Strawberry Shortcake… OMG

 

Dear Sister,
This is hands-down the best recipe I’ve had for strawberry shortcake.  Adapted from this recipe at dashing dish.com

She calls them muffins, but think of them as Grandma’s peach cake in cupcake form… with strawberries.  OMG, I know.

Strawberry Shortcake

Healthy Flourless Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

2 1/2 cup Oats (old fashioned kind, not quick cooking)
1 cup Plain low fat greek yogurt (I used organic vanilla)
2 Eggs (I used 1 egg + 2 whites, but try 4 whites next time)
1/2 cup Baking stevia OR 1 cup sweetener of choice that measures like sugar
(I used a stevia/turbinado blend but would try an alternative next time)
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 1/2 cup Strawberries, diced, and patted dry +
(optional 1/2 cup strawberries, diced to place on top of muffins ((I RECOMMEND THIS!))
Optional 1 tsp lemon juice (I used 1tsp vanilla extract instead)
*Note use greased muffin tins (no paper).
I used foil liners and they caused sticking, even after the cupcakes cooled.

Eric HATES the taste of stevia, and he’s not the only one.  I pretend I like it but really it’s just a tolerance.  Stevia works great for recipes that do not involve heat- it would be great in icing recipes, for example.  As soon as you put stevia in the oven, it seems to result in a bitter aftertaste which is obviously unappealing and can ruin a great recipe!

Sooooo, what to do to avoid processed sugar?  Here are my thoughts on some substitutes…

First off, the yogurt is vanilla flavored, and has 16g of sugar in one cup.  I say, use plain yogurt and try flavoring it yourself with vanilla extract or better yet, a genuine vanilla bean.

Secondly, use honey instead of processed sugar.  I know, it’s a sweetener, but it’s CLEAN and 100% natural (depending on the brand) so I feel better using it than white sugar.  Try using half as much as what the recipe calls for (Recipe says 1Cup sugar?  Use 1/2 cup honey instead).

Another idea is to use applesauce instead of the sugar, but you have to decrease the amount of liquid in the recipe to compensate. Instructions here.

Try for even LESS calories-  replace the eggs with 4 egg whites.

Strawberry Shortcake

Healthy Flourless Strawberry Shortcake

MMMM… I can smell them now!

The estimated total time to make this recipe is 30-35 Minutes.

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins with cooking spray- I suggest unrefined coconut oil.

2. Place all of the ingredients (except the strawberries) in a blender or food processor, and blend until oats are smooth. Pour mixture into a medium sized bowl, and stir in strawberries. Divide remaining 1/2 cup diced strawberries over the top of each muffin. (This step is optional, but it really makes the strawberries burst with color and flavor on top of each muffin!)Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

3. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Mine were perfect at 22 minutes.

Strawberry Shortcake

little strawberry volcanoes!

I lazily topped mine with cool whip from the can because I had it in the fridge- Eric ate the cool whip ones and I ate the plain ones.  I found a great recipe for dairy free coconut icing which would taste FABULOUS on these!!

Strawberry Shortcake

Healthy Flourless Strawberry Shortcake

To Our Health and Happiness!

xo

 

New House = Blank Canvas

 

Dear Sister,

As you know, we are moving again!  I am excited to grow some roots here in TX, not to mention start a home chicken flock for fresh eggs and have some new studio space.

Inspiration is what I’m looking for right now.  I think I was getting it confused with motivation, but nope… it’s inspiration.  Lately I have been feeling mopey and sad and just tired.  I know that this move will bring new problems and stressors, but I am so grateful to have something new to look forward to, and finally a big blank canvas called a house!  Yay!  Being out in the country will provide lots of inspiration for me- and it will give me room to grow ideas without the surrounding weird energy of neighbors and cars.

