Fun Thrift Store SCORES!!! #2

Blog posts like this make me happy.   I can finally show people who might actually think it’s entertaining to see my thrift store finds!  Unfortunately my husband doesn’t get such a thrill out of seeing his garage fill up with all my amazing Winking smile treasures.
But I know you guys will LOVE it! And that’s why I love blogging!

thrift store thursday 031

This beauty is a thick mounted canvas art piece (about 30”x24”.) 
Drum roll…….


It is so pretty!  I would love it more if it was on a painted wall to pick up those amazing moss greens or terra cotta orange colors.  I might give this to my brother who just bought a house.  He has a brick fireplace where those colors would just pop! 

lettuce 1.00each

These cuties (which I thought were sea shells until I brought them home and realized they were lettuce dishes!) were….

Drum roll………..

$1.00 a piece

I liked them better as sea shells and had planned to put them in a seascape mantel setting but it’s OK.  I love lettuce too.  Kind of.  Looking back I think I overpaid – yep that’s how cheap I am.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I LOVE pumpkin any time of the year so here is a DELICIOUS recipe for all you healthy eaters out there! 

healthy pumpkin dessert no sugar

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.

1 large egg
2 Tbsp. milk
¼ c apple butter (or 1/4 ripe banana)
1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
Chia gel stevia mix (1/3 cup warm water with 1 tbsp. chia seeds with ½ tsp. pure powdered stevia – mix and let sit at least 15 min)
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring or 1 tbsp. maple syrup
3 dates chopped fine.
1 cup cooked pumpkin or squash.
¾ c coconut flour mix (see note, can use regular flour)
¾ c almond meal (just finely ground almonds)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Oil 8” shallow square pan. Lightly beat the egg and milk. (set aside) Beat the melted oil in a lg mixing bowl with the apple butter, chia stevia mix, maple flavoring and dates. Stir in beaten egg. Gently mix in the pumpkin.

Sift the flours, baking powder, spices, and salt together. Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter will be stiff so smooth out top when you put into your pan.

Bake 30 min

(my 9 year old daughter said these would taste great in a cupcake tin with the wrapper and topped with the “frosting”. They aren’t at all cake like but they would be in great snack size portions by doing that.)

Notes: (I have mama's coconut flour brand – it’s pretty starchy with potato flour, tapioca etc. and actually coconut flour is the last ingredient! If you aren’t gluten sensitive use regular flour)

pumpkin bars and chocolate chips 015
This is what the soaked chia seed mixture looks like.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. soft cream cheese
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. honey
Up to ½ tsp. powdered stevia extract (to taste really)
Soften cream cheese and milk in a bowl. Beat vanilla, stevia extract and honey. Whip until thoroughly blended and creamy.

You're in for a treat! Enjoy

pumpkin bar 2

Both of these were adapted from the cook book called Stevia by Rita DePuydt.

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Tuesday Treasures–Another thrift store chest!

When Lauren from West Furniture Revival commented on my post regarding the fun $10.00 craigslist toy chest I did I had to ask her if I could show my readers the chest SHE did.  It is just so fantastic and I love the inspiration she gives us for all those piece of junk items at the thrift store!

My Quote for the day:

Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste. -G.K. Chesterton








Thank you Lauren!!!  It’s fantastic!  My green and brown chest look so dull compared to this!

Coconut Oil 101–What to look for and why.

This post was inspired from my Healthy Food on a Budget post.  Some people wanted to know what all the hubbub was about using coconut oil.  I completely understand! 

I remember going over to my friends house and seeing her little jar of coconut oil and thinking now why would I spend 3 times the amount on THAT oil instead of the other oils?? 

So began my coconut oil research………I’m not going to go into depth about everything you can do with coconut oil, but YES, when I’m not cooking with it, I have used it as a toothpaste, a deodorant, and as a fantastic body moisturizer!    I’m sure it sounds strange to a newbie, but this stuff is amazing!

Coconut 101 – Why?

1.) The main reason I use coconut oil is for it’s nutritious properties.  It is full of all the good fats, which isn't suppose to make me fat!  My friend just sent me this fantastic article How to Lose Weight Fast with Coconut Oil.

2.) It can withstand a higher heat without losing all the great nutrients in the oil.  (other oils once heated lose almost all the good attributes they have)

click for photo source

What to look for 101

Buy Extra Virgin coconut oil - unrefined and cold pressed. (extra virgin usually means unrefined).  Organic is very nice but not a necessity because with the coconut it’s not a “fruit” that will be full of pesticides like spinach. 

NEVER buy coconut oil that says RBD on the label.  It stands for Refined Bleached and Deodorized!  Crude coconut oil is first Refined, Bleached and then Deodorized. Basically it is stripped of everything that makes coconut oil good for you.  Look for preservatives that are added to coconut oils also. (Or to anything for that matter!)  I find that with any food, flour, sugar, anything, knowledge is power and hopefully I am making it a little easier to sort through all the junk and you can learn how to get the "right" stuff.

