The Rare Recipe: Gluten-free Strawberry Muffins

I know that I normally use this space for something different, but I can rationalize that health, hair, and beauty go hand in hand. I have been baking the last couple of weeks in order to send my son to school with healthier snacks. I need a low-cost option that would allow me to toss something into his lunch box quickly and get out the house. I also wanted an option that would satisfy him until dinner time. I haven’t jumped on the gluten-free train. I have always liked to eat with some kind of balance and I want to cut back on wheat and vary our protein sources.

I came up with this recipe, starting with making banana muffins. This week I tweaked the recipe a bit using strawberry and gluten-free flours; I (my son, actually) am very happy with the results.

Apparently, because I have used brown rice and chick pea flours, the muffins count as a complete protein and they should be more satisfying to my son for a longer period of time.

Before jumping into making the muffins, take about a pound of strawberries (or fruit of choice), chop them up, throw in a bowl with a few tablespoons of sugar (based on desired sweetness), toss together and allow to sit. Every so often stir and mash. This step can be done ahead of time and put in the freezer. It’s a good way to be less wasteful when fruit is a little past it’s “pretty” phase. (Think of those brown bananas a week after purchase.)

These muffins will bake up best between 350 and 375 F. Preheat and load up the muffin pan with baking cups.

In a bowl, mix 3/4 cup chick pea flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt.

In another bowl, mix two eggs, 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream (yogurt or sour cream can replace the butter altogether, but I haven’t tried it myself except for with cookies and cakes), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. I have heard of people adding spices to muffins, that is up to you. Nutmeg, cinnamon, or cardamom tend to lift flavors of some fruits.

It’s a workout, but slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the wet mixture. If it starts to get tough, start adding the fruit. The batter should be thick, but still pourable. These are gluten-free flours so it is okay (and probably beneficial) to mix extensively. People who deal with brown rice flour tend to recommend allowing the batter to sit for 15-30 minutes in the fridge, but I didn’t do that. Pour into the muffin tin to just below the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. The muffin will be very brown due to the nature of the flours. I look for the muffin to be springy, not hard.

These turned out light and really moist with a touch of sweetness. My son was very happy with them.

If you want to make exchanges for different flours, I would do a little research first. Different flours retain moisture differently, are impacted by mixing differently, or have different textures and flavors.

I’m trying to get in the habit of eating breakfast on weekdays, and I totally see them as a grab-and-go option.

Treat Yo Self

HEAR YE!! HEAR YE!!! This right here…

Now, I am not talking about once a year.  I am thinking more along the lines of once a month.

I am a single mother AND a PhD candidate.  I don’t think I need to go into much more detail for anyone to understand that there are certain things that I need to do for myself.  I am on a budget, so I have had to be pretty creative.  I gift myself a monthly massage or mani/pedi.  I am working on the whole falling back in love with my hair thing and I like makeup.  SO, I extended my monthly gifts to (drum roll) BEAUTY BOXES!!!!!!

I gave myself a budget of $40, which was my previous “me time” monthly budget after massage or mani/pedi.  I have to be creative with that kind of budget but it has really worked out well since I have started subscribing to beauty boxes.  Added bonus? I don’t really have time to go to stores to shop for new items (which also leads to overspending) and online shopping comes with inconvenient shipping costs.

I chose to subscribe to My Brown Box and Nappturalite Radio BOOMbox.

My Brown Box is a subscription service that focuses on beauty products for women of color.  At $20 which covers shipping, this is a great deal.  I received three full size products which, when added up individually, cost more than the monthly charge for the box.  I have been TOTALLY pleased with what I have used so far.  The samples are of a decent size; enough to actually get an idea of the quality of the product.  The selections seem to be really thoughtful:  BEAUTIFUL, versatile shades and good quality products.  I am not a lipstick everyday person, but I received a shade that is rich and luscious AND that has worked it’s way into regular rotation.  Check our their blog at http://www.mybrownboxblog.com, too.  I enjoy the fashion posts.

BOOMbox is a subscription service that focuses on hair and body products for naturals.  Nappturalite Radio is a long running radio show that revolves around black hair and natural lifestyles.  At $15 (shipping included), this box packs a punch.  You get a free music download (AND I AM ALL ABOUT INDIE MUSIC) and mostly full size hair products.  This month, I received a gorgeous HANDMADE headband!  I also, received a moisturizer that may save me from always having to make homemade moisturizer for my son, who has eczema.  Like My Brown Box, two or three products individually add up to the total cost of the box and the samples are sizeable.  Check out nappturaliteradio.com for the latest radio show.

