Paleo Blueberry Muffins

muffins

Blueberry muffins, the most classic and most enjoyed variation on the muffin, are one of my long-time favorites. I used to love making them for an after school snack when I was in junior high and high school. You know the kind in the box that are loaded with all kinds of nasty non-pronounceable ingredients? Yeah, those are the ones.

Luckily, I’ve wised up to toxic ingredients and have found ways to recreate my favorite treats in a fresh and healthy new way. The below recipe was reworked based off of the blueberry muffin recipe from Elena’s Pantry, and they turned out to be fluffy and delicious. Perfect for both breakfast and snacks, these pretties are sure to make everyone in your household happy.

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Ingredients:

½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 eggs, beaten until fluffy
15 drops liquid stevia (or to taste)
⅓ cup olive or coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine coconut flour, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, combine eggs, stevia, oil, and vanilla, and blend well with hand blender. Mix dry ingredients into wet, blending with hand blender. Gently fold in blueberries. Place batter into greased muffin tin, we like to use coconut oil for this step. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins

Birthdays + Lemony Coconut Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

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A few days ago, I turned 29 and entered into the final year of my twenties. How I have gotten ‘so old’, I have no idea. Birthdays are one of those things that remind you that time is indeed moving forward, that you are in fact growing older, and that the world hasn’t stopped turning just because you’ve been on the couch for two years.

In many ways, I feel like my life stopped when I turned 27, as this was the point in time that my symptoms became increasingly more debilitating and it became evident that whatever was going on with me was clearly very serious. I still feel as though I pressed the pause button on my life in 2012 and have been living in an alternate world of pain and suffering ever since. In my world, every day is scarily similar- marked with some degree of physical and emotional pain and trauma. I have a hard time remembering what month or year it is sometimes, and my tv show schedule is the only reason that I can keep up with what day of the week it is (Sunday means Girls and The Walking Dead). It’s a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day, you keep doing different things, trying different diets, herbs, supplements, and natural therapies, going to new doctors, drawing blood, running tests, and drawing more blood, hoping to trigger a change, but each morning you wake up to the same song on the radio and have to find a way to relive the day one more time.

There are times, and sometimes days at a time, when I feel like I have lost so very much to this disease- my job, my home, my independence, my social life, some friends, and lots and lots of time in which I could be doing the things I enjoy and accomplishing goals. But at the same time, I have to acknowledge all that I have gained. I’ve gained deeper relationships with my family and the close friends that have been so loyal and supportive throughout this mess. Most marriages have not had to deal with the painful and complicated level of suffering that my boyfriend and I have had to walk through for the past three years. You cannot imagine the heartache and guilt associated with a relationship in which one partner is so unimaginably ill unless you have walked through it yourself, and even though it’s been incredibly difficult, it has brought us closer and has taught us a lot about each other’s character. For this I am grateful. As a result of my sickness, I’ve also gained a greater degree of empathy for others, for which I am thankful and am also quite certain that I would not be able to understand without having gone through such a struggle with my own health. On a more personal level, I’ve learned to trust my instincts and my intuition, and I’ve also learned that I can endure far more than I ever thought possible. I’ve come to understand a deeper revelation of the God’s love for me, and I’ve made some precious new friends.

Even though it’s been painful, and I certainly would not have chosen this for my life, I cannot deny that my life has been enriched by this disease. It has taken a lot, but it has also given. And so, here is to my 29th year and hoping that it brings much healing, restoration, and appreciation for myself and others.

Now, let’s eat some cake!

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In the history of my life I would never have chosen any flavor of cake or ice cream over a good dark, rich, chocolate, but thanks to Lyme, my taste buds have changed. I’ve also never really been a fan of lemon-flavored desserts, but like I said, my taste buds have changed, and I’ve now joined the ranks of those who prefer a fruity dessert to my former love, chocolate. My main goal for my birthday dessert was to create something that fulfilled my dietary requirements (paleo, no sugar), was light and easy to digest, and was preferably pink (What can I say? l’ll always be a girly girl). For these reasons, I came up with the idea for these coconut-flour-based lemon cupcakes with a light strawberry frosting. The results were quite delicious, and all of that pink sure did make me happy.

