In Our Bellies

Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

Since my kids take their lunch to school, I sometimes get in a rut, offering the same foods rotated often.  To keep things interesting, every once in a while I like to send something with a little sweetness in their cooler as a surprise!

Meet my Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars.  These are supper easy to make!

Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

Ingredients:

1 Egg

1 1/2 c. Oats

3/4 c. Peanut Butter

3/4 c. Milk of Choice

1/4 c. Sucanat (or brown sugar)

1/4 c. Coconut Sugar (or granulated sugar)

1/4 c. Coconut Oil (or butter)

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 tsp. Baking Powder

3/4 tsp. Salt of Choice

Toppings as desired!

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a food processor.  Your mixture should appear similar to that of cake batter.
  2. Grease a 9×13 pan.  Pour and spread mixture into the greased pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes (or until a toothpick is removed clean!).
  4. Top as desired!  When these bars were warm, I sprinkled on chocolate chips, but they are also great as is!
  5. Cut and serve hot or cooled!

20160406_134056These are perfect for breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Note:  We strive to eat naturally.  To us, that means we eat locally, organically, and we avoid foods that are genetically-modified and/or processed whenever possible!  When prepared, recipes are modified as such.  Some of us here also eat gluten, soy, and dairy free!

If you try this recipe, please offer your feedback!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

In Our Bellies

Just Like Reese’s Bars

Let me start off by saying that we RARELY eat candy here.  By RARELY, I mean at Halloween and very sporadically throughout the year.  (Unless, of course, the kids are given some at school as a reward-ANNOYING!)

I digress…  My point is that there is really no need for it EVER, and candy itself is probably one of the most refined food products out there, having virtually no nutritional value at all.  You won’t find this momma offering it up regularly!

That being said, I do admit that I have a slight sweet tooth and am occasionally inclined to make something at home to satisfy these cravings!

Meet my Just Like Reese’s Bars.

These do not have the numerous questionable ingredients that the actual Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have.  They instead are just sweet enough to be satisfying, but do not leave you with a gross feeling in your stomach after you eat them!  (Just don’t eat the whole pan!)

Just Like Reese’s Bars

Ingredients:

3/4 cup coconut butter

1/2 cup peanut butter (I use natural peanut butter only.  Peanuts is the only ingredient.)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt (We use Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt.)

Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup chocolate chips (We use Enjoy Life brand.  See ingredients.)

1-2 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

  1.  In a saucepan, cream together all ingredients, except those listed for the topping.
  2. Stir ingredients together until they are creamy.  The mixture may get a little thick.  If it does, add small amounts of maple syrup until it is spreadable into an 8 x 8 pan.
  3. Spread it evenly into a greased 8 x 8 pan.
  4. Cool in the refrigerator until the topping is prepared.
  5. In a saucepan, melt together the topping ingredients.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture onto your first mixture and spread it evenly.
  7. Cool pan in the refrigerator until the topping has hardened.
  8. Store in the refrigerator and cut out bars as needed.

Note:  We strive to eat naturally.  To us, that means we eat locally, organically, and we avoid foods that are genetically-modified and/or processed whenever possible!  When prepared, recipes are modified as such.  Some of us here also eat gluten, soy, and dairy free!

Just Like Reece's Bars

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Now let’s explore the ingredients in actual Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!

milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, non-fat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR emulsifier), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ

Besides all the refined ingredients in this product, notice specifically the suspicious ingredients:

Soy lecithin.  Although many people would argue that the amount of soy lecithin in products like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is nominal and generally should not be worried about, research says otherwise.  Unless it is fermented, soy and food products containing soy lecithin tend to be very estrogenic, causing adverse health effects like hormone disruption.  Additionally, most soy produced in the United States is genetically modified.

