Pumpkin Almond Butter Bread

I have always been challenged when it comes to breakfast foods, especially for my kids.  They just want to eat pancakes, waffles, and cereal for breakfast, aka simple carbs and refined sugar.  I struggle with things to feed them that they will eat and will keep them satisfied.  This recipe was created to fill that need, especially on days where we are busy, busy from moment one.  This is perfect as a compliment to eggs, sausage, or bacon and I don’t get the “I’m hungry” complaints I get an hour after they eat cereal.

Pumpkin Almond Butter Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Ingredients:

¾ cup pure pumpkin puree

¾ cup almond butter (for this recipe I used Justin’s Maple Almond Butter)

1 tsp almond extract (you can use vanilla extract if you prefer)

2½ tbsp coconut milk

3 tbsp ghee

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 eggs

2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

2¼ cups almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

∗I added about half a bag of mini chocolate chips.  If you need to keep this recipe dairy free, omit the chocolate chips or use ¾ cup of cocoa nibs or 100% dark chocolate chips∗

 

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a loaf pan with coconut oil.  I have found a coconut oil spray at Sprouts and I love it! You can see in the picture that it is definitely greasy looking but not puddly.IMG_7507

Next cream the pumpkin and almond butter together with an electric mixer until it is VERY smooth.  The first time I made this, I made the mistake of mixing by hand and the almond butter never really incorporated and so the finished loaf had these uncooked pockets of almond butter, which is not what I was going for.  Once the pumpkin/almond butter mixture is smooth, add in the extract, ghee, coconut milk, and maple syrup and mix until combined.  When that mixture looks smooth, add in the eggs.  By now your dough should look pretty close to this.

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When your eggs are fully incorporated, it is time for the dry goods.  Slowly add in the pumpkin pie spice, the baking soda, the salt, and almond flour.  When the dough starts to look like dough, add in the chocolate chips if you are using them.  Scoop the dough into the loaf pan.  It should just about fill the pan.

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Now it is in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  The loaf is done when you a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the loaf rest in the pan on a cookie rack for 10 minutes.

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Remove from pan and enjoy!

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First Day of School

Well, first day of PreK, but exciting nonetheless!

On Tuesday of this week, we sent our 4 year old off to her first year of real school.  I mean as real as it gets when you only go for 5 hours twice a week.  It is such an interesting position to be in.  I have read countless Facebook posts from my friends about their little ones going off to school and how Mom cried at drop off and they are just so sad their kids are growing up.

I did not feel any of those emotions.  I felt excited for her.  I felt happy for this new chapter in her life.  I don’t know why but the possibilities of her life are just so thrilling for me.

These emotions, however, present their own set of problems for me, mostly self inflicted.  I start to wonder what is wrong with me?  Am I a bad mom because I don’t mourn the passage of time? Or am I just an exhausted mom who yearns for the days of independent children?  I hope I am the latter.

Here’s the deal.  I have discovered that I am better suited as a mom to older kids, kids that are a little more independent.  Right now, I feel like my relationship with my 4 year old is almost perfect.  Sure she has her moments, but I get along with her pretty well.  She is my little buddy.  My relationship with the twins, however, needs some work, ha!  They are too needy at the moment.  They need too much from me, at all times.  I know that eventually I will not feel like this.  I know that probably 10 years down the road, I will look around and wish I had little ones again, but not today.  Bring on the march of time.  I am ready to say goodbye to the baby and toddler stage.

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Whole30 on Vacation

The last three days of my August Whole30 have been on vacation.  Yup.  On vacation.  In a town we go to twice ish a year, that has amazing pizza.  And yet, somehow, here I am, at the dinner hour about to finish my second complete round.  It is not magic people.  It is hard work and dedication to the journey.

You must dedicate yourself to this journey. If you don’t absolutely commit, nothing will change. You absolutely must submit yourself completely to the idea of changing your life. When I started my first Whole30, it was with the absolute intention to change my life. I read everything I could on the foods I was eliminating to find out the why. I followed people on social media who were living a Whole30 lifestyle. I went in to it completely open to the idea that this was a life long journey. 

If you start a Whole30 thinking it’s just another diet that you will probably fail anyway…you will fail. This is not just another quick weight loss fad that you can stop the moment you “loose the weight.” I cannot stress this enough…YOU MUST START A WHOLE30 WITH THE REALIZATION THAT YOU ARE CHANGING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD FOREVER. If you can’t do that, this plan is not for you. 

