Christmas Advent 2017

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year!  Now that my little man is getting older, it’s getting more and more fun.  For the past few years, I’ve done an Advent calendar for us as a family to serve together, have intentional time together, and to help teach my little man what Christmas is really all about!

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Here are some of the activities we’ll be doing this Advent season–what are some of the traditions you and your family have?  I’d love to hear about them!

Watch a Christmas movie

Breakfast with Santa

Swim party (when we’ll be in a hotel out of town)

Make a leaf wreath

Make Christmas cards and mail them to our cousins

Make treats and deliver them to our neighbors

Choose some toys to donate

Deliver food to a food bank ministry

Have cookies and cocoa at our church’s Christmas service

Have breakfast for dinner

Sing Christmas carols to our grandparents (if he’ll cooperate!)

Drive around and look at Christmas lights

Read the Christmas story together

Do a Christmas puzzle

Color a Christmas coloring page

 

This isn’t the full list, but it’s a great start!  What are your Advent activity plans?

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Super Simple DIY Fruit Cups

My kid is picky.  It is one of the great annoyances of motherhood for me to have a toddler who is SO PICKY about food.  My hubby was a picky child, and I am a really adventurous eater, so one of my goals as a mom is to raise an adventurous eater like me.  I’ll pause here so fellow parents can laugh at that goal.

I know that I can’t control my kid’s pickiness, but I CAN control how much or how little I give in to it.  So, I’m constantly on a quest to figure out how to transition my child off of junky processed foods and onto healthier options and more variety.  Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t, but I want to do a better job being consistent in my efforts and in sharing them.

This switch is so simple that I hesitated to even share it with you.  My kid LOVES fruit and would eat it all day every day if he had the choice.  But, I hate buying fruit cups for him.  I don’t like all the sugar that comes in the syrup, even the “no sugar added” kinds.   Even if the fruit is in fruit juice instead of syrup, there is so much sugar in there that he just doesn’t need.  So, one day I finally realized, “Hey!  I can just make these myself!”  Duh.

His favorite fruit cups are mandarin oranges and peaches.  So I bought a bag of clementines on sale and a couple of bags of frozen sliced peaches (no sugar added, of course).  Then all I had to do was peel and cut up the clementines, and let the peaches thaw before I chopped them up.  Easy peasy.  Plus, using frozen peaches saves me a step in prepping, so I’m winning all the way around.

If your kiddos like fruit cups, try making your own fruit cups–you can even buy pre-cut fruit in the produce section to make it easy on yourself.  It’s definitely not easy to switch your kids from processed to whole foods, but it is worth it to help instill those healthy habits early on!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Waffles

I’ve been searching for a good pumpkin pancake/waffle recipe, and with the leftover pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge from Thanksgiving, this recipe was perfect for this weekend!  These waffles came out with just the right amount of crunch and pumpkin flavor.  A lot of pumpkin pancake/waffle recipes I’ve tried come out weird and hard, like clay almost–ew.  I was so happy with these!

I didn’t have coconut oil when I made these, so I used ghee instead and they turned out awesome.  I also didn’t have pre-made pumpkin pie spice, so I just threw in some cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ground ginger.  Of course I didn’t measure any of it, but it turned out really well.  They were so good that I just ate one like it was a cookie without any toppings or anything.  I wrapped the rest of them up in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag.  I’ll be using the toaster to thaw and heat them straight from the freezer!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Waffles (from Fit Foodie Finds)

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Trader Joe’s Brand)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all the wet ingredients (pumpkin, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and almond milk) in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Combine all dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking powder, and baking soda) in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour the combined wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir to completely mix.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter onto heated waffle iron and cook until waffle is completely cooked through and browned, at least 4 minutes per waffle.  Enjoy with some chocolate chips, some almond butter, and/or some pure maple syrup!

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).

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas and everything leading up to it, but I don’t like stuffing my face for a month straight and hating how I feel when January rolls around.  I’ve learned some tips and tricks on how to enjoy Thanksgiving, not feel like I’m depriving myself, and not completely abandon my commitment to my health.

  1.  Take some responsibility for what you choose to fuel yourself with.  Unless you make and serve 100% of the meal you’ll be eating, you will undoubtedly be faced with several tempting (but unhealthy) dishes.  If you are committed to feeling awesome and not forgetting your health goals during Thanksgiving, then you have to remember that you get to choose what you will eat and what you won’t eat.  No one is forcing you, even if you feel some peer pressure.  It’s okay to pass on some things!
  2. Don’t look at food as “good” vs “bad”.  Do you know that if you eat 3 slices of pie that you’ll lay awake with indigestion? Will you dread getting dressed and feel badly in your clothes if you overindulge?  Will you lose your energy and be dragging during Black Friday sales if you have 4 servings of sweet potato casserole?  Focus on how different foods make you FEEL rather than putting them into good and bad categories–it’s not about how you look, but how you feel.  Focus on eating foods that make you feel awesome!
  3. Eat your veggies first.  Load up at least half of your plate with veggies, preferably veggies that aren’t drowned in cheese or other sauces.  If you can contribute to your meal, bring a healthy option like a veggie tray or roasted brussels sprouts so you know you’ll have at least one healthy option for yourself.
  4. Be active first thing in the day.  Starting your day with a great workout will not only start you off on the right track, but it will make you feel good and helps you be more likely to keep up the healthy choices.  It’s not about “earning” your dinner, but just taking care of your body!
  5. Focus on what you’re eating all week!  If you know you want to indulge in some amazing Thanksgiving traditions, THAT IS OKAY.  You get to choose!  But don’t allow the entire week to get away from you–keep fueling yourself with healthy foods throughout the week to keep your energy up and your body running smoothly.
  6. Be intentional about focusing on your nutrition in the days after Thanksgiving.  I’m hosting a 5-day group the week after Thanksgiving with workouts, a meal plan, and some samples of my super shake to give you a structured plan for post-holiday blahs.  Click here to sign up!

If you want more help or recipe ideas, check out this amazing blog page with tons of Thanksgiving tips!

The Simplest Motivation Hack EVER

It happens to all of us–you have something you want to accomplish, you have a plan to make it happen, and then…you snooze a million times.  Or you lay on the couch binge-watching Stranger Things.  Or you scroll through social media and realize an hour has gone by.  And you haven’t gotten anything done!

It’s so easy to fall into that procrastination trap, where anything and everything is more important than the one thing that REALLY is important to us–and we continue to not accomplish our goals.  Now, I don’t really believe in “motivation”–I think sometimes you feel really energized to work towards your goals and sometimes you don’t, but not feeling energized isn’t a reason to not do the necessary work.  But some strategies and techniques are crucial for those times where you’re just not feeling it.

This technique comes from the great Mel Robbins–you can watch an awesome video of her explaining it here–and it’s so simple it almost seems like it wouldn’t work.  But it does!  All you need to do is count backwards from 5–think of it like a countdown to a rocket launch: as the countdown is happening, the rocket is building up energy from its fuel and engine, and then when the countdown ends, it has the energy it needs to take off!  We are the same way; counting down from 5 allows our brain to recognize that a transition is happening, to build up energy to make it happen, and to launch us into whatever activity we need to get done.

That’s it!  You can use this 5-second rule to help you get up with your alarm instead of snoozing, to push play on your workout, to start that conversation that needs to happen but you’re scared to have, or whatever else you are putting off.  And try it with your kids to help them transition from one activity to another without meltdowns!

Whatever it is you need to get done, try this hack to make it happen!  5-4-3-2-1 GO!