Monday, December 10, 2012

Fighting Fatigue Naturally: Exercise

Seriously time to move my lazy butt!

I HATE exercising. There I said it. I love the endorphin rush after a great workout, but I don't like to get started. This might just be the biggest of all the challenges for me. The best time will be in the morning, but I don't wanna!!!! Here's the best advice I can give myself here because ultimately it's just the way it is... SUCK IT UP! The only other option I have is to live a long winter tired and cranky. I'm not talking about running a marathon here (besides that isn't very healthy for a body anyway). I mean even 15-20 minutes of burst training or "dance therapy". Just something to help wake up my mind and body. Here are some things that have peeked my interest of late.

Have Wall Get Fit...

Found these on Pinterest. They look like a challenge that I might be able to conquer. That's always one way to get me motivated; tell me that I can't do it and I will or I'll die trying! We'll see.

There are loads of ideas out there, just google the one that works for you right? What exercises do you use? What has worked and what was a bomb. I'd really like to know.

Metamorphosis

I have a friend who says the Tracy Anderson Method has given her the best results in a very long time time. And I can tell you, she does look great (though I think she would look great regardless). A dancer and mother of four I could see how this program might appeal to her. I have my doubts that this "menno" white girl could dance her way to fitness, but if Gwenyth uses her then it must be worth it right?

These disks are expensive so... let's see what YouTube has on it first shall we? I found this... Instructional video that if you continue on goes through a few more of the workouts. I'll tell ya, the practicing steps and warm up works for me. My biggest shortfall with this type of workout is my own perfectionism. If I can't get it perfect I usually trash the whole thing. Dancing doesn't come natural to me. Oh, by the way she's gorgeous, so just get over that part right now.

Getting Intimate

Still ladies (and I mean ladies here, so guys you might wanna just skip reading this one) the best workout and the ones that are best for our mind and body should be done with our husbands, alone and uninterrupted.  Sex burns like 200 calories, reduces pain, increases estrogen (for women) and reduces prostate cancer (for men obviously). Studies have shown that one "dose" of semen contains just as much vitamin C as an orange (not suggesting you drink it, our bodies can absorb it just fine the traditional way). Talk about fighting off colds this winter though. Never mind that married couples who keep up a healthy intimate life will be more relaxed and have far less incidents of depression. So there you go married ladies just don't forget to stretch.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fighting Fatigue Naturally: Food

Watch what goes into the body

Staying away from our arch enemy refined sugar and grains is always on the hit list around here, but winter is certainly a critical time to stick to it. Decreasing or best eliminating foods that your body turns to sugar and then lazy making fat is my 1st line of defense (bread, pasta, rice to start).

Increasing good fats gives me so much more energy than anything else out there all year round. I crave avocado like crazy when I'm deprived of energy (it's the temptation to eat it with a huge bag of chips that takes me out). My good fat go to list is: coconut oil, olive oil, butter, salmon, avocado (any form) and even though it tastes like death... cod liver oil. I have a real hard time with cod liver oil but if it means not feeling like a hermit all winter, maybe I can suck it up or maybe I'll keep looking on that last one.

Going green has a whole new meaning

Speaking of the green goodness of avocado, the fact is that the deeper the green the greater the energy. We eat a fair bit of soup in the winter and so the addition of kale or swiss chard can be very helpful. Something new I want to get in on is a daily cup of nettle infusion.  
"A daily cup of nettle infusion increases energy without wiring your nerves. Nettle strengthens the adrenals, allowing you to tolerate more stress with less harm. And it nourishes your immune system, too. To make it: Put one ounce of dried nettle leaf in a quart jar. Fill to the top with boiling water. Cap tightly and steep at least four hours (overnight is fine). Strain and drink. Refrigerate the remainder and consume within 36 hours." (click here for source)
Well I tries this for a few days in a a row and I must say I was like an energizer bunny. I had to slow myself down those days. I'll try it again soon to test it out, but my stash will run out fast. If this truly gives me a kick in the butt I might wanna save it up for the days I REALLY need it.

