Some of our Favorite Recipes!

One week left for our official 30 Day Sugar Detox, but we do hope you will continue to cut-out or reduce your intake of processed sweeteners. To make it a part of your daily life, having easy and yummy sugar-free recipes is essential!

I thought I would put together a list of some of our favorite family meals. Nothing I make is difficult or takes lots of time or ingredients. With two toddlers and working part-time, everything needs to be quick and simple. But that doesn’t mean we need to resort to processed foods or takeout. Here are some of my go-to recipes.

Some of the recipes below, we tweak the ingredients. For instance, if it contains a processed ingredient we would be using a home made version, if it says fat-free we are definitely using full-fat options, or if it has sugar we would be substituting with a natural sweetener like honey. Remember, any recipe you find can be adjusted to be healthier for your family! So if you have a favorite family recipe, consider how you could swap out a few ingredients to make it even better!

I could’ve made blog posts of all these recipes as we eat them often, but why reinvent the wheel, when they are already online. So click on any image below to find the full recipe on other great blogs!

Breakfasts

I am NOT a morning person….
So breakfast needs to be quick and simple with little cleanup!
Many of our breakfasts are smoothies. Just grab the ingredients out of the fridge, freezer, and pantry; and blend them up. The kids will eat anything in a smoothie!

Other simple breakfasts we enjoy are some plain greek yogurt with fruit, peanut butter, or cinnamon. No need for added sugar or artificial sweeteners when there are so many natural ways to sweeten it!

For days we need to head out of the house quickly, we love to have finger foods ready to grab and eat in the car. Granola bars, protein rolls, etc. are great. You can find tons of recipes for those on pinterest as well.

Click any image below to find the full recipe of our favorite breakfasts!

Simple DIY Granola Bars. www.lavenderngrace.com Sugar Detox 2016persimmon smoothie (1)Coconut MilkThievesOatRollsVERY BASIC GREEN SMOOTHIE

Lunches

When my two year old gets hungry for lunch, he wants it NOW. haha
So, these are also quick, but nutritious.

A very popular lunch at our home is eggs! Boiled, pan-fried, scrambled, as an omelet, any which way! They are full of protein and fats which are great for the kids growth, brain health, and energy.

Many lunches I will also give them a handful of nuts for added fat and protein. The love some pistachios, cashews, peanuts, etc. as a sweet treat on the side! Also all lunches I offer a fresh fruit/vegetable as well.

Click any image below for links to our favorite lunches.

Raw-Carrot-and-Sweet-Potato-soup-with-spinach-First-Image-2-682x1024 Healthy Beet Salad with Lime Lemon Essential Oil Dressing

Flourless-Apple-Pie-Pancakes-are-made-with-ground-oats-filled-with-delicious-caramelised-apples-and-so-healthy-breakfast-healthy-flourless-applepie-6Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 11.45.26 AMHow To Mozzarella Salad Avocado

Dinners

Now dinners I SHOULD have more time to invest in, since we don’t eat until after they are done napping. BUT, the day always seems to get away from me. So the crockpot, one pot meals, etc. are life savers!

This is just a small sample of some of our favorite recipes, but wanted to give you a few to build up your recipe book without being overwhelming. Click any image below for the link to the full recipe.

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Desserts

I DEFINITELY have a sweet tooth!
If I didn’t let myself enjoy some of these healthier desserts, then I would fall off the bandwagon and get a Culver’s ice cream sunday…true story. So the best way to stay on track, is to have some yummy treats available that are still good for you.

Other sweet treats we enjoy are apples dipped in peanut butter, fresh fruits, smoothies, and nuts. Yum!

Click any image below for the full recipe, and remember to always choose a natural sweetener like raw honey, pure maple syrup, or liquid stevia extract.

6996431623_f95a1dfbcasorbet-desserts1Peanut-butter-Chocolate-Banana-Soft-Serve-1Enjoy this sweet treat on Valentine's Day guilt-free! www.lavenderngrace.comIMG_2414_a

 

Simple Homemade Granola Bars

We are doing a Sugar Detox for the month of February!

