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Spiced Pumpkin & Oatmeal No Bake Cookies


Spiced Pumpkin & Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

(Makes approx. 1.5 dozen cookies)

One of my favorite cookies to make is a no bake cookie, and I think one of my hubby’s favorite to eat also.  I say that because when I make them they disappear as fast as I am making them.  ;)



1 c. pumpkin puree

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. clove

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. caramel

4 TB. butter

1/2 c. milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. sea salt (plus extra to sprinkle on tops of cookies)

3 c. oats



1. Combine pumpkin puree and spices in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil then reduce to low.

2. Add sugars, caramel, butter and milk and cook until mixture comes to a boil, bring to low heat. Stir until
smooth, making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Add vanilla extract and sea salt, mix until combined.

3. Stir in oats, one cup at a time until completely coated in pumpkin mixture.

4. Place tablespoon-sized balls onto parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Let come to room
temperature for about an hour before serving or place in refrigerator or freezer until cool.



Crock Pot Chicken Spinach Lasagna


Back about in 2010, when we used to own a small town bar, we did pot luck for the locals, every Thursday. I was always trying to find something new and exciting to make and came across a recipe for a crock pot chicken lasagna.  Now, I am not a big fan of lasagna, mainly because of some of the ingredients.  But, I love chicken and like spinach and thought I would change this up a bit to my liking.  I hope you try it, and like it as much as we do, and as the whole group at the pot luck that night did.  I passed out many copies of my version of the recipe.



1.5 Cups Sour Cream
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
3 – 4 Large Chicken Breasts
Package of Frozen Spinach
Lasagna Noodles (Uncooked)


I boil my chicken in water, till about done, then cut into chunks.
Put the spinach in a colander, run under water to thaw.  Drain and squeeze out all the water and cut up really good.
Mix together the sour cream, cream of chicken soup,  milk chicken and spinach.   Season with some salt and pepper.


Break up your noodles to layer in the bottom of your crock pot.  You don’t have to be picky, they cook up just fine.


Layer the noodles, then add a layer of the wet mixture over the noodle, then sprinkle a bit of each cheese over the wet mixture.
Continue making layers until you run out of the wet mixture.   I usually end up with 3 layers.   You can also mix the cheese all into the wet mixture if you like, as it all ends up melting and combining when hot.


Once all layers are done, cover and cook 3-5 hours depending on how many layers.  You can test at about 3-4 hours and see if the noodles are soft.  The edges get nice and crispy.    Enjoy, and pass the recipe to all you feel would love this!  It is soooo good!


Oven Dried Apple Rings



1. 7-8 Apples
2. 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice



1. Wash the apples then core and slice them into 1/4 inch rings. Using a Mandolin makes this process a lot easier.
2. Discard top and bottom rings with the most skin on them.
3. Prevent browning by dropping apples into a bowl with the lemon juice and 2 cups of water.
4. Dry the apples on a clean kitchen towel then lay slices on wire racks over baking sheets.
5. Dry the Apples in the oven for 2-10 hours on low heat (140 degrees F), turning occasionally. Dry longer for crisp slices, and less for soft slices.
6. Remove the slices from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in sterilized airtight jars in a dark cool place.

If you like a bit of cinnamon on your apples, you can always sprinkle them with cinnamon right out of the oven.  YUM!




5 Things You Need To Know About Green Smoothies

Green Smoothies

Hello there soon-to-be smoothie lover!

Freshly pressed and blended or bottled, smoothies are red hot. You may have seen photos of celebs spotted after their sweat sesh in the gym holding a mason jar filled with green smoothie or your co-worker downing a glass and wondering why would any one drink that—ugh, greens. The “healthy eating” craze just got crazier!

But, can you blame them? With health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other chronic conditions on the rise, it seems like people will do just about anything for their health to be in tip-top condition.

We’ve all heard it, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”, right? Wrong! There is no perfect diet for everyone but there are a lot of wrong ones—and you’ve got to know which is which.

