Category Archives: Recipes

Baking and Cooking

Thank you for all your kind words and nice thoughts on yesterday’s post. Crystal’s dad’s double lung transplant surgery went good and he is currently breathing with the new lungs. The doctors say that the road to recovery is a lot riskier than the surgery itself because there’s still a chance his body could reject the lungs. But so far, so good.

Yesterday’s Workout

  • BodyPump – 60 minutes

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I went to BodyPump at the gym yesterday morning. I am still working on learning the new release. I have the moves down, now I am just working on the timing. The timing is always what I struggle with learning. I have come to realize that I am not a musically inclined person. I don’t hear or feel the beat and I count along with the beat to save my life. The instructor at my gym keeps telling me that it’ll get easier with time but I think she’s just saying that to make me feel better. :)

After the gym, I finally finished up the rest of my Christmas shopping. I bought myself a little treat to celebrate…or just because I really wanted to eat these chocolates.

They’re the Frango candy cane chocolates and they are amazing.

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That box looks really big but there was really only four pieces in it.

Yesterday afternoon, Jaden had his holiday party at school and now the kids are off for two weeks!

Today’s Workout

  • A few strength exercises
  • 2.5 miles treadmill

I woke up at about 7 am this morning, so I decided to head to the gym. As I was trying to sneak out of the house, Jaden popped his head out of bed so I brought him to the kid’s room at the gym.

I started out doing a Nike Training Club workout, but my hip and glute really started bothering me.

I have been working out a lot more in the mornings lately and I was really sore last night. I decided that it would be best not to push it, so I hopped on the treadmill, ran one mile, and then walked the rest while chatting with a couple of girls at the gym.

After the gym, I took Jaden to get a much needed hair cut. I swear, my kids’ hair grows so fast!

After waiting forever to get a haircut, we made it home and I started making some cookie dough. I am making a whole bunch of dough so it can refrigerate overnight and be already to be baked tomorrow.

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We have a family Christmas party tonight, so I am also making three pans of potatoes. I will be busy in the kitchen!

I wanted to share one of the cookie recipes I am making because they are so darn delicious!!

Reese’s Butterscotch Cookies    Adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Makes approx. 16 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup Reese’s Pieces

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, baking soda, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to mix softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until no lumps remain. Mix in the egg and combine. Then, mix in the egg yolk until combined. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a little at a time and mix until combined.
  4. Fold in the butterscotch chips and Reese’s pieces with a large spoon or spatula.
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to 3 days.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take dough from fridge and let sit for 10 minutes to soften to room temperature. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll the dough into balls, about 3 tbsp. of dough per cookie. Optional: tip each cookie with more butterscotch chips and Reese’s Pieces.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees 11-12 minutes. Cookies may appear to be undercooked but do not overcook them. They will continue to cook on the baking sheet. Cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy!!

I’ll post a picture of the cookies tomorrow after I bake them!

These cookies are delicious and I am excited to give them away as well as eat a couple  myself!

Have a wonderful day!

  • Do you have any plans for today?
  • Are you all ready for the holidays?
  • What’s the last thing you baked?

 

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Filed under Christmas, Fitness, Recipes, Uncategorized, Working Out

Weekend Fun…and More Cookies

Good morning! Happy Sunday!

I haven’t been around for a couple of days, so this post is going to contain a lot of randomness.

First up, Danny got a car!! It’s Chevy Equinox, and Danny is very happy with it. It’s the first SUV we’ve ever owned and I’m sure the space will come in handy.

Danny’s really good about keeping cars for a long time. I think he’s owned two cars in his life, whereas I’ve owned quite a few.

Friday.

On Friday morning, I taught BodyPump. I brought my new water bottle.

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I saw this water bottle at Dick’s Sporting Goods a few weeks ago and fell in love with it. Hey, the paint splatter reminds me of the 80’s, and I love all things 80’s. But it was around $16 so I didn’t buy it.