PGPR (polyglycerol pilyricinoleate).  Made from castor beans (NOT COCOA BEANS!!), this ingredient is used to replace cocoa beans by reducing chocolate’s viscosity and manufacturing costs.  Sounds like low-quality chocolate to me…

TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone).  This is an aromatic organic compound used as a preservative in food, but is also found in paints and varnishes.  Not only has it been found to increase tumor size in lab rats, it also has been linked to liver enlargement, convulsions, paralysis, amongst other neurotoxic effects.  Some say consumption may intensify symptoms of ADHD.

Unfortunately, these ingredients are not only found in Reese’s candy, but in chocolate bars everywhere.  Check out your labels!

What’s in YOUR favorite chocolate treat?  Are you ready to try mine?

 

DIY, Essential Oils

Chapstick Locket!

Do you still have a teacher gift to buy, or want a unique present for a neighbor?  Are you looking for yet another way to use your essential oils?  Well look no further than this Chapstick Locket tutorial!

Here’s what you need!

  • A locket!  I purchased a whole bunch of them on Ebay!  They were extremely reasonably priced and antique-looking; my fave!DSC_0405
  • Shea Butter!  You can find this at a health food store or possibly your local supermarket.
  • Coconut Oil!
  • Beeswax!  I ordered mine from Vitacost.
  • An essential oil(s) of your choice!  I used Peppermint.
  • If you prefer colored chapstick, your choice of lipstick is needed as well.DSC_0384

Follow these easy steps!

  1. Add a small amount of water to the bottom of a sauce pan.  Water should be about an inch or so deep.
  2. Turn your stove’s heating element to medium.
  3. Place a mason jar in your sauce pan.
  4. Add to your mason jar 2 Tbsp. of Shea butter, 1 1/2 Tbsp. of beeswax, and 1 Tbsp. coconut oil.  Stir occasionally until mixture is melted and homogeneous.DSC_0377
  5. Turn your heat down to low.
  6. Add about 15-20 drops of essential oil to the lip mixture.  Stir well.
  7. Open your locket.  Using a syringe, quickly drip the mixture into the locket.  Hold each locket level as you add the warm mixture.  Let the liquid set a bit before putting it down.  Do not try to add your mixture to all of the lockets at once, but do this step individually for each locket!  This is important if you want your mixture in each locket to dry level.  
  8. To cool, place your lockets in the freezer or refrigerator for about an hour.
  9. If you need to clean them up a bit, use a toothpick to remove hardened gloss from undesirable areas on your locket.
  10. Leave your lockets out at room temperature overnight before wrapping them.

Happy gift-giving!

Need essential oils?  Click here!

Disclaimer!  The information (and/or products offered) in this post are not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, but is only what I, a Young Living distributor, have chosen to do to take charge of my family’s personal health.  My statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  Please seek medical attention before using these products if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or if you are on any medications.

Please use the information provided on this page in conjunction with your own research and health care provider’s advice.  This information is meant for educational purposes only, not to determine your specific health care plan.

*I may receive compensation through purchases made from the Young Living link!

Essential Oils, Healthy Living

Young Living Essential Oil Samples!

Since writing my dilution piece, I’ve received many questions about essential oils.  Most people are intrigued, however, more are overwhelmed.

It IS overwhelming, and it was overwhelming for me as well!

It is confusing to decide which oil to buy, if and how to dilute that specific oil, and its application.

So I’ve decided I would help those of you hesitant to dilute essential oils yourselves by providing you with essential oil samples!  I will send you your oil of choice, and dilute it to the strength you would prefer (see chart below)!

Here is a list of available Young Living Essential Oil Samples available to you for dilution:

Cypress – grounding.

Frankincense – immune support, skin health, spiritual grounding.

Lavender – skin irritations, balancing, relaxation.  Here is more from Young Living about lavender essential oil!

Lemon – energizing, circulatory support, cleansing.  Here is more from Young Living about lemon essential oil!

Lemongrass – purifying, digestive support.

Peppermint – energizing, digestive support, muscle support.  Here is more from Young Living about peppermint essential oil!

Tea Tree – cleansing.  Here is more from Young Living about tea tree essential oil!

Thieves – purifying, immune support.

