Top Tech Gadgets for the Avid Traveler

Top Tech Gadgets for the Avid Traveler

I am an avid traveler and Verizon Wireless recently loaned me some tech gadgets to demo a few weeks. All of these items are great. It is now time to return the items and I am reluctantly sending them back as they were way too handy. I especially loved the Bose headphones. Below is some top tech gadgets to make your travels run smoothly.

Smart Phone It is pretty much a given these days that most everyone has a smart phone and is a must for travel. Not only does the phone work with all of these top gadgets, it is necessary to have that form of communication to get information on flights, transportation and keep in touch with those who matter most.

Milk and Honey Leather Pocket Case This case fits snugly around your iPhone to protect it from the wear and tear from travel. The built in leather pocket makes a great holder for credit cards, id, a few bucks or any other items you may need handy until you reach your final destination.

Milk and Honey Case
Mophie Powerstation XL –  With dual USB charge ports this quick charge external battery can juice up multiple devices at once. This powerstation gives 10+ hours to a large tablet, 14+ hours to smaller tablets and 48+ hours to your smartphone. This compact powerstation will make sure you never get stuck with a dead battery again!

Mophie Powerstation
Bose Quite Comfort 35 Headphones – These wireless, bluetooth, acoustic noise canceling headphones will make you feel as if you are the only one around. They are adjustable to fit just about one and the deep bass gives you a surround sound experience.

Bose Headphones

Nest Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Alarm – This unit thinks, speaks and alerts your phone if it detects smoke or carbon dioxide. Having the security of this device protecting your home and family while traveling is priceless and the perfect addition to other smart home products and alarm systems you may have paired with your smart phone.

Nest Carbon Dioxide Alarm

All of these Items can be purchased at the Verizon Wireless website and make great gifts this time of year for the avid traveler in your life.

Healthy Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce – Gluten Free

Healthy Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce – Gluten Free

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Not only is this healthy apple tart gluten free, it is also egg and dairy free as well. My daughter was having some health issues last year and a food sensitivity test came back to avoid dairy, eggs and gluten.

These results came in just before the holidays so was I in bind to figure out how to make a gluten, egg and dairy free Thanksgiving. I mastered some killer brussels sprouts with bacon, almonds and cherries and a gluten, egg and dairy free butternut squash and quinoa stuffing  and an amazing herbed butter to season my turkey with. My friend over at Delish Girl made this healthy apple tart for our dessert and was sweet enough to pass along the recipe. I took a stab at making it again for a later holiday gathering and it turned out delicious and is absolutely gorgeous!

The dairy free healthy caramel sauce that gets drizzled on top is also delicious over some dairy free or regular ice cream or use as a dipper for fruit. You can put it your coffee for a healthy home-made caramel macchiato, drizzle over a brownie or anything else you like. You can find the recipe for the healthy caramel sauce here as you will want to make it ahead of time.

This recipe works best in an 8″ or 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. If you have a larger tart pan, I would double the crust recipe so it can evenly cover the sides and bottom of pan. You want a fairly thick crust so it holds its shape when sides are removed from pan.

I know there are many out there who are on special diets but still want and crave those comforting holiday foods. This healthy apple tart would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving or holiday table and your gluten free guests will love it. Enjoy!

Healthy Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce

1 cup of finely ground almond flour
⅓ cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar (or sweetener of choice, such as unrefined cane sugar, organic evaporated cane sugar, maple sugar)
¼ teaspoon unrefined salt
⅓ cup cold butter, or non-hydrogenated palm shortening (for a dairy-free version, use one of the palm shortenings listed above – firm coconut oil could also work, but is a little more finicky)
2 tablespoons cold water
3 large Honeycrisp apples
Juice from half a lemon
¼ cup coconut sugar ((or sweetener of choice, such as unrefined cane sugar, organic evaporated cane sugar, maple sugar)
2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour, arrowroot flour, or organic cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons of caramel sauce

Make caramel sauce, and set aside to cool (can make a week ahead, if desired)
In a food processor, combine the almond flour and tapioca flour with the salt and sugar.

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If using butter, cut into cubes and add, or measure the palm shortening out and place in the food processor.

