Carrot Cake with a Healthy Fall Twist

It has only been a few months since I realized how delicious carrot cake is! It is quite an interesting concept- carrots in a cake?? Who ever thought of that!? Now, you may be wondering how carrot cake can have a “healthy” twist- “just because there are carrots in it doesn’t make it healthy.” Well, you would be absolutely right! But, what would you say if I told you this recipe takes out 75% of the oil amount- decreasing the calories by 1,560 and the fat amount by 126 grams- and replacing the oil with PUMPKIN! Yes, pumpkin! Not only does substituting the pumpkin for the oil make this cake a lot healthier, it also makes it so moist that I don’t think you will ever go back to using the full oil amount. Feeling a little iffy about this pumpkin switch…I guess you will just have to bake it (and eat it, of course) to believe it :) But, this has become my husband’s favorite dessert, even with knowing the healthy substitute!!

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What You Need:

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

3/4 Cup Sugar

4 Eggs

2 Cups Flour

2 tsp Baking Soda

1 TBS Cinnamon

3/4 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Oil

1 cup + 1/4 cup Pumpkin

2 cups Grated Carrots

FROSTING

1/4 cup Butter

1/2 stick (1/2 cup) Cream Cheese

Scant 2 cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1 TBS Milk (Add more as needed)

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The How-To:

1. Add all the ingredients except for the carrots into a kitchen aid bowl and mix. [Take out your butter and cream cheese to soften for the frosting]

2. Grate carrots. [If you have a newer Kitchen Aid, I would highly recommend this grater attachment! We received it as a wedding gift and have loved using it for grating cheese, carrots and more! Check it out- it's pretty awesome! Click the photo below!]

3. “Fold” carrots – gently combine them to the batter without stirring or beating using a spatula.

4. Prepare a 9×13 glass pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes at 350º. At 40 minutes, check the cake using a knife to see if it is cooked all the way through. If the knife comes out clean, it should be done; if not, it needs a few more minutes.

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Making the Frosting…

Take your room temperature butter and cream cheese and add to the kitchen aid. Mix until very creamy. Add 1/2 of the powdered sugar and mix on low. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, as well as the vanilla and milk. The frosting should be thick so do not add so much milk that it becomes runny. Once the cake cools, you can add the frosting. If you are not going to frost the cake right away, place the frosting into the refrigerator.

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Enjoy! :)

[Recipe card will be added to this post shortly!]

Bekah Signature48

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkins are everywhere! Pumpkin yummy treats are everywhere as well. Since I absolutely LOVE everything FALL including everything that tastes or smells of pumpkin, I decided to write about a few of my new pumpkin obsessions. I started by baking a batch of Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies this week. I love to bake pumpkin scones and this season I am working on a Gluten Free Pumpkin Scone recipe. I made this one a few days ago and delivered a batch to a precious friend who is recovering from surgery. I will post the recipe I tried and modify it in the near future. (The first batch was a bit too crumbly)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones

IngredientsIMG_4794
¾ cup gluten free oat flour
¾ cup almond meal flour
¼ cup coconut flour
2 cups oats
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice ( my favorite is from Trader Joe’s)
(you can use 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg)
1 Tablespoon butter softened
⅓ cup coconut oil melted
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 Tablespoon fresh grated orange rind
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar (to sprinkle on top of scones before you bake them)

Mix oat flour, almond meal, coconut flour, oats, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Combine butter and coconut oil and add to dry ingredients. Cut in until mixture is crumbly. Mix maple syrup, pumpkin, grated ginger, grated orange peel and egg together and fold into mixture in large bowl. Do not handle dough very much so scones will be light and not tough. Form into circles about 3 inch biscuit shape. Makes 8 or 9 scones. (You can also shape into a large 8-12 inch diameter by 2 inch high circle and cut into 8 triangular wedges.)IMG_4795 Place onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle tops of each scone with cinnamon sugar and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 minutes.IMG_4804Serve the scones with apple or pumpkin butter or jam and a cup of tea.

What is your favorite pumpkin baked good-muffin, bread, cookies, pie, cheesecake?