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Lemony Coconut Flour Cupcakes

Ingredients:
5-6 large eggs
1 C coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 C coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 C ghee, melted (omit if you like a bit of a dry cupcake)
Stevia to taste (if using granulated stevia, stir into a tablespoon or two of warm water to liquify granules so that stevia spreads evenly throughout cupcake batter)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat eggs, ghee, coconut milk, stevia, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest together until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda, salt, and mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Beat until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust for sweetness if needed. Spoon batter into (coconut oil) greased cupcake tins. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.

Strawberry Coconut Frosting

Ingredients:
1 C coconut butter
2 C fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
Shredded coconut, I prefer raw, for cupcake topping
Stevia to taste (dissolved in a Tbsp of warm water)

Directions:
Purée strawberries and whip into coconut butter. Add stevia and vanilla extract and whip into mixture. Use to ice cake or cupcake and top with shredded coconut and/or a slice of freshly cut strawberry.

Coconut Flour Bread

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I’ve had a bit of a rough week, and when I feel terrible I tend to crave things that are more likely than not to make me feel worse- can we say french fries and rice pasta? So in an effort to keep myself from eating all of these starchy, high carb foods that Lyme flourishes off of, I decided to try out a new recipe for coconut flour bread. I found a recipe with relatively few ingredients on Lexbake’s blog, and then my friend Betty, who cooks for me on Wednesdays, made a few tweaks to make the recipe even better.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this bread, it’s not too sweet, but does have a hint of sweetness, probably from the coconut oil. If you wanted to make a more dessert type bread and you’re not watching your sugar intake, then feel free to add a bit of honey or stevia to sweeten it up. I haven’t tried using the bread to make a sandwich, but it sure is tasty with some pumpkin seed butter spread in top, and I can think of about ten other things that I want to try with it. Endless possibilities.

In other news- I’m currently working on a new post with a treatment update to fill everyone in on my progress, or lack thereof, and I promise that you’ll hear from me again soon(ish).

X, K

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Ingredients:
3/4 C coconut flour
1/2 C virgin coconut oil, melted
1/4 C ghee
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan with coconut oil. Separate egg whites from yolk, and place in two separate bowls. Beat egg yolks until frothy. Beat egg whites until fluffy and voluminous. Combine egg yolks, ghee, and coconut oil in a bowl. Add salt, baking powder, and coconut flour and combine with egg yolk mixture. Fold in egg whites. Mixture will be a thick paste. Push it down into the loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Staving off Candida & Hearty Oat Bran Muffin Recipe

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About a month ago I found out that I have a moderate case of systemic candida. I had suspected this might be the case for quite a while because I’ve had body wide itching for over a year now but have never been able to attribute it to a specific allergen or anything else. I had taken a candida test early last fall that came back negative, but the test I took in December came back positive, so here I am, treating yet another chronic infection in addition to the Lyme. I’m hoping that knocking the candida will knock the itching and will also speed up my Lyme treatment, which seems to be moving at a glacial pace, but I guess that only time will tell.

For those who don’t know, candida is a fungal infection that occurs when the flora in the gut becomes out of balance and bad bacteria begins to overwhelm the good bacteria. It has been said that all health starts in the gut, and gut flora is so complex that doctors and scientists still know very little about the multitude of microorganisms that reside there.

What we do know is that a healthy gut contains an 80:20 ratio of good bacteria vs. bad bacteria and is also indicative of proper immune function. However, toxins like pesticides, GMO’s, and antibiotics are all known to severely alter and disrupt proper gut flora, making it immensely difficult to maintain intestinal integrity. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid all damaging contaminants, one really must remain diligent in maintaining proper intestinal health.

Since digestive and intestinal issues have been a problem of mine for the past ten years, I knew that regaining my health in this area was of vital importance to my overall healing journey. Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably remember my post about a healing dietary plan called the GAPS diet, which I spoke about here, and I am happy to report that I have gained some weight and am more properly digesting and absorbing my food now. However, with the new candida diagnosis, I decided to refine my diet yet again.

While treating candida, it’s crucial to eliminate ALL sugar, grains, dairy, and starchy vegetables, because sugar is essentially what allows the candida to flourish (starchy foods metabolize into sugar). Even though I eliminated conventional sugar, dairy, and gluten long ago, I decided to follow a bit of advice from the official Candida Diet which requires the elimination of honey, maple syrup, agave, and fruits (with the exception of green apples and grapefruit), rice, and root vegetables (goodbye sweet potato fries).