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Pulse until the shortening or butter is blended into the flour in small pieces (biggest pieces should be the size of a small pea). Pulse after each addition of tablespoon of cold water. (You want the dough just to be moist enough that it sticks together when you pinch the dough into a small ball. I found that two tablespoons was just enough.

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Press into the tart pan, making sure that there is a good ¼ inch or so of dough pressed along the side all around the tart pan. This will help make the tart more stable once cooked. Place in fridge. (you can prepare this hours ahead of time, if desired, just cover).
Preheat oven to 375F.

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Peel the apples, core them, and then thinly slice. Toss them in a medium sized bowl with the lemon juice, sugar, and tapioca starch. Take the tart pan out and artfully fan out the apple slices in the pan in a circular pattern (if using a circular pan). You want the apple slices to be angled, but not flat (as you wouldn’t be able to fit many slices in that way).  Leave any remaing juice from apples in bowl. DO NOT pour it over the top as it will make the tart too soggy and will not bake properly.

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Take the previously prepared caramel sauce, and brush on caramel sauce over all of the apples. Set tart pan on cookie sheet and
place in oven. Cook for 40-70 minutes or until the apples are fork tender, and the crust is cooked. I covered with foil at 40 minutes to keep the crust from over browning.

Take out of the oven and cool thoroughly before removing the sides of the tart pan. Slice, and enjoy plain, or with whipped cream or ice cream, served with extra caramel sauce. Enjoy!

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Healthy Caramel Sauce

Healthy Caramel Sauce


This delicious healthy caramel sauce is gluten, egg and dairy free. It is delicious over apples, ice cream or whatever you want to drizzle it over.


It is the sweet ingredient in this recipe for my healthy apple tart that is also gluten, egg and dairy free.

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It is so easy to make and can keep for a week or two in the fridge. Enjoy!



2/3 cup granulated coconut sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
Dash or two of unrefined salt (more for a “salted caramel taste”)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 teaspoon vanilla


In a small saucepan, put in the coconut sugar, honey, and coconut oil or butter, along with the salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring to evenly melt the honey and coconut oil or butter.

As soon as it’s starting to bubble, set the timer for two minutes. Stir the bubbling mixture once or twice during these two minutes.

caramel 9

Very carefully stir in the coconut milk until it is mixed in.


Once it has returned to a low simmer, simmer for another minute or two, or until the mixture has thickened up again (it won’t be super thick while hot…but will thicken up considerably as it cools. You want it to be thick enough to coat a spoon, but still thin enough to be very easy to drizzle. Don’t heat longer than two minutes).
Take off of the heat, and stir in the vanilla. Let cool to desired temperature before serving. If you want a warm caramel sauce, simply reheat before serving.

Will keep at least 1-2 weeks refrigerated. Makes 2 cup.

Tips and Tricks for an Elegant Cheese Board

Tips and Tricks for an Elegant Cheese Board

Creating an elegant cheese board is easy with these tips and tricks from Whole Foods Market. As an ambassador for Whole Foods Market we are given a monthly theme and gift card to create and share a recipe with you. This months theme is cheese and of course turkey!

Cheese platters are a great way to offer a tasty appetizer and this recipe for rosemary goat cheese would be a great addition to add to the platter.


Whole Foods Market has an amazing cheese island section with cheeses from all over the world and for all tastes. From mild to sharp and even those stinky cheeses that appeal to some distinguished pallets, you will find what you are looking for there. My favorite cheese is Dubliner from Ireland. It is a mild and flavorful cheese that pairs nicely with everything!

Below are some tips from Whole Foods Market and me for putting together a fabulous cheese tray.

I always like to add some olives, grapes and some type of cured meat.


Sometimes I will throw on a handful of my maple glazed walnuts, which are divine and great on salads or as a healthy snack.


Here are a few rules of thumb from Whole Foods Market for building a compelling cheese board, and a few solid cheeses for a variety of themes.

People eat with their eyes as well as their mouths — use a rustic butcherboard or slab of natural stone for an appealing, dramatic presentation.
Be sure to let your cheeses sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving. This brings out those lovely nuances of flavor and aroma.
Give your cheeses room to settle and breathe—you don’t want to crowd them on the dish.

