Classic Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Pancakes

What do pancakes have to do with your skin?! Not much at all, except that we are what we eat, and second only to using the right skincare ingredients, what we eat affects the appearance of our skin. In our home we have tried to replace processed mixes, dairy, wheat gluten and sugar whenever possible so this recipe is our favorite weekend pancake staple! Please pass along with friends and I encourage your feedback. We just enjoyed them this morning, and until I one day create an official food blog, I am adding a healthy eats category to the official GRACE Skincare Solutions Blog page!

we are what we eat

This recipe, as is, makes 13-14 nice-sized pancakes, so it’s great for a small family, but you can absolutely cut it in half or double as needed. You’ll need 2 large mixing bowls, a spatula, a whisk, some measuring cups and ideally, an electric pancake griddle–I’ve never tried this recipe in skillets so I can’t promise they’ll be quite as perfect!

In a large mixing bowl, combine and then whisk together:
~2 Cups Brown Rice Flour
~1 cup Tapioca Starch (aka Tapioca Flour)
~3/4 cup Ground Almonds (raw unsalted)
~6 tsp baking powder
~1 tsp sea salt
~2 tsp cinnamon

In a second large mixing bowl, combine:
~1 cup unsweetened applesauce
~1 pureed organic banana
~2 cups unsweetened almond milk
~9 drops liquid unflavored stevia
~2 tsp vanilla extract

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing together with a spatula until a smoother texture is achieved (some small lumps are fine–they will still turn out great)!

Pancakes on the Griddle!

Pancakes on the Griddle!

Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, begin preparing your batches of pancakes. When the pancakes start to bubble slightly, gently flip and cook another 1-2 minutes. I like to use the highest heat setting (400 degrees), but this requires you to watch them closely so as to not overcook! Top with a Coconut Oil blend of butter replacement (we love Melt brand) and a small amount of Maple Syrup (this will add sugar, but we have recently decided to end our love affair with Agave Nectar–it’s sadly not the miracle solution that we had all hoped).

These pancakes taste lighter and more fluffy than any restaurant pancakes I’ve ever had, and they have quickly become a way to my husband’s heart! Enjoy!

Pancake Perfection!

Pancake Perfection!

Vision Boards- What, Why and How!

So in the interest of full disclosure, I am a licensed esthetician, an entrepreneur and a freelance writer…I am not a licensed counselor, psychologist or life coach of any kind! That being said, I have had a positive experience as an individual with my own personal Vision Board, and in response to a request for a post about them, I felt motivated to deliver! If a Vision Board can lead to health, happiness and peace of mind, then our skin will reflect that, so it is in fact relevant to my interest in the natural health and beauty of your skin!

By the way, also in the interest of full disclosure, I am a follower of Christ, and I seek to be more like Him and more in love with Him everyday. Because of my faith in God, I tend to shy away from books like The Secret and any other “prosperity Gospel” type of materials, and I’ve really prayed for discernment when determining if a particular fad/idea/concept is or isn’t in line with Biblical teachings. While I absolutely believe that I have some very Libra qualities, I don’t put much weight into horoscopes and I don’t prefer to participate in psychic readings. I am not equipped to provide answers to any of these questions, if these statements were to be posed as questions, but I do believe that a) humans are created in God’s own image and we share that ability to create with God (Genesis 1:26-28); b) the words that come out of our mouth are powerful and could even have the power to build others up or do the opposite (Ephesians 4:29); and c) we tend to create our reality based on what we most often think about, good or bad, “for as a man thinketh, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).

Faith!

Faith!

Ok so that all being said, what is a Vision Board? It is simply a means of really thinking about (one might say envisioning) what you would like to have in your life…from the most insignificant material things to the most poignant matters of the heart, mind and soul, and representing them on a physical board (think: posterboard or foamboard) by cutting out actual photographs of them and pasting them on in a creative manner. It may seem quite silly or trivial, but in reflecting on my own personal Vision Board, I was astounded, tickled and convinced by the results!

I created my personal vision board sometime in 2008 or so. Sadly, I don’t have a more accurate date but I do know that it was created after moving to Houston in 2007 and before going back to school in early 2009. I suggest that you note the creation date on the back–you will appreciate me later! I believe that I got the original idea from an Oprah episode but please don’t quote me–I’m sure that I had also encountered the concept from my years of training as a direct selling consultant where I was encouraged to cut out photos of my goals, hang them on my mirror, my phone, my desk… same concept except that a Vision Board is a collection of these images representing your life goals.

Cut away!

Cut away!

The first step is to simply gather as many magazines as you can find–from fitness to hobby to home/lifestyle to business magazines. Next, simply flip through and cut out pictures when you are inspired–from a fit body that you admire to a gluten-free lifestyle that you are interested in to quitting smoking to joining a women’s group to becoming a fashion designer! Next step is to generally layout the photos in whichever way you choose. Nobody told me to do this but I like the idea so I’ll share–I chose to lay mine out based on the area that they fell in. Examples include: Faith/ Health/ Career/ Love/ Home/ Fun/Miscellaneous. I finished my board, shared it with some close friends and more or less tucked it away for a while, forgetting what exactly I had pasted onto the board, but it did stay with me over the next couple of years and moves.

