Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays To You!

Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy Holiday, full of laughter and love!  

Best Wishes,
–Amber & Family¬†
(Check out my Mom’s crazy Nutcracker collection there to the left!) ūüôā

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Coconut Ice Cream

My sweet husband celebrated his birthday on Sunday. ¬†When asked what he wanted for his birthday dessert he¬†declared, “Oh, your pumpkin brownies! and mint chocolate chip ice cream.” ¬†

Done and done my love.  

His all-time favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip. ¬†Our local Coop carries the coconut version and a few months ago I finally made my own batch. ¬†And I kick myself for waiting so long. ¬†It’s soooo easy to make and¬†absolutely¬†delicious. ¬†

Here’s how I presented the brownie and ice cream to the birthday boy
Brownies fresh from from the oven
I went with ice cream and melted chocolate
Mint Chocolate Chip Coconut Ice Cream
  1. Add coconut milk, vanilla, peppermint & maple syrup (or honey) to blender and blend until incorporated, add to ice cream maker.
  2. Check ice cream maker after about 15 minutes. When the mixture thickens up a bit and about to get super thick, add in chocolate shavings and continue mixing.
  3. Remove mixture from ice cream maker when a ball of ice cream forms
  4. Transfer ice cream to glass storage and place in freezer for a few hours
  5. Remove from freezer about 20 minutes before serving
  6. Melt remaining chocolate for drizzling when ready to serve
Happy Birthday to my best friend, the love of my life, and the greatest man and father I know. 
Opening birthday presents in the morning
Shared on: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays , Full Plate Thursdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Raw Foods Thursday,
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Labels: dessert, ice cream, Paleo, vegan.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vegan Persimmon Cranberry Coconut Pudding (no bake)

Is it just me, or are persimmons the most AMAZING fruit ever. ¬†They taste like candy no? ¬†My kids go crazy for them and it’s refreshing to have a different fruit there in the fruit basket. ¬†

I know I’m not breaking the mold here with the idea of a no-bake pudding. ¬†But I so wanted to find a way in incorporate persimmons into a dessert, and a no-bake pudding was the front runner. ¬†No fuss, few¬†ingredients,¬†nutritionally¬†denseall big winners in my book. ¬†I was craving something cold, creamy, and sweet (but not too sweet, you know I like the tart stuff). ¬†The coconut, persimmon, cranberry combo did the trick. ¬†This pudding turned out really well and I wanted to share its wonderful, flavorful simplicity with you. ¬†

1 can full fat coconut milk, I used¬†this brand¬†(it’s a BPA free can)
4 ripe fuyu persimmons (a non-astringent vareity; they are squat and look like a tomato) 
1/4 cup cranberries 
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds

How To
1.  Soak cranberries in filtered water until soft, 1-2 hours.
2.  Peel and chop persimmons 
3.  In blender (high speed or otherwise) blend coconut milk, strained cranberries, persimmons, and ground chia.  
4.  Store in refrigerator until cool.  Treat like pudding and enjoy with granola, dried fruit, or any other choice topping.  

*This pudding tastes better with time, as the flavors combine and the coconut flavor decreases quite a bit.  My husband had trouble identifying the coconutand this was shocking because he has impeccable taste buds.  
*Add more cranberries, if desired, it will certainly increase the tart factor. 
*You can add a sweetener of choice, but I prefer the sweet to tart ratio in this recipe. ¬†I don’t care for too sweet.
*Coming soonpersimmon cranberry ice cream (stay tuned)
About Persimmons

Health benefits of persimmon fruit

  • The fruit is low in calories (provides 70 cal/100g) and fats but is rich source of dietary fiber.
  • Persimmons contain many health benefiting phyto-nutrients flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants like¬†catechins¬†and¬†gallocatechins¬†as well as important anti-tumor compound¬†betulinic acid. Catechins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents bleeding from small blood vessels) properties.
  • Fresh permissions contain anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta-carotene,¬†lycopene,¬†lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. Together, these compounds functions as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that plays a role in aging and various disease processes.
  • zeaxanthin,¬†an important dietary carotenoid, selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions; thus, helps prevent “Age related macular disease”(ARMD) in the elderly.
  • The fruits are also very good source of¬†vitamin-C, another powerful antioxidant (especially native Chinese and American persimmons; provide 80% of DRI). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • The fruit is good in many valuable B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin…etc. These vitamins act as co-factors for numerous metabolic enzymatic functions in the body.
  • Fresh Persimmon fruits also contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of DRI), copper (12% of DRI),¬†and phosphorus. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Copper¬†is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required for¬†the production of red blood cells.¬†
    (above facts complied from this site)
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Labels: ACD, dairy free, dessert, gluten free, nut free, pudding, vegan, xanthan gum free.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cranberry Almond Honey Cookies

