Halloween Candy: What We’re Doing

I’ve been in nesting hyperdrive lately, completing projects around the house that have been patiently waiting. Oh, and trying to finish up work projects, and you know, living life. But something on my mind lately is Halloween and handling candy with my sweets-loving 3 1/2 year old.

What to do with Halloween candy

Keep it? Toss it? How long to keep it? Donate it?

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Cravings: From a Gluten-Free Preggo Lady

Generally speaking, it’s not that hard for me to satisfy cravings. I’ve accepted the gluten-free requirement, and have found some lovely replacements and tricks for things that I really really really want. Except. Cookie dough. I miss gooey, yummy chocolate chip cookies, and now that I can’t eat the raw eggs safely, I REALLY MISS chocolate chip cookie dough.

So as I was browsing Instagram today, I saw a tasty-looking photo from MindOverMunch, and decided to check out the recipe. And OMG, it’s egg-free, and gluten-free, and requires no special ingredients or equipment! So I tried it, and damn. It’s tasty. So I’ll share with you!

Preggo-friendly cookie dough treat #recipe

No gluten, and no raw eggs, but tastes delicious!

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TASTY Gluten-Free Raw Salted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know, that doesn’t sound super delicious. It harkens back to the sawdust-like biscuits trying to pass themselves off as real food. But, I tried it, and I’m convinced. They’re scrumptious.

The hubby and kiddo have been on a baking kick lately, and per my request, they use wheat flour so I can’t actually eat the whole pan of whatever they make (I have an autoimmune intolerance to wheat). But it’s a cruel joke, because when you smell brownies, and see brownies all day, all you want to do is EAT FACEFULS OF BROWNIES. Like some kind of itchy addict. And, as a pregnant wheat-free mama, I NEED more fiber and WANT more chocolate in my mouth. So I trolled the internet for ideas and found these Blueberry Muffin Bites on MyWholeFoodLife via Pinterest.

Gluten-free raw blueberry muffin bites

Don’t these look tasty? I love blueberries, but MAMA WANTS SOME CHOCOLATE!

Since I’m craving chocolate, I decided to go with a more chocolate-coconut flavor palette.

Supplies:

  • Food processor
  • Baking sheet (for the freezer)
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • 1/4 c and 1 c Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

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Makeover Monday: An “Under the Sea” 3rd Birthday Party

It’s been birthdaymania at our house this month. My husband and I celebrate birthdays 3 days apart, then 2 weeks later, we have the kiddo’s big day. In my life, birthdays have always been a Very. Big. Deal. My mom would bring us McDonald’s at school to have a special lunch with us on the day, and she always planned fun parties for us, regardless of our age. In fact, I just found the tape (yes, cassette) of MY 4th birthday party, where our favorite kidertainer, Audrey, brought her guitar and sang to us. Unfortunately, I need to hunt down a cassette player to hear it, but how cool is that?

On top of wanting to make it a special day, we weren’t able to have a 2nd birthday because kiddo came down with some mysterious contagious rash/virus thing that caused a 1 1/2-week quarantine. We still baked cupcakes together and opened presents, but there’s something about having friends over, singing over candles, and just making the birthday girl feel special. So this year, I wanted to incorporate some of her favorite things into the party: the ocean, the color purple, and chocolate cake.

I did a lot of digging around and couldn’t actually find much information on activities for a 3rd birthday party. There’s a ton of inspiration out there (ahem, Pinterest) on setting a pretty snack table, but little kids don’t eat a lot, so putting that much effort into overdone treats didn’t seem worth it. So I’ll share our experience and hope it helps you plan your party for your little one(s).

First step: Design the invitation

3rd birthday party invitation

Teal, purple, and ocean for a little girl’s 3rd birthday!

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Maintain, Don’t Gain: Wrap-Up (a Guest Post!)

Hey everyone, I’m excited to have my very first guest post. And I’m even more excited that it’s by my very own sister!

Since she was a more diligent MDG-er than me, I asked her to write about her experience with the Challenge. Her account is inspiring me to continue on!

jump for joy

Challenge COMPLETE!

