Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book Review: Radical Beauty

I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my health and beauty routines and I have been a fan of Deepak Chopra since I was young, I remember my mother being interested in his work and reading his books. Radical Beauty by Deepak Chopra and Kimberly Snyder is chock full of useful information. The book looks at beauty holistically with an emphasis on Ayurvedic medicine.

In addition to providing recipes to improve circulation and keep skin hydrated there's also information on optimal amounts of macronutrients and foods to limit/avoid. While I haven't tried any of the recipes in the book I am excited to try the Glowing Green Smoothie. I do try to start my mornings with a room temperature glass of water, which is another tip in the book. According to Radical Beauty, liquids we consume should be taken in at room temperature for optimal health.

The book is jam packed with information, it did take me longer to read than most books but that could be because I was really trying to soak in the information. Because there is so much information I feel like I can pick and choose which items fit my lifestyle and what I can add to my daily routine. Hopefully I will be looking and feeling younger in no time!

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weight Loss

Growing up I was always thin. I never had to worry about my weight. My diet consisted of junk food, I ate fast food whenever I wanted and hardly ever ate a real meal. I also never exercised. EVER. In P.E. I would walk the track instead of run it. I would do the bare minimum just to keep my grade up. I even took badminton for P.E. my sophomore year just to ensure I got the least amount of physical activity possible. I knew eventually my lazy bad habits would catch up with me but at the time I didn't care.

I had my first daughter when I was 20. I had my second daughter when I was 22. Having two kids in such a short amount of time was tough of my body. I had my third daughter when I was 24 and my fourth when I was 30. After having my third daughter I expected to lose a little weight, like I had with the previous two pregnancies, but I didn't. The weight stuck around and when I got pregnant with my fourth daughter I weighed as much at the beginning of my pregnancy as I did when I gave birth to my third. After the fourth I lost no weight. I stayed that weight for five years.

For about the last 10 years I had worn a size 16. I hated it but I loved junk food more. Earlier this year I had to buy a size 18 pant. It was depressing, but I still didn't care enough to change my life. It wasn't until after my birthday in February that I decided to do something about it. In March 2016, Rob and I both decided that we were tired of being fat and tired. We started by changing our diets and giving up fast food. We also started working out. We would use our weight machine in the garage for 30-45 minutes a day, most days of the week. I also started walking on the treadmill that had been used as a coat rack for years. The diet part was easy for me, I like healthy food just about as much as I like junk food but the working out was the tough part for me, and it still is. I have to make myself do it because once I do I feel so much better.

I have have lost 42 pounds and 5 inches from my waist. I have also lowered my total cholesterol from 190 mg/dL one year ago to 132 mg/dL just this month. My triglycerides number was 299 mg/dL one year ago and are now it is at 112 mg/dL. My BMI has gone from 30.3 to 26.3. I now wear a size 12. All without any magic pill, wrap, cream or crazy diet.

BEFORE - Christmas 2014. I gained 10 more pounds between this one and my after photo.

AFTER - July 2016. Excuse my messy closet.

 I still have more weight to lose, and it's going a lot slower now but I know I will eventually reach my goal and I will maintain it. Besides the weight loss I am so much healthier and happier. I am able to be more active than I have ever been. One year ago we went on a five mile hike and I thought I was going to die. A few weeks ago we went on that same hike and it was a piece of cake. I am excited to continue this lifestyle for the rest of my life.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gluten-Free For Good by Samantha Seneviratne

I have been eating gluten-free since March 2016. I have spent years with stomach/digestive issues. For some reason it took me a long time to realize it probably had something to do with my diet. I assumed it was dairy, I had tried to cut dairy out a few times in the past and felt okay for a little while but my love of cheese was too strong and I'd always cheat within a week. We went to lunch to celebrate my birthday in February, after lunch Rob and I went for walk at one of our favorite parks in Nashville. My stomach hurt so bad that we had to turn around and go home a few minutes after arriving to the park. That day I thought about what I ate. I had a turkey club sandwich at lunch. Something finally clicked in my head, I thought "what if is isn't dairy, it's gluten?". My mom has been gluten-free for years but I never thought of trying it myself. After that day I decided to cut out dairy and gluten. I didn't last long without dairy and starting eating it again after a few weeks. I stuck to not eating gluten longer and noticed that I felt better, the sores in my mouth had gone away and my stomach wasn't killing me anymore. It has been hard to stick to a gluten-free diet, especially in a house with four kids but so far I've done pretty well.

I am always on the lookout for a cookbook that will allow me to make delicious gluten-free foods. When I had the opportunity to review Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Seneviratne I jumped at the chance!

gluten free for good
(photo credit: jenloveslife)
The cookbook is beautifully photographed. I enjoyed that Senevirante provides a list of gluten-free pantry staples. Another plus for me is that none of the recipes call for any sort of gum. I am not opposed to using a gum in recipes but I do prefer cheap and easy recipes, adding gums to a recipe does scare me so I typically avoid recipes that call for a gum.