Why do I bring this up if I started talking about being on vacation? No it’s not just a wild tangent, but in fact an example of my changing relationship with food. Literally, every vacation I have ever taken has felt like a competition to eat the craziest, biggest, most unhealthy food products. Road trips meant multiple stops at gas stations to fill up on yet more Big Gulps and Doritos. It was okay because I was on vacation, right? Wrong. I ate like that everyday so vacation was just an excuse so I wouldn’t feel bad about my usual gluttony. 

This time, my vacation did not center around the food I was eating, rather the experiences we were having. We mostly brought our own food, since we stayed in a cabin with a full kitchen. We cooked every meal except one, where I brought my own salad dressing to the restaurant and said no to pizza, my favorite food. And you know what happened when I said no to pizza? The world did not end, contrary to my previous beliefs. I survived and did not feel deprived or like I was missing out. It just wasn’t the right time for me to have that pizza and that’s okay.  Instead of searching for different restaurants to eat all our meals at, we hiked a bit, sat around and enjoyed nature, took the kids to a petting zoo, and mostly forgot about food, save for meal times. It was liberating to not be stuck in the vacation good shame/guilt cycle. 

I feel free and it is absolutely because I decided on day one that this was for the long haul. I am becoming a new person and I’m okay with that. 

Peek n Play Indoor Playground Review

If you are local to the DFW area, you need to check out Peek n Play!  This place is amazing.  We were there for 3 full hours and the girls still did not want to leave.  If you are not familiar with DFW summers, understand that it is always 1000 degrees outside with 1000 percent humidity.  I am mostly joking.

Still, the need for great, interactive indoor activities is huge here.  It is just too hot to be outside for too long and the kids get bored staying home all the time.  It was $12 a kid, but it was unlimited play.  Conceivably we could have been there all day long.  With not charging adults, it makes it cheaper than quite a few of the other indoor activities we have done this summer.  The local aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center are both $18/ adults and $15/ kids, so not trips we can make all the time.

When you enter the playground, there is only one gated door in and out, so no worries about your kids escaping out the front door.  There is an adult seating area with prime viewing of almost the entire play area and they even have free wifi plus coffee and snacks to purchase.  My only suggestion would be the addition of massage chairs.

The actual play area is pretty remarkable.  The stand out is a tree house with slide that drops kids off in a giant ball pit.  My 4 year old asked us if we could have a ball pit in our house after spending the day in and out of it.  The twins loved it as well.  They kept telling us they were swimming and once they figured out they could hide in the balls, that was their favorite activity.

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While the ball pit is impressive, the three dramatic play buildings they have are just as amazing.  They have a bistro, complete with Melissa & Doug play food, an animal hospital with stuffed patients, and a house with a full kitchen, better stocked than my own.

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They also have an upstairs area for more quiet play.  It had a lego table, building blocks, puzzle station, books, and two hanging hammock seat things.  All in all, I think they did a great job and we will definitely be back.

Peak n Play Facebook

Peak n Play Website

Whole30 Round 2 Day 14 – 25

Woah…I blinked and I am almost done with my second round!  I have to tell you these last 11 days have felt amazing.  I am back to how I was feeling after my first round.  I feel in control of my food, in control of my emotions about that food, and I feel that tiger blood.

Here’s the thing about the Whole30…it really, really, really sucks the first week.  It even kind of sucks the second week.  But if you can manage to hold on to this last week and half ish…it is MAGIC.  This feeling, of having a body that is actually working the way it was designed to, is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life.  When you feel good in your body, everything else is so much better.

A few things that have already changed for me…

  1. I am sleeping soundly through the night.  I no longer wake 5 times in the middle of the night.  I no longer feel like I’m going to fall asleep at the wheel because I am so tired.
  2. I feel more mentally balanced.  I can trust my emotions again.  Before, I always had to question, am I overreacting because I am mood swinging or in a depressive state?  Now I know what I am feeling is true.
  3. My allergies have cleared up.  I have had to use allergy medication twice in the past 25 days and those days were high pollen areas in my area and there was no avoiding it.
  4. My energy has returned.  I don’t need Monster Energy drinks anymore just to get through dinner.  I have tea in the morning with caffeine and I am good to go.  And to be honest, I don’t even feel like I have to have that caffeine.  It’s more of a morning routine thing for me, but if I don’t have it, I can definitely still function, and function well.

On day 31, I am going to go over the full Whole30 Non Scale Victory checklist and I have a feeling I am going to be checking off almost everything.

