Banana Oat Pancakes (make-ahead and toddler approved!)

I love breakfast, ya’ll.  It’s funny because I normally just have my super shake for my breakfast every day, but I love all things breakfast.  If it’s filling, yummy, healthy, and quick, even better!

These pancakes are so good, really easy to make, and they keep well in the freezer so I can make a big batch over the weekend and eat on them all week long.  You can easily add blueberries or chocolate chips, or just eat them plain with a drizzle of maple syrup.  My son loves these, too!  Win for everyone!

Banana Oat Pancakes (from Fixate)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 large eggs
1 large ripe banana
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 dash sea salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed and smooth.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 1/2 tsp coconut oil.  Measure out 1/4 cup pancake batter and pour onto skillet, cooking for 3-4 minutes or until the top of the pancake starts to bubble.  Flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes until cooked through and golden brown.  Repeat with all remaining batter.

Top with fruit, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and/or pure maple syrup.  If placing in freezer, let cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap or put in zipper sandwich baggies, then place in a zipper freezer bag and freeze.

Each serving is 2 pancakes (1 yellow container).

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Pre-Workout Comparison–C4 versus Energize

Since most of my workouts happen during the early morning, some kind of pick-me-up is definitely needed to get me going and to help me give my workouts my all.  I work really hard during my workouts, so a little extra umph helps me a lot!

I used to just drink some coffee in the mornings, but drinking a mug of coffee with some coconut milk creamer was a little too heavy on my stomach, and I like to sit quietly and enjoy my coffee, not gulp it down for my workout.  I started using Beachbody Performance Energize and really liked it, but decided to try a different brand to get some comparison and see which I liked better.   I know what you’re thinking–“she probably prefers the Beachbody one, *eyeroll*.”  And you’re right!  But for good reason so keep reading 😉

C4

*This picture is from Google Images*

I used C4 in their Watermelon flavor, which I really liked the taste of! Right off the bat, I didn’t love some of the ingredients–sucralose and artificial colors.  I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners and colors as much as I can, so I didn’t love ingesting them first thing after waking up.  It took about 20 minutes for me to start to feel the energy burst, which for me was a super itchy feeling in my ears–I had expected a tingly feeling, but it was super itchy, which was just kind of annoying.  The itch went away once I started my workout, but it was a little alarming at first because I was afraid I was allergic to something in the pre-workout.  (By the way, itching or tingling is a very normal effect of pre-workouts, so don’t worry if you experience that).  I definitely felt an energy burst with this pre-workout, but it wasn’t as much energy as I was hoping for.  Overall, the flavor was the best part of this pre-workout for me; the energy burst was fine, but wasn’t as much as I wanted.

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*This picture is from Google Images*

 

With Energize, the only flavor option is Lemon, which is just fine, but not my first choice.  Right off the bat with this pre-workout, it has an edge because it does NOT contain artificial sweeteners–it uses stevia leaf extract and beet sugar, which are both plant-based sweeteners and not made in a lab.  It also doesn’t contain artificial colors, so it makes me feel better about what I consume right after waking up.  With Energize, it takes about 10-15 minutes to start to feel the energy burst, which is a tingly feeling in my fingers and sometimes around my jaw line. It was also a little alarming at first (I had the same fear that I was allergic to something), but again, that is very normal for pre-workouts.  The tingle is a much less intense feeling than the itching I have with C4, so I prefer Energize in this category, too.  Finally, the burst of energy I feel is much stronger with Energize than it is with C4–I literally have a bounce in my step when I drink Energize, and that was missing when I drank the C4.  Energize wins out in every one of my categories except for flavor, which honestly is the least important one for me.

Energize also comes with 40 servings instead of C4’s 30 servings, so I like that I can add in a few runs here and there in addition to my regular at-home workouts, still use my pre-workout, and not run out before the month is over.

Do you use a pre-workout?  Which one is your favorite?  I’d love to hear some different perspectives and experiences!

If you want to try out Energize for yourself, you can get 10 packets to see how awesome it is here.

