TT: Almond Flour Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This morning, my family and I ate breakfast together since both my mom and I got to go into work a little bit later than usual. It was so lovely to spend time as a family with some DELICIOUS food. The highlight of the meal was the coffee cake featured in today’s post. Inspired by this recipe from Danielle Walker, the almond-flour-apple-cinnamon-super-delicious-baked-delight basically tasted like Christmas. It was perfectly spiced, wonderfully moist, and fresh out of the oven! But why keep reading about it when you can make it for yourself? Here’s my sister’s recipe recreation for this Transformation Thursday.

Dry ingredients:

2 1/2 cups almond flour (we make our own using a coffee grinder)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 T brown sugar

Wet ingredients:

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 eggs

2 bananas, mashed (the riper the better)

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls then combine and pour into a dish for baking. Top with pecans, craisins, and more cinnamon if you wish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, covering the dish with foil if needed to keep the top from burning. Let the coffee cake cool for several minutes or, if you don’t feel like waiting, dig in right away – this breakfast is scrumptious either way!

MM: Hanging Out with Jesus

This year I have learned how awesome it is to hang out with Jesus. I am not referring to spending time praying, although that is fantastic too. I am talking about something a little bit different that I began doing after I left home for college: entering into the activities of my day with the mindset that I was doing them not only for God, but with Him.

I first did this one evening in the Spring semester when I was feeling lonely and a bit discouraged. It was one of those nights when things seem to be worse than they actually are and your thoughts can easily spiral downward. My friends were having a chick flick movie night while working through some boy troubles. They did not in any way exclude me, but I didn’t have any boys interested in me to be troubled about in the first place! I found myself beginning to bum out about this and wish for boy drama of my own to share with them.

Thankfully, God prompted me to something better. The idea of having a date night with Jesus popped into my mind. While I hesitated to use that term with the jokes from this Blimey Cow video in the back of my head, the thought of having Someone to keep me company and make me feel loved that night was comforting. I spent a lovely evening hanging out with Jesus. Maybe at this point you are picturing me sitting alone at a table talking to an imaginary Jesus across from me or something else along those lines. Not quite!

A few years ago I fell in love with this verse from the Message version of Romans 12:1-2: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering… Fix your attention on God…” That night I worked to fix my attention on God – inviting Him into each task and trying to enjoy it more thoroughly with Him. I relaxed by painting my nails and talking to Him while I was refreshed and rejuvenated in that way. I called a friend of mine to catch up with her and had a richer conversation than normal because I tried to bring the Lord into the conversation too. I went to dinner alone, but didn’t feel lonely because I knew that even though I was alone that the Lord never leaves me. He gave me strength to reject the lies like – “you don’t have any friends” or “no boys will ever like you” with which Satan tried to discourage me. As I invited Jesus into my evening, He lifted me up and filled me with life, encouragement, and His love. Instead of being lonely, that night was unforgettable and grace-filled.

I would love to say that I am this focused on Christ every day, but that is an area of my life that still needs a lot of work. Each day is a new opportunity to invite Him into every area of my life, though, and to hang out with Him as I carry out my daily tasks. Today, that looked like smiling in the face of the big pile of dishes in the sink and enjoying the time spent washing them because He was with me and I got to listen to some beautiful Kari Jobe music while I worked. It meant using the time I had while stuck in traffic to sing praise to God along with the radio.

God isn’t going anywhere. He is alive in you! (And that is the hope of bringing His glory into the world! Check out Colossians 1:24-29). So invite Him into each day and choose to live it with Him. Trust me – there is so much joy and growth when you do so!

TT: Humble Pie Donuts/Muffins/Cookies… What?

Today was a lesson in humility. I guess I asked for it, seeing as this morning in my time of prayer I asked God to show me if there were any areas of growth He wanted to open my eyes to for today. His response? “Embrace humility.”

Well, I attempted to make Blogilates Almond Fonuts (recipe here), but I was without a donut maker or donut pan. I added more almond flour and some oat flour as well to try to thicken the batter, but it resulted in some dry, rather bland donuts. I tried turning the batter into cookies and mini muffins as well. Out of those three, I liked the mini muffins most. Still, these baked goodies were simply not very delicious. As my mom would say, “Shuckydarns!”

Why is it such a big deal that today’s baking attempt flopped? I guess because I like doing things well (read: perfectly). I’m bummed that my efforts to make a recipe my own did not succeed. In this situation, however, I have the opportunity to embrace the humbling situation and find reasons to praise God:

1. I got to spend time in the kitchen with my sister doing something I enjoy, trying something new, and feeling like a pro. We also learned how to share a sink while one of us was making dinner and the other was washing baking dishes!

2. I have food to eat, a wealth of ingredients, and so many extravagant blessings. What a gift that I am simply able to bake purely for the fun of it!

3. This is a great opportunity to laugh at myself, learn something, and try again.

Alas, I have no recipe to post today, unless you would like the not-so-great combination that I tried. Sorry to disappoint! Hopefully I will be able to post an improved and delicious recipe for Cinnamon Spice Mini Muffins with Banana Glaze some time in the weeks ahead. Thanks for reading!

