Home-Baked Coconut Flour Muffins (Gluten and Sugar Free)

As promised, here is the basic recipe for the gluten/sugar free muffins I wrote about HERE.  It was adapted from a great little book called "Cooking With Coconut Flour" by Bruce Fife, N.D.

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil or a combination of both
  • 3 tablespoons sugar substitute (I use Xylitol) or use 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sifted coconut flour (very important to NOT skip the sifting as coconut flour can become clumpy otherwise)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • OPTIONAL:  2 to 3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder or add 1/2 cup fresh fruit such as blueberries and the like.
 Blend together eggs, butter, Xylitol or  honey (if you use it), salt, vanilla and almond extract. Note:  Add butter slowly so as it doesn't curdle the eggs, also, be sure to mix your eggs very well so the whites and yolks are blended...otherwise you may get obvious strands of egg white baked into your muffins.   Put coconut flour and baking powder into your sifter (add cocoa powder to this mix if you're using it).  Sift these into the egg mixture.  Mix well with a fork until there are no lumps. Fold your dry blueberries or other fruit into the batter.  Pour batter into greased muffin tins or paper lined muffin tins.  Bake at preheated 400 degree F (205 C) for 16 to 18 minutes.  Makes about 6 muffins.   
Note:  The white sugar-like sprinkles atop the muffins in the photo above is actually Xylitol, added after they have baked.  Also, you will note that coconut flour is much more expensive than ordinary wheat flour, as Xylitol is to sugar, thus I bake these muffins as a frugal luxury and freeze them to enjoy sparingly. That being said, I've learned to buy my coconut flour in bulk (for less) and take advantage of online sales for Xylitol and sometimes I substitute Palm sugar and/or honey for the Xylitol. Please email me if you'd like to know more.  

 P. S.  Something I forgot to mention about Xylitol: I only buy Xylitol that's been made from birch trees (as opposed to corn husks) that's manufactured in the United States.  The only brand I found that fits my criteria is Xylitol USA.  Here is a link to their website.  If you like to stay away from sugar but still enjoy sweets now and then I  strongly suggest you read their FAQ page to learn about this delicious treat!  Just so you know I am NOT affiliated with this company or am being compensated in any way for endorsing them---as someone who has a sweet tooth but cannot tolerate sugar---I just appreciate their products. :)

Also, as coconut oil is our primary oil for consumption, I buy organic coconut oil in bulk from Tropical Traditions (as well as organic coconut flour).  We are on our second 5-gallon bucket of the oil in two years and a few packets of their (2.2 lbs) organic coconut flour in our freezer--it's our primary baking and breading flour.  Of course, we buy the 5-gallons of oil only when it's on sale and if they're offering free shipping.  I think we paid around $159 (free shipping) for our most recent bucket a few months ago; I also bought a few packets of the coconut flour (also on sale) to take advantage of the same free shipping offer.  As a rough comparison,  I used to pay 9.99 for 16 ounces of coconut oil at Whole Foods or Sprouts. If you're interested in taking advantage of these fantastic sales prices I suggest you get on their email list!  Again, I am NOT affiliated with this company or am or being compensated in any way for endorsing these products, we just use them a lot and enjoy them!


The Art of Frugality

"Let each man practice the art."

It is an ancient art.  It's practice has been recorded as far back as that ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates (about 399 B.C.).  It's nurture, or neglect, has influenced the rise and fall of nations and civilizations.  Abandoning it has been the ruin of fortunes.  Embracing it amplifies wealth and can dispel the state of poverty.

 What is this ancient art of which I speak?  Frugality.  A humble word, it is derived from two ancient Latin words, frugalis and frux, both meaning..."success".  You may call it by other names such as prudence, sparingness and thrift, whatever your choice may be it always means the unwillingness to squander goods and spend money unnecessarily.  It is the careful use of goods and resources. 

 The quality of being frugal is one so powerful as to change  lives and affect history.  Each of us possesses the ability to exercise it.  Frugality allows you to govern your destiny and produce in your life a lovely fertile garden of material and intangible wealth.  Without it, you may be tossed upon the waves of circumstance, at the mercy of your unorganized whims.


