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I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

I Never Thought It Would End Like This

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Wow!

Sometimes that’s all I can say. Wow!

When I look back on this past year I’m completely amazed and astounded.

I started the year feeling very uncertain. About the only thing that was certain was that God had some big changes in store. I didn’t know what or when or how. I just knew something was coming. And that God’s only requirement of me was that I be fearless and follow his leading (I wrote about it in my New Year’s goals last year!).

So I did.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Personal Development.

Here we are at the end of 2016. And what a year God had planned for us! I never thought it would end like this. Here’s a look back.

In February I started working as a virtual assistant for Kitchen Stewardship. It has been a great experience, and I have learned so much!

In March I self-published my very first book! Even in the midst of daily feeding struggles with my youngest God gave me the energy and insight to put our story and experience to paper. I love using it to help others.

You can check out my book “Why Won’t My Child Eat?!” here.

The House Hunt Begins.

We also put an offer on a house in March. But after inspections we backed out. Back to the drawing board.

In April we put an offer on another house. We were outbid. A few days later we put an offer on yet another house. This time things went smoothly. We just had to wait for closing.

After a couple months of waiting we finally got a closing date…only to be informed that the sellers had backed out. With our basement filling with boxes we were back to square one again.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Homeschooling!!

The summer brought some pretty big changes as well. We decided to take a leap of faith and start homeschooling our oldest. God laid it on our hearts that it is what she needs. We kicked off the school year mid-August and have loved it!  She also started working with a functional neurologist during the summer.

We put a bid on a fourth house in August. But our offer was declined.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

The Farm.

In early September we finally found the dream house God had planned for us (did you know  you can try as you may to be in control but God’s plans and timing always win?). Our offer was accepted right away, and the whole process went smoothly.

Bye Bye Allergies?

In September we also received a huge surprise when after 6 months of carrying around an epi-pen and months and months of stomach aches all of my son’s allergy tests turned up negative. Not a single reaction! Since then the stomach aches have vanished, and we have slowly been introducing more and more foods. And so far he is tolerating all of them! Even foods he has had to avoid for years.

Not to be outdone, my toddler has been adding foods to her diet as well!! It’s a slower process for her. But we are so thankful for an expanded diet, including dairy in small amounts! She is now sleeping well, eating well and growing well. God is so good.

For me the new foods mean I can cook one meal for the entire family again a lot of the time. What a blessing.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Crazy Christmas.

The year may have started with uncertainty and a large amount of faith. But it is ending with gratitude and joy beyond measure.

December 10 we moved into our dream farm in a snow storm. It certainly is not the ideal time of year to move. And the weather was not in our favor. We are so thankful friends and family live near by to help us!

The following Monday I started homeschooling my son.

A week later we had all of my husband’s family here for Christmas. Then we celebrated as a family and with my extended family.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Gratitude.

When I think about it all that comes to mind is I never thought it would end like this. This year has been filled with ups and downs. But we are ending the year so grateful and full of joy.

I’m rounding out the year with Christmas baking with my kids. We were just a *tiny bit* busy before Christmas unpacking. It has been so nice to finally have a week to relax and reflect on the year coming to a close.

We’ve loved using some new gadgets like the set of knives my daughter got for Christmas. And the cool Silpat and Levoon measuring spoons I received in conjunction with Stonyfield. All three of my kids had to take turns trying the measuring spoons with a little leveler built right in!

Giving.

I’m also ending the year with thoughts of giving. I have been so richly blessed this year. I was given the opportunity from Stonyfield Yogurt to Pay It Forward to someone in need.

My husband and I decided to add to the Stonyfield gift card so we could buy a farm for someone else!

As a family we decided to purchase a farm team through WorldRenew. It includes a goat, a duck, a sheep, a chicken, a pig and a calf. We pray this will give hope and a brighter future to a family in need.

Something For You.

There are two more great things I don’t want you to miss as you end the year.

  1. Starting today the Kids Cook Real Food course is available again! Try it first with the knife skills lessons. If your kids are anything like mine they’ll be hooked!

Grab your knife skills videos here!

2. Today and tomorrow only the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is back!! If you are interested in getting your health back on track in the new year this is the way to do it. So many resources all in one place. Plus tons of physical bonuses too.

Grab your UHLB here!

As an extra bonus you’ll be able to snag another bundle about essential oils! Check it out.

