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As a part of the StonyField clean plate blogger program, I was given a gift card to donate to the charity of my choice. Opinions are 100% my own. 

StonyField, being the wonderful company that they are, gave me the awesome opportunity to pay it forward this Christmas season by providing a way to donate to my favorite charity.
I chose the rescue that brought us our sweet little boy Bruno, Florida Pointer Rescue. Baby Bruno
(photo via FPR)
On December 6, 2014 Steve and I went to an adoption day run by Florida Pointer Rescue to look at dogs. We had one in mind that we saw online, but when we arrived that dog had been already been rescued by a different family. We walked down the line of kennels and saw this little ball of brown cuddled up in the corner of a kennel. Steve picked him up and the rest is history.
Paying It forward with StonyField

I think supporting local rescues is a great thing. They do so much and provide so much joy to people that they sometimes get overlooked. They also keep sweet puppies and dogs from spending their days locked up in a shelters and kill shelters.

If Florida Pointer Rescue never picked up our little pup he would have never been a part of our lives. 
What people don't know is that Bruno has actually be a great comfort for my husband who is an army veteran.
While Bruno is in no way trained to by a military service dog, I don't deny the fact he is aware when my husband needs him and has been so beneficial to his mental health. As a wife, that is a great blessing.
Sometimes nothing is better then the love of a dog and Bruno definitely has a lot of love to give.
Paying It Forward with StonyField
So, Thank you Florida Pointer Rescue, I hope the couple of pounds of dog food and treats I was able to send you was a blessing to you and your pups this holiday season! May you continue to bless families with lifelong doggie companions!
And thank you StonyField for giving me the opportunity to give back to a rescue that give so much to others.
Pay It Forward
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Another DANG good crock pot recipe for y'all! This one is so easy there is not much else to say! 
simple ingredients = amazing flavor!
 Crock Pot Mongolian Chicken
Ingredients
1lbs of chicken, cubed, coated in 1/4 cup of Corn Starch 
2 TBLS of Olive Oil
Minced Garlic 
1/2 Cup of Gluten Free Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup of Water
1/2 cup of Brown Sugar (or coconut sugar)
1 Cup of shredded carrots

Directions
In a bowl or plastic bag add cubed chicken with corn starch and coat. 
Whisk together all the ingredients in crock pot except chicken. Then add chicken and mix all together.
Place on low for 4-5 hours.
Serve over White Rice


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As a Stonyfield blogger, I was compensated for writing this post as part of my agreement with Stonyfield.  All opinions and thoughts are all mine. 

The title of my blog is not a lie.  I love the simple things in life. Things like chocolate, peanut butter, and brownies. Combine them together and you get this lovely masterpiece!

I recently had the opportunity to try King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour and decided to use it with recipe. Five years ago I would have had to buy all different kinds of flours in order to make my own gluten free all purpose flour, but now, thanks to King Arthur, life is much simpler. All the ingredients I need, condensed into one sweet little package to use in just about any recipe!

 Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
(Inspired by)
9oz of Greek yogurt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of almond milk
1 egg
1 egg white
3/4 cup of King Arthurs Gluten Free Measure for Measure
3/4 cup of Dutch-process cocoa powder*
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unrefined or coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup of honey
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of enjoy life chocolate chips
1/2 cup of natural or regular peanut butter
Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" x 8" pan with baking spray.
  • Add all of the of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips and peanut butter and mix together. I used a hand mixer to mix the ingredients together.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
  • Microwave the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl until it's easy to spread. Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter onto the batter and create a swirl effect using a knife or toothpick.
  • Bake for 23 - 27 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  • Cool completely in the pan and then cut. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
    • *(I used cacao, which looking back I would have used less then 3/4cup)
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Brownies
By the way... I LOVED using the Lavooon spoons and the Silpat Mat. They made creating this recipe so easy and simple! The would be the perfect pairing for that Christmas Cook on your list this year!

Do you have a favorite simple recipe you like to make? Mine will always be brownies! 
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I don't know about you, but I feel as though I am SURROUNDED by sickness. It is just that time of year when stuffy noses occur and sinuses are all a mess.
It can be easy to raid the medicine cabinet and take a swig of some nasty dyed cold and flu medicine (I know I have). However, we should prepare our bodies for those icky cold and flu germs by adding some great immune boosters to our diet and supplements! 

