Pistachio & Strawberry White Chocolate Bark

Tired of the same old peppermint bark every Christmas? I for one, do not like peppermint flavors in my chocolate! I like nuts, caramel, fruit, and other crunches, but not peppermint. If you are looking for a sweet, easy gift to hand out to friends this year, look no further! This classic take on holiday chocolate bark is unusual and delicious! Here is the super easy recipe:

Pistachio & Strawberry White Chocolate Bark

1 bar of Lindt white chocolate (or any other brand of good white chocolate)

1/4 cup of freeze dried strawberries

1/4 cup of shelled, salted pistachios

note: this is for one serving or one “gift bag” of bark. If you want to make more just multiply the ingredients!

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Directions:

In a double boiler (a saucepan with 2 inches of water in it and a glass mixing bowl on top), break up the bar of chocolate and melt it down in the glass bowl slowly.  Stir frequently. You don’t want to burn it or have it get too hot. You can also do this in the microwave by melting in 10 second increments and stirring in between.

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While the chocolate is melting, give a rough chop to the 1/4 cup of pistachios and 1/4 cup of strawberries. Divide each into half. Half of the strawberries go in the chocolate and half go on top. Same for the pistachios.

IMG_2457After the chocolate melts, put half of the strawberries and half of the pistachios in with the chocolate & stir to combine them.

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IMG_2476Pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with a piece of wax paper to prevent sticking. Smooth the chocolate out with a spatula.

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Top the chocolate with the leftover pistachios and strawberries.

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Place the sheet in the refrigerator for about an hour so the chocolate re-hardens. When it is completely solid, peel if off of the wax paper and break it into chunks.

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IMG_2510You can put the chunks in a decorative mason jar or a holiday themed plastic baggie and tie some ribbon around it. These make great gifts! Much better than fruitcake! Let me know how you liked this recipe in the comments! Happy Holidays Everyone.

XO
Lisa O


Coconut Oil FUDGE!!! It’s a superfood, and it’s healthy!

Ok, so now, Fudge is a superfood. This recipe for coconut oil fudge is one of the healthiest things you can put in your mouth, so you need to make it immediately. My life has changed since I discovered this recipe. It is 4 simple ingredients, and you will want to shout from the rooftops how pumped you are once you taste it.

I’ll keep this brief in telling you why this fudge is so healthy for you. For one, raw coconut oil is arguably the best fat on the planet. It’s a saturated fat, which means is great for you. It helps regulate cholesterol, can kill bacteria & viruses, helps speed up your metabolism, decrease your appetite for bad fats & sugar, boost brain function, etc. It is recommended to consume a tablespoon of raw coconut oil every day.

The second key component in this “fudge” is CACAO. Not cocoa, but CACAO. Cacao is the actual bean, and raw cacao is not processed. It’s just dehydrated and powdered. Cocoa is a processed from of cacao.

CACAO is the HEALTHIEST FOOD ON THE PLANET. It contains more antioxidants than any other food and is 80% magnesium, creates serotonin in your brain when consumed, helps relax you, decreases appetite, cuts cravings for sugar, makes you emit the “in love” hormone, and they are high in iron.

Cacao is what our chocolate starts as before it’s processed to death. What we buy in the store as chocolate is nowhere near the raw state of cacao.

This fudge has helped me lose my baby weight. I have very high sugar and dessert cravings, and since I started keeping this fudge in my fridge, I am able to eat it instead of some terrible piece of cake or box of cookies. All it takes is a little piece & I am instantly brought down from my bad craving. Make no mistake, fat doesn’t make you fat….this fudge will actually help you burn fat. Now, here is the recipe!

Raw Coconut Oil Fudge:
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3/4 cup (heaping) RAW virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup (exact) RAW CACAO powder (if you only have unsweetened cocoa, you can use it, but cacao is much healthier and better)
3-4 tablespoons raw honey
1 pinch of sea salt

optional: cacao nibs, coconut flakes, walnuts

Directions:

In a stand mixer, or in a bowl with a whisk, whip the coconut oil until it’s a little fluffy, about 2 min. It won’t fluff up like whipped cream, but it should get smooth.
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Add in the Cacao powder, honey, and sea salt. Continue to whip the ingredients together until they become smooth and homogenous, about 1 min.
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If you just want plain fudge, then you are ready to put the mixture into the pan! If you like a little pizzazz, feel free to add some raw cacao nibs. I like a little extra crunch, so I add about 1/4 cup of cacao nibs to mine & mix them in.