Finally, I leave you with some pictures from the farm and our first Christmas here.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

What’s Next?

I don’t know what God has planned for us next year. But I do know I will start it fearlessly!! Following God’s plans brings blessings beyond measure.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

I hope you take the time to reflect on your year and all you have to be thankful for. I never thought it would end like this. But I’m so glad it did.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It's so easy to make your kids can do it!

The Christmas Breakfast You Need – Candy Cane Smoothie Bowl

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It’s so easy to make your kids can do it!

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It's so easy to make your kids can do it!

I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas from my childhood. We’d go to church for a candle light service on Christmas Eve. When it was time for presents my three siblings and I would sit in a line, and my dad would hand them out one at a time. There was so much joy and excitement.

Then we would visit out-of-town extended family. It was great to see grandparents and cousins that we didn’t get to see very often.

Of course after all of the celebrations were done it was time to play! We played with our new toys and spent hours outside building snow forts. That’s what Christmas break is all about, right?

Then I Grew Up…

Now I’m a parent…and I still love Christmas. But it doesn’t quite bring the same joy and excitement as it did when I was a child. I dwell on all of the stuff on my to-do list. The packing, traveling, buying, wrapping, cooking, baking, cleaning and hosting. It’s more crazy than calming. More stressful than joyful.

So by the time all of the chaos is over I’m just plain worn out. I don’t have the energy to prepare a fancy breakfast for my family.

Enjoy your holidays AND serve a healthy breakfast with this nutritious candy cane smoothie bowl. It's so easy to make your kids can do it!

My Solution?

This super simple candy cane smoothie bowl!

IT’S LOADED WITH NUTRIENTS BUT REQUIRES VERY LITTLE EFFORT…ISN’T THAT WHAT WE ARE ALL LOOKING FOR?

A candy cane smoothie bowl is festive and fun. It is so easy to make I actually let my kids do most of the prep work! The older kids practice their detailed cutting skills they learned in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. The younger ones pick out pomegranate seeds.

All of the preparation can be done the day before (great afternoon project for bored kids!!). Even the smoothie ingredients can go right in the blender and be ready for morning.

Head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’m sharing the recipe. Christmas breakfast planning done!

Get the recipe here!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

This week's real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

Real Food Meal Plan Week Of 12/18/16

This week’s real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

This week's real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

It’s crazy that we’ve been living on the farm for a week now! I really thought I’d be more emotional/sentimental about the old house. But this already feels like home (aside from not knowing where half of my stuff is). I guess it helps that I LOVE our new house.

Motivation To Move.

We’ve been on the fast track to get things unpacked because we have lots of family coming to stay with us this week! We still have a lot to go, but we’re settled enough to have a functional house.

So far life on the farm is…COLD! We’re realizing that none of us has proper clothing for living out in the country when wind chills are below zero and the wind doesn’t stop howling. I think there may be some after Christmas sales clothes shopping coming.

I also think our new house is magical. My toddler has slept through the night AND not gotten up early five days in a row now. It’s a true miracle. I know my body sure is loving the great sleep!

In The Kitchen.

I’ll be in the kitchen a lot preparing meals for everyone for a few days. But no extra projects planned right now. Though my kids might convince me otherwise since we will be celebrating Christmas as a family later in the week.  I like to do something special for breakfast when we open presents.

These scotcheroos come together in about ten minutes, using real, allergen friendly ingredients. A simple, delicious dessert with no baking required!

I did make a special treat last week – my updated and allergy friendly scotcheroos!! You must try them. The kids had fun helping me. I had so much fun experimenting with photography at the new house. So much good lighting!! Now I want to make all sorts of stuff to photograph. Any suggestions?

Head’s Up!

There are a couple really cool things coming up I don’t want you to miss:

The Kids Cook Real Food ecourse will be open at the end of the month!! Sign up here to be notified so you don’t miss out.

Did you miss the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle the first time around? It will be back for just two days – December 28 and 29! This is about as good as it gets when it comes to a wealth of knowledge on natural living all in one place…and for a super cheap price. Totally worth every penny. Check it out here!

Here is our real food meal plan for the week. We’ll be eating well with two Christmas celebrations! What’s on your menu?

This week's real food meal plan and agenda focus on celebrating Christmas with family and continuing the unpacking process.