Here are a few things that I do to boost up my body and maybe there is something here for you too! 
Natural Ways to Fight off Sickness

Hand Sanitize -
Ask anyone that I work with and they will tell you I'm addicted to sanitizing my hands. Even though they think I'm crazy, I believe it really helps keep the germs at bay. I know some sanitizes can be harsh on your hands but here's a good list of non-toxic ones you can find in your local grocery and or health food store! - https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/hand+sanitizer/

Herb Supplements -
I think herb supplements are the way to go when it come's to building up your immune system. My person favorites are Elderberry and Echinacea and here is why...
ElderBerry - boost immune system function, protect against bacteria and infection, slow down the spread of cancer, moderate the digestive process, prevent the development of diabetes, reduce the pain and speed associated with autoimmune diseases, help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, and alleviate allergies (via).
Echinacea -stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. It is a great way to combat cold and flu. 
Both of these can be taken in supplement form which is what I prefer. But I've also seen these offered in liquid and even lozenges form. 

Natural or Organic Cough and Night Time Syrup -
This may seem hard to find but it really isn't. My favorite is Maty's which you can find in many major retailers. I know I can find some right around the corner at my local CVS! Woot Woot! 

Drink some tea -
It is FINALLY cool enough here in Florida to drink tea and not sweat while drinking. I drink tea when I can. Mostly Chamomile and Roobius which both have great benefits for immune boosting. Find the type of tea you like, see if its great to fend off those colds, and drink up! 

Diffuse those oils -
I don't really diffuse as often as I should anymore. However, I've been trying to do it more often just to get some good oils floating through the air. Use essential oils such as Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Sweet Orange and Thyme. My personal favorites are Sweet Orange and Lavender!

Do you have any great tips for fighting germs this cold and flu season!?
I'd love to hear them! 

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Meal planning. Let's face it, we act like it a fun thing to do but it 90% of the time it is stressful, troublesome, and (sometimes) time consuming.
Whether you are planning for 5 days a week or 2, meal planning is important. 
I thought instead of giving you tips on how to meal plan, I would just show (or write) you straight up what my meal planning process looks like.
 How I meal plan
I plan meals (mostly dinners) for two weeks. This works for me because I tend to spend less in one big trip then in two. Now, during those two weeks I may go to the store to pick up an item or two but I still stay fairly under budget and get a majority of what I need in that first big trip.

My budget for those two weeks is between $80-$100. Do I stay in that bracket on my biweekly shopping trip? No? It depends on the week. Some trips I need organic olive oil and other big organic items which is expensive and jacks up my grocery bill. Some weeks I spend under that because I have stocked up on items the trip before. It fluctuates. 

On the Thursday before my biweekly shopping trip I sit down with a cute calendar (my favorite printable is here) and start scrolling through new recipes I may have pinned over the two weeks onto my "Time To Eat" pinterest board.  I like to cook 1-2 new meals during the two weeks. Spice up life a little. If I haven't pinned much I'll look into my recipe book full of recipes I've already made and see what I have stored up in there.

OH I guess I should talk about our eating habits before we dive into shopping lists and such. I say our diet is 80/20 - 80% vegetarian/vegan/plant-based and 20% Meat (chicken or fish). 
Here is my stance on meat - I am not against meat as long as they are humanly raised and fed properly (aka grass fed/organic/no hormones). I grew up on a farm and we raised meat cows so I know what it takes for them to be raised and raise correctly. I don't like the industrial aspect of the U.S meat industry so I just don't support it.

-I don't eat or cook pork ever. It is just a preference.
-I RARELY eat beef. Only at christmas when we get a roast from our old local butcher do I eat beef (and usually not that much). I grew up eating from that butcher shop and know the cows come from the field behind it so I know they are treated well. ;)
-When it comes to chicken I really try to buy organic, humanly raised, antibiotic and hormone free chicken. Though my local grocery only has limited amounts of that so I usually can only get local antibiotic and hormone free. Which is better then nothing. But since that's all I can get we only eat it once a week at most.
-Any fish I buy is wild caught. I never by farmed. Its usually Mahi Mahi, Tuna, or Salmon (on RARE occasions cause salmon is expensive wild caught) 

Ok moving on.... 

