repellant. I pack them in small dram bottles which does not take up much room in my pack and I have been very glad to have them on many occasion.

essential oils for hiking

Essential oils are such wonderful things! and can do so many things for us in supporting our health and wellness, both on a physical and emotional level. If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils or would like to give some of these a try on your next hike, contact me and I’d love to help you out.

*Note: not all essential oils are safe to ingest. Depending on what oil it is and what brand (as not all essential oils are created equally due to growing practices, extraction of the oil, etc. There are also currently no regulations or guidelines on producing essential oils in Canada) Ensure you research the brand of essential oil you are using to be sure.

The Perfumes of Nature – Outdoor Nature Activities for Kids

essential oils for hikers

One of the many things I love about the outdoors is all the wonderful smells! The smell of a spring rain, wet leaves, the cherry blossoms, the scent of pinecones, even dirt. And I love when the kids come in and they have what I call that ‘outside smell’, where they just smell of sun, fresh air and the outdoors.

Kids also love to smell stuff! In fact, it is one of the many wonderful things about children how they always have their noses in something, they’re willingness to explore and how they naturally just use all their senses when they are learning.

In learning about nature especially, we engage all 5 senses and smell is no exception! In fact, we get the most out of our learning experience outdoors when we are engaging all of our senses. It becomes just that much more of a cool experience. Smell is a unique one as we often take for granted the smells that we experience when we’re outside, and may not consciously notice them unless they are quite strong or overpowering, and though we appreciate all the wonderful smells outdoors,  we don’t always single them out (except maybe when you’re near a cow paddie!).

Taking the time to do an activity with kids that singles out the different smells in nature can be quite a fascinating experience. Having them learn and identify the smells individually helps them to heighten their outdoor experience and learn to appreciate another aspect of our beautiful natural world.

Identifying the Smells of Nature

In this simple activity we are going to help children identify different smells in nature and learn where they would find them.

You will need:

  • 10 small mason jars or other small containersniffing jars
  • blindfolds
  • dirt
  • dandelions
  • rocks
  • bark
  • pinecone
  • grass
  • bird feather
  • pine needles
  • small stick
  • poplar fluff
  • dry leaves
  • any other nature items you’d like to add

*Note: when gathering your nature items only pick items up off the ground, breaking branches or picking leaves off trees is not encouraged and could actually damage or kill whatever you’re taking it from.

Part 1:

Place one item in each of the containers. Have children sit in a circle with their eyes closed smells in nature(depending on the age of the children it may be easier and better to use blindfolds so there is no peeking!). With the children remaining in a circle pick one item to start with. Take the item to the first child and hold it gently below their nose and ask them to sniff. Ask the child to guess what it is but keep it to themselves so the other children can have a chance to guess. They will have a chance to guess after each child has sniffed the item.

Once everyone has had a chance to smell the item, then you can go around the circle and ask each child to share their guess. Once everyone has guessed then you can reveal to them what it was by name only (unless you are choosing not to do part 2).

Repeat this with the next item until you have done them all. Depending on the age and attention span of the children you may want to use less items, say only 5 instead of 10, as this may be too long and too many for younger children.

Part 2:

Once you have gone through all the items take the children on a nature walk and encourage them to smell different items along the way. Ask them to find the items that they just smelled in the containers live in nature, determining if it is the right thing by only using their sense of smell. Depending on the area you’re in you might be able to find all of them or only a few. That is ok, they are exploring and learning through their sense of smell and that is the whole point of the activity!

smells in natureAfter your Nature Walk come back to your circle and ask the children a few questions to help them solidify what they have just experienced.

  • What smells did they find?
  • Did they match the ones in the containers they smelled?
  • Where did they find them?
  • What was their favorite smell?
  • Was there a smell they disliked?
  • Can they think of other smells in nature that they did not smell today?

Doing this simple activity helps children to identify and appreciate the different smells in nature, as well as associating with where they can be found. Doing this activity will not only enhance their ability to identify different smells in nature but will add to the overall outdoor experience.

Discover more outdoor activities for kids – try a sound hunt, flower printing, or playing in the mud!

