Turkey Avocado Parmesan Burgers {Gluten Free}

This past weekend, my dad came to visit me in Washington, DC. Not only did we venture out to a great, unique Thai restaurant, I also made him a little homemade dinner one night. Yummy burgers! They were gluten free of course. But, so great and moist.

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Who does not love fresh avocados and Parmesan? I found a little gem recipe on Pinterest and created a fresh, healthy alternative to a juicy, greasy burger. And, drum roll please – my dad actually liked it!

These sweet little burgers are great. You can make them in no time at all. The ingredients are simple and it takes like 5 minutes to make your patties. Use the grill or a stovetop. I used a stovetop, because; unfortunately don’t have a backyard for a grill. But, we got to enjoy the outdoor balcony while dining.

You will need: 1 pound ground turkey (or chicken), ½ chopped yellow onion, 1 mashed ripe avocado, 2 tbsp. garlic powder, ½ cup fresh grated parmesan, salt and pepper and (this is optional) some gluten free bread crumbs.

I needed the bread crumbs to use as a binding agent, because turkey does not hold together as well as ground beef…etc.

All you need to do is dump the ground turkey (thawed out, if frozen) into a mixing bowl. Chop your onions up in tiny pieces and add them to the meat mixture. Then add chunks of chopped avocado to your mixture as well. Use a fork to mash up the blend.

Sprinkle in the garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix these in again. Use your hands to make little round hamburger patties.

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Set the oven stovetop to high and spray a big cooking pan with some cooking spray. Slowly add your patties to the hot pan and cook for about 8 minutes on each side (or until lightly brown). You want to make sure the patty is cooked all the way through.

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After your patties are done – add them to a gluten free hamburger bun with all the fixings. And enjoy your little slice of gluten free summer heaven! You can also pair this meal with a great glass of Red Zinfandel and a homemade salad!

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DIY: Chalkboard Table {For Kids & Adults}

This little table was so easy to make. It barely cost me any money at all. For one, I found the table on the side of the road. So, it was free. If you are looking to make homemade furniture, sometimes checking at various dumpsters is the way to go.

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I would also suggest going to thrift stores like Goodwill for some cute, inexpensive furniture. You can find real gems at places like that. Though, the top of this table was weathered, it did not matter (because I was going to paint over it anyway!).

All you need to do is purchase chalkboard paint for this little craft. You can get this at any craft store for about $6. Or you can buy it online, here.

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Chalkboard paint is super easy to use. Benjamin Moore has a good little instructional write-up on just how you should use this type of paint.

All I did was wash the weathered surface of the table. Let it dry and applied about 3 coats of this chalkboard paint. You want to apply about 2 coats and let the table dry for about an hour and then apply your last coat.

I let the entire table dry overnight before I attempted to draw anything on the surface with chalk. Somewhat skeptical of the promise of a functioning chalkboard, I was super surprised at how well this works.

Kids and adults will like this little table. For kids, they can really geat creative and draw pictures with multicolored chalk sticks. For adults, have a wine and cheese party – and label the cheeses with chalk on your little table. Or use it for an herb garden and outline the pots with chalk and/or label one.

You can even paint a wine bottle with the paint – and use it as a vase. Your choices are really endless. Have fun with this little project.

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Contemplating Gettysburg, War & Sacrifice

etty 3The air was thick yesterday at Gettysburg. It was a rainy, chilly day – maybe that contributed to the depth in the breeze or maybe not. Maybe just maybe it feels this way every day on the battlefield. After all, this farm pasture saw young and old men fall and take their last breaths. Terrified but out of duty, they fell and gave their all. This hollowed little town saw so much death, pain and blood.

Bus ride, museum ticket and movie – I was a tourist in my backyard. However, those things really did not do this battleground, now graveyard, justice. I learned so many facts and figures yesterday in my mini trip to this historic site. Though truly fascinating, these facts did not take away from the weightiness of the death. It was all around us.

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Rows of nameless stones lined the cemetery – buried with a number and no name. Chills. These nubs of white stones meant something to somebody. They represented a life, snuffed out too soon. Unidentified or just forgotten? I guess we will never know.

The picture of Abraham Lincoln standing in the middle of that eerie, lifeless cemetery is not only humbling, it’s heroic. It birthed a feeling of longing inside me – for a leader who cares about lives. Someone who cares about the ultimate sacrifice.