 

Low Iron makes me very sleepy

Having suffered from low iron levels in the past (mostly when pregnant), I know how tired I can get from that. Add to it low potassium or iodine and yikes! So it looks like a rice free version of an Asian diet might be a on the menu this winter. I used to eat sushi for my nori fix, but the rice & lack of availability up here sends me looking for other ideas. I might just deep fry it in coconut oil and top my suppers or salads.
"Celery, cabbage, seaweeds, nettle infusion, and red clover infusion are excellent sources of potassium. Molasses, chocolate, seaweeds, nettle infusion, and dandelion leaves are all superb sources of iron. For iodine, seaweed shines, but sea salt, mushrooms, and greens grown in gardens fertilized with seaweed also supply significant amounts." (click here for source)
An old standby for increasing my iron is grass fed beef liver. Here's my recipe. A far stretch from the liver & onions of my youth (though I liked that as well so long as it was covered in A1 Sauce). Now if liver really isn't your thing you might want to check out your local health food store and pick up some Floravit. It's a liquid iron supplement that actually tastes good. In the meantime I will keep looking for more yummy recipes to help battle these winter greys, so keep posted.

Beef Liver and Onions 

with mushrooms and bacon


Ingredients

small amount (2 servings) grass fed beef liver
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 mushrooms, sliced
6 slices bacon, sliced (watch for nitrates, they are bad for you)
coconut flour (enough for coating)
arrowroot powder (maybe a tsp or so)
thyme (to your taste, but I like a lot 1 tbsp)
salt and pepper to taste
kale or other dark leafy green for serving with it

Directions

Cook bacon with sliced mushrooms, onions and garlic. Slice up the liver into strips, coat it with coconut flour seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme (if you have a bit of arrowroot powder great because then you get a bit of "gravy" with the pan drippings). Remove bacon mixture from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more coconut oil to the pan and cook the liver (not to death or it gets too tough). Gently brown it on all sides (a couple minutes). Return the bacon, onion & mushroom mixture to the pan and loosen up the pan bits with a bit of water (about 1/4 cup for a small liver amount). Sometimes I add a bit more thyme to amp up the flavor (I love mushrooms with thyme).

Let it cook for a couple minutes longer with the lid on. I serve it over baby kale or add kale to the last cooking stage to wilt it up a bit. Add there you go. Enough iron to get you through the month. Only something I make a few times a year, but it's so good (when done right). No A1 sauce needed here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gai Choy Chicken Soup

Winter brings us many great things, but it also brings us cold season. With 4 young children we're getting our fair share around here (more than usual I think). Where you have colds you also have the need for soup. One of my favorite things to create in the kitchen. You really can't mess up with soup. The key is to start with the basics adding what you have available and taste often.

Loaded with Vitamin A and C and my favorite these cold days Vitamin D, this soup is not only tasty but good for you (don't tell the children that though). Ideally I would make this with a variety of fresh mushrooms, but all that were available were the white and brown crimini. One could easily add oyster and shiitake to increase the authentic asian flavor. Alas I work with what I have.

Ingredients:

4 cups sliced mushrooms
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
4 cups chopped gai choy (chinese mustard greens)
F.O.C for frying
1 tbsp chili garlic paste
2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 green onions thinly sliced for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in large pot. Cook mushrooms on medium heat until lightly browned, add ginger and gai choy and sauté a few minutes more. Add chicken stock and and chicken; continue to simmer as long as you wish really. Shortly before serving add the soy sauce and ginger paste and garnish with green onions.

Enjoy! And if you're not usually a throw it a pot and wing it type of person I encourage you to give creative soups a try. The ingredients usually cost only pennies a bowl so you don't have to feel bad if no one likes it but you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

French Canadian Meat Pie

A number of years ago I was introduced to a great Christmas food tradition. While I know this version will never compare to the one I first fell in love with, this is a really good rendition.

Where we live now, veal wasn't available though I was tempted to try and find some moose or other game meat to add in. Alas I wasn't that brave... this time!

Here's how I made this batch (and yes, I was lazy and used store bought crust). Feel free to send me your versions. I am always  willing to try other versions.