St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Smoothie

shamrock smoothie

I remember growing up waiting for those delicious shamrock shakes that you could get at McDonald’s only around St. Patrick’s Day. I loved those things! They were so yummy! Smooth and creamy. And I also love just about anything mint so they were a hands down winner for me.

What I didn’t know then (and honestly as a kid probably did not really care) was how bad these things were for you. Full of sugar and all kinds of additives I don’t really want in my body, health wise they were not the best choice. But I never forgot them, and I still got excited every year when they announced that the Shamrock Shake was now available at McDonald’s for a limited time – though I did not go to get one.

Little did I know that there was actually a healthy alternative I could not only enjoy without guilt but that I could easily make at home! Full of healthy fats and delicious greens this healthy version of a shamrock shake was just as creamy and delicious, if not better.

shamrock smoothieI made this discovery quite by accident a couple of years ago when I was looking for something else on the internet; and I came across the concept of a Shamrock Smoothie. When they boasted that they tasted just like the shakes that you got at McDonald’s they had my attention. So I took a peek, and I experimented a little, tweeking the recipe to suit my needs and tastes. Adding in a little of this and taking out a little of that and then voila! I had created my own version of the perfect Shamrock Smoothie, which was now good for me and I enjoy every St. Patrick’s Day (and even share some with the kids (grudgingly).

I love that this recipe combines avocado which not only makes it rich and creamy but provides healthy fats with coconut milk and mint, two more of my favorite flavors. This thing is so thick and delicious it is the perfect healthy snack that doesn’t taste so healthy for St. Paddy’s Day 🙂

I also love the addition of peppermint essential oil in this recipe as I am now reaping all the benefits of peppermint essential oil in my already yummy healthy drink. I have to say to that the dollop of coconut cream on top, though optional, really is a must to make this smoothie just a little bit fancier without much effort. Oh and don’t forget the sprig of mint either!

So give this recipe a try this St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy your own Shamrock Shake guilt free. And if you share it with the kids, it’s a great way to sneak in some avocados and greens in a way that they’ll gobble it up and ask for more!

St. Paddy’s Day Shamrock Smoothie

1 banana

shamrock smoothie1/4 of an avocado

1/2 c. full fat coconut milk

1-2 drops peppermint essential oil

1/4tsp. vanilla

1 handful of spinach

dollop of coconut cream – optional

Put all ingredients except coconut cream in the blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into glass and top with dollop of coconut cream. Add a spring of mint if desired and enjoy!

Serves 1

New Year’s Appetizers

new year's appetizers

Appetizers are a fun and unique way to get creative and try new foods. So many wonderful shapes and combinations that you can experiment and play with. You can have a little bit of everything without overindulging or eating too much!

They are a wonderful way to provide snacks for your New Year’s (or other holiday) celebrations, without a lot of work. Here are some quick and easy appetizers recipes (dairy and sugar free) to try that are delicious and satisfying without the worry of not being healthy or having that heaviness in your stomach after.

New Year’s Appetizers

Mushroom Turnovers

mushroom turnoversMy absolute favorite appetizer these savory pastry type appetizers are rich and delicious! I love the sour cream (dairy free) in the dough. Just gives it that little extra richness.

Sun Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Love the ease of these little guys, just a little bit of chopping and you can have them ready to serve in 10 minutes!

Macaroni Bites

Perfect for the macaroni lover these creamy little bites are easy and delicious. Plus they are super cute.

Pizza Bites

quinoa pizza bitesI have to admit the first time I made these I thought they would be a bust – quinoa in a pizza recipe? They turned out fabulous! And I love that you can vary the combinations of what you put it in. Gluten free, and great for kids as well.

Kale and Artichoke Dip

What party is complete without a yummy dip! This warm, cheesy and delectable dip is dairy free and perfect for that cracker or tortilla chip. Plus with kale being a superfood, this makes it even better.


Top 10 Uses and Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

lemon essential oil

As I was busy cleaning this morning with my Lemon essential oil, I got to thinking just how many things I use this oil for on a daily basis. Yes daily! Lemon essential oil is one of the most versatile oils as it can be used for so many different things!