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Now, pour the mixture into a small baking dish, about 9×9. Smooth the top out.
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If you want to add some toppings, now is the time to do it. I added walnuts, cacao nibs, and coconut flakes, but you can leave it plain and it’s just as delicious.
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Put it in the fridge and let it set for a couple of hours. When it’s done, you can cut it into squares so that way it’s ready to eat when you want it! Keep the pan in the fridge, unless you are transferring it to a glass container. Coconut oil is very fragile, and will melt when it gets room temp or hotter. I like to leave mine in the pan so it stays really cold and keeps its crunch.
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That’s it! Let me know what you guys think of this recipe in the comments! It’s so easy to make, it’s healthy, and my whole family is hooked on it! It’s a great trade in for kids as well. No more arguing over chocolate! You can give this to the kids without worrying about the sugar or other chemicals, and they will not know the difference!

xo

Lisa O


Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe!

My household has been sick more than ever this year. Pearl, Jack, and myself have all been victims of multiple colds & other viruses over the last few months. I’ve tried lots of things & this recipe I found on Pinterest has been the best so far at defeating the almighty cough. Store bought cough syrups contain all kinds of nasty chemicals. I have never felt comfortable taking, much less giving to my child. This recipe contains all natural food ingredients, specifically raw honey, which has been proven over and over again to aid in respiratory health.

It is safe to use on kids, just don’t use on a baby under 1 year old since it’s not recommended they have raw honey. Let me know if you have any cough syrup recipes you like in the comments!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons raw hone
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

XO

Lisa O


How the Television Temporarily Stole My Kid, and How I Got Her Back

Who else is guilty of using the TV as a babysitter? I’ll admit, over the last year, the TV has been on a lot, and my two year old is an iPhone pro. We’ve used to to pacify her in a restaurant when she became too cranky, in the car when she wanted to get out, and pretty much any other time of the day when she would ask for it.

I’m being completely honest when I say the last 5 months had been hell. Her temper tantrums were rampant. Nothing interested her other than snacks and TV. Sophia the First & Octonauts became her BFF’s. I felt insecure when I saw my other friends’ kids doing things, like, coloring, playing with dolls, and building legos. Even though she is outdoors for a minimum of 3 hours a day, I would try every day to get her interested in something fun like an art or science project, and it was usually met with 60 seconds of interest, followed by 30 minutes of defiance, crying, and purposeful naughty behavior. I convinced myself that my child was just going through her terrible 2 phase & that this would pass. She wouldn’t always act like this, and she would eventually get to the point where she wanted to do something imaginative indoors.

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In the beginning of December, after increasingly concerning behavior regarding her attention span, I sought out advice from some other mom friends & asked questions like, “Is your toddler interested in toys? Do they play and entertain themselves? Are they interested in crafts & other fun sensory things?” Some of their answers were yes, some were no. I was ashamed to admit that my 2 1/2 year old had absolutely no interest in doing most of these.

After a horrible 2 weeks of some of the worst temper tantrums and crying fits our household had ever seen, a lightbulb went off. We had attempted several fun holiday outings that most children would be delighted to get to do. We went to see Christmas lights, made s’mores, and hung Christmas decorations. All of these things should be super fun for a toddler. Not for her. She put on a spectacular show of defiance & made sure nobody had any fun at any point. It was there in the car, listening to her crying & screaming in the backseat over christmas music on the radio that my husband and I began to talk about this behavior she’d been displaying over the past few months. We went over her diet and routine a bit before realizing a correlation between the behavior and days she watched the most TV, or when she’d watch TV first thing in the morning. It quickly became apparent that the television had taken our sweet, intelligent, fun little girl hostage & was holding her there in Disney Jr. land until we demanded her back.

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At that point, my husband and I decided we were ditching the TV and phones, effective immediately. I started doing some research on toddlers & what science is saying about the impact of TV on their little brains. In short, toddlers are supposed to be highly sensory, imaginative, curious, and job oriented. Think of their brain as a spark plug. The second they spark it with something imaginative such as building lego’s, the brain ignites & the imagination quickly leads to other things. This is why a healthy toddler can go into a room full of toys, start playing with something, and then pick up another toy and incorporate it into their play. The imagination is like wildfire for them.