As for my experience, I’m proud to say that it worked for me–with some pitfalls in the middle. I was up SIX pounds right after Christmas, but thanks to her encouragement, and my new FitBit, I was able to turn things around and get active and healthy again. Sidenote: while the measure for success was weight, I realize there are so many other factors to good health. I’ll probably be talking more about those in another post.

Here’s my favorite quote form her account: “Any time I’d tried to change my habits I tried to go all out all at once and would feel better, but would give up after a week. Taking things one week at a time and changing everything each week appealed to my need for variety.” You can read her whole experience below.

From Heather:

It has been so much fun to join the challenge this year. This was my first year joining the Maintain, Don’t Gain Challenge and the payoff was far greater than I expected. I had plans to spend two weeks in Seattle with my sister so I thought it would be fun to be on track with her when I arrive. Plus my weight was higher than I’m really comfortable with and the holiday treats were already arriving at work, adding temptation to already bad habits. Maintaining sounded realistic. I had no idea how much I would learn along the way.

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Maintain, Don’t Gain: Week 6—This is the End?!?

Week #5 of the Maintain, Don’t Gain Challenge was total redemption for all my shortcomings to this point. I’d like to thank my sister for taking the challenge seriously (more so than me) and being my partner this week. I was lucky enough to get a fitbit one for Christmas, and it’s already had an impact on how I spend my day. While I’d often take my exercise class and household chores/errands as “enough activity” — aka — “I really need to catch up on the DVR, so let’s count this as good,” I’m seeing that I’m not active enough throughout the day. So it was our guide. We also ate tons of fruits and veggies, picked up juicing, watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (free on hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix: WATCH IT! SERIOUSLY.), ran and walked more than I ever would, took functional fitness classes, and even did this:

Aerial silks class

Aerial silks: much tougher and less graceful than I thought.

The warmup and conditioning were tough, and I thought I wouldn’t have the strength to actually learn tricks! This picture is how I’d like to remember the class, but I felt more like a sweaty belly-flopper who hadn’t stretched her hammies for 20 years.

So even though it was just an exercise and water challenge for the week, we took it to the next level and made it an exercise-10,000 steps-strength-water-juice-veg-clean-eating challenge week. It wasn’t super strict, after all, there are some delightful goodies in our neighborhood. But, being focused and feeling good about our choices made it easier to stay the course. For the most part.

Goodies are ok in moderation

To be fair, our yoga-long walk day included chocolate and beer tasting. Chocolate photo via Eli Duke on flickr.

I’ll admit, the detoxing of it all made me pretty tired and headache-y for a couple of days, but I definitely feel BETTER, if that makes any sense. My mood is improved, I have more energy during the day, and it’s feeling easier to make better food choices. Hell, we actually skipped a trip to the French bakery in favor of making some juice, so that says something. Which brings me to…

This week’s challenge: You pick TWO challenges you’d like to complete this week.

Maintain, Don't Gain Challenge 6

What challenges made you feel the BEST?

By now, trying each challenge one at a time should have given you some idea of what works best for you. I’ll admit, I didn’t make the full challenge any week except for fruit and veggies and exercise/water. I didn’t feel like it was a battle royale to stay on track, and I felt better at the end of each of those weeks. Where I struggled was when I needed to restrict something. Funny thing was, when nothing was restricted, I did it naturally. The minute it was verboten, I blew it.

So this week, my challenges are:

  • 3 days of fitness classes and 3 runs
  • 8-10 servings of veggies and fruits (especially juice)
  • Get my 10,000 steps every day

Since it’s the final stretch and there may be some holiday damage to undo, pick what works best for YOU. What will make you feel great this week?

I hope you’ll join me this week and try to have a healthier holiday new year.

So, if you haven’t already, Print out your pdf and keep track of your challenges for the week.

Feel free to comment here, tweet, or pin your progress!

Cheers!

Please note: I am not a health professional. I am not a trainer or dietician. I am a fitness enthusiast. If you embark on a new fitness or diet regimen, please consult your doctor and pay attention to your body and health. This is a social challenge to encourage health and fitness through the holidays. Your choice to participate is not the responsibility of Committed LLC. 

Maintain, Don’t Gain: Week 5—Happy New Year!