I finally decided that I wanted it and went back to buy it. You can never have too many workout clothes or water bottles. Even though I think Danny disagrees with me on this – he’s always trying to throw my water bottles away.

When I went back to buy it, it was gone :(. I tried looking online for it with no success. Then, on Thursday night, I went to TJMaxx to buy something else, and there was my water bottle! And it was only $8! Awesome.

Friday’s BodyPump class went pretty well, and I worked for a little bit afterwards.

Tea

Although coffee is my #1 love, I have been loving tea lately. I found this super cute coffee mug at Michael’s for only $2.99 and I got some Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride from Target to try out.
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The tea really does taste like a sugar cookie! It’s really good but the peppermint flavor is still my favorite.

Saturday

Saturday morning, Jacob had an eye doctor appointment. Jacob was born 15 weeks early, weighing 1 lb. and 14 oz. He has had a few complications but nothing serious. As a baby, he had eye surgery to correct a condition called exotropia, which basically means that his left eye wants to turn outward rather than straight.

He had eye surgery as a baby to cut the muscle to force the eye to go straight. He wore an eye patch for extended periods during the day to help strengthen that eye. He has very little vision in that eye and the glasses help him to continue to use it.

There is always a possibility that his eye could go back outward again, so we see the eye doctor often for check-ups. It was a routine visit and the doctor said everything is looking good.

Saturday evening, we went with my family to an illumination show at a nearby arboretum.

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All of the trees are lit up with different kinds of lights.

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You can change some of the lights by waving your hand over a certain place and you could hug trees to change their lights.
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It was really neat although it was freezing out and the kids were being a little overly energetic (read: crazy).

Afterwards, we had some hot chocolate…or three, before deciding to go to Red Robin for dinner. Two words – bottomless fries.

Cookies

I made another cookie recipe, oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip.

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I have been making so many cookies lately because I like to give them out during the holidays and I wanted to narrow it down to three delicious kinds of cookies. I think I am going to make chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and Reese’s butterscotch cookies.

The only problem with making so many cookies, is that I eat a lot of cookies. I usually send them to work with Danny, but it’s the weekend so they’ve just been sitting on the counter looking all delicious!

This morning, I am going to BodyPump at the gym. I am hoping that the instructor is doing the new release because I’m having a little bit of trouble with the timing and thought it would be helpful to do it while someone else was teaching.

Later this afternoon, we’re going to my best friend’s son’s birthday party.

Have a great day!

  • How many cars have you owned?
  • Any plans for today?
  • What do you own a lot of? I own a lot of workout clothes, water bottles, coffee mugs, and shoes.

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Filed under Christmas, Family Fun, Fitness, Recipes, Working Out

Cookies and Cars

Good afternoon!

I wasn’t able to pop in yesterday because we’ve been having a little bit of car trouble and Danny had to work from home, which meant he needed access to the computer all day.

I got a new car a few weeks ago and Danny took my old car. Unfortunately, my old car started having transmission problems and even though it’ll start, pushing the gas pedal does nothing. It just sits there. The car has a lot of miles on it and it can’t be guaranteed that the problem can be fixed, so we’re going to have to get another new(er) car. Again.

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We went from zero car payments to two car payments. Not fun, but that’s part of being an adult.

So, we’ve been trying to work out things with having only one car for the week – I need to get to work, Danny needs to get to work, I need to get my niece. It’s been a pain, but hopefully Danny will find a car this weekend.

And a big thanks to my brother for helping out!

So, today I am stuck inside all day without a car (and there’s so much Christmas shopping to do!) I decided to be constructive with my time and bake cookies!!

I found a great blog through Pinterest, Sally’s Baking Addiction, which has tons of delicious cookie recipes. I made the Reese’s Butterscotch Cookies for Thanksgiving and they were one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. The Reese’s Pieces and butterscotch chips really complemented each other.

Last week, I made the chocolate chip cookie recipe and those came out perfect also.

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I made two different batches – one with dark brown sugar, like the recipe calls for, and one with light brown sugar. Both batches were good, but I prefer the cookies made with the light brown sugar.