New House

New House

There are two places that I might have my studio.  One is in the main house upstairs, what is now considered a media room, and the other is in the outbuilding.  Both need a bit of work before I can be completely comfortable using my torches, but nothing we can’t tackle before we move in.  One thing I know is that I need SPACE, NATURAL LIGHT (Lots of windows) and NO CARPET.  I also need to be separated from the distractions of home- including our darling mutts.  Actually, that may be the most important piece! Check out some ideas here and let me know what you think! JEWELRY STUDIO IDEAS

Chihuahua

Darling Mutt

I am anxious to see what the property looks like in spring.  I want to plant bulbs- glory of the snow, crocuses, all those early rising flowers… and this year will be all about places to plant for next spring.  I love to “window” shop at Dutch Gardens.

I have also started a pinterest board called Garden, where I am gathering ideas for perennials and herbs.  You have to come and visit to see the new place!  Help me plant flowers, raise chickens, set up the studio, and bake of course!!

Masterpiece

Masterpiece

xo

 

2014 ~ All About Me

 

Dear Sister,

I was talking to a woman the other day who HATES New Years.  Can you imagine?  I mean, I guess for some people enough goes wrong and there just seems to be nothing to look forward to.

I, on the other hand, LOVE New Years.  I love the sparkles and celebrations, but most of all I love the new beginnings.  Everyone has their own take and beliefs on New Years resolutions.  Sometimes I make one (or some) and other times I don’t.  This past year has been so busy and I’ve rarely spent time focusing on the things in life that really matter.  All the while, life is just passing right by!

This year I am making a resolution… It’s me… being healthy and being NICE to myself.  Not beating myself up all the time and saying mean things under my breath like some kind of bipolar worst enemy.  I want to be truly healthy in body AND mind.  Mind especially, because I think that’s the hardest part of living life, finding true happiness, and overcoming challenges.  I figured I’d kick-start my year’s goals by trying out sobriety.

Now, I don’t consider myself a heavy drinker, but I DO splurge from time to time… moderation not really being part of my drinking habits.  Plus, the hangovers these days really aren’t worth the “fun” that drinking provides.  I find much more enjoyment in waking up early and starting my day feeling great with my mug of coffee.  It’s nice to be able to enjoy my workouts without sweating a bottle of whiskey, and maintaining a general positive feeling about life.

Although it’s only been a week, I am DEFINITELY not even thinking about alcohol. Knowing that I’ve made the choice to not drink this year is making a commitment to myself- I rarely break those due to the incredible amount of guilt that I feel if I do.

I have to say… Last Friday I was thinking, “Tomorrow is Saturday…”  then I got a flutter of a bummed out feeling knowing I’d wake up hungover and probably feel miserable all day… but then I remembered… “wait!  I’m not drinking so I should feel great tomorrow!”  and I was excited!!  Pretty cool how this resolution thing is already making me happy.  haha.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there will be some tough times coming up… like celebrating when we get our house, or coming home to visit, or ST PATRICKS DAY!! AHHHH!!!  Well, I might just have myself a couple green cupcakes instead.

All in all, I’m digging my new found appreciation for myself… feeling happier, healthier, and more committed to mind and body.  Time to be nice to myself!

 

 

Give Me a Break! (not the Kit-Kat kind)

 

Kit KatDear Sister,

As you know, I’ve been training very hard for the Tough Mudder.

I’ve been in this weird kind of cycle where I feel guilty when I rest- even if it’s only one day a week!
To be honest, I RARELY take a day off from a workout, and I’m starting to pay for it.

On Monday I ran 10.2 miles to prove to myself that I could actually run the distance necessary to complete the race.  After the 6 mile mark, I started getting pain in my leg where I had my injury years ago.  All these “voices” and “red flags” started going off in my brain.  I heard Keira (kettle bell trainer) saying, “if you train too hard you WILL injure yourself.  You need to take a break to give your body time to recover… this is the only way your body can repair itself and get stronger… ” Did I stop running?  ‘Course not.

Yesterday at the kettlebell gym I felt VERY tired- enough that Keira noticed.  I’m not allowed to go back to the kettle bell gym until Monday.  And still, I’m trying to figure out how to secretly get a workout in.  Is it habit?  Or, is it some kind of weird mental disorder?  Why do I feel like I’m giving up on myself if I don’t run my body into the ground?