Want luxury? Try these cheeses:
Delice de Bourgogne – rich & tangy; made by combining full-fat milk with creme fraiche
Rogue River Anniversary Blue – made in southern Oregon; pairs well with bourbon whiskey

Pleasing picky eaters? Try these cheeses:
Lamb Chopper – mild & creamy; made from Dutch sheep’s milk
Le Petit 60% French Brie – silky & mild; a crowd pleaser

Love bold and smoky flavors? Try these cheeses:
6 year Cheddar – bold, flavorful; will make sharp cheddar enthusiasts swoon
Applewood Smoked Gouda – lightly smoked; slightly sweet

Be sure to check out the Whole Foods Market website where you can sign up to win free groceries for a year and if you a foodie like me and love sharing your holiday traditions snap a pic of your favorite recipe or holiday moment and share on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #MyHolidayTradish. Whole foods will be following along and sharing some of them on their holiday website and social media channels.

Don’t forget that Whole Foods Market can do the cooking for you and if you place an order online by Nov 22nd, you will receive a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $75 or more in your email on Tuesday, Nov 29th. More details here.

Grilled Peaches and Cherries with Honey Goat Cheese

Grilled Peaches and Cherries with Honey Goat Cheese

grilled peaches

This recipe was inspired as part of the Whole Foods Amabassador program I take part in.  Every month there is a different theme and this month features grilling stone fruits. These grilled peaches adorned with the smokey sweet grilled cherries are super easy to make. Adding the salty goat cheese, sweet honey and crunchy almond mix from Sahale makes an amazing flavor and texture combination.

I made a large batch of these as I had my sister and her family visiting for the weekend.


These peaches served as dessert after an amazing balsamic and rosemary marinated grilled chicken we grilled out for dinner.

Impress your guests with this beautiful dessert. I wish to thank Whole Foods for supplying me a gift card to purchase the ingredients. Be Sure to check out the tips below from Whole Foods Market on the best way to grill up stone fruits.



10 Peaches

2 Pounds Fresh Cherries

1 Package 10.5 ounces Goat Cheese

1/2 cup nut of choice, chopped

Honey to taste

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

These peaches are so easy to make, but can be tricky if your peaches are not quite ripe enough as was the case for me.  When picking them out they felt ripe, but as I got home to cut them open they would not pull away from the pit so I sliced off each half as close to the pit as I could and it worked fine.  With all of the topping on the peaches you would never know there was not a pit indention.

peach halves



First thing you will want to set out the goat cheese to start softening. Then preheat your grill. Next wash and prepare your fruits

For Peaches:

Cut peaches in half and brush cut side with olive oil.

For Cherries

Pit Cherries. Using a cherry pitter is going to be the easiest way to do this but if you do not have one you can use a chopstick or straw to poke it through.

cherry pitter

Heat grill and place cherries on a grill pan and peaches cut side down.  Cook until peaches are slightly soft and have the caramelized grill marks. Give them a quick turn and grill on the other side for just a couple of minutes. Give the cherries a little stir a few times during cooking to get all sides cooked

peaches and cherries on grill

While peaches are cooking, chop up your nut of choice. I had some single serving packages of honey almond Sahale nuts that needed used up so I used those but you can use any nut you like.


Once peaches and cherries are done. Remove from grill and place on serving platter. Using a medium size scoop, place a dollop of goat cheese on each peach. Top with a grilled cherry and chopped nut mix. Drizzle honey on top to taste.

This makes 20 halves so can serve 10 – 20. You can always cut the recipe in half for a smaller group.

Grilled peaches with cherries, honey and goat cheese

Tips on using stone fruits.
• Why they’re cool: Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots – and don’t forget cherries! These delicious fruits ripen in summertime, and can be used in creative ways in the kitchen and on the grill.
• Grilling need to know:
Pick out a stone fruit that is ripe and firm, so it doesn’t fall apart under heat. Check out this video.
•Use moderate heat to caramelize the fruit, leaving grill marks – this is called the Maillard reaction, and by caramelizing the fruit hundreds of new flavor compounds are created. Check out this video on
•To prevent sticking, clean the grill grate well, and wipe lightly with a paper towel and neutral-flavor oil such as canola or grapeseed oil.
Awesome recipe: Smoky Nectarine Punch




An Inside Look into Monsanto and the GMO Controversy

An Inside Look into Monsanto and the GMO Controversy

Monsanto Headquarters

Monsanto Headquarters


Have you ever wanted to get an inside look into Monsanto and learn more about GMO’s and what all the controversy is about? Now, here is your chance.