Click here to join un in the facebook event for continual information, recipes, encouragement, challenges, and more!

Breakfast foods are one of the biggest sources of added sugars! We think that getting some cereals, yogurt, granola bars, protein drinks, etc. are all ‘supposed’ to be good breakfasts for on-the-go.

BUT, they are LOADED with added sugar, as well as other icky ingredients.

Aside from breakfast, we also love granola bars for just an afternoon snack, or even a late-night goodie. So here is an easy recipe that we make at home. Super easy, good ingredients, and kid-approved! We also like to precut the bars and put some in packaging to grab on our way out of the house.

Simple DIY Granola Bars. www.lavenderngrace.com Sugar Detox 2016

Homemade Granola Bars Recipe

  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (Make your own or check ingredients here)
  • 1 cup Raw Honey (We like to use a honey that is solid at room temperature to help solidify the granola bars)
  • 2 1/2 cups Oats
  • 1/2 cup Ground Flax Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Hemp Seeds
  • Dash of Vanilla

Melt Honey and Peanut Butter in a saucepan. In a large mixing bowl combine Oats, Flax, Hemp, and Vanilla. Then combine liquid with oats and mix well. Add to a 9×13 pan for thin granola bars, or a 9×9 pan for thicker bars. Chill until set in the refrigerator or freezer. Then slice and enjoy 🙂

For more info about our Sugar Detox click the image below!

Stick with your New Year's Resolutions with our Top 10 Young Living Essential Oil Products for your Gym Bag. www.lavenderngrace.com

Homemade Coconut Milk

Yummy. I love Coconut milk! I finally started making my own; as part of my mission to continue making everything from scratch. Now that I have tasted homemade, I’ll never go back to store bought!

Slowly but surely the items I need to buy in the grocery aisle are becoming less and less. All of the other items I use on a regular basis I order in bulk from my food co-op at great discounts.

Buying organic and eating healthy really can be affordable but it does take a lot of extra planning, requires some more time in the kitchen, and needs to be a priority, but in the end it is sooo worth it because I know that the food my family is eating is healthy and nutritious!

Coconut Milk

How do I use coconut milk?

Drink it. Ha! Pour it over homemade muesli, or baked oatmeal. Use it as a base for healthy smoothies. Like this one. Yum! Add coconut milk to a homemade chicken curry (Anthony’s favorite) or to a vegetable Thai soup.

 

Why make homemade?

Firstly coconut milk is dairy free, nut free and vegan. So it is a great option for anyone with food allergies or special diets. Coconut milk and almond milk are the best two options as alternative milks in my opinion. The problem with rice and soy milks are that rice milk is basically sugar water, and soy milk is full of phytoestrogens that wreak havoc on your body and hormones. Soy milk and soy products should be avoided, they have been linked to infertility, birth defects in baby boys and breast cancer just to name a few (more on soy at another time). Back to coconut milk!

Second making homemade is the only way coconut milk should be consumed, and here is why…

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical used to line canned products and cartoon goods including coconut milk (and just about any other alternative milk, either found in the chilled dairy section or in the grocery aisle. So why should BPA be avoided?

According to Chriss Kresser, a acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine,

“We’ve known for decades that BPA has estrogenic activity. In vivo animal studies and in vitro cell-culture research has linked low-level estrogenic activity associated with BPA exposure to all kinds of fun stuff, like diabetes, ADHD, heart disease, infertility and cancer.

 

Is BPA exposure common? You bet. This CDC report found BPA in the urine of 93% of adults. Perhaps most troubling is that companies like Nestle, Similac, Enfamil and PBM all use BPA in the linings of metal cans holding baby formula. This is scary in light of a recent study which found an association between neurobehavioral problems in infants and high levels of BPA in their mothers.

 

So why is BPA even legal, you ask? Its safety status is still somewhat controversial. Although I’m not sure how “real” the controversy is.

