Coconut Blueberry Muffins

Now that I’m all moved into my new house and don’t have someone cooking for me (or money to eat out for that matter), I’m always searching for easy, yummy recipes to try at home. Introducing my new favorite breakfast/snack recipe: amazing, easy, healthy coconut blueberry muffins. Omg you need to try these. I’ve been eating this everyday for breakfast (great with coffee) and as a snack whenever I need a pick me up.

My best friend’s mom actually introduced me to them and I’ve been hooked ever since. These muffins are packed with chia seeds, blueberries, coconut oil, and other greatness. White, bleached flour is really unhealthy but this recipe uses coconut flour so not only is it so much healthier, but it’s also gluten-free.

blueberry muffins

This recipe is from The Kitchen Table by Nutiva. I follow the recipe but I use less coconut oil and raw honey than suggested. I think it’s a healthier alternative and still tastes amazing. Although the recipe calls for coconut milk, I’ve just been using almond milk cause that’s what I have on hand. I’ve had both variations though and haven’t noticed that big of a difference since the coconut oil and flour gives the muffins its coconut flavor.

Also, feel free to try other berries too! I’ve put in blackberries and raspberries when I didn’t have enough blueberries. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate chips (esp. for breakfast) but that could also be a delicious alternative for chocolate fans!

There may seem like there’s a lot of batter left over for 12 muffins, but you can fill up the muffin tray all the way since the batter doesn’t rise too much. Since I live alone at the moment and am the only one eating them, I just store whatever I don’t eat and microwave when ready.

Ingredients

Ingredients: The recipe is linked above, I modified the ingredient measurements ever so slightly.

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • about 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1 cup coconut milk (or whatever milk you have)
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (is what the recipe says, I use probably 1/6 cup)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup blueberries

Seriously try them –  you won’t regret it! 🙂

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Places I Love in Arizona

As much as I love college, it was so nice going back home to Arizona for Thanksgiving break. I needed a week to relax and be with my family and friends. I missed all my favorite spots back home so I decided to share a few of the places I love in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area of Arizona. Also, for all these locations, parking is free.

Pinnacle Peak: I absolutely love hiking because of the workout and pretty scenery. This hike is by far the most beautiful hike in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. It’s a pretty easy hike but I was still a bit sore the next day! pinnacle peak.pngIMG_2281IMG_2279

The Henry: A Fox restaurant never disappoints and The Henry is no exception. I usually go for brunch and sit on the patio or bar top. There are plenty of photo opportunities whether it’s a food pic or posing by the entrance so I’d go camera ready! As with any other Fox restaurant, it’s very busy so you might want to plan ahead and make reservations. Also, there’s a designated area for people to work so you can enjoy coffee and pastries while getting work done. I’ve never worked there personally, but it seems like a very nice work environment. henry

Lux Central: Lux and the library are the only places I’m actually productive and get work done at. It has such a great work environment, making me feel so much more motivated. There are also plenty of food and drink options — you have to get their mac and cheese, it’s to die for. It’s usually always busy, so it might take a few minutes to find parking. I know this may seem obvious, but don’t park in front of the fire hydrant — I got a parking ticket for it (the parking cops are merciless lol). Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetlux1

Squaw Peak: Squaw Peak has always been my go-to hike for a great workout. It’s not as scenic as Pinnacle Peak, but I like that it’s a tougher trail. It requires more balance and strength! This takes me about 1.5 hours to complete. Unlike Pinnacle Peak where the trail is smooth, this is full of rocks and stones so be careful!IMG_2284-1

Whether you’re a native to Arizona or just visiting the area, I recommend checking out these places! 🙂

Food Bucket List

It’s the beginning of November, which means I’m going to start baking fall/winter-y foods like pumpkin pie and gingerbread cookies! Today was the first chilly day in Arizona so I’m welcoming the change in weather with open arms.