(Exercising) The Art of Frugality. 

Benjamin Franklin wisely reminds us to "beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship." While striving to patch the perennial litany of small leaks in my own ship, I've often been comforted and inspired by like-minded souls along the way.  

I confess to being compelled to frugal home-keeping action whenever I visit my blog friend Terri's  blog. It's long been my go-to site on those lazy days when I don't feel like getting much accomplished.  Terri's down-to-earth writing and ability to get the necessary tasks done seem to push my own 'get moving' button!  For several years now I've been motivated to action when reading her classic, tried-and-true frugal tricks and tips as she menu plans, money manages and enjoys the luxuries of a simple life with her family.  In fact, it  was Terri's long-standing "Frugal Fridays", "Thrifty Thursday" and "Frugal Week" posts that have inspired me to create my own ongoing accountability list by way of this and future posts celebrating the Art of Frugality.  (Of course, barring any more broken bones and mandatory computer sharing.)

And then there is  Manuela , who never fails to spark my creative money-saving muse by way of her new "Home Sweet Frugal Home" series.  Speaking of creativity and like-minded souls who inspire; I mustn't neglect to mention kindred spirit muses such as my old friends Brenda, Mary Ellen and Clarice... as well as a multitude of talented others! Isn't that the beauty of the internet?  What a rich resource... a wonderland of generosity and an abundance of gathering places for the like-minded... but I do digress. 


Alright my sweet friends, enough of my ramblings.
Here are some of the ways I've recently exercised the art of frugality...plugging the small leaks in my ship.  

  • I spent an early morning (before day-break, to avoid turning the oven on during the heat of the day) stocking my freezer with home-baked coconut muffins (gluten and sugar free).  These are surprisingly easy to put together and  are much less expensive than the store bought varieties--I will share the recipe in a future post. Update: You will find the recipe HERE.


  • I began my Christmas list in earnest (I give it thought all year round, as you may already know) using this form printed out from my second book (Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons). With the holidays only a few months away I don't want to get caught short on time, money or gifts.

Note: Please feel free to enlarge and print out this form for your personal use if you'd like. 

  •  While Christmas was on my mind I decided to "work ahead of need".  I've made a habit of saving the coffee canisters that house my favorite Italian roast coffee from Trader Joe's.  They are made of a nice, heavy cardboard, with a silver-foil lining on the inside.   I re-purpose them by painting the outsides white using ordinary acrylic wall paint and a brush.  (I paint them all white to create a more uniform look.) The paint is usually left over from home projects or from cans of mistake-paint bought from the hardware store for a dollar or two (or less).   For this particular project I used a water based primer as the first coat because I wanted to use it up (it works well because it's white).  Note: Oil based primer and paint do NOT work well on cardboard as they don't dry well.  This project is super easy and, once they're dry,  these canisters offer a multitude of storage and organizing solutions.  I use them a lot in the food and craft pantries for storing supplies. That being said, this batch is earmarked for packaging holiday gifts. At the moment I'm thinking of using them as gift packaging for tidy stacks of holiday cookies or a delicious batch of homemade Poppycock...or???  This picture shows them with only one coat of paint as, due to the bright colors on the canisters, they take two quick coats.  As is my habit, I usually put on a movie while working.   Oh, while I had the paint out, I also painted some of my dad's cardboard cigar boxes to store craft supplies and use as gift boxes (you can see them in the background).

  • We are still fighting those pesky spider mites in the garden.  I used an inexpensive mix of hydrogen peroxide, Dawn dish soap and water (mixed in a repurposed Windex bottle) to spray them.  This is the third week I've sprayed and it looks as if they're almost gone.  I read about this remedy after searching for a frugal, environmentally friendly  solution online.  Unfortunately I found it after the tomato plants were destroyed. 

