Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

       Today Brandon and I had a chance to share the most recent events in our lives with our church community. Brandon meets with our pastor once a week to hang out, have breakfast and talk about life together. During this time he had been sharing our “Living life with margin” and our pastor asked us to speak this morning at church to share with people about how we make finances, time and emotions work for us. 


        It was really cool talking to everyone about the things God has done in our lives. Being able to share that helped us to analyze a lot of the different ways that God has touched our lives these past few months. After service, I had several people approach us and ask about our eating and recent healthy lifestyle changes. 
Brandon and I learned today that we really enjoy sharing healthy eating habits and healthier lifestyles with people. It is feels great to be able to give back and help people. 


        I have been really interested in learning the health benefits through the foods people eat. Inflammation, aches and pains, back pains, Parkinson’s, infections, degenerative disease, auto-immune disorders, cancers, thyroid diseases, etc all linked to food? Crazy how what we eat effects us that much. I’ve been researching the science behind what to eat and why. Today I listened to two interviews on health and wellness through Sean Croxton‘s Pod-casts. One was by Diane Sanfilippo and the other by Mark Sisson

I will be blogging about some of the things I learned later this week! Very cool stuff. 

      After a nice walk and all of this new knowledge, I sure was hungry- tonight I made breakfast for dinner. Brandon’s choice! 



Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Ingredients
   4 eggs
     1 cup milk (raw milk or coconut)
     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
     3/4 cup coconut flour
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp sea salt
     2 tsp Cinnamon
  1 tsp Honey
  3 cup Apple Sauce
Should be thick and fluffy
      Process:
   Beat eggs in a bowl until well blended
       Add in Vanilla and Milk, mix well
      Add in the rest of the ingredients, mix until no lumps are left.
   Grease a skillet with butter and pour pancakes in (these flip well). Cook on medium-low heat until
    browned. These are good and with the butter there is a nice crisp around the edges. Allow them to
    cook until you start to see some bubbles in the batter. 
Drizzle with some Maple Syrup!

30 Day Trial: You Can Do It

I found this on Balanced Bites blog a few days ago and I signed up. We have been primal/ paleo for over 3 months now and we are still learning new things all the time. I am constantly keeping up to date on research and new ideas so that I can make sure I am doing the best for Brandon and I and our health. 


Whether you are new to Paleo, not sold on the idea, think we are weird and depriving ourselves of “Normal” food, been doing it for a long time- I am sure you will get something out of this. Paleo Summit conference– online conference starts on Sunday and lasts 8 days. It is Free to register and looks like a pretty good balance of speakers… I obviously won’t spend too much time listening how to make Paleo work for my kids 😉 but I would love to hear Matt Stone’s take on Paleo and Mark Sisson’s thoughts on what we should be eating and why. 


Check out some of these interviews and decide if Paleo/ primal or even portions of it might work for you and your family. Challenge: Give it a 30 day trial and I bet you won’t want to go back to the way you are eating now!






~Looking forward to a day of Farmer’s Markets, running and hanging with Brandon tomorrow!~ 


Picture from


Spicy Chicken Soup

A beautiful 65 degree day! Had a nice 2 mile run outside around the neighborhood with Brandon. Then he installed our new pull up bar. (I can’t do pull-ups so I should probably call it something else!) I had Brandon put me up on the bar and then I hung and slowly let my self down. I did this twice for chin-ups and once for pull-ups. Then I did 6 Standing pull-ups (Lean back with feet on the ground and slowly pull and release yourself from the bar). 3 Australian pull-ups (An upside down push-up using the bar).  For some this may sound easy but… pull ups are hard. Then I had to do 5 “REAL” push ups. After all the working out, I was glad I had thrown dinner in the crock pot this morning.  This gave us time to work out, enjoy the beautiful weather and have a little quality time before bed. 