ROTATION: Each day starts with dinner and goes through lunch the next day. Foods in () are things yet to be tried.

Sunday 4
B – toast with sunbutter, pear slices | avocado, pork chops
L – crockpot beef roast, roasted potatoes, carrots
D – grilled cheese, tomato soup
prep: bake banana bread
notes: 

Monday 1
B – yogurt, granola bar, fruit
D – crockpot beef vegetable soup, banana bread, crackers with cheese
prep: soak oats for baked oatmeal, boil eggs, make veggie dip, chop fruit
notes: prep ahead dinner

Tuesday 2
B – cereal, fruit | leftover soup, bread
L – egg casserole, baked oatmeal, breakfast cake, roasted cabbage, green beans, fresh fruit
D – pork roast (homemade ham), roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, peas, scalloped potatoes or potato casserole, fruit salad, rolls
prep: bake oatmeal, bake breakfast cake, make jello, make fruit salad
notes: guests

Wednesday 3
B – make-your-own parfait buffet, fruit, muffins, hard boiled eggs
L – ham on buns, split pea soup, raw veggies with dip, finger jello
D – baked chicken, broccoli, squash, applesauce, seasoned rice
prep: roast squash
notes: guests

Thursday 4
B – toast with sunbutter, cereal, hard boiled eggs, fruit, muffins
D – sloppy cornbread, peas, jello
prep: 
notes: guests

Friday 1
B – french toast with homemade powdered sugar, fruit, fried eggs
D – salmon cakes, roasted carrots, french fries
prep: make mayo
notes: Family Christmas

Saturday 2
B – french toast, fruit
D – leftovers
prep: 
notes:

Day 1: squash, cabbage, banana, strawberry (pineapple)
Day 1: squash, cabbage, banana, carrot, tapioca, strawberry (cassava)
Day 2: corn, grapes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado, raspberry (amaranth, tomato, orange)
Day 2: grapes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado, amaranth, raspberry, orange
Day 3: teff, eggplant, zucchini, blueberries, asparagus, spinach, sunbutter, peach (kiwi, quinoa)
Day 3: teff, eggplant, zucchini, blueberries, asparagus, spinach, sunbutter, peach, sorghum, quinoa, beans
Day 4: pumpkin, lettuce, cherries, split peas, rice, egg, olives, dairy (millet)
Day 4: pumpkin, lettuce, cucumber, cherries, olives, peppers, onion, coconut, millet, egg, peas, dairy

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

Divine Chocolate Cake

When it comes to Valentine’s Day nothing beats chocolate. Get your fix with this divine chocolate cake that can be mixed by hand and made gluten free!

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

I am working with Stonyfield and Divine Chocolate for this post. I have been compensated for my time commitment. But the opinions and ideas are my own. I have not been paid to post positive reviews.

Stop what you’re doing and run to the kitchen.

Wait, read this post first. Then run to the kitchen to make this divine chocolate cake. Trust me, your family will be singing your praises.

Chocolate always wins.

When it comes to sweets I always pick chocolate anything. Especially for Valentine’s Day. So naturally I like to make chocolate treats for my family.

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

This year I was challenged to create something with Stonyfield yogurt and Divine Chocolate.

My first thought…eat a dish of yogurt with big chunks of chocolate in it. That’s my idea of great treat!!

But that isn’t much of a recipe.

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

My creation.

Instead I created a chocolate cake that uses melted chocolate for flavor and whole milk yogurt for moisture. I don’t go overboard with sugar either. The end result is a light chocolate cake that you’ll go crazy for.

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

I made two versions. One gluten free for my kids and one with wheat for my husband. Both cakes were so delicious! If my husband approves of a gluten free cake you know it has to be good.

My daughter even shared some with a friend at school (who is not gluten free) who raved about it.

For the gluten free cake I used my favorite gluten free flour mix. It worked perfectly!

Time to decorate.

But you can’t have cake without frosting! So I added a light chocolate buttercream and shavings of dark chocolate. Yep, I had some pretty happy kids.

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

The great thing about Divine Chocolates is that there are quite a few flavors. So you could change up the flavor of the cake. Simply shave flavored chocolate on top or add it right to the cake batter. The mint or raspberry would be amazing!

Are you looking for an easy and delicious dessert for your family?

This Valentine’s Day give your loved ones a special treat by creating your own divine chocolate cake using Stonyfield yogurt and Divine Chocolate. Everyone will feel the love!

Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

Divine Chocolate Cake
Serves 12
A light, moist chocolate cake made with dark chocolate and yogurt.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chocolate of choice (see notes)
  2. 1/4 cup butter
  3. 1 Tbsp. carob powder (optional)
  4. 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder (optional)
  5. 1 cup organic cane sugar
  6. 2 cups AP flour or gluten free flour mix (see post for link)
  7. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1/2 tsp. salt
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 tsp. vanilla
  11. 1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350*F. Grease and line with parchment paper two 8" or 9" round cake pans.
  2. Melt the chocolate, butter, carob powder and cocoa powder in double boiler. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla and yogurt. Stir until combined.
  5. Add the melted chocolate. Stir until well mixed. The batter will be thick.
  6. Divide the batter into the prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes.
  8. Allow cake to cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  9. Frost and serve.
Notes
  1. For chocolate you can use any flavor of Divine chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 Divine Chocolate Cake | Just Take A Bite

Light Chocolate Buttercream
A simple, light chocolate buttercream.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup butter at room temperature
  2. 1/3 cup organic palm shortening (or more butter)
  3. 1 cup organic powdered cane sugar
  4. 1 -2 Tbsp. organic cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl until well mixed and fluffy.
Notes
  1. To make powdered sugar simply blend organic cane sugar in a high powered blender until powdered.
  2. This makes enough to fill and top a two layer cake. Double the recipe if you also want to frost the sides.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites

This Valentine’s Day get your kids in the kitchen to whip up a special treat. These two ingredient allergen friendly Nestle Crunch® bites are easy to make and fun to eat!

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

I’m a sucker for just about anything chocolate. Especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

Allergies and chocolate do mesh.

Having kids with allergies and food sensitivities has actually increased my love of chocolate.

That may sound strange. But we pretty much avoid all fruity candy. My kids don’t eat anything with food coloring (can you say crazy pills?!). Plus my son is allergic to corn (corn syrup, cornstarch, etc.).

So when it comes to treats we stick to chocolate. Even with dairy allergies we all love the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are great plain or in a cookie. But they are even more fun when melted and turned into a delicious candy.

We’ve made chocolate covered toffee and salted honey chocolates (my personal favorite!).

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

A family favorite.

But hands down my kids love these Nestle Crunch® Bites the best. And they really couldn’t be any simpler to make.

  1. Melt chocolate.
  2. Add coconut.
  3. Pour in molds.

Yes, they are that easy. Yes, they are grain, dairy, nut, soy, rice, egg and corn free.

The little bits of unsweetened coconut give the slightest crunch that tastes just like the crisp rice of Nestle Crunch® bars.

So much fun.

Let your kids choose some fun molds and create a special treat you can feel good about.

Package them up as gifts for friends or family. And don’t forget your spouse! Everyone will want some.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

This Valentine’s Day skip the expensive boxed chocolates filled with artificial colors and flavors. Show your friends and family how much you love them with homemade Nestle Crunch® Bites.

Just two simple ingredients. No common allergens. Five minutes of hands on time. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever made homemade chocolates? Did you know they could be this easy?

Give two ingredient allergen friendly Nestle Crunch® bites a try. You might get some extra love in return.

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch Bites | Just Take A Bite

Two Ingredient Allergen Friendly Nestle Crunch® Bites
Yields 30
A simple allergen friendly chocolate that is grain, nut, dairy, rice, corn, soy and egg free.
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks (semi-sweet) or Dark Chocolate Morsels
  2. 2 - 3 Tbsp. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or glass bowl over a saucepan with about an inch of water).
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add the coconut and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the chocolate into molds.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Unmold.
  7. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway!

Take one simple step towards better health this year by updating your health and beauty routine. I’m so excited to share my Cheshire Fields review and giveaway of some amazing products!

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

I am working with Cheshire Fields to blog about these products. I have been compensated for my time commitment to review these products. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Just about everyone is on the lookout for simple ways to improve their health. Especially as the new year starts.

I’m not big on diets or spending a lot of money to feel good. I don’t know about you but I also don’t have a lot of extra time to learn to make my own health and beauty products.

But I do love when there are affordable, homemade, high quality products that are in line with my views on health.