#mySADexperiment

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed me posting about my current health experiment–#mySADexperiement is 11 days in and is going strong!  I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what exactly it is I’m doing, so I wanted to answer some of those questions here.

First of all, SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with depression and anxiety, and SAD is something I deal with every single winter.  When the days are shorter and the sun isn’t out as long during the day, we can’t get as much vitamin D, which is so necessary for our bodies and our sanity.  Because of this, a lot of us struggle with our moods, energy, and motivation during the winter months.  The “winter blues” can be mild to severe for different people, and for me it can get pretty intense.  Last year was the toughest winter yet for me, and I’ve been going into this winter with some anxiety.  I want to do whatever I can to alleviate and manage my SAD symptoms and enjoy this season–after all, it’s my favorite time of year!

I’ve done quite a bit of research on nutrition and depression/anxiety, and time and again studies are seeing a connection between what you put in your body and your emotional/mental health.  Now, I’m not saying that changing my diet will prevent or cure anything, but if there is a connection, it can only help, right?

The biggest culprit seems to be sugar.  Studies are showing that sugar is basically the devil–all kinds of negative consequences to our bodies, little to no nutritional benefits.  Too bad this time of year is filled with sugar, sugar EVERYWHERE.  I made chili last night with some Italian pork sausage and found corn syrup (aka sugar) in the ingredients.  WHY???

Which brings me to my experiment: during the 30 days of November, I’m being intentional about fueling my body with what it NEEDS and what will be beneficial for me, not with what I want (you know, all the bread and leftover Halloween candy).  Limiting sugar, staying away from breads and refined grains, and limiting dairy while loading up on fresh veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats.  I’m also committed to working out every single day, since exercise releases endorphins and helps with your mood.  My doctor has told me more than once that the first thing I need to do for my depression is work out, and I’m usually very consistent with my fitness.  During the winter months, however, it gets so easy for me to skip workouts and make excuses–who doesn’t want to stay in bed under the warm covers a little longer when it gets cold outside?

So far, this experiment is going really well!  I’ve gotten a workout in each day, and while I haven’t been perfect with my nutrition, I have been very intentional about what I’m eating and have been great at getting my veggies in–and I’m feeling really great!  I don’t expect to have zero SAD symptoms this winter, but I am determined to avoid the darkness I felt last year.  So far, the difference is night and day between how I’m feeling right now and how I felt in November of last year.

This time of year is notorious for being difficult for people to focus on their health, but I’m determined to be different this year.  I have committed to owning my health this season instead of letting the season own me, and I’m excited about making it happen.  I’ve got the all the tools I need between my streaming workouts and super shake, and putting them to use may not be easy, but it’s definitely simple.

If you want to join me in #mySADexperiment, click here!

Grain-Free Broccoli Crust

I’ve been seeing this particular recipe floating around for about a year, and even though I really wanted to try it, I kept procrastinating.  I knew it would be a more involved recipe, and I also knew that my husband and child probably wouldn’t even try it, so it just seemed like it might not be worth it.  But inspiration finally struck and I am SO GLAD it did!  This broccoli crust is amazing and I am so excited to use it for a pizza alternative for myself.

The original recipe calls for making one larger pizza crust, but since I’m eating it by myself I opted to make two smaller crusts and just put one in the freezer after the initial bake (once it had completely cooled).  I also used half of a 15-oz bag of riced broccoli instead of chopping 3 cups of whole broccoli.

The crust is so much more flavorful than I had anticipated, and it held up really well when I put the toppings on it (I used ricotta, tomato sauce, onions and peppers, and cheese).  It was so good and even my husband commented on how good it looked and smelled!  Maybe next time he’ll actually try a bite 😉

This will definitely be a freezer staple for me–it was simple (even if it was a little involved to make) and it tastes great.  I love being able to have pizza without feeling bloated or having tighter pants the next day!

Broccoli Crust (from Fixate)

3 cups raw broccoli florets (or 1/2 15 oz bag riced broccoli)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (part-skim)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tbsp dried basil

 

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

If using broccoli florets, pulse in food processor until breadcrumb consistency–if using riced broccoli, this step is not necessary.  Steam broccoli for 5-7 minutes in a steamer basket over boiling water (or until tender).  Set aside to let cool completely.  Using a cheesecloth or heavy-duty paper towel, squeeze cooled broccoli to get rid of excess water.