For Dinner I made up a spicy/hot chicken soup 


Spicy Chicken Soup

Ingredients: 
1 C. Celery leaves, chopped finely
4-6 Chicken Breasts, cook whole
1 (8oz. can) Tomato Paste
1 Jar Tomato Sauce + 1 Jar of Water
1 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tbs Hot Sauce
1 Whole cloves of Garlic
3 On the Vine tomatoes, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Add all the ingredients into a crock pot. Cook on low heat for 7 hours. 
Shred the chicken into chunks with a fork and mix the soup well.  Add more Hot Sauce if you would like more heat to the flavor. 




Enjoy! 

Where is the Magic Fairy Dust?

              I wish I could tell everyone that there is Magic Fairy Dust that will make life 100% perfect by eating healthy, working out and making good choices when it comes to your lifestyle but… It would be a total lie.  


             Brandon and I have made drastic changes in our lives in the past 2 years. We started working out, started competing in triathlons and races, we completely changed our eating habits and we are making healthier choices for us. Along with the healthy eating and exercise, we have also been learning to live life with “margin“. Getting rid of things in our lives that bring us down or clutter up our home or time. We’ve de-junked our home and put ourselves on a debt free budget plan by Dave Ramsey and Mint. My parents started doing Dave Ramsey a few years ago and shared it with all of the kids. I saw how tough it was for my parents but knowing the benefits that it will provide them when they do finally get debt free, it was worth it! Dave has really helped us to ask ourselves “Do you need it? Do you want it? Will this make your quality of life better?” Usually the answer is NO! I transferred from my job in Falls Church because it was taking hours away from quality time with my husband and quality time for myself. We weren’t able to cook together, train together or even hang out with our friends as often as we would like. My quality of life was poor- couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t keep a consistent diet or exercise plan. We knew that had to change and I was lucky enough to switch to a fabulous school 15 minutes from home. Our quality time has increased, my health has increased, energy has increased and I feel great. Life is really good for us right now and I know that we are living life with “margin”. A friend of mine has a quote on her g-chat status that reads: “Have nothing in your home that you don’t use” – you can take that to literally mean your home but I took it to mean my life in general! :) 


            With all of these positives in our lives right now, you would think that I would be floating on a cloud all day every day! But it just isn’t true- I still have fat days (yup, a size 6 and I still cry sometimes about my image) I have always had to deal with my self-image issues and just because I have dropped some pants sizes- it doesn’t mean that will just poof go away. I might have lost weight but I still feel like the same size 12 girl that I’ve always been. 
If this is you:
                   1.) Don’t get discouraged, just remember it’s all in how you feel, not in how you look. 
                    2.) Don’t eat a bowl of ice cream and cry- go to the gym and take a kickboxing class and beat the snot out of your crying!! *this worked for me tonight*
                    3.) It is okay to feel this way especially if your weight loss was quick and drastic. 


I still get sad- most of it is because my sister lives in Australia and some days I just miss her so much that it ruins my whole day. Love you Christina!! :(


Today was one of these days, I can say this though, since the changes- these days are very rare and they can usually be fixed with a phone call to my sister, a workout at the gym or making myself some comfort food from my childhood. (This always reminds me of my mom and my awesome family growing up.)


So tonight I- talked to my sister through Facebook, went to kickboxing and made a salad that my mom always made for us. 

Mommy’s Summer salad
Ingredients:
1 Cucumber
1 tomato (or 3 tomatoes on the vine)
1/4 Red onion
Process:
Cut the cucumber into fourths and then into bite size pieces. 
Cut the tomato into bite-able pieces 
Slice the onion into thin long slices. Then cut the long slices in half. 
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Arugula (optional)

Place all of the vegetables in a bowl and toss. Pour balsamic on top of the vegetables (about 1/4 cup) depending on how much dressing you like.  
Top with arugula for texture and color.

Arugula Stuffed Chicken

Early morning for Brandon and I. We got up at 5am and went to the gym for day 2 of our training. We were lucky enough to get into the Philadelphia Broad Street 10 Miler. One of the largest 10 mile races in the United States. It sold out to 30,000 people in 4 hours!!! This will be my second long distance run and don’t ask me how but Brandon signed up to join me. This will be his first ever run. He is not a runner, he comes from a swimming background and has a hatred for Running. He can run, he just doesn’t like to. In July Brandon shattered his elbow on a mountain bike ride in Western Maryland. He had to have emergency reconstructive surgery and was laid up for a long time. He was unable to work out, move his arm, get dressed on his own etc… for about 2 months. Now that he has 90% (+/-) mobility in his arm, he has started back to the gym. He really enjoys triathlons and wants to do some more, so I guess that goal is kind of forcing him to hit the road in his sneakers. FINE BY ME- I can’t wait to run 10 miles with him.