  • After discovering several  tiny volunteer tomato plants, I moved them to where I wanted them in the garden.  Hopefully it's not too late in the season.  My goal is for them to, eventually, replace the ones destroyed by the spider mites.  I'm not sure how they'll do but will keep an eye out for any more pests and, if needed, catch them early! Also, I would love to get a crop of greens and more herbs in our little garden area but the house is in the process of being repaired and painted this week and I think it's probably wise to wait until the painters are done before planting anything else.

  • Mike and I saved $100 by heavily trimming the climbing rose bush and Morning Glories growing on our Pergola.  It's getting a new coat of paint along with the house.  The painters offered to reduce $100 off the price if we did the trimming work ourselves.  It only took about an hour with both of us working.

  • Shopped my pantry and freezer when creating this weeks' menu.  The only purchases needed were fresh milk and produce.  The milk is never inexpensive, sadly, but we are blessed with an abundance of very well priced produce from the family farm stands near my dad's house.  We tend to visit him once a week and stock-up while we're down there, rarely spending more than ten dollars for bags of seasonal goodies.  Last week I bought three HUGE zucchini for $1 and stocked-up on fresh tomatoes (5 for $1), full size salad cucumbers (3 for $1), large Mexican round squash (3 for $1) plus limes, lemons and oranges for juicing (all for a song).  My plan is to make low carb pizza using saucer-sized slices of the huge zucchini as a crust, and use the Mexican round squash (they look like pumpkin shaped watermelon) in frittatas and diced up in a taco soup (they are neutral in taste and look like diced potatoes when used in soups and other recipes but... are low carb!).  I think I may roast the rest of the veggies/squash, if the weather stays cool, and use them as a side dish.  This time of year I always overbuy on the bargain tomatoes and quick freeze them whole, using them for cooking throughout the winter.  I've been doing this for years now and never have to buy canned tomatoes.  You can learn how easy it is HERE!

  • Mike took his lunch to work every day this week.  To be honest, this has long been our habit as it saves so much money and is much healthier than restaurant food, in my opinion.  I included filtered water from home using the empty bottles I'd saved from a case of bottled water we bought on sale a few weeks ago.

  • Rosie and I didn't go to Starbucks this week on our usual morning. (We have a little ritual of "Mommy/Rosie Time"... a fun thing we've done since the kids were little.)  Instead I made us a creamy cafe' au lait  at home and served it to her in her favorite white ceramic Starbucks cup as we sat on the sofa and talked.

  • Decanted a finished batch of Kumbucha this week and filled up six more bottles.  I'm trying my hand at a second fermentation which (hopefully) will make it taste more like the store bought variety that I love.  I also took an extra SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast--this ferments the kumbucha tea) to my dad's house and started a batch there so I will have it to enjoy when I visit.  I  wish I could get him to drink it as it's said to be so good for health.  However, he won't even try it, he says it smells too vinegar-y which surprises me as he loves vinegar and sour things.  I have a hunch the real problem is that the SCOBY (floaty thing inside) creeps him out a bit.  I suspect this because he never even wants to look at it.  I told him it was alive (it is) and to be nice to it so it'll give us (me) tastier kumbucha. ;-)  

  • Started a new batch of kumbucha to replace the one I decanted.  It should be ready to drink in a few weeks.

  • I went through our bank statement and found an item that was double charged...made a phone call and got the credit.

  • Reduced our Netflix bill to watch online only. For years we subscribed to the three DVD rental as well as the online watching (primarily for Rosie).  However, between working and school, she no longer has as much time for watching movies (sometimes they weren't being watched at all). 

  • Helped Rosie sell some things on ebay that were cluttering up the house.

  • I didn't have mayonnaise for the Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches I made for dinner one night so I used coconut oil instead.  No one even noticed!  In the interest of full disclosure, however, our family is a bit odd in the BLT department. Everyone (except me) eats them with peanut butter on one side and mayonnaise on the other.  This may be why the mayonnaise wasn't missed.  

