Simplify Food Choices: Not So Simple

Simplifying food choices is proving to be not so simple. I was pretty strong until now. I’ve stocked my pantry with rice cakes instead of bread, I hadn’t wanted sugar in days, I don’t even think about dairy anymore… And then Valentine’s Day happened.

My two oldest boys came home from school with a bag full of goodies. Today all 3 boys came home from church with another bag full of candy… and chocolate. I do miss chocolate, y’all. And then I did it. I bypassed my usual routine I do to fight sugar cravings, and I ate a pink heart shortbread cookie. Then I ate a chocolate candy (to which I thought, These aren’t as good as I remember), and then I ate another chocolate candy hoping it would be as good as I remembered. It wasn’t.

chocolate

Then I was mentally beating myself up the rest of the evening. Y’all, I can’t do that anymore! And I’m not talking about the chocolate candy here… I’m talking about beating myself up for eating the chocolate candy. I am not a failure for eating the cookie and candy. I made a poor choice. So what? Move on, sister. By all means, don’t degrade yourself for it!

Why is it so easy for me to criticize myself for making the wrong choices, and yet it’s so difficult to give myself a pat on the back for making the right choices? Geez, I conquered the temptation yesterday of eating all the sweets, I haven’t had a flour tortilla in 17 days (which is a miracle in South Texas. Tortillas are life, y’all), heck even making the choice to eat fruit this morning instead of the cookies that were mocking me. I didn’t give myself a thumbs up for that. I need to do that more often. Focus more on the positives, and less on the negatives.

As I get ready for bed, I am excited for a new day. A new day where I can make one healthy choice after another. That’s how change happens. One step at a time. One choice at a time. One small action at a time. This time I will recognize the change taking place, and I’ll give myself a mental fist pump, high five, or chest bump with each nourishing bite. Because I’m worth it.

Let’s encourage each other. What changes are you taking to better your health?

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Granola Balls: Healthy and Toddler Approved!

As a mom of hungry boys, I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks that actually taste good. Then I stumbled across this gloriousness (not sure if that is a real word, but it should be) through my friend (thanks, Lindsey!) who had found this recipe on a blog smashedpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com. I think the term that they used for the snack was “energy bite,” but my son Noah renamed them “granola balls,” so that’s what we call them in my house. You can just call them “awesome.”

granballnoah

I knew this recipe was a winner when my son said it tasted like a cookie, AND I was happy with all the ingredients in the recipe. Not only that, but your kids can totally help you make this recipe. Let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t like being in the kitchen? Let’s get right down to it, because you don’t want to waste another minute without this recipe. Be sure to read all the way down to the notes for modifications for the healthiest snack possible!

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Ingredients:
• 1 cup of oats
• 1 cup coconut flakes
• ½ cup of chia seeds
• ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
• ½ cup peanut butter
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until they are all evenly distributed. I start with a spoon and end up working with my hands. Your hands will get messy, just embrace it.
2. Place the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
3. Once chilled, roll into 1 inch balls (makes about 20-25 balls). Again with the messy hands, but you can lick your fingers after!
4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, but they won’t last that long!

Notes:
• Instant oats are heavily processed, which means less nutrition. Use old fashioned oats!
• As far as the coconut flakes go, use UNSWEETENED coconut flakes. There is no need to add more sugar to the recipe, and you still get a great texture and flavor from the unsweetened flakes.  You can usually find these at any whole/health foods store.
• The original recipe calls for flax seed, which I actually always have, but I used chia seeds a few months ago and prefer the texture more in this particular recipe. You can totally use chia or flax or a combination if you wish!
• If you want to omit the chocolate chips, you can substitute any dried fruit in its place, but I gotta tell ya I almost always use the chocolate chips. The mini chocolate chips work the best, and it becomes more of a treat for me and the boys. 🙂
• You can use any nut butter in place of the peanut butter. Again, try and find one without any add sugar or junk (look on the back of your jar). I’ve used unsweetened/unsalted almond butter and it worked just as well.
• Honey has great health benefits, so I don’t substitute anything there.  If you can snag some local honey, use that for assistance in allergy relief!

You will soon find that this will be a staple in your arsenal of healthy snack. These are so much fun to make with the kids, and I’ve gotten opportunities to explain the ingredients going in the snack and why they are so great for our bodies.