Ingredients

2 pounds ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste
Pastry for two (maybe 3 if shallow) double-crust pies (9 inches)

Directions

Brown meat with onion, celery and garlic. Add herbs salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and cook for a couple minutes. Add the mashed sweet potato and chicken broth, combining well. Simmer a few more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before filling prepared shells. Fill to slightly heaping amounts and lay top rust over, pinching edges. Cut a few venting holes and brush tops with milk or egg wash (if you like). Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350˚F oven. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Whiskey Marinaded Pork Tenderloin

This recipe is good for making about 2-3 pork tenderloins, trimmed up and poked with fork. Mixed together the marinade ingredients and let meat soak it all up overnight in a covered container in the fridge.

For the marinade:

1/4 cup whisky
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

For glazing:

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp olive oil
S and P to taste

We have a Jenn Air cooktop so we are blessed to be able to grill year round indoors, but I think you could easily do this recipe in the oven. Grill to your liking rotating and brushing with glaze as they cook. Let rest before slicing and serve. We made this yummy Quinoa with Green Onion and Pine Nuts to go along side paired with some ginger glazed carrots.





Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fighting Fatigue Naturally: The Sun

So winter is upon us and for me that often means an increase in fatigue. The lack of sun takes it's toll on my energy levels for sure! In years past I would get myself into the tanning beds to fake that vitamin D, but I don't know how great that is for me either. These days I just amp up the coffee intake and just push through. While neither of these are the healthiest solutions I am on a mission to incorporate some do-able good ones.

After some research (online of course) I have some things I am going to try and then get back to you on how well they work. Some are obvious and I have been doing them already, but clearly it's not enough to battle the great white (or grey) north. To keep these blogs short, I will touch base on each "solution" separately thus the Fighting Fatigue Series is born!

Obviously getting out for some serious sun whenever it's out is a given. Tough part is getting enough exposed skin to soak up the good rays. Living in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada makes this task much more difficult.
Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight. You probably need from 5 to 30 minutes of exposure to the skin on your face, arms, back or legs (without sunscreen) two times every week. Since exposure to sunlight is a risk for skin cancer, you should use sunscreen after a few minutes in the sun, even on hazy or cloudy days. (click here for source)
So I'm thinking that is NOT going to happen. Plan B...
 
Bundle up and go for a walk. Bring my camera and take a few snapshots to remind myself what beauty there is in winter. At least then my mind will be in a much better place. If it's nice enough maybe I'll be able to leave my scarf and toque at home.

Play in the snow! I don't know about you, but there is nothing more fun in the winter than building snow forts. I could do it all day if the weather isn't too frigid. A couple years ago I remember making a fort in our back yard late into the night. Myself and our neighbor girl stayed out long after the children and well after dark turning the entire yard into a sled path, ramp and house complete with bed and TV. If it wasn't for my toe getting terribly pinched by my toe ring in my boot we would have stayed out even longer. There are a few really great ideas we found in this book, Snow Play that we hope to have enough snow for this year. I also enjoy skating and skiing but since having children haven't done either of those much.

For now, I will continue my vitamin D supplements (I like prefer the liquid version) and get my face out there whenever I can. What fun ways do you get sun in the winter months?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Long Time Coming

My last post was over 3 months ago. You get to a point when you just have to suck it up and go for it. So much has changed. Our family has moved from Winnipeg to The Pas, in Northern Manitoba. Living in a small town again is something I would have not seen or hoped for in my future, but here we are! God called and we are trying to obey. One day this journey will testify to His amazing provision and plan for our simple little lives. So far I am enjoying it for what it is. Quiet, laid back, with a simple beauty (even in the early stages of winter) that often brings a silent smile to my heart.

My days are a lot more simplified here. We still home school (1 full-time and 2 part-time) and I am a wife and mother to our 4 children, but aside from that my days and nights are pretty slow by comparison. For once in my life I am actually okay with that (at least for now).

Naturally there are a few things that I miss from Winnipeg (beside the obvious family & friends). Starbucks coffee, our Church, our Chiropractor (and other healthcare providers), fresh farm "goodies", the many thrift stores filled with great finds, big movie theaters (and the sitters to watch the kiddies), major department stores (where do people buy their undergarments from around here?), restaurants like Lao Thai or any Sushi place.