  • Mike and I went to Goodwill and found a new keyboard for his old Dell computer for a mere $3!   His old keyboard broke months ago and he hasn't been able to use the computer at all (unable to move around in it or type commands etc.).  We were excited to find a replacement as it allows us to get a little more use out of the old dinosaur (it's verrry old and slow!).  He claims it works for him as he only uses it to read news articles, check sports scores and email.  But I can tell that even he is getting tired of the slow speed and constant glitches.  Eventually, we will need to invest in a new computer. We are thinking about an iPad for him as they are quite reasonable now and, obviously, portable.  Walmart had them online for as low as $339.  It would serve his needs and is much less expensive than a fairly basic Dell desktop, but we're still researching our options.

How have you practiced the art of frugality lately?


Homespun Alchemy™... In the Kitchen

Lacto-fermented carrots and garlic after about eight days of fermentation

"You are an alchemist; make gold of it."
-- William Shakespeare

Several years ago after reading about...and being intrigued by...a somewhat mysterious food-alchemy called "fermentation" I invested twelve dollars for the now classic cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.

Note: Of course, sadly, as per inflation, the book in now almost sixteen dollars via Amazon...still quite a bargain (in my opinion) considering the treasure trove of information contained therein...but I digress.

One weekend, I brought the book with me to my Dad's house. I wanted to mine-his-memory, and knowledge, about some of the unfamiliar techniques I was reading about.
Why you ask? My father...being the son of a Swedish/American mother and a long~time foodie quite versed in multitudes of unusual eats (Lutfisk anyone???). Little did I realize that doing so was to shift the paradigm of my long held belief that it was my grandmother who was responsible for all of the usual...and preparation during his boyhood. When I asked how his mother went about making her sauerkraut, he informed me that it wasn't his mother, but his father who created and nurtured those huge crocks of deliciousness.

That weekend he walked me through his memories of watching his father prepare the cabbage by slivering, pounding and salting it. He informed me of the vital importance of making sure the cabbage was completely covered with brine at all times to avoid spoilage. It quickly became apparent, however, that his fondest memory was of sneaking down to the basement of his childhood home for the sole purpose of lifting the brick-weighted china plate from atop the large crocks of fermenting cabbage to sample its tantalizing the handful. It was, he said, a tasty treat rarely encountered today. Having my own taste for sauerkraut...and tart flavors in general...I understood perfectly. Soon after I began my first fermentation project.

Today, I try to always keep a jar of homemade sauerkraut in the refrigerator for whenever I get the craving. As well...inspired by wonders found on the internet HERE...HERE and most recently HERE ...I've ventured more deeply into this miraculous way to transform and preserve ordinary foods.

This is a picture of our Kumbucha brewing।
The floating things inside are the SCOBY's.
I leave them to ferment in the sunshine for a few weeks or more
(I taste them every week or so to determine the degree of tartness I like)


The huge
success of the sauerkraut inspired the faith needed to try my hand at creating Kumbucha. For those not familiar, Kumbucha is a fermented drink that uses a mother SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to ferment two basic ingredients...tea and sugar! It was first introduced to the family by our daughter Katie several years ago and we were treating ourselves to a commercial brand called GT's Kumbucha which is quite delicious and comes in a variety of flavors (my favorite being gingerade). It is, however, very expensive ranging from $3.49 to $3.79 per 16 oz. bottle. One time, Mike found a rare sale where its cost was two dollars per bottle. Needless to say he bought a few cases and I kept the bottles. I now refill them regularly with my own home brew.

Another fairly recent staple in our kitchen is
lacto fermented carrots. I found the recipe here and was absolutely floored at the deliciousness of these. I omitted the dill as we had none, and they are still amazingly delicious. The first batch I made was left for nearly three weeks and the carrots practically dissolved, so I recommend only a week or so Even still, I simply pureed the first (soggy) batch and used it to make salad dressings that called for garlic (in lieu of vinegar...I do the same with extra tart Kumbucha as well). My next fermenting endeavor will be to try Clarice's fermented green bean and raspberries recipe.

Fermented Deliciousness: Homemade Kumbucha decanted into recycled commercial Kumbucha bottles along side jars of home fermented sauerkraut.