You never, EVER think that exercise can be unhealthy.  It’s always been the way to GET healthy or STAY healthy.  I mean, who exercises TOO MUCH??  unheard of, at least that’s what I thought!  There’s a plethora of crap that goes on in your body when you overwork it… Read about “Female Athlete Triad” and “Adrenal Burnout,” sent by Keira-

Female Athlete Triad

http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/female-athlete-triad-are-you-risk

and this:

Push the Pause Button on Adrenal Burnout
hymandev.artilent.com

Thankfully I have the fashion show to prepare for so that will keep me busy over the next few days.  There IS a part of me that is screaming, “finally!  Let’s enjoy REAL life for a few days!”

I am banking on the fact that I need this rest and will have the best workout of my life on Monday.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

xoxo

PS.  Great… now all I want is a Kit Kat!!

Black Bean Fudge Brownies!

 

photo (29)

All I have to say about these brownies is that they are the BEST I’ve ever had!! So easy to make and are SO MOIST!

No flour, no butter, no white sugar.. and vegan!  TO DIE FOR!

MAKES 12 BROWNIES!

Ingredients:

1 15-oz can Black Beans (drained and rinsed well)

1/2 cup quick oats

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 Tbsp Light Agave Nectar

4 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I use powdered peanut butter for lower cals)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 Tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor

Blend extremely well!

Pour batter in a greased brownie pan

Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly across top of batter

Bake 15-18 min

Allow brownies to cool for at least 10 min before cutting

Sabrinah’s Sprouted French Toast (100 cals)

 

Dear Sister,

To prepare for Deavon and Amy’s visit, I decided I would try a recipe for baked French Toast.   This recipe allows you to mix everything ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning,  just pop it into the oven for easy breakfast, which translates into more time to hang out.

I was in Trader Joe’s looking at the labels on all the different “artisan” breads to use as French Toast.  Almost ALL of them began the ingredient list with Enriched Flour, which is BAD!!  I resorted to my Ezekiel bread which is sprouted and much more nutritious (as well as lower in cals) and I spotted the Cinnamon Raisin.  YUMMY, and one of Grandma’s favorites.  I thought it would be perfect for my recipe trial.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin

Ingredients for toast:

10 slices Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread, cubed :  800 cal

5 egg whites : 85 cal

1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk : 45 cal
(note)  if you want a more custard-like coating, you have to use some cream, butter, or something with some fat, maybe coconut milk?)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon (could add more if you are using regular bread)

Topping:

2 TBS Stevia in the Raw (or sweetener of choice), + 1/2 tsp cinnamon for sprinkling before baking.

olive oil spray, butter, or coconut oil for coating the dish and top of toast before baking.

Serving:

Pure maple syrup, butter, berries, powdered sugar, anything your heart desires!

Sprouted French Toast

Liquid poured over bread

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spray 8×8 baking dish with olive oil and add cubed bread

2. Whisk remaining toast ingredients together and pour over bread.  Use a spatula to gently turn the bread, coating all the cubes with the liquid mixture.

3. cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

4. in the morning, spray the top of the toast with cooking spray or brush with butter.  Sprinkle the sweetener and additional cinnamon on top.

5. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until top turns golden brown.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

6. Top with all your favorite goodies!!

Makes 9 servings at 100 calories each (toppings not included)

I found that many French Toast recipes called for whole eggs and sugar… brown sugar, white sugar, added syrup into mixture, etc., but with the raisins and syrup as a topping there is no need for added sugar.  The Stevia in the Raw is a natural, herbal sweetener that is calorie free.  Even this can be omitted and you will still have a delicious treat.

french toast

sprouted french toast

Let’s wait and see what Deavon and Amy think when they dig in tomorrow!

xo

PS… big hit… and I ate the leftovers COLD!  :)

Quick Black Bean Burgers: 111 Calories

 

Dear Sister,

With all this time on my hands, lately all I want to do is COOK! I’ve been all over Pinterest (for hours.. not exaggerating) and could find a freaking recipe for black bean burgers that didn’t have a billion ingredients in it! I came across one that inspired me to just, shall I say “wing it.” This was a recipe from “forksoverknives.com”  The main ingredients were black beans and quick oats. (Seemed a lot like your banana cookies, honestly!) and finally, you didn’t need a food processor! Best of all, these burgers are ready in only 15 minutes!!!