Today, I tried out the cake batter chocolate chip cookies.

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These came out good, but they were very sweet. Of the three cookie recipes I made, the Reese’s butterscotch were the best hands down.

Yesterday’s Workout

  • Cardio Fusion – 60 minutes

I went to the gym yesterday morning before I worked and took the cardio fusion class. By the time the afternoon rolled around, every part of my right leg ached – my hip, my quad, and my calf. I can tell when I am starting to overdo it so today I plan on taking a rest day because tomorrow I am teaching BodyPump.

Since I am stuck at home, this afternoon will consist of baking, cleaning, and doing crafts with my niece.

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I’m going to try and get some Christmas shopping done when Danny gets home, but it’s so cold out that I don’t even want to leave the house.

Have a great afternoon!

  • Favorite cookie?
  • Favorite place to find recipes?

 

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Filed under Christmas, Fitness, Recipes

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Good afternoon!

Today’s Workout

  • Practiced BodyPump

Well, I am back to practicing BodyPump! When I filmed my video, I didn’t need to include the triceps, biceps, or core tracks which means I spent little time practicing those tracks. Now, I am working on learning those for when I am able to teach my own class. Those triceps push-ups are killer!

After I finished practicing, my brother dropped my niece off before he went to work.

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Tomorrow, my brother, sister-in-law, and niece are going to Florida for a week. My sister-in-law, Crystal, is running the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon (I’m jealous!) The awesome part is that not only will this be her first half marathon, but she’ll be running it on her 30th birthday. And since the race is at night, she will actually turn 30 while running the race!

How cool is that?! I bet many people can’t say that!! Good luck, Crystal! You will do awesome and when you come home, you’ll be part of the 30’s club :)

This will be the longest amount of time that I have ever been away from my niece since she has been born. It’ll be hard for me because I love her to pieces, but I know she’ll have lots of fun at Disney World – she calls it Mickey’s house.

Since my niece was over early today, I decided to put her to work.

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She helped me bake some almond flour cookies.

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies  Makes approx. 8 cookies

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This cookies may not look like your typical cookie, but trust me – they taste delicious. Also, since I am the only one that will be eating them, I made a very small batch.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg and cream in butter. Using a hand mixer, add in honey and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly mix in dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Bake approx. 10-12 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Of course, I had to eat a cookie right away and it was delicious! The texture isn’t exactly like a regular chocolate chip cookie. They have more of a cake-like texture, which is A-OK in my book :)

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Have a great afternoon!

  • What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done for your birthday?
  • Ever run a race on your birthday?
  • Favorite cookie?

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Filed under Fitness, Recipes

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Good morning!

Yesterday’s Workout

  • 30 minute HIIT treadmill workout

Yesterday morning, Danny, Jacob, and I went to the gym. We only had about 30 minutes to workout so I did a hiit workout on the treadmill – two minutes of fast running, followed by two minutes of walking for 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, hiit workouts are great because they get your heart rate up and burn calories.

And I was able to get a couple of miles in for Pile on the Miles. :)

My Mizunos – which haven’t been getting enough love lately!

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I ran on the treadmill while watching the NYC marathon on tv. If you need motivation while running, just watch those elite runners – they are awesome! Just watching them made me run a little faster.

Today’s Workout

  • BodyPump – 60 minutes

Lunch

For lunch this afternoon, I made zucchini pizza boats. They are pretty much the same thing as the zucchini pizza bites only sliced different.

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I cut the ends off of a zucchini and cut it in half lengthwise.

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I sprinkle it with garlic and wine seasoning and cook it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then, I top it with pizza sauce and cheese and cook it for about 5-7 minutes more until the cheese melts. It’s sooo good.

I have been also looking for away to satisfy my sweet tooth without eating too much sugar. I found these Justin’s peanut butter cups at Whole Foods.