So like I said our diet is 80/20. I cook 2 out of the 5 days a week. That may not seem like a lot but Mondays and Tuesdays we have church commitments, Wednesday and Thursday I cook, and Fridays are usually pizza or take out. 
So out of those 2 days, on a good week, I try to make both vegetarian/vegan/plant-based. But, if we have stocked up on good chicken or fish, I will use one of those days to have a meat meal. I also try to eliminate dairy from the meal as much as possible. I'll sub a lot of meals with vegan alternatives but there are some days that I allow dairy.

So here is an example of our menu for the next two weeks 
Monday - Class (we usually grab some rice bowls at our local Moes)
Tuesday - Leftovers 
Wednesday - Crock Pot Enchilada Quinoa
Thursday - Sweet Potato BBQ Burgers with Mac+Cheese (Annies GF) and Green Beans 
Monday - Class 
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Baked Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli and White Rice 
Thursday - Crock Pot Veggie Lasagna 

Next comes grocery list shopping. I use this list pad that you can buy on amazon. It works perfect for me. I usually go through every recipe and write what items I need from the store for those recipes. Then I move on the staple items I know we will need from week to week.

Right before I head out to the store I make sure to updated my coupon book with new coupons from sites like coupons.com and mambo sprouts. As well as digital coupons that my store offers.

Then I go shopping! You can check out my simple organic shopping tips and tricks for shopping here! 

Got questions?? I'd love to answer them! Leave a comment below! 

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Candy...candy everywhere!
It is that time of year where all the bad candy surrounds us! And I'd be lying if I said I don't indulge from time to time.
Because I tend to indulge, I'm always on the lookout for a better option for candy. So it's no surprise I was so excited to get my hands on these UnReal candy products!
I thought the almond butter cups (which were my personal favorite) would pair nice with some pumpkin flavored StonyField greek yogurt!
UnReal Yogurt Treat
To make pumpkin favored yogurt..


1/3 cup pure pumpkin 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3  UnReal Almond Butter Cups - crushed

Just mix all together and TADA! 
If you feel it needs more flavor. I suggest adding some honey. I felt like mine needed to be sweeter so I added about a 1-tsp of honey.
UnReal Pumpkin Yogurt
And it wouldn't be a Simply Samantha post without an appearance from Bruno! He's not much of a begger except when we open a container of StonyField! He loves to lick up the containers.
UnReal Pumpkin Treats

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Stonyfield as part of their YoGetters Blog Ambassador program.
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It is FINALLY cool enough to dust off the crock pot and get to making my favorite crock pot recipes.
I love me some lentils. They can be very versatile if you find the right recipe! 
And they are so beneficial! Full of fiber, iron, protein, and zinc!
  photo Crock Pot_zpsfyeiwyku.jpg
INGREDIENTS 
1 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon EVOO
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup salsa
14 ounces water+ 2 vegetable bouillon cubes OR 14oz of vegetable broth
(I used Better the Bouillon Vegetable Broth which I dissolved in 14oz of water)

DIRECTIONS
Put everything in the crock pot and cook on high for 8-12 hours.
If you are at home, check on it from time to time and stir or add water if need be.
I left it in while I was at work and it turned out fine. I just made sure to check on it right when I got home.
Throw it over some nachos, wrap it in a tortilla or lettuce wrap! Have fun and enjoy!
Yummy Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free Lentil Taco Meat - Crock pot! -

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If you didn't already know, I live in the lovely state of Florida. Known for beautiful beaches, Mickey Mouse, and Hurricanes.
We live close enough to the beach that our town was hit pretty hard during the hurricane. No as hard as they expected but hit nevertheless.

This was the first major storm that I had to prepare for as an adult, on my own, with my husband and our pup. It was a little daunting to say the least. Add in my healthy and gluten free lifestyle and I was a little overwhelmed. 

We made sure we had the essentials and were ready to go when the storm hit. 
So here are some of my own tips for preparing for the storm, whether it will be a snow storm, hurricane, or just stocking up just in case. 

5 Healthy Tips for Stocking up for the Storm

1. Fill up those jars!
Fill up those mason jars with water! We lucked out being on city water that we had easy access to water but I still made sure we had water just in case. I filled up every mason jar I owned. Kept some on the counter and some in the fridge.
NOTE: do NOT put them in the freezer. I lost two mason jars because they broke when we lost power and the freezer lost its coolness :( 

2. Hit the local health food store
When everyone hears a storm is coming, they head straight for the big stores. But don't forget about the little guys! My local health food store had so many items I could use and needed and was running special deals for the storm.
Also don't forget some veggeis and fruits don't have to be stored in the fridge. So you can still have those whole foods with no power

3. Food for Gas
For GAS STOVE OWNERS. You can still use gas without power. You have to kind of McGyver it by holding a lighter to the burner, but you can run the stove. So, I thought of everything I could make on the stove. Gluten free ramen, pasta, and quinoa. All stuff I picked up at the health food store. I ate Lotus Food Ramen for lunch for 3 days straight. I have no regrets.