And it is not very expensive either. For about $13 I can buy a 100% certified pure 15ml bottle which gives me about 250 drops, which I think is quite reasonable considering all the wonderful things it can do. Then I thought I really need to share this with others as maybe they are not aware of all the great things it can do and how economical it is.

I love that it is a natural product that I can use daily to support me and my family’s health as well as making my home smell fresh and clean.

Top 10 Ways to use Lemon Essential Oil

  1. Cleansing and Detoxifying – every morning I use 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil in my water. Adding it to your water first thing, helps to flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body. *The benefit of using the essential oil over fresh lemon is the internal fruit of the fresh lemon can weaken the enamel on your teeth and damage the gums. Because the essential oil is extracted from the rind you still get the benefits of the lemon without causing damage.
  2. Supports healthy digestion – packed with Vitamin C the acids in lemon encourage the body to process the good stuff in your foods more slowly.
  3. lemon essential oilAlleviates allergies – when combined with lavender and peppermint, lemon supports alleviating seasonal allergies.
  4. Boosts immunity – lemon has antifungal, anti-infection properties and has a high vitamin content, therefore is fantastic for boosting the immune system.
  5. Uplifting and energizing – citrus oils in general are naturally uplifting and energizing. Diffusing lemon will uplift the spirit and energize the body.
  6. Clears confusion and helps bring order to a number of tasks – add a few drops to your diffuser to help you prioritize and get things done.
  7. Supports healthy respiratory function
  8. Cleanses and purifies the air – add a few drops of lemon to a glass spray bottle and spray on counters and other surfaces to clean. Add to a diffuser to cleanse and purify the air.
  9. Cleans off sticky residue – you know when you have that sticky residue left over from tape or a sticker that can be challenging to get off? Using a drop of lemon essential oil works wonders and takes it right off! I used to use Goo-Gone but am very happy to now have a non chemical solution.
  10. Freshens your laundry – Add a drop or two to the soap dispenser in your laundry to prevent or get rid of that musty smell when you leave your laundry sitting too long. Alternatively, you can also add a few drops to your dryer ball when you pop the clothes in the dryer.

I just love the scent of lemon in general and often find myself just giving the bottle a sniff. It’s such a lovely sweet and refreshing smell.

Lemon is also great in many diffuser blends adding in that freshness and all the other benefits of lemon! Enjoy this Holiday diffuser blend with a little bit of lemon and a few other scents for the holidays.

lemon essential oil

What are your favorite ways to use Lemon Essential Oil?

Interested in learning more about essential oils and how they can support you and your family’s health and wellness? Contact me for your free wellness consult.

Sugar Free White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

white chocolate macadamia nut cookies

I am super excited about this week’s cookie recipe as it is my most favorite cookie ever! White chocolate macadamia nut cookies just have the right combination of sweet and crunchy in amongst a soft chewy cookie. And for a while now I have not been enjoying these sweet delectable sensations, well because I have chosen not to, because of the decision to eat healthier and feel better in my body.

But they are sooo good! So I had to experiment and see if I could successfully come up with a recipe that fit my dietary needs and was just as yummy as I remembered. Of course I am happy to share with you success (and may or may not be munching on one of these delectable cookies right now).

The kids love them too, as all they do is ask for cookies. For breakfast, afterschool, before supper, after supper for dessert. They’d take them to school to if they could, but it’s a nut free zone there. They would also totally sit down and eat two or three at once if I let them – so yeah I think the recipe is ok 🙂

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies – Dairy Free, Sugar Free

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

3/4 c. coconut sugar white chocolate macadamia nut cookies

1/4 c. honey

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. almond extract

2 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 c. coarsley chopped macadamia nuts

1 c. coarsley chopped vegan white chocolate

In a large bowl cream together Earth Balance, coconut sugar and honey til smooth. Add in eggs one at a time and mix. Then add the vanilla and almond extract.

Combine the flour, baking soda and sea salt then gradually stir into the creamed mixture.

Add in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Stir by hand until well combined (stirring by hand keeps nuts and chocolate in chunks which is one of the delights of this cookie. Using the mixer could break these pieces up and make them smaller).