Do you think your family will enjoy this recipe? Try it out and leave your reviews in the comments!

Chocolate (Avocado) Fruit Dip

So I only had a couple of hours left before my essential oil party. What on earth am I going to make for the party? I still have to go to the store when Nathan comes home… and the bank to cash my check first… Crap! I’m running out of time. This is what I was thinking as Nathan walked in the door. I frantically left to get to the bank before it closed, leaving Nathan behind with our rowdy noise, I mean boys. And dinner. And a messy kitchen. (Sorry, sweetie!)

While I’m at the store, all the fruit looked amazing, so I decided on a chocolate avocado fruit dip that is absolutely delicious and gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free. I had made it a couple of times before at different events and it’s always a big hit. Sounds a little too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not! Read on.

I gathered all the ingredients and only slightly sped home. I was able to make the fruit dip, chop up the fruit, and put it all on a tray in 15 minutes. So, not only is this dip healthy, but it’s fast and easy. It’s just plain awesome.

fruitdip

Now, I should say I did not originally come up with this recipe, it was given to me by my friend, Amy (who probably found it somewhere on Pinterest), and I adapted it a little bit. If anyone knows where it originated from, please let me know and I’ll update this post to give them credit and a million thanks for this awesomeness. Here ya go!

Ingredients:
• 2 ripe avocados
• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ½ cup agave nectar (or honey)
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons soy milk
• 2-5 drops of a citrus essential oil of your choosing (I like Tangerine!)
• Dash of salt

Directions:
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl using an electric mixer, except the essential oil. Mix very well and try to get out as much avocado lumps as humanly possible.
2. Add one drop of essential oil at a time, adjusting to taste.
3. Serve alongside a plate of fruit or simply sneak a spoonful here and there when you want a treat.

Notes:
• The original recipe calls for coconut milk. I don’t usually have coconut milk handy unless I’m making my curry chicken, but that wasn’t on the menu this week. So, you can substitute any milk here: soy, almond, cow’s milk, or I have even replaced it with yogurt.
• You want to mix the avocados really well or else you will have green lumps here and there.
• You can make this dip without essential oils and it still tastes great, but I love it because citrus oils are known to be a mood uplifter.  For more information on the only brand I trust to use internally, email ingo@amandagerber.com.

What other essential oils do you think would go well in this dip? Let me know what ya think!

Mother’s Day Brownies

As promised, I am going to give you another post related to Mother’s Day. Today my post is going to be in the form of recipe (not for mom to make, but for you to make for her!). Can you guess what my recipe will contain? My two favorite ingredients: chocolate and essential oils. Yummm…

So, these are actually gluten free brownies that are moist and yummy and full of fiber! Fiber in brownies?!? How is that even possible? Two words for you: Black. Beans. Now, don’t you crinkle your nose at me. I just made this and tried it out on unsuspecting guests with great results. My husband actually liked it, but admitted he would like it a little sweeter (an easy fix!). Honestly I did not expect to like these brownies, but I love them. I am going to give you the original recipe that I followed from doterrablog.com and feel free to tweak it according to your taste buds.

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Photo credit: doterrablog.com

Ingredients
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained, and rinsed (Trust me, just do it!)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup honey (I actually used half honey and half agave)
1/3 cup coconut oil
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 drops Peppermint essential oil
¾ cup chocolate chips, divided

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place all ingredients, except for chocolate chips, in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Stir in ½ cup chocolate chips.
4. Pour into greased 8×8 inch pan and top with the remaining chocolate chips (don’t skip this step, this is what made the brownies perfect).
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (mine took 40 minutes). Let cool (or not! We dug right in when it was still warm and it didn’t make a huge mess, just a little one.) and cut into pieces. Store in the fridge if you haven’t devoured the entire pan.

Notes
– Y’all, this is my new favorite dessert. I love it and I don’t have to feel guilty about having two three brownies. This would be a dessert a mom on a diet could actually eat. It’s awesome.
– At first bite I thought it could be a tad sweeter, but once I took another bite I realized it was just the right amount of sweet for me. From my personal reviews everyone liked the brownies, but a couple of people could use a touch more sweetness.
– This is a very versatile recipe: you can use the peppermint essential oil, or cinnamon, or clove, or simply leave the oil out of the dish. Play around and have some fun with it!

What do you think about black beans in brownies? Try the recipe and comment below how it goes!