Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes

At 3 pm everyone at my house gets the munchies.  I’ve taught my kids to be self-reliant when it comes to food.  It’s a habit of years of dealing with chronic illness. Now that I’m doing a bit better, I want to take back some of the kitchen control.  I like my kids learning to cook and make do, but I’m not loving the mess they leave behind.  It’s going to take some steady supervision to change the bad “clean up after yourself” habits I’ve allowed.  In the meantime, I’m being proactive by preparing after school snacks.  Rename these “muffins” and you can serve them for breakfast too :).

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes are loaded with veggies, fiber and protein.  You can choose how you want to sweeten them.  I used a mixture of xylitol and sucanant.  To get the right texture, you should include real sugar for at least 1/3 of the sweetener.

You can also be creative with the flour you use.  I used fresh ground whole wheat flour, unbleached flour or a gluten free flour blend (if it has xanthan gum in it) will also work.  If you are using an alternate flour option, add it gradually and stop when the consistency is cake batter right.   Some flours (like coconut flour) absorb a ton more water than wheat flour and you will need quite a bit less.

Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbs vanilla extract

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a stand mixer, beat Greek yogurt with sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in Zucchini.
  3. Add baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa powder, stirring well after each addition.
  4. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring just until incorporated. Do not add chocolate chips at this time.
  5. Fill greased or lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  (I like to use an ice cream scoop to measure it.)
  6. Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with 1/2 tsp of mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing cupcakes to finish cooling.

Nutrition Information for Zucchini Muffins

Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Meat and Cheese are the two most expensive categories in my grocery budget. I keep costs down by choosing less expensive proteins a few times a week like eggs.   While I’m not a fan of vegan protein alternatives like tofu and TVP,  I do enjoy fresh or dry roasted edamame.

how to prepare tofu

If someone in my home developed food allergies to all dairy and eggs I’d consider tofutti. Until then…. nope.

Eggs, on the other hand, are little compact nuggets of serious nutrition.  2 large eggs have 140 calories, 12g of protein, and everything necessary to grow a chick = lots of nutrients.   Plus at $1.50 a dozen, a serving of 2 eggs is only $.25.

Grant Slicing Eggs

We like to have hard boiled eggs on hand for snacking.  They are also great chopped on top of a chef’s salad, in egg salad, potato salad, tuna salad, creamed eggs over biscuits, deviled (stuffed) eggs….you get the idea.

Boiled eggs are easy to cook, but may not be so easy to peel.  When eggs are freshly laid, they are slightly acidic which makes the shell stick tightly to the albumin in the egg white and impossible to peel cleanly. The hen covers her eggs with a protective coating as they are laid which keeps this acidic level intact and the egg fresh outside the fridge for 10 days.

peeling eggs

Commercial eggs have the protective coating washed off.  This allows the natural CO2 trapped in the egg to dissipate through the porous shell reducing the acidity and the stickiness of the shell.  Commercial eggs will ripen in the refrigerator to be easy to peel in about 10 days. By the time they reach our homes commercial eggs are typically perfectly ripe.

If you have your own hens, you’ll need to wash the eggs you hope to boil with warm water and a soft cloth before storing in the fridge.  Label them so you’ll be able to tell the date they will be ready to boil and peel (10 days ripened.)  Oiling the eggs for storage will make it impossible for them to ripen to easy peel stage.

Eggs in steamer

We enjoy steaming our eggs instead of boiling them in water.  They don’t crack since they aren’t in the rocking boiling water to knock them around.  We think they are easier to peel than boiled eggs and don’t have the grayish green line separating the yolk from the white, unless we forget about them and over do it.

I use our combo steamer/slow cooker/rice cooker to do it, because it automatically starts timing when the water comes to a boil and sets of an alarm when they are done.  I simply fill the bottom with 2 inches of water, fill the top basket with eggs, set it to steam for 15 minutes and go to something productive.

Peel eggs with a spoon

When the alarm sounds , I use oven mitts to lift out the steamer basket and plunge it into a sink of cold water to stop the cooking process.  When they are cool enough to handle, I tap and roll the eggs on a paper towel (or cloth towel) to break up the shell, then slip a spoon between the shell and the egg.  The spoon curves with the egg keeping it protected and the peel slips off pretty quickly this way. If the spoon doesn’t slide well, I oil the tip with a touch of olive oil.

