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Learn how to make chewy peanut butter cookie bars with no butter, oil, refined sugar or flour! Topped with rich chocolate frosting & only 102 calories!

 

 
For most Christmases while I was in middle and high school, my grandma drove across town to our house before 7 am. As a family of morning people, we gathered around the brightly lit tree in our family room and started opening presents first thing, usually before the sun rose.

Grandma always tucked three large tins underneath the tree as soon as she arrived, along with a few smaller gift bags and envelopes. My brother and I waited impatiently until we could crack open the tin with our names on it… Because we already knew what hid inside!
 

 
Five dozen extremely soft homemade sugar cookies with coarse red and green sanding sugar sprinkled on top, all tied up in festive plastic bags. Then Grandma baked homemade crunchy toffee cookies for Dad’s tin, and she lovingly hand rolled and dipped homemade buckeyes for Mom’s. (Mom was—and still is—a huge chocoholic!)

With dozens of sweets in each of our tins, we always shared with everyone else. We had more than enough to go around! Yet somehow, those buckeyes (spheres of sweet peanut butter candy dipped in chocolate!) always seemed to disappear first.

While walking down the candy and nut aisle at the grocery store last week to pick up more cashews, I noticed a display of Reese’s peanut butter cups, and my mind ended up wandering to memories of Grandma’s homemade buckeyes because they shared the same flavors… And of course, I started craving buckeyes before I even walked out of the grocery store!
 

 
Yet because I felt too lazy to roll and dip dozens of candies, I baked a batch of these Healthy Practically Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Bars with Chocolate Frosting instead! They have the same flavors, but they’re much less time-consuming to make!

Unlike Grandma’s buckeyes, these also contain no butter, oil or refined sugar, and they’re just 102 calories! Sounds like total bliss to me!
 



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Learn how to make healthy lemon zucchini muffins from scratch! They’re really moist & tender, even with no refined flour or sugar! Only 98 calories!

 

 
A few weeks after I turned ten, my family moved across town to an older yet larger house with incredibly spacious front and back yards. The house sat on nearly a full acre, which was almost unheard of in my highly populated hometown!

As a result, the previous owner had planted lots of fruit trees, including figs, peaches, plums, apples, avocados, oranges and three types of lemons. Since my dad and brother love lemon treats, we were especially excited about those last few trees!

After picking our first big bag of lemons, we tried turning them into lemonade popsicles. We followed a simple recipe we found on the internet (just lemon juice, water, and sugar!), and we poured the mixture into popsicle molds.
 

 
That evening, once the popsicles had completely set, we pulled them out of the freezer to eat for dessert. They refused to budge from the molds when we gently tugged on the sticks, so Mom ran them under hot water for a few seconds. We tried again, giving them a more vigorous yank, and…

We pulled the sticks right out, while the popsicles stayed firmly inside of the molds! Oops…

Since then, I’ve only tried making homemade popsicles one other time. I decided to stick with baked lemon treats instead!
 

 
Like these Healthy Lemon Zucchini Muffins! They’re soft and tender with lots of bright lemon flavor, and unlike those popsicles, these contain no added sugar (or refined flour either!). Plus they’re just 98 calories!



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Learn how to make healthy banana scones completely from scratch! It only takes 30 minutes! No eggs, refined flour or sugar & only 134 calories!

 

 
Last week, right after I posted this banana bread brownie recipe on my Instagram account, a friend of mine sent me a message. She explained how had tried to adapt a banana bread recipe she found on the internet to fit her family’s dietary needs (no gluten, dairy, eggs, or nuts!) the day before and… It ended in a total disaster. Her banana bread crumbled into a million pieces!

However, after reading over my recipe, she realized she could easily switch just one ingredient in my banana bread brownies so her entire family could enjoy the dessert! The only issue? She self-consciously mentioned that she’s not the greatest at baking… So she called me from the grocery store the next day to make sure she bought the correct ingredients!
 

 
That evening, she shared a little video of sampling the dessert bars on her own Instagram stories. She revealed the banana bread brownies turned out perfectly, and everyone loved them!

I felt so excited… It’s the best feeling in the world when I’m able to show people how to make the treats they’ve been missing because of different dietary constraints!

But of course… I started craving the banana bread brownies after seeing her video clips! But because I only had one teeny banana, not nearly enough to make the dessert recipe…
 

 
I turned my little banana into these Healthy Banana Buttermilk Scones instead! They’re really moist and tender on the inside with just a hint of a crust on the outside, and the sweet banana flavor absolutely shines. Plus these healthy scones have no eggs, refined flour or sugar, and they’re ready in just 30 minutes!



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Learn how to make these irresistible flourless chocolate oatmeal cookies! Supremely rich with a fudgy brownie-like texture… And only 88 calories!

