Monday, July 25, 2016

Choosing to be Gluten Free + Gluten Free & Vegan Protein Breakfast Muffin Recipe

Disclaimer: I was provided a package from Karma Baker inclusive of their gluten free baking mix in exchange for this recipe and review. All opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated. Please do your own research as your results may vary. Affiliate links included.



Sometimes being gluten free is difficult and by 'sometimes' I mean a good 90% of the time.

Firstly, there are a ton of different food options out there that can (and do) tease and entice a person on a daily basis; some that are healthier options to choose, some that are strictly hide-in-the-corner guilty pleasures, and some treat myself every so often worthy in betweens.

Thankfully I don't necessarily have to be gluten free but I choose to be to help with maintaining my health issues. Because I technically don't have to be it's a constant daily struggle of willpower with all those options, good, bad, and in between, at my fingertips. Yes, I fall off the bandwagon often but nobody is perfect and when I do my body definitely lets me know!

Secondly, since gluten free has become more and more popular the past few years there have been quite a variety of products that have hit the market. These companies and products have definitely come a long way but there sadly are still those products that prove the stereotype that gluten free is dense, flavor-free, dry, etc.

Thank goodness Karma Baker is not one of those companies!


Karma Baker has a wide variety of #vegan & #glutenfree goodies as well as their great gluten free & vegan baking flour available in 2lb & 5lb bags. #karmabaker






















I always love experimenting with different gluten free products, especially flours, so when given the opportunity to try out their gluten free baking flour I was more than happy to say yes!

Plus, aside from endless ideas in my head, with the flour came a few other tangible gluten free sweet treats that didn't hurt the positive decision making process...

By the way, those were my first ever cake pops and I shall inform you I will forever remember those delicious, moist, and chocolaty suckers for years to come!

With all the ideas running rampant in my head, I decided to opt for a healthier breakfast muffin recipe that included protein powder for a morning boost. I'm not entirely good at envisioning original recipes but I decided to give this one that had been mulling around in my head a try.


Gluten Free & Vegan Protein Breakfast Muffins 

Servings: 12
Protein per serving: 3 to 4 grams
Sugar per serving: 4 grams



Being #glutenfree can be a struggle but with companies like #karmabaker it gets a little easier! I'm sharing my kick butt gluten free & #vegan #protein #breakfast #muffin #recipe so come check it out! #healthy



Ingredients: 

2 cups Karma Bakery Gluten Free Baking Flour
1/2 to 1 full packet of Aloha Vanilla Protein Powder
1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum (also known as guar gum)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 to 1 full ripe organic mango
1/2 cup chopped pecans


Directions: 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. If you have paper liners line your muffin tins but if not use a coconut oil or spray to lightly grease them to help your muffins to not stick. Stir together Karma Bakery flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and Aloha vanilla protein powder in a large bowl until evenly blended together.

2. In a different bowl whisk or stir together applesauce, vegan butter, coconut milk, and vanilla extract until blended. Slowly add this wet mixture to your dry ingredients and mix until everything is a thick consistency.

3. Start peeling and cutting up your organic mango; the riper your mango is the less tart the taste will be. Once finished, put mango chunks into your blender and blend until pureed. Make sure there are no chunks and pour mango puree into your muffin batter and mix together.

4. If you have pre-chopped pecans measure a half a cup, add that to your mix and stir in. If they're whole, measure a full cup of pecans, put them into a plastic bag, and use a heavy rolling pin to pulverize them into pieces to which then you will add them.

5. Put muffin tins into oven and set timer to cook for 10 minutes. Once that time is done rotate the muffin tins and bake for another 10 minutes or until your muffins look golden brown on the top. The two 10 minute intervals were perfect for me; I placed my toothpick in the middle and it came out clean.

6. Let muffins cool in the tins for a 5 to 10 minutes. Take out and enjoy!



Being #glutenfree can be a struggle but with companies like #karmabaker it gets a little easier! I'm sharing my kick butt gluten free & #vegan #protein #breakfast #muffin #recipe so come check it out! #healthy




While the muffins turned out wonderfully in taste and texture, I was pretty disappointed that there was virtually no mango flavoring to them. You can detect a little mango in the after-taste but nothing like I had had in mind when brainstorming this recipe. There are certain gluten free and vegan mango syrups on the market that I may give a try next time I make this recipe to see if that helps the flavor dilemma.