Kerry Signature48

 

All Things Pumpkin-Harvest Snacks

Sweet treats abound during this time of year, so I thought it would be nice to share an easy Harvest Snack Mix idea that is savory and sweet and fun to have around when friends stop by for a visit. I gathered up all the ingredients at my favorite store-Trader Joe’s. I mixed up a batch and already took a few bags full to friends.IMG_4797In a large bowl mix

4 cups of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin “O’s”
2 cups peanut butter pretzels
1 cup pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds
2 cups pumpkin flavored granola
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries

Mix together in a bowl and serve.IMG_4798
I bought some clear treat bags and filled them with Harvest Snack Mix, tied them with an orange ribbon and took one bag to a party for a fun hostess gift and dropped the other one off as a surprise for a friend.IMG_4799 IMG_4801It is really nice to have a special treat ready to serve with very little preparation time needed. Take a trip to your local Trader Joe’s, Sprouts or try your local grocery store and see what fun pumpkin flavored snacks you can find to combine for your own creative version of Harvest Snack Mix.

Kerry Signature48

Tricky

halloween_pumpkin

I love celebrating holidays.  It is always a good excuse to throw a party, spend time with people, eat good food, dress up, or do something out of the ordinary. But every year, October rolls around and I am encountered with the same dilemma of how to really feel about halloween.  Growing up, we didn’t place a huge emphasis or celebration on the actual meaning of the holiday of halloween, but moreso getting to go to our church’s “harvest festival”, dress up, play games, and of course eat candy, (and yes we were one of the families to pass out tracks with candy which I always thought was realy cool). Now, as an adult, I wonder how I should really feel about the holiday as a whole. I love dressing up in costume. I love carving pumpkins. I always loved trick or treating and now I love when kids trick or treat at my house. Now I can’t move on without recognizing the materialistic view, many of us may have fallen into the category of spending too much on a costume, eating too much candy, or just enjoying the day a little too much. I am not just trying to make this an argument about whether halloween is good or bad or why or why not to do it. I am placing no judgement on how anyone spends their halloween. I am really just in the middle of it, trying to figure it all out. So if any of you have ever had questions about this, let’s be in this together, because it can be rather tricky.

I did a little research on the origin of halloween. Some people look to Halloween as the eve of All Saint’s Day on November 1 which is a tribute to Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the religious freedoms that were won in that time. It was once known as All Hollow’s Eve, the day before you honor all the Saints. And November 1 isn’t about just honoring the saints, but about remembering all the people that have been a part of your Christian journey, all the people that are walking through their adventure of faith, and those who make a difference for Christ. As Christianity spread through Europe, it was countered with pagan or more secular perspectives.

The Celtics celebrated Samhain. These people believed halloween and the time of year’s importance was the time of the season between the harvest, death, and onset of winter. It symbolized separating the living and the dead. This is where some of the evilness and darkness came in to overtake the holiday. At that time, the Christians sought to move the holiday to diminish the celebration of the pagan holiday, but instead it all started mixing together.  Spirits that were not properly “treated” through the celebrations started “tricking” through haunting, superstition, and mystery. Later on the trick or treat moved through culture to become more of a game. The Americans adopted Halloween in the 19th century, but took the bits and pieces they chose to celebrate. (There is much more information, this is just a brief synopsis).

The day does not have to be filled with darkness, superstition, and fear even though it feels like our world places a huge emphasis on the creepiness and wickedness of the holiday. Just last week I was driving past a house and I was horrified at what I saw. There were dismembered limbs, zombies, hate signs, and other outlandish things.  Does halloween give people an excuse to be completely out there? It doesn’t have to be a holiday that “worships satan or death or darkness”… but some people seem to think it gives them the liberty to do whatever they want. Just because there is evil in its history or part of the origin does not mean we should still bring the same amount of wickedness into it today. It also doesn’t mean that filling the day with darkness is the only way to celebrate the day. It is good to be against those things and stay far away from anything that treads through those dark and dreary places of halloween. You can avoid certain places while enjoying others.

As a Christian I want to keep figuring out how to be in the world but not of the world. (Romans 12:1-2) So for Halloween, I am not against it, I  just want to keep figuring out my role and how I can be a light in the darkness. The world is already a dark place. And halloween sometimes makes it feel a lot darker. But what a perfect opportunity to be a light. To be the hands and feet of Christ and to celebrate the Lord. The evil side of Halloween only contains the power we give it.  Living in the freedom of the day rather than the fear of Halloween allows the Lord to work. So as with everything else in our lives, give the day to the Lord. Find Him in it.  Enjoy the fun, let your kids be kids, talk about the holiday, don’t judge others, and eat some candy.

The good sides of halloween:

  • Meeting people in your neighborhood and community
  • Being together with other people
  • Dressing up as fun characters (it’s not every day you get to be in costume)
  • Plan something fun
  • Opportunity to talk to your kids about the holiday
  • Carving pumpkins and other crafts
  • Candy is yummy :)

But ultimately its up to you what you want to do with the holiday of Halloween. I am not trying to tell you what to do. I am just trying to get you to think.