The "right" stuff would be the closest to raw and natural.  Processed, heated, bleached, deodorized, refined, taken to hell and back is not good.  Just stay away!!!  I have to tell you Wal-Mart is king  of selling the wrong kind of "healthy".  Read the labels and small print.  What you will find is they will almost always be filled with preservatives and made as inexpensive as possible  :-) 
After tons of research and actually calling up mega companies and ASKING what degrees they “cook” their coconut oil I have found that for me (being that cost AND quality is an issue ) Soapers Choice is the best source for coconut oil out there online. (for those that are dying to know what temperature they process their oil, it’s cold pressed at 116 degrees.)  Remember that the lower the temperature the more nutrients you keep in the coconut oil, of course in it’s raw form  (just scooping out and put into a smoothie etc.) is most beneficial. 

Let me review the above in a nutshell. (ha-ha!) 

Cold pressed - better than hot pressed  (hot kills nutrients.  The lower the temperature process, for ANY food, the better.
Unrefined - better than refined.  (refined takes it through yet another step meanwhile losing even more nutrients)
Unbleached - better than bleached.   (bleach is a chemical -right?  Do I really want my food going through a chemical?)
Not deodorized - better than deodorized (do I even need to say anything to that?  Deodorizing what goes into my mouth....why?)

Soapers Choice specs on their oil is this:

Organic - Check
Heated only to 116 digress (cold pressed) - Check
Not bleached, Not deodorized, and Not refined. - Check
Good stuff I'd say.  You can purchase a large 7 lb size for $35.99 with shipping!  That is less than 10.00 for a 32 oz container.  Half the cost at my local health food store. 

(Aren't blogs great - you let others do the research and you just get to take advantage of it!)

NOTE: It does come in a plastic container (wish it was glass but I can’t have everything!) so what I do is set in in lukewarm water (will turn liquid at 76 F) and than I pour it into my smaller glass mason jars.

They say to store in a cool, dry place (50 to 68° F) away from direct sources of sunlight, heat and oxidizers. I keep my extras in the back of my pantry and the one I am using at the moment on my counter.  My research says it has a 2 year shelf life.

WOW!  Surprised smile This post is way longer than I had intended and I just hope you guys got to the end!!!

Thanks you guys! Selina – Creative Juices Décor!! 
(good thing I have “juices” in my name so my blog can qualify talking about all this health food and recipes!)

Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist and do not claim to know everything :-)   If you find something that might not be correct on this post please leave a comment to help us all out.  Thank you!

COLD Coeur d’Alene verses SUNNY San Marcos

So I grew up in the grey, rainy area of Seattle.  Of course, having lived no where else I really didn’t think Seattle was grey and rainy.  It was just Seattle. I liked it.

(Bing free photo images)  A Seattle bridge I traveled on often.

Next I moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and realized that blue skies were actually possible and in fact, they were the norm!  In the winter it was VERY cold but at least it still had a wonderful blue sky. I liked Coeur d'Alene.  When I went home to visit my family who still lived in Seattle I always felt WET and grey.  To me, Seattle had now become rainy and dreary…..ALL the time. 

Jan 8 morning
Picture just out my back door!

Here’s the kicker……..

Next was a move to San Marcos, California – and that is where I was forever changed.  Why didn’t someone warn me how amazing it is over there?  Not only was it never grey, but it was warm all the time!  Every morning I woke up to birds chirping, blue skies and palm trees swaying.  I felt like I was on a vacation every day of the year.  (I am not joking)  A cup of coffee and our backyard was all I needed to start my day off right, with a big smile plastered on my face.  AHHHHH, the warmth, the birds, and the soft breeze.  (we lived 20 minutes away from the ocean, which made a nice breeze even on those extra hot days)

I liked (OK, loved) Sunny California. 

My typical day might begin like this, “Kids get your flip flops on and head to the car – we’re off to the beach or maybe it’s Sea World today!!!! Really who cares – it’s warm and sunny!”

Laguna Beach - one of our favorites!

But today I am back in cold Coeur d’Alene, I think it’s to hit a low of 5 degrees today.  If I had never lived in San Diego I don’t think this would bother me, but it does.  Some of the North Dakota readers are laughing right now as I hear a low of -30 is normal.  BUT I have not lived in North Dakota yet, so I can’t add that experience to my list

cold but beautiful
Yep - still a picture out my back door!

My in-laws are moving to Australia for 2 months.  I’d really like to add that one to my list……..we’ll see.  Smile

Happy New Year, now Eat Your Vegetables!

OK, it's the New Year blog friends and now everyone will be on a health food kick.  (At least for a month - right!)  There are some of us who refuse to make New Years resolutions but I actually like making them. Why?  Because I feel if I aim for the moon I might miss, but at least I'll land among the stars, and that is good enough for me :-)

My food goals:

Eat more vegetables (as in for lunch and dinner every time!)
Experiment in Gluten Free and Sugar Free cooking. (my favorite site highlighted)
Try new dinner recipes - get a good collection going.  (when will I stop collecting and start making!)