*Diluted samples are to be used topically.  I am unable to list specific suggested uses for these samples, as doing so is prohibited by the FDA!  Use of these samples is at your own risk!*

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Which oils would you like to try? 

Here is the price list!

Cypress, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, tea tree, and thieves diluted samples are $5, plus shipping and handing.

Due to the cost of frankincense essential oil, a diluted sample bottle of this is $10, plus shipping and handling.

Shipping and handing is $5 for as many diluted samples as you pick.

All diluted samples will use your choice of Young Living Essential Oil and jojoba carrier oil only!  Samples will arrive labeled and in a 10 ml, amber glass roll-on bottle.

How can you receive Young Living diluted samples?

  1.  Just contact me at jess.biehn.ourpathlesstraveled@gmail.com!
  2. Please specify which oil(s) you would like as diluted samples.
  3. Also specify which percentage of dilution you prefer.  See table above.
  4. I will send you a PayPal invoice with instructions for  payment.  Once I receive your payment, I will prepare your samples.  Please allow up to 2 weeks for preparation and delivery.  Local pick-up is also available!  Shipping  availability is to the contiguous United States only!

If you have further questions regarding any of the oils above, please feel free to contact me at jess.biehn.ourpathlesstraveled@gmail.com!

Find me and more about Young Living, including their products and prices here!

Thanks for your interest!

Disclaimer!  The information (and/or products offered) in this post are not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, but is only what I, a Young Living distributor, have chosen to do to take charge of my family’s personal health.  My statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  Please seek medical attention before using these products if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or if you are on any medications.

Please use the information provided on this page in conjunction with your own research and health care provider’s advice.  This information is meant for educational purposes only, not to determine your specific health care plan.

*I may receive compensation through purchases made from the Young Living link!

 

In Our Bellies

Crock Pot Beef Bourguignonne with Gluten Free Noodles

After visiting a Kentucky horse park this fall and tasting their famous Burgoo, I realized how long it had been since I had actually made stew!  Kentucky Burgoo is very similar to stew and is definitely a comfort food perfect for fall weather!  After mulling over how I would make something equally comforting and tasty, I came up with the following dish!  Similar to Burgoo, Bourguignonne is also stew-like!

Crock Pot Beef Bourguignonne with Gluten Free Noodles

Ingredients:

1-1 1/2 lb. cubed beef

16 oz. raw carrots, sliced

1+ cups sliced mushrooms

1 small yellow onion, diced

8 oz. tomato paste

1 c. beef or chicken broth

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. red wine

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. thyme

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. black pepper

gluten free noodle of choice

Directions:

  1. Prepare your vegetables and garlic as listed in the ingredients list.
  2. Add meat, prepared vegetables, spices, and other ingredients to the crock pot.
  3. Cook ingredients in the crock pot for about 5-6 hours on high heat.
  4. Prepare your noodle of choice as directed by its package.
  5. To serve, place noodles on a plate and dish the bourguignonne to top.

Serves 6-8 adults.

*This recipe would also work sans noodles, however they are a favorite with the crowd I have at home right now!*

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This recipe is perfect for chilly fall nights, family or friend get-togethers, pot lucks, and busy evenings!

Note:  We strive to eat naturally.  To us, that means we eat locally, organically, and we avoid foods that are genetically-modified and/or processed whenever possible!  When prepared, recipes are modified as such.  Some of us here also eat gluten, soy, and dairy free!

If you try this recipe, please offer your feedback!

Thanks for stopping by!

Adoption, Down Syndrome, Life!

Inside the Heart of an Adoptive Mother

I see you back then.  You were scared and worried about the unknowns.  The path was unfamiliar and the baby was not yours, per se.  You had biological children of your own, but this territory seemed new.

It was a cloudy day when you received the call.  As much as you thought you were prepared for that day to come, you so were not.  When you hung up the phone with your social worker, you still did not fully comprehend that your baby had already arrived.  It was truly a surreal feeling to be amiss from your child’s birth.  You did not hear his first cries or smell his tiny head.  You did not know what he looked like; his weight or height.  Did he have hair?  As you prepared to trek to the hospital with your husband, fear and doubt began to creep in.  Your journey was about to begin.

