Fear God and Brownies

We started a new series with our Life Group yesterday by Frances Chan called “Basic.”  Actually, it is not new and most of people in our group have done some or all of this series before, but it is gives so much great insights into the foundations of Christian living that we thought it was the right time for us to dive into it again.

The first topic is “Fear God.”  You can watch the short film and hear from Frances about this topic below.

You may be wondering what this has to do with Brownies… Well you will have to keep reading!

 

This week I was able to share my story (as some call- my testimony) with our missional community.  It was an amazing opportunity for me to share how Jesus has worked in my life over the past 22 years since I accepted Jesus as my savior.  We then watched this video and discussed what it means to us, particularly in the context of the scripture passage presented.

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Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  Proverbs 1:7

Frances says that the church today has taken the word “fear” and explained it as a healthy respect and reverence for God. But that is not how it is described in the Bible.  Those people who encounter God were afraid.  They didn’t just have an awe for him. They were afraid when they were in His presence.

BUT God also tells us that we do not need to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you, Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41: 10.

Watch the video.  Frances Chan can explain it and teach is so much better and more clearly than I could ever hope to do.

But I truly love this topic.  It is so easy for us to say that God is loving, and gracious, because He is. He has forgiven me even though I don’t deserve it and am not worthy.  But don’t we often walk through life just living and not thinking about how important that grace through His son- Jesus Christ is to our lives. We don’t deserve it and we have been given this huge sacrifice by God.  Think of how powerful He is.  We should fear God. We should think about Him and His almighty power every single day- including the fact that He loved us enough to sacrifice His son so we could go on living these lives of ours with the knowledge that we will have eternity in heaven. We should be grateful for that and show it in our actions and rely on God to lead our lives.

So now on to the brownie topic.

I prayed to God (and still do) that He would allow me to conquer the enemy that I face with food. I turn to it when I am stressed, angry, upset, lonely, excited, and more. I felt controlled by food. God lead me to a meal plan and fitness program that I believe changed my life. I still love food. I love to eat. I love sweets, carbs, and so much more, but now I don’t indulge as much as I used to on the “bad” stuff and when I do indulge, I still try to make smarter choices.  Enter- Clean Eating boards on Pinterest!

After adding more and more recipes to my board that called for coconut products, I decided I needed to stock up.

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I will say that I was very skeptical at first because I have NEVER liked coconut.  You know, the sweet white stuff people put on cakes and cookies.  But I wanted to try it. So about 9 months ago I started using coconut oil in some of my baking and cooking.  I stocked up this weekend with even more ingredients and made my first baked goods using coconut flour.  I even got some unsweetened coconut chips because someone fixed a really delicious trail mix at my chiropractor’s office that tasted nothing like the coconut that I always think of.

I tell you all this, because when our Life Group gets together on Sundays, we eat together and share desserts together. I have been so blessed to be able to host this group in my home and share my love for baking with them.

So next time you are looking for something chocolatey and delicious but that isn’t going to wreck your clean eating or otherwise healthy eating, try this

Chocolate Coconut Flour Brownie (adapted from this recipe)

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS. organic Coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS. honey
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 TBS. (50 g) coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I used Everyday life brand)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8″x8″ glass baking pan with parchment so two edges hang over the side of the pan.(for easy removal and cutting) Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In glass measuring cup, melt coconut oil in microwave. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder and the melted coconut oil, and eggs with an electric mixer until combined. Add in the agave (or honey) and vanilla extract. Mix again until combined. Add in the coconut flour and salt and mix again until the batter is thoroughly combined.
  3. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips. Spread into prepared pan evenly.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and once cooled to room temperature, remove from pan and cut into 16 squares. You can either refrigerate the brownies or leave them at room temperature in an airtight container.

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They were a huge hit and I hope you love them too!

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Healthy Peach Crumble

We host a Life Group from our church at our house twice a month. It is such a great time to fellowship and study the Word with others in our community.  We share meal time together and I typically provide a dessert.

I love to bake.  If you didn’t know that already, then I recommend taking a look at some of my older posts where I share some of my favorite recipes!!

But while I love a good dessert just as much as the next person, I don’t like to mess up my healthy food choices on a regular basis.  So this week, I decided to search for a healthier option and found this recipe for a healthy peach crumble.  I want to share this recipe with you as it was so delicious!

INGREDIENTS

4 extra large peaches, diced (or 5-6 medium)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ tsp almond extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
¾ c old-fashioned oats (gluten-free if necessary)
¼ c whole wheat flour (or millet flour)
2 tbsp agave
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (or margarine)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly coat an 8”-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the diced peaches, cornstarch, almond extract, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon until thoroughly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, flour, and remaining cinnamon. Add in the agave and butter, mixing until completely incorporated.
  4. Spread the peach mixture into the prepared pan, and evenly sprinkle the oat crumbs on top. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, or until the peach juice is bubbling and the oat mixture turns crunchy. Cool completely to room temperature. For best results, let the crumble rest for 2 hours after coming to room temperature before serving to allow the juices to thicken.