So here's to eating more vegetables (I didn't say RAW - I need a good healthy sauce on mine!)

Sweet and Salty Mushroom Sauce:   (I may have just lost half my readers!)

Wash and cut mushrooms
1 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp agave or maple syrup

Sauté till tender (Trust me, you'll be pleasantly surprised)

OR add onions and red peppers for a full palate of veggies in this sauce.  I'm serious, it tastes SO good!

That is hot steam coming from the dish!  Yummy!
How about this easy onion, sundried tomato, feta cheese veggie dish:

Saute sweet onions with a few olive oil soaked sundried tomatoes.
Add a dash of Italian spices or your favorite herb.
Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with feta cheese.
Sweet onions are my absolute favorite - they naturally caramelize with just a little sauteing.  (not to mention that onions are GREAT for not getting sick!)

I made this sauce up the other day (If you love Thai, I think you'll love this!)

Isn't that plate ridicules! (as in so silly!) I bought it at Ross for 3 bucks. 

Asparagus or Brussels Sprout sauce:

1/8 c soy sauce
½ c coconut milk
1 tsp ginger
Dash of curry
Dash of Stevia
(Optional minced garlic)
Blend up and pour over pre-steamed veggies – sauté for 2-3 min to mix flavors

Kimi from The Nourishing Gourmet (what an awesome blog!) posted a recipe for:

Garlicky Thyme Sauteed Mushrooms - Ahh - look at that picture!


1 lb of mushrooms
1-3 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
!/2 - 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar to taste

Saute up in the butter and olive oil , add garlic and thyme.  Once soft and golden drizzle on the vinegar and salt to taste. 

If you want more inspiration click to see Kimi's entire list of easy veggie dishes!

See this doesn't seem too hard - right? 

Have fun experimenting and getting those Creative Cooking Juices Flowing.  I would love it if you left a comment with your favorite easy veggie dish. (I need all the help I can get!)

Health Food On a Budget - My Tips and Secrets

I'll just lay it out on the line (or the w.w.w)  I’m cheap. :-)

But in saying that, I will not let my frugality effect how I feed my family.  For myself, health and food choices play a very important role as a wife and mother. 

I still have a long way to go.  I still buy the wrong kind of bread for my kids (they refuse to eat my sprouted grain version!) but my motto is baby steps to better health.  And I’m just fine with that.

Here is some of my “secrets” for buying health food on a budget.

Coconut Oil:

I did a LOT of researching on this one.(in fact, so much research that I may do a whole post about it!)  My final verdict was an internet site SoaperschoiceExtra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.  It comes in bulk but after pouring it into individual glass jars it equaled just under 10 bucks for a 32 oz jar.  Half the price at my local store or other internet prices. 

UPDATE:  Here is my post on Coconut Oil - What to look for and why!

Specialty Health Food Items:

My favorite internet site is  iherb.   I buy almost ALL my stevia products off iherb.  If you enter the code ESE794 you receive 5.00 off your order (no minimum) and they always ship free with a 20.00 order.  I couldn’t believe that my NuNatrals Stevia cost HALF at iherb than my local health food store. (23.00 down to 13.00).  I have bought off iherb every since and LOVE it! 

Healthy Organic Food:

Azure standard is a local co-op.  They have their base in Oregon so this might be just a west coast thing but I am sure with a little research other areas have a similar program. With Azure you sign up (free) and find your local pick up house to pick up your order that you place on their internet site.  Usually it’s a once or twice a month pick up. The prices are generally better than the local stores. When fresh fruit is in season they have fantastic deals on organic crops. 

 The Grocery Outlet chain has all their organic food on top of their freezer section in the center of the store.  I LOVE trying new organic products for a price I can afford! (Usually half off the original prices) Just don’t fall in love with any particular product because they rarely have the same item in stock again!

Gluten Free Flours or Coconut products:

Usually Asian market stores will carry lots of gluten free products! In general these stores are located in larger cities but with some research you might find a store close to your more suburban location.  I buy all my Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour and Potato Flour for a fraction of the price at other stores.   You still have to read labels.  Some of the coconut products like coconut milk have bad preservatives put in them and others don’t.  Coconut sugar or palm sugar is also on the shelf.  It is a low glycemic and nutritious sugar substitute.  It sells for 4x’s the amount at my local health food store!  Once again though, READ THE LABEL!  Some of the palm sugar has cane sugar added. 

There you have it!  Those are my “secrets” Smile

You can check out my healthy recipes and pin them for later!  

Healthy Sugar Free Graham Crackers

Where is your favorite place to shop for good deals on healthy food?  I’d LOVE to hear about it!!

Please see my full disclosure policy 
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