Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins {gluten-free, low-sugar}

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins {gluten-free, low-sugar}

gluten free pumpkin muffins

Enjoy these healthy gluten-free pumpkin muffins with a cup of tea or coffee for a treat on a cozy fall day!

pumpkin muffins gluten-free
gluten-free pumpkin muffins

For this recipe, we simply modified our healthy gluten-free cupcake recipe.  If you would like the kid-friendly, visual instructions, follow our cupcake recipe, with these modifications:

  • reduce Greek yogurt from 2 to 1.5 cups
  • use 4 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • add 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • add 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • add 1 cup dark chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips

P.S. We love light buckwheat flour for gluten-free baking. Light buckwheat does not have the strong taste of regular buckwheat, and it has a nice light color. We order our light buckwheat directly through Bouchard Family Farms (with a quantity discount), but if you would like to try just one bag, it is also available on Amazon


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Welcome to sparklesandsprinkles.blog!

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

April showers bring May flowers

April showers bring May flowers

We have a bouquet of flower-themed crafts, gifts and games for you for the month of May…

I often say that really every day is Mother’s Day for me because it is truly such an amazing gift to be a mom!  Some beautiful bouquets of flowers came early this Mother’s Day weekend and reminded me how much joy flowers can bring, even when life is already overflowing with so many blessings.

We wish we could send a bouquet of flowers to all of the moms reading this post today, but since we can’t, we are sending you a bouquet of ideas you can enjoy with your children… and a bouquet of prayers for you too!

hand print flower

Hand Print Flower - Fun for Toddlers!

Simply use a wide paint brush to paint your child’s palm and fingers with washable paint.  (We used Crayola Washable Project Paint.  It has a nice consistency.)  Help your child to place his or her hand towards the middle of a piece of cardstock or other thick paper.  Then allow your child to finger paint a stem on the flower and other decorations on the page.  Just have some wet wipes ready to wipe the paint from your little one’s hands after the painting is complete!

perler bead flowers

Perler Bead Flowers - Fun for Bigger Kids!

These are so simple, yet surprisingly fun!  You can use them as game pieces (see our Flower Bingo game below), as table decorations, or just play with them.  It’s amazing what a little imagination can do!

Use perler beads with any cicular perler bead form.  Place one perler bead in the center, and surround the center with one ring of perler beads.  Iron according to package instructions (remember the parchment paper!).

If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.

– Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Do you want to go on a spring flower scavenger hunt?  This can be a fun way to learn about the names of flowers while enjoying the beauty of God’s creation in the springtime. 

We have a free printable for you!  It comes in 2 versions that can be made into a card to invite someone on a flower scavenger hunt.  One says “Happy Mother’s Day!” on the front.  The other has a blank front that could be decorated for Mother’s Day or any celebration for someone who loves flowers.  To make these printables into cards, print them doubled sided (flip on the short side), and fold in half.  You could also simply print the first page to have a flower scavenger hunt without making it into a card.

We are in growing zone 7, so these are some flowers that tend to be in bloom in mid spring around our home.  If you are in a different growing zone or want to make a flower scavenger hunt for a different time of year, simply copy and paste flower images and names into a Word document.  We often use www.pixabay.com to find free images.  If flower seed catalogues or magazines arrive at your home, having children cut and paste images from such publications could also be fun.

You could go on the flower scavenger hunt in your neighborhood or visit a nearby public garden, or even a garden center.


flower scavenger hunt
flower scavenger hunt

The back of the card has some fun questions about flowers you can talk about and some quotes about flowers to consider as well. 

  Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.

– Thomas Tusser

marsh blue violet
lily of the vallet

When I was a little girl we would sometimes go searching for what we called “May flowers” in the woods around our house (it turns out these dainty purple flowers are actually called wild violets, but they are one of the first flowers to bloom in the springtime woodlands).  We would then make little construction paper packages tied with yarn, and hang them on our neighbors’ door handles.  I loved this idea of spreading a little joy and a happy surprise to neighbors.  While living in France during college, I was delighted to see that this is not simply a childhood pleasure.  On the first of May in France, there are lily of the valley flowers (they call them “muguets”) for sale all around, and people offer them to friends to wish them a happy day.  Here is a link about the history of this French tradition.


