Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Recycled" Muffins

With 2 toddlers in the house (often picky eaters), we always seem to have some left-overs in the house, or fruit / veggies that are past their peak.  My favorite way to use up (or recycle!) left-overs is to make mini muffins!  Who doesn't love a little muffin?  The kids sure do gobble them up so it's a great way to get them to eat their veggies!!  This is also a good way to re-use those left-overs instead of throwing them away...

I have made several varieties of this recipe: zucchini-carrot-banana, pumpkin-apple-ginger spice, peas-carrots-green beans with cornmeal and today's special, carrots-banana-blueberry.  You can use any combo of veggies and fruits, just put them all in a food processor or blender (add a little juice or water if it's too dry).  No matter what you put in them, you can make them yummy with honey, vanilla and cinnamon or other spices like ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  I usually make these low-sugar for the kids so you can increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if you need the sweetness.

makes about 56 mini muffins

2 cups wheat or unbleached white flour
1/2 cup quick oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons honey (optional)
1 egg
3 cups blended, mashed or pureed vegetables & fruit (whole or mashed) (if the mixture is too thick or dry, you can add some fruit juice so it is more like the thickness of applesauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon (less if you don't love cinnamon) or any other spice you like

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Spray mini muffin pans or rub with olive oil (or you can use muffin paper cups)
3. Mix all ingredients with fork or mixer on low speed - just till blended
4. Fill muffins 2/3 full with batter
5. Bake 15-20 minutes until or toothpick comes out clean
6. Remove from oven a let cool about 5 mins. in pan
7. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack or wood cutting board
8. Store half in an air tight container.

These Freeze really well in an air tight container - let defrost on the counter over night

tip: If you don't have 3 cups of vegetables, you can add unsweetened apple sauce or mashed bananas; you can also add dried fruit like raisins to add some sweetness
substitution:  If you want corn-veggie muffins, use 1 cup flour and 1 1/2 cup of corn meal or one box of Jiffy Corn Bread mix (made in Michigan right down the road from my parents!)  I also make mini corn muffins with Jiffy mix + 1 can of creamed corn adding a couple TBSP of flour

Need a good mini-muffin pan? 
Click here to get a great one from

Happy baking!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top 5 Homeopathic / Natural Remedies

A week after both my kids recovered from a nasty viral infection, I thought I would share my top 5 homeopathic or more natural remedies that I have found over the past few years worked great.

#1 - for that cough that keeps everyone up all night, I really like Hyland's Cough Syrup with Honey.  I have been using it since my first child was about 12 months old, as recommended by our pediatrician.  It is safer than traditional cough medicine for young children (and yes, it is OK to give them honey if your ped. approves) and I like the fact that it contains no sugar or alcohol.  My kids like the taste, too!  You can find it at Whole Foods, many chain drugstores, but the best price can be found at - buy it in packages of 3!  It is a good idea to always have this handy!

Cold 'N Cough 4 Kids, 4 oz ( Multi-Pack)#2 - for multi-symptom relief (ages 2+), we have been using Hylands Cold N Cough 4 Kids with good success.  It does a great job of relieving the coughing, sneezing, stuffiness even at night.  I like it because it is sugar-free and contains no Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Pseudoephedrine or Dextromethorphan so there are no side effects.  This is another item I try to have stocked up...  With a kid in preschool, it seems the colds come often!

#3 - for teething babies, we would not live without Hyland's Teething Gel!  Teething is no fun for baby (or parents!) but rubbing this gel on the gums really calms baby quickly.  Both my kids loved the flavor so much that they would grab for the tube and want to hold it too!  Since teething takes forever, make sure you have several tubes (one in each diaper bag/purse/stroller...)  I buy these in bulk!  Want to save an extra 15%?  Buy these through Amazon's Subscribe and Save program and have it automatically delivered every 1,2,3, or 6 months!

Boiron Arnicare Ointment, 1-Ounce Packages (Pack of 3)#4 - for all the bumps, bruises and boo boos, I have come to love Boiron Arnicare Ointment.  It helps to relieve pain as well as stiffness from sore muscles and will help to reduce the color/size of bruises.  I use it for the constant boo-boos that toddlers seem to get and it tends to calm them down a little.  But I often have a stiff neck / shoulders from carrying a backpack, kids and gear and use it myself!  I like the fact that it does not have a heavy menthol smell, in fact, it smells good! Psst...this is also on Amazon's Subscribe and Save program so save another 15% when you buy a 3-pack!

#5 - keep germs at bay...hand sanitizers have gotten a lot more popular lately but I really hate that alcohol smell on my hands and I certainly don't like it on my kids hands (that go right into their mouths!).  I have found a great hand sanitizer that is natural, alcohol-free and comes in a handy little spray bottle!  Cleanwell All-Natural Hand Sanitizer is a great product and smells nice - a little woodsy but not strong at all!  I love the little 1-oz spray bottles and have one in each bag (including my own) and stroller.  These I found at Whole Foods, Rite-aid and  Again - make sure to always have these at hand, especially on the playground, at the park or when food shopping (they like to touch everything!)

I have many more products I have tried or found online - many can be found in my Amazon Store so check them out!
Be well!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Coffee good enough for you and the Planet!

I love coffee! But I love really GOOD coffee...and I found a great coffee bean that is not only excellent tasting, but also environmentally friendly! Caffe Appassionato Organic Shade Grown Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee is by far my favorite coffee - I found it on while searching for items in their "subscribe and save" program. I have been buying organic, fair-trade and shade-grown coffee beans for a while, but wanted to find something a little less expensive - I buy a lot on, usually in small-bulk packages, to save money. When I found Caffe Appassionato, I thought I'd try it since it was only about $20 for 3 - 12oz bags. I have a basic expresso/cappuccino maker and a good bean grinder and made this coffee one morning and was very impressed! These beans produce a very rich, dark and smooth expresso with a strong but not too bitter taste. This coffee really wakes me up in the morning! I love it much more than the expensive top-chain coffee houses and I know that it is also Fair traded, certified organic by OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association International) and shade grown to protect migratory bird populations.

Why are shade grown coffee beans better for the environment? Well, we all know how popular coffee is to drink, but the beans are mostly grown in tropical, rainforest locations with sensitive eco-habitats. Some newer varieties of coffee require direct sunlight (and chemicals) to grow to optimum production levels, thus requiring trees and other vegetation to be removed from plantations, destroying the natural habitats. But the traditional varieties of coffee plants actually require the canopy of trees to filter sunlight. Since about 1996, the destruction of natural habitats, primarily of migratory birds, has sparked the movement towards going back to shade grown coffee plantations and more sustainable practices. Thankfully, companies such as Caffe Appassionato take pride in providing high quality, sustainably produced, organic coffee and the trend is growing.
To get this coffee at a better price than I have seen anywhere, go to - and don't forget to sign up for subscribe and save to save an additional 15%!

For this and many other great eco-friendly products, check out my Store