 

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You could top this with some Greek yogurt, or for a bigger splurge, a little vanilla low carb, low sugar ice cream!

Healthy Taco Tuesday

If you know me, then you know that I LOVE Mexican food.  We eat some version of Mexican or Southwest food 3 or more times a week.  Usually one of those days is at our favorite place near our house that has the best salsa and freshest Mexican food I have ever had.

I started eating clean and following the 21 Day  Fix meal plan back in January and have been sharing some of the recipes that I have found or created on this blog. But it has been over a month since I have shared anything!

Life had gotten away from me. I was spending too much time on things that are not as important in my life as the things that I was not spending enough time on. I was neglecting my priorities. So this blog took a back burner.

I have been working through a new Bible Study…well, actually, it’s not new, it is Priscilla Shirer’s first study– “He Speaks to Me.”  But it is new to me. It is all about how to hear when God is speaking to you and being open and ready to hear Him when he does speak.  It has been exactly what I needed. Life gets so stressful and we can let so many other things cloud our minds and take over our lives that we forget those things that are most important to us and we can’t even think, much less be open hear.

I have gotten back on track with prepping as many meals for the week as I can on Sunday afternoons so that I can have more quality time with my son and husband during the week.  I’m trying to be more focused on whatever I am actually doing, when I am doing it, rather than trying to do too many things at once and not doing any of them well.

One of the recipes that I cooked this week was recommended by my sister-in-law and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with all of you too!

21 Day Fix Chicken Taquitos, original recipe found here
Ingredients:

  • 1.25 cup shredded chicken
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup mexican shredded cheese
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • salt
  • oil/spray

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In a pan over medium heat, combine shredded chicken, greek yogurt, salsa, Mexican cheese (and hilarious now that I’m reading this, I realize that I forgot the cheese, but it was still delicious!), cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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  • Sprinkle the mixture with salt to your taste and set aside.
  • Place corn tortillas between wet paper towels and microwave 30-40 seconds.
  • Fill each tortilla with 2 tbsps of chicken mixture. Spread out on tortilla and roll up and place on baking sheet.
  • Once all the tortillas are filled, spray each of them with cooking spray or brush with oil
  • Bake taquitos for 12-15 minutes per side or until crisp and golden brown. (I did not flip mine because the tortillas were about to break apart, and they were still deliciously crispy when done).

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21 Day Fix Container: 2 Taquitos= 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue.

You can also top with avocado, more cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa.

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I hope you try this recipe and enjoy on your next Taco Tuesday.

 

Front Door Project

I have been trying to find something for my front door for a while now.  I attempted to make a wreath a few months ago and I did.  But it really wasn’t that cute.  I don’t love the toil fluffy wreaths.  I am not great at adding flowers wreaths without making it look like a 2 year old did it.  This weekend I decided to attempt to make something for the front door that is not a wreath.

So off to A.C. Moore I went.  I wandered up and down the aisles until I came across a cute little blank wooden sign that I figured I could do something with.  What? I wasn’t sure.  So then I grabbed some grey, antique white, and teal paint with no further plans.

After searching on Pinterest for a bit, I found a few pieces of inspiration.

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So then I set off to design my own sign.  While watching one of my all-time favorite shows- “Gilmore Girls.”

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Next step was to figure out my base color.  I started with the grey but it was too solid. So I decided to take a risk and went over it really softly and loosely with the antique white.

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Next was to try my hand at a pretty little daisy– which happens to be my favorite flower and free-handing a pretty little “A.”

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Next was trying to figure out if I should put more- like my full name, year we were married, etc.  After printing off some different fonts and cutting out my own stencils then tracing them. Finding the perfect placement was an interesting process that required approval from my husband and my son!

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Next it was time to paint.  This took a long time.  Including my sweet husband taking a trip to Dollar General for me to get some smaller paint brushes.

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And finally, so the finished product would last after being outside in the elements, a few coats of polyurethane, and it is done and ready to hang!

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I had so much fun!  I challenge you all to find something fun and easy to personalize your home!  And with the paint and the sign, this was a $10 project!!

 

 

Homemade Chocolate Popsicles

Every week when I plan and prepare my meals for the week, I try to do one thing new.  Before starting my Clean Eating lifestyle, I used to eat one sugar free fudge pop a day.  I now know that although it is only 20 calories, it is probably not the healthiest choice.  But I have been missing that little treat at night. So I decided to make my own.