I recently had the chance to go on another Farm Food Tour sponsored by Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Soybeans, and Kansas Pork Association. The first one I attended visited a variety of farms across Kansas which you can read about here.

This tour took us a little deeper into the science of our food where we got to tour the Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. What an eye opening experience it was for me!


Inside Monsanto Facility

I have to admit, I have been a one sided girl on the issue of GMO’s and have been totally against them. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with Kansas Farm Bureau and attend these tours to get more educated on the issue.

Since the 90’s Monsanto has primarily been a seed company spending most of their research on plant breeding which has been going on for centuries. That is how we have so many varieties of fruits and vegetables. Check out all the vegetables we have now that stemmed from breeding the yellow mustard plant. It’s given us crops like cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, broccili and cauliflower.


Monsanto does however still produce Round-Up and has two primary sections of the company, seeds and crop protection. Both focus on agriculture just in different areas.

We did not get into too much discussion on the crop protection production side of things at this visit so I cannot comment very much on that issue.

We did however talk a lot about GMO’s. What makes GMO’s a little different then plant breeding is there is more science and biotechnology that goes into making the seed. They look at issues that farmers are facing and try to help develop seeds that help with weed, pest control and other issues.

So here are few questions I had and answers I got.

How did Monsanto make a Round-Up Ready seed?
By doing research they found a bacteria resistant to the herbicide Round-Up and incorporated that bacteria into the DNA of the soybean seed so now when the crop is sprayed with Round-Up the weeds will die but the soybean crop will not.

Does having a Round-Up ready crop reduce the amount of Round-Up needed to kill the weeds? It does not reduce the amount used but changes the what kind of herbicide you can use.

Will using too much Round-Up eventually give us super weeds?
Crop rotation and other farming practices are being used to help avoid this.

What about the virus resistant papaya? How does that work? Do you give the papaya a vaccine like a human would get a flu shot to protect it from the virus?  Check out the short video at the bottom of the page that explains how a papaya resistant to the Papaya Ring Spot Virus was created for the answer to this.

The tour at Monsanto was very interesting and the scientific research they are doing is mind blowing and the more I have learned the less scared I am of them. But my mind is spinning over the controversy of the other side too and I still need to learn more.


I do however appreciate their approach on trying to help people in poorer countries feed their families.

Entrance to Growing Room at Monsanto

Entrance to Growing Room at Monsanto

The Monsanto research facility houses growing rooms where they can replicate the climates of other countries and develop seeds to grow under those conditions. In return this helps farmers and families in underdeveloped areas grow more food to help them and their livestock thrive.

Growing Room at Monsanto

Growing Room at Monsanto



Although, some believe you cannot alter a plant to adapt to climate. Who is right?

The research on developing pest resistant plants is pretty incredible as you can see by the pic below the difference between the plants attacked by the velvetbean caterpillar.


Velvetbean Caterpiller infested plant

Soybean plant infested with Soybean Loop and Velvetbean Caterpillar

Is it safe to put an insect killer in plants?
After many years of research it is deemed safe but the controversy lies that the long term effects are really not known yet and some say it is killing off good insects like butterflies.

For those living in areas where this plant is one of your main food sources to survive, then long term effects and butterflies are probably not as important as is facing starvation.

Their research on microbes (those tiny organisms like fungi and good bacteria) are helping develop better soil for the plant. Think of them as probiotics for the soil that aid the plants root system, nutrient content, growth and protection against disease.


Is this because some people believe Round- Up is destroying the soil and they need to find a way to help?
GMO supporters would say no, those against would say yes.


I think a lot of the controversy about Monsanto stems from Monsanto making chemicals as they used to be an industrial chemical company making things like Astroturf, saccharin and other things. Some of which were made under government contracts that has caused quite a bit of controversy.