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I’ve heard tons of good things about them, so I bought them to try out. They are delicious! Better yet, they’re low carb, low sugar, and gluten free. Don’t worry – they taste awesome! I have to hide the bag so I don’t eat them all at once!

Don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Have a great afternoon!

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Filed under Fitness, Lunch, Recipes, Working Out

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Happy Halloween!!

I hate to keep asking, but voting ends tonight for the NASM recipe contest and I am so close! If you have a free moment please vote here. I would really appreciate it!

Jaden was so excited about Halloween this morning. He wore his costume to a party over the weekend and can’t wait to wear it again tonight.

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My other son, Jacob, really wanted me to tell you guys that he ran 3.25 miles in about 27 minutes. He has been really getting into running lately, and I’m looking into a 5k for him to run. He’s really excited about getting his own bib to wear :)

Breakfast

Breakfast this morning was a gluten-free pumpkin muffin that I made yesterday afternoon and egg whites.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins – makes approx. 8 muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • handful crushed pecans – optional
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips – optional
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • Pecans and pumpkin seeds to top muffins – optional

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with liners.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl – almond flour, baking soda, sea salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together wet ingredients – pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, almond butter, and honey. Whisk until combined.
  4. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into muffins liners and top with pecans and pumpkin seeds. 040
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 20-25 minutes.

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These were so delicious! I ate one when they were done and consumed it in about 30 seconds! :)

Today’s Workout

  • Stretching
  • Full body workout

Danny has the day off today, so we were able to go to the gym together this morning.

Stretching it out.

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I look terrible when I workout. :)

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I am going to Jaden’s Halloween party at his school later this afternoon and then it’s trick-or-treating time! Hopefully the rain will stop!

Have a great Halloween!

  • Do you have any plans for tonight?

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Filed under Breakfast, Fitness, Halloween, Recipes, Working Out

Gluten Free Pecan Pumpkin Pancakes

Yesterday, I started the 28-day Grain Brain Challenge. Basically, it’s gluten-free, lower carb diet, low sugar eating. I say lower carb because I am definitely eating a lot less carbs than I used too, but I wouldn’t exactly call it low-carb. Just lower carb :)

I went to Whole Foods and the regular grocery store over the weekend to pick up some food items. I was excited because I found a recipe for gluten-free pumpkin muffins and gluten-free pancakes using almond flour/meal.

I didn’t buy the almond flour at Whole Foods because it was so expensive and I’ve seen it at our local grocery store for less. So, I stopped at the grocery store to pick it up and it was sold out. Oh, well. So, I went to another grocery store and they didn’t even carry it.

Yesterday morning, I went to Target to get almond flour, and they were also sold out. I  was just getting aggregated by this point. Three stores and no almond flour?!

I finally found almond flour at a different Target last night. I used it in a pancake recipe this morning.

Some of the things I picked up at the store:

  • Udi’s gluten-free bread
  • chunky peanut butter
  • pumpkin seeds
  • almond and pecans
  • flaxseed
  • canned pumpkin
  • romaine lettuce
  • baby greens
  • celery
  • green pepper
  • cucumber
  • broccoli
  • zucchini
  • gluten-free pizza sauce
  • mozzarella cheese
  • Muenster cheese
  • eggs
  • baking powder and baking soda
  • organic olive oil cooking spray
  • flakers – flax seed “crackers”

Yesterday wasn’t too hard – my meals seem smaller, so I think I am going to have to eat more smaller meals or bigger snacks so that I don’t get hungry.

I had one piece of Udi’s gluten-free bread for breakfast with peanut butter and egg whites. I have never had gluten-free bread before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was delicious! I could see myself eating this on a normal basis…I just wish it wasn’t so expensive.

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Something that was not good? The flackers.

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The first bite I tried wasn’t too bad. I poured some out onto a plate with some sliced cheese and tried to eat them. I couldn’t. I can’t even describe the taste, but it was bad. Sorry flackers. I had to throw my plate away. But this point I was pretty hungry and needed something quick to eat, so I grabbed celery sticks with chunky peanut butter.

