Friday, April 5, 2013

DIY Face Powder

With the warmer weather on it's way, I like to have a bit of oil control for my skin.  I was browsing Pinterest and was intrigued by the idea of making my own face powder.  I found this recipe,  http://www.greatoakcircle.com/homemade-natural-makeup-translucent-powder, and decided to give it a try.  Just 3 simple ingredients and poof, instant translucent face powder to sop up the summer oilies.  I was pretty excited that the "pigment" in this recipe is cocoa powder and I used arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch for a smoother finish.

The verdict:  I am sold.  It leaves me feeling dry with a nice smooth finish.  Also, it does not settle into the creases in my face and there are no weird smells or unpronounceable chemicals!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fruit Snacks Revisited

I blogged about fruit snacks previously and with some further recipe research I found that fruit juice concentrate works much better than regular juice for making fruit snacks with gelatin.  This time I used this recipe:  http://www.smartmomstyle.com/all-juice-homemade-fruit-snacks-recipe/.  This recipe uses less liquid making for a more dense gummy.  I used the same silicon mold and the same brand of grape juice as last time, I just used the frozen concentrate.  I did not use any extra sweetener. 

The verdict:  This recipe was much gummier, less like gelatin, with a much sweeter, juicier taste.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fluffy Marshmallows

I have a bit of a marshmallow obsession at the moment and decided to make some marshmallow bits for Easter treats.  I used this recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe/index.html and I substituted the sugar syrup from this recipe, http://thecoconutmama.com/2011/05/homemade-marshmallows-2/, for the corn syrup.  I used organic sugar and organic powdered sugar because they are not as processed as conventional sugar and have a lovely natural honey color when melted.  This recipe is pretty self explanatory and not too difficult.  I used my stand mixer to mix, I don't use my hand mixer as some recipes suggest.  I have also never made the mini marshmallows because the liquid marshmallow is very sticky and I think it would just make a big mess.  It is just as easy to use a pizza cutter to make bitty marshmallows. 

The verdict:  This batch turned out super fluffy and they have a fantastic texture.  The last time I made these I use 1 cup of sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup of warm water for the corn syrup substitute and the marshmallows turned out a tad more dense with a little bit of a crust on the outside.  The sugar syrup I made this time definitely made a difference.  So far this is my favorite marshmallow recipe.  They are wonderful in my homemade hot cocoa :)  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cheesy Crackers

Next stop on our quest for clean eating, cheese crackers.  My daughter loves Goldfish crackers and the like, so it was only fitting that I at least make an attempt.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and gave it a go:  http://cleaneatingintexas.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/clean-eating-kids-recipe-goldfish-crackers/.  The only alteration I made is I used whole grain KAMUT flour, an ancient unaltered grain.  They were really easy to make, just zip up the ingredients in the food processor, chill, roll out pretty thin, and bake.  I didn't have any mini cookie cutters so I just made square crackers using a pizza cutter.  They turned out in several different sizes of squares, the smaller the cracker the crispier it was.

The verdict:  They are really tasty and very close to tasting like the whole grain Goldfish.  My husband and I think they are great, but I am not sure if my daughter is sold on them yet.  (I made almond meal cheese crackers before and I think she thinks these are those.  She is not a big fan of almond meal flour.)  She does like them fresh out of the oven and I think if I find a cute small cookie cutter she will like them better.       

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hot Fudge Brownie "Larabars"

In my quest to make healthy snacks for my family I came across this recipe many times:  http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/08/12/hot-fudge-brownie-larabars/.  The dates made me tentative to try it at first because I always thought of them as giant raisins.  I was looking for a bar recipe to try and this popped up.  "Hot Fudge" caught my eye, there wasn't a laundry list of ingredients, and the picture looked appetizing enough that I thought I would give it a try.  I have a 7 cup food processor which is small and it all fit in at once.  I put the dates in first and pulsed them until they were chopped.  I then added the rest of the ingredients and blended it until it was pretty fine/mixed.  The recipe direction said "feel free to experiment" and gave a few ideas, so I halved the amount of walnuts and added cashews.  I put 3 tablespoons of cocoa and added 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.  I put the mix in a plastic Ziplock bag to form the bars, just sort of mush them into a rectangle, and to store them.       

The verdict:  They were actually pretty awesome.  They have a great dense brownie texture and taste like fudge with a hint of fruit.  They were a little crumbly, but you can just smush them back together.  I was pretty surprised and kinda of impressed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Liquid Gold (Chocolate Syrup)

In an effort to eat a little healthier/know what we are eating, I found a few recipes and decided to make our own chocolate syrup.  My husband is a chocolate milk fiend and I am a hot cocoa fiend, so I thought this would be a good processed product to start making at home.  I have tried two recipes so far.

Here is the #1 recipe I tried:  http://savingcommoncents.blogspot.com/2013/01/homemade-chocolate-syrup.html.  The first time I made I followed the recipe exactly and boiled it for a long time (because it does not say how long in the recipe) making it very fudgey.  The second time I made it I cut the vanilla to 1 teaspoon.  The third time I made it I used coconut sugar.  I think the best results were the third results because coconut sugar has more to offer than regular sugar and it was a good thickness.