A little late on this week’s post, but hopefully y’all are already playing along. I’m guessing the lazing around, stuffing your faces with leftovers, and running around doing all your return shopping has left you as puffy and dehydrated as me! Let me tell you, last week I was a beached whale, full of extra cookies and stuffing. I did manage to stick to the 10 drinks rule–almost. I lost track at our Christmas Eve party, but I’m guessing I was in the neighborhood of 7-8 glasses of wine. A couple of beers after snowshoeing on Friday, and a beer at the Christmas Panto show at the local brewery might have put me over the top. But what really did the damage was not enough heavy-duty sweat. Though we did get some good walks and movement in, I realize that I’m a bit of a workout junkie. I’m feeling tired, a little cranky (sorry, everyone around me!), and did I mention bloated?

So here we are, on the eve of the biggest night of regret of the year. The day we feel so guilty about all the bad habits we’ve accumulated over the year, and the night we vow to erase all of them in one night. If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of resolutions. Mostly because I don’t think they have the staying power needed to see a real change. Did you know that 84.3% of Americans buy gym memberships in the first week of January? I didn’t either. Also, I made that up. But I do observe a huge uptick in gym activity come January, which makes me feel like a badass, since, “I’ve been doing this all year long! Let’s see how long you keep this up, you Resolution-Makers!” But really, it’s all good. Whatever sparks your inner desire to take up yoga-cycling, or trapeze paddleboarding, embrace it. If you can stick with it through a month that doesn’t end with “-ary, even better.

This week’s challenge: Drink 64 oz of water EVERY DAY & get 5 x 30-minute exercise sessions.

Maintain, Don't Gain Challenge #5

Drink up, and get sweaty!

This is a little dejavu-ey, since we did the exercise before. But since I know you readers LOVE to party, and are hoping to be up to your eyeballs in bubbly by 10pm, you’re going to be dehydrated. And let me tell you, this water thing is the real deal. Flush all the crap out, and get started on that resolution. Even if it’s just for this week.

Again, my apologies for posting this late, but you know you’ve started this one, right?

I hope you’ll join me this week and try to have a healthier holiday.

Also, here are the resolutions I make every year. Enjoy:

Committed resolutions

Can you do this all year too?

So, if you haven’t already, Print out your pdf and keep track of your bevvies for the week.

Feel free to comment here, tweet, or pin your progress!

Cheers!

Please note: I am not a health professional. I am not a trainer or dietician. I am a fitness enthusiast. If you embark on a new fitness or diet regimen, please consult your doctor and pay attention to your body and health. This is a social challenge to encourage health and fitness through the holidays. Your choice to participate is not the responsibility of Committed LLC. 

Maintain, Don’t Gain: Week 4

How was indulgence week? I NAILED IT…not. You guys, I couldn’t make it 3 whole days without sugar. I might have overstepped by restricting bread, pretzels, basically all baked goods and sweet sauces. It was misery. And I went overboard and ate candy corn. It felt terrible, not only because of the sugar and insulin spikes and crashes, but the disappointment.

However, failures are the way to success, right? And I learned a valuable lesson: moderation is key, even when talking about restricting something. So I took the cheat day easy, and allowed myself a couple of sugar-sweetened items each day. It staved off the crazy crackhead bingefest, and I actually came out of the week feeling pretty good.

But hold onto your hats, kids, because this week is a mother effer.

This week’s challenge: No more than TEN DRINKS for the whole WEEK!

Hang back from alcohol this week.

Cheers, you fellow lushes!

(Mark how many you have in a day). 1 drink = 1 beer, 6 oz wine, or 1 oz liquor. Martinis are 3 drinks, y’all!

KILLJOY! WET BLANKET! PARTY POOPER! No, I’m your guardian angel. You’ll thank me when you second-guess that glass of homemade egg nog. Which, by the way, can have 850 calories! EIGHT HUNDRED FIFTY! Wouldn’t you rather get a hamburger and small fries? Or you know, a full nutritious meal and then some? No? Well, that’s one drink you need to mark off this week.

A reason for this week’s challenge is I realized several years ago that boy, do I love my tasty adult beverages. I mean LOVE them. And when it comes to the holidays, I tend to enjoy them much much more. And it’s not the calories in the alcohol that are necessarily the problem, it’s the lowered inhibitions that come along with excessive drinking. I’m not talking spring-break-style-flashing-the-family-and-the-neighbors-style-inhibitions, I’m talking about scarfing down on extra food you don’t necessarily want or need.