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I think I am going to have to get some more food because I was a little hungry yesterday.

Breakfast

Since I was able to find the almond flour yesterday, I made almond flour pecan pumpkin pancakes this morning for breakfast.

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Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pecan Pumpkin Pancakes – Makes approx. 6-8 small/medium pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp. crushed pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

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Directions:

  1. Mix together almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and pecans in a medium bowl.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and almond milk.
  3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. Pour batter on a hot skillet and cook 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Add your favorite topping – peanut butter, maple syrup, fresh fruit – and enjoy!

This was my first time having almond flour and while I found the texture to be a bit different than regular pancakes, I still thought they were good. I topped mine with peanut butter but I think they’d be much better with maple syrup!

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Today’s Workout

  • Stretching – 10 minutes
  • Butts and Guts Class – 60 minutes

I debated going to Butts and Guts this morning because of my hip/quad pain but I really miss that class, so I went and just took it a little easier than normal. According to my heart rate monitor, I still burned 522 calories. Not bad!

Have a great afternoon!

  • Did you workout today?
  • Have you ever had almond flour?
  • Pancakes, waffles, or French toast? I think I would pick French toast!

 

 

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Filed under Breakfast, Fitness, Recipes, Working Out

Haunted Hay Ride

Good Morning! Happy Saturday – can you believe this is the last weekend of October?!

Yesterday

Yesterday morning, I taught part of the BodyPump class at my gym. It was the first time not using my notes during a regular class, and I thought it was my best job yet!

I didn’t use any weights during the lunge track because when I do, my right leg hurts for a week. Since I am filming my video tomorrow, I figured I’d save my leg and use weights during the video.

Yesterday night, Danny, the kids, and I met my dad at the pumpkin farm to go on a haunted hay ride.

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My dad and Danny always find it necessary to “fly” at this part of the pumpkin farm.

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Jaden, who is pretty much scared of his own shadow and refuses to go to the bathroom alone in broad daylight, loved the haunted hay ride. It baffles me. He’s scared of being alone in the bathroom but he loved the crazy guy with a chainsaw. Whatever.

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After the hay ride, we hung around a bit and had some hot chocolate and then headed home.

Today

Tonight is the Halloween party! I am so excited to see everyone’s costumes!

I woke up early this morning, and the kids and I watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while I finished up my Halloween costume.

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My brother and sister-in-law got me this DVD three-pack last year for Christmas because I love the Charlie Brown holiday movies.

I finally got my costume totally finished, now I just have to try it all on together to see how it looks.

I spent the rest of the morning baking Reese’s Piece’s peanut butter cookies.

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These are the same cookies that I made for Labor Day. I used this recipe. These cookies are delicious – probably the best peanut butter cookie that I’ve ever had! Not the healthiest, but the most delicious :)

I also have to go to Whole Foods today or tomorrow. I am starting my Grain Brain Challenge on Monday and it will end November, 25 – so exactly four weeks. I made a grocery list and now I just need to get to the store!

Have a great day!
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Working Out, Eating, and Pumpkin Crafts

Today’s Workout

  • Total body strength training
  • Stretching
  • Practiced warm-up and back tracks from BodyPump

I feel like I got a really good workout in at the gym this morning. I have been practicing BodyPump so much lately that it was nice to do something different.

I did some strength exercises and incorporated some plyometric exercises. Some of the exercises I did included:

  • single leg bridges
  • sit-ups
  • walking lunges with a torso rotation
  • squat jumps
  • biceps curls
  • triceps extensions
  • jump roping
  • push-ups on the bosu ball

I finished up by practicing two BodyPump tracks and did a little bit of stretching. I was nice and sweaty by the time I was done, and that’s always makes me feel like I got a good workout in!

I wore my new workout jacket that I got JCPenney to the gym this morning.

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I saw this jacket a few weeks ago and feel in love with it…but it was $60. I thought that was a little too much for a lightweight jacket for the gym, so I passed. But when I went to JCPenney a few days ago, it was on sale for $26.99 so I knew it was meant to be mine :)

It’s the Xersion Hooded Moto Jacket and I love how it zips to the side.

