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Maria Makes Muffins is the musings of a granola eating, tree hugging, modern mom.

I am a Minneapolis-based stay at home mom who has lost over 57 pounds (and counting) by eating clean, weight lifting, HIIT and yoga.

Join me as I feed my family one muffin at a time!

Questions or comments? Email me at maria (at) mariamakesmuffins (dot) com

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Back in March when we began our grain-free journey with a Whole30, I found myself doing a ton of research on paleo eating, specifically related to paleo snacks that my children and husband would enjoy. I knew that their normal snacks of granola bars and muffins were easily paleo-itized. But those snacks used pound after pound of insanely expensive almond flour or a dozen eggs per batch of muffins.

When reading one of my now favorite cookbooks, Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, I stumbled across a recipe for toasted coconut chips. I immediately knew that my boys would LOVE toasted coconut chips. Tip: If you click on this Well Fed link you can download a free PDF sample of the book with a ton of fabulous recipes!

Melissa’s recipe uses a skillet on the stovetop to toast the coconut chips, which I cautiously did a few times with mixed results. Sometimes the coconut burnt. Other times toasted nicely. Most of the time I got a combination of both.

This process was pretty daunting because I wanted to batch prep a ton of coconut chips (think a half gallon ball jar full of them). And that meant standing next to a screaming hot cast iron skillet for 30 minutes trying not to burn the coconut or my hands. I knew there had to be another way.

One evening I decided to put the untoasted coconut chips on a pan and put them in a 350* oven, just to see what happened. The results? Perfectly toasted coconut chips in 6-10 minutes.

We eat our toasted coconut chips topped with sea salt and cinnamon. However, they would be amazing with curry spices, paprika, nutritional yeast or cacao powder. The options are endlessly delicious.

This is one of those recipes that is more technique versus actual recipe, so don’t overthink it. Just keep a watchful eye and nose to the oven during the last few minutes and you should be golden. Remember that all ovens heat differently and have their own quirks (convection vs non convection, hot spots, etc.). So don’t leave the room while you are toasting your coconut chips.

 

Toasted Coconut Chips

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 6-10 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer snack dairy-free gluten-free low-carb low-sodium low-sugar nut-free soy-free sugar-free unsweetened vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (4-6 cups)

  • 4-6 cups coconut chips
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon, to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350*.

Spread coconut chips on a large rimmed baking sheet and place on the center rack of the oven.

Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the coconut smells toasted and is lightly browned. Stir halfway through cooking time to ensure all of the coconut is evenly toasted.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle evenly with sea salt and cinnamon. Stir to distribute spices. Allow to cool on the pan for at least an hour. The coconut will crisp as it cools.

Tips and Tricks

You can toast multiple batches in the oven at one time. Note that the coconut on the top rack will toast faster than the coconut on the lower racks.

If you have hot spots in your oven or are baking multiple sheets at once, it might be helpful to turn the pans or switch racks mid-way through the cooking time when you are already opening the oven to stir the coconut chips.

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Good afternoon!

I wanted to stop by and let you know that I have been busy over on Instagram sharing the snacks that my kids have been enjoying this week. Check out all of the posts by searching the hashtag #cleaneatingsnacks and #cleaneatinglunch. If you’d like more ideas for fabulous clean eating and whole foods recipes for your family check out the hashtag #kideatingwhole on Instagram.

This was cinnamon chia seed pudding with strawberries </p>
<p>So far I have shared a few of our favorite <a title=smoothie recipes and the quick grab and go items I feed my boys on the fly. I’ve even posted the haul that I pack up and bring to my in-laws when the boys are staying all day. At the end of the week I plan to make a big post with all of the posts included in addition to my tips for feeding your kids quick, healthy whole foods snacks.

Jazz, chocolate and a picnic at the #eaganmarketfest

Feel free to join me in tagging your own snacks with #cleaneatingsnacks and sharing your favorite snacks below. I love learning from you!

Blessings to you and your family!

Maria

The Albion Fit winner was announced on this post and has been emailed. Congratulations!

As I am sure you have noticed, the internet has been all abuzz lately about Dr. Oz’s recent run in with the Senate’s Consumer Protection panel. If you have no clue what I am talking about, then count your lucky stars. And if I’ve piqued your interest, head over to CNN for a concise article that details the charges against Dr. Oz and the misleading claims he has made about chlorogenic acid (aka green coffee beans) and gardenia cambogia.