This challenge is tough. I’m not gonna lie. Especially with the stress of the holidays, standing on your feet all day, cooking all day, snacking all day. But that’s why it’s a challenge. You can take it a step further and pour yourself a glass of water every time you think of reaching for the bubbly (or mulled wine, or spiked hot chocolate…).

I hope you’ll join me this week and try to have a healthier holiday.

So, if you haven’t already, Print out your pdf and keep track of your bevvies for the week.

Feel free to comment here, tweet, or pin your progress!

Cheers!

Please note: I am not a health professional. I am not a trainer or dietician. I am a fitness enthusiast. If you embark on a new fitness or diet regimen, please consult your doctor and pay attention to your body and health. This is a social challenge to encourage health and fitness through the holidays. Your choice to participate is not the responsibility of Committed LLC. 

My Milkshake Brings all the Boys to the Yard

“Just get the perfect blend
Plus what you have within
Then next his eyes will squint…”

Read more: Kelis – Milkshake Lyrics | MetroLyrics

If those boys were interested in healthy living, and liked chocolate, they’d totally come to my yard for these smoothies.

I saw a Dr. Oz once where he added avocado to his breakfast smoothie. Gross? Good? I had to try it. I have to say, pretty good. What’s great about it is that it adds a nice creamy texture. Cutting back on how much you add helps tame the avocadoey flavor (if that’s not your gig).

AND THEN. I started following Liz Dialto for fitness tips. She had a great tip: use coconut water and almond milk in smoothies instead of milk or yogurt. WHAT? I’m not a huge fan of the taste of either, but let me say, together they are okey-dokey.

Anyway, I have to share this because it’s fucking delicious. And around, 200 calories.

Smoothie ingredients

Bring in avocado and ice, and you’ve got a party in your mouth.

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No More Balking at Chicken

I was a breast gal. A chicken breast gal. But I got tired of the dried-out, one-note grossness and switched to thighs. While these have more flavor and tend to be juicier, I really wanted to go back to breasts. Mostly because they’re easy to cook. Tonight, I think I unlocked the secrets to making UNREASONABLY JUICY and delicious chicken breast.

You will need:

  • A good pan (cast iron was what I used)
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • A bowl or freezer bag for marinating
  • Paper towels
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Chicken breasts
juicy chicken

This was so. damn. good.

1. Marinate

      – I use a combo of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce (that’s really how it’s spelled–I had to look it up), and lemon juice. No recipe, just equal amounts of the sauces, then some lemon juice for good measure.

      – You can marinate as long as you like, but I actually only had about 8 minutes.

2. Heat the pan

      – I used a cast iron skillet, and heated olive oil to just below medium on our gas stove (between 3&4). Heat for a few minutes so the oil and pan are evenly hot.

3. Dab your chicken dry

      – Thanks to Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible, I had the forethought to use paper towels to dab and squeeze most of the liquid out of the chicken. Robert’s tip was actually to do this with scallops. The reasoning was that removing the moisture allows the meat to sear, rather than steam. When it steams, the moisture INSIDE cooks out, and you end up with a dry, chewy blob of yuck. I thought I’d try it with chicken. Holy crap, I’m glad I did.

4. Cook it

      – I learned this tip from Gilles LeFort of Ecole de Cuisine Le Fort outside of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To get a nice sear without charring your meat, turn it every few minutes. I know some people think this is a sin, but I’ve done this for every steak since his class and it’s been carnivorous perfection. Basically, cook 2 minutes on each side, then turn every minute until it’s done. The amount of total time depends on how thick each piece is, but the breasts we made were on the thinner side, and it took about 12 minutes total. (FYI, a medium-rare filet takes 8 minutes over medium heat).

5. Rest it

      – Once the chicken is cooked through (no pink jelly in the middle, juices run clear), take it out of the pan and let it sit on a cutting board for 2 minutes. This allows the juices to stay inside. If you try to cut it right away, all the juicy goodness runs out, and you dry out your meat, yet again.

6. Devour it!

We went Mediterranean with it this time, piling the plate with homemade hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, capers, olives, and roasted red peppers. MMMMM!

hummus and veggies

So good, even a toddler will eat it!