Here’s my recipe!

BLACK BEAN BURGERS: 111 Calories, Vegan

Ingredients:

1 can of drained and rinsed black beans

1/3 cup quick oats

1 tbsp chopped onion

1 tsp garlic powder

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tsp ketchup

1tsp spicy brown mustard

(any other desired seasonings)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2. In a bowl, mash black beans with a fork until the consistency is thick and mushy.

3. Add seasonings, ketchup and mustard. Mix together.

4. Combine quick oats with mixture.

photo (22)

5. On a greased cookie sheet, portion mixture into 4 thin patties.

photo (21)

6. Bake for 7 minutes. Carefully flip each burger and bake for an additional 7 minutes!

Voila!

I put the burger in a lettuce wrap with some tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and mustard!

photo (20)photo (19)

Dear Sister, it was freakin’ delicious!! Enjoy!!

LES MILLS GRIT™: my personal challenge

 

Dear Sister,

So I signed up for 4 weeks of LES MILLS GRIT™. We meet twice a week at 6 am. Each class is 30 minutes long and varies between PLYO, CARDIO, and STRENGTH. I took a demo class on July 4th and let me just say my thoughts were something like this..

“F#@% YEAH! I’M SIGNING UP RIGHT FREAKING NOW!”

285635_491735117530214_1211782539_ntile-grit-cardio tile-grit-plyo

The idea is to push you to muscle failure. And something our trainer says that I LOVE is “Don’t let your mind take over. Turn your mind off and keep going!” I can’t even tell you how amazing it feels walking out of a class thinking I couldn’t possibly push myself any further, and the next class I’m determined to prove myself wrong! Seriously never did so many burpees in my life! haha!

GRIT™ also has a 21 day nutrition challenge (and a challenge, it is!).

Looks like this:

It’s recommended that women eat five meals per day and men eat six meals a day. On workout days, one of these meals should be a post-workout protein shake.

Every meal should contain:
- Protein – one palmful of animal protein, that includes; fish, chicken, turkey, duck, pork, beef, lamb, shellfish and eggs AND
Fat – a thumb size, focusing on getting in your essential fatty acids like; avocado, olive oil, walnuts and flaxseeds AND
Carbohydrates – one to two handfuls of low-starch carbs such as asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, raw carrots, onions, tomatoes and eggplant.

Where your meal is a Protein shake – we recommend you use only whey protein and water. Women should have .01 ounces/.3 grams per kg of body weight. Men should have .02 ounces/.5 grams per kg of body weight.

Water – take your body weight in kg and multiply by 0.033 litres of water per day, then add an extra glass for every hour of exercise.

Foods to avoid – dairy products, roasted salty nuts, grains including oats, polenta, rice and couscous, wheat, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables and soy apart from Tamari. And to drink? Water, herbal tea, coffee (black), black tea, no sweeteners.

(COURTESY OF lesmills.com)

ch120229_les_mills_1654_5flatcmyk_campaign_rotator

As far as the meal plan goes, I’ve been struggling with giving up fruit, chickpeas (hummus), and the occasional rice/pasta. I’m also realizing I have an addiction to those banana oatmeal cookies! And I shouldn’t have fruit or oats! BOO! I was doing great without any alcohol whatsoever (for 2 weeks) but really lost control this past Saturday night. I felt so freaking bad that I hit the gym HARD on Sunday morning and still felt awful. I knew I was doing good, but it honestly took a huge failure to realize how important this was to me! And I feel more determined than ever!

Banana oatmeal cookies

Dear Sister, these cookies are too good to give up!