Combine cooled and squeezed broccoli, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, garlic, and basil leaves. Mix well (I got the best results using my hands).

Transfer broccoli mixture to baking sheet (either as one crust or two smaller crusts)–use fingers to spread the mixture into a circle by pressing down and out and leave a “lip” on the crust so your toppings don’t slide off.

Bake crust in pre-heated oven for 18-20 min, until crust is set and lightly browned.

If freezing, let cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and put in freezer zip-close bag. To reheat, bake frozen in a 400 F oven for 10-15 minutes until thawed and proceed to the next step.

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Not the most amazing food photo ever, but it’s the best I can do!

Add toppings for pizza and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Let cool 2 minutes before cutting and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I love fall!  I love the cooler weather, the warmer clothes, and the fall foods.  I don’t love how tight my pants feel when I eat the traditional fall foods, though, so I’m always on the lookout for healthier fall treats.  These pumpkin muffins are perfect for this–they fit into my food plan so there is no need to feel guilty, they don’t make my pants tighter, and they taste awesome!  Win win!

I’ve been making these muffins for the past couple of years, and they really are awesome any time of year since you can get pumpkin year round (in my area anyway), but there is nothing like making pumpkin treats when the weather cools down and the leaves start changing color.  The recipe calls to top each muffin with pumpkin seeds, which is delicious, but when I don’t have pumpkin seeds I use the same amount of chopped walnuts.  Either way is great!

For those on the same Fix eating plan, each muffin is 1 purple and 1 blue container.  That’s right, these don’t even count as a carb!!!  #winning

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (from the Fixate cookbook)

2 oz cream cheese

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1.5 cups almond flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 dash sea salt or Himalayan salt

2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds OR chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare nine muffins cups by lining a muffin tin with paper liners and coating with spray.  Set aside.

Combine cream cheese and maple syrup in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.

Combine egg and pumpkin in a medium bowl; mix well and set aside.

Combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well.

Add almond meal mixture to egg mixture and mix until just blended.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup a little less than 1/2 full.

Spoon 1 heaping tsp of cream cheese mixture into the center of each muffin.  Fill muffin cups evenly, about 3/4 full, with remaining batter.

Sprinkle muffins evenly with pumpkin seeds/walnuts.

Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to a rack and cool.

Enjoy!

Busy Mom Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

I love my Fixate cookbook–I have a handful of recipes from it that I make all the time (Grandma’s Tomato Sauce and the Clean Eating Sloppy Joes are a couple of examples), and now there is a Fixate cooking show on Beachbody On-Demand that I watch every week to get new recipe ideas!  I was watching it last week and got reminded of this stuffed pepper recipe that is so good, but also a little involved and complicated.

On the show, Bobby Calabrese (the chef) mentioned that instead of buying chicken breasts and cutting them up into bite-sized pieces to cook, you could just get ground chicken to save some time and energy.  GENIUS!  I’m not sure I would ever have come up with that on my own, but it’s such a simple tip!

The original recipe calls for quinoa and corn, but I opted to leave those out because 1) I don’t really like corn, 2) I didn’t want that many carbs in this meal, and 3) I was being lazy and didn’t want to add quinoa.  If you love corn and don’t care too much about the extra carbs, feel free to add 1 cup cooked corn and 2 cups cooked quinoa to the filling when you add the black beans.

If you want to make this recipe even easier and quicker, you can skip the whole baking step and slice your peppers into large strips and use them as a chip alternative.  You could also skip the peppers altogether and just eat the filling alone, or in taco shells or with tortilla chips.  Check your grocery for pre-chopped onion and minced garlic in the jar.  That saves a few steps, as well!  Last, instead of chopping the cilantro I usually just tear it by hand as I add it to the dish and that is a lot faster, as well.

Enjoy!