 

 
Shortly before noon on my birthday, my phone buzzed with a text from my neighbor. She asked if I was home, and I answered that I would be for a few more minutes before heading out to run errands.

Less than 60 seconds later, I heard a knock on my front door. When I pulled it open, my neighbor and her little daughter smiled while handing me a bright pink bag with tissue paper bursting out of the top and stickers plastered on the sides.

“Happy birthday!” they chimed together.
 

 
My heart immediately melted. Although they had just arrived back from their Hawaii vacation the day before, they somehow figured out it was my birthday… And then brought over the cutest baseball-themed birthday gift. I have the sweetest neighbors!

Just before they turned to walk back to their own house, the three-year-old girl looked up at me. “Do you have chocolate?” she asked a little shyly. Almost every time I see her, I give her something chocolaty because she’s just as big of a chocoholic as I am!

I told her I only had these peach treats… But I promised to bring her chocolate a couple days later!
 

 
And true to my word, I knocked on their door two days later with an entire batch of these Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cowboy Cookies! They’re supremely rich and chocolaty, with an almost fudgy brownie-like texture, and truly a chocoholic’s dream! Flourless chocolate cookie dough, lots of chocolate chips… But just 88 calories!



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Learn how to make healthy peach mini muffins entirely from scratch with this easy recipe! They’re so moist & tender, thanks to Greek yogurt! Only 31 calories!

 

 
The summer I turned ten, my family moved to an older yet larger house across town, and we inherited a backyard full of fruit trees. Figs, plums, avocados, peaches, apples, oranges, two types of lemons… The woman who lived there before us definitely had a green thumb!

Just a week or two after we moved in, the peaches fully ripened and began falling from the tree. Mom decided to try canning them, and she bought dozens of glass jars with metal lids.
 

 
That weekend, we pulled out a ladder and harvested as many ripe peaches from the tree’s branches as we could. After bringing bags and bags of peaches into the kitchen and seeing them cover nearly every inch of the counter tops, we set to work peeling the peaches and sterilizing the jars.

Hours later after sealing the last lid on the final jar, we finally sat down and looked around at our work. Rows of filled jars replaced the bags of peaches on the counter tops, and we carefully transferred them to a special shelf in the pantry. It was quite the project but totally worth it!
 

 
Years later, we cut down the peach tree after it became diseased, so now I have to go to the grocery store for fresh peaches instead of my parents’ backyard… But these Healthy Peach Mini Muffins are always worth that supermarket trip!

They’re really moist and tender with just a hint of cinnamon, and my favorite baking extract gives them an elevated and sophisticated flavor, just like you’d taste in a fancy bakery’s muffins. With no refined flour or sugar and only 31 calories, they’re great for quick grab-and-go breakfasts or snacks, too!
 



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Four easy tips I use to take amazing photos, grow my Instagram account & get real followers without spending lots of time, money or feeling totally frustrated!

 
Throughout high school, I struggled with writing essays for my English classes. For each one, I sat staring at the blank page, whether a fresh sheet of binder paper in class or the computer screen at home, feeling overwhelmed by the daunting task of transforming the swirling tornado of thoughts in my head into a perfect formulaic five-paragraph essay.

Although I majored in chemistry in college, I still had to sign up for a few classes to fulfill my English and liberal arts requirements. Shortly after my landscape architecture professor assigned our first essay, I had a brilliant idea that completely transformed my essays.

When I sat down in front of my laptop to start the assignment, I drafted a quick bullet point outline. Once finished with that, I rapidly started typing sentences that came into my head to create the first draft. As soon as I finished, I printed out my essay…

And the following day, I grabbed a red pen and started editing. I crossed out a few words here, an entire paragraph there, and scribbled down much better words and passages. After slowly and methodically going through my first draft, I looked down at the mostly red pages in my hands, smiled, and went back to my laptop.

While I struggled to write… I completely excelled at editing!

I handed in that first landscape architecture essay with pride, and I received an A with almost no feedback from the professor, along with a big smiley face on the last page.

That essay taught me that very few people can write a perfect first draft… But edits transform first drafts into something stronger, more cohesive, and much more beautiful.

The same is true with photography!

While the initial photo straight out of the camera may look fairly decent, edits will transform it into a stunning, high quality work of art.

And that’s what I do with every photo I share. I edit every shot to enhance its natural beauty and make it truly stand out when I post it on Instagram.

Once I mastered the art of editing, my Instagram account completely took off. Followers, likes, comments, everything grew like weeds—practically overnight!

I’m sharing my editing process with you below as Part 3 of this Instagram growth series! If you missed the previous weeks, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

And if you want to learn even more, I’m hosting FREE webinars this Monday (7/9) and Tuesday (7/10)! Click on the date you want to grab your seat. Seating is limited, so I don’t want you to miss out!
 