Grain Brain Challenge

I have been looking for some foods and recipes for the grain brain challenge. The good thing is that there are gluten-free and low-carb recipes everywhere – other blogs, Paleo websites, Pinterest. Whole Foods even has a 27 page list of all the gluten free items in the store.

I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding food to eat, I just need to find things that are fast and easy to make. I don’t mind cooking but I don’t want a recipe with 47 ingredients that requires me to spend tons of time in the kitchen.

I’ve had a few ideas so far:

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  • Cucumber sandwiches – hollow out the cucumber and add cheese, veggies, and toppings
  • salmon and veggies
  • veggie omelets PicMonkey Collage
  • taco salads, minus the tortilla shell
  • gluten-free muffins
  • eggs in a pepper
  • spaghetti squash with veggies and marinara sauce

I am going to try to stick the eating as well as I can but gluten-free is all new to me, so I might not eat perfect.

Breakfast

I’m trying to eat up all my cereal and oatmeal in the house, so for breakfast today I had some peanut butter Puffins. I just discovered these and I already have to give them up!

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One 3/4 cup serving just doesn’t cut it, so I had about a serving and a half with almond milk. I usually eat a small breakfast because I workout out in the morning and can’t eat a lot right before I workout. I always have a snack right after I workout. So, I look at it like I am splitting my breakfast up into two mini breakfasts.

Pumpkin Art Fun

I just had to share this cute pumpkin craft that I made with Jaden and my niece.

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I saved two coffee creamers bottles and washed them out. Then, we colored the cap green for the stem, added orange paint and shook it around, and glued on a pumpkin face!

Easy, cute, and the kids loved making them!

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Have a great afternoon!

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Grain Brain Challenge

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on the behalf of Brain Grain.

Disclaimer: As a FitFluential Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to participate in the four week challenge based on the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter for compensation. After much consideration, I decided to participate. The Grain Brain Challenge is about lifestyle changes that you can make to keep your brain healthy and vibrant. The challenge includes eating gluten-free and taking certain supplements. Although I am doing this challenge for the health benefits, the possible weight loss is a nice perk. I do much better with programs when I am being held accountable to someone else (weight loss challenges, DietBet, etc.) which is why I decided to participate in the challenge.  I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. All opinions are 100% my own.

Grain Brain

Grain Brain is a book by Dr. David Perlmutter. Dr. Perlmutter is part of the American College of Nutrition, the president of Perlmutter Health Center, president of the Perlmutter Brain Foundation, and a medical advisor to Dr. Oz.

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The basis of his book is that the fate of your brain is in the food that you eat. Many brain conditions are caused by inflammation which can be triggered by carbs, especially those containing gluten and high sugar levels.

Good fats are important in our diets and our brain is 70% fat. Good fats such as DHA omega-3 help reduce inflammation and vitamins A, D, K, and E require fat in order to be absorbed in the body. According to Dr. Perlmutter, we need 200 to 300 milligrams of DHA daily and less than 25% of Americans consume this amount.

Dr. Perlmutter’s book describes the affect that gluten and carbs have on the brain, why our brains thrive on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age.

The Grain Brain Challenge

Dr. Perlmutter’s plan is broken down into four week.

  • Week 1 – Food: Shifting your body way from relying on carbs for fuel and adding brain health supplements. These supplements include resVida – enhances blood vessel dilation and supports healthy blood flow, Omega-3 Fish Oil – helps maintain heart, vascular health, and brain health, and DHA – a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid the body needs and important for brain health. 007
  • Week 2 – Incorporating a fitness routine
  • Week 3 – Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week
  • Week 4 – Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits

Of all these weeks, Week 1 will be the hardest one for me. I have no problem exercising and I usually get enough sleep. Week 4 is about tying all these components together.