Offering flower seeds or a small potted flower can be a sweet gift to bring a smile to someone’s day… for May Day, for Mother’s Day or any springtime day!

 For this little gift, we placed a package of seeds (with directions for planting) in a 3″ round Jiffy pot.  We punched a hole at the top, and used a narrow ribbon to tie on a gift tag.  Then we topped it off with some tissue paper.  Our free printable tags come with three different options – one for May Day (“May God bless you abundantly today and every Day!”), one for Mother’s Day (“Happy Mother’s Day!”), and one blank to write your own message.

jiffy pot flower gift
jiffy pot tags
jiffy pot gift
jfffy pot flower gift
jiffy pot gift

Earth laughs in flowers.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

How about a game to bring even more joy and smiles to springtime?  If you are looking for a flower-themed game, you could try our flower BINGO game, available on Etsy.  The game features beautiful photos of real flowers.  There are 10 unique cards (but if you have more players, players could play in pairs or small groups).  The game comes with printable bingo chips, but you could also use perler bead flowers (see above in this post), or other chips of your choice.

This could be a fun game for a tea party, a Mother’s Day brunch, a bridal shower, or a garden-themed birthday party. 

We recently used this BINGO game for a science lesson with our homeschool group to learn the names of the flowers that surround us.

flower bingo
flower bingo
flower bingo

What are your favorite flowers and why do you love them? 

Where have you seen the most beautiful flowers?

We would love to hear from you!  Please comment below to share what you love about flowers.


My favorite flowers are hydrangeas. They became my favorite flower when I saw them growing in an abundance of colors along the Atlantic Coast in a little French town called Biarritz.

Sparkles and Sprinkles Dad brought home this beautiful bouquet the other day for Sparkles and Sprinkles Mom He knows my favorite flowers well!


Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Baking Contest!

Baking Contest!

Are you ready to create a delicious gluten-free mug cake?  Read below to find out how to enter our very first baking contest at Sparkles and Sprinkles (and find out about the fun prizes)!  Then spread the word to your friends and family so that they can enter the contest or vote for your recipe!

Mug Muffin Baking Contest Rules:

We will accept contest entries from April 28th through June 20, 2022.

You must be subscribed to sparklesandsprinkles.blog in order to participate in the contest (this is so that we can update you with any contest information… for example, letting you know the details about voting and announcing the winners!).  If you are not already subscribed, you may use the link at the bottom of this page to subscribe.  Subscribing is free, and you can cancel at any time.

To make your mug muffin or mug cake for the contest, please do the following:

    • Use our basic mug muffin recipe as a base for your special recipe.
    • Add ingredients of your choice to make a unique and delicious mug muffin or mug cake (for example, cinnamon, berries, or chocolate chips… but don’t let our suggestions limit you!).
    • You may modify the quantities in our basic mug muffin recipe; however, the following ingredients need to be used as the base of your recipe: butter, almond flour, light buckwheat flour, baking powder, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and a sweetener of your choice. (If you do not have light buckwheat flour, you may try another flour, but some flours may not work well for this recipe – we have found light buckwheat is a key ingredient.)

Once you have created and tested your delicious recipe, fill out this form to tell us about your recipe.  You will need to know the quantities of special ingredients in your recipe.  You will also need to give any special instructions for making the recipe.  For example, let us know if you need to use less almond milk or yogurt because you added another moist ingredients like pumpkin or applesauce.  Also, let us know if you add your special ingredients into the batter or if they are used as a topping.

Before you fill out the form, be sure to have a photo (a JPG file) of your mug cake ready.  The photo must actually be of the mug cake you made (not a photo you find online of a mug cake).  The photo cannot show people.  We will post this photo with your recipe on our Website and voting platform.