In the crowded sea of fad diets and healthy eating tips and tricks, green smoothies are among some of the most popular must-eat/must-drink nutritional powerhouses on the market. Some people even go an extra mile and make their own from fresh fruits and veggies. Of course, eating a variety of foods is still one of the most important factors to consider for a nutritionally-balanced diet but with the right ingredients, these blended greens can surely put up a good fight for the “healthiest of them all” title that all these healthy eating regimes seem to compete for.

Smoothies vs. Shakes

So what are smoothies, really? And how are they different from shakes? Why can’t we just call them green shakes instead of green smoothies?

A smoothie is typically made with fruit—frozen fruit, fresh fruits, fruit juice, etc. It’s not a dairy affair but more of a fruit party, actually. While shakes, on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made of milk, ice cream or both. The thickness of a smoothie or a milkshake does not change the name of the drink. As long as you can suck it up with a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.

What comes first to your mind when you hear the word vegetable? You probably pictured a green vegetable—a broccoli, maybe?

Even though there are other vegetables that are not green in color you probably thought of a green veggie. It may be because the color green somehow signifies good health. See that health bar when you play a video game? It’s green when your character is still “healthy” or alive. You get the point.

Now that makes sense! Since smoothies are typically made using fruits, green smoothies are “green” smoothies because they are mostly made of veggies—the green ones, usually.

But, why not call them veggie smoothies instead?

Sure, you can call it veggie smoothie or vegetable smoothie or whatever floats your boat (really), but for some reason “green smoothie” fits right. Its simplicity is quite catchy, don’t you think?

Health Benefits

A lot of people are going on a green smoothie rampage in hopes of keeping the doctor away and the stubborn weight gain at bay—two things that are almost impossible not to happen in a typical sugar- and salt-laden diet that most people have.

But why smoothies? Why not eat real vegetables?

Eating fresh vegetables instead of blended ones sounds ideal. But in this fast-paced life filled with deadlines and demands, convenience is everything. Not everyone has the time to eat home-cooked meals, let alone sit down and eat 3 servings of vegetables every day. And when you’re trying to be a “responsible” adult—taking care of your health by avoiding fast foods and opting for healthy food choices, you try (force yourself) to do the right thing: you eat vegetables.

World Health Organization (WHO)/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommends a minimum of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day to prevent several micronutrient deficiencies and chronic diseases.

400 grams, wow!

If you’re not really a veggie fan then that may sound a lot. How do you include them in your diet—without choking? Enter green smoothies. A smoothie is probably the ultimate convenience food. You don’t even have to chew it. Still not convinced green smoothies are worth a try? Here are some more reasons why you should be on your way to buying a blender right now:

  1. You can up your fruit and vegetable consumption

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 16 million (1.0%) disability adjusted life years or DALYS (measure of the potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability) and 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths worldwide are attributed to low fruit and vegetable intake.  It is also accounted for around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, 11% of ischemic heart disease deaths, and about 9% of deaths due to stroke globally.

When it comes to numbers (and not just numbers, I mean numbers pertaining to diseases and even deaths—yikes!) from a reputable source it’s really convincing to do what you’ve got to do in order not to, you know, contribute to these numbers. Green smoothies promise weight loss and loads of nutrients all in a single, gulpable serving. Drinking them makes it easier to get more fruits and vegetable into your diet, or that of your family.

  1. Green smoothie makes a good post-workout meal

Blending breaks down the hard-to-digest plant cell walls and improves their digestibility, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients in your smoothie more easily. This is one of the reasons why a smoothie makes a perfect post-workout meal.

Your body uses stored energy in your muscles to power through your workout. It’s very important that you replenish the nutrients lost during your sweat sesh to maximize its health benefits. It is recommended to get a combination of carbohydrates and protein immediately into your body as this gives your muscles the ability to replenish glycogen (the stored energy you used) and allows them to rebuild and repair as they recover.

Smoothies are rehydrating and loaded with nutrients that can be easily absorbed by your body. Not to mention, they are refreshing, too!

  1. You get more fiber

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb.

