A few years ago a dear friend made me a gluten-free birthday cake from the King Arthur GF Chocolate Cake Mix. The cake was one of the best I have ever tasted, gluten-free or not gluten-free. When I was thinking about what to bring to a get together last week, I knew I had to make cupcakes with that mix.
After verifying that the mix is indeed dairy-free in addition to gluten-free, I began to read through the comments on the King Arthur product page. The first comment suggested using red wine in place of the water the mix suggested and olive oil in place of the vegetable oil. I love wine, and the get together was wine-themed, so I made the cupcakes with those substitutions.
Hannah helped me bake them and made sure to arrange the cupcake liners so that we had an even amount of each color. After the cupcakes cooled, I frosted them with homemade chocolate frosting based on the recipe on the side of the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa can.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
Gluten and dairy-free
1. Combine Earth Balance and cocoa with mixer until blended.
2. Alternatively add powdered sugar (about a cup at a time) and almond milk until desired consistency is reached.
3. Add vanilla and blend well.
4. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!
*Leftover frosting can be frozen.
These cupcakes were a huge hit! So much so that Hannah was still raving about them three days later when she finished off the last one. This comes from our uber picky eater that typically balks at anything gluten and/or dairy-free.
If you try these, please check back and let me know how you liked them!
I can’t believe it has been over 6 years since I first reviewed Zing Bars. Zing Bars have now added a 100-calorie bar that is perfect for snacking, dessert, or packing in your school lunch boxes. I received complementary samples to review here on the blog a couple of months back. The smaller size is perfect for smaller children, to hold you over until your next meal, or satisfy a sweet tooth in place of a candy bar.
More about Zing Bars:
Zing’s ‘clean energy’ snacks are not the typical nutrition bar. The nutrition and energy bar industry was originally founded to address the needs of athletes. These recipes relied on high glycemic carbs that could be burned quickly by athletes during exercise. Zing has reformulated the nutrition bar recipe for real people, not athletes. The Zing formula is deeply rooted in ‘nutrition science’ around blood sugar— by turning the calories regular people eat into useable energy without the spikes and crashes, the low energy, the cravings, and the buildup of body fat. All Zing Bars are wheat and soy free, gluten-free and kosher-certified. Nine of the twelve SKUs are Vegan and verified non-GMO.
Known for their great taste, Zing Bars have a nut or seed butter base and contain real dark chocolate, as opposed to the more commonly used compound chocolates. The new 22g-25g mini Zing Bars have between 90 and 110 calories each and come in six popular flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Coconut, Coconut Cashew Crisp, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Mint and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.
There isn’t a variety of Zing Bars that I didn’t like. I am a huge fan of chocolate, so I am loving the dairy-free/vegan chocolate bars! I think my favorite is the Dark Chocolate Mint or the Coconut Cashew Crisp.
Zing Bars mini are sold in packages of 6 or 18 and are roughly $1.29/each. Look for the bars in select stores across the US or shop online.
If you haven’t had a chance to try Zing Bars, put them on your grocery list today!
Today marks seventeen years since I last smoked a cigarette. Seventeen years. That’s a long time. There are still times when I think about it; I would be lying if I told you that I never think about it. Then I have a flash of the following run through my head – why I quit:
- my kids
- my paternal grandmother (she died of lung cancer in 1999, shortly after I quit smoking)
- how one puff will erase all of those years of my not smoking
I often referred to these facts to help get me through the tough spots:
- 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop.
- 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood falls to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation and lung function improve.
- 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath are reduced.
- 1 year after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to half of what it was when you smoked.
- 5 years after quitting: Your risk of stroke is the same as if you had never smoked.
- 10 years after quitting: Your chances of dying from lung cancer are now half of what it would have been had you continued to smoke. Your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas has also decreased.
- 15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as if you’d never smoked. <—-THIS IS ME NOW!!!
I thank God for that day in spring of 1999 when I went to see my gynecologist and she recommended I try Zyban to quit smoking. I wasn’t sure I was really ready. I had been “ready” before, but I think that I really just wanted to satisfy those who wanted me to quit. Along with my doctor giving me some hard facts, my grandmother was dying of lung cancer and would pass away shortly after I quit. I took this as a huge sign that I needed to give quitting smoking everything that I had.
It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I remember smoking that last cigarette down as far as I could. I had started taking the Zyban a week or so before I quit, so that it would be in my system. It definitely helped with the cravings for nicotine, but I had to really work on changing my habits. I would drive a different route to work; follow a different routine for after meals, when I most wanted to smoke.
A lot has changed since that day in July 1999. I could write a book about all of the things that have happened, but I want to highlight those that have to do with my health and well being.
- I got married to the man of my dreams.
- I gave birth to our daughter, Hannah.
- I watched our son, Jon, graduate from high school and head off to college.
- I went gluten-free and dairy-free.
- I joined a gym and fell in love with strength training.
- I discovered my love of running.
- I have run 17+ half marathons, 2 full marathons, and numerous 5K and 10K races.
- I became a personal trainer and strive to help other women realize their health and fitness goals.
Many of the above may not have been possible had I not quit smoking.
My friend, Laurie, and me after a July 4th 5K race.
Life is short. If you are a smoker, no one can make you quit, you have to want it. You have to want to be free from those chains and reach out for help. Help comes in many shapes and sizes and what works for one person may not work for another. Find what works for you. Have faith. Know that it won’t be easy, but I promise it will be worth it.