How about you, does peeling eggs frustrate you? Do you have a family tradition for making eggs easy to peel?



Homemade Pumpkin Bagels Video Tutorial

Homemade Pumpkin Bagels

Tee hee.  This video makes me giggle.  My family doesn’t quite get why it’s so funny, but they enjoy that I enjoy it.  When I watch the replay and Grant (4) dumps the pumpkin on the counter, I roll on the floor laughing and then back it up and watch it again.  Maybe because I was there for the original moment, trying to balance a camera and helping Grant with the cooking at the same time.  How the pumpkin on the counter shocked us both and I got the giggles, which I tried to hold in making weird background noise.  Grant, relieved that I wasn’t upset said, “We better clean that up.”   Which made me giggle all the more.

After we made quite a mess but got most of the stuff in the bowl, I said “What should we do now?”  I thought Grant would say, “Let’s clean up!”  but he said “SMILE.”  Which made me giggle all over again.

This boy is the joy of my days.  The sleepless nights, messes, tantrums, and battles are all worth it.  I had the option to spend this year in a classroom blessing other people’s children, while I earned money that my family needed.  I would have had to let someone else be with Grant during the day, and I just couldn’t.  It’s his last full year at home and I fought for my chance to be the one to clean up his messes and talk him down from the ledge of toddler insanity. It was selfish and selfless at the same time.  He needs me as much as I need him and there’s something priceless about that.

For those who prefer a written recipe here you go:

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Pumpkin Bagels

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Set for the dough cycle.  When the cycle is ended, divide the dough into 10 balls.  Poke your finger through the center and make a large hole.  Let the bagels rise for an hour or until doubled. Pour 8 cups of water into a stock pot, boil bagels for 1 1/2 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a dish towel to drain.  Place bagels on a greased baking sheet.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.  Cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Syrup Mix

cinnamon syrup mix

Syrup solutions usually call for 2 parts sugar to 1 part water boiled together for 1 minute.  My husband’s mother used 2 cups brown sugar and 1 cup water.  After we married I got the secret recipe and added 1/2 tsp of real maple extract to it to make it my own.  Then I learned by adding a little flour, cornstarch, or glucomannan for thickening, I could reduce the sugar by half without missing any of the sweetness.  This reduced sugar recipe (it’s hard to tell by the first ingredient, I know…) has extra flavor from cinnamon and nutmeg.  It’s a family favorite, especially around holiday time.  Read more

Apple Carrot Muffins

This looks like a recipe, but it’s really a lesson in substitutions.  Apples are $1.50 a lb, carrots are $.33 a lb.  Sub part of the carrots for the apples in this recipe and the kids get more vitamins and I get more money for groceries.  Win-win.  Made with fresh ground whole wheat flour, these muffins are rich in wheat germ oil, B vitamins, fiber, and vitamin A.

Muffins make great grab and go breakfasts (for kids), snacks, and additions to brown bag lunches.

Apple Carrot Muffins


  • 2 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour (I use Montana Gold White Wheat)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or stevia)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium apple, chopped (I left the peelings on, but you can peel if you prefer.)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbs oil (coconut or melted butter)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a smaller bowl beat together egg, milk and melted oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and barely mix. Fold in apples and carrot.
  3. Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins. Recipe doubles well.
  5. To make it a little fancier, sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar just before baking.

For best results, eat or freeze within 3 days.



3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Biscuits and Gravy

This recipe is a man pleaser.  It’s not Fit Yummy Mummy approved or Trim Healthy Mama approved.  It’s not gluten free or dairy free–it’s just yummy.  It’s easy–so easy a child could make it and get tons of compliments.  And if you are hosting an early morning breakfast rehearsal for High School men, definitely bring it.  Even if the center biscuits are not quite done, they will eat it all and one of them will lick the pan and then ask you to bring a double batch next time.