It is food mainly in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits such as reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease and lowering your cholesterol and sugar levels. It also aids in weight loss. Eating fiber-rich foods can make a meal feel larger so you stay “feeling full” for a longer period of time.

  1. No need to add the big “C” in your already complicated life

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012. Annual cancer cases are expected to rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next two decades.

How not to add to these numbers?


Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against cancer-causing free radicals. In general, fruits and vegetables are chock-full of nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for optimum health, but not all foods are created equal. Some fruits and vegetables stand out in terms of antioxidant concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size more than others. Among other fruits, cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries ranked highest while beans, artichokes, and Russet potatoes top other vegetables.

  1. You can lose weight

How do you distinguish a fad diet from a diet that really works? Well, a lot of fad diets and weight loss programs promise rapid weight loss—which can be great, only if they don’t leave you starving and depressed. Weight loss is a journey. You didn’t pack on those extra pounds overnight so don’t expect that you’ll shed them off quickly.

Permanent weight loss can be dragging but what makes it worth the wait is the fact that it is permanent.  Fad diets claim that they know a “shortcut” to weight loss. The truth is: there are no shortcuts. The shortcut they will share with you often leads to starvation. Yes, you will lose weight and yes, it will be fast, but pretty soon the weight you lost will catch up and you will find yourself back to square one. You don’t want that. No one wants that.

Green smoothies are mostly made of vegetables. And we all know that vegetables are one of your weight loss BFFs. With the right combination of ingredients, green smoothies may be the key to having the hot bod you’ve always wanted.

DIY Green Smoothies

Are you ready to make your way to rich green smoothie goodness?

What blender to use

What you’ll need is a blender and a little amount of patience. If you’re a grab-and-go type of eater—oftentimes falling into takeaway traps and wants to take baby steps towards healthy eating, making smoothies is a good start.  It should take about 5 minutes to prepare. So try to sit back and relax while you let your blender do the job.

If you’re always on the run but doesn’t want to buy bottled smoothies, you may want to buy a blender that blends fast so you won’t feel as if making smoothies robs you off of your precious time. But this kind of blender is a bit pricey. In making smoothies, it doesn’t really matter what kind of blender you use as long as it serves its purpose. A blender that effectively blends your green smoothie ingredients is a good blender.


The ingredients that you will use in making your own smoothies are pretty obvious. Fruits and vegetables are must-haves in your smoothie business. Some of the green smoothie essentials that you need are kale, spinach, romaine, collards, non-fat milk, coconut milk, coconut water, almond milk, banana, mango, berries, apple, grapes, and avocado.

You can add other fruits and vegetables, too! No doubt they are chock-full of nutrients so don’t be scared. Experiment all you want! The smoothie that you make is only as effective as the ingredients you use. Substitution is the key. Do not be afraid to try new things.

Yes, it can taste terrible. But, hey at least you can learn something from it. After all, a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn anything from it. Most of the oh-so-good smoothie recipes you see on the Internet stem from brave attempts of making different fruit and vegetable combinations work. You bet most of them taste beyond terrible, but a little tweak on the ingredients can make a big difference.

Start blending!

You may think that making a smoothie is as simple as putting all the ingredients in your blender. You’re right! It’s as simple as that! But if you want to get the best out of your nutrient-packed smoothies (of course you do!), you may want to consider doing them the proper way.

Start by blending 2 cups of leafy greens and 2 cups of liquid base together. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to use non-fat milk as your liquid base instead of coconut milk. Or better yet, use water. But the good thing about using milk is that it adds to the creaminess of your smoothie, making slurping a little bit more fun. It can also hide the distinct “green taste” of veggies. It really works wonders!

Next, add 3 cups of ripe fruit and blend again until the texture of your smoothie is well, smooth. And voila! Enjoy your smoothie!

Life is about making choices—choices that make you happy. Making smoothies is pretty much the same. In the end, what will be most effective is a diet you enjoy!


World Health Organization (WHO)

Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption around the world


American Heart Association (AHA)


Tell me more about your experiences with smoothies in the comments section below!