You will need to give your recipe a unique name of your choosing (for example, “Dreamy Chocolate Mug Cake”).  We will use this name in connection with your recipe and mug cake photo on our Website and voting platform.

You will need to provide your first name on the form.  For privacy’s sake, you can choose to create a pen name instead of your real name.  The name you provide in the form will be used when we post your recipe on our site (we will not post email addresses or last names).  Including your age is optional.

Only one recipe entry per person will be accepted.  (We understand that if more than one person in a family is entering the contest, the email given on the form may be used more than once.)

By choosing to participate in the contest, you give www.sparklesandsprinkles.blog permission to use your submitted photo and recipe on our Website, in email communication, and in our voting platform.  Sparkles and Sprinkles reserves the right to edit your recipe and/or ask you to make changes to your submission before posting your submission if we decide it is necessary.

Any questions regarding contest entries should be sent to this email:  sparklesandsprinkles.yt@gmail.com.  Please put

“Contest question” and your name in the subject line of your email.


 We will accept contest entries from April 28th through June 20, 2022.

We will post contest entries in late June.

Voting will take place in at the beginning of July.  Once you submit your recipe, be sure to spread the word to your friends and family, so that they can vote!

Winners will be announced in mid July 2022.

The top three mug muffin recipes (based on votes from our readers) will be able to select a prize (see below).

As this is our first contest at Sparkles and Sprinkles, details of the contest are subject to change (though it is not our intention to make changes).

Ready to submit your recipe?  Click here to share your recipe and photo.



Our top three entries (based on votes) will get to select a prize of their choice from the following fun options:

$ 10 Amazon Gift Card

Spend it on baking supplies or whatever you like!

Sparkles and Sprinkles Tea Towel

Be the very first to have a Sparkles and Sprinkles Tea Towel, made just for us by Amanda Lawley Designs.

Sophie Mouse Books

Choose 2 Sophie Mouse books.  Sophie Mouse loves to bake too!  

Have fun baking!

Easter Cut-out cookies {gluten-free, egg-free, low-carb}

Easter Cut-out cookies {gluten-free, egg-free, low-carb}

We are so excited to share this cut-out cookie recipe with you!  Our ten-year-old daughter created this recipe a few weeks ago and asked if we could add it to the blog.  I initially told her, “Well, that will be great to save for Christmas-time.”  Once I tried the cookies, I changed my mind.  This cookie recipe is too good to wait until Christmas… so let’s make some Easter cookies!

We’ve tried a number of gluten-free low-carb cut-out cookie recipes over the years, and this one is a winner… only a few ingredients, faster than regular sugar cookies (no need to refrigerate the dough), egg-free (so less worry about a mess with kids), and very YUMMY!

This recipe makes about a dozen medium-sized cookies.  We entered our recipe into the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator, and found that each cookie will have about 11 g net carbs if using 1/2 cup coconut sugar or 7 g net carbs if using 1/4 cup coconut sugar (this calculation does not include the frosting or sprinkles, which would add a minimal amount of carbs).  So, get ready to enjoy… guilt-free! 


We found these adorable Easter cookie cutters from Ann Clark – they are made in the USA.  They worked really well for our Easter cookies!

Easter Cookie Cutters Ann Clark USA
Nativo natural sprinkles

We also decided it was time to be true to our name and add some sprinkles to this recipe.  We tried Nativo rainbow sprinkles – they are perfect pastel colors for Easter.  They are low-carb and colored with natural colors.  Our children thought they were good enough to eat by the spoonful while we were decorating cookies!  One little note, though, we would not recommend baking them into the cookies (they “melt” right into the dough).  They are best used sprinkled over frosting.

Let’s Make Easter Cookies!