Fast forward to 2013 and I will share with you just a few of the images that have since become my reality!
~Bible Study…I have been consistently attending Bible Study for several years and have found a wonderful church home in my new neighborhood that I adore. Specifically, I pasted “Biblical Womanhood”, and I love attending Bible Study with such a strong, God-loving group of women. I just completed another Beth Moore women’s Bible study today!

~Love…I had quotes that said “Love” and “Happily Ever After”, and photos of Tim & Faith, a photo of Matthew McConnaghey (who represented a sexy confident Texan man with a bit of a drawl), and photos of happy couples embracing. In 2012, I married my sexy, confident Texan husband with a slight drawl, Devin, after a brief 9 month courtship. I kissed a lot of frogs in my 30+ years and just as I was beginning to give up on love, I met Devin, in the most unassuming places, but that is for another blog topic! I especially love it when he calls me “Darlin'”!

~Career…I pasted the quotes “Skincare Expert” and “Say Yes to Success”! I had been in Skincare for 10+ years when I decided to go back to school in early 2009 to achieve my Esthetician License, without even remembering what this Vision Board projected about it; in fact, I hastily enrolled after being laid off from a very short-term recruiting position. I also pasted the word “Write”, and as you are reading this, I am clearly a freelance writer!

~Miscellaneous… pictures of yoga poses, berries, acoustic guitar, and even a small fluffy white dog… all came into fruition! I eventually began doing Bikram yoga, eating berries everyday, dabbling in guitar (still working on that) and my dream guy literally has a 6 pound, white, fluffy Havanese pup that could double as the dog on my Vision Board! He had it before I met him! I never even recall wanting a small white pup–I think I just chose that photo to represent the idea of having a small doggie. But isn’t it amazing to see how accurate the Vision Board actually has been? (Full disclosure: I am still a hopelessly awful dancer, but maybe in the future this too will improve!)

Here is my personal Vision Board:

My personal Vision Board

My personal Vision Board

So I appreciate your patience as this was a LONG blog post! And I hope that I have inspired you to create your own Vision Board today–don’t overthink it! Collect the magazines, cut out what inspires you and past it onto your Board! Don’t forget to date it and perhaps even forget about it for a while… I challenge you to see if yours doesn’t also start to come true piece by piece! Happy Creating!

What is the #1 Key to Youthful Skin?

Reflecting on my 14 years of experience (this spring) in skincare, I have often heard one question from my clients and friends repeated more than any other: What is the #1 thing or one step that I can do to keep my skin looking young and healthy?

The answer is truly simple in my humble yet professional opinion: skincare, skincare, skincare! Investing just a minute in the morning and again in the evening in a proper cleanser, toner and moisturizer, as well as a weekly exfoliant and a treatment masque as needed will pay for itself as your skin will not seem to show the visible signs of aging that so many women and men are so eager to reverse with often costly procedures and injectables.

Masques are a weekly treat!

Masques are a weekly treat!

So how do you choose which products will work best? Start with the ingredients listing–this is SO important. Here are some ingredients to avoid: SD Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, White Petroleum, Parrafin, Lanolin and Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives such as Quaternium-15 and Sodium Hydroxylmethylglycinate. Believe it or not, the Food and Drug Administration in the USA found in one study that 25% of 496 skin care products examined contained formaldehyde-releasers. Formaldehyde is a nice way to preserve dead frogs in Biology class, but it does not belong in our bloodstream as it has been strongly linked to various cancers.

Just so no to toxic chemicals!

Just so no to toxic chemicals!

Next, think about ingredients that you want to include–nourishing fruit, plant and vitamin-based ingredients, from Shea Butter to Apricot Kernel Oil to Grapefruit Peel Oil to Grape Seed and Grape Skin Extract. These ingredients are beneficial because they are safe but also because they are absorbed into the skin, nourishing and plumping our skin cells.

Nature + formulation = results

Nature + formulation = results

Finally, do you really need to cleanse, tone and moisturizer AM and PM? Truly, the answer is yes! In the morning, you are cleansing away sweat, slobber (busted!), germs from your hair, partner, kids and pets and you’re protecting your skin for the day via antioxidants and SPF. In the evening, you are cleansing away your cosmetics, but even on days when you don’t wear makeup, it’s crucial to wash away the pollution in the air–that combo of cosmetic debris (aka left-on makeup) + our own dead skin cells + pollution = blackheads, big pores and uneven skin texture.

Fresh Faced!

Fresh Faced!


The secret is forming a habit! Commit to cleansing, toning and moisturizing daily and nightly (when you brush your teeth) for an entire week. Hang a post-it note reminder on your mirror, and if you want to score yourself bonus points, keep a gentle scrub in the shower and use 1-2x a week, and use an eye creme as your only eye area moisturizer. After years of this faithful routine, if I were to hypothetically get sorority-girl intoxicated… let’s just say I’d wake up with cleansed, toned and hydrated skin, free of last night’s eye makeup! (Don’t judge me–I said, hypothetically, but I know this to be true!) And did you know that those lazy nights lead to dark circles caused by eye makeup stains?!

Remove before bedtime!

Remove before bedtime!

If you’re a bit of a slacker on the exfoliation and the masque bit, simply see me for a regular maintenance facial! The beauty of a professional facial is deep-cleansing, professional extractions to rid your skin of blackheads and large pores, skin-stimulating massage and extreme nourishment, plus I will assess your skincare routine or lack-there-of and you will leave looking younger but feeling even smarter! Click here to schedule!