Archives for September 2012

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

It’s National Coffee Day! I love my coffee. It makes my mornings soooo happy.

As much as I love my morning coffee and getting an occasional latte from Starbucks, I’ve had to come up with my own Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe. I used to have an obsession with pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. I could not wait for pumpkin spice latte season. I eagerly anticipated it’s arrival much as a three year old anticipates a visit from Santa.

But last year, my love affair with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes ended.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the flavors, I just have reduced my sugar consumption by so much, that the Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes were too sweet. Sickeningly so. I tried asking for a half syrup. Not good. Not good at all. Then I asked myself “exactly what is it that they are pumping?” Chemicals, that’s what. I had no choice. I had to come up with a recipe that gave me all the delicious goodness of a Pumpkin Spice Latte but with a level of sugar I enjoyed and using real food ingredients I’m dedicated to enjoying.

I’ve played with several recipes, and this one is my favorite. I love the rich, pumpkin flavors. I love that it has real pumpkin. I’ve even convinced myself that it can be considered getting my vitamin A because of the real pumpkin. Take that Starbucks, my latte has vitamins! Give this recipe a go and see if you don’t like the homemade version better than a purchased one!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe


  • 2 cups organic milk
  • 3 tablespoons organic canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 shots espresso or 1/2 cup brewed coffee


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk with the sugar and pumpkin and warm over medium heat. Stir in pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Pour one shot of espresso into two mugs. OR, add 1/4 cup coffee to 2 mugs. Add 1/2 of the milk mixture to each mug.
  3. If using frother, froth the milk.
  4. Top with an extra sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice

Try a healthy food ingredient Pumpkin Spice Latte & let me know what you think!

Shortcut: Seasoning Food in a Pinch

If you were to look at your recipes, you would start to notice a trend. When seasoning food with salt and pepper, the ratio is almost always two times the salt to one time the pepper.

So I’ve started using a shortcut. I wouldn’t say it’s life changing, but is is time saving – and sometimes those are the same thing!

I have a small ramekin (any small dish that fits on your stove will do) and I add to it 1/4 cup salt and 2 Tablespoons pepper. I stir it together and it is ready for me to just grab a pinch and sprinkle over my dishes. This is great if you are browning ground beef, sauteing vegetables, scrambling eggs, or getting a steak ready to grill. You can season your food as you cook & not have to think about it!

I prefer the pinch method when cooking, but if  you are someone who likes to measure when cooking, all you need to do is measure out the amount in the recipe.

For example, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper ~ just add 1 1/2 teaspoons for your salt and pepper mixture.

(Remember: Baking is a whole other ball game and requires precise measurements.)


    • When adding that pinch of your salt and pepper, make sure you are doing so from about 10 to 12 inches above the food. Holding it a little higher helps in even distribution.
    • Use Kosher salt or sea salt. Both types of salt are a large grain, making it easier to pick up in a pinch.
    • Season your meat with salt and pepper BEFORE you cook it. Raw meat absorbs it better than cooked meat, so you will need to use less.
    • Season your beans AFTER you cook them. Salt during the cooking process makes them harder to cook. I believe this, but not everyone does. However, I am right & they are wrong.
    • Tailor your mix to YOUR family’s taste. More pepper, less pepper, garlic powder, red pepper. Throw in whatever your family likes!

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try it then share it!


Homemade Apple Pie Spice

Homemade Apple Pie Spice is another easy-to-make spice mix. Why make your own spice mixes? Have you ever bought a spice mix and read the ingredients? You might be surprised to find that they often times include additives. Buy your own pure ingredients, make your own mixes, and avoid the bad stuff. This apple pie spice can be substituted in any recipe calling for apple pie spice or use it in any of the ways suggested below.

In apple pie, use 1 1/2 teaspoons homemade apple pie spice for every 6 cups sliced apples

Just like my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice, this mix fits perfectly in a tall spice jar. So feel free to wash one out and reuse and repurpose it to hold your spice mix.

Homemade Apple Pie Spice


  • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • Optional: add 1/2 teaspoon grated dried lemon peel to add some brightness


  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients.
  2. Pour into an airtight container and it will last for months.