Something that caught me by surprise here was a cute coffee shop called Lyete's that sells Black Pearl coffee (their own roast). There is a really unique 1st run movie theater here called the Lido; family owned and operated for the last 4 generations. Next would be the incredible deals you can find at Extra Foods. You know how you can go at the right time and get a 30-50% off pink tag on your items? Well here you can go at anytime and find really good 50% off deals. Seriously you can fill a whole conveyor belt with the stuff! You can also go anywhere and strike up a decent conversation and not feel pressured to move it along because you're going to hold up the line (there is no line).

Well, that is the most recent. I do have some foodie posts to update in the near future so keep posted!

Me making the simple coffee awesome with homemade whipped cream, raw agave and sprinkled with cinnamon & sea salt

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Excerpts of Hilarity

I realize that having two 4 year old is sometimes just one of the most hilarious things in my life (also sometimes the most difficult, but whose paying attention to that). Thought I might share some of the good things that get me through it all.

Our family (Dino 4, Grem 4, MJ almost 2, Mom & Dad) are sitting around the dinner table. Having just given thanks we are all beginning to eat when Grem pipes up in a rather serious tone and begins to inform Dino that his parents are live very far away (they do, we foster Dino). Okay nothing new, we talk to all the children openly about Dino's family and somewhat regularly. Then he proceeds to inform Dino that they just live on "another earth far, far away; actually on a another planet.". At this point we might be tempted to stop the conversation and correct Grem's oversight in just HOW far Dino's family really lives, but for some curious reason we let this conversation keep going un-interupted. So, Grem again gets rather serious and looks at his brother Dino and says, "It's okay, it's okay Dino, because they just live on another planet, but it's okay." He seemed so genuinely concerned that Dino understand that it's really okay that they are from another planet because he was here with us.

Who couldn't love a face like that?
Funny thing was that Dino didn't really disagree, but rather agreed that his family lived very far away. That's when my husband leans over to Dino and says, "Dino, if Grem ever tells you that you're from another planet or that you're really an alien, you can just ignore him; it's not true." Naturally, I inform the children that Dino's family in fact are not from another planet. That they do live on earth, with the rest of us, but that yes, they do live very far away. That's one of the reasons it's so hard for them to come visit, but that he is so very loved by them and that he is safe and loved here with us. Dino, just nods, smiles his goofy grin and gets back to eating, pretty much un-phased by the odd conversation. I was waiting for Grem to actually pipe up and start telling Dino that he was an alien creature from another planet, but I don't think he is really aware of this line of thinking just yet. After all I had my brother thinking he was really an alien and that if he scrubbed too hard in the bath the paint on his skin would come off to reveal his green skin and then they would have to take him back to the ship to fix him. i think he was scared to have a bathe after that for a bit, but we (I think my Mom got in on the fun at some point) kept it going for quite a while. He was 4 as well, but much more gullible than our children at this point. Good times!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Boy's 4th Birthday Celebration

I know it's been a really long time since I posted on my blog. Sorry, we are VERY busy trying to get our home ready to sell. I did however, take the time to honour our two special four year olds by baking and creating of one of the largest cakes made thus far... The Superhero Tower!  Dino likes Batman and Superman and Graeme likes anything green, so obviously Green Lantern and the Hulk for him. Our foster boy (Dino) and our natural son are only 6 weeks apart, but they both LOVE superheroes. This was the 1st time we combined their parties so we made a big deal of it for them.

While these are not completely sugar & grain-free, I did my best to make them as healthy as possible. Made with whole wheat flour, xylitol and raw organic chocolate, they would at the very least not send anyone into an insulin resistant shock (providing you removed the fondant prior to eating). One day I will find the time and a way to do it all, but until then this is the best I can do. The bottom layer is 16" in diameter and three layers high (about 3" high), the we have 12" and finally 6". We still have cake left over and it's almost been a week. Granted we are NOT big cake eaters. Anyway, here are some photos...