Basically, the challenge will consist of eating gluten-free, low carb, and low sugar for four weeks. After reading Grain Brain and learning about the affects that gluten and carbs have on the brain and body, I am willing to try and follow this plan for 4 weeks. I’m not saying that I will be gluten-free or low-carb for life, I am simply saying that I would like to see what kind of changes I can notice.

A sensitivity to gluten is actually a problem that affects many people and even people that aren’t sensitive to gluten can benefit from a gluten-free diet. Symptoms include bloating, headaches, constipation, fatigue, etc.

In case, your not sure what gluten is, it’s a protein composite that acts like an adhesive material, holding together bread products and plays a role in letting bread products (crackers, baked goods, pizza dough, cereal, etc.) rise. I also helps cheese spreads and margarines keep their smooth texture, and prevents sauces and gravies from curdling. Pretty much gluten is everywhere and can cause many unwanted symptoms in people.

This four week plan isn’t just about eating gluten-free, it’s about eating healthy. Just because a product is gluten-free doesn’t mean that’s it’s healthy. It’s about eating whole and “real” foods, relying on fats instead of carbs and eating low sugar.

I will admit that I am a little nervous about starting this challenge but part of me is also excited. I seem to thrive when I am being held accountable to someone other than myself. I did a weight loss challenge about a year and half ago and came in first place. I did the Biggest Loser program at my gym and lost another 11 pounds. I participated in and won three DietBets. But on my own, I seem to just eat a lot of yummy food :)

I am excited to see how this challenge will benefit me and will try my hardest to stick with it for four weeks  – it starts Oct. 28th and is set to end right before Thanksgiving.

Foods Not Allowed:

  • Gluten including whole-grain and whole-wheat forms of bread, noodles, pasta, pastries, baked goods, and cereals
  • Processed carbs, sugars, and starch – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chips, crackers, pastries, muffins, pizza dough, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, jelly, processes cheese spreads, juices, honey, sugar, corn syrup
  • Packaged food labeled “fat free” or “low fat” except for things like water, mustard, balsamic vinegar
  • Margarine, vegetable shortening, cooking oil
  • Soy – soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy hot dogs, etc.

Maybe you’re thinking what the heck can you eat then?! I thought the same thing when I was going through the list. But there’s still tons of good and healthy foods to eat.

Foods Allowed:

  • Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, organic butter, almond milk, avocados, nuts and nut butters, cheese (except blue cheese) sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Herbs, seasonings, and condiments
  • Low Sugar Fruits and Vegetables – avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, lemons, limes, leafy greens and lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, green beans, celery, garlic, asparagus
  • Protein – whole eggs, wild fish, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork

I am not really a meat eater besides fish so the majority of my protein will come from eggs and salmon.

Foods Used in Moderation (once daily or a couple times a week):

  • carrots
  • cottage cheese and yogurt
  • cow’s milk and cream
  • beans, lentils, and peas (exception: hummus)
  • non-gluten grains – buckwheat, rice, mille, quinoa, oats
  • sweetners – natural stevia and dark chocolate
  • whole sweet fruits – berries, melons, pineapple, etc.
  • wine

I definitely think that this will be hard and take some getting used to but I think as long as I can come up with a meal plan it will make things a lot easier. I plan on going grocery shopping this weekend and would love any suggestions for gluten-free, low carb recipes.

Eggs play a big part in this challenge especially because you can buy DHA Omega-3 cage free eggs and there is a great egg recipe from the Grain Brain book that I can’t wait to try out!

Huevos Rancheros Recipe from Grain Brain

This classic Mexican dish has been modified so instead of eggs served on tortillas, they are prepared over a bed of fresh greens.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 4 Gold Circle Farms DHA Omega-3 Cage Free Eggs
  • 4 cups coarsely torn frisee
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Add butter or olive oil to skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Crack eggs into skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, more for firmer yolks.
  3. Serve eggs over a bod of frisee and top with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

 

  •  Thoughts?
  • Are you gluten-free?
  • Any good gluten-free or low-carb recipes to share?

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