Bethany Signature48

Pumpkin Carving and Crafting!

I don’t know about you, but I am seeing pumpkins EVERYWHERE!! The ways you can craft or decorate with pumpkins is limitless, but sometimes it is hard to think outside the box of putting a display of mini pumpkins on the dining room table or carving a jack-o-lantern for your front porch. Our friends, The Dating Divas, are going to help us out today! I am going to share their …

60 Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Creative-Jack-O-Lanterns

and

90 Creative No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas

BEST-Halloween-Pumpkins

Click HERE for the rest of the ideas and the how-tos! These ideas are so fun, you don’t want to miss them!

Bekah Signature48

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

Harvest season has come. The leaves are turning colors and although we have had an extraordinarily warm fall season, the nights are getting chilly. Time to start cooking up those fall stews and soups. But for those of us who are avid Giants fans…..it is the postseason and the NLCS is happening this week, so I decided to try out a new veggie burger recipe to have a ballpark style dinner. I adapted a recipe that was on the back of a bag of multicolored quinoa that I bought at Trader Joe’s (my favorite grocery store).
Here is the adapted recipe…

Ingredients for Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

4 cloves garlic
2 shallots (you can use ¼ cup chopped green onions or ½ cup sweet maui onions)
1 red or yellow pepper chopped fine
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped fine (1 cup) because I LOVE cilantro
2 cups homemade black beans smashed a bit-recipe below (you can use 1-15 oz can)
3 cups cooked quinoa (cook as directed on back of package)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes (oatmeal or oat bran can also be used-original recipe used bread crumbs)
2 teaspoons Trader Joe’s every day seasoning
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tsp salt

Saute garlic, red or yellow pepper and shallots in 1 TBS olive oil. Mix all remaining ingredients and stir in sauted veggies. Mix well and shape into 8 patties and fry in pan with 1 TBS olive oil 2-3 minutes each side. Serve on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato, avocado, sliced red onion and Mango Salsa (recipe below). You can also layer a bed of spinach with the mango salsa onto a plate and place the burger, tomato, and avocado on top.

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Homemade Black Beans

2-3 cups dry black beans (1 Pound)
6 cups water
1 yellow onion chopped
4 cloves garlic smashed
5 stalks celery chopped fine
4 large carrots chopped fine
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
6 cups water or vegetable broth

Rinse dry beans and drain. Place into a large pot. cover beans with 6 cups of water and cover and let soak 6-8 hours or overnight. In the morning, drain the soaked beans and place back into large pot. Add all the vegetables and spices and 6 cups of water or vegetable broth. Place on stove and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. Drain and use in recipe above. You can use the leftover cooked beans in burritos or chili. You can also freeze the cooked beans and save to use in other recipes.

Homemade Mango Salsa

1 large mango diced
2 tomatoes diced
½ large red onion diced
1 cup cilantro chopped fine
1 jalepeno chopped fine
juice of 1 lime
Mix all and serve with burgers or salad.
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I am going to make this for dinner tonight with homemade fries so we can have a fun dinner while we watch the GIANTS!!!!
What is your favorite meal to serve while watching your favorite team?
Kerry Signature48

Giveaway Winner and Special Link

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CaochAyers.com-Most Influential Post, Read by Most Followers

We asked JT which of his posts have been the most influential. The two posts that have been read by the most followers or have received the most comments have been Introverts are Powerful Leaders and Slay your Dragons before Breakfast.

I hope you took the time yesterday to read the post on Introverts, but if you did not, take the time today to read it. Here is a sneak preview to encourage you to go to JT’s website and read the entire post.

WHY INTROVERTS MAKE EXCELLENT LEADERS AND WHAT EXTROVERTS CAN LEARN FROM THEM:
They Prepare-Introverts understand the power of Solitude. They will spend time thinking through their goals and preparing for questions. They spend time on the vision and values of their actions. They would never say they “just wing it.”

They Listen-An introvert is more likely to listen and pay attention to what other people are saying. People feel encouraged and valued by introverts. Extroverts butt into conversations and are generally the loudest people in the room.

An introvert is more likely to listen and pay attention to what other people are saying. People feel encouraged and valued by introverts. Extroverts butt into conversations and are generally the loudest people in the room.