I recently got to sample some products from my friend Michelle at Cheshire Fields. She has an assortment of handmade soaps, shampoos, balms, sprays and more that are 100% natural (and I really mean that…not just labeled organic or using the term natural without much meaning behind it).

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to natural health and beauty most people jump to coconut oil. It is amazing stuff.

But since I have a toddler with a coconut allergy I try to keep our house pretty much coconut free. That means just about every soap, lotion and shampoo is out.

I was thrilled to find out that Michelle has many products that are not only coconut free but also dairy and nut free! Natural products that are safe for my family. I didn’t think they existed!

Tallow Balm

The first product I tried as soon as it arrived was the tallow balm.

I haven’t been able to use lotion in over a year! A year!! Can you say dry skin?

I was thrilled to try the tallow balm and was not disappointed. Just a tiny bit goes a long way and creates soft, smooth skin. Plus it smells so good with all of the essential oils added.

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

I love that it is safe to use on my entire family, even my kids with allergies. It also comes in a compact case that is easy to take wherever you go. We brought it along for all of our holiday travel.

My oldest likes to use it on her hands at bed time and wear socks on her hands (thanks to Michelle’s suggestion!). By morning she has super soft skin again instead of dry, cracked hands.

Sinus Balm

The sinus balm was a Christmas present for my seven year old. That might sound strange to some. But she has struggled with environmental allergies and mouth breathing for years.

Having another natural tool for helping her breathe better at night is a huge blessing.

It is also made with olive oil and is very safe. The scent is pretty strong. But that is how it works.

My son had a stuffy nose the other day and told us he had to breathe with his mouth open. We put some behind his ears and on his neck. He didn’t wake up once in the night!

Disinfectant & Freshener Spray

With young kids in school I don’t have to tell you how excited I am to have a safe disinfectant spray! It is so easy to use. Just shake and spray.

It makes my house smell wonderful (thieves will do that). Plus I can freshen things in a matter of seconds.

No need to use chemicals to clean your house. This spray can be used directly on surfaces to get rid of the germs.

I was so glad to have it around after my daughter had the flu. It has also come in very handy for the potty seat that sits in our bathroom. It is almost impossible to keep that clean and free of bad smells. The freshener spray worked wonderfully.

Tea Tree + Lavender Freshener

The tea tree + lavender spray is one of Michelle’s new products. It is similar to the disinfectant spray, but with different oils.

I can’t decide which one I like better. The tea tree and lavender combination is very floral and leaves the whole house smelling bright and fresh. I will be using both all winter long!

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Itch Relief Remedy

When you have a child with eczema there is a never ending search for products to help calm the itching. So I was very excited to get to try this.

It comes as a powder that you can make into a paste. It has a very mild scent and soothing ingredients. Just a pinch goes a long way so this will last a long time.

Chamomile Lavender Dry Shampoo

I wash my hair every day. Otherwise my hair gets so oily. It is fine and thin.

When Michelle told me about her dry shampoo I was so excited. I can actually get by without washing my hair once in a while with this product. Simply rub it into the scalp to absorb oil. Plus it smells amazing!

For those mornings where my little one just doesn’t want to sleep and let me take a shower this dry shampoo is a life saver! I can leave the house without feeling like I look unshowered. It is even great for days that I wear my hair down. By afternoon it already looks greasy. Just a bit of dry shampoo and I’m looking good again and smelling good too!

The chamomile lavender is great for light colored hair like mine. There is another one specifically for dark hair.

I was so impressed with all of these Cheshire Fields products. I even bought a bunch for Christmas presents for the women in my family! But you don’t have to wait until Christmas. They make great gifts any time of year.

Plus this is just a small sample of all of the great products Michelle has to offer. She is so passionate about sharing homemade, natural products.

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Michelle has generously offered to give away a hair care bundle to one of my lovely readers. It includes:

  • Henna Shampoo Bar
  • Hair Oil
  • Dry Shampoo (you choose light or dark)

I don’t know about you, but I could use some serious hair pampering this year!

Can’t wait to see if you’re the winner? Head over to Cheshire Fields right now and use the code MYNEWYEAR to get 10% off your whole order all month long!

I hope you check out all of the Cheshire Fields products. Come back and let me know what looks good or what you’ve tried.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

The Best Christmas Gift

I was challenged by Stonyfield to write about the best Christmas gift I ever received. After thirty five celebrations it’s hard to settle on just one! Mine comes in a small package.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to gifts the most significant ones for me always seem to revolve around babies.