MM: What Does Jesus Look Like?

Chances are, you have already been encouraged before to look for Jesus in the people around you. Maybe, like me, you wonder sometimes how Jesus could look like some of the people you encounter. We are called to love God and people – you cannot love God Himself and not love Him in His people. But it can be hard to love, can’t it?

Occasionally, one of my family members rubs me the wrong way. It may be the teasing joke that catches me already in a bad mood, the differing opinion stated in a way that sets me off, or simply too much noise when I am feeling tired. Most of these times, I am not thinking of looking for God in my family. How could He be in them when they are irritating me?

In all of the above situations, something is not going my way, so I get grouchy. The first time I actually reasoned that out, I realized how ridiculously selfish it is. Really? Simply because someone does not seem agreeable to me, I cannot find the Lord in them?

Lately I have been trying to look again. I see in them God’s sense of humor, His grace that makes dialogue and openness possible. At these times, when I look for the ways that they resemble Jesus, my eyes are opened to see Him in them in ways that I miss when I’m busy being bothered.

This week, be open to the many ways God can show up in your life in the form of His people – even when they don’t behave exactly as you want or reflect His love perfectly. Jesus is perfect although we are not. Still, He lives in each person you encounter. What does Jesus look like? He looks like the person next to you who is slightly annoying, the customer you have to serve at work, the family member that may be difficult to love. In all of them, He is present and asking for love and respect. Will you see Jesus in the people around you and love Him in them?

TT: Apple Carrot SuperMoist Muffins

These delicious Apple Carrot muffins were adapted from Katie’s recipe here. Not only did we need some scrumptious and nutritious muffins to fuel us for a morning surf session (more about this to follow), but we had an abundance of carrots in the fridge. Score!

Now, surfing. My three younger sisters love to surf and for a long time I have not been very jazzed about joining them. When I do, my competitive side comes out and if I am unable to do as well as them, I transform into a frustrated, sore, tired grouch. Inspired, however, by a quote from a holy man named Irenaeus, I have been trying to get out of my comfort zone more often. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I think being fully alive looks like going on new adventures and challenging yourself, so when my sister suggested surfing at sunrise I got ready to get pumped up and we whipped up these muffins together.

In one bowl, mix the wet ingredients:

2 eggs

3/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cup oats

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cranberries

Finally, combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir in:

1 1/2 apples, peeled and grated

~3 average sized carrots, peeled and grated

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. We were able to make 12 regular sized and 12 mini muffins with the batter and it was delicious! The muffins were SO moist (when poked with a knife, the knife should come out clean even if the muffins still feel a little squishy) and very flavorful. YUM!

These muffins are for hiking fuel, road trip snacking, or to sweeten up a simple summer day. Enjoy!

MM: Attitude is Everything

A few years ago, we found a plaque at a garage sale that read “Attitude is Everything.” My mom, quite excited at the find, bought it and hung it in our bathroom with a small addendum. The plaque now reads “A good attitude is everything” – an important reminder for me and the topic of today’s musings.

When I stop to think about it I realize that I have literally nothing worthy of complaining about. Sure, there are things or situations in my life that make me irritable or seem unjust. There are many, many more things, however, for which I should be grateful and be praising God – I shouldn’t have any time left to complain! Even if I had time left over to complain, what is the use of that? Whining does nothing to change a tough circumstance. Having a good attitude, on the other hand, can completely turn a situation around if only by giving you a more positive perspective.

Choosing to have a good attitude does not mean that one must never struggle. It does not mean denying the reality of an irritation or frustration. I think, though, that it means talking to God about those difficulties more than you talk to other people about them. It means not complaining about problems but addressing them. It means being willing to put up with more than you think you should.

One of the first things you notice about someone when you meet them is their personality or demeanor. As Christians, we are trying to live like Christ. Therefore, our attitudes should be like Jesus’ was. I don’t think Jesus would complain about not having any spinach in the fridge to make a salad for lunch, or about the behavior of a colleague that rubs me the wrong way. In fact, I don’t think Jesus would have complained at all.

I imagine that Jesus chose instead to step into each day with a good attitude and his mind set on the work His Father had laid out ahead for Him. I want to do the same thing. I desire to let go of the things that bother me and lean on the joy of the Lord, so I pray: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

TT: Avocanana Ice Cream

Some beautiful summer days are followed by fun but muggy summer nights that simply demand a cool, sweet treat. Here’s a recipe for Avocanana Ice Cream (yup, you read that right – it’s a blend of avocado and banana, the term for which I picked up here). My version was originally inspired by Cassey Ho’s recipe found here, but is based more on Averie’s recipe from this website. It’s super simple!

In a blender, combine:

1 ripe avocado
1 fresh banana (but it could work with frozen too)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp stevia
1 T lemon juice

Blend on low speed until thoroughly combined, then freeze. To serve, leave out of the fridge until soft enough to scoop easily.

While I didn’t try this, you could also attempt to make this delicious treat in an actual ice cream maker. If you do, comment and let me know how that goes.

I hope this delicious treat sweetens up your summer nights. Don’t forget to be grateful for every day, each moment – whether lovely or not so lovely – and to remember how beautiful life is!