 

The other post that has generated the most interest is called Slay your Dragons before Breakfast. Here is part of the post….to find out what the three heads of the dragon are and how to slay each head before breakfast, go to JT’s website and read the entire post. You will be blessed.ANTWERP, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 5: Windowpane of duel of St. Georeg with the Devil in Joriskerk or st. George church on September 5, 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium

Every Morning I Wake Up To A Big Scary Fire-Breathing Dragon

(Think Smaug from The Hobbit)
I am disorientated each morning as I lay under my warm covers not wanting to deal with the dragon staring at me at the end of my bed. However, this dragon is a reality not a bad dream. As I slowly get up, maybe after I hit the snooze button a few times, I begin to realize that I must make a choice: Deal with this dragon or try to pretend it is not there.

This dragon, however, is no ordinary dragon. This dragon has three heads. These heads will stop me from having a day with purpose and intentionality.  I must fight them off one at a time. At this point, the best and only real logical choice is to attack each head with ferocity and enthusiasm. Go on the offensive!

Before I eat breakfast when it is still dark outside I square off with each head of this hideous monster. The heads that I must deal with are:…………go to JT’s website and read the entire post. You will be encouraged and blessed.

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CoachAyers.com-JT’s 2 Favorite Posts

Today we will be sharing with you two of JT’s favorite posts.

The first one is called Coffee! The World’s Fuel. To read the entire post and see the resources JT used for his article, please go to his website by clicking the link. Go brew yourself up a cup of your favorite coffee and enjoy reading. My favorite cup coffee is always Peet’s.IMG_4636

Coffee-Fuel for the Modern World

Every day the world consumes 300 tons of coffee. That is enough coffee for every man woman and child on the planet. I am one of those people. The love of coffee is nothing new, however, most people don’t know the benefits of such an incredible addition. Below is a list of 5 reasons coffee is the fuel for the modern world and why you should be drinking it.

1. Lots Of Medical Benefits

You can’t die from drinking too much caffeine. It would take 90-100 cups in 4 hours to consume too much caffeine. And even if you were able to drink that much your body would be getting rid of it just as fast as you consume the beverage. Coffee and caffeine have proven benefits from countless studies:
- Protection from Cardio-Vascular diseases
- Can Prevent Diabetes
- Can Prevent Parkinson Disease
- Ease Asthma attacks
- Can help get rid of migraines
- 50% less likely to get rid of liver cancers for coffee drinkers

2. Increase In Brain Power

Caffeine releases Dopamine (chemical in your body that makes you happy). Caffeine also increases concentration, decreases fatigue, and gives you a better memory. Caffeine works by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which leads to a stimulant effect. This improves energy levels, mood and various aspects of brain function.

3. Increase In Physical Performance

Caffeine can increase adrenaline levels and release fatty acids from the fat tissues. It also leads to significant improvements in physical performance. Best to have your caffeine 30 minutes before your workout and also wise to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

4. The Enlightenment And American Revolution

In the 1600′s people drank beer and gin more than water. This is most likely because of the terrible water purification that was taking place. But, with the introduction of coffee/tea with caffeine people switched from a depressant to a stimulant. Goodbye Dark Ages, hello philosophy and thinking!

It is also believed that once the Rebels threw the tea into the harbor in Boston they switched to coffee only. There is also evidence that many of the first conversations of revolution between the American Founding fathers were in cafes that served coffee.

5. Healthiest Drink On The Planet

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. Coffee also contains several important nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin. For people who eat a standard Western diet, coffee may actually be the healthiest aspect of their diet.

Coffee And Education

The United States is the world’s largest buyer of coffee. However, they are not the world’s most enthusiastic customers. The most enthusiastic buyers of coffee per capita in increasing order: Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and #1 Finland. In Finland, they drink 3 times as much caffeine as the average American. They also have the world’s best education beating out Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. Students there on average are 15% better in Science Literacy and 16% better in Math Literacy than the United States. Conclusion: maybe we don’t drink enough coffee.

Research shows that drinking 2-4 cups a day will bring some added benefits to your day, week and life. Research also shows that the best time to drink coffee is at 9am and 1pm.

 

The second one of JT’s favorite posts is called Introverts are Powerful Leaders.

WHAT IS AN INTROVERT?

A person that is an introvert is not the same as being shy. Some people who are introverts might also be shy, but being an introvert has more to do with how a person responds to social stimulation. An introverted person will find energy and more purpose by being alone. They get more done when they aren’t around a lot of people. They enjoy thinking, exploring thoughts and feelings. They may avoid social situations since this drains them of their energy.

Go to JT’s website by clicking here Introverts, to read this post. It is eye-opening and encouraging!

Businessman and business sketch

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