Lately I hear a song on the radio a lot called “A Baby Changes Everything.” Every time I hear it I pause and reflect.

The most important birth was that of Christ Jesus. Long ago in a stable in Bethlehem. That baby sure changed everything! What an amazing gift that God sent to us. He is the reason I am even writing this post. There is no Christmas without the birth of our savior.

I received another “baby” when I was five years old. It was a birthday present. My first Cabbage Patch Kid. It was all I wanted.

Every store was selling out as soon as the dolls arrived. Finally one day just before my birthday a store nearby got a few. My mom called to ask…there were ten in stock.

By the time we got there only five were left!

It took me all of ten seconds to choose the one I wanted. She had a little tuft of blonde hair and a pacifier. She was mine. I named her Caroline Rebecca. I never wanted to let her go.

From that moment on I knew (even at five years old) that all I really wanted to do when I got older was be a mom.

I took her with me wherever I went. I played with dolls any chance I got. I pretended to nurse her, feed her, change her. She was my world.

Fast forward about twenty years. Happily married. Ready to start a family and have the children I have been wanting for so many years.

But it would not be that easy. In 2006 we started our long, lonely walk through the world of infertility.  The one thing I had dreamed about since I was five years old seemed like just that, a dream. I didn’t know if it would become a reality.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

But in 2007 God gave us our first miraculous gift after various fertility treatments.

I found out I was pregnant in August and my daughter was born in April of 2008.

We started the journey again in 2009. After five emotionally and physically draining rounds of IVF we found out in September of 2010 that I was pregnant. My son was born in May of 2011.

Two precious gifts.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Yet I knew my family was not complete. I had dreamed since I was five years old of having a big family. I always wanted four children.

In 2013 we did our last round of IVF. Unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage. My dreams were crushed.

But after 6 months of hard work, a lot of physical challenges and healing and days and nights of prayer we got our best Christmas gift.

In December of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. We got to share the good news with our children and extended family as a special Christmas surprise. My oldest was the first to find out. Her reaction at only five years old was priceless (as you can see in the photo at the top).

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

In August of 2014 my daughter was born. She has changed my life in so many ways. She has brought me down a path of healing. A baby was the only motivation strong enough to get healthy. She has taught me what it means to truly sacrifice as I have had to give up a lot to keep her nourished and thriving over the last sixteen months – food, time with friends, outings with my family, travel. None of it was as important as taking care of my little miracle.

She has taught me about contentment and true joy.

Johanna means “God is Gracious.” He is indeed. And she reminds me every time I get her out of her crib and she gives me a big hug, every time she runs over, hops in my lap and snuggles, every time she comes up behind me and gives me kisses on my back, every time she laughs so hard she almost falls over.

A baby really does change everything. A baby (all of them) has been the best Christmas gift I ever received.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Whether or not there are any more precious gifts in my future I don’t know. Whether or not my childhood dream of a large family is part of God’s plan I don’t know. That is in God’s hands. His plans and his timing are perfect. I just know that the miracles He has entrusted to me so far have truly changed my life.

It is said that good things come in small packages. I wholeheartedly agree. From a tiny little baby in Bethlehem to the precious little ones sleeping upstairs as I write this. God has been gracious and changed my life through the miracle of a baby. It is the by far the best Christmas gift ever.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits

Looking for a way to get your winter dessert fix without reaching for ice cream? Turn breakfast into a special treat with these Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits!

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

I have fond memories of eating lots of Neapolitan ice cream and spumoni ice cream growing up.

Of course I was like most kids and really just wanted the chocolate! Who doesn’t want chocolate?

A modern version.

I have recreated these classic flavor combinations in a healthy breakfast treat. Did I mention they are super easy to make too?

Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits use plain, whole milk yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, organic cocoa powder and pistachio nuts. You get the flavors you love without any high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors of food dyes.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Kid friendly breakfast.

My kids went crazy over these parfaits! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them eat  yogurt that quickly. I can’t blame them. What’s not to love about vanilla and chocolate yogurt combined with sweet strawberries?

Kids can help prepare Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits. It only requires pouring and mixing. They love the assembly part too.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Great for special occasions.