We were both pretty tired this evening so for dinner we made a quick chicken dish:

Arugula Stuffed Chicken
Ingredients:
  • 1 C. Fresh Arugula (ours was from a local Loudoun County Farm- talk about fresh)
  • 2 on the vine tomatoes
  • 1/4 C roasted red peppers
  • (Optional- Bite size pieces of asparagus)
  • Raw Cheddar cheese 
  • Herbs for seasoning- I used lavender, salt, garlic salt, and thyme
Process:
  1. Slice a pocket into the chicken breasts with knife. Cut from the top of the breast all the way down to the bottom. *don’t cut all the way through- make it like attached wings*
  2. Place chicken breasts opened on a lightly oiled cookie sheet
  3. Chop tomatoes, asparagus and  peppers into bite size pieces.Put in a medium bowl.  
  4. Mix in 1 cup of Arugula and then evenly stuff into each chicken breast.
  5. Stuff in  thin slices of cheese on top of the arugula and then fold the chicken breast closed.
  6. Sprinkle the tops of the breast with herbs for flavor.
  7. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until they are cooked through.
We paired ours with a side salad of mixed artisan lettuce, cucumber, strawberries and balsamic Vinaigrette.
Enjoy!

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs- It’s just an Egg right?

I was never a huge egg eater. I rarely ate eggs unless they were in my cake batter, in fact, the smell of eggs grossed me out and the runny yolk UGH!! 
Now that we have been eating healthier, I eat a lot of eggs paired with meat or veggies- I still break the yolk so that it isn’t runny. I make Omelets, scrambled eggs, hard boiled etc. To save money I currently buy my eggs from COSTCO! With all of the recipe’s I make, I use a lot of eggs. Most of my healthy breads/muffin recipe’s take a lot of eggs- sometimes 6 EGGS!!!!  
So buying healthier eggs would be really expensive. But is it worth it? What are the health benefits of buying a farm fresh egg compared to eggs at the store? Do I buy cage free or free range? Who knew an egg could be so complicated. How many eggs can I eat a week? Don’t eggs raise cholesterol? Won’t we have a heart attack if we eat too many? I don’t know- it depends on what you read and where you look. I say, do some reading, eat some eggs and see how you feel. I have been eating no more that 6 eggs a week because I notice that if I eat too many, I don’t like them. hahaha. The Bible says all things in moderation so go with that and eat what you want.  It’s an EGG PEOPLE!!!!! 


Here is what Mark Sisson says about eating eggs. 


Here is another article that I read about how to raise Omega 3 in diet and lower Omega 6. This is a pretty good article that shows the goods in Grass- Fed, farm fresh eggs. CLA is 5 times more present in those types of eggs and it helps fight cancers and fight heart disease. This was interesting research and gives some good advice on why these types of eggs are more beneficial. 
My grandparents have chickens and they live in a beautiful house on the farm and they are happy and healthy and they make some delicious eggs- big, healthy eggs! If only I lived at home and could eat these eggs for free :) 

Look behind the people. the little white chapel and the red barn  are for the chickens! They are so happy :) 


My friend Katie sent me some information and this picture of a farm fresh grass fed egg on the left and a cage free egg from Whole foods on the right.

Note the rich yolk color
 Here is another photo from Happy Critters Ranch

                                          


Here is an analysis from  Joel Salatin’s latest book. He owns Polyface Farms in Virginia.