These cookies are a big deal for me because they are my first Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) cookie. ¬†And they are good…and they didn’t fall apart!¬† I will be starting the SCD here shortly and until then I will be creating recipes for myself to eat during this adventure. ¬†My plan is to try the diet for 1 month. ¬†The SCD has shown to help folks like me who suffer from Crohn’s Disease (and other forms of IBD, Celiac & Autism). ¬†I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2004 and medication free up until a couple months ago. ¬†It’s hard for me to believe I just learned about the SCD like 2 months ago!! ¬†Geez, where have I been? ¬†Shirley over at gfe¬†has been such a wonderful, loving support. ¬†Thank you Shirley! ¬†I’m sure I will be calling upon her for support and a¬†pick-me-up here and there after I start this new food routine. ¬†I’m currently reading¬†this book¬†and I will be sharing what I’ve learned, and my new recipes here very soon.

Shirley recently sent me some excellent blog resources dedicated to the SCD:
And a few I’ve found by luck:
 1.  Roost
Cranberry Almond Honey Cookies
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, soaked in filtered water for about 2 hours (find unsweetened, or sweetened with only fruit juice, and always free of sulfur dioxide).
  • 2 cups raw organic almonds (preferably soaked and dehydrated for optimal digestion)
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In food processor (fitted with S-blade) grind almonds until they release a bit of oil.  Add coconut flour and blend into a light, fluffy flour.  Add salt and baking soda.  Blend.
  3. Strain cranberries and add to food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse, until the flour is incorporated with berries and forms a ball of dough.
  4. In separate bowl mix together melted oil, honey, and vanilla.
  5. With hands mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients.  To create cookie I recommend making a ball first, then with wet palms, press into little cookies.
  6. Bake 12-13 minutes.  Take care to not overcook
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Labels: cookies, dessert, egg free, Paleo, SCD, vegan.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Garlic: Why it’s a Powerful Immune Booster.

My name is Amber.
And I’m a garliholic.
Okay, got that out there. ¬†I’m a true garlic lover. ¬†I love garlic like my sweet husband loves chocolate, and that’s saying something! ¬†The words crave and satisfy come to mind.
Let me give you an example.
If given the choice between a jar of chocolate covered nuts and a jar of marinated garlic cloves…fuggedaboutit! ¬†Pass me the stinking rose please.¬†Think I’ve made my point here.
What makes garlic so powerful anyway? ¬†So health-full…so immune boosting? ¬†Well, if you lu-uv garlic like me and eat it all the time, there are a few things you should know.
Garlic’s powerful anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-biotic properties are found in the sulfur compound: Allicin.
Allicin is released from garlic when cut, chopped, crushed, etc.
Allicin¬†immediately starts to¬†break down after it’s produced. ¬†Heat causes additional breakdown and microwaving garlic completely eliminates allicin.
To receive the health-full benefits garlic has to offer, add raw chopped garlic to cooked food and mix well.  This method protects the fragile allicin by reducing contact with direct heat, and may even slightly decrease the spiciness.

Garlic also comes with precautions, and these should be considered in full if you’re a frequent garlic user.
Safety First(Ahem…body¬†odor¬†and bad breath do not count as cautions in my opinion).

*Garlic may interact with some prescription medications.  For example, take great caution in consuming large amounts of garlic if taking prescription blood thinners. Please consult your doctor or holistic practitioner before taking garlic supplements or eating garlic on a daily basis. 

*Believe it or not, garlic allergies do exist (oh boy, I would take my peanut allergy over a garlic allergy any day).  

Symptoms may include: skin rashes, mild fever, nausea, vomiting and headaches.  Consult your doctor or holistic practitioner if you suspect a garlic allergy.

*Garlic can irritate your digestive tract and cause some disruption in digestive function.  One key symptom is nausea.  Other symptoms may include loose stools or diarrhea, even vomiting if you consume too much.
*I eat raw garlic when I feel a cold coming on and consume in small amounts until I start to feel better. ¬†However, I also eat roasted garlic quite regularly, so feeling sick or not, I usually have some on hand in the fridge. ¬†I smear it on gluten free bread, add it to soup, hummus, eggs. ¬†It’s such an easy way to get that delicious garlic flavor and without the very intense spiciness of garlic.