I love how festive these parfaits look. Hosting guests for the holidays? Prepare the parfaits the night before. Then wow your guests with a special treat in the morning. Wine glasses make fancy serving dishes.

You could even use these as a special Valentine’s Day dessert.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

This winter spruce up Saturday morning breakfast with a classic dessert flavor. Try both parfaits and see which one you like best. Or combine them to make a four layer parfait that includes chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and pistachio.

Are you ready to try something new for breakfast (or dessert!)?

Neapolitan and spumoni parfaits are simple and nutritious. Plus they are packed with flavor.

Looking for an actual dessert that captures the Neapolitan flavor? Try my grain and dairy free Neapolitan ice cream cake.

Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Neapolitan Parfait
Serves 1
A yogurt parfait with the classic Neapolitan flavor of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
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Vanilla layer
  1. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  2. 1 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
  3. optional: 1/2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
Chocolate layer
  1. 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  2. 2 tsp. organic cocoa powder
  3. 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  4. optional: 2 tsp. mini chocolate chips
Strawberry layer
  1. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine the vanilla layer ingredients. Let sit 1 minute.
  2. In a small bowl combine the chocolate layer ingredients. Let sit 1 minute.
  3. Layer the vanilla yogurt, chocolate yogurt, chocolate chips and strawberries in a serving dish.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Notes
  1. The cocoa powder and maple syrup can be replaced with 1 Tbsp. homemade chocolate sauce.
  2. If using frozen strawberries allow them to thaw for a few minutes before serving.
  3. The cocoa powder can be replaced with carob powder.
  4. Coconut yogurt can be used in place of the whole milk yogurt.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 Neapolitan and Spumoni Parfaits | Just Take A Bite

Spumoni Parfait
Serves 1
A breakfast parfait with the classic spumoni flavor of chocolate, strawberry and pistachio.
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Chocolate layer
  1. 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  2. 4 tsp. organic cocoa powder
  3. 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  4. optional: 3 tsp. mini chocolate chips
Strawberry layer
  1. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
Pistachio layer
  1. 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine the chocolate layer ingredients. Let sit 1 minute.
  2. Layer the chocolate yogurt, chocolate chips, strawberries and pistachios in a serving dish.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Notes
  1. The cocoa powder and maple syrup can be replaced with 1 Tbsp. homemade chocolate sauce.
  2. If using frozen strawberries allow them to thaw for a few minutes before serving.
  3. The cocoa powder can be replaced with carob powder.
  4. Coconut yogurt can be used in place of the whole milk yogurt.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
 In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Easy Coconut Snowballs | Just Take A Bite

Easy Coconut Snowballs

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Even if there is no snow outside you can have a white Christmas inside with these little coconut snowballs. Just four ingredients create a fun, healthy treat.

Easy Coconut Snowballs | Just Take A Bite

If you’re looking for a last minute holiday treat that you can make in minutes I’ve got you covered!

These coconut snowballs only have four ingredients. And they taste like peppermint.

So easy!

All it takes is about five minutes of mixing, melting and pouring. Then form the mixture into balls once it has cooled.

Easy Coconut Snowballs | Just Take A Bite

I like to add these to my kids’ lunches. I make sure they are getting healthy fat. They love having a little treat with their meal.

Coconut snowballs would also make great finger food for a holiday party. Set a tray out for guests and watch them disappear!

Easy Coconut Snowballs | Just Take A Bite

You can use cane sugar or powdered cane sugar (simply blend cane sugar in a high speed blender until powdered) to make coconut snowballs. The flavor is the same. Using powdered sugar creates a smoother texture.

Easy Coconut Snowballs | Just Take A Bite

Let it snow.

Somehow we don’t have snow yet in Michigan this year! I’m not sure if we’ll end up with a white Christmas. But we can make it white with our own snow!

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

Get in the kitchen and create a little snowstorm with the kids. Everyone will have fun and stay warm.