Drop dough by the teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

We still have a couple more weeks of cookie recipes coming so stay tuned… they might to start to get a little Christmasy…

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

pumpkin cookies

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know how much I love pumpkin and any and all things related to pumpkin. So when Shreya of the Sassy Life contacted me and said she had a pumpkin cookie recipe she’d like to share in our cookie series I was all over it!

These delightful pumpkin cookies are easy to make and can be ready in less than an hour – maybe more if you have little helpers or like myself just get distracted easily. They are small, bite size and can be customized if you like your cookies crisper or more cakier, a little stronger pumpkin flavor or a little more spice.

Shreya’s original recipe calls for refined sugars, which have been adjusted here but they do not change the flavor or the result of this delicious cookie. Perfect for Fall, or a little pumpkin variation for Thanksgiving, no one will even notice that they’re vegan or sugar free unless you tell them.

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredientspumpkin cookies

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (I measured when solid if that makes a difference)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan/non-dairy chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the coconut oil with the brown and white sugar.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and pumpkin purée and continue to mix. The mixture will look pretty slick and oily at this point.
  4. Add the salt, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and flour and mix until just combined.
  5. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Bake rounded balls of dough on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet at 350ºF for about 15 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pan. Move to a cooling rack to ensure cookies cool evenly.
  7. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 24 cookies

* For a stronger pumpkin spice flavor, add another teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. My cookies came out very puffy and small because I baked small balls of cookie dough. For flatter cookies, flatten the tops of the cookies before placing in the oven.

What’s your favorite fall cookie recipe?

Thanks to Shreya of the Sassy Life for sharing her recipe. All photos are from the Sassy Life.

Join us next week for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut – my most favorite – ever!

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Sugar Free Dairy Free

healthy oatmeal raisin cookies

There’s nothing like a warm cookie from the oven, soft and chewy as it melts in your mouth, it’s usually hard to have just one. For a while now I haven’t really been making a lot of cookies, partly because of time, but also because though delicious, cookies are not really that healthy. Full of sugars and flours, typically I would avoid them and make some other kind of sweet treat to satisfy.

But this Fall when the weather changed and it was time to feel all warm and cozy I really wanted a cookie. So i started exploring some of my favorite cookie recipes and experimenting with how I could adjust them to make them more healthy and still just as delicious!

And now you get to benefit from my experimenting and research! For the month of November I am going to be featuring various healthy cookie recipes for you to indulge in. Some of them will be my own creation, while others are from other fabulous healthy food bloggers that I have collaborated with. It’s going to be a month of treats and just in time for Christmas! Now you can contribute a healthy version that you’ll feel good about eating and sharing.

Today we’re starting with a classic Oatmeal Raisin recipe – as I have always loved these soft chewy cookies with raisins in them (in fact most cookies with raisins in them I thoroughly enjoy). The original recipe came off the quick oats package and had been sitting on my counter for months. With a little bit of tweeking I came up with this successful healthy oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, sugar free and delicious! (even taste tested by a close friend who loves oatmeal raisin cookies and gave it two thumbs up).

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1/2 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

healthy oatmeal raisin cookies3/4 c. coconut sugar

1/4 – 1/3 c. honey

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 – 2 c. uncooked rolled oats (quick or old fashioned)

1 c. raisins

healthy oatmeal raisin cookiesIn a large bowl combine the Earth Balance, coconut sugar and honey. Mix until creamy.

Add in eggs and vanilla. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt and mix well.

Add in the oats and raisins, I like to add these in by hand and stir, as I find the mixer can chop up the raisins which I don’t want. Stir well.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in 350F oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven, cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets then move to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Next week indulge in Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, courtesy of The Sassy Life (I can’t wait for this one as I love pumpkin!!)


The Making of a Spider

spider costume

Halloween at our house is always a big event. As soon as October hits the kids are asking to decorate and even before that they are already talking about costumes and what they are going to be. In fact, there have been years when they have decided a whole year in advance what they wanted to be for next Halloween (and actually stuck with it).

Last year my daughter decided she wanted to be a spider. For me I prefer to buy our Halloween costumes if we can find what we need. As long as they are decent quality and not too expensive I find this the easiest and simplest. And there is quite the range and variety of costumes these days so this usually isn’t a problem. But in this case, I don’t know about you but I have never seen in a store a kids (or adult for that matter) spider costume – ever. So I knew that we had to make one.