How To Roast Garlic

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Cut head of garlic in half
3.  Add a bit of oil and salt to your preferred roasting pan and place garlic face down in pan
4.  Roast for 20-30 minutes; check at 20 and if garlic is tender and sizzling then remove.
*Another popular method is to wrap a cut head of garlic (with salt and oil) with parchment paper.  Secure with oven-proof string or make a little parchment-pouch.  I prefer creating less waste and using a glass pan.  But do whatever works for you.  
This is what you will remove from the oven…deliciousness!
Allow garlic to cool before handling
It’s pretty fun to pop out those little cloves
Mash Mash
Add some oil to support your mashing efforts
Mash until your desired consistency
I like mine just like this:
Garlic breath and all!

Shared on:
Wellness Weekend over at Diet, Dessert & Dogs
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Labels: Holistic healing, how to, spreads.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Flavorful Grain Free Quinoa Stuffing

I’ve been struggling with how to make a quinoa stuffing that doesn’t taste like a quinoa summer salad. ¬†Then I came across a secret ingredient that saved the day: poultry seasoning. ¬†This created a dish that has a real authentic taste to it, without all the traditional gluten/grain type hassle. ¬†

And a quick word about quinoa. ¬†I’ve been cooking it for years, and just the other day I found this website¬†that rocked my world. ¬†I’ve been¬†wasting¬†valuable time and energy trying to get a¬†fluffy¬†quinoa (I do the presoak but alas wasn’t using the correct water to quinoa ratio). ¬†Finally, mystery solved! Just FYI: it’s 1 1/4 cups liquid to 1 cup quinoa. ¬†So simple!¬†
4 cups cooked quinoa (to your texture preference, see above notes).  
1 medium onion, small chop
1 cup walnuts, chopped 
1 medium apple, peeled and small chop
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened or sweetened with fruit juice and always sulfur dioxide free)
2 cups mushrooms, small chop (optional, not shown in recipe above)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning 
Few turns of the pepper grinder 
Oil of choice 

How To
1.  Coat bottom of pot with oil.  Add onions & salt.  Saute on med/low for 5 minutes.
2.  Add celery & walnuts, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
3.  Add apple, thyme, pepper, & poultry seasoning.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Turn off heat and add in the 4 cups of quinoa along with the cranberries.  Mix together quinoa, saute mixture, and cranberries. 

*This was excellent the next morning with eggs as a breakfast scramble!
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Labels: ACD, dairy free, gluten free, grain free, sides, vegan.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What is Colloidal Oatmeal? And How Does it Help Eczema?

Please read my disclaimer before you continue reading.  
Thank you!

Simply speaking, colloidal oatmeal is very finely ground oatmeal.  Pretty easy explanation right!  

So what in the world is this stuff used for? 

First let me tell you that I ran across colloidal oatmeal from reading the ingredients off a bottle of Eucerin. ¬†I’ve never purchased Eucerin, but I was curious why it is so popular and why so many people recommend it for my son’s eczema and dry skin. ¬†First, check out the ingredients in¬†Eucerin. ¬†I’ve linked research and information to some of the concerning¬†ingredients from The Skin Deep Database:¬†

Glycerin, Cetyl Palmitate, Mineral Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Octyldodecanol, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Colloidal Oatmeal, Dimethicone, PEG Р40 Stearate, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phexoxyethanol, DMDM Hydantion, Iodopropynyl, Butylcarbarmate.

I was very curious about this oatmeal so I did some research.

I ran across this great site dedicated to colloidal oatmeal.  I recommend checking it out, but I will also share information from this site here.  All quotes are from site link.

So back to the original question: 
What in the world is this stuff used for?

The popular use for colloidal oatmeal is in the bath.  
I have used this with my son. ¬†I grind 2 cups of oatmeal in a coffee grinder and add it to his bath water. ¬†Works great. ¬†Please use oatmeal with caution if you have issues with gluten (or even if you aren’t sure). ¬†It’s best to purchase certified gluten-free oats to avoid any averse reactions. ¬†Please discuss the use of oatmeal as a means for holistic healing with a medical professional or holistic practitioner before using. ¬† ¬†¬†

Colloidal oatmeal has properties that comfort itching, so it is a good choice for relieving the pains of eczema. Simply run your bath with¬†lukewarm¬†water, and while the tub is filling, add a packet (two to three cups) of colloidal oatmeal under the faucet to help disperse the oatmeal. Soak in the bath for ten to fifteen minutes. When you are ready to get out of the bath,¬†Be Careful. The bathtub will be slick from the oatmeal. When drying, don’t rub your skin since this can irritate the sore areas. Instead, pat yourself dry with a clean towel. This treatment can be taken up to three times daily to help ease the dry, itchy skin of eczema”

What a great holistic¬†remedy¬†for children and babies suffering from eczema (or adults for that matter). ¬†My son’s skin looks awful in the bath (like burns all over his legs) and so this is a great addition to bath time. ¬†Wish I had this information when he was 6 months old with¬†weepy¬†eczema patches all over his body. ¬†

How does it work?
“Colloidal oatmeal is simply oats ground into an extremely fine powder. When added to bathwater, it creates a milky dispersion that prevents the oatmeal from settling rapidly. So the oatmeal stays in the water and doesn’t just sink to the bottom of the bath. When you get into the tub, the colloidal oatmeal feels silky, as it coats, moisturizes, softens, and protects your skin.”