Author Bio :

Leanne Thompson is an author and a blogger who has contributed to some of the most well-known Health, Fitness and Nutrition blogs. She has struggled with her weight in her teenage years, which has driven her to undertake a Bachelors of Nutrition degree in the renowned Iowa State University, mostly to study the needs of a human body and how to make the most out of her life. She has made it her life goal to spread awareness about the importance of healthy weight loss and the well-being of people she has contact with. Visit her nutrition & health blog to find out more information!

15 Sweet Apple Recipes for Fall


15  Sweet Apple Recipes for Fall

If you have made a recent trip to the orchard and have an abundance of freshly picked apples on hand, you will love these 15 Sweet Apple Recipes for Fall. There is something for everyone in this collection. From Cheesecake to Apple Nachos, these sweet recipes will make good use of your apples and have your family cheering for more!

1. Mini Apple Dumplings by Mommy Musings

2. Apple Pie Cookies by  The Kitchen is My Playground

3. Caramel Apple Bundt Cake by The Grant Life

4. Caramel Apple Cheesecake by Sweet Bella Roos

5. Simple Caramel Apple Cupcakes by Southern Girl Ramblings

6. Chocolate Double Caramel Popcorn Apples by Songbirds and Buttons

7. Pear Stuffed Baked Apples by A Day In Our Shoes

8. Busy Mom’s Apple Pie by Second Chance to Dream

9. Apple Pie Dip by Mom’s Test Kitchen

10. Caramel Apple Dip by Passions for Savings

11. Bacon Apple Coffee Cake by Keep It Simple Sweetie

12. Caramel Apple Blondies by Call Me PMC

13. Apple Nachos by Thinking Closet

14. Apple Butter Popcorn by Simply {Darr}ling

15. Apple Crisp No Bake Cookies by I Want Crazy

I am anxious to try a few of these recipes this weekend with my family.
Do you have a favorite sweet apple recipe? I would love to hear about it in a comment.


Apple Recipes to Drool Over #Foodie

Check out Apple Recipes to Drool Over

by Sheila Cooper Thomas at

Disclosure ~  Living Smart Girl is bringing you this great sponsored post in collaboration with #Foodie @foodie  @foodiebyglam

Tis the season for gathering up all those apples off the trees and off the ground. Or, maybe you have no apple trees and you are heading to the local farmers market to get a basket or two to make some of your favorite apple recipes.  I sure miss the days of having apple trees, so I am one hitting the farmers market or road side stands.  I love making apple recipes and it really helps me get in the fall mood.  The smell of apples cooking warms the heart and soul.  Check out my apple recipes to drool over collection.  What would you like to try and make?  What is your all time favorite apple recipe?  Share it with me and I will add it to my collection.

Healthy Meatless Monday Meals

Check out Healthy Meatless Monday Meals

by Sheila Cooper Thomas at


I know it’s not Monday, but I just like how the words “Meatless Monday” roll off the tongue ..  LOL!     There is a Monday in every week and regardless of if you like that fact or not, it is there.   So, let’s make the most out of the beginning of our week by whipping up some great meatless meals.  Now, don’t freak out and run away… you can enjoy meals with no meat and honestly you won’t even realize you are going meatless.

Things like pasta, veggie pilaf, meatless soups, meatless pizza’s, salads, and even good old PB&J with fresh veggies on the side.  All good choices and things to surely fill you up and replace a meal with meat.   You can even go meatless on days other than Monday, just let you imagination guide you.

MorningStar Farms has some great selections when you are planning your meatless meals.  Choose things like ~ Spicy Black Bean Burgers, Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers, Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burgers, Buffalo Chik’n Patty and Original Veggie Sausage.  All amazing choices to incorporate into tons of meal ideas.    And just because you start with one of these choices doesn’t mean you have to eat them as burgers.   What kind of ideas could you come up with using these starters ?    And because these foods are good for you, you should invite family and friends over and share with them all about MorningStar Farms and see what they think.  I am sure they will love them.   These products are so versatile.  Ask your a couple of your friends to tell you what they would do with these items, and I bet you get a couple fun ideas for meals from each of them.   Everyone can put their own spin on meal ideas.   Have fun, share and enjoy MorningStar Farms foods.   I know for us, our favorite meatless meal is a big salad with the Buffalo Chic’n Patty.   Perfect on more than just a Monday night.