 

On the one side you have consumer advocates and independent researchers and scientists who claim that there’s sufficient evidence against BPA, including plausible mechanisms for how it causes harm, to ban it completely. They argue that continued use of BPA in industrial and commercial materials is akin to performing a large, uncontrolled experiment on us all. I tend to agree. On the other side, you’ve got industry scientists claiming that there’s no significant evidence that low levels of BPA causes harm in humans. If I was a cynic, I might point out that these chemical industry groups are out to protect a multi-billion dollar market from government regulation. Global BPA demand is up to 12 billion pounds and growing at 5% per year.

 

Okay, back to coconut milk. BPA is used in the lining of certain canned foods. BPA especially leaches into canned foods that are acidic, salty or fatty, such as coconut milk, tomatoes, soup, and vegetables.

 

So what’s the solution here? In short, if you want to be on the safe side and reduce your exposure to BPA, you have to reduce your consumption of canned foods (including coconut milk) as much as possible. I made this recommendation in 9 Steps for Perfect Health-#3: Eat Real Food.

 

A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that families who ate fresh food for three days with no canned food, and using only glass storage containers, experienced a 60% reduction of BPA in their urine. The reductions were even higher (75%) for those with the highest BPA levels at the beginning of the study.”

Is BPA the only reason to be concerned when considering consuming store bought coconut milk? Not exactly, guar gum is added to coconut milk and used to thicken other foods, it is a polysaccharides which is derived from the endosperm of guar beans. There is no evidence that guar gum causes any potential harm unless you are someone who suffers from digestive problems like myself, “In my clinical experience, many patients with gut issues improve when they remove guar gum from their diet – including canned coconut milk” says Kresser.  As a general rule I like to avoid all unnecessary ingredients and focus on eating wholefoods in the closest form possible, which means, home and freshly made without additives, chemicals and preservatives.

We should also be concerned about the the harmful additives in store bought coconut milk, such as synthetic vitamins. Even organic brands have synthetic vitamins. Sarah from The Healthy Home Economist and board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation says, “Even small amounts of the synthetic fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A can prove toxic and should be strictly avoided!” Synthetic Vitamin A has been associated with birth defects and bone fractures. Added Vitamin D2 is another culprit and should be avoided as well because it is also very toxic.

Making homemade really is the best way to go. Unfortunately we need to be very careful about the “store” bought products that we buy. Most store bought items, even organic are still filled with preservatives or produced with soy and corn fillers, or unhealthy oils such as canola or vegetable oils. Read your labels carefully and research the companies you decide to purchase from.

It is a never ending battle, so take one step at a time. Decide what to tackle next in your pantry and decide to make one more thing homemade at a time. Slowly you will have less and less store bought items in your pantry. It is a slow process! It is taking me 3 years, but slow and steady wins the race, right? Making changes for your family is hard, but it is well worth it.

 

Is Coconut Milk Healthy?

Why yes! Kesser states,

“From a nutritional perspective, it’s an excellent choice. It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel by the body. MCTs are particularly beneficial in that they don’t require bile acids for digestion, and they’re directly shunted to the liver via the portal vein.”

Coconut milk also has a variety of vitamins and minerals and may aid in:

  • maintaining blood sugar
  • keeping skin and blood vessels flexible
  • building strong bones
  • controlling weight
  • decreasing the risk of joint inflammation
  • lowering high blood pressure
  • maintaining a healthy immune system
  • promoting health of prostate gland

 

Coconut milk is also high in lauric acid which is also found in natures best milk, breast milk! Lauric acid helps in building a healthy blood cholesterol profile. According to Elizabeth Walling at Natural News,

“When lauric acid is present in the body, it is converted into monolaurin, a monoglyceride compound which exhibits antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties. It acts by disrupting the lipid membranes in organisms like fungus, bacteria and viruses, thus destroying them.

 

The compound monolaurin is an effective treatment for candida albicans and fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. Monolaurin also specifically targets bacterial infections as well as lipid-coated viruses like herpes, the measles, influenza, hepatitis C and HIV. Researchers in the Philippines have even begun studies to prove the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS because of its strong antiviral properties. Plus, lauric acid is basically non-toxic, which gives it a distinct advantage over modern pharmaceutical drugs that are typically used to fight viruses, bacterial infections and fungal infections.”