How do I use it?
“Run your bath with lukewarm water, and while the tub is filling, add a packet (two to three cups) of colloidal oatmeal under the faucet to help disperse the oatmeal. You may have the urge to take a hot bath, but this will only irritate the skin and remove moisture from your body, so a warm bath is preferable. Soak in the bath for ten to fifteen minutes. When you are ready to get out of the bath,¬†BE CAREFUL. The bathtub will be slick from the oatmeal. When drying, don’t rub your skin since this can irritate the sore areas. Instead, pat yourself dry with a clean towel.”

I added colloidal oatmeal to my latest homemade eczema lotion (recipe coming soon) as a dry-skin remedy this winter.  

Check this out if you are interested in making large amounts of colloidal oatmeal.  But a coffee grinder or other blender will suffice.  
Shared on: Homestead Barn Hop & Traditional Tuesdays
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Labels: eczema, Holistic healing, homemade remedies.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Skin Deep Cosmetic Database

Ever feel curious about what’s in your lotion, shampoo, lipstick, foot scrub, toothpaste, eye shadow, dish soap, gel? ¬†
I sure do.

A few years ago I came across the greatest website on the planet for the curious, health-conscience mind. ¬†If you’re not sure about an ingredient but really want to know what it is, research results,¬†and how toxic it is (on a scale from 1 – 10) well then look no further. ¬†

The website is
Start here to get to know the site and how to use it.
Also a good read: the myth about cosmetic safety

This site is SO user friendly, by the way.  You simply type in the ingredient (or just copy and paste from the internet) and you will instantly receive valuale information on its level of toxicity. 
An essential element in any holistic healing routine or holistic lifestyle is knowing exactly what you are putting on your skin and¬†exactly¬†what you are bringing into your home. ¬†This is also so very important for children’s products. ¬†Say NO to chemicals in your products, polluting our bodies and earth. ¬†
Have peace of mind and take control with knowledge. 

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Labels: beauty, Holistic healing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Monthly Round-Up (November 2011)

I was in a recipe wonderland this month.  With the huge food celebration day that is Thanksgiving, amazing recipes were coming from all angles РLOOK OUT, DUCK!  It was difficult to choose my 10 favorites from the month.  I went with an allergy-friendly list that includes everything from kale chips to parsnip fries.  

These were a huge hit with the family,  Such a great idea.

These were so delicious!  I used the coconut sugar and honey options Shirley provided in the recipe.

These are on my to-make list for the kids.

Grain Free Granola Options: 
I’m loving this ingredient combo. ¬†So creative!¬†
I avoid using eggs due to my son’s¬†eczema, such a great idea to make your own,¬†especially¬†if you run out of the box mix.

Gasp, how amazing does this look?

Such a creative idea.  Omit cayenne if making for children.
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Labels: Monthly Round-Up.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Perfect Base Hummus

We are big fans of hummus in this family so I always have some on hand in the fridge. ¬†Nothing beats homemade!¬† And it’s so easy. ¬†Making the perfect base hummus allows you to add other ingredients to create a whole new flavor, for example using¬†cilantro. ¬†But you don’t have to rely on beans. ¬†Adding carrots¬†in place of beans, for example, yields a delicious raw hummus. ¬†Pictured above is hummus topped cucumber (served for¬†snack time) – just a little something extra like this can put a fun twist on the everyday dish. ¬†
The Perfect Base Hummus
  • 2½ cups prepared garbanzo beans (soaked overnight or 24 hours and boiled in filtered water)
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic granules (or ½ clove fresh garlic - fresh garlic will make your hummus very spicy, so take caution when making for children)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup oil of choice (I use walnut oil)
  • Filtered water as needed
  1. Add beans & tahini to food processor, pulse a few times
  2. Add lemon juice, salt, garlic and pulse
  3. Drizzle in oil while blending
  4. At this point you will have a very thick hummus and it will need some water for a creamy consistency, so add in ¼ cup of filtered water (at a time) until it's creamy and smooth to your liking
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Labels: dips, snacks, spreads, vegan.