I'm Trying Gardening Again

Hello lovely,

There’s something about Spring that makes me feel like anything is possible. I mean, after I get over my allergies and adjust to the new weather and pollen, I feel like tackling new projects. There’s so many things to do. Between spring cleaning the house and my diet, working a full time job and gearing up for the Elevation Awards, I really needed to find a way to just mellow out. So I decided to give gardening another shot.

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Last year I planted a spinach plant, but the gardener mistook it for a weed and threw it out. I was so distraught because it survived for months! The only thing I ever planted that lasted a long time was a hibiscus tree. So when I went to North Carolina last month, I picked up two pairs of gloves, a shovel, trowel, and a few packs of seeds. I couldn’t wait to get started, but of course, a busy schedule and lack of soil prevented me from starting until last week. I think what really pushed me was receiving the tomato plants that you see above from my best friend’s dad who was saving them for me for weeks.

The sunflower and daisy plants came with their own pellet soil that expanded with water. It was really cool watching it grow. Unfortunately I lost the photos of the packages before I opened them, but they are sold at the Dollar Tree if you want to look for them. I never expected the sunflower to sprout so quickly and grow so tall in only one week. I have no idea when to transfer it and quite frankly I’m afraid that’s where it’ll die, so please keep the faith for me.

Once I picked up some gardening soil, I planted the parsley, basil and pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds I took from a wedge of pumpkin in the fridge because I got really excited after planting the parsley and basil. I’ve never tried to grow any of these plants before so I’m nervous but really excited about how they’ll turn out. I’m even regrowing some lettuce and scallions in water in the kitchen. I check on them all day when I’m home, and I actually talk to them in the evening after work almost every day. My mum already told me “Watched pot never boils” so if I keep staring at the plants, it’s not going to make them grow any faster; but I just can’t help it.

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I’ll keep you all updated on how it’s going. Which hobbies are you taking up this month or this year? Share your favourite hobbies and gardening tips in the comment section below.




Pumpkin Apple Bars

Hello Lovely,

It sucks to say that I’ve been sick with a possible sinus infection for the past week. I was able to push through most of the days at work, but by Friday I just crashed! It’s really hard when you have a schedule of things you want to do but everything gets thrown out of the window when an illness strikes. Even now I’m typing to you in pain, with mucous sitting on my chest and I’m breathing with my one nostril I can still breathe out of. But my spirit sill feels like twerking so I’ve got a little fight left in me. One of the things I really wanted to try this weekend was a recipe from Publix for Pumpkin Apple Bars. Everything about it sounded amazing so I just had to give it a try!

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As I started mixing the ingredients, I immediately knew this wouldn’t be what I expected. This recipe calls for two grated apples AND apple sauce! That is waaaaay too much apple in the apple to pumpkin ratio. So the end result really tasted more like apple than pumpkin. And THIS GIRL likes her pumpkin so that was a No No. So my recommendation is for you guys to only grate one apple and use 3/4 cup pumpkin puree instead. I also took out the whey protein powder Publix recommended because that is not something I just keep on hand. The oats provide a nice texture and for once I didn’t mess up something with Almond Flour (shout out to Trader Joe’s for having them at just under $8).

So how does it taste? This is some really healthy tasting stuff. Because of the almond flour it’s super light but it doesn’t count as keto because apples and oats aren’t keto. But it is carb smart and one or two bars shouldn’t totally send your diet to hell. So go on, indulge in a few this Thanksgiving! Your tummy will thank you.

PUMPKIN APPLE BARS

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Ingredients

Cooking spray
1 small apple, shredded
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat 9-inch square baking dish with spray. Core apple and shred, then place in large bowl. Add egg, sugar, apple sauce, and pumpkin puree; stir until blended.

  2. Combine remaining ingredients in second bowl; whisk until blended. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended.

  3. Pour batter into baking dish; bake 30–35 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes to cool (or chill overnight). Slice and serve.

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Nutritional Information

CALORIES (per 1/10 recipe) 170kcal; FAT 6.00g; SAT FAT 0.50g; TRANS FAT 0.00g; CHOL 5mg; SODIUM 60mg; CARB 23g; FIBER 3.00g; SUGARS 13g; PROTEIN 9g; CALC 15%; VIT A 0%; VIT C 0%; IRON 10%

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For more pumpkin-y goodness, check these out!