So there you have it!  I think beauty boxes are a great way to TREAT YO SELF in a less costly way.  Also, it’s cool to share the products and samples with friends and family!!!

Falling back in love with my hair: Kitchen items

SO I posted a couple of weeks ago that I am taking some time to fall back in love with my hair.  This has meant shaping my styles and my routines around my hair’s specific nature.  I have watched videos and read blogs in order to get more information on what women are doing with their hair.  I’ll write a post on my favorite products soon, but I wanted to share a little bit on my foray into kitchen items.

Growing up my mother used kitchen items in my curly hair.  I remember conditioning sessions with olive oil very fondly.  I have come up with an arsenal of products that have proven to work very well for my hair.  Granted, I have purchased separate bottles for cooking and hair/body.  Click the links for additional information from a cool science/natural hair blog.

Unrefined coconut oil:  for my texture, this is a little heavy for styling.  I use it for pre-wash conditioning (w/ Rosemary, Lavender, and Tea Tree oils) about twice a month.  Since I store this in the fridge, I let a couple teaspoons sit at room temperature for a 5 minutes or more.  Then, I add a couple drops of each essential oil.  I normally braid and tie up my hair in a satin scarf and allow body heat to work some magic. Also, it is amazing for my son’s eczema!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar:  along with aloe vera juice, I use this as a rinse after washing/conditioning.  I mix a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle, spray on, then rinse out.  My scalp is flake-less for longer now that I have started this practice.  I also use apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice when I do a bentonite clay mask on my hair and scalp.

Grapeseed Oil:  along with jojoba oil, I use this for a little pamper me hair treatment.  The main benefit of this treatment is the aromatherapy.  I add Tea Tree oil and other essential oils to a mix of grapeseed and jojoba oils in an oil spray bottle, spray on my hair and scalp, put on a conditioning cap, then a scarf.  I do co-wash my hair post treatment.  Tea tree oil has a strong scent, but it’s tingle is really relaxing for me (a little does go a long way).

Honey:  I use honey in my homemade deep conditioner.  I have changed this to use coconut oil and I warm the honey a bit so that the honey:coconut oil ratio is 1:1.  I may start to mix in a conditioner product containing protein (formulated to be left in the hair for a longer time).

There are a few other kitchen items that I use, but these are my staples.  Coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, honey and grapeseed oil can be purchased together for less than $30.  Stored properly, they last for months.  Prices for essential oils cover a wide range.  I use my essential oils with carrier oils, epsom salt and sugar for body pampering sessions, not just for my hair.

Lovely vintage

Imagine walking into a consignment shop and seeing a pair of gorgeous handmade velvet (REAL VELVET) pumps.  These pumps are so beautiful.  Handmade.  Olive green velvet with satin accents.  Leather soles and lining.  The size and style information are handwritten in wonderful penmanship.  I could not walk away from these shoes.

Then, imagine walking to the front to buy said shoes and being told that you have given the store so much business that you have earned a gift credit.  Gorgeous handmade vintage pumps…FOR FREE!  (At least that is how I thought of it once the credit was applied.)

vintage Delman pumps

vintage Delman pumps

I also picked up some tan leather platform stilettos and a cute leather flower ring.

Love second hand shopping.  Between Goodwill and consignment shops, I should have no problem finding a dress and pearls to go with these beauties.

Taking the time to fall back in love with my hair…

I am a curly girl for life.  Yeah, I straighten sometimes and that’s just fine.  I would say that I love my hair.  I think that, over the years, I haven’t been so “in love” with it.  I’ve resorted to hair management.  No enjoyment; it’s just there, on top of my head.

I’ve fallen into these routines.  Wake up and put it in a top knot.  Wake up and put it in a pony tail.  Oh it’s summer time?  Wash and go.  Tired of combing it out?  To the salon.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with such routines, I’ve just realized I’m not making the most of my hair.  Like, I said I love my hair.  It’s the one aspect of myself that has miraculously escaped judgement by my adult self due to evaluations through the lenses of mainstream beauty.  I should treat it better.

Various hair-carnations.

My various hair-carnations.

I have been natural almost my whole life.  I yielded to the pull of the creamy crack for a little bit as an undergraduate.  I ended my relationship with relaxers for a year, then decided to chop my booty-length hair off.  All off.  [See bottom left of above picture.]