Easy Coconut Snowballs | Just Take A Bite

Easy Coconut Snowballs
Yields 9
A minty coconut snowball that makes a great treat or any time snack.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 Tbsp. organic cane sugar OR powdered cane sugar
  2. 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  3. 3 Tbsp. coconut oil
  4. 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Instructions
  1. Combine the sugar, coconut and oil in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and oil are melted.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add peppermint extract.
  5. Pour into a small glass dish.
  6. Refrigerate until solid, but not hard (1-2 hours)
  7. Scoop into tsp. size balls.
  8. Store in the refrigerator.
  9. Serve cold or room temperature.
Notes
  1. You can add a tsp. of cocoa powder to the mix to make dirty snowballs.
  2. You can dip the chilled snowballs into melted chocolate.
  3. If your mixture is too hard to scoop simply leave it out to come to room temperature.
  4. You can make your own powdered sugar by blending cane sugar in a high powered blender until fine.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa | Just Take A Bite

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa

Are you looking for the perfect teacher gift? I’ve got you covered! My daughter created Rebecca’s light and dark hot cocoa to give as gifts. Everyone that tries it is blown away by the flavor. You will be too!

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa | Just Take A Bite

I remember the first year my oldest was in Kindermusik. She wasn’t even two yet.

We were finally at the point of venturing out of the house without having to worry about nursing schedules. And I wanted the chance to talk to another human being with a little more to talk about than dolls and dancing.

Class started in the fall and ended just before Christmas. That was fun, I thought. Then the last day rolled around…and everyone started handing gifts to the teacher.

Learning how to give.

Wait a minute.

We’re supposed to give a Christmas gift to every teacher/leader our children have? I guess I missed that part in the parenting handbook.

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa | Just Take A Bite

Now with three kids I know that it is totally a personal choice who you give to and how much. Some years we go shopping and let the kids pick out gifts for teachers. But that gets to be just one more thing to do.

So two years ago I simplified our gift giving. We give gifts to the teachers we see on a regular basis (maybe I’m Scrooge, but I don’t give something to every bus driver and mail carrier. You have to draw the line somewhere).

And I don’t shop for gifts either. We have two gifts we make every year. One is homemade granola. This year teachers get a special treat with kettle corn granola!

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa | Just Take A Bite

The other is my daughter’s “famous” light and dark hot cocoa. She came up with the idea of a layered cocoa mix.

It’s that good.

It is always fun to see the reaction of the people that try it. They assume when a five year old gives them homemade hot cocoa it will be fine. Then they taste it.

Some have even said it’s the best hot cocoa they’ve ever tried.

I love how simple it is to make. And that it doesn’t contain any powdered milk, flavorings, thickeners, etc. Just a few simple ingredients create the most delicious hot cocoa you’ve ever had.

I also love that it is super allergen friendly. Even I can drink it! And if I can drink it anyone can (I haven’t met many people with as many food restrictions as I have). If you can’t have cocoa you can replace all of it with carob. It won’t be light and dark hot cocoa anymore, but it will still taste great.

I even have a couple secret ingredients – unrefined sea salt and grass-fed collagen! Just because you’re drinking hot chocolate doesn’t mean you need to leave the nutrition out.

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa | Just Take A Bite

Let the kids help.

This is a great project for kids of just about any age. My oldest (age seven) can make it on her own. My four year old can make it with a little help from me. Even with kids helping it only takes about five minutes to make.

Let the kids create a pretty label and teacher gifts are done! And I have yet to find a teacher that doesn’t like hot cocoa.

Make a big batch. Give some away as gifts. Keep some for the family and enjoy a mug while you open presents or after playing in the snow (if it will ever snow this year!)

I’ve even got a cute gift tag to attach to the jar for you! Just click the link below, print and cut.

Light And Dark Hot Cocoa Gift Tag

Are you looking for a simple, heart-felt gift this year?

Light and dark hot cocoa makes the perfect teacher gift or special treat.

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa | Just Take A Bite

Light and Dark Hot Cocoa
Yields 2
A rich, homemade hot cocoa with light and dark layers.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups organic cane sugar
  2. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  4. 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  5. 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  6. optional: 2 Tbsp. grass-fed collagen
Instructions
  1. In a medium size bowl combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. collagen.
  2. In another bowl combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, dark cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. collagen.
  3. In two pint size jars layer 3 Tbsp. cocoa mixture, 3 Tbsp. dark cocoa mixture and a few chocolate chips (about 2 tsp.).
  4. Repeat four times, until the mixture is used.
To use
  1. Mix 1 - 2 Tbsp. of the cocoa mixture into 1 cup of hot water or milk.
Notes
  1. This is enough to fill two pint jars.
  2. Light and dark hot cocoa makes a great gift.
  3. I use Enjoy Life chocolate chips since they are allergen friendly.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.