Rice Krispie Hulk Fist (kind of looks like broccoli)

In case you don't already know... If you're making marshmallow fondant and you don't work in enough icing sugar, but rather let is sit for a bit, it will firm up and it will NOT work well for you. It begins to look all slimy and VERY hard to roll. I was so exhausted after an insanely busy week that by some point I just didn't care and wanted to get it DONE! So the blue & green look bumpy and like stretchy marshmallow because it is.


With the Superhero theme in mind we decided that it might be nice for the children to all get to design their own capes. For 14 children, I bought about $40 worth of supplies and cut out the bases (in black felt) and only had to sew on velcro. I got the idea from Pinterest and with the help of Jolly Mom I think we created something the boys might remember as their BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! We used fabric glue & spray adhesive to adhere their own symbol design and off they went to save the day. I think they had fun and then all the children got to take home their capes (instead of a crazy goodie bag full of undesirable sugary treats).



All in all it was a beautiful day with our friends and I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

Congrats to this post on it's 100th viewing in February of 2013!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Photo Journal

Our Long Weekend in The Pas, Manitoba

Most of these were taken out at Barbe Lake; a source for some really amazing Rainbow Trout. Though I am not much of a fisher, I do enjoy the process a lot. It is relaxing and simply a great time to sit back and enjoy God's fine creation. 

Let's face it, there's nothing much better than grilled, fresh fish after a day of peace and relaxation. This trip our son Owen almost caught a beautiful trout. With a little more practice he could become a pretty good angler. Sadly it snapped the line before he could reel it in. Next time...

Poppy plant beginning to open.

Tenacious tulips peeking in on playing children.

Canadian Primrose flowers peeking through cold rocky soil.

Reeds, washed up on shore like a border.
Water, Reeds, Rocks.

Man/child-made bowl of rocks.

I think this is a young bird called a Yellowleg.

A lake FILLED with Rainbow Trout. YUM!

I often am fascinated by the ways rocks take shape.

Canoe "hidden" for future water adventures.

Many massive ant hills.

At least 2 feet in width and  12-18 inches high.

Used to play with these plants as a child.

I could watch water lapping at my feet for hours.

Love in solid rock formation.

Hard to see it here, but there's a really neat ray of light shining down.
It was good to get outdoors. Back to my roots. Brought back many memories of my youth; time spent with my friends, my family but most importantly my God. Nothing more rejuvenating than getting back to the basics.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From My Table to Yours

Our kitchen has always been a place where I go to express the love language of serving for my family. I LOVE to serve them yummy food that tastes as good as it looks and more so, healthy for them. All but one of these were a hit at our table. The quiche was too strong a flavour even for me. Most of these recipes are sugar free and grain free. If the original recipe called for sugar, I usually just replace it with xylitol (or sometimes honey for a treat).

I seldom follow a recipe, but rather use a little this and a little that. Which is why I have fallen so hard for Pinterest these days. At least on this site I can see a photo of anything I want to try out. It takes me to the original site and BAM! instant inspiration. So if there is a link to a recipe here, not only did I probably find it on Pinterest, but I most likely just looked at the ingredient list and made it up from there.


This had a side of a rice pilaff which would be a cheat for sure, but having something like this once a week is something our diet can seem to manage well enough, for now. The pickles and beets were home-made buy a good friend and my mother. Not too much guilt there. I could eat the asparagus as a meal though. I really enjoy walnuts on most anything.
Slow Baked Pork Ribs, Brown Rice Bulgar Wheat Barley Quinoa Pilaf, Asparagus, Pickles and Beets

Steamed Asparagus with Cranberries, Walnuts, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, S&P

I have been cooking with a variety of curries for the last 8 years. It is a flavour my whole family enjoys almost weekly. This one would be very similar to butter chicken with the addition of mango and a bit less cream. If I could encourage you, don't be afraid to use curry. I know there are so many different types, but if you stick with, garam masala, red curry paste and yellow curry powder you should be just fine. Mixing those with coconut milk, cream, chicken stock or tomato sauce/paste make for fairly common combinations. Whatever tastes good to you.
Mango Chicken Red Curry served over Steamed Cauliflower