Combined with my interest in having more knowledge of what I put on and in our body, I have put a lot more energy into nutrition and the products I purchase for myself and my son.  More than choosing things that are labeled “organic” or “natural”, I have started to do more of our diet, hair care, and body care from “scratch”.  I am also more selective of what I use that isn’t home made.  I tend to purchase products after careful deliberation and research of a product line’s reputation.  Even though it’s not feasible to 100% convert my hair care over night, I appreciate the natural hair blog world for the information that is available at my finger tips.  Sites like CurlyNikki (check out her new book) and Hairscapades are AMAZING!

I have challenged myself to resist the heat and straightening in order to get to know my hair again.  It hasn’t been very difficult with products from companies like Curls and Trader Joe’s.  Also, thanks to the natural hair blog world and what I learned from my mother, I am armed with my grapeseed oil, aloe, essential oils, raw apple cider vinegar (just to name a few things).

I’ll keep posting some of my findings on the blogs.

P.S.  Grapeseed oil is good for curly hair and oily skin!  I would start there!

Stains on his collar from my purple lipstick…

Reblog from mypurpleglasses.com

This poem is actually about an interesting daydream I had.  Funny thing is…I own purple lipstick.  I just never wear it.  Dedicated to my Revlon #663 VaVa Violet lipstick.  Sitting on the sidelines waiting for action.

I think of my old love life like it’s double dutch.

Try to catch the rhythm as the ropes swing,

Bounce to the beat each time they hit the ground.

Thing about me is?  I never really learned to double dutch.

I only learned to bounce.

You know.  Go with the motions.

Sway like you’re about to jump in and do something amazing.

I was either trying to jump into things that I was never in sync with.

Or I would trip and give up.

I would retreat to single roping it.

Felt so often like I was doing all the work by my damn self, in that way.

Then.  Well.  I got busy.  I no longer had time for playground games.

Eyes on the prize.  Priorities are the bottom line.

Had no time to jump rope for heart.

Double dutch or otherwise.

But what they don’t tell you about cardiovascular health

Is that you can ignore it as much as you want,

The matters of your heart and its health just don’t go away.

So I laced up my All-Stars one day.  Put my hair up in pixie tails.

Popped in some bubble yum and went back the old stomping ground.

But this time?  Double dutch just wasn’t my gig.

I wanted to chill out.  I wanted to be in motion, not go through the motions.

I wanted to feel the wind and see the sky past the trees.

I wanted to pump my legs until I reached high speeds

And feel my heart race as I fell toward the ground.

I wanted to feel the lock of the chains as the swing swept me up toward the sky.

But like always the street lights would come on, and to be practical was to be safe.

And to be safe was to get my ass back home before the street lights came on.

So like those street lights, reality came on.

And like momma said, my ass was back home.

Sitting, staring, contemplating.

And wondering.

Have you ever closed your eyes and felt your face brush against another persons?

That cheek to cheek graze that’s tense and affectionate at the same time.

When you can feel their heartbeat as if it were a gentle pulse against your skin?

When you breathe in the same meter and each exhale lingers until all of your air is spent?

When you inhale and smell your scents mixed together and think to yourself

“This is perfect”?

Have you ever been fully clothed and in such an intense moment that you didn’t really give a damn about getting naked?

You didn’t even want to pull away; you were content with all of the “being” that was going on.

Well, that’s my swing.

That’s my daydream.

The smell of his cologne on my clothes.

Feeling the hairs on his face brush against my cheek.

Searching the lines in his hands with my finger tips.

Stains on his collar from my purple lipstick.

IT’S MEN’S FASHION WEEK IN MILAN

Hey Gucci!  Hey Balmain!  Hello fellas dripping in luscious, luxurious, perfectly cut clothes!

I love men’s fashion weeks of the world.  I love menswear.  I am that person who believes fashion is art.  I am that woman who thinks that just as much technique and vision goes into designing for men as for women.  I am that woman whose style is inspired by menswear just as much as womenswear.  But I digress…

With it being fashion week and with it being time to prep for spring, I have taken it upon myself to pick one of my favorite looks that I think will hold up well as a long standing fashion staple.  (FYI GQ.com and style.com make it very easy for a busy person like myself to keep up with what is going down the runway.)

So far a fave that I think would work for most body types and most budgets is this casual gray suit sent out by Michael Basitan.  It’s classic.  It’s incredibly sexy.  You can switch out the shirt for a v-neck T or even a light-weight henley or a white tank or a red T-shirt or…IT’S VERSATILE is the point.  It’s gender bendable.  It’s a look for men or women.

from gq.com

from gq.com

Loafers.  Heels.  Converses.  Black leather accessories.  Or OOOOOOOH…AUBERGINE ACCESSORIES!

Me likey!