The Easiest Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl Recipe for Thanksgiving

Hello Lovely,

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! I think I mentioned before that Thanksgiving isn't a holiday here in The Bahamas (just another excuse to eat and have sales). I hope you guys are enjoying some well-deserved rest with family and friends. I've been trying to organise a Friendsgiving with my friends since last year, but something always comes up. It's hard staying in touch with such busy schedules but it's days like this when we're reminded of the importance of appreciating one another. So, this year, I want to say that I am grateful for my family. We've grown this year and I can't tell you how happy this has made me. There have been A LOT of changes this year but all of them have been for the best and throughout all of it, my family has been an amazing support system. I'm looking forward to spending my first Christmas with them in two years (but they already know I'm making plans to travel for my birthday).

So, if you're reading this at the dinner table with your family (first of all, put your phone away), but secondly, thank you for keeping Life By Olivia a part of your holidays. If dinner isn't quite done, then I've caught you just in time! I made this pie about a week ago and completely forgot to share the recipe with you all. This came after I was beginning to lose confidence in my baking skills. A few failed attempts at pumpkin cannoli’s left me both devastated and broke (groceries are not cheap here)! In my fear of getting it right (AKA not burning it this time), I made one error: I didn't pre-bake the crust. It tasted so raw because I didn't pre-bake it that it actually took away some of the sweetness of the pie. So PRE-BAKE THE CRUST! That's the only thing I strongly suggest! (Well that and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup when you serve this). This dessert is low-cal and low sugar (not like anyone is REALLY counting calories this time of year) because I have a diabetic step-dad and my mum doesn't like things too sweet.

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So, before your guests start ordering take out, whip out your baking gear and let's get started!

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Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl


Ingredients (makes 1 8" pie)

  • 1/3 cup Betty Crocker Pie Crust mix
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • 4 oz. cream cheese

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Place pie crust in 8-inch glass pie plate as directed on package for one-crust filled pie. Bake about 8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  2. In large bowl, beat sugar, flour and cream cheese with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. 
  3. Beat remaining ingredients on medium speed, scraping bowl constantly, until smooth. Pour into crust.
  4. Spoon cream cheese mixture over pumpkin mixture. Cut through cream cheese and pumpkin mixtures with knife in S-shaped curves in one continuous motion for marbled design. 
  5. Cover edge of crust with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

 

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Top with some whipped cream, or ice cream before serving and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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For more pumpkin inspired recipes, check these out:

For more Thanksgiving inspired recipes, check these out:

MAPLE CINNAMON MASHED PUMPKIN

Hello Lovely,

I’m on a pumpkin kick right now and I don’t plan to stop! I hope you’re a fan because there’s yet another pumpkin filled recipe coming next week. Today I’m sharing a recipe for Maple Buttered Mashed Pumpkin. I was originally planning on using butternut squash for this recipe, but I just couldn't resist the pumpkin.

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Are some of you already starting to think about Thanksgiving? I mean it is the first week of November so you should be!  According to the stores we should already be preparing for Christmas and if you haven’t started shopping you’re already behind. While Thanksgiving isn't a big deal for us in The Bahamas we can't resist an excuse to over-indulge in yummy foods. Everyone knows the main star of any Thanksgiving table is the turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing, but sometimes you're stuck on what sides to serve? Enter this sweet and savoury side dish as a great twist on a holiday classic. I made this before but forgot to share the recipe with you. This can be a dish on it's own as it can be very filling and satisfying. The recipe is incredibly simple but also a great way to change up your regular mashed potatoes. Try it for dinner or at your holiday gatherings!

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MAPLE CINNAMON MASHED PUMPKIN

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds (900g) pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and seed the pumpkin, then chop into cubes. Place the pumpkin into a pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover everything. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring the water to boil. An easier to way to do this is boil everything as is and remove the skin and seeds later.
  2. Drain the pumpkin and return them back to the pot. Mash the pumpkin using a potato masher. Add the butter cubes and stir until the butter melts. Add milk and stir until well incorporated. Season the pumpkin with a little salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in chopped chives, cinnamon and maple syrup. Serve immediately. 
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COOKING NOTES

  • Stir before reheating: There’s a lot of moisture that comes from the pumpkin, so you may notice liquid building up in your leftovers. Just give everything a stir before reheating them.
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