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So I set out on Pinterest to find a recipe and found this Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Yogurt Pop

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw or organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

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  • Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for 30 minutes before inserting the popsicle sticks.

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  • Freeze the popsicles until they are frozen solid, about 4 hours.

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I followed the instructions explicitly.  But when I tried to remove the popsicle, they would NOT come out.  So my husband gave it a try and broke the whole mold right off!

He suggested running it under water, so I gave it a try.  Just about 5 seconds under slightly luke warm water did the trick and the popsicles came right out.

Macon enjoyed his for about 3 minutes then gave it up.  Jonathan and I really enjoyed our little ice cream treat.  The flavor was good but it did taste a little more yogurt-y than chocolate-y so I may need to adjust the amounts of some of the ingredients next time.  But all in all, this is a great replacement to my nightly fudge pop!

Lasagna Boats

When I was searching for different recipe ideas to prepare for this week’s meals, I stumbled upon a Zucchini Lasagna Boat recipe that looked delicious.  I decided to give it a try.  We had this cleaned up and healthier comfort food for dinner last night and it was a HIT!  My husband made it a point to tell me that he thought it was delicious.

Here is my recipe for Lasagna Boats adapted from the original:

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium zucchini (2 1/2 lbs), sliced into halves through the length*
  • 1 cup (8.6 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz lean ground turkey
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup clean tomato sauce (I used this clean 21 Day Fix Approved Tomato Sauce)

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a spoon, scoop centers from zucchini while leaving a 1/4-inch rim to create boats. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl stir together ricotta cheese, egg and 1 1/2 Tbsp of the parsley. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  The original recipe also called for 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese but I completely forgot it!.  Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tsp of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble turkey into pan, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up when stirring, until browned. Stir in tomato sauce and ;let simmer for a few minutes, remove from heat.
  • To assemble boats, brush both sides of of zucchini lightly with remaining 2 tsp olive oil and place in two baking pans (I used a 13 by 9 and a 9 by 9). Divide cheese mixture among zucchini spooning about 2 1/2 Tbsp into each, then spread cheese mixture into and even layer. Divide sauce among zucchini adding a few heaping spoonfuls to each. Cover baking dishes with foil and place in oven side by side and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes.

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  • Remove from oven, sprinkle tops with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella (again, cooking too quickly, I mixed the mozzarella cheese into the cheese mixture and cooked all together instead of adding it at the end, still delish!), return to oven and bake until cheese has melted and zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

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Next time you’re in the mood for some warm and delicious comfort food but want to keep it healthy, try this recipe out and let me know what you think!

My 3 Day Refresh Recap

If you follow me on Facebook, then you may know that I completed the Beachbody 3 Day Refresh on May 31-June 2.  I’m here today to tell you a little more about that experience.

I had several friends from work and from my coaching world who had completed the Refresh and were extremely happy with their results.  I was already curious about trying it and then Beachbody put it on sale!  What?!  About the same time, my sister-in-law was telling me that she wanted to try it.  We decided to do it together– knowing someone else is going through the same thing really makes you stick to it!

3 Day Refresh is a 3 day program of special shakes, snacks, and simple meals designed to help you lose weight and break the cycle of bad eating while helping you improve the way you feel.

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I had been on vacation and while I was still eating clean the majority of the time, I found myself eating a little more than I should and having a few too many treats.  I thought this would be the perfect way to reset my body and get me back on track and ready for continued progress with my 21 Day Fix meal plan and workouts.

I’m sure you have all heard about different clenses or juice fasts and wonder how Beachbody’s 3 Day Refresh is different.  Well here is an explanation direct from the source:

Unlike juice fasts or liquid cleanses that are high in sugar and low in protein (which can leave you feeling weak and sluggish), the 3-Day Refresh is scientifically designed to help support your metabolism while nourishing your vital organs.  Plus, you actually get to eat delicious, real food during this program.
Why Refresh?
  • You need a clean break from a period of unhealthy eating.
  • You used to eat pretty well but have recently fallen off the wagon and need some help getting back on.
  • You want to jump-start healthy eating habits for a new workout program.
  • You want to quickly lose a few pounds for an upcoming event.
  • You’ve never been a healthy eater, but are ready to kick-start better nutrition for the first time.
  • You want your clothes to fit better.
  • You want more energy.
  • You love food and want to be satisfied while you lose weight and get healthier.
  • You’ve tried liquid fasts or other fad diets and they simply don’t work.

Please remember that I am NOT a doctor, nutritionist and nothing I am saying or sharing from Beachbody’s website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease!

Now are you ready for my experience??