“So if anyone ever tells you that there is no difference between the nutrition in between a conventional vs. pastured raised food (note: “pastured” is different than “organic”) show them this! Here is the nutrient profile of a conventional USDA standard egg vs. that found in an egg from Polyface Farm:

Vitamin E: USDA – 0.97 mg / POLY – 7.37mg
Vitamin A: USDA – 487 IU / POLY – 763 IU
Beta-Carotene…: USDA – 10 mcg / POLY – 76.2 mcg
Folate (Folic Acid): USDA – 47 mcg / POLY – 10,200 mcg – Hello pregnant ladies!
Omega-3s: USDA – 0.033 g / POLY – 0.71 g
Cholesterol: USDA – 423 mg / POLY – 292 mg
Saturated Fat: USDA 3.1 g / POLY – 2.31″ 

In conclusion, I feel like eggs are good for you. I don’t think you have to limit your egg intake unless you feel sick from eggs. I think that you should do your own research and find out what is best for you. One day, I will own my own farm and raise my own happy eggs just like my grandparents. For now and for financial reasons, I will continue to buy my eggs at Costco unless I calculate that I can save money from Farm Fresh eggs. We are currently looking into some co-ops that might make this a possibility. I don’t think the eggs that I am eating are bad for me, they just aren’t the BEST for me. Knowing about the CLA and looking at the vitamins, omega 3’s and cholesterol difference in eggs, clearly we can see the best choice in egg.  With the way that I am currently eating, I feel healthy and happy and energized and I don’t think switching my eggs will change that but in the long run, my goal is to get the best for my family and that will be Farm Fresh, grass-Fed Eggs. 
http://happyhensfarmgirl.blogspot.com/
Happy Egg Eating!

Power through Friends and Social Media

Today I woke up to a really nice email from a friend of mine that I used to work with. She and her husband have been making some eating changes and she has sent me some great blogs and ideas via facebook. Yesterday, we were chatting about my trip to the Loudoun Grown Expo and she was sharing her pasteurized co-op with me. We were talking about the differences in eggs (hopefully some photos will follow!)
Anyway, she shared with me that she had been reading my blogs and appreciated the fact that it isn’t dedicated to weight loss but rather overall health from the inside out. *Weight loss is just a bonus* Thanks for you positive words Katie!

I always wanted to be skinny like my sisters and I would try everything to be as thin as possible- nothing ever worked and I just started getting discouraged and fatter. One day I started seeing some signs of health issues and I decided that I needed to get healthy. Weight loss wasn’t my goal when I started running and eating better. Getting healthy for my husband and our possible future family was my goal. Brandon’s family has a history of cancer and heart health and mine has a history of depression, anxiety and stress related issues. I was starting to suffer from anxiety/panic attacks and even went on medication to try and control it. My family also has a history of addiction and I didn’t want to rely on medication to make me feel okay. I don’t trust drug companies and I don’t want to give them my money. As of today I am off all medications and I have never felt better! Yes, this blog isn’t about being thin, it is about getting your life under control and being as healthy as you can be for your loved ones and for yourself!

I think it is great that through facebook, blog land and the Internet, we can all learn from each other and continue to take steps to help better ourselves through our eating and exercise habits.
She shared this link with me and I think it gives a great insight on why we should be making healthier eating options.
From Katie:
“I came across this website the other day and I feel like it sums up a good eating philosophy well — consider sharing on your blog! Check out the video 5 things not to eat at beyond diet

Irish Soda Bread and Fun in Loudoun County

Today we spent our afternoon walking around the Loudoun Grown Expo in Purcellville, VA (about 30 min from our house). It was really fun to see all of the different opportunities for buying local produce, meat, cheese, HONEY and even skin care products. We met some local farmers and got a lot of information on local CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). Brandon and I were really interested in the meat co-ops and I was interested in the fresh produce but we have to see if there is a *Starch* opt-out option. Some of the programs are really inexpensive and I was actually surprised at the variety and options that are out there. 
One of my favorite expos was Wegmeyer farms. I can’t wait to go berry picking and they even gave me an adorable Strawberry pickin’ bucket :) 
I got some local honey from hidden creek apiary for $5.95 and some Arugula from Endless Summer Harvest. I am really excited to try these products and to sit down and look at all of the different year round farmers markets available to the DC area. We even got to hear a great bluegrass band play called Gold Heart. What a fun afternoon!