4.Coffee Coffee
I know coffee can be tricky for those that don't have a gas stove so I have two tips. 
Gas Stove: Make sure you have a single cup coffee maker (like this one) so you can make at least one cup to get you through the day. I love mine, it was so helpful.
No Gas Stove: Get a thermos! Right before the storm hits make a full pot and throw it in a thermos! Don't forget about the cold brew!

5. Splurge
Its hard to stay healthy with no power. So don't be afraid to splurge on easy, non-cooking items. I made sure I grabbed some snack bars and treats. Well not healthy, they made me feel better during the storm.

I hope none of you every have to experience a big storm. But if you do, I hope these tips help! 
Do you have any other tips?? I'm always curious to hear others tips! Always on the lookout for something new! 

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Fall is finally here! Though it won't feel like it here in the south for another couple of weeks.
Even so, I'm breaking out the crock-pot and getting back to those warm delicious fall meals I love.

Cornbread and I haven't had the best of experiences before. It was always my doing. Messing up the recipe or using too deep of a pan. But, I was determined to make a new and easier recipe. And guess what?? It was a success!
Gluten and Dairy Free Chili and CornBread
I also spiced up my original Crock Pot Chili recipe and now it's better then ever!
Vegan Bean Chili

Bean Chili (Vegan/Vegetarian)
  • 2 15.5oz Cans of Red Kidney Beans, drained
  • 1 15.5oz Can of White Kidney Beans, drained
  • 1 14.5 oz Can of Diced tomatoes, not drained (may need a second if it's the chili is to thick)
  • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can of corn
  • A Chopped up Onion *optional*
  • 1-4 TBS Chili Powder (add as much or as little to taste)
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • Sprinkle of Cayenne powder
  • Hickory Flavored Liquid Smoke
  • 1 bag of Beyond Beef crumbles *optional but HIGHLY recommended*
Add everything to a crock-pot, set, and forget! 4 hours on high to 6 hours on low.
You can also make it on the stove too! 
Whatever you fancy!

Dairy and Gluten Free Cornbread
Sweet Southern CornBread
(via)
  • 1 Cup of GF Cornmeal
  • 1 cup of gluten free flour (I used this)
  • 1/4 cup of organic sugar (or honey)
  • 1 TBLS of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I used EVOO)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of dairy free milk (I had two cartons of unsweet and sweet cashew milk in the fridge. So I used 1/2 cup of unsweet and 1/2 of  sweet vanilla cashew milk)
Mix all together!
Pour into a greased 8x8 (or closest size pan you have just make sure it isn't to deep)
Bake at 400 degrees for 22 minutes


Happy Fall Friends!
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I posted a photo of this dressing a couple weeks ago and I had so many people ask for the recipe.
Well... it's hard to measure a recipe for a dressing that you just made out of thin air. However, after two or three try's, I think I've finally narrowed down the measurements but please take this recipe with a grain of salt and make it you own if you think it needs something more! :)

Dairy Free Creamy Caesar Dressing

Dairy Free Creamy Caesar Dressing
1/2 Cup of Vegan Mayonnaise (I used Just Mayo)
1/4 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce (this is the only NON-Vegan ingredient, you can easily use a substitute)
2 tsp of Dijon Mustered
1 1/2 TBLS of Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper To Taste (heavier on the pepper)
Dairy Free Parmesan, as much or as little as you want (see below)
Dairy Free Milk (cashew is preferred but soy and almond milk is fine. Just make sure its not flavored)

  • Mix all the ingredients together except the milk. 
  • Use the dairy free milk to thin it into the consistency that you'd like.
  •  I usually end up adding a tad bit more worcestershire and lemon to get that tangy taste.
To make the dairy free parmesan: Chop up 1/4 cup of cashews in a food processor and add nutritional yeast to taste (start out with 1tsp just to be safe and then add more to get the cheesy taste)

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing Dressing

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