The television stunts this process. When a toddler stares at a TV screen for too long, all of these wonderful sparks of imagination come to a complete halt. It causes them to be irritable, confused, angry, unsatisfiable, sleepless, etc. I witnessed literally all of these in my own offspring. When she was at the height of her TV watching, it was only for collectively 1 1/2-2 hours a day. This was enough to send her into an induced state of attention deficit. She never wanted to entertain herself, play with her toys, or do any fun crafts with me…and may I note that this is a kid who goes to the park or some other outdoor activity for 3 hours a day, nearly every day. It doesn’t matter how much outdoor time your kid gets, the TV cancels it out.

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I hear parents say things like, “The tv is so educational these days, it’s good for them.” This is a lie, people. The TV shuts off every avenue of true cognitive learning for a toddler. You have more of an ability to teach your kid something in 60 seconds than the TV has in an hour.

When the TV was no longer used as a source of entertainment for her, in two days time, after many tantrums, I saw a miraculous change. For the first time in her entire 2 1/2 years of existence, my sweet little angel woke up, went straight into her playroom, and started playing with her toys without asking to watch TV, not even once. I saw her pick up a doll & put it in the dollhouse and play with it. She then went over to her play kitchen & started cooking breakfast for me. She started talking more. She started spending over 30 minutes at a time with her toys. Instead of becoming disinterested in an art project after 2 minutes, she now sits for 15 minutes. She asks for her coloring book & colors. She draws me pictures. These are all simple things toddlers should be doing that mine wasn’t doing before. She is now.

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I’m not ashamed of this process. Being a parent means learning through trial and error. I knew the TV wasn’t great for her, but I didn’t realize how much pain and suffering I was causing MYSELF by letting her watch so much. As parents, we think the TV makes our lives easier, and sometimes it does…for a minute. But, the after-effects from it can be catastrophic & cause a major strain in the parent-child relationship. I saw this first hand.

You can undo the temporary attention deficit behavior by simply turning off the TV. I recommend shutting it off cold turkey for one week before even letting them watch at all, later, when they aren’t dependent on it anymore.

Watching TV now is a treat for my daughter, and she is completely aware of it. It is only used when she is sick, and on some nights when it’s late and we have 30 minutes before bed, she asks for “one episode”…because she knows she’s only allowed to watch for a short period of time at the end of the day when she’s played hard. I have seen a significant decrease in temper tantrums. I now have a toddler who has the appropriate attention span for her age. She still does all of the little toddler things that are completely annoying yet totally acceptable for her age, but I no longer see that rearing dragon that is only summoned by excessive TV watching.

I understand that sometimes you need the TV on for 30 minutes while you get that important thing done. The goal is to be able to have your toddler play and entertain himself while you do that, without the TV being on. We are nearly there, and it feels good.

Here are some interesting facts from articles written about this very subject:

  • “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers.
  • Every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos.
  • Babies learn faster and better from a native speaker of a language when they are interacting with that speaker instead of watching the same speaker talk on a video screen. “Even watching a live person speak to you via television is not the same thing as having that person in front of you,” says Christakis.
  • The more television children watch, the shorter their attention spans later in life. “Their minds come to expect a high level of stimulation, and view that as normal,” says Christakis, “and by comparison, reality is boring.”
  •  “The evidence is suggesting that there’s a whole syndrome of different outcomes related to television viewing, ranging from attention and learning problems to problems related to obesity, aggression, and sleep problems,” he says.
  • Youths who watched three or more hours of television a day were twice as likely to develop attention difficulties than those who watched less than one hour.
  •  “For every hour of television toddlers watch a day, they are ten percent more likely to develop attention problems at school,”
  • Some activities, such as reading together, going to museums, and singing help support a child’s brain development in these critical years, watching television can have the opposite effect.

And here, the most impactful of all the words on this page, the reason why TV causes ADD and ADHD like behavior is because:

“The reason? Most television programming, even some of the educational variety, features quick edits, flashing images and rapid sequences, as opposed to the slower pace of “real life.” “Our attention is broken up because we biologically have a tendency to shift our attention to changing stimuli, so television tends to take advantage of that,” says Johnson. In other words, the rapid pace plays off our instincts to track fast movements, and serves to “hook us” into the program. “But if viewers get dependent on these rapid changes,”says Johnson, “when they turn their attention to something else, like reading a book, their brain might have difficulty staying focused.” Christakis observed a similar tendency in his study of young children. After prolonged exposure to television, which conditions the mind to expect rapid-fire stimulation, he says that “in contrast, reality is boring.”

 

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,00.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/tv-guidelines-for-babies-_n_1019815.html

http://www.education.com/magazine/article/TV_ADHD/

What do you make of all of this? Please share your insights and experiences in the comments!

XO

Lisa O