Goodies from the Expo :)



After the Expo we headed over to Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve and walked around on the trails for a little while and hung out at the little pond. It was so nice to have a 60+ degree day in February. Today got me really excited for warmer weather. I can’t wait to do things like this more often. 




Hearing a band sponsered by Shamrock Music store, walking around Banshee Reeks and looking forward to warmer March weather- I was feeling very festive and decided to try my hand at a little Irish Soda Bread tonight.

Irish Soda Bread      
Ingredients:
2 C. Coconut flour
2 C. Almond flour
1 tsp.Sea Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 egg, whisked
3 C. Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 C  Raisins
2 Tbs. Apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs Agave Nectar (or Honey)
1 Tbs Caraway Seeds
 
Process:
  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Bake in a lightly olive oil Greased 8 or 9″ round pan 

1.) Put raisins in boiling water (plump) then turn off heat. Let soak  for approximately 10 minutes.

2.) Combine flour, salt, caraway seeds, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well.
3.) Add egg, milk, honey and vinegar, mix well.
4.) Drain raisins and knead into dough.
5.) Knead the dough with hands on a lightly Almond floured board for 2-3 minutes.
5.) Make into a round loaf and place in the greased pan.
6.) Sprinkle Caraway seeds on the top of the loaf and press lightly into pan, cut a cross into the top of the loaf with a knife.
7.) Bake for an hour Browned and thoroughly baked.
8.) Let cool for 20-30 minutes and serve with butter (we used grass fed butter)
9.) Cool on a wire rack.
 
Enjoy!
 
 

Wheat Belly

How do you live without bread? The Bible says to eat bread! I feel sorry for you that you have to eat your burger with just lettuce! Don’t you need bread when you are running 13 miles? People need bread when they burn off calories and you go to the gym a lot! Bread has a lot of nutrients that your body needs- cutting it out all together is not healthy! Don’t you miss a big slice of bread or rolls?

These are all things that Brandon and I heard when we started taking bread out of our diet. To those thoughts above I say this:
                                                     

At first I missed bread and even had a roll at Texas Roadhouse a few months ago. As soon as I ate that roll, I got a headache and I haven’t eaten bread since. I have been doing a lot of research about how bread is made and how it has changed over time. You are not eating the same bread that was in the Bible! You aren’t eating the same bread your great grandparents ate. The wheat from today is full of hormones and chemicals. There is a chemical in wheat flour that makes you crave…MORE WHEAT FLOUR, sugar and junk food!

I need protein for training and running,  I need to stay hydrated and I need to make sure that I am getting a good healthy diet full of Omega 3’s, Vitamins, veggies (add some starchy veggies for long training’s) and fruits. I do not need Carbs for my runs. I think that is a myth that runners made up so that they didn’t feel guilty for eating an  entire loaf of Great Harvest Apple Scrapple Bread! (yes I did this before my half marathon…oops!)

I read an article today about the things in our foods that we don’t realize. Interesting item added to some of the breads:  commonly seen on packaged food labels as L – cysteine, or L – cysteine Hydrochloride (HCL). The additive can be produced in two ways: synthetically, from non-organic bases such as petroleum, or directly from human hair. It can be much cheaper to use human hair, which contains up to 8 per cent of the natural amino acid cysteine

A friend of mine sent me an article written by Dr. Hyman and it talks about how wheat flour is not the same as the wheat flour from back in the day. I suggest reading this article to get a better understanding of what you are putting in your body. I am not saying that everyone has to go Primal and eat like me. I know it isn’t practical for everyone. But I do suggest that you start paying attention to the foods that you are consuming. Read a label- if you don’t know what it is, research it before you put it in your mouth.

Another good read is “Wheat Belly” by: William Davis

When I was about 18 my mom and I were very interested in our digestive system and our issues with bowl movements. We watched all of those “Colon Cleanse” infomercials and we were fascinated by the ones with the “TAR bowl movements”.  WEIRD! Any way, with that said, we stumbled across Kevin Trudea and his book “Natural cures- things they don’t want you to know about”. After reading his book and looking into health care and the side effects of every medication doctors prescribe, my mom and I became very skeptical of the shots and medications doctors are giving out. It is amazing how easy it is to get drugs today. I will not even get started on the drugs they are giving children and immunizations that they give to babies.