Luckily for me, oat bran and coconut flour are still permitted on the candida diet, and when I stumbled across this oat bran muffin recipe by Whole New Mom, I knew I had to try them. I modified the recipe a bit, and the results are delicious, just trust me on this. If you’re not watching your sugar intake, feel free to top your muffin with a natural fruit preserve, honey, or nut butter for an added pop.

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Ingredients:
2 1/2 C uncooked oat bran
2 t baking powder
1-2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1 C water
2 t vanilla extract
2T coconut oil
2 T ghee
2 sm green apples, peeled and cut into chunks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Cook apples in saucepan on medium-high heat until soft. Purée and add to wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Butter or grease muffin tin (ghee, grassfed butter, or coconut oil), and spoon batter into tins. Bake 10-20 minutes, or until the muffins set up nicely. Top with butter, raw honey, jam, your favorite nut butter, or enjoy them all by themselves!

*Makes about 14 regular sized muffins.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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Thanksgiving may be a few months behind us, but I’m enjoying pumpkin smoothies more than ever. This recipe is dairy-free and very low in sugar, it makes for a wonderful breakfast or snack.

Ingredients:
1/3 Can of canned organic pumpkin (15 oz), or homemade purée
1 Tbsp raw honey
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 medium sized pear
2-3 handfuls of ice

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (I’m obsessed with my Vitamix, but any decent blender will do the trick), and blend until all ingredients are blended well and desired consistency is reached. Top with cinnamon and chia seed and enjoy!

I’ll be posting another story in The Lyme Diaries tomorrow, so you’ll be hearing from me again very soon!

XX, K

Thanksgiving: What’s on the Menu

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Worried about selecting just the right [Paleo, gluten free, clean] diet friendly delectables worthy of your Thanksgiving table? Don’t be. A simple google or Pinterest search will render all kinds of delicious options, and luckily for you, I’ve already prepared and taste tested a few recipes. Best of all, each of these recipes are Paleo friendly, gluten free, and full of nutrients. Below are some details about the recipes that are on the menu at our house- just click on the link to view the original recipe + pictures.

On the menu:

Grain-free stuffing– Who says you need bread to make stuffing? There are lots of gluten free stuffings to choose from these days, like stuffings made with rice or gluten free bread crumbs, but this year I chose a grain- free version, and it just might be my favorite yet. It’s light but still hearty enough to fill the role of standard American stuffing. The fresh herbs are really the key to delivering the fall flavors that you’d expect in a stuffing.

Mashed Cauliflower – If white potatoes aren’t on your diet, or if you’re just looking for some variety, then try some mashed cauliflower instead. The texture is naturally a bit different but it’s sure to satisfy, and most importantly, tastes great with gravy.

Cranberry Sauce– This spiced cranberry sauce is simply divine. I think it would be just as satisfying a la mode as it is with the Thanksgiving turkey. Plus, it’s so simple to prepare that there’s no reason to ever go back to the canned stuff.

Green Bean Casserole– Personally I’ve never been a fan of green bean casserole, but when I came across this recipe I knew I had to give it another chance. We modified the recipe and didn’t use the nutritional yeast called for because I’m allergic to yeast, but it still turned out deliciously. I can only imagine how scrumptious it would be if you followed the recipe completely.

Rolls– Let me first say that it’s tough to create a good gluten free roll or biscuit. I’ve tried many different recipes and most successful executions have been achieved with rice flower. Since I want to keep rice out of my diet for a few months though, I was excited to stumble across this recipe. The outside of the roll comes out crispy and wonderful, which can be tough to achieve when working with gluten free flours. The inside is a bit spongy, almost as if it’s not quite cooked all the way, which is definitely because of the tapioca flour. These rolls may not be for everyone, but I really quite like them and will definitely keep this recipe handy for future use.

Gravy– I have to be honest and say that I was underwhelmed by this recipe, and it took some tweaking to create something that would add the pizzazz that’s necessary on Thanksgiving. Adding some extra salt and thyme definitely helped but I can’t say that this is the best gravy I’ve ever had.

Flourless Pumpkin Bars– Ditch the crust and dig into these delicious pumpkin bars. I can’t say enough good things about these bars, they turned out beyond expectations. We subbed sunflower seed butter for almond butter and created our own glaze by mixing coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Even my gluten-loving boyfriend loves them.

