Pumpkin Protein Muffins

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I love the Summer with the longer days of sunshine and beach trips so it’s hard for me to say goodbye. The one thing that helps to make it better is pumpkin.☺️

I especially love baking with this fruit, yes, pumpkin is technically a fruit, crazy huh?  These pumpkin protein muffins do not disappoint!  They are nutritionally packed with vitamin A, fiber, protein and natural sweetness!  What this means is that you stay fuller longer so you have the perfect healthy snack-:)  WIN!

I decided to top my muffins with a cream cheese protein icing. I’ve included that recipe for you too:)

Oh, by the way, you could totally use this same recipe to make pumpkin protein bread.

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Ingredients

1 1/4 cups oat flour (read below for making your own)

1/2 cup oats

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1/4 cup Stevia or 30 drops of organic stevia

1 tsp cinnamon

2 medium ripe bananas

1 1/4 cup pumpkin (no sugar added)

1 whole egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash up the bananas and mix with wet ingredients.
  3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Place batter in prepared muffin pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. If making banana bread bake for 20-25 min.

*Grind up oatmeal in a blender until it’s a fine consistency to make your own oat flour.

*I freeze these and keep some in the frig for a snack when I have craving for something sweet*

Cream cheese protein icing:

2 oz low fat cream cheese

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

10 drops of stevia (1 Tbsp for powder stevia)

2 Tbsp almond milk (or whatever milk you have)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Homemade Chocolate Candy

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I’ve always been a person that needs a little something sweet after a meal and these homemade candies are perfect!  Actually they are great for whenever you feel a sugar craving coming on.  They satisfy your sweet tooth, are easy to make and good for you!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

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You have the option to use maple syrup, VitaFiber, or you could opt for a sugar free version by using liquid stevia.

Step one:  melt coconut oil in microwave

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Step two:  I used VitaFiber and heated it over medium to low heat until it began to bubble.  I poured it, along with the coconut oil, vanilla and 10-15 drops of liquid stevia, over the cocoa powder.

I use measuring cups to make it easier to pour into the ice cube tray.

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Step 3:  mix everything together until smooth

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Step 4:  pour 1/2 of the mix into ice cube tray, then sprinkle in your dried fruits and nuts

This would be super cute to find heart shape trays especially for Valentine’s Day.💞

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Step 5: cover the fruit and nut mix with the remaining chocolate mix and pop it in the freezer for a few hours.  Let them sit out for a few minutes and they pop out nicely when I take a butter knife to one edge.  Enjoy!

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

The other day I took a stroll down the condiment aisle of the grocery store to pick up a bottle of barbeque sauce.  After a few minutes my eyes glazed over from trying to decode all the artificial flavors and preservatives listed in the ingredients.  The top ingredient, high fructose corn syrup, is one of the most toxic food additives found in processed foods that contributes to obesity.

I thought to myself, I could drive 45 minutes to Whole Foods or I could make my own.  I decided that it couldn’t be that hard to make homemade barbeque sauce.  I was right!  It’s so easy and more flavorful!

Here is my recipe, but I’ve also shared a couple of links for slightly different versions so you can figure out which one you would like best.😊

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1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric or dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

1 tablespoon of stevia *(if you don’t like stevia use 4 TBS of coconut sugar)

1 cup ketchup (organic or Hunt’s 100% Natural)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon coarsely ground cracked black pepper

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DIRECTIONS: Mix well in a pot.  Then cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Wait a few hours to allow the flavors to meld. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.  I made a double batch and froze half to have it on hand.

Other recipes to look at:

Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/neelys-bbq-sauce-recipe.html

 Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.– Jim Rohn

Heaven Sent Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake tastes so divine that it’s got to be a heaven sent health food.  ⚠️WARNING!  Don’t let the carrots mislead you down a bunny trail that you’re eating healthy.  This classic cake is generally high in calories, fat and packed with sugar!

Never to fear if you are a carrot cake lover like myself. I’ve been determined to find a healthy recipe that still delivers that sweet divine taste. Here is how I transformed the sinful carrot cake and gave it a proper ‘health halo approved’ status.🌟

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My Secrets For A Healthier Carrot Cake

  1. Reduced fat and sugar with crushed pineapple to add moistness and sweetness.
  2. Added flavor with unsweetened coconut flakes.
  3. Replaced all purpose flour with whole-wheat flour which boosts the fiber.
  4. Cut fat in by replacing regular cream cheese with neufchâtel cream cheese in the frosting.  Enhanced the nutrition by adding protein powder and Greek yogurt.