Happily, our kitchen now boasts, on a regular basis, several batches of fermented drinks and vegetables in various stages of their alchemical transformations! The tastes are treats that only time and nature can well their health enhancing potential is legendary as is the economical and time-saving benefits of developing the habit.

Are you practicing the art of fermentation? If not I
urge you to take a leap of faith and do your own research on this ancient method of food alchemy and preservation.

Sending love and good thoughts to all.

Tracey and Family x0x

P.S. I forgot to mention the fermented lemonade that I made (and consequently drank the entire jar in one day!). (I found the recipe HERE.)

I fermented lemon juice, water, sugar and whey in a tightly sealed jar
(leaving about three inches at the top for the gasses to collect)

for about three days to make this delicious fermented lemonade.


"Discovering... the Forgotten Wealth of Nature"

"It is the thrifty who prepare today for the wants of tomorrow."
~ Aesop (circa 550 BC)

"It was the children who spied them first. Our bare ankles and sandal~ed feet scraped scraped against the cactus~like needles as we stepped gingerly over the vines sprawled across the landscape. They had buried themselves inside a mysterious, shadowy tangle of Pepper and Avocado trees like long forgotten treasure. A colossal patch of blackberries lie before us, not unlike an ethereal gift, the type of gift that night~fairies might leave to mere mortals. The dark glistening berries seemed to blink at the sun's brightness as we gently lifted the branch of an ancient Pepper tree to examine our cache'.

Our discovery of this culinary treasure (and our consumption of its fruits) was a subtle reminder of how generous nature can be. After eating our fill we converted the excess into sauces, salads and desserts.

Above: Half a flat of strawberries bought for $7 at our favorite farmstand.
They were very ripe and ready to eat or process that day...thus the great price!

There is a kind of romance to be found in raw ingredients. Just as the sculptor Michelangelo saw his masterpiece "David" inside a block of marble, I see berries and envision jams, cobblers and pies! Furthermore, I don't draw the line at mere fruits! Flour, water, yeast and sugar become crusty loaves of seductive homemade breads, and the mints verbena and lemon geraniums in our garden transform into glistening, ice~chilled glasses of tea to refresh our parched throats on a hot summer's day.

How often have we overlooked the possibilities of processing inexpensive nutritious foods in our own kitchens? As a nation absorbed with consuming overpriced, over~processed food stuffs it might be to our credit to look at the financial (as well as nutritional) value of converting our own natural [local] resources into delicious healthful meals.

After washing and hulling our $7 flat of fresh strawberries,
I lie them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and froze them solid before storing in freezer bags for future smoothies and/or jam~making.


In a world that touts as desirable that which is the fastest, the easiest or the newest we find pleasure in discovering the forgotten wealth offered to us by nature. Taking a cue from the past, we prepare seasonal foods for future consumption~~while they are in abundance~~in order to conserve time, money and quality of life.

A celebration of the seasons is one of the strands that keeps the tapestry of family and friendship intact. By sharing simple meals prepared at home we transform the ordinary into the extra ordinary.

Life is composed of the little things. It is in this accumulation of daily living that we should find our pleasures. The combination of handling unprocessed foods, as well as transfiguring them into delicious sustenance (through the wizardry of preparation) is a simple joy.

As the season of roadside produce stands and "Pick~Your~Own" fruit orchards reaches its peak, we urge you to rediscover the bounty that is easily and [often] inexpensively available to you. Take advantage of the opportunities to transform the harvests of each season into delicious foodstuffs for future fare.

With our good thoughts...

Tracey and Family x0x


A scan of the article above, originally published in 1995 in our first newsletter.

The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

A warm Thank You to all kind souls and kindred spirits who generously take the time to leave a comment...your encouragement, trust and support are deeply appreciated...please know that we read each and every message and will respond as time allows.


Frugal Luxuries
is a registered trademark.


"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

After more than a decade, FRUGAL LUXURIES has never been out of print and is now more relevant than ever.

"It's our hope that a new generation, faced with a teetering economy, will also find this information helpful and enlightening."

Sending Good Thought to Our Special Band of Kind and Kindred Souls!

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