What are you T H A N K F U L for? My wish for you is that you take the time to meditate on and give thanks for all if the wonderful blessings in your life, no matter how big or small.

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I am T H A N K F U L for access to clean and delicious foods, and I am especially thankful for the hands that prepare them. I’m T H A N K F U L for supportive friends and family and the memories that we have made over the years. I am T H A N K F U L for my health, even as it is being restored to me. I’m T H A N K F U L for a cozy house and warm clothes on my back. The list goes on as I sit and reflect on past experiences, challenges, and victories, and relish in the simple joys of life, like painting my nails and sipping on tea out of my favorite mug.

Wishing you lots of love this Thanksgiving!

XX, K

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GAPS Diet, Butternut Squash Pancakes, & Fancy Applesauce

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For those of you who follow me on Instagram (username: kaylamariedenny), you have probably noticed that my food pictures have gone from tasty gluten free treats to meat broth soups and bone marrow. I’m confident that I’m not gaining fans in drones with my new dietary approach, but then again that’s not the point.

A few weeks ago I started on a new diet called GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome). This diet is widely known and praised in the autistic community and is beneficial for anyone experiencing intestinal issues, such as leaky gut syndrome. GAPS is designed to heal the intestinal lining and restore the proper balance of good bacteria vs bad bacteria in the stomach and intestines. This is done by nourishing the body with easily digested, enzyme rich foods like meat broths, cooked veggies, cooked meats, fermented vegetables, and grass-fed animal fats like clarified butter (ghee) and lard. Similar to Paleo, grains and sugar are not permitted since they damage the integrity of the intestinal wall and promote yeast overgrowth.

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The first time I heard about GAPS was from one of my allergists who also treats many autistic children. He suggested that I look into the diet to heal some of my allergies. I did look into it but was overwhelmed by the strict parameters and decided to shelve it for another time. Then, a few months ago I participated in an online summit called Lyme Less Live More (I wrote about it here).Throughout the summit I listened to many discussions about proper gut health and the various methods of repair. The GAPS Diet seemed to have significantly helped many Lyme patients to repair their guts, so much so that they were able to tolerate long-term antibiotic therapy when they could not have done so before. This was quite appealing to me since stomach issues were the reason that I had to stop taking my conventional antibiotics. I had intestinal issues even before I began long-term oral antibiotics, and I always felt that I needed to do more to heal my intestines, after all, health starts in the gut. I had tried juicing but didn’t tolerate it well and eventually set my juicer aside. What I was hearing and reading about the GAPS Diet made sense to me, and I was ready to give it a shot. To read more information about GAPS, click here and/or here.

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There are two main phases of the diet- the intro phase and the full GAPS diet. Since my diet has been free of gluten, refined sugar, dairy, and nuts for over a year now, I didn’t think I would have a super hard time transitioning over to the GAPS Diet. The first phase of the diet is super strict though, basically requiring you to subsist on meat and vegetable soups for up to a week. Let’s just say that I may have initially overestimated my will to resist starchy foods like rice and potatoes, which aren’t allowed. I’m typically very good about following my diet plan and will only allow myself to cheat every few months, usually in the form of Chick-Fil-A waffle fries. A lot of people have commented on my eating habits and some even seem to be in awe of my dietary decisions, but I honestly don’t think that it’s that big of a sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. I am willing to bet that if you were as sick as I have been, you would be willing and eager to do/eat just about anything in the name of health. Anyway, I had planned on starting my GAPS experience with the intro diet, but after the first day it was clear that I would be sneaking in a few rice chips and fresh berries. I decided that it would probably be a wise decision to ease into the diet, rather than forcing myself into it cold turkey, and so I’ve tried to just cut back on my starch intake and have nixed my tasty gluten free treats altogether. I do allow myself a small piece of unsweetened cacao everyday though to help with the sugar cravings. At some point in the future I do plan on adhering completely to the strict intro phase, but until I feel a little bit better I’m not sure I have it in me.

Below are two of my favorite new, GAPS approved recipes. The first is for butternut squash pancakes, which were to my surprise, quite delicious. The recipe is grain free and is super simple to make. These would be a great option for those who are on Paleo or are looking to cut out grains or carbs. It should be noted that the consistency of the pancake is somewhere in between a pancake and a crepe, and the the recipe that you see below is adopted from The Blog of Summer Harms. The next recipe is for a decadent homemade applesauce, which seems appropriate for this time of year. It honestly tastes like the insides of an apple pie and is sure to warm your heart and soul. S O. G O O D.

