Thursday, November 29, 2007

Aromatherapy Candles

Today at Wild Oats I discovered Aroma Naturals Candles. They are fabulous! There was a display for some of their holiday candles (scented with 100% plant aromas). I immediately fell in love with the "Wish" peppermint and vanilla scent. Yum! I also picked up an evergreen votive. I love having natural, seasonal scents in my home, and these candles are a welcome addition. Not only do they smell great, but they are aromatherapy candles, so they have an extra dimension to them. Hmmm, I wonder if I should get the candles called "Tranquility," "Serenity," and "Peace" to light when my little boys are bouncing off the walls?!

Monday, November 26, 2007

What will kids eat?

I read this article yesterday, which details a study done by the University of Minnesota showing that when children were served healthier school lunches, the sales did not decline. I found this to be encouraging and I hope it will be eye-opening to parents (it certainly was to me). I've always found it disturbing that children's menus at restaurants rarely have healthy options. At a local seafood restaurant we like to visit, the children's menu only has deep fried options. Before I had kids, I wondered if that was because children simply would not eat things that weren't breaded and fried. According to this study, that belief is false.

Obviously, children will eat fried foods if that's all that is offered to them. Those foods are immediately pleasing to the palate for most people. But if kids never try the fried stuff, they will be much more likely to try a fresh, healthy option when they are hungry. I know this is true, because I see my boys eating broiled and poached fish on a weekly basis.

As the article stated, it takes more work and costs more to prepare foods in a healthy way. But how encouraging to know that if the effort is made, children WILL eat the healthy stuff.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fantastic Cranberry Sauce

I've always loved cranberry sauce, and this year I made some using agave nectar. Wow, it was delicious, and SO easy to make. We didn't have any cranberry sauce left over after Thanksgiving dinner. I ended up making an entire new batch so that we would have it to go along with our other Thanksgiving leftover foods!

Cranberry Sauce

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 c. water
3/4 c. agave nectar

Place cranberries, water and agave in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5-7 minutes until the cranberries have popped and sauce has thickened. Stir several times while the mixture is boiling. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Chocolate Cake Recipe for All Occasions

Martha Stewart has a fantastic chocolate cake recipe that I have altered to fit my family's preferences. This cake can be used to make sheet cakes, frosted birthday cakes, cupcakes and more.

Here are my changes to the recipe:

*Instead of all-purpose flour, use unbleached flour.
*Instead of 3 c. sugar, use 2 or 2 1/2 c. agave nectar (I tend to use the smaller amount and the cake is still plenty sweet).
*Instead of buttermilk, use plain organic yogurt, OR use goat milk, organic milk, or raw milk with an added tablespoon of vinegar.
*Instead of vegetable oil, use virgin coconut oil (high oleic safflower oil would work well too).

I usually use my basic cream cheese frosting recipe when I frost this cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. butter, softened
4 T. honey or agave
1 t. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in honey or agave. Add vanilla.

For Tie-Dye's birthday last year I made a lion cake using this recipe. I got the lion idea from Martha Stewart's website as well. She used buttercream frosting to do the lion's face, and licorice for the whiskers. I just whipped up some organic heavy cream, liquid stevia, and natural yellow food coloring for the base of the lion's face and in between the two cake layers, and then used cream cheese frosting for the mane and face.

Tomorrow is Tie-Dye's 4th birthday, so today I will be making chocolate cupcakes. I'm going to try a little experiment and turn them into Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes. For the cheesecake filling I will use 6 oz. softened cream cheese, 1/4 c. agave nectar, 1 egg and 1/8 tsp. sea salt. I hope they turn out!

***As a side note I wanted to let you know that my posts may continue to be less frequent than usual this month and next, not only because it's a busy time of year with birthdays and holidays, but because I'm now 9 months pregnant and my baby is due in 23 days! Once the baby has arrived and we're all settled I should be able to resume more regular posts. Thanks for your patience!