Category Archives: Reviews

Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots

I’ve never been very crazy about raw carrots. But I do like them cooked or roasted. So when I found this recipe for Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots in my review copy of No Excuses Detox, I knew I wanted to make them! As the subtitle says, this book includes 100 recipes to help you eat healthy every day.

Written by Megan Gilmore, No Excuses Detox features recipes that are quick and easy, affordable, and yummy–not the kind of recipes you’d expect to find in a “detox” cookbook. In fact, I was surprised that there are recipes for lots of comfort food-type foods with a healthy twist–like Butternut Mac n’ Cheese, Skillet Breakfast Hash, Speedy Black Bean Burgers, and even Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Lots of great recipes to choose from! But the Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots recipe was calling my name and I had just bought some organic rainbow carrots at Whole Foods, so it was the perfect time for me to try this out.

I used large carrots when I made this, but you can slice your carrots or use baby carrots and if you do, your cooking time will only be about 10 minutes. Since I used large carrots I had to cook mine a little longer. So here’s the recipe–it’s a great way to eat your carrots!

CINNAMON-GLAZED CARROTS from No Excuses Detox

The addition of cinnamon and naturally sweet maple syrup makes these carrots taste like dessert, plus they can be ready in just 15 minutes!–Megan Gilmore

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound baby carrots, sliced carrot coins, or halved large carrots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

In a Dutch oven, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and saute the carrots for 2 minutes. Add the water, which should start bubbling right away, and lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook the carrots for about 10 minutes, until fork-tender (note: since I used larger carrots, my cooking time was more like 15 to 18 minutes). Check the pot periodically to make sure the water doesn’t completely evaporate so the carrots don’t burn.

Once the carrots are tender, raise the heat to cook off any excess water, then stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt (adjust seasonings to taste). Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

There are other recipes I want to try in this book. It’s always nice when you can make great-tasting food that’s good for you, too. Do you have some favorite healthy recipes of your own?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday.

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Spa Spring Gift Basket

Happy first day of spring! I hope you had a beautiful day! I’m not a big fan of cold winter weather, but I love the warmer days of spring! I love seeing the flowers outside begin to bloom and the longer, sunnier days. I’m really glad spring has arrived!

Something else arrived at my doorstep recently–this Premium Spa Gift Basket, compliments of GourmetGiftBaskets.com. It was just what I needed–a farmhouse-style wire basket filled with lots of pampering spa products like scented lotion, triple milled bath soap, body wash, comfy terry cloth slippers, a 4 points massager, pumice brush, skin smoothing brush, massaging bath brush, wooden foot brush, sea sponge, and loofah. It was such a treat to receive this basket, and I’m enjoying using all the spa items so much! With Easter coming up, this basket would be a great gift for a mom, sister, or friend who needs and would enjoy some pampering. It also makes a great springtime birthday gift. There are several other spa-themed baskets you can choose from at the Gourmet Gift Baskets site, including the Classic Spa Gift Basket and Bath & Snack Gift Basket.

If you’re looking for other Easter gift basket ideas, you’ll find a large selection to choose from at GourmetGiftBaskets.com. They offer baskets filled with candy and toys for the kids. Or Easter cakes, cake pops, popcorn tins, chocolate dipped strawberries, cheesecakes, and other treats for anyone who loves sweets. For healthier eaters, there are baskets of fresh fruits, dried fruits, and nuts. And there are also baskets filled with gourmet meats, cheeses, and crackers–so there’s quite a selection! You’ll have to visit the site to see all that Gourmet Gift Baskets has to offer.

Are you excited spring is here too? And what’s your favorite way to pamper yourself?

Holding Tight to the Permanent One

ssrt_book

“How quickly things change. Life is a given until it isn’t,” writes Amanda as she shares about her father’s battle with cancer.

“For a long time, nothing was certain except that life was uncertain,” Raechel adds, as she describes the brokenness in her childhood home.

Two women, two stories–different, yet not so different from yours or mine. In their new book She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away, authors Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams share experiences in their lives that we all can identify with. As I was reading through my review copy, I realized that even though our stories are different, they’re similar in many ways. Loss, illness, financial setbacks, family relationships–we all can relate to the pain, the stress, the worry, and the uncertainty of life’s ups and downs. But the stories don’t end there. Raechel and Amanda write about how faithful God has been in every situation. And how they found comfort in the Truth of His Word and strength in His promises.

14322622_732489793750_5655470604830158633_nWe live in a world that is temporary and fleeting, but  the authors of She Reads Truth emphasize that in this world of uncertainty, God is permanent, unchanging, and ever-faithful. He is our Rock–the One we can always hold on to, the One who is always holding us. And He specializes in redemption. He redeems our stories in beautiful, unexpected, unpredictable ways.

