7 life lessons I’ve learned from hatching baby chicks

Last year was the first time I hatched baby chicks in my 6th grade science classroom. It was SUCH an amazingly beautiful learning experience for my students and I. Not only did they learn the science behind how life grows and develops from cell to organism, but they also learned priceless lessons that neither rubric nor grading scale could measure.  They learned how to care. They learned how to respect, appreciate, and fight for life. They learned that life is precious, and special. And most of all, they learned the true meaning of love. 

This year has been just as amazing. Continue reading


Pomegranate blackberry iced tea

I’ve fallen into a flavored tea trap lately.
I go through these weird beverage cycles, and at the moment, it’s all. things. flavored tea.

And if I’m not careful, I could really be packing on some calories by consuming store-bought or restaurant flavored teas without checking labels! Most flavored teas are full of, for lack of a better term, crap!

Brew your own unsweetened tea (I love China Mist!), and then make your own simple syrups to add some yummy flavor. It’s easy, you control everything that goes into it, and you don’t have to feel like you’re consuming empty calories! šŸ™‚


Pomegranate simple syrup
Health benefits of pomegranate.
1 cup pomegranate juice (like POM)
1 cup raw, unfiltered honey (the cloudy stuff!)
1/2 cup water

1. In a pot on medium heat, simmer all ingredients until the honey thins and dissolves.
2. Cool and stir into your favorite unsweetened iced tea. Add frozen blackberries for a little something special!
*Store in an airtight bottle for up to 3 weeks!



Almond flour oatmeal cookies

Early on in our relationship I learned about my sweetie’s love of oatmeal cookies. I remember him mentioning it during one of our all night long phone conversations and baked up a batch for our first trip together during our first summer together. I knew he loved them (or me) because he ate them all.

So a month or two later, I made another batch. And they were gone as well. So I knew he was a true fan. Needless to say, throughout the past 3.5 years, I’ve made more than a few dozen.

When I started bringing more and more “clean” recipes into our lives, I knew I would need to find a way to bake a healthy oatmeal cookie recipe ASAP.

It had to be sweet.
It had to be chewy.
It had to be just as satisfying as the real thing.

When I watched him take his first bite of these little darlings and then proclaim that they’re “good!”, I new I’d have to share it with the world!

Cleaned up oatmeal cookies 
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup raw unfiltered honey
1 cup date sugar (recipe or where to purchase)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Cream together butter, honey and date sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. Combine flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the wet mixture. Mix in oats.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, slightly press into disces and place on a greased cookie sheet.
3.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown, but still soft on the top. Cool and enjoy!



Eggplant lasagna

Covering things in cheese has been a tried and true way to get picky eaters to eat their veggies since the beginning of time.

Even Jesus himself wouldn’t eat his broccoli without his mom covering it in cheese sauce (I forgot what section of the bible that’s in, but look it up!).

Sorry vegan friends, but cheese makes EVERYTHING better. 

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. I what I love most about them is their cheese section. With a huge variety, amazing prices, and delicious concoctions (think cranberry goat cheese!), I always find something to ignite my culinary creativity.

And aside from the cheeses, there are also SO many other fantastic finds at TJ’s. I typically go once a week to stock up on essentials, and explore new-to-me treats.

As I was perusing the frozen foods section this past Saturday, something caught my eye…


Misto alla Griglia 92555

The bag sat in my freezer for a few days as I pondered what exactly to do with it. Then it hit me…. lasagna! I had picked up some mozzarella on a recent trip to the market, and already had a fridge stocked with a block of Parm and Feta from TJ’s. Perfection in the making! Here’s the recipe.

1782089_10153132248677474_8107897688934551550_nGrilled eggplant and zucchini lasagna
1 defrosted bag of grilled zucchini and eggplant from Trader Joe’s (you can also go the fresh route and grill your own!)
8 sliceds of mozzarella cheese (like the one you get from the deli)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 tsp. evoo
chopped parsley and basil for garnish

Directions Pre-heat oven to 400
1. Using the olive oil, grease a shallow pan (like a glass pie dish or 8 x 8 square pan).
2. Drain the excess liquid from the can of fire roasted tomatoes. Set aside in a bowl.
3. Remove the eggplant and zucchini from the bag and gently pat dry with a paper towel.
4. Begin by layering the grilled veggies in a single layer on the bottom of your dish or pan.
5. Pour 1/3 of the can of tomatoes over the veggies and spread evenly with a spoon or spatula.
6. Layer 4 slices of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 the Parmesan and feta over the mozzarella. Repeat this order one more time to use up the remaining ingredients.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. If cheese begins to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil.
Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh herbs if you choose! Enjoy! šŸ™‚



Low carb carrot cake muffins

I have loved carrot cake since before I can even remember. It’s one of those flavors that reminds me of childhood. I used to love to go out to dinner with my grandparents to the local Piccadilly cafeteria at Westshore mall. One of my favorite things about these old school cafeterias was that dessert was always the first thing you saw as you placed your tray onto the little metal railings. The dessert section came before the salads, main courses, and sides. They truly believed in the power of a “desserts first” mentality!


So before I would even need to decide on a Salisbury steak, crispy cod fillet, or side of mac & cheese, I already had dessert propped and ready on my tray. And that dessert was almost always one of two things: coconut cream pie OR carrot cake.

Ah, sweet carrot cake. With your nutty and chewy texture, rich spicy and warm flavor, and smooth, creamy frosting: I love everything, EVERYTHING about you.

And when I’m really craving carrot cake, and want to satisfy that craving with something that tastes good AND is good for me, I reach for these low carb carrot cake muffins!

Each muffin is only 151 calories and has a total net carbs of 8.3g! (See below for full nutritional details & comparison to a big named carrot cake muffin!)

Low-carb carrot cake muffins
yields 9
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. sea salt
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2tbsp. coconut oil– melted and cooled
1 mini box of raisins
1/2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger (can use powdered too)
2 medium carrots, finely grated
1/4 cup almond milk
2tbsp. raw honey
the juice of 1/2 lemon
For the icing
1/2 block of room temperature cream cheese
1/2 tbsp. raw honey
1/4 tsp. freshly grated ginger (can use powdered too)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
2. Combine eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, almond milk, honey, apple sauce and coconut oil in a mixing bowl and beat until just combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and powdered ginger if your’e not using fresh. Stir to combine.
4. Carefully add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well.
5. Add in raisins, grated carrots and fresh ginger (if you aren’t using powdered ginger).
6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick test shows that they’re done. You can opt to ice them with a combination of cream cheese, honey and ginger-whipped with your mixer or whisk until smooth.

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*Nutritional information (without icing):
Serving size= 1 muffin, Calories= 151, Net carbs= 8.3g, Sugar= 5g, Fat= 12g

Compared to Starbucks Carrot Cake Muffin (from the website):
Serving size= 1 muffin, Calories= 371, Net carbs= 43g, Sugar= 26g, Fat=20g

*based on calculations of the brands I used. Nutritional value may vary depending on brand, so please take this into consideration! šŸ™‚