• Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal

    by Rachel on April 15, 2014

      peanut butter baked oatmeal
    Updated and republished from December 2010

    After discovering how life-changing (well, close) Brownie Baked Oatmeal can be, I knew I had to try other forms of this make ahead oatmeal breakfast. Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal did not disappoint.

    The first time I made this, I prepared it the night before, popped it in the oven at 5:50 a.m. in the morning. And, by 1 p.m. it was gone. Yes, we had it for breakfast and lunch!  It’s like dessert, except healthier. It’s full of protein-rich, fiber-rich ingredients that will keep you full all morning long. Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal has been in the regular breakfast line-up for years.peanut butter banana baked oatmeal

    Little people go crazy over this stuff. I mean it. Make a lot! I serve it with a little milk over the top.

    Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal

    One of my favorite parts of a simple recipe like this is that you can make two at one time and freeze it for later. As you probably know, Freezer Meals are our passion and specialty around here. So, I included Freezer Meal directions at the bottom of the recipe.

    peanut butter banana baked oatmeal [click to continue…]

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    We’ve got a Mother’s Day special for you on a very special and inexpensive gift! About a year ago, Polly and I had our uber-talented designer friend, Christine Busch, design an adorable little set of 25 printable verse cards called On the Job Meditations for Moms…because, well, we personally needed them.

    Bible verses for moms

    Polly and I both found ourselves in the physically and emotionally-draining weeds of parenting little ones all day (and night) long. And the only remedy we knew to help us persevere so that we did “not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9) was to have God’s truth in front of us all the time. The only remedy I knew for my struggle with impatience was God’s Word taking deep root in my soul. When I felt broken by a 2-year-old, focusing on His promises was the only thing that gave me a fresh perspective each day.

    verse card thumbnail

    That’s what these verse cards were and are still intended for in our homes. But, we don’t want their use to stop with just us. We have always wanted these cards in as many moms’ hands as possible. That’s why we went through the hoops to get permission from the NIV Bible to distribute them. And, since putting them in our Store, we’ve had many moms tell us these verse cards have been a huge encouragement to them. We are so thankful for that opportunity, and I pray for every person I see who orders them.

    Bible verses for moms

    Mother’s Day is coming soon! We’d love to help you to get these in the hands of a special mom in your life. From today through May 11, grab a set of On the Job Meditations for Moms: 25 Encouraging Bible Verses (normally $4.99) for only $3.99. Simply use promo code springtime123 through May 11 when checking out HERE.

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    Menu Plan: April 13-19

    by Rachel on April 12, 2014

    Menu Plan


    Sunday: Slow Cooker Pot Roast, green salad with Balsamic Parmesan Dressing

    Monday: Chicken Piccata, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Roasted Asparagus, sliced strawberries

    Tuesday: Leftovers

    Wednesday: BFD*: Oven Omelet (with added veggies), whole wheat toast, chopped fruit

    Thursday: (kids only) Pizzadillas, green peas, apple slices

    Friday: Barbequed Lime Shrimp and Corn (on grill) over brown rice, steamed broccoli

    Saturday: Grilled Burgers on Homemade Wheat Buns, Roasted Purple Potatoes and Carrots

    *Breakfast for dinner

    Breakfast Ideas:

    Banana Pumpkin Bread

    fried eggs and whole wheat toast

    5 Minute Chocolate Oatmeal

    Lunch Ideas:

    7 Layer Taco Dip with veggies


    Snack/Dessert Ideas:

    nuts and fruit trail mix

    leftover Banana Pumpkin Bread

    peanut butter on apple slices

    Free Printable Menu Planner

    Here’s an easy way to get started on saving money and eating healthier–download our free printable menu planner! menu planner


    Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

    by Polly on April 11, 2014

    applesI recently read a post on the Gospel Coalition website called “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?”

    The information and thoughts shared in the article have been churning around in my mind since I read it. I thought I’d share a few excerpts from the article in hopes that it leads you to read it in its entirety.

    The following is an excerpt from “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?“:

    In this age of globalization, most of us are far removed from the source of our food. As a result, when we think about where our food comes from, we picture grocery stores, not farms. We interact with cashiers, not growers.

    But where did we get the idea that our food should be as cheap as possible? Do we not know that, when food is cheap to us, it is costly to someone else? Regular baking cocoa is cheaper than its fair trade equivalent, at least in part, because only a tiny portion of its profits goes to its growers. They are paid such pitiful wages that they have little freedom to advance beyond their circumstances. That’s often the cost of our cheap food.

    For Christians, of course, the question is not, “Is it costly to do the right thing—to do justice and love mercy?” (Micah 6:8). We know that answer is “yes.” For Jesus tells us that the cost of discipleship is high (Luke 14:25-33). The question for us is, “Will the cost be worth it?” That is, “If we commit ourselves to ethical food sourcing, will the higher prices we pay be worth it?”

    Since bakers use eggs, another issue to consider is the ethical treatment of animals. In the United States, 452 million hens are used for their eggs, and almost all of these “laying hens” live in total confinement their entire lives. Since chickens become aggressive when confined, they are usually de-beaked to prevent cannibalism.

