Monday, October 20, 2014

Fortified Pumpkin Muffins

Sometimes I want something with pumpkin flavor that is sweet - but don't want all the guilt of eating a traditional pumpkin dessert or pastry. That's when we make my fortified pumpkin muffins!

Years ago after getting Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious, I began to take extra effort to incorporate purees where I could and see if there were other things I could do to make something a little healthier for the entire family.

When October rolls around, one of the first pumpkin things I buy is the Krusteaz pumpkin bread mix at Costco. If I can keep it easy and not make it from scratch that's just what a busy mom's gotta do sometimes.

Here's how we adapt the Krusteaz pkg instructions to add a little bit of goodness to make these muffins even better...


1 pkg of Krusteaz pumpkin spice quick bread mix (has real pieces of pecan)
2 organic eggs
1/3 cup Nutiva coconut oil, melted OR 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3 TBSP of Nutiva organic hemp
a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice
60 Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels (so much better than that "other" brand)
about a tsp of Nutiva coconut oil to grease the muffin tin

Kitchen Tools:

Muffin tin pan
Medium mixing bowl
Small dish for cracking eggs
Ice cream scoop
Liquid measuring cup
Regular measuring cup


Turn oven to 400 degrees
Grease muffin tin with coconut oil. I use a sandwich baggie.
Mix the first 5 ingredients in the mixing bowl. When it is pumpkin season I use the pumpkin puree if I have it, otherwise I use Nutiva coconut oil in place of any vegetable oil that is called for in any baking recipe.
Scoop batter into muffin tin evenly to make 12 muffins.
Top each muffin with 5 dark chocolate morsels.
Put into the oven and bake 18-22 minutes

As soon as they come out my kids are grabbing for these! See how one is missing before I got a chance to take a photo?

I am happy to have learned that Nutiva has a whole line of super foods that I look forward to using to fortify more of our meals and snacks. We've been using their coconut oil for a number of years and I really had no idea all of the other products they make until they became a sponsor of Shift Con, an Eco-wellness blogger conference.

Do you have any tricks in your apron pocket to give foods a boost in health benefits?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting Ready for ShiftCon

Yesterday I woke up with a bit of an eye irritation and decided it was best to wear my glasses all day to give my eyes a rest from my contacts. My optometrist says as we get older our eyes do not produce as much moisture as they once did and contact wearers notice it even more as the eyes get dry.

Well, I was taking my daughter and her friends out for her birthday celebration and wanted to put in my contacts so I thought given I'd rested my eyes all  day from contacts I'd be good to go. Wrong.

When I took my contacts out last night my left eye was red. Like, really red. I woke up and checked my eye in the middle of the night - still red.

Great. I leave to a conference in two days and don't want to be a zombie-eyed blogger.

So, this morning the first thing I did after dropping the kids off at school was run to Sprouts Farmers Market and buy this:

I've probably bought 4 boxes of this good stuff over the last year and I'm still ahead in saving money compared to the expensive $90 prescription the optometrist wrote for me a year ago when this eye irritation got really bad. That on top of the fee for the visit! And it happened again 2 months later.... I had a bad habit of falling asleep with my contacts in which exacerbated the problem. After having two expensive eye doctor visits with medication, I decided to see if there were any holistic treatments or homeopathic remedies and sure enough one of my favorite brands, Boiron, creates something that not only gets the job done, but saves me money AND keeps crazy chemicals out of my body.

With Optique 1 I never have to worry about how many drops to use because there are sterile single use doses which means I can stick some in my purse and use when needed.... which is likely what I'll be doing for ShiftCon this weekend.

As it turns out Boiron will be at ShiftCon and I will have to give a big hug to their PR team for turning me onto their products a few years ago!

Looking forward to seeing many friends this weekend for the first conference of it's kind.

You can follow the conversation on twitter using #ShiftHappens

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fuck Addiction and Depression RIP Robin Williams


Photo Credit Creative Commons Flickr

When the news aired of Robin Williams apparent suicide this afternoon I clasped both hands to my cheeks. He warmed so many people's hearts. His movies carrying with them the most poignant messages:
Mrs Doubtfire was about fighting for your family.
Patch Adams about giving people dignity in death and not turning away those who couldn't pay for care and opening others eyes to your vision.
Aladdin was about seeing other's wishes come true.
Good Will Hunting - getting over ourselves and seeing the bigger picture

I could go on about 12 or 20 more movies. Robin had a way of connecting with a character and bringing that character fully to life.

