Tag Archives: no sugar added

How to Make a Healthy Version of Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

It’s no secret that I love coffee. It is very rare that a morning goes by without me enjoying a cup or two. I also live in the coffee capital, the birthplace of Starbucks. They are on almost every corner & as you probably know, they are constantly launching new seasonal drinks. The lastest one that caught my eye was the vanilla sweet cream cold brew coffee.

my Starbucks version of the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
my Starbucks version of the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

I usually order very ‘boring’ drinks. I get a black americano, iced coffee or cold brew. Last week I was in Starbucks between personal training clients at the gym and wanted something more than black coffee.  I decided to give the vanilla sweet cream cold brew a try. I asked for very light vanilla sweet cream. I just wanted a splash. Even with the light sweet cream, it was too sweet for me. As I sat there sipping on coffee, I realized that this drink could easily be ‘re-made’ in a healthier version to save on calories & sugar!

My healthy version!
My healthy version!

This healthy makeover also saves you some money & makes it a diary-free drink. I actually liked this healthy version much better than the Starbucks drink. Best part – it’s really easy!!How to make a healthy version of

Healthy Version Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew


  • cold brew coffee concentrate
    • my favorites: Chameleon Cold Brew (available at Costco or Target) OR Trader Joe’s Cold Brew (my favorite is the new French Roast – blue label)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
    • my favorite:  Silk unsweetened Cashew Milk
  • vanilla flavored liquid stevia – try this one 
    • OR substitute 1 packet stevia + 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup ice (add more or less according to your preference)


  • Mix up cold brew according to directions. Usually they have to be slightly diluted with a little water.
  • Add in 1/4 cup of unsweetened cashew milk & a few drops of vanilla stevia OR 1 tsp vanilla extract & stevia to taste
  • Add ice 
  • ENJOY!!!

This makes a 16oz beverage. Increase amounts to 1/2 cup cashew milk,  1.5 tsp of vanilla extract and 3/4 cup of ice for a 20-24oz beverage. You can also play with amounts according to your taste preferences. IMG_5240

In the graphic below, compare the nutrition facts for my healthy version to Starbucks. No sugar in my version and only 12 calories! 

Starbucks Version

With this recipe you can enjoy a delicious coffee that doesn’t pack a ton of calories. Perfect for summer or to change up your daily coffee routine! 

How to Make Gluten & Grain Free Paleo Granola

Granola is like trail mix – I’d rather make my own and decided what to put in it and what to leave out. It’s not fun to pick thru the mix to eat only what you want. It wastes both food and time. This lead me to come up with my own granola recipe, and *gasp* I left out the oats. This paleo granola is all nuts and seeds, zero grains, and it turned out delicious! IMG_9089

There are multiple benefits to making your own granola. You get to decide what goes in it & you can control the amount/type of sugar. Granola is usually pretty calorie dense on it’s own (meaning the serving size is small). Adding lots of sugar and sweeteners to this only makes it worse. Pre-packaged granola is usually full of sugar. There are lots more options now, but I still prefer to make my own. It also allows you to adjust ingredients based on allergies or dietary needs. IMG_9098

This granola only has naturally occurring sugar in it coming from honey. Your body digests this sugar differently because it is a natural source of sugar, so the insulin spike is not as great. As with anything, natural sources of sugar should  still be consumed in moderation. In granola recipes, honey is great to use for this reason because it also serves as a sticky ‘binder’ to help hold the granola together and create those delicious clusters. paleo granola

While I don’t eat a paleo diet, this recipe is paleo friendly. I loved the seed and nut combo in this recipe because it allows me to eat my carbs from other sources. The dried fruit and honey add some carbs, but this granola is high in fat and much lower in carbs compared to average granola. IMG_9096

You can switch up the dried fruit in this recipe depending on the season and what kind of fruit you like. I always recommend using unsweetened dried fruit, because fruit is naturally sweet!  I used golden berries which were delicious, but you could use anything. 

paleo granola twitterGluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo Granola 


Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Homemade Granola
Yields 1
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. 1 cup raw walnuts
  2. 1 cup raw cashews
  3. 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  5. 1/2 cup dried fruit (chopped) - I used golden berries, use whatever dried fruit you like
  6. 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  7. 1 T water
  8. 1.5 T coconut oil
  9. 1/4 cup honey
  10. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  11. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  12. 1/2 tsp salt
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 300F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or with baking sheet liner.
  2. 2. Add first 3 ingredients to blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to chop the nuts, but do NOT grind into a fine meal.
  3. 3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg white with water until bubbly and kinda foamy.
  4. 4. Melt the coconut oil in microwave.
  5. 5. Add melted coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon & salt to the egg white/water mix and whisk together well.
  6. 6. Pour the chopped nut mix into the mixing bowl, along with the dried fruit & shredded coconut. Stir everything to make sure it is well coated.
  7. 7. Spread the granola mixture evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes or untill browned and crispy. Stir once after 10 minutes.
  8. 8. Remove granola from oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. DO NOT STIR. This is when the delicious clusters are formed!
  9. 9. Use a spatula and lift granola to break into large pieces.
  10. 10. Once cool, store in a glass, air tight container
  11. 11. ENJOY!!
  1. ** Granola can go from done to burned very quickly. Be sure to watch it!
  2. Can sub honey for maple syrup to make the recipe vegan. Add 10 minutes to cooking time.
  3. Can sub olive oil or avocado oil for the coconut oil.
A Sweet Blonde & Her Fit Life http://sweetblondesfitlife.com/
Want to save this recipe for later? Pin this! paleo granola pin


What is Day of the Dead? + Adorable GF Shortbread Cookies [recipe]

Day of the Dead or, Dia de los Muertos, sounds like a scary holiday, but that could not be any further from the truth. It is a Mexican celebration that is a beautiful celebration of life. It has been gaining popularity in the US over the last few years. You have probably seen the ‘sugar skulls’, known as calaveras in Spanish, in different stores or on social media. Last year a cupcake shop here in Seattle even made calavera cupcakes! 

pic from Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle

Dia de los Muertos is a day to remember loved ones who have passed. People create displays in their homes for the deceased called ‘altares’. These always include a picture of their deceased loved one and is decorated with marigold flowers, pan de muerto, a special bread made for this holiday, paper picado, tissue paper cut into designs, and sugar skulls. The display also includes an assortment of their favorite things which could food, tequila or alcohol and symbols of other things that person loved. Dia de los Muertos is characterized by bright colors, whimsical designs and celebration. 

a dia de los muertos display

The holiday is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. November 1st is dedicated to the children and the 2nd is for the adults. On these days, the families will go visit the grave of the loved one and eat lunch with them. The time in the cemetery is not one of grieving, but rather it is a party! People enjoy this time as a family and it is believed that the deceased are there eating with them. 

Some cities, like Los Angeles, have Day of the Dead festivals in which you can experience some of these holiday traditions first hand outside of Mexico. They are beautiful celebrations and I highly recommend going to one in your city if you are able. Again, this holiday is not a morbid or scary holiday, but rather a celebration of life and death. In Mexico, death is viewed as something inevitable, it is part of life. So instead of avoiding death, they stare it in the face, they defy it and even make fun of it. This celebration is part of that and part of a remembrance of loved ones who have passed. 

IMG_9337One of the most famous images you will see that represents Dia de los Muertos and much more about Mexican history and culture is La Catrina. You can read  more about the history of this image in this article. I have loved La Catrina since I first learned about her while studying Spanish and Latin American art in school. One year I will be her for Halloween 🙂 Last year while in Mexico I bought a ‘catrina’ that I absolutely adored. 

me and my catrina. doesn’t she look like me? 🙂

This year I was fortunate to be able to be in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos. I was reminded of what a beautiful celebration it is.

This cross is made out of marigold petals. Sometimes for day of the dead you will see entire murals on the ground made from ashes and flower petals. They are beautiful!
This cross is made out of marigold petals. Sometimes for day of the dead you will see entire murals on the ground made from ashes and flower petals. They are beautiful!


To celebrate, yesterday I made some gluten free ‘calavera’ shortbread cookies. They have no refined sugar and are really delicious. You can use any cookie cutter you like or you can buy the ones I usedFullSizeRender-2

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 T ghee, melted
1/4 cup light maple syrup OR honey
1/2 tsp stevia (liquid or powder)
2-4 T unsweetened almond milk (add if consistency is too thick)

sugar skull cookie cuttersInstructions
1) Preheat oven to 300F. 
2) In a bowl, whisk the 2 flours, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and xanthan gum. Add melted coconut oil and ghee. Mix well using the back of a spoon to press and stir and mix dough together.
3) Add the honey or maple syrup and stevia and mix throughly. 
4) Dough will be somewhat dry, so keep this in mind when you are rolling it out. If you need to add more almond milk to make it softer, add 1 T at a time.
5) Roll dough out to desired thickness and use cookie cutters. Dough may be fragile so be careful. 
6) Place on cookie sheet and bake 20-30 minutes. Check cookies at 20 mins, they may be done. 
7) Cool and enjoy!!!

Get the sugar skull cookie cutters here!