I’d like to end today with an invitation to everyone reading…I am going to host a Whole30 October group.  I will be providing meal plans, shopping lists, and general support.  If you relate to anything that I have been posting about or going through, then just maybe a Whole30 is for you!  If you have any interest at all, please drop me a message on my Facebook page. I will try to answer any questions you might have!  October is the perfect time to get in a Whole30 to prepare you for the food heavy holiday season!!

Pistachio Crusted Chicken Breast

This is a recipe I created while doing my first Whole30.  I had been looking for a different way to prepare chicken and I thought I would experiment with different “breadings.”  After making this recipe, my husband informed me that it was the best chicken he had ever had and I should always prepare the chicken that way.  The kids even liked it!  Here is a step by step of how I prepare it.

Pistachio Crusted Chicken Breast Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lbs chicken breast

1 ½ cups crushed pistachios

¼ cup dijon mustard

½ tsp salt

1 tsp rosemary

So first, I like to gather all my ingredients.  These are the brands I use, added bonus they are all Whole30 compliant.IMG_6068

First thing you have to do is crush the pistachios in a food processor.  I like to keep some chunks in it, but it will stick better if it is mostly powdery.  When the pistachios are the correct consistency, transfer it to a bowl.  In a second bowl, combine the salt, rosemary, and dijon.  You don’t really need too much salt since the pistachios are salted as well.

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Now I prepare the pan.  In order to keep it crispy, I prefer a roasting pan, but you can use any oven safe pan if you do not have one.  I line the bottom of the roasting pan with foil for easy clean up.

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Next is actually breading the chicken.  I set it up in an assembly line so I only have to use one hand, keeping my second hand clean in case I need to touch something in the kitchen.  First dunk the breast in the dijon mixture, making sure you are coating the chicken but not drowning the chicken.

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Then it is time for the pistachio coating.  Really push it in there, making sure to get both sides really well.  Knead it around in the bowl if you have to.  I will completely bury mine in it.  Please don’t mind my chipped bowl.

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Once the chicken is on the rack of the roasting pan, lightly spray it with olive oil/avocado oil/coconut oil, any will do!  This helps the coating get nice and crunchy.  Then into a 375° oven for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how big the breasts are and your oven.  If the breading looks to be getting too brown, you can always tent it with foil while you get your chicken up to temp.

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Once the chicken reaches an internal temperate of 165, you are good to go.  I will take my chicken out of the oven at around 155 and let it rest for about 5 minutes, allowing the carryover to bring the temp up, but you do what works best for you!

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Bon apetite!

 

 

My First Fabletics Order

I am always wary of companies that want me to sign up and commit to paying something every month, so I have always kind of dismissed Fabletics.  The fact that it was created by Kate Hudson also had me wary, don’t ask it’s unjustifiable.  But when my sister said that she had ordered from them and really liked them, I thought, what did I have to lose?

First, I love that I got a whole outfit for $30, tank, bra, and leggings.  So that was a huge win in my mind.  Secondly, I loved that they had plus sizes.  Sometimes it is very intimidating to try to buy workout clothes when all the models are fit and trim.  What about us folk just starting out?

I ended up buying a full outfit and a second sports bra.

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First, the leggings.  LOVE them.  I have the hardest time getting leggings to stay up over my “mommy pooch” and these did.  Plus they are so comfy.  I ran errands in them today and loved them.  The purple bra is fantastic as well.  It supported pretty well through a PiYo session.  The pink bra has virtually zero support for my size, but I knew that it would be like that when I purchased.  I bought the pink one solely because of the back straps to wear under tanks or open back shirts, fashion over function!  The top I really like too.  It is a perfect piece to wear all day, then come home and workout and not even have to change clothes.  In fact, I am excited to pair the tank, my pink bra, and some jean shorts for our upcoming family vacation to Walt Disney World.

All in all, I will definitely keep the membership.  I am surprised at the quality of the product and the price.  I assumed the price would be reflective of the quality, but that has not been the case so far for me.

If you want to check it out for yourself, click here to get free shipping and your first outfit for $25.

 

Disclosure: I promise, I paid for all these products, and genuinely love them.  If you click the link, I do receive a $20 store credit and I would be eternally grateful.

An Adventure in Cleaning Thomas Trains

So I got my 4.5 year old some Morph foam from Michael’s, which if you are not familiar with is basically kinetic sand but claylike.  It’s claim to fame is that it doesn’t crumble like play dough and it never dries out.  It even floats!  They claim on the box that it is mess free because it sticks together.  Well apparently, my kids felt that was some kind of challenge.