There are so many tasty recipes it was hard to decide what to try first. I have made the Sweet Potato and Spinach Hash, it was so easy and delicious. I did leave out the mint because I didn't have any on hand. Next I would like to try the Chocolate Toffee Popcorn and the Spiced Doughnuts with Mocha Glaze. I am a sucker for sweets so both of these just sound too good not to try!

gluten free doughnuts
(photo credit: jenloveslife)
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a gluten-free cookbook full of easy to create, delicious recipes. All of the recipes in the book call for readily available ingredients, almost all of the recipes called for items I have seen at my local grocery store. If there was something I wasn't familiar with I would just look for something similar to sub in its place. For example, the Amaranth Tart with Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Gruyere calls for Lacinato kale, I don't know what that is and my grocery store has regular kale or purple kale so I will just replace the Lacinato kale with whatever the grocery store has at the time. The tart looks amazing, I can't wait to make that soon.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Monday, March 21, 2016

No Bake Gluten Free Oatmeal Bars

I am always trying to find something filling that Kid 3 can eat in the morning. Cereal typically upsets her stomach as does just about anything with dairy or wheat. I found a recipe for Coconut Mocha Vegan Protein Bars on Pinterest. I modified the recipe somewhat to suit Kid 3's tastes.

We use Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats (affiliate link). I buy my coconut milk at my grocery store. There are several brands to choose from, I buy whatever happens to be the cheapest. I have yet to notice a difference in quality between the brands available at my store.

Gluten free and dairy free (if you use dairy free chocolate chips, I did not). These bars are great for an afternoon snack or as a filling breakfast bar.
No Bake Gluten Free Oatmeal Bars

by Jen Loves Life
Cook Time: 0
Keywords: breakfast dessert snack gluten-free vegetarian oatmeal coconut milk coconut chocolate 
Ingredients (12 Bars)
  • 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 4 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter (or your favorite nut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
Line a8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. Allow for the paper to hang over the top of pan.
Use a food processor to grind the oats into a course meal, leaving some larger pieces of oats in the mix. Pour the oat meal into a large mixing bowl.
Add dry ingredients to oat meal. Stir to combine.
Add coconut milk and mix. Next add vanilla and sunflower seed butter. Mix well.
Pour in coconut and chocolate chips. I prefer to use mini chocolate chips because it just feels like there's more chocolate even though there isn't.
Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Press the mix into the pan firmly. Cover pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer.
Once bars have chilled remove from refrigerator. Lift block of bars from the baking dish using the extra parchment paper. Cut the bars into six long strips, then cut the strips in half.
I melted chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave and drizzled on top with a little bit of the unsweetened coconut, this step is optional.
Store the bars in an air-tight container in the fridge.
I store mine in freezer. Kid 3 just grabs one in the morning and sets it out of the counter while she gets ready for school and by the time she's done it's defrosted and ready to eat.
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Friday, March 18, 2016

Gluten Free Burrito Bowls

I love a good, messy burrito. I haven't eaten a burrito since going gluten free. I have been craving them big time. I made these chicken burrito bowls a few nights ago for the family and they were a big hit. They are so quick and easy to throw together. It might be my new favorite dinner!

Gluten Free Chicken Burrito Bowl

by Jen Loves Life
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: grill entree gluten-free quinoa chicken
Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 chicken thighs, boneless skinless
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can white corn
  • salsa verde
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
  • black olives
Cook quinoa according to package directions.
Drain corn and black beans. Heat each separately in small bowl in microwave, about 2 minutes each.
Cook chicken. I grilled the chicken thighs on a stovetop grill pan but you can also bake the chicken until cooked all the way through, approximately 30 minutes. Dice chicken.
Add 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup black beans and 1/2 cup corn to a bowl. Add diced chicken on top. Top with 2 tablespoons light sour cream, 2 tablespoons guacamole (I like Wholly Guacamole). Drizzle a few tablespoons of salsa verde and add a few sliced black olives. Enjoy.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are so easy to make and my girls love them. We make these all the time. Sometimes we add chocolate chips which almost make the cookies taste like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I like to use crunchy peanut butter but the girls prefer smooth peanut butter.

There are only three ingredients; sugar, peanut butter and an egg. The cookies are gluten free and dairy free.

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

by Jen Loves Life
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (20 small cookies)
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar + more for dusting
  • 1 Large Egg
Combine egg, sugar and peanut butter in a bowl. Once well mixed, spoon small amounts of cookie dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Next, we dip a fork into a small amount of sugar and make the crisscross pattern on each cookie. We re-dip the fork for each cookie. Place cookies in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are no longer shiny and look dry on the edges.
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Best Ever Vegan Cupcakes

I have started to experiment with dairy-free cooking because Kid 3 has had some major stomach issues when she eats dairy. She has been feeling sad that everyone eats junk food and they can go about their day feeling fine while she almost instantly gets a stomach ache. She's tried using the Lactaid pills but she really hated having to take them every time she wanted to eat something with dairy.

I started searching on Pinterest for dairy-free recipes to make for Kid 3. I found an excellent oatmeal chocolate chip recipe (I'll post about that soon!) and I found this recipe. The recipe is from babble.

I followed the recipe exactly. We used plain, unsweetened almond milk for the non-dairy milk and I used Canola oil, because that was all I had on hand. For the frosting I used Smart Balance butter, again because that was what I had. The frosting was a tad oily but I think it has to do with the butter, it is an oil-based dairy-free butter. We were able to make 24 mini cupcakes with the recipe. The batter was very thin so we were worried it wouldn't rise but they turned out great!

The perfect bite-sized cupcake
We devoured the cupcakes in a matter of hours. All of the girls loved them and no one missed the dairy. This will be our new go-to recipe for cupcakes.
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