Green Coffee Beans

Photo: Flickr user Jessica Spengler http://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/8278570234/

Here’s a little summary of what the research says about the “miracle” pills Dr. Oz uses “flowery language” to sell:

  • chlorogenic acid (aka green coffee beans): one study showed significant weight loss among a very small participant group, another study showed a slight weight loss among a very small participant group and another study found absolutely no weight loss effect. Bottom line: real, significant studies that aim to give legitimate results generally use large participant groups so that the results can be applied to the public at large. This has not been done for chlorogenic acid and therefore it should not be marketed as a proven weight loss supplement.
  • gardenia cambogia: proven to not significantly help participants lose any more weight than a placebo pill. Definitely should not be marketed as an effective weight loss supplement.

Photo: Flickr user Victor/CC/flickr.com/photos/v1ctor/6889837424

Honestly, I’m not surprised by Dr. Oz’s claims. Celebrity experts have been slinging “miracle” pills for years and consumers have been buying their claims all the way to the poor house. But the fact of the matter is that there is NO miracle pill or supplement out there that is going to help you loose weight while sitting on the couch and eating potato chips. DO NOT waste your time and money.

Unfortunately since the advent of cheap processed food and the fun “farm bill” that subsidizes even cheaper commodity foods, North American’s waistlines have expanded exponentially. Todays children are the first generation expected to live shorter lives that their parents. We’ve become docile and are looking for ways to improve our health in all of the wrong places. The only real impact these quick fix pills are making is to drain your wallet. You will not lose weight by simply popping a pill, drinking a magic protein powder or taking a particular supplement. I repeat quick fixes will NOT help you lose weight and keep it off.

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about real, documented and researched ways to lose weight, feel fabulous and have shiny, glowing skin. Here’s a spoiler: it’s not rocket science. It’s exactly what God provided for us at the beginning of time when we were created. Honestly, it’s really that simple and you know what, it works 100% of the time.

1. Drink plenty of filtered tap water. If you are thirsty, then you are already well on your way to dehydration. Don’t waste calories and your hard earned money on artificially sweetened soda (yes, high fructose corn syrup is an carcinogenic artificial sweetener) and designer waters. Did you know that standards for city tap water are actually stricter than government imposed bottled water standards? Yep, there are likely more toxins floating around in your bottled water than the stuff straight from the faucet. Buy a few reusable water bottles and fill them up. Add a couple sliced lemons or limes, a pinch of sea salt and some fresh mint and you’ll be set.

2. Eat your vegetables. Focus on in season, local vegetables in a rainbow of colors. Visit a local farmer’s market or sign up for a CSA farm share. If your budget allows chose organic or certified naturally/sustainably grown vegetables that don’t use toxic pesticides that encourage super bugs and the degradation of soil. Plus organic is better for you because the produce needs to produce more antioxidants to help them fight off diseases and pests.

3. Don’t fear fat. You need to eat dietary fat to loose body fat. Focus on healthy fats that have been proven to build a better body and boost brain power like avocado, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, pastured meat and eggs, wild salmon, sardines, nuts and seeds.

4. Pile on the protein. Enjoy one serving of protein (about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand) with each meal. Protein is made up of amino acids that help to build strong muscles and keep your body processes humming along. Without clean, good quality protein your body will not run optimally. Find a local farmer who values his craft and buy your meat in bulk from the farm. You will not only save a ton of money, but you will also build community right where you live.

5. Move your body every day. Do not overthink this. Remember that 80% of weight loss and health revolve around the fuel that you put into your body, exercise is only 10% of the equation (but still VERY important). Make an effort to lift heavy things a few times a week, take a 30 minute walk, play with your kids at the park, get your bike tuned up and actually use it, etc. Find a form of exercise that excites you and make a plan to stick with it. Not only will your body thank you, but so will your mind. Every time you move your body you activate hormones called endorphins that lift your mood and energize your body. It’s a beautifully designed cycle straight from God’s hand.