    It wasn’t too long ago, of course, that many of our relatives interacted with chickens on a daily basis. Now, though, what’s out of sight is out of mind. We don’t care about chickens because we don’t know any chickens. We’d never, though, treat our pets the way that we allow chickens to be treated. And we couldn’t treat our chickens with such disdain if they lived in our backyards and we depended on their health for eggs, meat, and more chickens. After all, Proverbs 12:10 tells us, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.”

    What can we do? In short, Christians seeking to integrate their faith and work can be informed. We can take the ethical treatment of animals seriously. For God has made us caretakers and stewards of their welfare. That may mean that we never buy eggs from an industrialized farm. Or it may mean that we go to work for a major corporation that produces eggs in an unethical manner and try to effect change from the inside out. In the end, we have to follow our consciences and be aware of the options available to us as consumers and bakers.

    In short, I was convicted of my comfortable ignorance. Out of sight, out of mind. Except, the problem with complacency is that the injustices that are a result of the food industry are not out of God’s sight. I don’t want to contribute to the child labor force that employs the cocoa fields. I don’t want to increase the profits of chicken coups that practically torture chickens their whole lives. Yes, there is a cost to buying local, organic, or fair trade. But I am realizing that when I don’t, there is a cost to someone else. I’m not perfect in this but I do want to continue to take small steps in the right direction.

    Take a chance to read the original post. There was a lot more great information and challenging thoughts that I couldn’t include.


    Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins Recipe (GF)

    by Rachel on April 10, 2014

    coconut flour pumpkin muffins

    Republished and updated from September 2012

    You may be wondering what the heck coconut flour is and why I would bother baking muffins with it. First off, these Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins are worth making simply because they are so good. Even my health-food-craze-resistant husband admitted such. But, beyond the delightful slightly coconutty taste and moist texture, lies some other key reasons to consider giving coconut flour a glance.

    Why the Gluten Problems?

    I’m becoming more and more convinced that we eat waaaay too much of the same thing.

    I know, I know. Michael Pollan actually said that first. Or maybe he was just heard by the masses first. Pollan’s point is that when we’re eating processed foods, all we’re eating is corn and more corn and more corn. But, I’m not just talking about processed foods. I think even families like ours who are trying to eat a real food diet consume too much of the same thing–namely wheat.

    I’ve been wondering why it is that we’ve got skyrocketing numbers of children and adults alike with gluten allergies and intolerances now. I’m no expert, but could the gluten problems today be because we consume far too much wheat? Maybe our bodies aren’t made to tolerate it in the mass quantities that we consume it.  My own family’s diet is certainly focused around gluten-rich foods, whether it’s bread, pasta, pancakes, pizza, or a baked good.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not tossing good old whole wheat out the window. I think there is nutritional value to be found there. But, because I’m convinced we need wider variety in our diet, I’ve been experimenting with baking with different types of flours lately.

    Why I Love Coconut FlourCoconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins (GF)

    Let me tell you why coconut flour is my newest obsession. It’s high in fiber, high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and gluten-free. I was skeptical that it would bake up nicely, but it worked wonderfully in this Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffin recipe I devised. Although slightly denser than a regular muffin, it still had a nice texture and great flavor. My husband declared that they were just as good as my regular ole yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

    Perhaps I should warn you. When you first go to buy coconut flour in the natural food section or here, you’ll have a little sticker shock. But, the price isn’t as bad as it seems at first glance. That’s because you only need a 1/2 cup of coconut flour to produce 12 muffins. A typical wheat muffin recipe would require at least 1 and 1/2 cups.

    Now, on to my family’s newest favorite pumpkin muffin recipe…complete without gluten!

    Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins (GF)


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    diy orange peel cleaner

    A long time ago, before we even started Thriving Home, Rachel recruited me to make some DIY All-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. This was the first time that I saw how cheap and easy it was to make your own homemade cleaning supplies. Since then I have dabbled here and there in making my own products. To be honest, I’ve gotten more lazy with the process and realized that a simple white vinegar and water solution is cheap and effective in killing most bacteria, mold and germs.

    The only thing that bothers me about using half vinegar and half water is the smell. I do miss the fresh scent of cleaning supplies and have never been able to replicate that with natural products.

    In an effort to make my homemade cleaning solutions smell a little better I tried out a method I had read about a few times: soak orange peel slices in white vinegar for 2-3 weeks in order to give it a citrus scent.


    natural cleaner

    Using a large mason jar, I filled it with clementine slices (since that is what I had on hand) and then poured white distilled vinegar over them until the jar was full. I then put it away for 3 weeks. After three weeks I opened up the jar and gave it a whiff. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for but it was much better than plain ol’ vinegar.

    I really wanted this to work so I proceeded with mixing the solution with water  (half water/solution). I then sprayed my counters down, wiped them clean and took in the scent.

    diy household cleaner

    Again, not super impressed.

    The vinegar smell wasn’t AS bad but it wasn’t the fresh, citrus scent I was hoping for.

    In conclusion, I will probably continue to use this method since it did seem to help with the vinegar smell. I also wonder if I would have had better results with lemon or oranges instead of clementines. It’s worth a shot I guess.

    Has anyone else tried this? Did it work? I’d love to hear about any success stories!

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