Clean Carrot Cake

I love a good challenge. The kind that scares me slightly, makes me question my capabilities and forces me to do my best. It might sound ridiculous, but that’s what this cake did.

I love a good carrot cake, but a good carrot cake is hard to come by! I don’t quite understand it myself, but many carrot cakes turn out very dry. I also want to taste more than just carrots in my cake. There are so many flavors that compliment carrots. A carrot cake should be creative and fun!

I chose ginger and pineapple as my two complimenting flavors. The ginger leaves a tiny bite at the end of each mouthful. The pineapple draws out the natural sweet in the carrots and creates a soft textured “crust” underneath the cake.

This cake can stand alone without frosting. That was really important to me simply because it’s hard to make a cream cheese frosting without cream cheese, and a lot of people have a hard time with dairy (myself included). So while the cake can be frosted, it doesn’t have to be. How neat is that?!?

Biting into this cake, you’ll notice the consistency is spot-on for a regular cake. I love the idea of a cake that can bring people to the light-which is that eating real food doesn’t have to be gross. It can be delicious and nutritious! This cake is gluten free, dairy free and butter/oil free. I used apple sauce instead of any kind of fat. That also helped get the right moisture for a carrot cake. A carrot cake should be moist throughout, but hold itself well while cutting into it.

Invite some friends over, sway them to the dark light side of life and indulge in some carrot cake! This is a great starter dish for those skeptical about a healthy lifestyle. As always, I linked some of the ingredients to Amazon for quick purchasing. Enjoy!

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Pomegranate Sherbet

The heat was horrid. The kids and I were trying to make do, but we’d had enough. Every time the front door opened I could hear myself calling out, “Shut the door, you’re letting the heat in”. My husband was going through 6 gallons of water a day to keep from becoming dehydrated. The water in the pool was so hot we couldn’t even swim!

I did what any mom with 3 melting children would do. I put them in a cold bath and made sherbet.

Sherbet is great because it doesn’t require an ice cream maker. You can simply freeze it! This recipe makes excellent sherbet by freezing in 3 stages. First, you pour the blended liquid into a freezer safe Tupperware container. After an hour, use a fork and whisk it. This keeps the fat from separating with the sugar. In another hour to hour and a half, repeat this process. The sherbet will be mostly thick now, almost a thick milk shake consistency. Let the ice cream freeze for another 2 hours and serve! It scoops nicely right out of the container.

I just love the color of this sorbet too. The pomegranate flavor is cool and refreshing.

Try it yourself! Feel free to use this recipe in an ice cream maker if you have one, or just use your freezer.

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Strawberries in Balsamic Yogurt Sauce

Today I’m celebrating. Coffee in hand, kids at school, and complete silence are my party decorations. Something incredible happened this weekend. Our little family of 5 went hiking.

Hiking by itself is nothing new for my crew; what’s new is how we hiked. Minimal planning, and minimal child-holding on the hike. My kids are now 9, 5 and 2 1/2. As you can imagine, the last few years of parenting have come with lots of planning and LOTS of child-holding in order to maintain the life we love. That hike was magical. Our two boys hiked the whole way with no complaining. Our 2 1/2 year old daughter rode in the hiking back pack and only complained because she wanted to walk too. We let her down whenever we stopped to swim and that made her very happy.

My husband and I have been pretty ruthless in keeping what we love regardless of the kids. Meaning, we haven’t stopped hiking, going to concerts, camping, road-tripping, and all around adventuring. We’ve gone into countless activities with the attitude of “this is going to be even better than last time” as opposed to “we’ll just try to cope because the kids are with us this time”. This has become our life mantra.

Sweetest Lemonade was actually named after our intense focus to make not just lemonade out of lemons, but the sweetest lemonade. Life doesn’t have to be “less than” when kids enter your world. Or even when things start to turn sour for that matter. When life gets hard, you still have the choice to make it the best out of what you have.