He could bring a fictional character to life, yet in his own life he was having some kind of trouble figuring out how to fully enjoy and be at peace.

Any time a celebrity's death is linked to suicide and those common threads of addiction and depression are brought up, I am again a grieving child, desperate to understand the reasons my own father took his life. This time maybe a little more because it appears to be from asphyxia, and one report more clearly stated he hanged himself. My uncle hung himself when I was just 5 years old. He was my favorite of all my uncles. I didn't yet quite understand death, except that it brought about great sadness.... and that sadness burdened by the question of "why" seemed to make it a greater pain to overcome. I'll never understand someone feeling so numb or so alone that this is the only way they can escape their pain.... but I had a fear that I would when I went through postpartum depression. It freaked me the fuck out.

Often it is those who have incredible wit, incredible talent and such expansive minds that have the deepest depths of sorrow or loneliness to battle. I still don't know how we can tell that someone is making their last call for help indirectly. How we are supposed to recognize the signs that this one conversation is more than a mere conversation, but a cry for help or a long goodbye. If we are not trained professionals, how can we offer help in a way that is welcomed with gratitude, that is not making one feel shame for their suffering or putting a limelight on the debilitating disease. I don't have the answers to any of these. I find that I've been spared the burden of having someone close to me suffer from this because I still feel guilt for not recognizing my father's days were limited, that he had been broken to a point he saw no repair.

I'm finding it a bit ironic that his last role was in The Crazy Ones.... that term and the negative connotation that goes with it.

When will we have a better handle on addiction and depression? I wonder if Robin's death can help create more awareness for this.... especially with National Suicide Prevention Week coming up in September. There have been posts about his wife asking that we focus on his life and good works rather than his death.... for me, it is not only impossible, but irresponsible. It is one more way to say suicide needs to be swept under the run or there is something shameful in the depression one suffers that we need to dim the lights on it and instead only focus on the bright Hollywood lights. I just can't do that. Robin Williams would not want someone else to suffer the kind of anguish that brought him to his final breaths.... I have to believe that he'd be okay with being the poster boy for creating awareness around suicide prevention.

You made us laugh, Robin. You were loved and admired. You inspired. And you will be remembered.

 Photo credit Flickr Creative Commons 

Resources you can use:
It's Up to Us
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Active Minds  uses the hashtag #StigmaFighter to do exactly that, fight the stigma of mental illness

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 Things for Me - Week 1

This week's theme is "Finding my calm" and is inspired by Laura Crawford - you can read more about the concept here.

I'm rather liking this theme and while I'm late to join the party (you know since it's Wednesday already and I'm barely writing this!) it is one I couldn't pass up because I'm been feeling stressed lately.

So the 5 things I'm doing for me this week to find my calm are:

1. Skip doing the dishes for Monday and Tuesday. I don't usually skip the dishes two days in a row, but Mondays and Tuesdays are my busiest days and it took a load off to turn my back to the sink piled high and know they'll be there later. What kind of inspired this was last week I just got overly busy and my husband finally just did the dishes one night when I was out! Hmmm. Not a bad idea, right? So, this morning (Wednesday) I really couldn't let it go any further and did load up the dishwasher. There were still dishes in the sink. They'll be there for me tomorrow, I'm sure.

2. Facial. That was easy because I have 2 scheduled each month in my calendar. I highly recommend it! I followed this regiment all of last year and it has helped me to take better care of my skin. When you pass the age of 30 you begin worrying about these things more. I saw Karen at Firefly Wellness yesterday and she made my dry skin feel happy again!

3. Massage. Another one that was easy because Elements in Carmel Mountain Ranch called to remind me that I have two massages on the books to use. So, I went this morning and the while it was not one of those relaxing massages, it helped get a LOT of the tension out of my neck. I specifically requested for the focus to be just on my neck, shoulders and back for the full 55 minutes and it sure did help!