Suggested Uses for Homemade Apple Pie Spice:

  • Add to egg batter when making french toast
  • Add to sugar cookie recipes to make Apple Pie Spice cookies
  • Use in any baked apple recipe
  • Use in apple cider recipes
  • Add to my  Slow Cooker Brown Rice Pudding
  • Spread a bagel with peanut butter and sprinkle spice mix over
  • Sprinkle on roasted butternut squash
  • Mix with turbinado sugar. Spread toast with butter and sprinkle apples pie spice sugar mix over.
  • Add to Paleo baked custard
  • Use it for Apple Pie Fruit Smoothies. Tastes just like eating pie!
  • Use it in PIE! With a delicious Homemade Whole Wheat Pie Crust.

To get the best prices on my spices, I shop through Amazon. If you shop Amazon, make sure you are paying the lowest prices by reading:

save at Amazon

What creative ways will you use Homemade Apple Pie Spice?

5 Things to Buy at Costco

5 Things to Buy at Costco

I’ve consulted my Costco Price List and my Costco Deals: Organic Price List 2013, and I’ve narrowed down the 5 things to buy at Costco to give your family the most bang for their monthly food budget buck. Keep in mind, not everything at Costco is the lowest price. And you can often times find a better deal by combining a coupon with a sale. However, sometimes you want to know that you can walk in on any given day of the week and find solid, everyday savings. This is particularly important when you are trying to buy organic. Since buying organic tends to be more expensive, shopping at Costco can be a great strategy to save on buying organic items.

With everyday savings in mind, here are the 5 things to buy at Costco:

1. MEAT – Whether you buy conventionally raised meat or organic meat, you can’t beat the everyday savings you get buying it at Costco. Since most families serve some form of meat most meals, it can save you a bundle by buying it in bulk. It does require that you have adequate freezer space, but by stocking up once a month, you know you will have the makings of a meal on hand. Not to mention if you plan to have a party or dinner guests, buying in bulk stretches your dollar.

2. MAPLE SYRUP – The price you pay at Costco is definitely less than what you’d pay at the grocers. Real maple syrup can be an expensive ingredient, but the taste is worth every penny. Knowing that I am getting a great price keeps our pantry stocked with real, delicious maple syrup.

3. ORGANIC WHOLE BEAN COFFEE – The savings on organic whole bean coffee is substantial. I’m talking about saving $1.50 to $2.00 per pound over what you’d pay for regular coffee beans! Say your family goes through a pound of coffee a week. Buying organic whole bean coffee at Costco offers a minimum of $78 in savings over the course of a year. That savings alone is worth the price of a Costco membership.

4. ORGANIC LETTUCE, SPINACH AND SALAD MIXES – Hands down, Costco has the best price on tubs of organic spinach and salad mixes. In order to really reap the savings here, you have to be committed to using what you purchase before it spoils. That goes for any produce you buy. However, if you are trying to feed your family whole foods, then the large quantities actually make sense. We should be buying large tubs of spinach and lettuce.

5. NUTS – Whether you are from the South and prefer pecans, or from up North and use more walnuts, raw, bulk nuts from Costco are significantly cheaper than buying them from the grocers. We love raw almonds, and the Costco price is the best in town. Since the bags of nuts are large, don’t forget to store your nuts in the freezer to keep them fresh.

Although these are the 5 things I found to offer the best savings, these aren’t the only items that find their way into my cart each month. I also like the prices on bananas, organic eggs, craisins, stretch island fruit leather, yeast cakes, and Luna bars.

What are the 5 things you buy at Costco?

Did you know I spent an entire month eating only at Costco and only spent $425 for a family of four (with teenagers!)? Find my meal plans and shopping list.

Don’t forget to check out my price comparison between Costco and Walmart!


save at Amazon

DIY Snack Station | Quick and Healthy Snacks

DIY Snack Station

Because my girls are in after school sports, they need to take a healthy snack with them when they leave for school.
Since I do not move very quickly in the morning, having one less thing to do in the morning (other than drink coffee) is always a blessing. I came up with this DIY Snack Station to help organize our mornings, and to make sure my girls had a good snack to take with them each day. This snack station allows me to assemble my snack boxes on Sunday night and have snacks ready to grab and go each morning of the week.


  • Find a large box that will fit on a pantry or cabinet shelf. I used a box from Costco. It fit perfectly in my pantry, was free, and reduced waste. But if you prefer pretty, organized shelves, feel free to see what your local big box store, like Target, has that will work. You want a box that is large enough that it can hold a cracker-size box or two as well as several other snack items you will corral together.
  • 6 to 10 snack-size containers. I found Steralite boxes that are BPA-free at Target for about $2 each. The boxes are about the same size as a lunchable container. These ECOlunch boxes are also the perfect size. I bought enough to make snack boxes for the whole week.
  • An assortment of healthy snack foods.