Parenting is hard, and complaining about it is the easy way out. I choose to live every day enjoying my kids, my messy house and my knack for cooking.

That brings me to today’s recipe. A simple, surprisingly sweet yogurt balsamic sauce dolloped over strawberries.

Plain Greek yogurt gets a bad rap because of its strong tangy flavor and complete lack of sweet. I wish we weren’t all so addicted to sweet (myself included) and could appreciate foods that have other flavors. But, that topic is for another day.

I love the clear red color of this balsamic!

This twist on yogurt is superb. No one would guess a white pomegranate balsamic and a little bit of honey could transform plain Greek yogurt into a snack even your kids will request!

The best part is, this recipe is only 4 ingredients, and perfect for summer![amd-zlrecipe-recipe:91]




Honey Caramel Sauce

Ah, honey caramel sauce. The caramel flavor everyone loves with a light, airy taste. Honey can be used for a variety of things, not just food. I use raw, local honey in all my recipes. This stuff is too good to make into some sort of face mask or hair removal treatment. Some things simply must be eaten.

I am in love with raw honey. The taste alone gets me, but the way it holds its own in recipes has me sold out. I am not new to cooking with honey. When I used to buy generic honey from the store (gasp) I had no clue what was missing. The flavor wasn’t nearly as prevalent and the texture was slightly different.

Getting the ingredient portions right for this recipe was tricky, but definitely worth it. My kids hardly complained about “bad batches” either.😉

Uses For Honey Caramel Sauce

Honestly, I haven’t found a dud, but here is what I know works!

What do you love to do with caramel sauce? Whatever it is try this honey caramel sauce instead of your regular one. Looking for a darker caramel flavor? Click here to read about our caramel sauce using coconut sugar.

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Gorgeous Gluten Free Soft Pretzels

I’m sorry. I did that thing again. The thing where I made something so delicious, you decided you’d rather move in with me than try to make all this food on your own. I get it. I used to be that person too. While I have contemplated the pros an cons of having a huge piece of land my friends can all live on, for now you’ll have to look at these pictures long enough to convince yourself to make them.

Pretzels are incredible. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like them. If that’s you, maybe just don’t tell me. I’m not sure I could handle that.

Having fun trying out various sizes!

Back in the day I worked at the gift shop in the mall. The pretzel place was the closest to me so naturally when on my breaks, I frequented it. I might also add that I was just over 300lbs at the time…. If you didn’t know that part of my story, you can read about it here.

Needless to say I generally stay away from pretzels because I love them too much. Until this recipe happened. Gluten free pretzels that only use coconut sugar. They’re dairy free too!

The Pretzel Process

Begin with by mixing the warm water and yeast. Then add in the dough mixture. Cover and let rise for 60-70 minutes.

Roll out the dough onto parchment paper. I sprinkled my parchment paper with brown rice flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Transfer the pretzels from the paper to the hot water bath. They only need to be in the water for 3-5 seconds, not much.

Olive oil is the key for these savory pretzels. Most recipes finish with a butter glaze, but I wanted a different zing-zing flavor. I used Buckeye Creek Farm Olive Oil for this recipe. Brush the olive oil on the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle the rosemary and kosher salt on top. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

One batch can make 12 medium pretzels, or 6 large pretzels.

Dip them in your favorite sauce and enjoy!

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Banana Pecan Muffins

“Mom – she touched me!”

“Well he wouldn’t stop looking at me!”

“That’s because you won’t play with me.”

“I don’t wanna play with you. I’m not a baby anymore!”

“Mom – she called me a baby!”

Crying. Whining. Yelling. Don’t forget the fiery darts coming out of your child’s eyes.

If only whining could be neutralized. Will there ever be a cure?!?

I know what you truly want for Mother’s Day. It’s not breakfast in bed or a bouquet of roses. None of those little coupons promising dishes will be done for a week. You don’t want jewelry either. Okay, I should say you don’t want just jewelry. Sweetest Moms Tip: Don’t ever say no to jewelry.