My recommendation is to read, research, investigate and pay attention to what you are putting in your body.
Try cutting out Wheat flour for 4 weeks and see how you feel. It has been interesting to hear the stories of others who have cut out wheat flour and then trying it again (yuck/ouch!). If you need a bread type fix switch to almond flour and try some of your favorite recipes. I have made pizza, muffins, fried chicken and I am currently working on trying biscuits. You are smart- don’t let the government sucker you into getting sick or having cravings that are bad for you! :)

Love King Crab Legs

Love is knowing someone has your back, knowing someone will be there to take care of you, knowing someone will support you through your ups and downs. We don’t need Valentine’s Day to feel loved but it doesn’t hurt! Brandon and I don’t go out and do the cliche’ Valentine’s Day activities- we have always enjoyed staying in and cooking. Generally Brandon cooks but this year, I wanted to make the meal to show him how much I appreciate him! Who says Valentine’s Day is a chick holiday? Brandon got me beautiful Peruvian lilies! I left work and went straight to Wegmans. (For a girl that didn’t like the gigantic, chaotic, busy feeling of Wegmans,  I sure am enjoying it here lately).

On the Menu
Appetizers: Smoked Gouda with Bacon Cheese Slices with Apple slices
 
Main Dish: Rib Eye Steak
King Crab Legs with a garlic butter sauce.
Steamed Asparagus with old bay seasoning
 
Dessert:Banana Splits
 
 
Recipe’s and Process: 
 
Appetizer: 
I found a nice Gouda with smoked bacon (not paleo) at Wegman’s and sliced it into thin slices and served with a crisp Jana gold Apple.
 
Main Dish:
Steak Ingredients- 16oz Rib Eye Steak
             Dry Rub seasoning- I used Chef Leo’s Mesquite rub
             1 TBS Olive Oil
 
Process-
  
Get your steak out of the fridge and lightly rub some dry rub on the meat.Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the meal. Cook your steak last. In a pan pour about 1 TBS of olive oil in the pan and turn the heat onto to a medium/ low. Allow pan to heat but do not boil. Once pan is heated place your steak in and cook on one side for 7 minutes (this was for a 16oz, 2 inch thick steak so times may vary). Flip steak and cook on the other side for 6 minutes. (this will give you a medium steak)
 
 
King Crab Ingredients- King Crab legs (got alraedy steamed from the seafood market in Wegman’s)
                       2 TBS butter (I used Kerry Gold Butter)
                       1/8 Garlic powder
                       Fresh Lemon
                       Old Bay Seasoning
Process-
 
I put my oven on a warming setting- about 175F and let the legs warm up for about 8 minutes. While that was warming, I melted my butter and sprinkled in some Garlic powder and mixed it together. I plated my crab legs with the Garlic butter, for garnish I added some old bay and lemon.
 
Asparagus- cooked in a pan with some olive oil and sprinkled with a little old bay.
Dinner was a success and we both inhaled the meal. One of the best Valentine’s day meals we have had and all for under $40.00. (where can you enjoy a meal like that for that price!!!)
 
My Valentine and his Feast! YUM! 
Dessert: 
Ingredients- Raspberries
             Strawberry slices
             1 Banana
             1/4 C. Dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
             Chocolate Ice Cream
             Vanilla Ice Cream
             Chopped Hazelnuts
          
Process: 
 
Place Bowls in the freezer before you begin cooking dinner. A cold bowl will help the ice cream to stay cold even with the dark melted chocolate. 
When you are ready for dessert- Melt chocolate chips in the Microwave for about 45 seconds and mix with a spoon until all chips are melted. 
Spoon ice cream into cold bowls. Top with fruit and drizzle with dark chocolate. For some crunch, top with some chopped hazelnuts. 
   
Brandon’s treat
My Treat! This chocolate ice cream is amazing!