Truthfully if you don't have the mango syrup and want to leave out the fruit completely it probably would save you a few minutes in the prep time and wouldn't hurt the recipe at all.






Despite the mango flavor, or lack thereof, all in all I'd say these gluten free and vegan protein breakfast muffins were a hit all around. And of course they don't have to be breakfast muffins; they're heavy enough to be a breakfast option but can be eaten at whatever time of the day you may want them!

I even gave my boyfriend a taste not thinking he would like it because 1. It's gluten free and vegan and 2. he is not a sweets or pastry eater and never has been. All I heard him shout from the other room was, "I will eat this whole thing if you don't take it away from me!"

Then a little while later he came all the way out to the kitchen for another one.

That, my friends, is success.



Being #glutenfree can be a struggle but with companies like #karmabaker it gets a little easier! I'm sharing my kick butt gluten free & #vegan #protein #breakfast #muffin #recipe so come check it out! #Ad #healthy



The gluten free and vegan baking flour comes in two options, a 2 lb bag which costs $12.00 and a 5 lb bag which costs $26.00. While you're there make sure to look at all the other delicious and mouth-watering treats available, all gluten free and vegan as well!

Plus you can't go wrong with $6.95 flat rate shipping or 5% off local pick up if you're in the neighborhood.



Connect with Karma Baker: 









These gluten free and vegan muffins are easily customizable so what would YOU add to the recipe?










Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Win It Wednesday Giveaway Link Up 7/20 #giveawaylinkup

Come browse, enter, and link up #contests & #giveaways on this week's Win It Wednseday linky! via @theeclecticelement #contestlinky #giveawaylinky



Win It Wednesday is a day for browsing, entering, and linking up contests-Have a contest or giveaway that needs a little extra exposure? Feel free to link it up! Your contest may even be featured in next week's post.

NOTE:: Linking up your contests on my Win It Wednesday linky below automatically puts them on my Ongoing Contest Linky so no need to link up twice.

DOUBLE NOTE:: You only have to submit your contest link ONCE on a Win It Wednesday weekly post or my ongoing contest linky because I manage the ongoing list myself, deleting contests as they expire.

If you enjoy entering and linking up giveaways and want to share this opportunity with others please feel free to consider sharing via social media! Here's a handy already composed tweet you can easily copy and paste or re-tweet: 




Monday, July 18, 2016

Birthday Llamas, Kombucha, & Like Minded People: Mother Earth News Fair West Bend Recap

Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary weekend passes to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, Wisconsin. All thoughts and opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated.




Birthday #Llamas, #Kombucha, & Like Minded People: My Mother Earth News Fair West Bend, #Wisconsin Recap! #menf #motherearthfair #motherearthnews



To say the Mother Earth News Fair at West Bend, Wisconsin this past weekend was a whirlwind of speakers, vendors, wares and like-minded people would be a complete understatement. Quite honestly two days just is not nearly enough time to see everything that needs to be seen and hear everything that needs to be heard!

My parents had already ordered and gotten their weekend passes well before the fair and had booked their hotel room at the Hampton Inn & Suites West Bend so I'm grateful that they let me tag along because it really was quite the experience to be had.


The Grounds 

Last year and this year the Mother Earth News Fair was held at the Washington County Fair Park grounds in West Bend. I've been to several county fair grounds in my day and I have to say this was hands down the nicest facility I've ever seen! Not only were the buildings beautiful, clean, and inviting but the grounds themselves were gorgeous and nicely kept.



Birthday #Llamas, #Kombucha, & Like Minded People: My Mother Earth News Fair West Bend, #Wisconsin Recap! #menf #motherearthfair #motherearthnews
Birthday #Llamas, #Kombucha, & Like Minded People: My Mother Earth News Fair West Bend, #Wisconsin Recap! #menf #motherearthfair #motherearthnews



In between sessions we had a 30 minute time span that we could use to get to the next stage we needed to be at, wander around at the many different vendor booths, go to the bathroom in one of the two main buildings, or get something to eat.

Of course I did all those things but I often found myself wandering the grounds just because they were so gorgeous and picturesque; with the two beautiful days thrown in how could you not take a little time out of the busy scheduled days to bask in the now?