What you really want is for your children to get along. To stop whining, nagging, tattling and everything else in between.

People, I’ve figured it out. It’s not a séance or new video game that teaches manners either.

There is something you should know. This recipe will calm your kids down. Mellow them out. Create a peaceful environment where everyone can hear themselves think. Can you picture it? I’m still in the stage of not being able to use the bathroom by myself- so you can imagine why I created this recipe.

The Trick

Muffins are a friendly enough food to kids at any age. From toddler to teen, a muffin is a welcome sight.

I’ve disguised these muffins to appear normal, slightly sweet & delicious. Kids will ever know your plan to keep them calm for an afternoon.

Cardamom is a natural anti-depressant and helps reduce muscle spasms. It’s also used for heart issues and stomach pains. Bottom line, by using this spice, you are taking care of multiple things that can make kids cranky. Have you ever experienced the horrors that come with a child having growing pains? Not fun. Or he ate too much at lunch and now everything is making him angry due to gas or a bloated stomach? My son has actually come home sick from school only to find the problem was an upset stomach from lunch time.

Cloves will surprise you. I use ground cloves quite often. Did you know cloves are an amazing remedy for headaches? So whether the whining is causing a headache or the result of one, cloves are important for calming the situation.

Pecans have a wealth of vitamins and nutrients. Possibly lesser known is that nuts have been proven to lower anxiety. No matter what started the whining sound, a lower amount of anxiety will definitely help!

Bananas are simply the best. The can level out your metabolism and be the perfect go-to snack when you’re on the run as a typical banana is only 90 calories. They are high in potassium and have natural occurring sugars in them.

 

So give yourself a treat, make some muffins and put the whole family in a better state of mind. This will be the best Mother’s Day yet! 😉

I am siting Organic Facts for the information listed above about spices and foods.[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:85]

 




Mushroom Cheesy Rice

Traditional dishes turned healthy make me smile. This side dish screams flavor and is nutrient dense as well.

We’ve all had a version of creamy mushroom cheesy rice before. Undoubtedly it has included cream of mushroom instead of real mushrooms. Hang on tight, because this recipe is a game changer. Fresh mushrooms locally sourced are a huge flavor improvement from your typical rice recipe. We are lucky enough to have Mushroom Authority right here in Northern California. Not only can you buy a wide variety of mushrooms from them, but you can purchase mushroom kits and grow your own!

Mushrooms are high in Vitamin B as well as Vitamin D. However, when you pour out a can of cream of mushroom, you’ve sadly lost a lot of the nutrients that were in the mushrooms to begin with.  

We paired sresh shiitake mushrooms with local cheese from Pedrozo Dairy. They have an outstanding gold cheese that has won the hearts of the kids. My husband is what I like to call a “cheese snob”. He cares very much about what kind of cheeses enter our house and this one passed with flying colors.

 

Pair this with our honey sesame pork chops or homemade chicken nuggets for a complete meal!

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Lovely Lavender Lemonade

Wondering why the heck we are called Sweetest Lemonade and have yet to create a lemonade recipe?? We’ve been waiting for the right one. The perfect one. Lovely Lavender Lemonade is just what we’ve been longing for. Now you can enjoy it too. 🍹🍋

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life pummels you with lemons, fight back. Decide to live an incredible life regardless of the lemons. That’s the premise of this entire site. Choose to make life great – make the sweetest lemonade out of the lowest valleys walked through. Read more about our story here.

Today, let’s actually make lemonade. We’ve been dreaming up this idea for a long time. Given our name we can’t simply create a plain lemonade, it needs to sparkle and shine.

Lovely Lavender Lemonade is just that. Beautiful, sweet and refreshing. Have you ever tasted lavender? Most people know it only as a flower. It is so much more! Lavender is also known for relaxing people, reducing anxiety and relieving pain. Its flavor is powerful, so one drop of lavender oil will suffice for most recipes. Lavender buds are also a fun way to flavor foods. Believe it or not, but I hold firm that lavender tastes purple. That’s right. Purple. It just does! Not sweet yet not bitter. Slightly “herbally”, but not earthy.