I get that some awful things happened and am not sticking up for them in anyway, but a lot of things like that have happened. There was a time when we did not know that cigarets could cause lung cancer and kill you. It can take years to know the effects of some certain things. There are plenty of household chemicals we buy everyday that can harm us as well.

In the last few decades Monsanto has become focused on agriculture and the controversy and questions are endless. I can see there are extremes on both sides, just hang out on youtube for a while.

Do the anti Monsanto videos of skulls and cross bones and people wearing gas masks freak me out?
Sure, they are really creepy and certainly raise some questions.

Do the pro GMO videos make sense as to why they are doing it?
Yes, It seems like a good thing to help starving people.

What about the farmer and having to sign a contract?
We got to speak to a panel of farmers and this just means that the farmer cannot save the seed. Some can look at it that it as just a way for Monsanto to make more money as the farmer has to buy new seed every year. The farmers response was that they really do not want to save the seed as it might not produce a great crop anyway.


Farmer Panel

These farmers have families just like us and in the end want to produce the healthiest safest foods they can for themselves and us in the most effective way they know how.

What about the bees and butterflies? Lots of controversy on this!

Vitamin A Enriched Rice? One side is for it, one is against.

There are hundreds of topics that involve GMO’s each with its own debate that are far to lengthy to cover in one blog post. In the end it all has to come down to a personal choice and educating yourself. The transparency and openness that was shared with us about what they were doing was invaluable information.

My personal choice is to still eat organic and non GMO foods when I have a choice. Although, the more I learn the less scared of them I am. This does not mean I have partaken in the Monsanto Koolaid and am okay with everything they are doing it is just the lifestyle that I live and what works for my family and I until I learn more. I’m also not a fanatic about it when dining out or traveling or even having an occasional indulgence. I believe life is all about balance.

If organic foods are not in your budget, you can still eat healthy. Soy and corn are the most widely used and most of those go into animal feed and some processed food. So if you eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables you are not going to get that many in your diet anyway whether you are opposed to them or not. I’ve listed the GMO crops at the bottom of this post. I have done my best to get the most current but the list is continually growing so always double check as everything may not be listed. The information below is from the site Best Food Facts and is a great site to visit that covers about every topic that involves food.  I’ve also included some links to some short videos that help explain things where you don’t need to be a scientist to figure it out.

Almost everything in this world is two sided and the GMO’s debate is no different. I see valid points on each side. I wish I could give you more of a clear cut answer on who is right and who is wrong but I really can’t. I still need to learn more. I do hope I have at least given you some facts to research to help you make a decision that is right for you.

Please feel free to comment or ask any questions that you have concerning Monsanto, GMO’s or farming practices. I’m really interested in what you have to say. If I don’t have an answer I will try to find it out for you!

I also wish to thank Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Soybeans and Kansas Pork Association for inviting me on this tour and providing travel, meals and accommodations. I also want to make clear that in no way was I compensated or influenced by Monsanto. All opinions in this article are my own.

Short Videos


GMO Myths and Truths

How are GMO’s Made (story of the papaya)

GMO crop information from Best Food Facts

Corn (field & sweet)
The GM version of field corn protects the crop against corn rootworms and the Asian corn borer. Like GM field corn, GM sweet corn also protects the crop against destructive pests.

The GM soybean plant is resistant to pests and disease as well as being tolerant of herbicides that are most effective, allowing for less herbicide use overall.

GM cotton requires fewer pesticides and protects against the cotton bollworm.

Canola has been modified through biotechnology to make it tolerant to some herbicides. This allows for a reduced amount of chemicals needed for weed control. The modified plant also has resistance to pests and fungus.

The GM version of alfalfa is tolerant of some herbicides, allowing for a reduced amount of chemicals needed for weed control.

Sugar Beets
The GM sugar beet has increased tolerance to some herbicides, allowing for a reduced amount of chemicals needed for weed control. GM sugar beets also have virus and pest resistance traits.

The GM version of papaya makes the plant resistant to the prevalent Papaya Ringspot Virus.

GM squash has traits that improve the plant’s defense against viruses.

There are other GM crops that are currently being tested, but are not yet available to consumers. For instance, the Innate potato, which the USDA recently approved for commercial planting, is a non-browning variety of potato. And the Arctic apple has GM traits that resist browning after being cut.