 



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These treats are fun, festive & taste amazing—not healthy at all! Most are easy to make, but they’re all perfect for summer & the 4th of July!

 
Throughout my childhood, my family had two main 4th of July dessert traditions. We stayed home most years and barbequed in the backyard, so we ended our meal by pulling out my parents’ antique ice cream maker, the kind with a wooden bucket and hand crank, to mix up a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream.

Yet for a couple of years, we flew to Arizona to celebrate with our grandparents. Instead of homemade ice cream, we drove to Dairy Queen for dilly bars, hot fudge sundaes, or chocolate-dipped cones, and we tried really hard to wait to eat our treats until we arrived back at my grandparents’ back patio to watch the fireworks. (No easy feat with how quickly ice cream melts in the Arizona heat!)

I stuck with those traditions until after my second year of college when I stayed in town to work on campus during the summer. Since I didn’t own an ice cream maker and the city’s Dairy Queen had permanently closed years before, I decided to try making other 4th of July treats. I quickly realized those desserts could be festive, healthy, and delicious—and still pretty easy to make, too!

So I’ve rounded up some of my favorites to share with you: these 36 Healthy 4th of July dessert recipes! Some are classic summer staples (apple pie and peach crumble, I’m looking at you!), while others are fun red-white-and-blue treats, but they all taste amazing!



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Four easy tips I use to organically grow my Instagram account, take better photos, and get real followers without following hundreds of other accounts!

 
I’ve always loved chick flicks, the cute movies with a romance woven through the storyline that usually result in happy endings. Although not in my top ten favorites, “The Princess Diaries” still holds a special spot in my heart—partially because it was filmed in San Francisco, less than an hour away from where I grew up!

Partway through the film, the main character’s grandmother, who just happens to be the queen of a European country, chastises Mia (the main character!) for photos of her and a boy appearing on the front page of the newspaper, underneath the headline “The Princess is a Party Girl!”

“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” the queen says. “And you have two pictures.”

While that scene isn’t the least bit romantic, that line always stood out to me.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

And you probably have an Instagram account full of pictures…

But what kinds of words are they?

Are your picture’s one thousand words the equivalent of Shakespeare… Or a second grader learning about paragraphs for the first time? A doctor’s messy scrawl… Or beautiful calligraphy?

When I stopped to think about my own Instagram account while ago, I realized I had a mix of both. Many gorgeous photos from my blog… Interspersed with random low-quality snapshots from my phone with poor lighting, hazy filters, and subjects not always fully in focus.

As soon as I stopped posting the low-quality photos and focused solely on sharing beautiful photos of my blog’s recipes, I saw a huge change. Everything increased: followers, likes, comments… You name it!

So I’m giving you tips on how to improve your Instagram photos as Part 2 of this Instagram Growth Series!

If you missed the Part 1 from last week, you can find that here! And if you want to learn even more, I’m hosting a FREE webinar! You can sign up here. Seating is limited, so I don’t want you to miss out!
 



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Learn how to make this healthy blueberry almond bundt cake entirely from scratch! Moist, tender, lots of juicy berries… But no refined flour or sugar! Just 128 calories!

 

 
One year for my birthday while still in college, my family drove up to visit me. Since we planned on a small celebration with just the four of us, I decided to bake my own birthday treat, and I bought a couple of small 6”-round cake pans at the store.

I baked a basic white cake from scratch, substituting almond extract for the vanilla, and I mixed up a fresh peach filling for in between the layers. On a whim, I decided to cover my little cake with fondant to make it look pretty and elegant, so I found a recipe to follow online.

After mixing it together and dying it a light peach color to match the filling, I rolled out my homemade fondant into a large circle. But when I started to drape it over my little layer cake…
 

 
It cracked. A lot. The original recipe creator suggested to rub a little shortening on your fingers before smoothing out the cracks, and by the time I finished disguising those imperfections, I was so glad I had only made a 6”-round two-layer cake… Rather than an 8”-round four layer cake like some of the fancy bakeries in town offered. That would’ve taken more than double the work!

As the amazing people that they are, my parents and brother still admired and praised my little birthday cake, and they proclaimed they enjoyed every bite!
 

 
However, that particular baking episode taught me that if I wanted stress-free birthdays, I should stay away from homemade layer cakes, especially ones with fondant… So I opted for this Healthy Blueberry Almond Bundt Cake this year instead!

I absolutely love bundt cakes because they look so pretty and elegant fresh out of the oven, and sometimes they don’t even need a drizzle! Plus this particular one contains lots of juicy berries, no refined flour or sugar, and just 128 calories!



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