You can get the 3 Day Refresh with our without Shakeology.  Since I already drink Shakeology on a daily basis, I purchases the pack without Shakeology.  The package comes with:

  • 6 packets of Vanilla Fresh (high-protein shake)
  • 3 packets of Fiber Sweet (digestive drink)
  • 1 Program Guide

The eating plan for the 3 days is extremely simple, but it is crucial that you follow it exactly.  You are on a low calorie diet for those 3 days so you need to space the meals out evenly.

  • Wake up: 8-10 ounces of Water
  • Breakfast: Shakeology and a serving of fruit
    • The first day I had my fruit in my blended Shakeology. But for the second two days, I opted to have it plain so I could eat my fruit and slow that meal down some
  • Morning Tea: 1 cup unsweetened herbal or green tea (I opted for green tea and sweetened with stevia- which is allowed)
  • Late morning: Fiber Sweep.  Now let me tell you.  This is not very good. It just isn’t.  Does the name sound like it would be?  No!  But when you remember that you are only doing this for 3 days and that it is supposed to reset your body and your digestion, you realize you can take one for the team.  It has a really nice, refreshing lemon aroma and flavor which makes it nice.  You mix this with 8 ounces of water and drink IMMEDIATELY.  Read that- immediately.  It thickens as it sits so it is important to drink right away.  I just chugged it in less than a minute and it was over and done with!  I did read somewhere that someone suggested you blend it with ice to make a shake but I just felt that chugging it and getting it done was better.

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  • Lunch: Vanilla Fresh shake plus 1 serving of fruit, 1 serving of vegetables and 1 healthy fat serving.  The program guide tells you exactly what fruits, vegetables and healthy fats to choose from and the specific amounts.  The first day I just considered the little olive oil on my broccoli to be my healthy fat but when I was super hungry later, I realized that I probably should have had something else. So for the next two days, I had almond butter with my fruit.  The Vanilla Fresh shake is really delicious!  It is a different formulation than Shakeology but it has a really nice vanilla flavor and fills you up!

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  • Afternoon Snack: 1 vegetable serving and 1 healthy fat option.  Each day I had cucumbers with hummus.  If you haven’t tried hummus before- you should, it is delicious!!
  • Afternoon tea: 1 cup of unsweetened herbal tea (I didn’t have the afternoon and evening tea)
  • Dinner: Vanilla Fresh shake and 1 Dinner Recipe servings.  The dinner recipes include things like a salad with lemon and olive oil drizzle, stir fry vegetables, asparagus and slivered almonds.  You may also have 1 cup of organic vegetable broth.
  • Evening Tea: 1 cup of unsweetened herbal tea

Throughout the day you need to be drinking a ton of water- half of your body weight in ounces of water on top of the water you are having in your shakes and teas.

Only light exercise is recommended during the 3 days since you are on a reduced calorie diet.  On day 1, I did yoga as soon as I woke up.  By the end of the day, I was pretty hungry and went to sleep with my stomach growling.  On day 2, I did about 10 minutes of yoga and then decided I was just too tired.  Now, full disclosure- I really don’t think this is related to the 3 Day Refresh.  I happened to get strep throat at the same time!!  I was really sore from an intense chiropractic adjustment and my throat hurt from the inside out.  At the end of day 2, I wasn’t as hungry as day 1 but was just pooped out and was ready to eat more food!  Day 3 was about the same as day 2.  I didn’t try to do any exercising and went to the doctor to get on antibiotics for my strep throat.  The fiber sweep was particularly difficult that day because my throat hurt so bad.  But by the end of the day, I was not hungry at all. And then I woke up the next day feeling great!  I slept great, wasn’t hungry at all!  As the day went on, I found myself feeling more satisfied after each meal, not as hungry in between and was able to be more active.

No for my results:

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I lost 4.5 pounds and 1 inch in my belly!!  I didn’t measure my legs and arms before or after so I don’t know if I lost any there or not.  My sister-in-law lost 5.2 pounds and 2.5 inches around her waist!

Now on to the question I know most people are wondering about…..  Would I do it again?

YES.  I would.  Under the right circumstances.

I learned a few things about myself during these 3 days and know that if I ever go off track a little too much that I can take a few days to reset myself, eat smaller and more simple meals, maybe even leave out meat.

But next year after I go on my cruise and indulge a little too much, I definitely see 3 Day Refresh in my future to get me back on track!

If you’re interested in trying 3 Day Refresh, TODAY is the last day that it is on sale!  BUT you can get it at any time just by contacting me or click on the graphic below.  Also, if you want to start a Beachbody Challenge where you complete a full workout and meal plan along with Shakeology and participate in my Challenge group for support and motivation, you can add the 3 Day Refresh to most of the challenge packs as a way to Kickstart your Challenge and set you up for greater success!!

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