Butternut Squash Pancakes

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Ingredients
2 cups cooked butternut squash
8 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. honey, optional (I don’t use honey in mine as they are sweet enough for me without it)

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a blender or in mixing bowl to use a hand mixer. Grease a cast iron pan with coconut oil or grass fed butter and bring to low- medium heat. Use a large spoon to pour small dollops of batter (2-3 inches in diameter) in the pan. Flip when bubbles appear on top and pancake is cohesive. These can be enjoyed immediately or reheated in the oven or skillet on the stove. Makes around 16 pancakes. Top with desired topping- I love sunflower seed butter, honey and warm homemade applesauce (recipe follows).

Fancy Apple Sauce (read: apple pie filling)

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Ingredients
4 medium apples of your choice, peeled and sliced thinly (we prefer Granny Smith and Honey Crisp)
4-5 small pats of butter
5-6 Tbsp organic agave (you can use more or less depending in how sweet you like it)
Cinnamon to taste (we use a TON)

Directions
Place one layer of sliced apples in a medium size saucepan. Top with one or two pats of butter, a few tablespoons of agave, and cinnamon (we’re quite generous with the cinnamon, but you can add however much you like). Repeat this step two or three times until you run out of apples. Let simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. As the applesauce cooks it will become mushy, cook for a shorter amount of time if you like your applesauce a little chunky and for a longer amount of time for a smoother texture. Remove from heat and enjoy it while it’s still warm!

Makes 6-8 servings. Eat by itself or use as a pancake or waffle topping, over ice cream, and even in cobblers and pies.

Pumpkin Muffins & Ginger Root Tea

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Pumpkin Muffins

Since today is the first day in November, it only seems appropriate to kick it off with a recipe for some scrumptious pumpkin treats! This recipe for pumpkin muffins is light, fluffy, and seriously delicious. Like every recipe you’ll find on this blog, its clean and gluten free. If you never bake another recipe again, make this your last. I promise that you’ll be in a pumpkin lover’s paradise. So grab that decorative pumpkin from your mantel, and let’s get started.

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 C coconut flour
1 1/4 C tapioca flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
6 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 C nuts or seeds for muffin toppings, optional (we used flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds)

Wet ingredients
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C coconut oil, melted
1 C olive oil
1 C organic agave nectar
1/2 C honey
3 C cooked pumpkin, chopped into medium sized chunks
8 eggs, at room temp

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Directions:
Prepare pumpkin by using a spoon to scoop out the guts and a knife to peel off the skin. Cut into large chunks and boil until nice and soft. Like a potato, the pumpkin should slide off of your fork when ready.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use an electric mixer to beat eggs, agave, and honey until the eggs become foamy. Add all wet ingredients one by one as you continue to blend the mixture with your electric mixer.

Once all of the wet ingredients are well combined, start adding the dry ingredients one at a time, making sure that each ingredient is well combined into the mixture before adding the next. Mix continuously until lump free.

Lightly grease tin muffin cups with olive oil or butter, fill cups about 2/3 full with batter, and sprinkle your desired but or seed on top of each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes on wire rack. Makes 2 dozen light and fluffy muffins. Enjoy with your favorite cup of hot tea, I love a wonderful ginger root tea and have included a simple recipe below.

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Hot Ginger Root Tea

Personally, I love to snack on these treats with a cup of hot ginger tea, which is super simple to make.

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All you’ll need is an organic ginger root and some filtered water. You’ll just need 3 or 4, half inch cubes of ginger to make a spicy cup of tea. First, you’ll need to boil a few cups of water in a small pot on the stove. While the water is heating up, peel the piece of ginger that you’ll be using. Next, cut a few chunks of ginger. Once your water has come to a boil, drop the ginger into the hot water and let seep for about 15 minutes, then pour into your favorite tea cup.

Now, you have a few options- If you prefer a spicier cup of tea, transport the chunks of ginger to your tea cup as well. For those of you who are a little more fancy, you can add a few squeezes of lemon, or some peppermint essential oil. I prefer peppermint essential oil by Young Living. It’s important to note that you can’t go about ingesting just any oil- the brand must be 100% pure, which is why I recommend YL.

I hope you enjoy these simple fall treats, and have a super lovely Friday!

XX, K