 What if you don’t have room for a large box to hold 10 snack boxes and all the snack supplies?

Honestly, until I cleared out space in our pantry for my snack station, it sat on my washer. You just need a place easily accessible that will work for you.

Once you’ve found a box and a location for your snack station, start assembling your snack boxes.

Snack Station Box


  • Organic applesauce
  • 100% pure fruit leather
  • Whole grain pretzels
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Trail mix
  • Wasabi peas
  • Dried fruit
  • Dark chocolate
  • Beef Jerkey
  • Yogurt Sammies
  • Packets of squeezable peanut butter or hazelnut butter
  • Pita chips


  • Carrot sticks
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Hummus
  • Cheese sticks
  • Apples, small
  • Grapes
  • Baby peppers


Quick and Healthy Snacks

Once all of your snack boxes are assembled, simply pack everything back up in your Snack Station and return it to the shelf. I grab two pre-made snack boxes every morning, maybe throw in a perishable item or two, and in less than a minute I am done!

What do you think? Would a snack station work for you?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try it then share it!

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe

Do you make your own homemade pumpkin pie spice?
I’ll bet you have the four spices needed to make pumpkin pie spice in your cupboard already. All you need are cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Blend these spices together, and this pumpkin pie spice recipe can be used as a substitute in any recipe calling for pumpkin pie spice.

I’ve tailored this recipe so it is just the right amount to fit in a 1.87 ounce bottle. You know the ones – the taller size at the grocers. I typically buy my spices in a glass bottle. When I run out of a spice, I simply remove the label, wash the jar, then whip up my own spice mixes for a fraction of what it would cost to keep buying specialty spices.


Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe


  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together.
  2. Carefully pour into a tight sealing bottle.

The beauty of making your own spice blends, is you can tailor it to your family’s taste.
My grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe is heavy on the cloves, so I always double the cloves in my homemade pumpkin pie spice.

Other than in pumpkin pie, how can you use homemade pumpkin pie spice?

  • Sprinkle on baked sweet potatoes
  • Add to waffle or pancake batter
  • Use to flavor homemade granola
  • Add to sugar cookies
  • Sprinkle on your coffee to make your own pumpkin spice coffee
  • Make yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte
  • Bake Pumpkin Spice Donuts
  • Add to your homemade or store bought applesauce
  • Spread a bagel with cream cheese, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice

How will you use your homemade pumpkin pie spice?

How to Make Hand Sanitizer with All Natural Products

Witch Hazel and Aloe Hand Sanitizer

How do you feel about Hand Sanitizer? Do you fall into the obsessive compulsive class where you can’t touch a public doorknob without a bottle at the ready? Or are you more in the “if it’s only been on the floor for 5 seconds, how dirty can it be?” camp?

Either way, I’ve got a recipe for Witch Hazel and Aloe Hand Sanitizer that is super easy to make and will leave your hands not only cleaner, but softer! That’s something those alcohol based hand sanitizers can’t say.

How to Make Hand Sanitizer with Witch Hazel and Aloe:


  • 4 oz Aloe Vera Gel
  • 1/2 T Witch Hazel
  • 1 Vitamin E Capsule
  • Lavender Essential Oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the witch hazel and aloe vera gel. Poke a hole in the vitamin E capsule and squeeze the contents into the mixture. Whisk in. Add 5 to 10 drops of lavender oil. Pour into a 4 oz squeeze bottle to use. **If you have an opaque bottle, that will help the stability of the essential oil.**


Witch Hazel – Witch Hazel extract is an all natural product with astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anesthetic properties. All of those properties make Witch Hazel perfect for use as a hand sanitizer.

Aloe Vera – The gel from the aloe vera plant is naturally moisturizing. The use of it in hand sanitizer helps keep your hands soft instead of drying it out. You want 100% Aloe Vera Gel – not the green or blue kind.

Lavender Oil – This essential oil is also an antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial. Plus, it makes stuff smell good. You can find Lavender Oil here.

Vitamin E – The addition of the vitamin E should help keep the product stable.

Mix up a batch & sanitize away! You can feel good knowing that all the ingredients in this sanitizer are all natural! And as long as you’re making up all natural products, why not make Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray? OR Make up some Sunburn After Care!

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution of your own? Let me know, I’ll try it then share it!