I could not help but think back to high school senior year of speech class to Robert Ingersoll’s solemn words from a speech addressed to the Memorial Day audience in 1866 in Dresden, New York:

“These heroes are dead. They died for liberty—they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or storm, each in the windowless palace of rest. Earth may run red with other wars—they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.”

These words, now etched into my memory, I recited in my head, walking through this solemn battleground. Relics of a past life and time. Dairies of brave men to their children, mothers and their wives. Eloquent words now encased in a shrine of remembrance. Words once thought in a living, breathing mind – now read, cherished and echoing in a new generation.

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I will forever remember this tour, this place. Tracing steps and paths of the past are significant. They make you realize the men that have sacrificed all – for some. America was birthed out of passion, sweat and blood lest we ever forget. And, the men and women who place their bodies, just flesh and blood houses, in the face of deep evil daily should be praised and respected.

Paper Crowns Torn; Crown of Thorns Embraced

Life. The human life – breathing, living, flapping wings of life is perfectly gorgeous. The thought of life should excite the soul. Human contact, laughing and loving is what we were fashioned for – by the hand of the living God. We were formed to give love and collect it. And what a joy it is to collect the perfect love of our beautiful Savior. What a complete joy!

Like stepping stones in fresh, wet grass – his mercies are new every morning. He whispers in a voice like the lapping, salt laden ocean and sprays us with new direction and solid vision. Pupils, dilated with the excitement of his beauty, we think about life, this life we were given.

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“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

The butterfly rebirth. From filthy state to fragile wings. We were endowed with so much beauty. The beauty in the everlasting heavens above and the splendor in the presence of the Christ.

Vessels of a living, breathing God. A God that walked on earth, took the scornful death and heinous treatment for us. That’s the truest picture of beauty there ever was. Chills. It sends chills up and down my spine. It engulfs me in a wave of amazement. Paper crowns torn. Crown of thorns embraced. Hurt in human life, pain in death, triumph over the grave – and pristine forgiveness and elegant hope.

Dancing, forgiving hope. A hope that washes our faces and kisses our foreheads. This hope places sandals on our worn feet and oil on our tangled, matted tresses. Hope of life – in his death.

May we ever embrace his hope. Breathe in and out – fill your lungs with his goodness. The air circling your clay vessel shape. Life. There is always life and hope around you. It’s made possible through the sacrifice – so we might live full.

The 5 Best Affordable Lip Glosses

lipssticlI don’t know about you; but, finding a good, affordable lip gloss is a real challenge. I have a stockpile of dollar store gems and, frankly, unusable chap sticks too. I’ve gone through a trial and error stage. Buying several kinds and marking the good ones and chunking the bad ones.

So, you should take this little list to heart. I will not lead you astray when it comes to affordable lipgloss. Seriously, these types below are good for day time use – as well as, for that formal party! They are ranked from #1, being the best to #5 my least favorite (but, still admirable and worth a try!)

1. Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker

Now, you don’t have to let your childhood slip through your fingertips. Buy this popular flavor and get a great daytime color. You typically think of lip gloss as sheer; however, this little stick of goodness has a really beautiful light color to it. So, you will get the yummy taste of Dr. Pepper and that hint of red hue. And the $1.99 price tag at Walgreens really can’t be beat!

2. Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer

A little bit more pricey at $3.49 (but, c’mon way affordable) is the lip shimmer. These are made from 100% natural ingredients including vitamin E and coconut and sunflower oils and they come in 5 different colors. Wow! This is a gloss that I make sure is a staple in my purse pocket.

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No joke. This is currently in my purse!

3. Bare Minerals ‘Marvelous Moxie’

Okay – this is $18. It was a Christmas gift from my mom; but, it has become one of my favorite lip glosses of all time. It is available in many, many shades of color. It’s lasts a really long time. I use this gloss a lot – and still have not had to buy a new one (from Christmas!). It is worth giving a try.

4. Bath and Body Works ‘Ultra Mentha’

Hello breath freshener and lip gloss in one! At $7.50 a bottle, this little gloss is perfect. It is a peppermint flavor that will give you a lasting breath-freshener! I discovered this little gem in high school and love it to this day. If you are a mint lover, this is the gloss for you.

5. Benetint

So, this is not a gloss – but it is awesome. It will color your lips for a long lasting stay. Created by two sisters, they truly know what women want – all day color. You can get a sample size for $8. And trust me, you really don’t need more than a sample size to begin with!