The drive to the hospital was distant and its town unfamiliar.  As you both rode silently, fear’s sound cut through the quiet like a sword.  The measure of the risk you were about to take on weighed on your hearts and minds like few other things could.  Wonderings about your children’s futures played out in your head.  Uncertainty was abounding.

Quietly walking into the hospital, your arrival there was unlike the birth of your other children.  Having no family to celebrate with the birth of one of your own was lonely and stressful, and somewhat overlooked.  There, the baby’s birth was not met with celebration, but was an awkward and sad event.  Tears flowed easily from the baby’s biological family members, and understanding of his placement was cloudy at best.  They were most certainly mourning the loss of their very alive child.

As a nurse directed you to the birth family’s room, nervous tension and excitement filled your body.  Your mind went back and forth between wanting them to keep their baby and getting to him as fast as you could.

You remember quite vividly when the birth father took you into the nursery where your child was waiting.  As you approached the little one, you could vaguely see him sleeping; swaddled in the hospital’s blankets at the very back of the room.  A hat covered his hair-filled head.  When you picked him up, his tiny body spilled over your hands and then into your arms.  Holding him did not seem real.  Thinking back to the birth of your others, you remembered smiling at the sight of the familial features you recognized in them after they were born. There were no features to determine with your new little, except those prevalent in Down syndrome.  Although your child now indeed, he seemed more like a stranger in your lap.

Sadness occasionally filled your heart as you held your baby.  You wondered what he must be feeling inside.  Is he confused by the outsider holding him?  Can the tears, pain, and torment from his birth family be felt in his heart?  Does he know the feeling you have when you hold him is empty, that you want to love him like you love your others, but the connection is only small? 

How foolish you were to think this whole adoption thing would be easy!  You thought that once you saw your baby, you would connect with him right away.  You thought that when he saw you, when he smelled you, when he heard in your voice how much you wanted to love him, he would know you were his mother.

You thought it would be easy for a newborn baby to leave his birth mother.

But it wasn’t.  He did not want to leave her.  You did not want him to leave her!

When you brought him in to say good-bye to his first family, he was content.  He was actually more satisfied than he had been in your arms the entire four days after his birth.  The blatant connection he had with his birth mother was humbling.  Cradled and caressed by his first mom, he peacefully dozed for the time being, completely comfortable in his new surroundings.  Things seemed back to normal for him.  He obviously thought you were a temporary inconvenience.  Her smell entranced him and as he awoke, he wanted to be fed.

It was then that things became rushed.  Good-byes became hurried.  Emotions ran high and feelings were tense.

As you packed up your new baby and walked out the hospital room, guilt crept its way in.  Instead of leaving with a sense of purpose and joy, you felt like you were taking someone’s most precious gift.  There was nothing whimsical or satisfying about taking your baby home from the hospital that day.  You were not rescuing this child from the trials of a bad life in exchange for a better one with you!  The love your baby’s birth family had for him was so very evident in their sorrow.

Feeling the extreme hurt of your new family, you wanted to rush back into their room and exclaim, “He’s yours!  He belongs with you!  You can do this; just have faith!”

But you didn’t.  You kept walking, looking down at the little bundle in his carrier.  He was patiently awake and quiet, despite the noise and despair you felt for him in your heart.

Things were more challenging than you had thought they would be at home.  As time went on, guilt turned into grief.  For months you mourned for your child the loss of his natural family; those that knew him like only a family could.  Sitting in his room, you would rock him tightly, tears streaming down your face.  Before they relinquished their parental rights, you would occasionally hope they would reconsider their choice and ask for his return.  You felt most undeserving of this gift.  You knew if they only tried to love him, they could!