My husband often has to work nights so breakfast for supper is common during those days. It's the least I can do to make working these nasty shifts a little bit better. I started mixing italian sausage with ground turkey for a simple tasty patty (without all the preservatives you get in the pre made ones).
Turkey Italian Sausage Patties served over Sautéd Spinach, Mushrooms and Onions, topped with a Fried Egg

Like I mentioned earlier, this one was not a favourite of mine. The recipe called for shrimp, but I had leftover chicken; I replaced shrimp with that. These muffins were pretty good. The recipe is meant for bread, but I find that the pale breads often spoil before we finish them, so I thought smaller... worked great!
Artichoke Quiche served with Paleo Muffins and Strawberries

Paleo Muffins

Added chicken to this one. The recipe is an easy one and worth a look. The beans were simple mixed with tomato paste, garlic, onions, paprika, salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar, xylitol and a bit of molasses and then baked low in the oven. Added some hard boiled egg because my children like them so much.
Creole Chicken and Shrimp with a side of Homemade Baked Beans and a Hardboiled Egg

My original plan was to use some pale bread to make these sandwiches or at least some hame-made bread, but alas my schedule did not allow the time. So the children's store bought whole wheat will have to do. Why do I buy bread for the children? To be honest, I'm a bit lazy on the bread making and to make paleo for them every day might be a tad too expensive. After all they eat PB&J sammies 2x per week. I've removed much of their sugar and grains, bread seemed one thing I just can't take away just yet.
Green Goodness Avocado Panini served with Enchilada Stuffed Mushrooms

I just marinaded the chicken in some olive oil and red curry paste overnight. Grilled it the next day on the BBQ. It was SO good! The veggies are zucchini, red peppers, onion and mushrooms. I put in some mango, but I wished I had left it out until the end. Mixed the veggies with some gram masala, coconut milk, sale and pepper and put it in a foil covered 9x9 pan to grill. Served with some red lentils flavoured also flavoured with red curry paste shallots and garlic, cooked in chicken stock. Right near the end, I used some leftover coconut milk, red curry paste and butter to make a tasty sauce to pour over the chicken. AMAZING good flavours here.
Red Curry Grilled Chicken Breast, Garam Masala Grilled Vegetables served with Red Lentils
With all this said, it's time to get tonights supper going. Warm weather brings later and later suppers around our house; thus maximizing our outside time. This Pinterest find looks like an easy one: grilled-salmon-with-avocado-salsa

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tea Time

A sweet labour of love for a friend whose talents are far too numerous to count. You can check out some of her mad skills at TheAngryTurtle. I just really wanted to honour her with something beautiful for her birthday. Since she is a tea lover, this seemed the obvious choice. The challenge was how to make a cake for someone who doesn't really like cake.


These are Brownie Bottom (most anyway), Banana Bread Cupcakes with a yummy Buttercream Frosting and finally decorated with tiny gum paste teapots. I also made a few "Cupcakes" out of rice krispie cake (one of her favourites). You can see in the background on one that I also sculpted a teapot from these yummy marshmallow treats. It was cute and I know she really enjoyed it & I hope you do too!


Brownie Bottom Banana Bread Cupcakes
makes 20 cupcakes

Brownie Layer:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or xylitol if you have)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup grated dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add in chocolate, flour, salt and cocoa powder, mixing until just combined. Line a cupcake tin with liners, then spoon about 1/2-3/4 of a tablespoon of brownie batter in each cup. Press down with the back of a spoon.

Cupcake Layer:
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup butter, melted

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside. In a bowl, whisk egg and add brown sugar, mixing until smooth. Add vanilla yogurt and melted butter and mix. Stir in dry ingredients, then add mashed bananas and mix until batter comes together. The batter will be thicker than normal cupcakes. Measure 1/4 cup batter in liners over top of brownie batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, then let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting
(coloured coral)

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cream
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting:
(I darkened a bit more with colouring)

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cream
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

I know this pretty much goes against ALL my no sugar rules, but I am still working on my sugar free version. I found recipes for confectioners sugar and sugar-free marshmallows so testing should begin as soon as my xylitol order comes in. More on this in the future...