As you may know, I love to bake. And not only do I love to do the baking, but I love to eat baked goods. And candy. And ice-cream. But since starting my journey to a healthier lifestyle, I have been trying to make those indulgent treats be the occasional dessert instead of the everyday treats.
Every week we host a Life Group in our home. This is the perfect opportunity for me to do some cooking or baking and just plain ol’ hostessing- which I believe is one of my spiritual gifts. Many people love to get together with small and large groups of people but cringe at the thought of having those people in their home. Not me. I love it. I love to make my home welcoming to others, to allow them to come in, kick their feet up, relax and have a nice meal or dessert with my family and me. Our Life Group is the perfect opportunity for a group of people we love to get together, fellowship, share a meal, and talk about our Christian walks, and to live our lives on mission together. We challenge each other, encourage each other, and are working to build up our community so that we will be a family for one another.
In our most recent session yesterday, we talked about how God adopted us into his family by sacrificing his son, Jesus Christ, so that we may all live eternally with Him.
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to the world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure….Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 1 John 3: 1-3 and 18-19.
Since we are all children of God we are a family. We are a community that shares one Father. We are called to truly love one another and help each other to walk in truth. We were all challenged to truly view our little Life Group community as a family. To ask for help when we need it…and accept help when it is offered. To reach out to one another for support, prayer, encouragement. When we are struggling with an area of sin in our lives, to go to someone in our community to hold us accountable and help turn us away from that sin and back to Christ.
Having this group of people to lean on for support every day has been so encouraging. Yet, we all discussed the fact that we don’t let our guards down enough and show who we truly are in our weakest moments the way we may with our spouse and children. But why do we guard ourselves in that way? We are all part of the family of God, He is our father, he loves us all and because of the grace he has shown us, we are called to love our fellow believers in Christ as a family.
I host this group of people in my home very often. I cook for them. I bake for them. But do they really know the areas where I struggle? Probably not. But there is no reason for me to go through this journey and this faith walk alone. I hope they want the same things we were challenged to do yesterday, as I plan on trying to be much more intentional about asking how I can help and asking for help when it is needed!
And while we were all being challenged, we had some lunch and some desserts.
This week, rather than fixing the super sweet and deliciously unhealthy indulgent treats that I am known for, I tried my hand at some clean desserts.
First, I made some flourless chocolate chick-pea brownies. Now I know what you’re thinking– No flour and then you go an put chick-peas in it?? What?! And some of you may not even know what chick-peas (also known as garbanzo beans) are. But if you’ve had hummus, then you’ve had a chick pea. They really are a versatile legume that is high in protein and served as the base for this dessert.
I thought they turned out pretty well. Not very sweet- but how could they be since there is no sugar. The recipe called for honey but I was out so I used some pure maple syrup. When you’re eating clean and avoiding processed sugar and flour, this is a nice little treat. Now don’t go eat one of my cupcakes then eat one of these brownies and you will be sorely disappointed in the lack of sweetness.
You can find the recipe here.
Next, I made this really subtle and moist Strawberry blueberry whole wheat banana bread.
This will make for a really nice little breakfast bread to have when you need something warm and comforting.
Finally, I wanted to make something a little more indulgent and went with these No-Bake Cookies.
YUM-O! These were delicious!! Especially after putting them in the fridge to get a little firmer. And I actually used the recommended raw sugar. Expensive, but worth it.
If you are beginning a clean lifestyle, the biggest piece of advice I can give you it to take it one step at a time. You will likely never cut out everything processed from your diet. But it is important to try to eat clean about 80% of the time. You will find the balance that works best for you. While a couple months ago the thought of using coconut oil or chick peas in my baking would have made me laugh out loud, I now know that most any recipe is worth a try! I don’t even have to consider these little treats as part of my 20% “normal” food because they were all clean and unprocessed!
A couple things you will want to stock up on as you begin to transition your diet and cooking/baking habits…. Coconut oil. It really works well as a replacement for butter and most other oils. I am still figuring out how to use it, but I have it on hand now so that whenever a recipe calls for it, I am ready to go! Old fashioned oats are a MUST! You can use them in pancakes, as a base in meatballs, and in tons of different baked items. Definitely go for some organic raw honey and pure maple syrup- they will become your best friends! Used in baking, marinades, and salad dressings. Also- you can not go wrong with giant tubs of plain greek yogurt. (Tip- if you hate the taste of yogurt, especially greek yogurt, like I did about 3 months ago, I would suggest getting some of the greek yogurt with fruit to mix in. Try it for a few days and gradually transition to the plain so that you are not getting all the extra added sugars that are in the flavored varieties. I now LOVE my greek yogurt!!)
I am still building up my pantry and do not have all “clean” items- like whoever knew there was such a thing as aluminum free baking soda?? But every time I go to my neighborhood Kroger, I take a little stroll down the organic aisle and get something new to add to my arsenal of healthier, less processed pantry items to have at my disposal!