The time they had to ask for him back grew shorter, however, and grief turned into anger.  Feelings of frustration and inadequacy as his mother were daunting as your baby began to struggle health-wise.  You felt like you were failing him; completely insufficient to navigate the trials of an unfamiliar human being.  You couldn’t help but feel that they were selfish to give him up to you, a person lacking a natural mother’s love and instinct.  It became increasingly hard for you to fathom why they gave their baby away, and you were deeply disappointed in their decision.

It wasn’t long, though, until your relationship with his birth family started to grow and you began to acknowledge the depth of their situation.  As it turns out, anger can bend to understanding if you try.  Understanding can remit to love.  You see, despite all the challenges you faced as you became a new adoptive parent, the easiest (and hardest) thing for you to do was love.  Going through the early stages of your adoption permitted you to feel for others in a way that you had never felt before.  It required you to love people that you didn’t know, and it forced you to accept a situation that you couldn’t change. You didn’t have to understand to love…

It is hard to look back on those early months of your adoption’s process and decipher the many emotions you felt as a new adoptive parent.  Often you find yourself embarrassed by your own insecurities, specifically that you ever doubted your ability to love or parent your child.  In your adoption, love did not come easy.  Love was wanted, worked for, and grasped as if it could somehow escape your heart once it landed there.  Some days it felt like love would never settle willingly.  Your heart was stubborn and reluctant; confused and unaccepting.

You don’t think much about your child being “adopted” anymore.  It is a relief to be comfortable with his being.  Should anyone be in doubt, you are clearly amazed by your son and luck!  You love your child indescribably, and as time has gone on, your love has only grown and developed inexplicably into a love that is only felt by a mother.  You can’t recall what it was like before your newest arrival came, and you are so thankful that he is here to stay!

You now know the hardest part of your adoption was the feelings that were unexpected.  They left you torn inside, and you couldn’t predict or remedy them yourself.  It’s been nearly three years since your baby came home from the hospital.  You no longer feel despair for your child and you do not misunderstand your birth family’s intentions.  You certainly realize that there is simply no way to determine what can possibly be happening in other people’s hearts.

And as it seems, your heart may have been the one that needed work!

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month!  If you or someone you know has a question(s) about a domestic, open, or special needs adoption, please feel free to contact us!

In Our Bellies

Pumpkin Sauce Pasta

Some of you may or may not know that…  I.  HATE.  COOKING.

Really.

I only do it since it is part of my job description and we are unable to hire out help right now.  <sarcasm>  I am also extremely conscientious as to what we eat here, so I really have no choice but to do it myself.  Therefore, I do a lot of experimenting in the kitchen…especially when I am out of ideas or need to get groceries.

Today was one of those days…

So with what I had in our cabinet, I pulled this newbie together rather quickly!

Pumpkin Sauce Pasta

Ingredients:

18 oz. red lentil pasta (measured dry)

16 oz. canned pumpkin

1 c. chicken broth

3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

5 oz. frozen spinach (about half of a 10 oz. bag)

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. dried onion

1/2 Tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. salt (we use pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt)

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Parmesan Cheese, as desired

Directions:

  1. Boil pasta in its own kettle.
  2. Saute butter and onion in a large saucepan.
  3. Once the onion softens, add to it cream, chicken broth, canned pumpkin, and spices.  On medium heat, stir until fully mixed.
  4. Add spinach to the sauce mixture.  Continue to stir until the spinach is no longer frozen and the sauce is simmering.
  5. Once noodles are soft, mix them together with the sauce mixture.
  6. To serve, top with Parmesan cheese as desired!

This recipe fed 2 adults and 4 children with leftovers for school lunch tomorrow!  :)

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ENJOY!

Note:  We strive to eat naturally.  To us, that means we eat locally, organically, and we avoid foods that are genetically-modified and/or processed whenever possible!  When prepared, recipes are modified as such.  Some of us here also eat gluten, soy, and dairy free (this recipe is NOT, however)!

For more information about our stainless steel dishes, please click here.

If you try this recipe, please offer your feedback!

Thanks for stopping by!