November 2016 - Simply Samantha

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

7:30 AM

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
(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
  • 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)
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! 

col and flu

Natural Ways to Fight Off Sickness

7:30 AM

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! 

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! -

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! 

gluten free

My Meal Plan Process

7:30 AM

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.
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 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!