Next time you feel swayed by a commercial or something you hear on TV, take a deep breath, a moment to be thoughtful and keen enough to realize that there are lots of people out there trying to take advantage of your weaknesses and insecurities. Don’t give them the opportunity to take advantage of you. Know that you are worth more than a quick fix, you are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and your body deserves to be treated like Christ’s temple!

As many of you know, we took our family to Walt Disney World this Spring. The nice folks at Disney and AIGA Orlando hosted our family in their wonderful city for two weeks while we enjoyed all that Disney had to offer along with visiting both of the Florida coastlines. It truly was a magical time! Plus, we got to meet some pretty amazing people and Allan got to talk about what he does and share our story with a few rooms full of designers.

 

As we prepared for our vacation I recached out to the lovely people at Albion Fit to see if they would be interested in sponsoring a review and giveaway on my blog and they happily accepted. As you may have noticed in mine and Allan’s flurry of Disney Instagram posts I donned one of Albion Fit’s beautiful limited edition Antigua Floral Icon swimsuits for the duration of our trip.

When the suit arrived at our hotel I couldn’t wait to rip open the package and take it for a test drive in the kid’s water playground and pool at our hotel. Upon holding the suit in my hands I knew that it was going to last me a lifetime. It is meticulous crafted with thick, structured fabric and a lot of stretch. This helps to hold everything in, keep you comfy and allow the suit to move with you vs against you. The fabric was definitely made to stand up to chlorine and salt water for years to come. I especially loved that the Antigua Floral pattern perfectly matched my favorite floppy hat (from Target last year, similar hat)

The next day we decided to take it easy and hang by the pool for the morning. I loved the fit of the Icon suit and am smitten with everything Antigua Floral. The swimsuit hugged my curves and looked very flattering. It made me feel pretty and sexy while still being modest and sporty. I could see wearing this suit at the water park with my boys, the local beach or on a getaway with my husband. It definitely does double duty as a functional suit and fashion statement.

I cannot wait to wear this amazing suit at our local water park and at my parent’s pool for years to come!

Albion Fit has graciously offered to grace one of you with a $50 gift card! To enter simply sign up below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that this post is sponsored by Albion Fit, however all opinions are my own.

 

As I sit here on a snowy, beginning of winter day perusing the beautiful family photos we had taken in early November, I am thankful that we planned ahead. Trying to wrangle two small children in front of a misshapen Christmas tree armed with a tripod, self-timer and lighting kit seems like an accident waiting to happen. Allan’s cousin, Sean Sullivan, did an amazing job taking our family photos and I am so excited to share them with our family and friends in our annual Christmas photo card.

When I was contacted by Minted I knew that it would be a wonderful partnership opportunity. I had heard of them by way of friends and other bloggers, but have never used their services. The Christmas cards we received last year that were printed by Minted were beautifully crafted and memorable. Upon entering their site I was immediately greeted by a wide assortment of gorgeous Christmas cards to choose from. Look at that gold foil!

I loved the Find It Fast feature which gave me the ability to upload my family photos and preview each card with our photo in place of the stock family photos. I was immediately able to tell if a layout would work with my chosen photo instead of having to go through the effort of placing my photo into the card myself.

 

 

 

 

 

It can be daunting sorting through hundreds of layouts, so I really liked that upon mouseover I was able to favorite/heart, pin to Pinterest or have a quick look at the card. This made sifting through the layouts easy.

When I finally decided which card I liked most I was able to really personalize it to match our taste. I could add fancy edging and rounded corners, choose upgraded papers (like 100% recycled paper) and add patterns or photos to the back of the card.

Once you decided on the layout and personalizations you would like, most cards can be delivered in two different ways:

Express Service, which is similar to other photo card sites, where you receive an immediate digital preview of your card options. This enables you to quickly get your order processing and includes a $10 credit.

If you’re more Type A, like me, then you can choose to receive a Full Service Proof prior to printing. A Minted designer will provide you with a digital proof, just like we used to receive in the advertising biz prior to printing. This way you can see every detail of your card and ensure that it is juuuuust right.


If you order Christmas cards by Thursday, December 5th use coupon code HOLLY to receive 15% off $150+ or 10% off a $100+. Also, for a limited time Minted will address all of your envelopes for FREE!!! That in and of itself is an amazing offer saving you time and many a hand cramp.

 

 

Please note that this post was sponsored by Minted. However, as always, all opinions are my own.