3 ingredient Slow Cooked Biscuits and Gravy


3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Biscuits and Gravy


  • 1 lb breakfast sausage (in a bulk log)
  • 2 cans refrigerator biscuits (I used the small ones that come 10 to a can)
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup


  1. Brown and drain the sausage
  2. Layer 1 can of biscuits in the bottom of a greased slow cooker.
  3. Top with half the sausage and then 1 can of cream of mushroom soup.
  4. Repeat the layers once more.
  5. Set on time delay to cook on high for 2 hours just before time to serve breakfast.
  6. Or 4 hours on low. (An outlet timer works great for this.)

I anticipate the most frequent question asked will be, Is it safe to leave a slow cooker out on the counter this long before cooking?  I’m not sure. We did it–twice.  And no one got sick.  I think it would be more dangerous if it sat a long time AFTER cooking since the cooking process will kill any bacteria.

If the thought bothers you, you can keep it in the fridge and get up a few hours early to turn on the cooker and go back to bed.  (Allow an extra hour for a cold crock.)  Or you can bake this in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden.

The first time I made this, I used homemade biscuit dough and homemade gravy made with milk and flour and baked it in the oven.  It was wonderful too.  I haven’t tried the slow cooker method with homemade gravy.  With the 2 hour cooking time, it might make it through without curdling.  If you try it, let me know.  And now some photos my hubby took of the process.

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3 ingredient biscuits and gravy 8 3 ingredient biscuits and gravy 10

3 ingredient biscuits and gravy outlet timer

Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

You look hungry.  Come on in and have some breakfast.

Apples and Peanut Butter Oatmeal

This is one meal that will stick to your ribs :).

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It’s sugar free and high in protein.  But we don’t have to tell the kids.March Blog photos 026

The apples are cold, sweet and crunchy.March Blog photos 027

The peanut butter oatmeal is warm and creamy.March Blog photos 028

Dairy free?  Perfect.  Gluten Free?  Take a huge bowl.March Blog photos 029

Yes, it’s Fit Mama approved.  No guilt here.

Apples and Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 6 minutes

Yield: 1

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups (all of it)

Calories per serving: 341

Fat per serving: 13g

Apples and Peanut Butter Oatmeal


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (I use quick oats, but you can use any kind. If you are gluten free, be sure to get specially marked gluten free oats.)
  • 1 cup milk (I use almond milk since this is a cooked recipe and can only drink cow's milk when it's raw.)
  • 1 Tbs stevia (I use Aldi's brand of stevia in the raw)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs peanut flour (Peanut butter will also work. I use peanut flour because it is higher in protein and lower in fat and calories without sacrificing peanut flavor. It is all natural and can be purchased online from Southern Grace Farms.)
  • 1/2 chopped tart apple (I like Fuji, Jonagold, or Braeburn)


  1. In a small saucepan whisk together egg, milk and stevia. Stir in rolled oats. Cook and stir over medium high heat until thickened and creamy. Stir a lot so it doesn't burn on the bottom.
  2. Remove from heat and take a few tablespoons of oatmeal and stir the peanut flour in until it is smooth. Then return to the entire batch and stir in. (If you try to stir the peanut flour into the whole batch, you will get powdery clumps that never seem to stir in.)
  3. Roughly chop the apple and sprinkle over the top.


41g carbs including 9g fiber; 20g protein!; and 48g of calcium 🙂


What’s your favorite breakfast?

The Evil Twin’s Recipe for Orange Cranberry Granola

You already know I have another blog.  A fitness blog.  Sometimes I feel like a fraud having a fitness blog.  I’m not holding myself up as an example of an amazing fit person.  Just a regular person with a life long weight issue and my journey to beat it.  But sometimes I think people might get the wrong idea if they read it–like I never mess up or eat a muffin at school on Mom’s and Muffins day and then find out that the 3/4 serving was 690 calories!  (Costco and I aren’t friends right now.)

orange Cranberry Granola

I feel like my two blogs are like the pins I see on pinterest or even the articles in a woman’s magazine.  The front cover will read the best headlines:  “How to drop 20 lbs in one week!” and “The best triple chocolate molten lava cake on the planet” right next to it.  On my other blog, you might read about pomegranate salad and over here—ooey gooey cinnamon rolls.  Or Orange Cranberry Granola.