Birthday #Llamas, #Kombucha, & Like Minded People: My Mother Earth News Fair West Bend, #Wisconsin Recap! #menf #motherearthfair #motherearthnews




The Speakers 

The way the speakers and sessions were set up was there were 12 different stages throughout the grounds and each session ran for 1 hour each starting at 10:00am and running through until 6:30pm with a 30 minute break in between each.

That means each day there were 60 sessions happening at any given time. Sadly people could only attend, at most, 6 sessions each day if you wanted to stay for the full hour-long session. With there being 3 of us, (myself, my mom, and my dad) we were able to split up and take advantage of different classes so if one of us couldn't attend a particular session, the other could and would bring back the information they learned to share.







I was able to attend 8 out of the 12 sessions I could have done in that 2 day span. I skipped a few time slots because I might not have been interested in the classes that were being held at that particular time and with all the go-go-go business of the weekend my body needed a few resting intervals that I gladly gave it.

A few of my favorite sessions I was able to sit through included Arthritis in the Garden-How to Lower Chronic Pain Without Drugs with Shawna Coronado, Kombucha and the Human Microbiome with Hannah Crum, and Nature's Pharmaceuticals with Billy Galloway. Of course there were a lot more I wish I could have attended but I had to prioritize.

For the most part these speakers knew what they wanted to convey and did it beautifully; there was a lot of knowledge and inspiration taken away from that weekend and I have the handouts, notes, pictures, and most importantly, ideas swimming around my head to prove it!



The Vendors 

There were two main buildings, a large barn, and a good majority of the outside grounds that boasted many different vendors and exhibitors with their multitude of wares. You could find anything from sweet treats and beverages to large industrial farming machines complete with live demonstrations to handmade clothing and jewelry to even educational booths teaching you about animals, invasive plant and animal species, and more.

By the way I learned that it was that llama's birthday as I stopped to take a picture of him. For he's a jolly good llama! I hope they gave him a special treat.







In the middle of one of the main buildings you could find the Mother Earth News bookstore that carried many different varieties of books on so many different subjects; gardening, bee keeping, homesteading, farm animals, cook book and recipe books, and so much more! Those attendees who pre-ordered their tickets online were also provided with a 25% off coupon good at the bookstore so there were at least a few people in there at all times just wandering and checking things out.

A majority of the speakers who spoke during their sessions over the two days had books to offer and were kind enough to do book signings after their classes.




Birthday #Llamas, #Kombucha, & Like Minded People: My Mother Earth News Fair West Bend, #Wisconsin Recap! #menf #motherearthfair #motherearthnews



There were quite a bit of vendors to look at an explore but I did have a few favorites. I ended up buying myself some tea from Green Rich Tea. The guy was super nice and walked me through the process of where and how the tea is grown and harvested in Japan. He also noticed my Totoro tote bag so we both talked about our mutual love for Miyazaki and his films.

I also splurged and bought myself an oil diffuser necklace from Connie Jacoby of Wise Woman Botanicals. It's not just any ol' diffuser necklace though; it's a re-purposed knife handle made into a necklace! How could I pass that up?

And who could forget La Croix sparkling water! They were generous enough to hand out cans of their flavored sparkling water to the fair goers each day for free and with the temperatures in the high 70s most of the weekend it was greatly appreciated. I had always been curious about their water and was thrilled when I finally got the chance to try it. 


The Food

While not quite what I pictured for the Mother Earth News Fair, the food options included several food trucks and a spot where the local 4-H was selling normal fair type foods.

According to some of the returnees from last year's fair, my parents included, the food options were definitely more abundant this year. To save some money and time my family and I packed our own lunches the morning we left instead of partaking in the fair food. We'd meet up around lunch time in our van which wasn't parked too far away and have a lovely family lunch where we would discuss the first part of our day before we parted ways again.

Truth be told all three of us noticed many other people doing the same thing during their lunch breaks so it must have been a popular idea!







Aside from the 4-H food and the handful of food trucks you could also buy some food and treats at many of the various vendors booths. I saw some baked goods, chocolate, coconut ice cream, protein smoothies, and more spread throughout the grounds.

There was a particular frozen fruit bar that I had been eyeballing all week but alas, I waited too long and wasn't able to get one before we left. Now it is my life's mission (okay, at least one of them) to locate Pop Culture Gourmet Pops and eat them!