Coconut Milk(1)

 

You will need:

  • 3.5 cups dried unsweetened shredded coconut or  coconut flakes
  • 7 cups of hot water
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract (the real stuff)
  • blender and a strainer or milk bag, and a bowl
  • 1/2 gallon mason jar for storage, or a glass pitcher with air tight cover

Directions:

  • Place coconut, vanilla and hot water (not boiling) in a blender
  • Carefully turn on the blender and slowly increase the speed, make sure that you have the blender cover on tight, and a towel over it so that you don’t burn your hands if hot water seeps out…blend for at least 2-3 min…
  • Strain the liquid into a bowl over a strainer or a milk bag, be sure to push out all the liquid out.
  • Pour into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. It won’t be hard to use it up fast because it is sooo yummy, especially in smoothies!

 

Feel free to play with the consistency, you can make it thinner or thicker in consistency just by adding more water, or using less, it really just depends on what you are using it for. Don’t freak if the fat separates after it cools,this is perfectly normal, just make sure to shake it up real good before using.

 

Alright well enjoy and have a great week folks and give homemade coconut milk a try. Not only is it healthier and super easy to make but you also will save some cash!

 

Eat & have a milky day,

xoxo Brittany

 

Chris Kesser  / The Healthy Home Economist / Natural News / Dr. Granny

VERY Basic Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are all the bomb right now! I started making them right after I got my Vitamix (6 years years ago now) before I was a little apprehensive to make them in my little ol’ blender! Scared that the spinach would get stuck and end up as a chunk in my mouth (yuke, heaven forbid I get a spinach chunk), or worse, that the blender would explode or something! I know, I know, pretty irrational right!?

You can actually make these delicious smoothies no matter what type of blender. My sister makes them in her Oster and it works just fine. It may take a few blends with adjustments but it works! (no explosions and no chunks). Tip: blend liquids with greens first, then add frozen items.

Delicious you say? Yep! They really are!

Now I am going to be honest, the idea of it at first was, stomach turning to say the least!

I first heard about green smoothies from Diana Stobo’s youtube videos. After we got our Vitamix my husband was super excited to pretty much blend anything and everything in the HIGH POWER blender. He highly enjoyed the green smoothies. I on the other hand took a little time to convince my mind that it was “ok” to drink veggies all blended up! Once I got over the initial reaction of horror, and I really started to drink them (not just pretend to, haha!) my body started wanting more, and more!

Now I need to have a green smoothie a few times a week, if not everyday. It has made a world of a difference in my over all health, energy and crabbiness! That is right, I am so much less irritable and snappy! Just ask my husband! ????

So give the green smoothie a whirl! It might take a few tries but I promise you it will change your life!

VERY BASIC GREEN SMOOTHIE

 

What you will need:

  • blender
  • 2-4 large kale leafs (make sure to alternate your greens)
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Optional: 

  • 1 tbs hemp or coconut oil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs flax seed
  • 1 tsp wheatgrass powder or a super greens supplement

It is always important to pair a good fat source such as flax seed, hemp oil, coconut oil, or avocado to be combined with your greens in order to aid your body in proper digestion of the minerals and vitamins in the dark leafy greens. You may also try other milks, such as almond or hemp milk (homemade is best — store bought, even organic is full of nasty ingredients!) I would be cautious about adding dairy (organic milk, yogurt, or kefir) to any smoothies in combination with fruit. If you do add milk, RAW milk or raw kefir from grassfed cows is by far the most healthy for you! (we avoid processed dairy in this house).

According to Dr. Herbert M. Shelton, the leading expert on food combining, different types of foods digest using different enzymes and acidity/alkaline levels. Fruit digests very quickly through the body and when it is pared improperly it will sit in the stomach, ferment, and cause indigestion and gas. If you are someone who is a frequent sufferer of these things you may want to take note of the food combinations and avoid combinations that upset your stomach. If your stomach is rarely bothered and you want to put organic dairy products in your smoothies than by all means give it a go!