The #2 recipe is this one:  http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-chocolate-syrup/.  This recipe was very simple and I used coconut sugar in it.  I also added salt like in the first recipe.  The result was a very thick, strong syrup.

The verdict:  I like first and third version of the #1 recipe best.  The #2 recipe was too bitter for my liking and was really only good for hot cocoa.  The first recipe is good for hot cocoa, chocolate milk, ice cream, etc.  I enjoy the thick consistency, but the more syrupy recipe is better for chocolate milk.      

Friday, February 22, 2013

Marshin Mallows

I meant to make fruit snacks with the gelatin I had purchased, but ended up with an impromptu batch of marshmallows instead (I put the gelatin in water instead of juice the first time).  I use this recipe http://thecoconutmama.com/2011/05/homemade-marshmallows-2/ because it had the option of using coconut sugar.  It also does not contains any corn syrup, you make your own sugar syrup.  I had tried making marshmallows without corn syrup previously by substituting with a sugar and water combination that I found as an alternative to corn syrup in recipes, but the texture ended up being a little off.  This method makes for a more marshmallowy texture.

I used the homemade sugar syrup, coconut sugar, and I made my marshmallows cocoa flavored by adding 1/3 cup of cocoa powder to the gelatin mix.  Marshmallows are fun to make and to watch grow into sticky puffy clouds in the mixer.  I also put cocoa into the powdered sugar/arrowroot dusting mixture.  I used 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, and 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar.  I didn't follow the directions exactly for last part of the recipe.  I greased a 9x13 inch pan with coconut oil and then generously dusted it with the cocoa sugar mixture.  I spread the marshmallow in the pan and then generously dusted the top with more mixture.  I reserved some mix for cutting the marshmallows.  This method works well for me as far as ease of getting the marshmallows out of the pan after they set.

The verdict:  The texture was great.  They have a light cocoa taste with a hint of carmeliness from the coconut sugar (coconut sugar tastes sort of like brown sugar).   My Dad loves cocoa marshmallows and was the motivation behind this experiment.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fruit Snacks

My daughter is obsessed with fruit snacks, so I went in search of an easy fruit snack recipe.  Here is what I found:  http://yinmomyangmom.com/2012/08/25/homemade-gummy-snacks-and-juicy-jiggles/.  It was really easy to make, just mix two envelopes or 2 tbsp of gelatin with fruit juice and pour it into a silicon mold.  I used Welch's 100% Grape Juice because she likes grape and it was the healthiest juice I could find at Walmart.  I bought my silicon mold on Amazon.com.  It said "Mini Hearts" but they were a bit bigger than I expected. 

The verdict:  She was really excited about the fruit snacks and seemed to really like them.  They had a firm jello texture and a not too strong grape juice flavor.  They were really easy to remove from the mold, I oiled it with a little coconut oil.            

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Makin Fudge

I have been doing a lot of experimenting, which I love, with new foods lately.  My latest endeavor, chocolate mint fudge.  I found this recipe, http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-fudge/, thought it looked good, and I decided I would try it out.  I didn't have coconut butter on hand so I made some using these instructions, http://heathereatsalmondbutter.com/recipes/coconut-butter/.  It was actually really easy to make, just put the coconut in the food processor and let it run scraping down the sides periodically.  I mixed all the ingredients as the recipe instructs and put it in a small rectangular glass dish.

The verdict:  The texture is a little different but it actually tastes pretty good.  It solidified nicely in the refrigerator, has a fudge like consistence, but is a little grainy.  I was surprised because I expected it to taste like "health" food.  The only odd thing about it is there was a little separation of the coconut oil as seen in the picture.  Maybe I didn't mix it enough.   

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Search for a Good Granola Bar Recipe

I have recently decided to eat/feed my family more real food and cut out a lot of the processed food we eat.  I think most of the processed food in the house is in my daughter's snacks.  So I am on a quest to make homemade snacks for Lyra that are healthy and that she will actually eat.  My first attempt was to makeover her "bars."

I decided to try chocolate chip granola bars, although the term "bar" takes many forms in her world, and went in search of a good recipe.  I found many energy bar and health food recipes which included many various kinds of ingredients like dried fruits, nuts, protein powder, etc. which was not exactly what I was looking for.  For one, she doesn't like dried fruits and definitely doesn't need protein powder.  Also, a lot of the recipes contained a laundry list of ingredients and I was looking for a simple good tasting recipe.  I settled on this one:  http://www.joyofkosher.com/recipes/chewy-chocolate-chip-granola-bars/.  The recipe looked simple with a few ingredients, most of which I already had.  In order to make these more diet friendly, I substituted a few of the ingredients.  I used real butter instead of margarine, whole grain kamut flour, bittersweet chocolate chips (because that's what I had), coconut sugar, honey instead of maple syrup, and the crisp rice cereal I used was whole grain brown rice with 3 ingredients on the label.  I also chose the peanut butter variation using natural peanut butter.

The verdict:  They are very tasty, solid granola bars.  A little sweet for my liking, I will cut the amount of honey if I make them again.  My husband described them as tasting like "peanut butter no bakes."  I gave my daughter an entire bar.  She ate half of it and picked the chocolate chips out of the rest.  I consider this a success and will probably try making them again in the future with a few little tweaks.