Today marks week 3 of GRIT™ training! I’m so excited about all the personal challenges I’ve faced and overcome during the past 2 weeks.. and I’m determined to finish out the last 2 STRONG! They took our measurements before the 4 weeks and will take them again after! I can’t wait to tell you about the outcome.

 

I’ve already reserved my spot for next  GRIT™ session! My goal is to focus more on the meal plan and I have the next 2 weeks to get it all figured out!

grit_q1_2013_bild

Veggies… it’s because I love you!

 

Dear Sister,

Let’s talk “garden.”

You already know I decided to plant some raised garden beds, which I built from salvaged carpet tile crates.
I painted them purple because that’s my favorite color and I wanted them to make me smile.  They are beautiful!

I had some special garden soil delivered to the house- on Earth Day, no less!  It made me feel warm and fuzzy- I think the planet was saying “THANK YOU”

Raised Garden Beds

“Raised Garden Beds”

I wanted to plant a few different veggies- the ones I love the most.  Tomatoes, Zucchini, Eggplant, and Spaghetti squash.
Oh yeah, and lots of peppers- perfect for your stuffed pepper recipe!

Raised Garden Bed

Week 6 My “Raised Garden Beds” emphasis on SQUASH!

Because of having only small, square beds, I had to figure out how to make the best use of my garden space.
I’ve always wanted to try Companion Gardening, and I used this method to come up with my garden plan.

Companion Gardening is the process of planting certain veggies, herbs, and/or flowers together to enhance the flavor of vegetables or deter pests.  These plants go together, well… like Peanut Butter and Chocolate.
There is a FABULOUS list of companion plants HERE

For example, I planted rosemary near my tomatoes because rosemary is supposed to deepen the flavor of tomatoes and help them grow stronger.
I have some “greenies” on my tomato plants but none ripe enough to test this out.  I’ll let you know about this one. :)

In addition to providing beauty, some flowers are perfect for vegetable gardens.
I planted some marigolds which excrete a substance from their roots that naturally deters insects like nematodes and white flies.

Nasturtium, which comes in vibrant, warm hues, deters squash bugs and those nasty little aphids.
I have these planted in both beds.

Nasturtium

Dear Sister, “nasturtium flowers” Perfectly pretty.

Obviously, flowers also attract the GOOD bugs… like our favorite- HONEY BEES!

Honey Bee Nasturtium

Our Favorite, “Honey Bees”

I will keep you updated on the progress of my garden and which methods work best for me.
I would LOVE to taste some homegrown tomatoes right now.

There’s just something so satisfying about gardening- growing our own food, sustaining our own lives! And not to mention the fabulous health benefits that come from organic veggies.

XOXOXOXO

 

 

Stuffed Peppers!

 

Dear Sister,

I was feeling a little bit zesty today so I thought I would try making some stuffed peppers! Uh, Delicious!!!

I couldn’t find a good vegan cream cheese substitute at my local store, so I caved and used “the real stuff.”

STUFFED PEPPERS

Here’s what you need:

20 Peppers! (your choice of sweet, jalapeno, etc)

1 Bag of Boca Burger

8 0z. light cream cheese (softened)

1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (I used Veggie Mozzerella)

A dash of garlic powder

photo (11)

Get Started:

Preheat oven to 365 degrees

1. In a skillet, cook the boca burger, stirring frequently. (About 10 min)

2. Half peppers and rinse out seeds

photo (10)

3. In a mixing bowl, stir together cream cheese, shredded cheese, and garlic powder

4. Fold in boca burger gradually until it looks like this

photo (9)

5. Use a spoon to portion stuffing onto the peppers. Place the peppers on a lightly greased pan cheese side up.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes

photo (8)

Dear Sister,

Deavon approved these. haha!

Nutritional Info (per 1 pepper):

Please consider I used Philadelphia cream cheese (1/3 the fat) and SWEET peppers!

Calories: 69

Total Fat: 2.8g

Saturated Fat: 1.6g

Cholesterol: 8mg

Sodium: 137mg

Potassium: 111mg

Total Carbs: 1.2g

Sugars: 0

Protein: 5.3g