“Whey”monade, a healthy and refreshing drink {recipe}

It must be the flirting our weather is doing with spring that makes me crave the refreshing drinks of summer. Or the fact that I am So. Over. Winter.

Yea, maybe it’s that.

I really just want to sit outside with a good book while I sip some lemonade and let the kids play in the mud. Though usually the thought of lemonade makes me cringe as it’s so full of sugar!

But lemonade can be a healthy treat all year round as well, and can even contain some protein, minerals, and be probiotic.

Last winter I was able to go to the cheese making class that my friend Betsy, from Green Pastures Dairy in Coopersville, taught. And during the class someone asked what in the world do you do with all the extra whey after making mozzarella. Come to find out, you can make some pretty delicious lemonade from it.

If you use whey strained from yogurt or kefir, it will also contain probiotic benefits. When it comes from making mozzarella, it will have been heated, so no probiotics, but still plenty of nutrient content.

I make this and just go by taste, as the taste of the whey always seems to vary from batch to batch.

healthy lemonade

"Whey"monade, a healthy and refreshing drink {recipe}
Recipe type: Beverages
  • 1 quart whey (from kefir, yogurt, or cheesemaking)
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or to taste)
Method of Preparation
  1. Let the whey warm to room temperature (or let it cool to room temperature after cheese making).
  2. Add the juice of the lemon and the honey. Stir to combine.
  3. Chill and drink.
If you use whey from kefir or yogurt, you can also add up to 2 quarts of water with the juice of an additional 4-6 lemons and let it sit out on the counter overnight.

I love being able to give my family something I know they’ll love, but that will also nourish their bodies, especially the little ones that are still growing.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Gluten Free Muffins {banana, apple, blueberry, zucchini}

Our family has been gluten-free for a few years now, and while we are now happy to live without bread products for the most part, we still enjoy it every now and again. And these gluten-free muffins are soft and delicious, perfect for our chilly days here in Michigan.

(seriously….spring is coming soon, right?!)

gluten free muffin

One of the best things about this muffin is that it is so versatile. We’ve made them with mashed bananas, shredded zucchini and carrots, applesauce, and blueberries.

gluten free muffin

They rise well, very reminiscent of their wheat counterpart, and remain fluffy instead of dense like many gluten-free products tend to be. The trick, I believe, in keeping them so light, yet moist, is using the yogurt or kefir.

gluten free muffin

We have also successfully made this as a bread, though the smaller the loaf pan, the better it rises. The loaf above was a mini loaf, taking only a few minutes longer than the muffins of the same batch.

Gluten Free Muffins {banana, apple, blueberry, zucchini}
Recipe type: Gluten Free Muffins
breads and grains
  • ⅔ cup sorghum flour
  • ⅔ cup brown rice flour
  • ⅔ cup tapioca flour
  • ⅔ cup whole cane sugar (sucanat or rapadura)
  • ¾ tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice OR cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup whole plain yogurt OR kefir
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbsp melted coconut oil (or butter)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • (you can also use 1 cup applesauce, blueberries, or 2 cups shredded zucchini/carrots)
Method of Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tin.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer or large bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together the yogurt (or kefir) egg, coconut oil (or butter), along with your choice of fruit/veggie.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir gently until well combined.
  5. Fill muffin tin ⅔ full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. or eat them warm with some nice grass-fed butter.

*recipe adapted from Gluten Free Mommy’s Carrot Zucchini Muffin

gluten free muffin

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Elderberry Syrup: Nature’s Cough Medicine

Temperatures are dropping fast around Grand Rapids this time of year. In the past, I would normally get anxious. Not because the holidays are approaching, but tis the season for colds and flu. I have a son who has asthma and even a small cold can begin to constrict his lungs. That leads to coughing and if left unchecked can send him to the emergency room with a full-blown asthma attack.

While a healthy diet goes a long way in building a strong immune system, it isn’t a bulletproof vest. I debated with myself for years if over-the-counter cough medicine and prescription drugs were the only solution to help our son through the colder months. I knew there were alternative answers out there but I didn’t know what they were.

Then I stumbled across Wellness Mama and she challenged me to think outside the box. Perhaps the medications we need are not at the pharmacy but in our backyards. Using plants and herbs as natural remedies was the answer I was looking for – enough with the steroid treatments and daily medications. I began a new journey making elderberry syrup for problems with asthma, colds, and flu.

Just this past month, my son’s entire preschool class came down with a terrible cold. When he woke up with a raspy cough I began giving him two teaspoons of elderberry syrup every two to four hours. In two days he bounced back! For the first time ever we avoided steroid treatment and a trip to the doctors.

elderberry syrup

Elderberries medicinal benefits are simply outstanding. The bioflavonoid in the berry juice destroys a viruses’ ability to infect a cell. People with the flu report less severe symptoms and speed up recovery when consuming elderberries while sick. The anthocyanins enhance the immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. What does that mean? These unique proteins send messages to the immune system to regulate an immune response by increasing antibodies to defend the body against the offending agent.

Local Honey

Local raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Honey strengths the immune system, is a powerful antioxidant, and alleviates allergy and asthma symptoms. When the throat is irritated from raspy, dry coughing and the bronchial tubes are inflamed – honey soothes.

Elderberry Cough Syrup Recipe


  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cup raw honey


1. In a saucepan, combine elderberries and water. Bring to a boil then simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

2. Strain off the berries from the liquid then stir in the honey to create a thin syrup.

3. Bottle the elderberry syrup in glass mason jars with a lid. Refrigerate for up to three months.

Where to Find the Ingredients

If you live in the Grand Rapids Metro, check out one of Harvest Health’s locations or Elder and Sage for quality ingredients. Otherwise, Mountain Rose Herbs is a premium herbal company that supplies all these ingredients on-line.