Directions:

  • place all ingredients into a blender and blend

 

This recipe makes enough for you to enjoy a large heaping glass for yourself, and some leftover for lunch if you wish, or feel free to share with a friend, or  store in the fridge for later in the day.

Enjoy! As always eat well & be merry,

xoxo Brittany

Nut Milk….mmmmm yum!

Nutmilks do take a little bit of extra time in the kitchen to make, but it’s worth it if it means avoiding certain nasty ingredients that are lingering in your milks (see this post here!). This milk is super creamy & fabulous! We use all organic ingredients & add just 1 drop of nutmeg essential oil! It’s divine.

Directions:

  • Soak 1 cup cashews, 1 cup hemp seeds for 4-8 hrs.
  • Strain.
  • Add to vitamix with 8 cups water. Blend for 3 min on high.
  • Strain with a nut milk bag, then add back to blender, add 1 drop nutmeg, (seeds) from 2 vanilla beans and 4-5 small dates.
  • Blend again until super smooth then chill.

Enjoy!

NUT

 

Persimmon Smoothie

persimmon smoothie (1)

Have you tried a persimmon yet?

They are delicious! At least I think so. They are super sweet tasting and remind me of cinnamon! Persimmon’s can very in color from yellow/orange to red/orange. They also very in size, some are shaped like pumpkins or acorns while others are more circular. They can very in size as well ranging from the size of a apple to the size of a plum. They look like a tomato and they are considered to be part of the berry family.

Persimmon’s must be fully ripe in order to taste pleasant. A fully ripe persimmon will be super super squashy and may even look more on the rotten side, but don’t worry this is when they taste the most amazing. If you eat a persimmon before it is fully ripe you will know because it will be very chalky tasting and is full of tannin’s which may be unpleasant to your pallet. Pick your persimmon’s at a local farm or get them at your local grocery in the tropical fruit section or through your local food co-op. They will be firm, be patient and wait for them to ripen to perfect perfection and enjoy the yummy gooey goodness! I personally don’t eat the skin, it is a little too tough for my liking, and you also don’t want to eat the flower.

Here is a tasty little treat for those sweet lovers! This is defiantly not something I would make on a regular basis because it is soo sweet and rich tasting, but for a fun treat while persimmons are in season try this recipe…the kids are going to love it!

 

persimmon smoothie

You will need:

  • 2 persimmons (fully ripe)
  • 2 cups almond or coconut milk (unsweetened) add more liquid as needed or ice cubes for desired consistency
  • 2-4 dates (pitted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg for good luck
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • blender

Directions:

  • pull off the flower like leaf tops of your persimmon’s, open up and scoop out the flesh
  • place all the ingredients in the blender
  • blend on high until desired consistency, smooth and frothy!
  • pour and enjoy this sweet treat!

Yum yum in my tum!

Be sure to share with a friend!

Summer Beet Salad with Lemon Lime Essential Oil Dressing

As much as I love the flavors of this salad, I am finding it hard to even think about eating a salad right now with this super cold weather and instead I would rather eat hearty warm comforting foods like this or this. Obsession with curry much? Ummm, yes!

Healthy Beet Salad with Lime Lemon Essential Oil Dressing

Despite my longing for warm curried potatoes or soup I want to talk about beets! Beets are in fact a root vegetable, they are earthy, light and grounding. In the winter months if you are trying your best to eat in season, beets are a great vegetable that you can get all winter long at the farmers market, or you can grow your own, chop off the greens and store them, preserve them through canning, or make beet kvass (a traditional Russian super immunity drink). Beets are easy to find,  easy to use and super healthy!

 

Chandra’s beet salad is super easy and super scrumptious! The flavors are so fresh. Never had a beet before? I hear this a lot! You must try beets. They are packed with nutrients.

 

Oh, oh me loves this song.

 

 

Ok back to the beets!