Busy Mom’s Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Fixate)–serves 4

4 bell peppers (any color), cut in half and seeds/ribs removed

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken (can up this to 2 lbs to bulk up the filling if you prefer)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

Salt, to taste (at least 1/4 tsp)

1 cup tomato sauce (I used plain canned tomato sauce, no salt or sugar added)

5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

Optional: 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Optional: Hot sauce, to taste, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F. Place peppers skin side down on a baking dish (spray with cooking spray).  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add ground chicken, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir together until all ingredients are fully mixed and heated through.  Remove from heat and turn heat off.

Scoop a heaping 1/2 cup of filling into each pepper half.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until peppers are soft.  If desired, top each pepper with cheese and bake for 3-5 more minutes uncovered until cheese is melted.

Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Top with hot sauce if desired.  Each serving is 2 pepper halves!

 

Cafe Latte and Chocolate Shakeology Treats

I LOVE my daily superfood shake.  I literally never miss a single day of drinking it, so I never have leftover Shakeology sitting around my house.  It just never happens!  Every so often, though, I have some clients that ask me for ideas on how to use their extra Shakeology that aren’t just more shakes.  Luckily for them, there are a ton of awesome treat recipes out there when you need to get to the bottom of your bag a little faster.

My favorite flavors are Cafe Latte and Chocolate (vegan or regular), so these treats are for those two flavors, specifically.  You are still getting your superfood nutrition with these treats, just mixing it up from a regular shake!

All of these recipes are from The Beachbody Blog–they have so many fantastic articles and are a great resource for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle!

Chocolate Shakeology Pudding

2 scoops Chocolate (or Chocolate Vegan) Shakeology

1 ripe medium avocado

2 large bananas, cut into chunks

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  1. Place Shakeology, avocado, bananas, and almond milk in blender; cover. Blend until smooth. (If too thick add additional almond milk.)
  2. Pour into four dessert cups; refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set.

 

Double Chocolate No-Bake Vegan Brownies

½ cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)

½ cup all-natural smooth peanut butter

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 scoops Vegan Chocolate Shakeology

Instructions
  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with plastic wrap (or aluminum foil). Set aside.
  2. Combine banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and Shakeology in a medium bowl; mix well with clean hands or a rubber spatula.
  3. Press chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and press down to flatten into pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour so that brownies set.
  4. Cut into sixteen brownies.

 

No-Churn Chocolate Peanut Butter Shakeology Ice Cream

1 medium banana, cut into chunks

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology

2 Tbsp. all-natural smooth peanut butter

Instructions
  1. Place banana in plastic bag; freeze for 4 hours, or until completely frozen.
  2. Place almond milk, bananas, Shakeology, and peanut butter in blender (or food processor); cover. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

Homemade Energy Bars

1 cup whole pitted dates (or prunes)

1 cup dried fruit (like apricots, prunes, figs, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries)

1 cup chopped nuts (or seeds) (like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds)

2 scoops Shakeology, any flavor

Instructions
  1. Place dates, fruit, and nuts in a food processor. Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes; scrape sides of bowl.
  2. Add Shakeology; process for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture becomes tiny crumbs that can come together to form a loose ball.
  3. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with cellophane. Press mixture into pan until flat. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Cut into 12 bars. Store in refrigerator.
  5. Tip: For additional flair add one or more of the following: ½ tsp. rum extract, ½ tsp. cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. raw honey, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, 1–2 oz dark chocolate chips, or 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger.

 

Tiramisu No-Bake Cookies

1 cup oat flour, gluten-free
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, divided use
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 scoop Café Latte Shakeology
¼ cup all-natural smooth almond butter
2 Tbsp. raw honey (or pure maple syrup)
3 to 4 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk (or low-fat milk)

Preparation:
1. Combine oat flour, 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, salt, and Shakeology; mix well.
2. Add almond butter and honey; mix well. (Mixture will be dry and crumbly.)
3. Add almond milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until a thick dough forms; mix well with clean hands or a rubber spatula.
4. Roll mixture into twelve balls, each about 1-inch in size. Roll balls into remaining 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder.
5. Flatten each slightly so that it is shaped like a traditional cookie.
6. Refrigerate for a firmer cookie, or eat immediately for a softer cookie.