Untitled-1 1. Braided Gluten Free Nutella Bread

2. Gluten Free Gingerbread Men Cookies

3. Gluten Free Classic Pumpkin Pie

4. Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

5. Prosciutto, Tomato, and Olive Oil Pasta

6. Salted Caramel & Nutella Stuffed Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

7. S’mores Brownie Pie 

French Macarons

Macarons are the most decadent dessert known to exist. A classic french dessert, macarons are sweet meringue-based cookies that sandwich a filling. The top layer of the cookie is crisp, but as you get closer to the center, it’s chewy. The choice of flavors and colors are endless- you can make chocolate, salted caramel, raspberry macarons, etc.  When I had my first macaron in Paris, I fell in love and knew I had to make them when I got home.

Let me tell you, I’ve struggled with making macarons for the longest time. As heavenly as these macarons are, they are quite finicky and capricious. I’ve attempted baking them and failed many times, I watched videos, tried different recipes, researched troubleshoots & FAQs. Being able to bake these well is a work of art. You have to make sure you sift the almond flour and confectioners sugar completely, fold the batter just the right amount, and pipe the macarons perfectly. After a countless number of attempts, I have finally perfected my macarons. They take patience and caution, but if you’re down for the challenge, try this recipe NOW!

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Ingredients: Makes about 18 1-inch macarons (36 shells)

  • 1 cup (128g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup (96g) almond flour*
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (32g) of granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch of cream of tartar

* I find this in the gluten-free section of my grocery store. If you can’t find almond flour, you can make it yourself by grinding up silvered almonds in a food processor until it becomes a fine powder.

Directions:

  1. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour in one bowlAny clumps that do not pass through a sieve should not be used as it may cause cracks in the macarons.
  2. Beat 2 egg whites at room temperature on medium/high speed in another bowl.
  3. Add a pinch of cream of tartar to egg mixture when it becomes foamy. The cream of tartar is helpful to the recipe because it helps add volume and strength to the meringue, however, it’s not essential to the recipe.
  4. Add sugar when egg whites begin to form soft peaks I add about a tablespoon at a time.
  5. Add food coloring if you choose to color your macarons.
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites with a (rubber) spatula when the mixture is done. It’s done when stiff peaks have formed and the mixture is white and shiny. When you take your beaters/whisk out, the mixture should not curl; it should be stiff and point straight. Undermixing and overmixing will create uneven, cracked, dried out, hollow macarons. The perfect consistency of a perfect batter should resemble molten lava. It shouldn’t be runny (overmixed), but it shouldn’t be stiff either. I used to look at tutorials on Youtube to help me find the right consistency.
  7. Put the batter into a piping bag and pipe 1-inch circles onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Macarons don’t expand in diameter very much- if at all- so don’t worry about giving lots of space in between.
  8. Bang the trays against a flat surface several times to get rid of air bubbles.
  9. Preheat oven to 315 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Let macarons sit out for 15-45 minutes so it forms a skin. The skin is what allows feet to form, the signature of a true macaron. You know it will have formed a skin when the macarons don’t stick when you lightly touch it. The surface should bounce back when touched.
  11. Bake macarons for 13 minutes.
  12. Cool macarons before transferring them onto a wire rack.
  13. Sandwich macarons with a filling and serve!

Because these are plain macarons, any filling would complement them. I chose a vanilla buttercream filling but you can fill them with nutella, jam, chocolate ganache, etc. The choices are endless!

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These links are very helpful so check them out! Troubleshooting Guide, Entertaining with Beth Tutorial, Honeysuckle Catering Tutorial.

Good luck making them and as always, let me know how they turn out!

 

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a great Monday so far!

Yesterday, I finally had the chance to make Oh She Glows’, Toffee Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie Bars. I have been following Angela’s blog for a while now and I also have her amazing cookbook! The food she makes is delicious, so I was very excited to try out this one. Particularly because it’s gluten free and I love oatmeal cookies.

I had almost every ingredient needed for the recipe with the exception of flax seed and coconut sugar. No worries though, I substituted chia seeds for the flax seed and brown sugar for the coconut sugar. Because chia seeds absorb more water in comparison to flax seeds, instead of adding 3 tablespoons of water (as suggested), I used 5-6 tablespoons for the flax egg.