Easter cookie ingredients

Gather your ingredients:

For the cookies…

  • 1 cup light buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (plain or vanilla)

For the decorations…

  • 1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, stevia powder, or honey)
  • Natural sprinkles


Gather your kitchen supplies:

For the cookies…

  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup (or 1/4 cup) measuring cup
  • 1 tsp spoon
  • a small liquid measuring cup
  • a microwave-safe mug or dish for melting butter
  • a large spoon for stirring
  • a large bowl for mixing
  • a flat tray or baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • a cooling rack and metal spatula
  • a serving platter

For the frosting…  

  • a stand mixer with a bowl and paddle attachment or a bowl and spoon to stir by hand
  • a knife or spatula to spread the frosting

Easter cookie kitchen supplies

Measure, mix, cut out, and bake!

Allow your oven to preheat to 350 degrees F while you are making the dough.

1 cup almond flour

Step 1

Measure 1 cup of almond flour.

almond flour

Step 2

Pour the almond flour into the mixing bowl.

light buckwheat

Step 3

Measure 1 cup light buckwheat flour.

light buckwheat

Step 4

Add the light buckwheat to the mixing bowl.

coconut sugar

Step 5

Measure coconut sugar.  Use 1/2 cup for sweeter cookies, or as little as 1/4 cup for lower-carb cookies.

coconut sugar

Step 6

Add the coconut sugar to the mixing bowl.

flaxseed meal

Step 7

Measure 1 tsp baking powder.

flaxseed meal

Step 8

Add the baking powder to the mixing bowl.

flaxseed meal

Step 9

Stir together the dry ingredients until well mixed.

flaxseed meal

Step 10

Place one stick of butter into a microwave safe dish or mug.

flaxseed meal

Step 11

Microwave the butter on high for about 30 seconds, or until melted.

flaxseed meal

Step 12

Pour the melted butter into the mixing bowl and stir.

flaxseed meal

Step 13

Add 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional) – we find the cookies are great with or without vanilla.

flaxseed meal

Step 14

Measure the almond milk.  Start with 1/4 cup, add more if needed.

flaxseed meal

Step 15

Pour the almond milk into the mixing bowl and stir.

flaxseed meal

Step 16

Use your hands to continue to mix the dough until it forms a ball.  If needed, add more almond milk, or more light buckwheat to make it easy to handle.  

flaxseed meal

Step 17

Place the ball of dough on a sheet of parchment paper on the counter.

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 18 (Option A)

Use your hands to press dough out until it is about 1/4″ thick.

flaxseed meal

Step 18 (Option B)

Or place parchment paper on top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll out dough, until it is about 1/4″ thick.

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 19

Place cookie cutters into the dough.  Pull extra dough away from cookie cutters while the cookie cutters are still in place.

flaxseed meal

Step 20

Carefully lift the cut out cookies onto the parchment lined baking tray.

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 21

Place tray of cookies in the oven (pre-heated to 350 degrees F).  Bake for 10 minutes, then check on cookies.

flaxseed meal

Step 22

After 10 minutes, check on cookies.  Add a minute or two at a time, until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and firm to the touch.  They may need up to 14 minutes total baking time.

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 23

After a few minutes, use a spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.  Repeat steps 17 to 23 for any remaining dough.  Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating them.

Time to decorate!

flaxseed meal

Step 1

To make the frosting, place softened stick of butter and package of cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in another bowl if mixing by hand).  Cream together the butter and cream cheese.

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 2

Add sweetener of your choice.  If using a liquid sweetener (like maple syrup or honey), be careful not to use too much, or the frosting may be runny.  We used 1 T maple syrup and 1 packet Sweet Leaf powder for our frosting.

flaxseed meal

Step 3

(Optional) Add flavoring to your frosting.   We used 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 4

Cream all ingredients together until smooth.

flaxseed meal

Step 5

Spread frosting on the cookies (make sure the cookies are cooled before frosting them).

Easter cut-out cookies

Step 6




flaxseed meal

Step 7

Be creative with your own ways to decorate the cookies.  We cut off a corner of a ziplock bag to pipe a wooly look on our lamb cookies (you could also use a cookie decorating piping kit).

bunny cookie

Step 8


(Be sure to refrigerate any leftover decorated cookies.  The cream cheese frosting should probably not be left out more than a couple hours.)