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Here are some of their Thomas the Train minis, covered in the impossible to remove Morph foam.  My wretched children covered the trains in the morph foam and stuck it to every nook and cranny of these tiny trains.  And because that stupid shit floats, I couldn’t just rinse it off like I would with play dough.  A rather extensive internet search confirmed that yes my kids are the only ones who somehow managed to make morph a messy toy that needed clean up because I could not find a single post lamenting how hard it was clean.

So I soaked them overnight in really hot water.  Nothing.

I poured baking soda and vinegar over them.

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Now we were getting somewhere.  Some of the trains that only had a bit of the morph on it, were actually coming clean.  I repeated this step twice and was able to get three trains completely clean.

Then enter my husband.  He is really the hero of this story.  After the “acid bath,” he was able to get in there with the super hot, high pressure water and clean the rest of the trains.  18 hours after the initial mess.

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Moral of our story?  Don’t believe a kid’s toy when it says it is mess free.

Whole30 Round 2 Days 8-13 – Still Here

I know.  I know.  I promised one blog post a day but, that just wasn’t going to happen for me this past week so what can you do!

Yes!  Yes! I am still Whole30ing. No slips, although I have been facing a major test in my willpower the past few days.  Two days ago, we were invited over to our new neighbors house for dessert and to let the kids all meet each other.  I made chocolate chip cookie bars from scratch to take over there.  And the left overs are still in my house, staring at me.  I had thought that my sugar dragon was under control, that I didn’t crave it anymore.  Well I was wrong. I guess having it in the house, smelling it, seeing everyone else eating it, is getting to me.  A couple of times, I have walked by the bag and said to myself, just eat it.  No one will know and you will be able to just go back to Whole30 eating like nothing happened.

Yeah right.  The fact that I feel almost compelled to eat it is telling me that I am not quite ready to live my food freedom.  My brain is not quite back on the right track.  So I have avoided my archenemy like the plague and I will continue to do so.

This has been an interesting week for sure, just talking about mindset.  I find myself telling myself over and over again that maybe I can just do a Whole15.  My rationalization is that I have done a full Whole30 already and maybe this can just be a mini reset.  What is so tricky about your brain going through sugar withdrawals is that it is a manipulative bitch.  I can’t discern if I am making real sense, or if my brain just wants me to give in to my sugar cravings.  Since I can’t decide if I am truly ready to start reintroduction, I am going to go ahead and say that I need to follow through the full 30 days.

Whole30 Round 2 Day 6 & 7 – Goodbye Food Guilt

At the end of my first full week back on the Whole30, I am actually feeling pretty good. My first round it took until about day 15ish to feel even a little bit better, so this has been a huge improvement on that front. I am already sleeping more soundly at night and my seasonal allergies haven’t been bothering me as much.

 

One week in and I am already being reminded of why the Whole30 is such a good fit for me.  The hard stance against food shaming and food guilt was enough to make me follow Whole30 to the ends of the earth.  In a nutshell, food is neither good nor bad.  It is food.  There are healthier choices and less healthy choices, but it is all still food.  Food has no morality and the eater is neither good nor bad.

You see I have spent years in the world of food shaming.  Where you can’t eat certain foods without feeling guilty about it.  So what do you do?  You take that food underground, eating in secret, which of course brings more guilt.  How is that a healthy way to live?  I should be able to eat a cookie, if it feels worth it, and then move on.  I should be able to say, hey that cookie was really good, without being made to feel that I need to workout for two hours to “burn off that cookie.”

I see it all the time on Facebook.  People advertising “clean eating” support groups because they just got back from vacation and they “over did it” on the junk food.  Or people checking in to the gym on Thanksgiving because they need to “work off” that huge meal they are going to eat later.  Exercising should never be used as a punishment for feeding our body, rather it should be just another healthier choice we are making to live our very best lives.

The problem with always having this mindset of “having to get back on track,” is that it inherently sets you up for failure.  If you are having to get back on the track, doesn’t that mean you fell off it?  That you failed?  Who wants to live their lives constantly feeling like if they eat one unhealthy food they have failed?  What kind of mindfuck is that?!?

The ideal, and the point I am working hard on every day to reach, is you make healthier choices as much as possible and then when that special something, that less healthy food,  that is so worth it you’ve been dreaming of it for months, comes along, you eat it.  You love it.  You devour it.  And then go back to eating the healthier choices, never having fallen off any track or wagon or whatever.  Just one choice and move on with your life.

And in case anyone needs a reminder that we can do hard things, here is a picture of my 4.5 year old conquering the zip line today at the park.  Something that she has wanted to do so badly for four months but had to muster up the courage to tackle.  That was hard for her and this is hard for me. But we can do hard things.

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