Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Banana Bites (made with coconut oil)

I keep seeing recipes for chocolate covered banana bites and they look so good.  But, I wanted to find some that didn't have added sugar in them, and all of the recipes I saw called for chocolate bars or chips (which are full of sugar).  So, I decided to make my own "chocolate" with coconut oil and cocoa powder.  I love how unique coconut oil is-- it can be all melty and then harden right up, which makes it great for making fudge, etc.  

So, here's the recipe!


  • 2 Large Bananas
  • Almond or Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp. Maple Syrup (optional)


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the bananas thinly and line the baking sheet with them. You should get about 40 banana slices total. Place your nut butter on top of the banana slices and make them into sandwiches.  Now you have 20 banana bites.  

  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about an hour.  If you are short on time, you can just put them in for 10-15 minutes, but you want them to be chilled a little so that the coconut oil will harden on them.  
  • While the bananas are chilling, melt your coconut oil.  Then, stir in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and maple syrup until well incorporated.  
  • Take your banana bites out of the freezer and dip in the chocolate sauce.  It should harden around the bananas.  You can eat them immediately or put them in the freezer to get the bananas completely frozen (about 3 hours).  Store in freezer.  

So, my picture is NOT so pretty.  I basically just dumped the remaining chocolate sauce over the top of all of my banana bites, so they don't look so pretty.  But, you could spend a little extra time and make the chocolate smooth and even drizzle it with some peanut butter on top.  These make an awesome snack or dessert :)  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's Hard to Love

"Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7 
Every day I say the words, “I love you.”  I dearly love my children and my husband.  Of course it is a little bit more challenging to show love to those who are more un-loveable and with whom I don’t have a close relationship, but I know we should always seek to do that because the Scriptures tell us to.  Today, however, as I was reading the familiar “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians, it made me realize how bad I am at showing love to others, even those I do love dearly.  If I have trouble really loving those closest to me, I know I am struggling with loving those who are harder to love.  Look at 1 Corinthians with me, and ask yourself if you are struggling with loving others too. 
Love is patient
  • Ouch.  The first definition of love is convicting for me.  As Americans, we are known for our less-than-patient attitude.  I get impatient at my three year old for taking so long to get out of the car.  I can feel my blood boiling as he takes his precious time unbuckling his seat belt and stopping to admire a toy he found, and tripping over his shoe laces as he climbs out the door.  No joke-this happens multiple times a day.  And, I get the same exasperated look on my face and make the same sigh and tell him to “hurry up, please.” This is definitely not loving patiently.
And kind
  • Do I display kindness throughout my day?  Am I looking for opportunities where people could be in need of a helping hand?  Or, do I see someone in need and pretend that I don’t notice because I don’t want to be inconvenienced?
Love is not jealous
  • This one can come out when you least expect it.  I try not to look at others and want things that they have. I try to be content with what I have.  But, what about when someone else gets acknowledged for something in which I don’t get acknowledged?  Someone else gets praise for spending a lot of time on an event that I spent even more time planning, but I didn't get the praise for it?  Do I sulk and get mad that I didn't get credit, or do I participate in praising the person for their hard efforts as well?  Or, have you ever been around people who just always seem to get it right?  They must be overflowing with compliments all the time.  So, you don’t compliment them because you think they already get enough of those.  I’m learning that this is usually rooted in jealousy.  Because I’m jealous that I’m not the one who is good at everything, I’m hesitant to compliment the person who is.  What a sad way to live. I want to celebrate with others when they accomplish something, even if they seem to always get it right.  By celebrating with them, I get to share in their excitement instead of wallowing in jealousy. 
Or boastful or proud
  • The other day I was talking with someone about why women gossip. It’s easy to say we just want to vent or get advice, but I think the main reason we gossip is so that we can feel better about ourselves.  By bashing someone else, we feel better about ourselves. By putting down others and their decisions, we puff ourselves up.  This is not love.  This is pride…at the expense of others.
Or rude
  • When we’re having a bad day, sometimes it just all comes to a head right when our husbands walk in the door from work.  Instead of greeting him with a smile and asking him how his date went, it’s easy to offer a rude remark and give him a list of things in which you need his help.  This is not showing love towards my husband. 
It does not demand its own way
  • I am a bit of a planner.  When I take the time to plan something, I have expectations that it will happen, and when things don’t go as planned, it’s really hard for me to accept.  While some people never make plans and never have expectations, this can be harder for those of us who do make plans.  When things get thrown off course, how will I react?  Will I pitch a fit because things did not go the way I envisioned, or will I make the best of the change in plans?  God is really growing me in this area right now because it seems like none of my plans are turning out the way I expected.  Sometimes it’s just out of our control, and we can learn to accept that or we can choose to be a person no one likes to be around (and NOT display love because love does not demand its own way). 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homemade Chicken Salad (made with Greek Yogurt)

I've always loved chicken's so good on a sandwich or atop a green salad.  But, then I learned how fattening it is and that it is loaded with lots of unnecessary ingredients.  Just look at the list of ingredients from Chick-fil-A's site for their chicken salad:

Chicken (seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika]), chicken tenderloins (seasoning [salt, autolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, spice, natural flavor, chicken fat, garlic powder, sugar cane syrup, onion powder, paprika, molasses, sodium diacetate, tomato powder, silicon dioxide {anticaking agent}, sugar, oleoresin paprika {color}, citric acid, smoke flavor, caramel color]), seasoned coater (enriched bleached flour [with malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, nonfat milk, leavening [baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate], spice, soybean oil, color [paprika]), milk wash (water, egg, nonfat milk), peanut oil (fully refined peanut oil with Dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added), mayonnaise (soybean oil, water, egg yolk, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, salt, spice, calcium disodium EDTA to protect flavor), diced cooked eggs, celery, pickle relish (cucumbers, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, vinegar, salt, xanthan gum, mustard seed, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate [preservative], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, dehydrated red bell pepper, turmeric), 

 And, this list is just for the's not including the bread!  Now, I do love me some Chick-fil-A, but I can't understand why so many ingredients have to be used!

So, tonight I made a recipe for some chicken salad that only has a few ingredients, and the ingredients are actually good for you!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

  • 2 Large Cooked Chicken Breasts or the cooked white meat from a small rotisserie chicken
  • 1/8 Cup Crushed Pecans
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt 

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and place all ingredients into a mixer and mix on low speed until combined.  If you do not have a mixer, you could do this by hand, but the chicken won't be as shredded.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tomato and Feta Cheese Chicken Bake

Chicken covered in a homemade tomato sauce with feta cheese, garlic and herbs.  So good!  And, it's made with fresh ingredients that are actually good for you!

I made up a recipe for some chicken tonight and the kids loved it.  They called it pizza chicken because it smelled like pizza.  Enjoy!

5-6 boneless chicken breasts.  I used 5 large chicken breasts.

For the marinade:
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Oil of Choice (I used avocado oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic

  • 10-12 small tomatoes, quartered 
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • Oil of choice for pan (I used avocado oil)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used the garlic and herb blend)

Combine marinade and pour over chicken. Put marinated chicken in fridge.  If you're in a hurry, you can just let it soak for a few minutes.  If you have the time, let it soak all day.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Quarter tomatoes.  Heat skillet over medium heat and add oil and minced garlic.  Once oil is nice and hot, add tomatoes and seasonings.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes are nice and soft.  Remove from heat and stir in feta cheese.

Remove chicken from fridge and pour tomato and feta cheese sauce over chicken.  Bake, uncovered for 45-50 minutes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Booklist of 2014

It can be hard to carve out time to read a book when life is constantly busy with little ones. But, I've come to realize that books greatly influence my spiritual life.  By reading from others about what God has taught them, it can motivate us, inspire us, and challenge us to get out of our comfort zones.

I've also discovered that is is so important to make sure and read from Christian authors when it comes to topics where we are wanting advice or counsel.  When we are trying to learn and apply something, we want to make sure that we learn from someone who is pointing us to Christ.  When we hear from non-Christians on topics such as parenting, marriage, etc., we have to be very careful because their chief concern is not pointing us to Christ. They are just giving us their opinion and opinions come and go, but the "Word of Christ endures forever" (1 Peter 1:25).

Disclaimer: it can be tempting to put great books ahead of God's Word and this is a huge mistake that we should guard against.  NOTHING can replace God's Word and it has to be top priority.  If I try to replace His Word with a book, it will always fall short and I will not be able to grow in my walk with Christ as much.  If, however, we use books in conjunction with God's Word, we get the best of both worlds.  We get the infallible truth from Scripture and the personal insight from others that can help us live for Christ.

Here are some challenging books that I've read this past year.  I hope these books challenge and encourage your walk with the Lord as they have mine.  Blessings!

I got a new Bible for Christmas that I'm really excited about.  It's set up with a devotional for each day along with a passage out of the Bible. Though it does not contain every chapter and verse from the Bible, it offers a complete view of Scripture without being overwhelming.  It skips material that appears more than once, giving a stream-lined look at the entire Bible.

It's called the Women's Sanctuary Devotional Bible

Spiritual Growth:
The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover
Seven by Jen Hatmaker
Makeover: Revitalizing the Many Roles you Fill by Jen Hatmaker
Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst
Follow Me by David Platt
Mindset for Moms by Jamie Martin
Mom Enough (FREE on John Pipers site)
Radical by David Platt
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi and Lee Strobel

Raising Children:
Hands-Free Mama by Rachel Stafford
Shepherding a Child's Heart  by Tedd Tripp
The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson
Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa Terkeurst
Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard
The Mommy Manual by Barbara Curtis
Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper

Sheet Music (only for married couples ;) by Kevin Leman
What's it like to be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow

The Grain-Free Family Table by Carrie Vitt
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (this is a fiction, non-religious book, but it was kind of an eye-opener for me to remember to love your family and not get caught up in worldly things)