 

Green Tea Jell-O Bites {Gluten Free, Low Fat}

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The color will vary depending on what type of green tea you use!

Green tea is fantastic for your health and your body. However, it is not all that fun to drink. I find it has a pretty potent taste. I drink it; but, just really don’t enjoy it all that much.

So, I invented a new way to get your green tea intake – green tea Jell-O bites! Not only do these little gummies taste better than a cup of hot tea – they have a subtle sweetness from the agave nectar (that you will add to your mixture.)

Just pop about 5 bites in your mouth in the morning or night, and there you have it – an instant healthy treat and a daily dose of antioxidants that is gluten free, low fat and disease fighting!

You will need: 1 packet of Knox Gelatin (has 4 sleeves in it), 3 cups of boiling water (tea induced), 1 cup of cool water (tea induced) and 2 heaping tbsp. of agave nectar.

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Knox unflavored gelatine – 1 box has 4 packets!

First, boil your 3 cup of water over the stove. Once the pot is boiling, seep in 4 green tea bags. I used pomegranate green tea. It gave it a nice fruity flavor. Let these tea bags set in the boiling pot for about 3 or 4 minutes.

While, the tea is in the boiling pot in the stove, pop a mug the size of 1 cup into the microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Take out and put a tea bag in this hot cup. Let cool. I put about 3 or 4 ice cubes into the cup as well to cool it quickly.

Next, dump your 4 gelatin packets into the hot mixture and stir. Gradually add your cool green tea cup to the hot mixture. Use a big spoon to stir; making sure the gelatin is all dissolved. Add in your 2 tbsp of agave nectar! Stir again.

Pour mixture into a tray. I used a clear one used for casseroles and set in the fridge for about 2 hours or until the gel is thick. Cut into cube with a knife and enjoy!

5 Natural Foods Your Dog Will Love

Ever grow tired of just feeding your furry friend just plain ol’ dry food? I do. I mean, think about it, we pepper our days with all different types of foods – fruits, vegetables, meats and starches. Why wouldn’t our little pets want and enjoy different texture type foods?

Now, there are some foods that are off limits for dogs. Namely – chocolate. If you are a dog however, you should know that for sure. Other foods to add to the list are: avocado, bread dough, grapes, raisins, hops, macadamia nuts, moldy foods, onions and garlic.

So whatever you do, try and steer clear of those foods!

However, there are some awesome natural foods that your pup will truly enjoy. And, rather than feeding them that processed packaged food – give them some natural food. After all, they can benefit, just like you can, from munching on living food.

So here are some snacks for your pup to try:

Carrots: Rick Woodford, author of Feed Your Best Friend Better, says, ‘Try a frozen carrot in place of bones to keep a dog’s teeth healthy and cool them down in the summer.’ And, if this idea is a no-go with your favorite pet, Woodford suggests grating a carrot and adding it their meal, or steaming it for them.

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What a fun DIY! Kids will LOVE this.

 

Red Apples: this is a favorite snack for my little puppy. Modern Dog, reports, ‘They [apples] are a source of vitamins A and C and fibre.’ Cesar Millan, the famous dog whisper, also gives this healthy treat a giant thumbs up!

Kale: this is a super food not only for you – but for your dog! Raw and cooked, kale harbors anticancer compounds that can keep people and pups healthy. Modern Dog suggests chopping, lightly steaming, and adding kale to your dog’s dinner. Kale is an excellent source of calcium.

Yogurt: make sure this is yogurt without artificial sugar in it. Yogurts with active bacteria can act as a probiotic and are good for your dog’s digestive system. However, if you are giving yogurt for the first time, start with small amounts to prevent a stomach upset. (The quantity should be 1 tsp. for a puppy and 1 tbsp. for a medium-sized dog.)

Green Beans: ASPCA lists green beans as a healthy treat for pets. Fox News reports, ‘Green beans add fiber and to dogs’ diets and make them feel full without having the extra calories.” So this looks like the perfect diet food for your pup!

BONUS: for a special summer treat try this little awesome idea – a frozen chicken stock cake! This is an awesome DIY project. Just freeze toys or treats in water or chicken broth in a bucket and place outside in the summer to keep your dog cool (and occupied) during the day!