Try it for yourself and let us know what you think!

Check out our Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes for another great lavender recipe.

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Honey Butter

As a mom, I cherish the moments when I can be in my child’s class. Getting to know the other kids and the classroom dynamic really opens my eyes to my child’s world. I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at my son’s preschool. The teachers asked me to bring in an art project about honey and a honey-based snack. Here’s what we made!

First and foremost, you should know I started and directed a preschool back before I had 3 kids. I had one little guy who joyfully came to work with me every day. That being said, I absolutely love messy projects. I’m a firm believer that the messier the better. In my eight years of teaching, I saw countless students gain a better understanding through play and textured learning.

For my son’s class, we made bees by painting bubble wrap yellow and “stamping” them onto paper. I pre-cut the bubble wrap into wing shapes. Here is a link to the craft I based this off of.

Next we sampled honey butter with bread. Yum! So simple, so delicious. I laughed watching a few of the kids get confused and trying to stamp the honey butter onto their bee picture. Whoops! 😂

Whether you’re looking for a fun lesson about bees for your kiddos or have been dying to try honey butter, this recipe is for you!

We made honey butter in one of our cooking demos at the Honey Festival last week. It’s so good, we were asked multiple times if we sold honey butter in jars! For now, you’ll have to be satisfied with making this recipe at home. I will add though that you can now purchase our Elderberry Gummy Kit at Saltea Herbs. We paired our love for cooking healthy food with their love for herbs, spices & teas to create this kit. The kit includes a gummy mold, dropper, elderberries, gum Arabic and of course the recipe! You can check out the recipe here.

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Perfect White Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream Frosting

This has been my little secret for 2 years now. Every time guests try the cake at my kids’ birthday parties, they rave about how moist and perfectly flavored it is. I’m sorry I haven’t been in the sharing mood. I’m over that now and ready to tell the world how to make perfect white cake-and this specific recipe is for cupcakes!

It started with unrealistic goals. I wanted a gluten free, dairy free birthday cake for my kids. I didn’t mind if it had white sugar in it because as a family we are okay with that for birthdays. I’ve tried numerous gluten free or dairy free cakes at weddings and events, but nothing ever tasted good enough for me to want seconds. Birthday cake needs to be impressive. Special, just like the kid’s whose birthday it’s for! For that matter, any big event needs to have equally amazing food. That’s only my opinion, but food can really be the “cherry on top” of a great party, or the reason people don’t stick around after the candles are blown out.

I’ve searched Pinterest looking for cakes claiming to be “the best” birthday cake recipe and found nothing within my specifications. Finally, I turned to creating something of my own. I started by reading measurements commonly used for cakes. Then I toyed around with certain gluten free flours that were white in nature. Almond flour was out and so was coconut flour-simply because of the overpowering flavor.

Oat flour, tapioca flour and brown rice flour won out. I tweaked the recipe until I had the right proportions. Then, I exchanged milk for almond milk. The results were incredible. Using egg whites helps keep the cake the right color as well.

For those that follow Sweetest Lemonade because of our reputation for using natural sugars low on the glycemic index, I suggest using coconut sugar or honey instead of white sugar. It will drastically change the color of the cake, but the flavor is still incredible.

How cute are these mini cupcakes? We have a big event coming up this weekend and we’ll be giving out samples of our favorite dishes during cooking demos. I love the pairing of our perfect white cupcakes with a honey buttercream frosting. Honey is such a different kind of sweet, and it is well balanced with the other sugars in this recipe.

Want to know what else you could do with this cake? I’ve made homemade fondant to make fun themed cakes for my kids and this cake holds up really well underneath fondant.

Check out last year’s cakes here! My boys wanted Minions and Minecraft for their “brother” birthday. This year looks like it will be Pac-Man and Pokémon. It’s so fun watching them grow and change their interests.[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:80]