“Sometimes, by God’s sweet grace, the hard stuff is also the most worth–it stuff.” says Raechel. “Because of God’s proven faithfulness to us, His people, we can put our hands squarely on each other’s shoulders, look one another in the eye, and remind each other that God is at work. Without a doubt. Redemption is always coming.”

In Amanda’s words, “He is the God who penned redemption’s story, from before the beginning of time all the way to the fingertips of eternity’s outstretched hand. He is the God who is not bound by my efforts or held back by my doubt. He is the God who is Love infinite, Love perfected, Love inextinguishable.”

I found this book so encouraging because it points to our everlasting God and His unchanging promises. He is the Permanent One–the Alpha and Omega who is, who was, and who is to come. He has always been there for us and always will be. He takes the brokenness of our lives and creates something beautiful from it. He will never stop loving us and loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend.

He holds us close by the Truth of His Word. Let’s always hold tight to Him!

Authors Raechel Meyers and Amanda Bible Williams also have an online community called She Reads Truth–to learn more about it, visit SheReadsTruth.com.

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Finding Strength in Beauty

Lovely Pansies @ NancyC

51AAkaaspaL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In some way I feel you here with me as I write, and I hope you feel that I’m there with you as you read, just your friend, across the table at a coffee shop, swapping stories and sharing hope,” Annie F. Downs writes at the beginning of her new book, Looking for Lovely. And as I read my review copy of the book, I really did feel that way–like I was having coffee with a good friend, sharing life…funny stories, disappointments, struggles…and most importantly, seeing together the hope beyond the difficult times.

Annie challenges us to look for the beauty around us in simple everyday moments, because it’s in those moments we see God in unique ways and we’re reminded of His love and care for us. And we draw strength from that–strength and encouragement to keep us going on our journey. Annie explains, “There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance….Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.” 

Strength for the journey–we all need that! Annie, in her very personal, honest style, shares some of her own struggles–things that so many of us can relate to. And how finding loveliness in simple things like a sunrise or time spent with friends helps her see God’s love and His truths more clearly. God blesses our lives with loveliness in so many ways and it’s all around us, like little gifts He surprises us with every day.

I found that I had a new perspective after reading this book. I realized, as Annie points out, that an everyday occurrence like a sunrise is a beautiful reminder that there’s an end to darkness–it’s the beauty God created for us that helps get us through the hard times, keeps us from quitting, and gives us hope. Annie sums it up perfectly when she says, “I’m believing what I cannot see because of what I can see.” And after reading her book, I’m inspired to do the same.

Linked to Thursday Favorite ThingsCreate With Joy.

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark @ NancyC

On chilly mornings, I like to have a hot cup of coffee to start my day. With cream. I don’t like black coffee or sugar in my coffee, but I love having cream in my coffee! But cookingwithcoffeeapparently you can do so much more with coffee, as I discovered when I received a review copy of Cooking with Coffee by Brandi Evans. It’s a hardcover book with 60 recipes and lots of color photos.

The book begins with a brief history of coffee, benefits of coffee, different brewing options, and popular ingredients to use with coffee. Then you’ll find recipes for baked goods; homemade coffee creamers; drinks and smoothies; sauces, dips, and toppings; savory foods; and sweets and snacks. Recipes include:

  • Espresso Banana Muffins
  • Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
  • Salted Chocolate Coffee Creamer
  • Peanut Butter Mocha Smoothie
  • Chocolate-Coffee Gravy
  • Coffee Maple Vinaigrette
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Quick Coffee Ranchera Sauce
  • Triple Chip Espresso Cookies

I decided to try the Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark, because I thought it would be a great recipe to keep in mind as a food gift for the holidays. It’s easy to make and only has 3 ingredients, so you can whip it up easily and quickly. You just need to give the bark enough time to harden, at least an hour, before you break it up into pieces. It makes a great sweet treat for coffee and dark chocolate lovers! The recipes says to use 10 ounces of 60% dark chocolate, so I used one 10-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips and that worked perfectly!

SALTED DARK CHOCOLATE COFFEE BARK from Cooking with Coffee

Makes about 2 cups pieces of bark

  • 10 ounces 60% dark chocolate or semisweet
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons large flake sea salt (I used less salt-more like 1 teaspoon, and that was salty enough for me!)

Over a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate until it’s just warm enough to completely melt when you stir (a few minutes over the double boiler or 1-2 minutes in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds).

Pour the chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and smooth out into an even layer.

Sprinkle the melted chocolate with the coffee beans and the sea salt.

Let the chocolate set at least 1 hour, then break into bite-sized pieces.

Like I mentioned earlier, this bark makes a great homemade food gift. Or you may want to give the book itself to a coffee-loving friend. Are you a coffee-lover yourself, and do you use coffee in any recipes?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, FoodieFriDIY, Sunday Features, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Tasty Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Share Your Style, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Create It Thursday, Fabulous Foodie Friday.