4. Start WALKING! This seems like such an easy thing, but ever since I said it out loud last Wednesday to my mastermind group, I've been still ignoring the early sunrise and trying to bury my head in my pillow. I want to get up and go for a 15 minute walk each day as part of my morning routine before the kids wake up. It is going to happen!

5. Get my green juice. I've been doing this each Saturday for the last couple of weeks. So while it is not new, I feel really good about what I'm putting in my body which helps my overall calm. Jamba Juice has a new menu of juice options - which makes this a breeze because I'm always fearful I'll waste all the produce and not follow through at home even though I have a Vitamix!

6. Totally adding one! You know since the first 3 were already accomplished it just seems like a good idea. Get back to my #Gratitude365 blog that has been neglected for an entire MONTH! I think there were days where I had a lot to write, and while that helped me continue to practice my writing and that in turn began to spark some other great content for my Sign4Baby business, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with it. I think I've continued to be mindful of having gratitude, but it is not the same while not writing everyday for that series.... so I'm getting back to it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Crushing On You Maggie Unzueta

My favorite recipe creator, Maggie Unzueta.

Every so often I head over to Maggie's profile to check out what her latest creation is. More often though I find her choosing to share the other awesome foodies of G+. She has been more of a giver than a taker, a true engager and continues the journey of learning. It is because of these attributes that I am eager to share her work with you.

Find her recipe books here.

Take a look at this recipe from "In Mama Maggies's Kitchen" for tonight's dinner: Steak Salad with low calorie Blue Cheese Dressing 

Add Maggie to your foodie circle and you will be very glad you did! She shares her favorite wines on Wine Wednesday, keeps up with all the exciting food and drink related events in San Diego and she will introduce you to more amazing foodies!

I just enjoy looking at her images when she shares a new recipe post. Her photos tell the story of her kitchen quite well.

H/T +Jason Frasca for the awesome image and helping create the fun concept where we pay it forward to one of our Google crushes. There's no rules, other than to have fun!

Here is my post on G+ highlighting Maggie.

#CrushingOnYou #payitforward

Saturday, March 1, 2014

#Gratitude365 Day 68

#Gratitude365 February 24 2014

Gratitude for car dancing moments - this one is inspired by one of my Google+ friends, Tracie VanBuren.

Every time I start a new session of classes I feel happy. I get a surge of new inspiration from meeting new people who are being exposed to baby sign language for the first time. Seeing the babies faces filled first with curiosity, then happiness because they begin to predict what it is I will do and that starts the chain reaction to their learning. Soon their faces are filled with understanding because they are effectively communicating. So of course I feel happy every time I begin a new series of classes!

After class today I stopped and got my coffee and while at the traffic light the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams came on the radio. Instantly I turned up the volume and started car dancing! I love car dancing, but I had never been inspired by this song to sing out loud and dance until today. It's all about our context. It was just the day before that I saw the Mastercard commercial where a preschool teacher is surprised by the artist Pharrell Williams when she turns on "Happy" for a class dance party. This teacher had such a beautiful way of being open, loving and having fun.... all the things that make up HAPPY! It was so joyful to see her reaction to Pharrell walking in and begin dancing! You really must see it:

 It was only after this YouTube video that was shared by Tracie VanBuren that I saw (or paid attention to?) the commercial where JT surprises his biggest fan for a priceless Mastercard moment. Personally, I like the Pharrell Williams YouTube video much better!

What songs make you break out in dance?

Friday, February 28, 2014

#Gratitude365 Day 67

#Gratitude365 February 23 2014

Hubby coming home! His hug. His laugh. His snore. It was only 4 days he was gone. But those things are always missed. I think we need to have opportunities to miss those we love most in order to fully get present to not to take any of it for granted. Maybe I'm coming to this conclusion based onthe circumstances of my husband's out of town trip. His grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in November. They are not sure how much longer he will be here to enjoy the people he loves most. I'm grateful that my husband had this opportunity to go out and have this visit with someone who is clearly important to him both as a child and now as  an adult.

When is the last time you were reunited with a loved one?