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I could not stop eating them- they were just so amazing! Plus, because they’re a little healthier, I didn’t feel as bad hehe. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love the texture. It’s crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. Although it’s chewy, you can really “crunch” the oatmeal and chia seeds (if that makes sense) which I love.

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Definitely making more of these in the future!

P.S. My 21 days challenge is going very well so far. Maybe not in all the goals, but for sure in the gluten goal. I haven’t had gluten since September 1st 😀

Birthday Cupcakes

IMG_7033Over the weekend, my cousin celebrated her 10th birthday party! I decided to bring some desserts and since cupcakes are a personal favorite, I thought they were perfect for the occasion.

I’ve never frosted cupcakes with an icing tip before so I was nervous about how they’d turn out, but they turned out beautifully! I used the Pilsbury yellow cake mix, homemade vanilla frosting with the Wilton 1M tip, and topped it with some star sprinkles. The cupcakes turned out a little too moist in my opinion so next time, I would add less oil than asked for or bake them for a little longer. Regardless, they were a huge hit at the party so I’m very pleased!

Every time a birthday rolls around, I always spend a good amount of time coming up with a meaningful gift or card, but sadly, I always prepare something last minute, and it’s never the gift I imagine it to be. So although this birthday “present” isn’t stellar or anything,  I did put time and effort and I’m proud of it. I made her the cupcakes, wrote a nice card, and I’m planning on getting her something very girly for her actual birthday.

Happy happy hump day! 🙂

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My Struggle With Gluten

Gluten. It’s a word that’s heard more and more often. You’ll see packages at the grocery store with the label “gluten free” or “GF”. You don’t think much of it though- unless you have an allergy or intolerance to gluten. My best friend has celiac disease. Celiac disease “is a disorder resulting from an immune reaction to gluten”. When I first met her, I never paid much attention to her allergy. I knew she couldn’t consume gluten but I never paid attention to exactly which foods she couldn’t have since it never affected me. I didn’t have an issue with gluten. I couldn’t be more wrong.

I’m now a senior but since eighth grade, I remember having issues with bloating. After eating a meal my stomach would become huge. It looked like I was pregnant. I had a lot of digestive issues and when I brought up the issue to my mom, we glazed over it. My family and I laughed at my watermelon-like stomach.

IMG_5235Photo taken in December 2013. It looks worse in person.

But then the issue really started bothering me this year. My stomach didn’t just bloat, it would feel so uncomfortable. After eating food, it felt like the food was simply sitting in my stomach. It wasn’t being digested. I was so full that lying down was painful. On a school night, I would eat at 6pm and wouldn’t be able to sleep till midnight because my food would still be uncomfortably full. That affected my performance at school the next day. My digestive issues were getting worse and I was always tired. I went to the doctor and she wasn’t any help. She said I looked fine and all she could do is some blood work. So after listening to my friend’s advice and researching online, I decided to eliminate gluten in my diet and see how my body reacted to it. Bingo, that was the issue. I self-diagnosed myself with a gluten intolerance. 

It’s still a struggle though. I’ve grown up with gluten. I love pizza, cakes, pasta, etc. So taking it out of my diet is really hard. I’ll be really good about not eating gluten for a couple days- I’ll feel great, have a flat stomach, have no digestive issues and then one slice of pizza will completely wreak havoc and I’ll feel bloated again. I know that consuming gluten is not good for me yet I do it over and over again. It’s a never ending cycle. I have such little self-control. I went out for dinner last night and I had the most delicious pasta. I was so full but I decided to eat two slices of my sister’s pizza (not gluten free) and I felt terrible. It’s frustrating because I know the consequence but I keep eating gluten for the temporary pleasure.

It’s only been about two months since I’ve made the deliberate effort to change my lifestyle so I know I shouldn’t be too hard on myself but it’s frustrating! I’ll update you guys on my gluten journey and I also plan on sharing my favorite gluten-free recipes.