 

Beets, beets! Why Eat em’ cooked, juice them, smoothie them, or shred them and eat em’ raw?

 

“Neutral thermal nature; sweet flavor; strengthens the heart, sedates the spirit, improves circulation, purifies the blood, benefits the liver, moistens the intestines, and promotes menstruation. Used with carrots for hormone regulation during menopause; treats liver stagnancy and liver ailments in general, as well as constipation — especially the type resulting from fluid dryness; also treats nervousness and congestions of the vascular system. A silicon-rich vegetable.”

 

– Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

 

Beets are rich in antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory and help support the body through detox.  To learn more about beets and how super they are go here.

 

The healthiest way to cook beets in order to maintain the nutrient enzymes is to stem them. Using a double boiler, place 2 inches of water on the bottom pot, add the beets to the top boiler, bring the water to a boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the beets are soft. A good way to tell is if you can easily push in a fork.

 

You will need:

 

~ 2-3 small beets (any color or size)
~ spring mix herb salad (whatever greens you prefer)
~ half a red onion (sliced into long strips)
~ 1/2 cup olive oil
~ 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
~ 1-2 heaping tbs. raw honey(the real stuff)
~ dash of sea salt
~ 1 drop lemon essential oil, 2 drop lime essential oil & juice of 1 lime
~ mason jar or glass container for dressing and onions
~ steamer or double boiler

 

 

Directions:

 

~ Steam your beets using the directions above in your double boiler

~ Prepare the dressing by adding all the ingredients (oil, vinegar, honey, salt, lime juice & oil drops) to a mason jar, shake up until well combined, this dressing will serve 2-3 people. I like my dressings to lightly coat the salad but not be super heavy. So if you feel like you need more dressing double that batch.

~ Once the dressing is mixed slice up your onions and add them to the dressing jar to chill and marinate in the fridge for about 30 min to a hour while the beets cook and cool.

~ Once your beets have cooled take peel off the outside skin and slice them. Add them to your salad, add the dressing with onions, toss and enjoy!

 

The dressing and onions will keep in your fridge for future use for up to 4-5 days. The onions will become more soft and the flavor will be even more intense and yummy! This salad is great for making in larger batches for daily lunches at work.

Listen to some Michael Jackson while you cook your beets, who knows it may just help you digest your food better, because a happy mind makes for a happy body. So get dancing and beat the winter blues with some beets!

Enjoy!

Raw Cashew Coconut Cacao Butter

beet it salad (4)

Summer is already half over, I think I will start crying now! In the mean time I am going to eat as much fresh fruits as possible and comfort myself with this yummy raw butter, perfect to dip into fruit! It totally tastes like a variation of nutella, so I dare you to eat some on a piece of grilled or toasted ciabatta bread! Please do, eat it for me, since I can’t!

Oh, oh or you could also make a strawberry, cashew butter pound cake panini! Oh boy, now that sounds like heaven. Slice your pound cake into 1/2 inch slices, spread my raw cashew butter on each side, add sliced strawberries, put the two slices together like a sandwich, grill until toasted on a grill or a panini griddle….hmmmmm yum!

But if you are gluten free or avoiding really unhealthy refined baked goods like fresh pound cake, dipping strawberries or any fruit for that matter into this divine dip is just as good if not better! And either way it will be the perfect crowd pleaser at any party! This butter is made from raw ingredients, uncooked and full of healthy fats and anti-oxidants! Seriously a guilt free treat!

beet it salad (3)

What you need:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked (I used raw, unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup (combo of one or any), to taste
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (I use Dagoba or Navitas Naturals)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 drop cinnamon essential oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened & soak for 2 hours to soften)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil

Directions:

  • Soak your cashews and coconut in a bowl in filtered water for 2-4 hours until soft.
  • Add all ingredients into a high power blender, or food processor, blend until smooth and creamy texture
  • place in a bowl to serve immediately with fresh cut fruit, or place in jars to store in fridge until needed. Use within 1 week (huh that should not be to hard as you will literally want to eat it by the spoonful!)