cranberry granola 2

Challenge #1: I have a freezer full of fresh cranberries that were given to me a year ago after Christmas.  The stores donated them to Harvesters to pass out to the underprivileged.  The underprivileged wouldn’t take them so it was into my freezer or the trash.   I LOVE cranberries, if the recipe has plenty of sugar.  Cranberry muffins, breads, cakes, salads…they are all delicious.  Unfortunately, the sugar part of it doesn’t mesh with my fitness plan so well and the rest of the family won’t eat cranberries.

book day, granola 018

Challenge #2:  I feel guilty buying sugary cereal.  It’s so bad for our health and to serve it as the first meal of the day almost seems criminal.  But the kiddoes got used to sprinkling a bit of sweet crunchy cereal onto their plain cheerios or bran flakes and held a revolt when I refused to buy any more.  (I shouldn’t have ever purchased it, but that $.50 sale snookered me.)

Solution for both?  I started to wonder if I put the cranberries into sweet crunchy granola I might have the best of both worlds.  I could use up a few cranberries, and the kids could sprinkle sweet stuff on their cereal.  Only I would know what was in it.  The trouble is, there aren’t any granola recipes on the web that call for fresh cranberries.  What if it didn’t work?  What if I wasted all the nuts?  What if I wasted money?!!  So I had to think about it for a few days .

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Then I remembered the joke Darren and I had when I first started this blog.  I would try a LOT of new ideas and recipes that didn’t work.  We decided my subtitle should be:  Wasting my money so you don’t have to waste yours.   It made me feel a little better, lol.

So I decided to save all of you from wasting your money and try making granola with fresh cranberries and it was AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!  Crunchy, sweet, clumpy–everything granola should be.  Now, I have to keep telling myself, “It’s for the kids.  It’s not for you!”   I could fill a heaping bowl and cover it with raw milk and mindlessly eat thousands of calories while watching an entire season of Downton Abby and not even feel sick.

Here’s the recipe exactly how I made it, and then at the end I will tell you the changes I’d like to try, just to improve the nutrition a bit.

book day, granola 008

Orange Cranberry Granola

6 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups wheat germ (for gluten free, you could try oat bran, flax meal, or chia seeds–the wheat germ helps things clump up, so when subbing ingredients keep that in mind.)

6 Tbs dark brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 orange, zested

1 cup almonds, chopped (I measured from the 3lb bag sold at Costco, because they are the best price anywhere.)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped (Also bought from Costco, these are almost twice the price of almonds so I went light.)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (purchased from a bulk food bin.)

2 cups fresh cranberries (frozen and then roughly chopped while still frozen hard)

1/4 cup white sugar (I think you could do with less or even sub stevia for this.)

3/4 cup honey

1 stick butter, melted

1.  Stir together the cranberries and white sugar.  Set aside

2.  In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nuts, cranberries, and orange zest

3.  Melt together honey and butter and bring to a boil for 1 minute.

4.  Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir until everything is completely coated.

5.  Spread into greased baking pans.  (I used two large cookie sheets with a lip.  The more spread out it is the crunchier it will get.)

6.  Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring after every 15 minutes.  Rotate the pans every time you stir.

I started baking mine at 275 degrees, but the extra moisture in the cranberries makes it cook more slowly.  So I upped each baking session to 20 minutes and then added a fourth for 15 minutes.  The pan closer to the heat source got darker than I wanted during that last 15  minutes session and then I found out that it didn’t get as crispy as it will until it was completely cool.  The butter helps with this :).

So next time, I will take out the white sugar completely.  And dust the cranberries with stevia.  And I might take out some of the brown sugar.  It helps the cereal get crunchy and adds a nice flavor, but mine was plenty sweet.  It was deliciously sweet, actually, but sweet enough that I think I can get away with reducing the sugar some and no one would notice.

Also, I wonder if I could use a little less butter and use some of the juice form the orange instead?  There seemed to be plenty of sauce for the amount of stuff I had.  It was perfect enough that I wondered if I could ease up a bit and not miss it.    Also water/juic mixing with wheat germ makes even more clumps.