Healthy Homemade Snack – Baked Zucchini Chips

I love a good snack, snacks are delicious! Are they good for you? Ehhh it’s always up for debate, but if you are going to eat something between meals, perhaps while you’re cozying up to watch a movie or play a game, why not make it a healthier choice?

I think most nutritionists agree that anything deep-fried should be consumed in moderation or not at all, but chips are sooooo good! The solution? Let’s create our own oven-baked chips! And not just potato chips, let’s create some delicious vegetable chips too! This way we are regulating exactly what is going into and/or on to our chips with no deep-frying to be found!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 large zucchini
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 240 F.
  2. Wash the zucchini, then use a mandolin to uniformly slice them into thin chips.
  3. Place the zucchini slices on a clean dish towel or paper towels. Cover them with another dish towel or paper towels and set a baking sheet on them, pressing own slightly to remove excess moisture.
  4. After drying, place the zucchini slices into a bowl and toss them with olive oil and a few pinches of salt (how much depends on your preference).
  5. Coat a large baking sheet (or more) with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper.
  6. Place the zucchini slices on the baking sheets in a single layer.
  7. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until crisp and golden.
  8. Allow the chips to cool completely. 
  9. Enjoy!

Healthy Homemade Snack – Baked Potato Chips

I love a good snack, snacks are delicious! Are they good for you? Ehhh it’s always up for debate, but if you are going to eat something between meals, perhaps while you’re cozying up to watch a movie or play a game, why not make it a healthier choice?

I think most nutritionists agree that anything deep-fried should be consumed in moderation or not at all, but chips are sooooo good! The solution? Let’s create our own oven-baked chips! This way we are regulating exactly what is going into and/or on to our chips with no deep-frying to be found!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash the potatoes, then use a mandolin to uniformly slice them into thin chips.
  2. Place the potato slices into a large bowl and cover them with cold water. 
  3. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to soak for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
  4. Drain the potato slices and pat them dry.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  6. Coat a large baking sheet (or more) with cooking spray.
  7. In a large bowl, toss the potato slices together with the olive oil and salt to coat evenly. 
  8. Spread the potato slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chips are a very light golden color and appear crunchy. Keep a careful eye on the potatoes to make sure they don’t brown and overcook.
  10. Allow the chips to cool completely. 
  11. Enjoy!

Let’s Bring Positivity Back into Gaming

I am a positive gamer and this is a safe space for us all to express our love for games without negativity!

I play games to enjoy and relax. I lose myself in whatever a particular game has to offer, whether that be the plot, the characters, the creativity, the graphics; I appreciate all video games and their creators. If a game does not pique my own personal interests, I don’t attack it, I move on to one that does.

If it’s necessary to review a game, I provide constructive feedback and information, supported by specific examples to help improvement. This feedback should always be offered in a friendly manner with good intentions and that’s exactly what I do! 

Reviewing games is useful, but one of my favorite things to do is create unconventional guides for the games I enjoy! I’ve created guides for the animal locations in Okami, the stray bead locations in Okami, the alchemy recipes in Ni No Kuni, and more! I love helping people find what they’re looking for and I intend to make more guides this year so stay tuned!

Are you a positive gamer? Please introduce yourself, I would love to hear from you! What’s your favorite game?

Let’s try Oak – Meditation and Breathing Application

Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing ApplicationLet’s be real, this year has been rough; we’re all just trying to adjust and survive the best we can. Current events have really revealed that there are some pretty rude, self-entitled people out there and I for one am way too sensitive to people’s actions and emotions. I’ve found myself absorbing and/or responding to their vibes, which results in living day to day with too many negative thoughts and feelings.

In an effort to bring the tranquility and positivity back to my life, I have begun meditating and it feels good! If you’re feeling anything but tranquil, I highly recommend taking some time to meditate each day or, if every day isn’t for you, less frequently yet consistently; you will feel better!

Interested, but not sure where to start?

I am using the Oak – Meditation and Breathing application. It is simple and straightforward, with enough content to get you started without becoming overwhelming.  It is also the only meditation app. I’ve found that is truly free. Other applications, like Calm and Headspace (both fantastic), are free to download and offer some free content and/or free trials, but if you want more you’ll have to pay for a monthly or yearly premium membership. After Oak, Insight Timer is probably the next application that has the most free classes, but does have a premium membership if you want to access certain practices. We’ll focus on Insight Timer at a later date.

So let’s take a look at Oak!

When opening the app., you are presented with three categories: Meditation, Breathing and Sleeping. Each category has two or three practice options.

Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing Application

Once you’ve selected a category and practice, you can customize a few more details depending on the practice. For example, if you want to practice Mindful Meditation, you can select the duration, instructor’s voice, background noise and a warmup duration.

Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing Application Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing Application

The breathing practices do not give you customization options, but they will give you details about how long you will be inhaling, holding and exhaling.

Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing Application

If you’re looking for something deeper, there is a Courses tab which (so far) offers one course on Mantra Meditation. You will be prompted to “Buy” the course for $0.00. I’ve “purchased” it (yes it is free) and I am very pleased with the quality and length. I hope there will be more free courses in the future.

Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing Application Let's Try Meditation with The Free Oak - Meditation and Breathing Application

I will be testing out other options for meditation and let you know what I discover!

How do you meditate? Do you use an application, or something else? If you do use an application, what is your favorite and why? I’d love to know!

Homemade Tinker Bell Smash Cake Recipe (No Added Sugar)

Disney Tinker Bell Smash Cake RecipeZoey, our little Tinker Bell, is one year old! This year has been an unusual one (understatement of the century), but it has flown by faster than I could have imagined and I have been fortunate enough to spend the majority of it at home with her; grateful for every moment.

Like many one year birthday boys and girls, Zoey has not been exposed to much sugar. Now I don’t mind a little sugar, but I did not want to sugar bomb her all at once so I created a homemade smash cake with frosting for her without adding extra sugar.

This Tinker Bell petal smash cake is a variation of a banana bread recipe my family has made for years without added sugar and a variation of cream cheese frosting without powdered sugar. I would consider the cake a tame banana flavor and the frosting a tangy cream cheese flavor, smoothed out with the addition of a natural sweetener (I used agave nectar). I purchased a used Disney Infinity Tinker Bell figurine off of Mercari, gave it a good cleaning, and used it as a cake topper with the obligatory “1” candle.

Disney Tinker Bell Smash Cake Recipe Disney Tinker Bell Smash Cake RecipeShe was very tentative about smashing  her smash cake, almost like she wasn’t sure if she was allowed to. Even with her audience coaxing her she only tasted a little bit of cake I broke off for her and mostly just played around in the frosting. Her favorite part of the cake was the Tinker Bell figurine up top and she ended up fixating on that. And what the hey, as long as she had fun!

So let’s make a smash cake for the little Tinker Bell in your life!

Disney Tinker Bell Smash Cake Recipe

BANANA SMASH CAKE
  • 3 bananas, overripe
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
INSTRUCTIONS (CAKE)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease two 6-inch cake pans, or line them with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and bananas together with a (hand) mixer.
  4. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating each in with the (hand) mixer.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.
  7. Pour the mixed batter into the prepared cake pans about half to 3/4 of the way full.
  8. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. The timing may vary depending on your oven so keep an eye on them!
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. Mine were pretty flat. If yours do not turn out flat, cut the very tops off of the cakes to create flat tops for stacking and frosting.
  11. Frost your cake (see below).

Disney Tinker Bell Smash Cake Recipe

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (NO ADDED SUGAR)
  • 5 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 packs of cream cheese (8 ounce), room temperature
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Green food coloring
INSTRUCTIONS (FROSTING)

*You can make the frosting up to several days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before frosting.*

  1. Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Add the agave nectar (or sweetener of choice), milk, salt and vanilla extract. Whip again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch and whip until well incorporated. If at this point the consistency is right for you, you can move on to the next step. If not you can add cornstarch one teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired thickness (careful not to exceed 2 tablespoons total).
  4. Divide the frosting four equal parts in separate bowls. Add green food coloring to each bowl of frosting, ranging from dark to light green. Put each shade of green frosting into a pastry bag.
  5. Pipe and smear frosting on the top of the first layer of cake and gently place the second layer on top of this.
  6. Begin the petals by piping a dollop of dark green frosting on the side of the cake at the base. Take a flat slender spatula or butter knife press gently into the dollop and smear it to the right. Pipe another dollop of dark green near the end of the smear and repeat all the way around the cake.
  7. Repeat this process with the next shade of green and repeat, but stop before you reach the lightest shade of green and the top of the cake.
  8. Pipe and smear a healthy dollop of the lightest green frosting onto the top of the cake and smooth it out with a flat spatula, then continue with the last layer of petals in the lightest shade of green around the top of the cake.
  9. Adorn your cake with decorations.
  10. Enjoy!

Disney Tinker Bell Smash Cake Recipe

Homemade Teething Cookies Recipe

Homemade Teething Cookies RecipeLast week, we brought some of the beach to Zoey with edible “sand” made out of graham crackers and oatmeal. After she was done playing, I could not let good food go to waste so I made her some teething cookies with the remaining “sand”.

Not too sweet, but sweet enough to be called cookies instead of crackers, these treats are a hit! They are springy, yet firm enough to soothe her teething gums and she likes them!…Although so does my husband so I’m going to have to convince him not to eat all of them before she can knaw on a few.

Homemade Teething Cookies Recipe

INGREDIENTS
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Combine the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir them with a mixing spoon until a thick dough has formed. You may need to adjust the amount of water or coconut oil you add depending on how juicy your bananas are.
  3. Section the dough into smaller portions and (using a flat surface and a rolling pin) roll out your dough to 1/4 of an inch thick. You will need to use flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and surfaces.
  4. With a circular cookie cutter or a drinking glass (I used a drinking glass), cut cookies out of the dough and place them onto the greased baking sheet.
  5. Cook each sheet of cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. Be careful they are hot! Use the spatula or a spoon to test their springiness. They should be firm yet springy when pressed as they are brought out of the oven.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool before serving. These can be stored in the refrigerator for a little more firmness.
  7. Serve and enjoy, but please watch your baby as they eat this to make sure they handle the texture well!