Luckily, my very talented sister is in costume design and had already created a spider costume for herself years ago, so I didn’t have to start from scratch and I had a great guide to get the costume together. It did require a bit of work and gathering a few pieces, which can add up, but was fairly easy to put together.

How to Make a Spider Costume

This is a simple costume to put together. The most challenging part is doing the arms and legs and though not difficult requires some patience, especially if you’re not a sewer like myself!

Here’s what you need:

Long sleeved black shirtspider costume

Black leggings

2 pairs black panty hose or tights

Black gloves

Cotton batting

Black shoes or boots

4-6 Safety pins

Needle

Clear plastic thread

Black thread

Glitter hairspray

Black eyeliner pencil or facepaint crayon

1. The first thing you need to do is make the arms/ legs. Because you already have 4 limbs you only need 4 more to make 8 for the spider. Take the black panty hose or tights out of the package and measure the desired length of the arm. Do this by holding having the person the costume is for hold out their arm vertically. Hold up the panty hose leg to the arm. Have the person gently hold the end of the toes to make this a little bit easier. Measure to the arm pit and then back up a little bit and make it shorter. You want the length of the hose to be slightly shorter than the arm because when you pin it on it needs to be able to move and not be bunched together. This will make more sense when we get to step 4 – but if the panty hose is as long as the arm it will get squished and could be uncomfortable (as well as it won’t look right).

spider costume2. Once you have determined the length of the hose you need cut it straight across. Use this first piece of panty hose as your example and measure them up to the other panty hose legs and cut to make the right length. This makes it easy to get them all the same length.

3. Stuff the panty hose with the cotton batting. Use enough to make it full and round but does not need to be overstuffed that it’s pulling on the hose. Once the hose is stuffed sew the end closed using the black thread. Repeat with the other 3 legs.

This next step is easiest if you can have the child put on the rest of the costume so you can pin and line up the arms.

4. Have the child put on the black long sleeved shirt and leggings. Using a safety pin, pin one of the stuffed legs onto the hip of the pants. Pin it with the sewed end on the hip. Do the same with the second leg on the other side.

5. Next, pin the third leg on the shirt about mid way up the torso. Do the same with the fourth one on the other side.

6. Take your clear thread and attach it to the end of one of the legs that is pinned to the hip (simply just knot the end of the thread and attach it securely to the end of the leg. Be careful not to bunch the leg on the end. I did a once through, little loop and knotted, very clean.

spider costume7. Take the thread and go up to the leg attached mid way up the torso and attach the two legs together with the thread. Leave enough length that the legs are separated, hang nicely and not bunched together. You want enough space between them for movement. Attach it securely. Then continue with the thread up to the child’s wrist.

8. Create a loop around the child’s wrist. Again leave enough length between the mid torso leg and the wrist so that the legs hang nicely, have enough room for movement and are not all bunched together. Have the child lift their arm vertically to measure this and to ensure you have the length you desire. Secure the loop with a slip knot, so that you can easily open and close the loop on their wrist and make it easy to take off. Whew! Now that you’ve done the one side mastered – do the same thing on the other side.

9. Once you have both sides attached with legs, unpin the bottom legs on the hips, unloop the thread on the wrists and slid it gently off the wrist. leave everything else attached! This makes it way easier when you’re putting it on for Halloween or a Halloween event. Gently slide the shirt over the child’s head and place it in a safe place (where it won’t get disturbed or played with) until needed for Halloween.

Putting It All Together On Halloween

The legs are the hardest part but once you have those pinned and ready the rest is a walk in the park.

10. Put the black leggings on first. Gently assist the child with putting on the black shirt. Pin the two bottom legs to the hips and slid the loops over the child’s wrists. Put on the gloves and tighten the loops as needed.

11. Do hair as desired in whatever style you choose, then spray with glitter hairspray.

12. With the black eyeliner pencil or facepaint crayon draw a spider web one of the child’s cheeks (this is not a must but just add that little extra to the costume.

13. Put on black boots or shoes and voila! you have your little spider all set to go!

spider costume