Happy Easter!

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

French Vegetable Soup

French Vegetable Soup

Years ago I had the blessing of being an au pair in Paris for a family who welcomed me into their family as if I were one of their children too.  One of the many beautiful memories I have with my French family is a visit to a farm near the family’s country home to buy some vegetables.  I remember how the mom of the family did not simply quickly pick out the vegetables, but instead she took the time to hold them up and admire their beauty.  When we brought the vegetables home, she made a delicious soup.  As she made the soup, she smiled joyfully.  She seemed to make the soup effortlessly, without even needing a recipe.

french tomato market
I wish I could make a delicious soup without a recipe, but I tend to need to some guidance.  My go to book for delicious French recipes is The Best Ever French Cooking Course.  This cookbook is definitely worthy of its title!  However, the recipes in this book have many details.  I used to love to spend time following detailed recipes with many steps, but there are many more important things to do these days!  Perhaps your days are busy too?

We decided to take the recipe for Soupe Provençal from The Best Ever French Cooking Course and simplify it.  We left out a few ingredients and chose pre-washed or canned ingredients when possible.  We hope this will make it possible for older children to make it independently and younger children to make it alongside a parent (or even just save you time if you are making it by yourself!).  

In addition to simplifying the recipe, we did a little research on the best knife for children to use to cut vegetables.  From our research, we decided to pick the Victorinox Swiss Classic.  We like that it is sharp (so it does not take a lot of strength to make the cuts) and that it has serrated edges, so that it is less likely to slip.  It also has a nicely rounded tip.  Our 7-year-old was very happy with it.  She used it to cut carrots, celery, and green beans.  Even our 3-year-old used it to cut zucchini (with Mommy’s hands helping to make sure our little one’s hands did not get too close to the blade).

victorinox knife carrot cut

We decided to make a printable for this recipe, rather than list the steps online. Please let us know in the comments below what you think of this format. Is a printable recipe helpful? Do you prefer the online version? Would you like to have both versions?  Also, be sure to scroll down to get our super fun Alphabet Soup spelling activity!

Let’s Make Soup!

vegetable soup

Gather your ingredients

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 zucchinis (summer squash)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 handfuls green beans
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 small bowl frozen peas
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can diced tomato
  • 4 cups water (or a package of vegetable or bone broth)
  • 1 spoonful olive oil
  • 1 spoonful of diced garlic (or 2 garlic cloves, crushed or diced)
  • Salt to taste


  • A pinch of Herbes de Provence
  • Pesto (for topping)
  • Shredded parmesan (for topping)
  • Fresh basil leaves (to garnish)
soup supplies

Gather your kitchen supplies

• Cutting board
Vegetable knife
• Soup pot and cover
• Liquid measuring cup
• Large spoon
• Can opener
• Strainer (optional if you want to strain your beans)

soup recipe

Click here to download the recipe

Have fun making this French Vegetable Soup! Keep in mind that you don’t have to worry about exact quantities of ingredients. You can leave out some ingredients, or substitute other vegetables of your choosing, and it will still be a delicious soup!

 Bon Appétit!

french vegetable soup bowl
Let’s play an Alphabet Soup game!

Looking for something to do while the soup simmers?  Try our Alphabet Soup spelling game. 

Simply pour letter tiles (from Scrabble or Bananagrams) into a bowl.  Use a spoon to scoop out a few letters.  Place them on the matching letter spaces to spell the vegetable names.  (Note:  Depending on the quantity of letter tiles you have, you may not be able to cover all of the words at the same time.) 

This spelling game comes in French and English.  There is also a lowercase version in English if your child is working on upper and lowercase matching.

Get the free printables here:

Uppercase English

Lowercase English

Uppercase French 

P.S.  This game is not recommended for toddlers and babies who might be inclined to put the letter tiles in their mouth.  

letter tile alphabet soup activity
french spelling game
Note: Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links. Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links. We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.