Paper vs. Online Party Invitations

 

We are celebrating our younger son’s birthday in several weeks, and while planning the party I found myself questioning – paper vs. online invitations. Every year for both children I have chosen paper invitations, because let’s face it, few things in life are as charming and time-honored as receiving something in the mail. Whether it’s a card from a friend or an invitation, it’s so wonderful to see a brightly colored envelope amidst a stack of letters and bills. However, this year has been pretty busy and our go-to stationery designer is on hiatus, so I decided to turn to my favorite online invitation and stationery source, Paperless Post.

G loves all things animals, especially jungle, and so we chose Meri Meri’s “Go Wild” theme for party decorations. A precious collection fit for a jungle loving little one, it features oversized palm leaf napkins, adorable orange tiger plates, a toucan studded bannerbright green alligator platter, snake noise makers, and matching party favor bags. You can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Paperless Post’s invitation designed by Meri Meri that coordinates with the decor – too perfect for words!

I’m sure many of you are ahead of the curve when it comes to sending online invites, but if you’ve never done it, let me tell you Paperless Post makes it a piece of cake. You pick your design (they have countless, beautiful options), customize the invite, upload your guest list and hit send. Easy peasy my friends! A big bonus for me was the immediate RSVPs, as with paper invites I’m always chasing down responses from a few guests. Plus, being able to tally the headcount on the tracking page has made planning that more organized.

Cheers to party planning in the digital age and I encourage you to give Paperless Post a try!

*This post has been sponsored by Paperless Post 

Back to School Blueberry Muffins

The boys love when I bake, and so I wanted to make them a special treat last week to celebrate the new school year. C voted for blueberry muffins and so I whipped up a batch on Tuesday for snack after pick up, and they were beyond delicious. Sweet, moist cake studded with fresh blueberries, who doesn’t love that? And guess what dear readers, these muffins are as healthy as they are delicious – a baking miracle!

We have really cleaned up our diet since my food allergy diagnosis earlier this year, and it’s inspired me to look at all food in a new way, especially baking. Enter the shining star ingredients in this recipe – almond flour, honey, and coconut oil – three of my new best friends who have changed my life and my health. This recipe is inspired by a muffin recipe from a friend of mine, and I just changed a few things and also made it vegan since I’m allergic to eggs. You could definitely use eggs though if your diet permits, and see the replacement details below. I hope you bake and love these back to school blueberry muffins as much as we do!

Back to School Blueberry Muffins 

Ingredients 

2 cups of almond flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

Generous pinch of Himalayan pink salt

4 tbsp honey 

4 tbsp melted coconut oil 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1 cup of coconut yogurt (I use the Coyo plain)

1 flax egg (1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds mixed with 4 tbsp cold water. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes the fridge before adding it to the other ingredients. You could also use 2 eggs as a replacement if you’d prefer the recipe to not be vegan)

3/4 cup of fresh blueberries

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with parchment paper liners. In a small bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda and salt. Next, in a separate medium sized bowl, combine the honey, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, coconut yogurt and flax egg (or real eggs if you choose). Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until completely incorporated. Gently fold in the blueberries, and pour the batter into the muffin liners.

Bake for 35-40 minutes if using flax eggs, or 25-30 minutes if using real eggs, or until the tops are golden brown. Let them cool for 10-15 minutes, and enjoy!

Biscuits and New Beginnings

 

While washing the breakfast dishes the other morning, I noticed the most beautiful white flowers blooming on the trees outside of our kitchen window. Such a tiny yet cheerful greeting from Mother Nature! It reminded me that the cooler temperatures and gray skies of Winter have been replaced with warm sunny afternoons of Spring, and how this year in particular I am so thankful for a new season.

At the beginning of this year I was diagnosed with food allergies to eggs and dairy, and it has certainly been a learning curve trying to navigate this new normal. We eat healthy as it is and I ate little dairy to begin with, however our family has had to look at food – especially baking – with a more creative lens. Believe it or not readers, from almond milk and coconut oil to vegan butter, there are so many fabulous non-dairy alternatives – how fortunate we are to live during a time when we have access to such things! Instead of viewing this as a negative (and believe me, there have been some challenging days), I’ve strived to view this as an opportunity to eat clean and learn about an entirely new way of cooking. And guess what? I’m feeling better than ever and eating healthier than ever!

Cooking as you know has always been a cornerstone to my life, as some of my earliest memories take me back to the kitchen’s of my childhood – cooking with my mom, grandmother and godmother. Now as an I adult I love to cook for my family, and my boys love to cook with me which is so fun. They have been such troopers about trying new recipes, like blueberry muffins made with coconut yogurt and our new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe made with vegan chocolate chips. Most recently we made biscuits to enjoy along provencal vegetable soup, and what a treat they were! Flaky and buttery as only a biscuit can be, we topped each with a pat of butter (vegan of course!) and drizzle of golden honey and it was pure heaven. The recipe is from the Sweet Laurel Bakery cookbook, which is filled with the most fabulous dairy-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free recipes, it’s my absolutely favorite. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have, and here’s to clean and healthy eating!

Biscuits

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons coconut butter, cubed
2 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
3/4 cup coconut yogurt, store-bought or homemade
1 large egg, beaten (we omitted the egg due to my allergy)

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the coconut butter and coconut oil in a small bowl and chill in the freezer for about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the chilled coconut butter and coconut oil and cut in using a pastry blender, until a meal forms. It will look like wet sand, and the fats should be pea-sized. Stir in the coconut yogurt. Loosely form the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover the dough with a second sheet of parchment paper and press into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough over itself in three sections, like you would a letter. Again pat down the dough until it’s 3/4-inch thick, and repeat this entire process two more times. This creates the fluffy layers that will puff and add lift as the biscuits bake. Press out the folded dough so it’s 1-inch thick, and cut out biscuits with a 3-inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of each biscuit with the beaten egg. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until puffed up and golden. Allow to cool or serve warm.