The Cons


While the whole experience was such a wonderful treat for everyone involved there were a few things we thought needed some attention for next year, or at the very least future Mother Earth News Fairs in general:

1. Maps. There were quite a few stages where the sessions were being held throughout the grounds and it got a little confusing even with the maps that were provided. Not only did my mom and I miss out on one or two sessions because we had issues locating which stage it was on, I overheard several people saying the same thing. I think the stages could have been a little bit more properly advertised.

2. Recycling. Of course there were garbage cans and bins spread out throughout the fair grounds but a good majority of them were the same color and not labeled very well. Seeing as this was the Mother Earth News Fair we would have loved to see more green recycling bins as much as the blue garbage bins all labeled for people to easily see and tell which they should use.

3. Food. Like I mentioned above from what people told me there were definitely more food options than last year, however seeing as it was the Mother Earth News Fair I was hoping to see more organic, natural and locally sourced food options as opposed to normal fair type foods. I'm sure the food was delicious none the less but for people who have dietary restrictions or are trying to opt for healthier choices this type of food really wasn't ideal.



Conclusion

All in all it was a wonderful weekend spent learning about many different things, meeting new people, trying new things and having some quality family bonding over shared interests. I'm beyond thrilled my body decided to cooperate with me; aside from being wiped out towards the end of each day and fluctuating pain levels, I'm still pretty shocked I did that well over the two day span.

I certainly hope the fair comes back next year because I would go again in a heartbeat! I've also come to the conclusion that from now on when I go to events I will be wearing a Totoro bag of some sort so people can recognize me; would you believe I was waved down 3 different times because of my tote bag!

If you're interested in seeing more of my Mother Earth News Fair adventure you can check out my Twitter or Instagram profiles or friend me on Facebook where I posted several pictures and videos from that weekend and will be uploading more pictures to an album when I'm finished editing.

I will also be doing interviews on the blog with some of the speakers I saw in the near future so make sure to keep an eye out for those; these woman are quite the powerhouses when it comes to their individual specialties and I'm very excited to share some of their knowledge with all of you!



Connect with Mother Earth News Fair:














Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Win It Wednesday Giveaway Link Up 7/13 #giveawaylinkup

Come browse, enter, and link up #contests & #giveaways on this week's Win It Wednseday linky! via @theeclecticelement #contestlinky #giveawaylinky



Win It Wednesday is a day for browsing, entering, and linking up contests-Have a contest or giveaway that needs a little extra exposure? Feel free to link it up! Your contest may even be featured in next week's post.

NOTE:: Linking up your contests on my Win It Wednesday linky below automatically puts them on my Ongoing Contest Linky so no need to link up twice.

DOUBLE NOTE:: You only have to submit your contest link ONCE on a Win It Wednesday weekly post or my ongoing contest linky because I manage the ongoing list myself, deleting contests as they expire.

If you enjoy entering and linking up giveaways and want to share this opportunity with others please feel free to consider sharing via social media! Here's a handy already composed tweet you can easily copy and paste or re-tweet: 




Thursday, July 7, 2016

7 Ways to Stretch your Food Stamp Budget + Sign the Thrive Market Petition

Disclaimer: Aside from being given access to information regarding the Thrive Market petition I was provided no compensation for the below post. All opinions expressed above are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated.



When I was younger before I got sick, I had a plan for myself.

I was always a good student so I wanted to start working part time when I hit high school, that way I could gain experience and save some money for when I graduated, with honors, and went off to college.

I'd choose a college that meshed with my passions and work two or three jobs to support myself until I graduated and claimed a career, preferably one that allowed me to travel the world.

Reality hit at age 14 and all my plans and dreams went down the proverbial drain.

Now over a decade later at 26 years of age, I can't work a full time or part time job, I still live with my parents whom support me as best they can, I can't drive, I'm on medicaid, and I rely on food stamps to help me buy food.



Here are 7 ways to stretch your #foodstamp #budget + help the nearly 45 million people relying on #SNAP benefits gain easier access to #healthy food by signing the Thrive Market #petition! #ThriveMarket #ThriveAction



Food stamps, SNAP, or Link as it is referred to is a monthly food stipend based on a person or family's financial needs. If you or you and your significant other make below a certain amount per year you may be eligible for help. You can pretty much buy all food items minus some fast food, hot and ready-to-eat foods, and any alcohol according to the state I live in but each state SNAP rules may be different.


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