Disclosure ~  Living Smart Girl is bringing you this great sponsored post in collaboration with  #Foodie. @FoodiebyGlam @Foodie

Toffee Almond Coffee Cake


Toffee Almond Coffee Cake

Here’s a yummy recipe for you, using a Tastefully Simple Almond Pound Cake.

Ingredients ~

1 Package Tastefully Simple Absolute Almond Pound Cake
1  1/2  Sticks Butter  (softened/melted)
1  1/2 Cups Water
1 Packet Hills Bros. English Toffee Iced Coffee
1 Tbsp Instant Coffee
3/4 Cups English Toffee Bits
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips

Directions ~

Mix water with packet of iced coffee and instant coffee.
Mix cake mix, butter, coffee (water and coffee mix) in large bowl.    Add toffee bits and chips and mix good.  Pour into 9×9 greased cake pan. Bake at 350 Degrees for 50 min. or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Topping ~

Drizzle with warm caramel and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Enjoy hot, or room temp….  it’s perfect either way.

This was a hit, and lasted only 1 day in the house.   Totally worth all the extra squats I had to do.  LOL!!



Living the Paleo Life #Foodie

Check out Living the Paleo Life

by Sheila Cooper Thomas at



Living The Paleo Life  #Foodie @FoodiebyGlam @Foodie

There are more and more people every day choosing to lead the Paleo Life, by changing the way they eat.   Now, don’t get this way of life confused with a kind of diet.  Paleo is not a diet as you are not cutting calories to lose weight.  You are changing the way you eat, back to the caveman days to be healthy and in turn if you are healthy and eating good foods your body will do what it needs to do.
Living the Paleo Life means you eat whole, unprocessed foods that are nutrient-dense and nourishing.  Things like grass fed / pastured meats and eggs, wild caught fish and seafood, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits.   You will want to stay away from things that are fake, or full of things our bodies don’t need.  Foods containing gluten that contains grains, legumes, and sugar.  And, stay out of the middle isles in the supermarket.   I know for many those aisles equal quick foods and fast meals, but for many they also equal feeling icky and an unhealthy life.

Check out my collection on to see my favorite recipe picks or things I want to try.   No need to give up anything yummy when you choose to live Paleo.   Enjoy food, and enjoy life!

Disclosure ~  Living Smart Girl is bringing you this great sponsored post in collaboration with  #Foodie @FoodiebyGlam @Foodie


Meals Made Easy with Reynolds Wrap

Meals Made Easy with Reynolds Wrap

I love cooking and love when I can cook simple.  In the summer most of my cooking is done on my grill and the best meals are made using Reynolds Wrap.   Check out some of the yummy things I make with this great kitchen helper.

We love Tilapia and one of the best ways to cook it is on the grill.  But, since it is a flaky fish and would fall apart if just put on the grill, I use Reynolds Wrap.  Here is have 2 different foil packets done up.  I take the Tilapia, cut it into chunks, sprinkle some olive oil on the foil and then layer the fish on, sprinkle with seasoning and a few chunks of butter and wrap them up.   I used lemon pepper on one, and a chipolte seasoning on the other.   Tasty.. you bet!!

ReynoldsTilapia ReynoldsTilapia1 ReynoldsTilapia2 ReynoldsTilapia3

And then I add my veggies ~
Corn on the Cob and Broccoli in foil with seasoning and butter.

ReynoldsBrocolli ReynoldsCorn ReynoldsPacks

Then.. once done you have awesome, yummy and healthy foods to enjoy all thanks to me (the chef) and Reynolds Wrap.

ReynoldsFinished Are you a fan of grilling and using Reynolds Wrap?
Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite thing to wrap and grill.