Cauliflower Mashed Faux Potatoes {Gluten Free, Vegetarian}

buttery faux tattersLet me fill you in on a little new secret recipe. Well, it is not really a secret. You can find this recipe online countless places.

But, take it from me – it may not sound like an awesome dish; but, it is fabulous. Creamy, delicious and melt in your mouth just awesome.

Move over starchy mashed potatoes with loads of butter, there is a new healthy dish in town. And, it will for sure become one of your all-time favorites. It is gluten free and lick the bowl great.

You will need: 1 head of cauliflower, 2 tbsp. of ghee (clarified butter), 3 cloves of fresh garlic, salt and pepper, ¼ cup half and half creamer (or full fat coconut milk), ¼ cup parmesan cheese.

First, boil a big pot of water. On a chopping block cut your cauliflower into tiny little florets. Place these florets in the water (after it comes to a boil). You will want to boil these pieces for about 10 minutes.

You will also need to cut the cloves of garlic and add to the boiling pot of water with the cauliflower pieces.

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Boiling and chopping the cauliflower!

Once the florets are nice and soft, pour the pieces over a strainer and let cool just a little bit. Add the pieces to a food processer. My food processer was really tiny, so needed to do this in three segments.

Add the cauliflower florets (and garlic) to the processor along with the cream, ghee and parmesan. Then mix it up. It will make a nice paste that resembles mashed potatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Once you have made an entire bowl of faux mashed potatoes, place them in a glass/oven safe container. Make sure the oven is set to 350 and warm your cauliflower potatoes for about 20 minutes.

The finished product is fantastic. Please try this and let me know what you think!

Find A Nature Walk Near You

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Me and my puppy on a nature walk!

I have fallen head over heels in love with walking. But not just any walk – nature walks. There is something serene and absolutely beautiful about walking by a flowing creek or pathway of tiny rocks. Seeing squirrels scurry from tree to tree and hearing birds crisply chirp in the distance is awe inspiring.

Living in the city has really opened my eyes to the beauty in nature. It makes me miss the big open Texas skies and sunshine.

However, thank goodness for technology because there are certain websites and apps that can now help you locate beautiful places in your areas to walk/hike (even if your abode is in a high-rise in the middle of the city).

The American Heart Association has an awesome website: Start Walking Now. Just got to this website and you can enter in your current location and viola – there before your eyes are commonly walked paths with mileage numbers. Pretty great! You can select the intensity level along with the type of walk you would like to go on ie: mall, nature walk, airport…etc.

Trails.com is another good link. Simply choose your state and enter your city and limitless trails and bike paths pop up. It is super easy. You can even customize the website to whatever activity you enjoy the best like biking, hiking, rafting…etc.

Map My Walk is extremely easy to use as well. You can also get this on your phone! Again, just enter your state and city and trails pop up with distances. This interface is really easy to look at and it displays the current weather conditions for the day.

Adding a nature walk, even if it’s just for the weekends, is a great prescription for your health.

Walking in nature can have positive impacts on disposition and memory—researchers have found that students with moderate to severe depression demonstrated a significant increase in both mood and short-term memory after a walk through a natural setting, as compared to a walk through the city.

Also, natural elements like plants, trees, water and sunlight have been said to absorb negative energy.

Start walking in nature today. You really have nothing to lose.

Eggplant Fries {Gluten Free, Paleo}

This combination is dynamite. After all, people have refereed to eggplants as one of the world’s healthiest foods. And when you combine a crunch, as well as, the nutrients – amazing!

Plus, eggplant is low in calories — just 20 calories per cup. So this little dish is low fat and will keep that figure in check. And they are also way low in carbohydrates (if you are watching those).

Natural News lists these three things as the best benefits of this purple plant: high in nasunin (cancer preventative), loaded with chlorogenic acid (antiviral) and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

You will need: 1 eggplant, olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder.

On a cutting board use a knife to chop up your whole eggplant into fry pieces. Eggplant is soft and easy to chop up. So, this will not be too difficult.

Place the pieces in a bowl and drizzle 2 heaping tbps of olive oil over the fries. Mix up with a large fork to make sure all the pieces are covered.

Sprinkle on your salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Then mix the spices in with a large fork. You want to make sure your seasoning covers the fries.

Set the oven to 400. Line a pizza tray or flat tray with foil and dump out your eggplant fries on the pan. Let them cook in the oven for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown.

Enjoy your nutritious fries!