Everyone is more susceptible to coming down with an illness this time of year. Why not make a batch of elderberry syrup ahead of time to be prepared? Who knows, it might just be the solution you’ve been waiting for.

Cake Pops Can Be Healthy(er)

cake pops

It’s not a common pairing of words, healthy confections, considering confections are by definition foods that have very little nutritional value, yet have a high calorie count. However, given the age we are living in, when it comes to confections we have a choice; do we just get whatever will do the job paying little attention to the ingredients list? Or do we pay the mind to what ingredients are in even our treats? Well, I choose to pay attention, reading labels of most everything I buy, even treats. So when my daughters asked that I make them cake pops for their birthday “cake”, I sought to make them as healthy as I could with what I could find at our local grocery store.

To make cake pops, is far more tedious than simply baking a cake. However, they are fun; fun to make, and fun to eat! I like that they offer portion control too! I can hand my girls a cake pop, which is likely far smaller of a portion than a piece of cake would have been, and they are completely satisfied!

Healthy-er Cake Pops

1 9×13 cake (or brownie mix made according to “cake like” directions)
1 batch of frosting (about 1 1/2 – 2 cups)
Chocolate chips or bark for dipping (can be white, milk, dark, whatever you prefer)
Sprinkles for decorating
Coloring for chocolate to decorate with swirls (I used beet root powder to get a nice mauve color. You can use turmeric for yellow/orange, warm crushed blueberry juice for blue, chlorophyll for green. Be creative!)
Lollipop sticks, I like the 6″ ones best
Styrofoam rectangle or square; big enough to hold the pops while the chocolate hardens completely

I chose Naturally Nora baking products; specifically the “Sunny Yellow” cake mix, and the “A Lot’A Dots” frosting mix. I chose the frosting mix because it helped with another ingredient I needed, sprinkles; particularly colored ones! I also decided to give making brownie pops a try. For them I used Meijer Naturals brand brownie mix, with the “A Lot’A Dots” frosting. I was happy with the ingredients in Naturally Nora’s products, especially that they contained unbleached wheat flour, no artificial anything (not even colors for the sprinkles!), and have far fewer ingredients (all of which I can read and know what they are) compared to more common brands. I would have liked to see a “No GMO, or GMO-free” assurance somewhere on the packaging, but I did not. I contacted Nora directly and she said while she too wishes she could guarantee it, she has some suppliers that cannot. However, taking into consideration the top 4 GMO’s are cotton, corn, soy and canola, I felt better seeing few, if any of those ingredients in her mixes.

The Meijer Naturals brownie mix however, was labeled GMO-free! Another tip, to make them healthy(er); I used coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. It works best to melt the coconut oil but add it after mixing all the other ingredients together. It made for such a smooth batter, and smooth cake. Delicious! And you couldn’t taste coconut at all!

Method of Preparation:

1. Bake a 9×13 cake according to directions on box; let it cool completely.

2. Crumble it up in a bowl, then mix in frosting, a little at a time, until you can form a nice ball. Place the ball of dough in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least a half hour.

3. Remove the cake ball from the fridge and start forming little balls, about 1″-1 1/2″ in diameter, until you use up the mixture. I was able to get 22 balls out of the cake mix, and 32 out of the 2 brownies mixes (to make a 9×13 “cake”.)

4. Start melting the chocolate, on low! I stress low because if you use too high of heat the chocolate will seize. Especially if you are using a double boiler, set it on the lowest setting your stove will allow. (I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips and white chocolate bark.)

5. Dip the lollipop sticks about 1/2 inch into the chocolate, then stick them into the balls about 3/4 of the way through. The chocolate will act like glue, keeping the cake ball and the stick together. Return the little balls to the refrigerator, for just 5 minutes or so. Remove them and begin dipping; the most challenging part in my opinion! It again, helps to keep the heat on the lowest setting possible. We were most successful holding the pops at an angle, and dipping, then spinning til cooled; it also helped to use a spatula. Another tip, if your chocolate isn’t thin enough add a little shortening. I used organic palm oil shortening; just a little goes a long way! If you are going to add sprinkles be sure to add them before they cool.
I suggest you trying this part out as a trial run, before making them for an event. What works for one, might not work for another, so seek what will work best for you 🙂 As the chocolate allows, stick them into the Styrofoam so they can stand upright to harden completely. Finally, take a bite! Yummy Yummy!!!


Yummy Fruit Sorbet

Strawberry Sorbet

photo credit: clairity


I went over to a dear friend’s house for a cook out a couple of weeks ago and she made me realize that healthy and homemade can be easy and tasty!

She had me chopping sweet potatoes for fries, had the guys making hamburger patties and then she went downstairs and brought up some of the applesauce she canned herself (which was so good I wanted to sneak it in my bag and bring it home).  Then to top it all off, after we ate this wonderful home cooked meal, she made this strawberry sorbet.  It was healthy, tasty and the perfect dessert to eat to get in the mood for summer!

I got the recipe for my own selfish reasons but wanted to share with all of you lovely folks as well.

My friend made sure to let me know “I’ve made it using limes, strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, and lemons.  All so stinking good!  Be warned though, the blueberries leave you looking like you haven’t brushed in a week!”

Fruit Sorbet

2 cups frozen fruit
1/2 c milk/plain yogurt/cream/half&half/any dairy product or substitute
1/4 c sugar or to taste per fruit used (honey can be used as well)
a few Tbsp of water


Method of Preparation
Blend. Add water as needed for blending and consistency. Serve Immediately.
*this post is linked to Real Food Wednesday