Recipe:

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or plain whole wheat) *see TIPS for gluten free*
  • 1/2 cup and 2 TBS stevia, 1/4 cup honey *see notes if you don’t like stevia*
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium)
  • 20 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained 
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts plus 1/4 cup for topping
  • 1/4 cup raisins *see TIPS for how to plump raisins*

Frosting:

  • 2 oz neufchâtel cream cheese
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 16 drops of stevia (2 TBS for powder stevia)
  • 2-3 TBS almond milk (or whatever milk you have)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

PREPARATION

  1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×3 inch cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, salt, and spices; stir well with a whisk.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oil, eggs, and vanilla; stir well. Add grated carrots and pineapple; mix well. Fold wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, batter will be stiff and dry but keep folding it and it will all come together. Fold in 1/4 cup chopped nuts. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
  4. Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

PREPARE FROSTING

  1. Beat ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.  Garnish with remaining chopped walnuts.

TIPS & NOTES

  • I went half quinoa flour and half whole-wheat flour. This definitely has a healthier taste so try this if you have developed a healthy palate. You could even use all quinoa flour to make it gluten free.
  • Whole-wheat pastry flour is lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods.
  • If you don’t want to use stevia, 2/3 cup of sugar would be fine.
  • Soak raisins in warm water for a few minutes and drain. This plumps them up.

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Homemade Quest Protein Bars

I’m so excited to share with you how to make your very own Homemade Quest Protein Bars! Quest bars are my favorite because they are made with quality ingredients that I can understand, and they make a great healthy dessert.

The catch is, spending $2-3 per bar everyday can get expensive, and they aren’t sold at a lot of places. Discovering how to create my own solves these problems, and I can control the ingredients to make them even healthier!  Another BONUS is they can be made in 3 minutes!

The magical ingredient that allows the protein bars to be ‘Quest like’ is a low carb and chewy (binder) syrup, IMO (aka. isomalto-oligosaccharide) called Vita-Fiber.

The company that makes Vita-fiber shares this nutrition information about the product:

Zero Sugar – No Aftertaste – Low Calorie – Super Versatile
Baking to  Beverages – Gluten Free – Non-GMO – Vegan
Nothing Artificial – No Stevia – No Sugar  Alcohols – Low Glycemic
Supports Digestive Health – Excellent Source of Prebiotic Fiber
Does Not Cause Tooth Decay – Diabetic Friendly – No Allergens

This is pretty awesome, right?!  I like not having to use nut butters, honey or any other fat or sugary substance to hold the bars together.

Here is a link to FAQs about this product: http://bioneutra.ca/frequently-asked-questions/

I bought mine at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/VitaFiber-IMO-Syrup/dp/B00TIX50OQ

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These were some of the firsts ones I made: Double Chocolate Brownie, Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough, Cinnamon Roll, Oreo and Chocolate Peanut Butter

Ingredients needed: VitaFiber, favorite protein, extract of choice, and any mix ins you like.

😊Once you get started it’s so much fun creating new flavors the time flies!

Here is the base recipe:

  • 2 TBS VitaFiber
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder
  • 1/4 tsp extract
  • 1 tsp milk (I use almond) *gradually add a splash more if you find it’s too dry

You can adjust the recipe based on what you want in your macros.  For instance if you don’t want as much protein or if you don’t want to use 2 tbsp of the syrup then you might want to go with 1/2 scoop protein powder; 1- 1/2 tbsp VitaFiber; and 1 tbsp milk.  Play around with it and enjoy creating your own!

Here are the steps:

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  1. Use a small pot and have all your ingredients ready to mix in.  Heat the syrup in a saucepan on medium-low heat until it starts to bubble.  It takes about a minute.

*Another option is to microwave the syrup in a glass bowl for 20-25 sec.

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2.  Once it starts bubbling, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in your ingredients, except for your special add ins like chocolate chips, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc.

3.  Let cool for about 2 minutes.

4.  Scoop the dough into a Ziploc snack bag. Fold in your add ins and form into a bar.  (trust me on this, otherwise it will stick to your hands).

5.  Cool in refrigerator for an hour to set.

I love ‘almost done’ cookies so I bake them at 350 degrees for 5 min. or pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.😋

Here are the recipes I used for the bars in the photo:

Double Chocolate Brownie – 2 tbsp VitaFiber Syrup, 1 scoop protein, 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp dark chocolate morsels.  Splash of almond milk if too dry.
195 calories, 28 carbs, 30 protein, 21 grams of fiber
Chocolate Peanut Butter- same as Double Chocolate Chip except add in 1 tsp peanut butter.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough- 2 tbsp VitaFiber Syrup, 1 scoop protein, 2 tsp almond flour, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp almond butter, 1 tbsp dark chocolate morsels (make sure not to mix in until the dough cools).
Peanut Butter- 2-1/2 tbsp VitaFiber Syrup, 1 heaping scoop protein, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp crunchy peanut butter.
Cinnamon Roll- 2 tbsp VitaFiber Syrup, 1 scoop protein, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 6-8 raisins.
Oreo- 2-1/2 tbsp VitaFiber Syrup, 1 scoop protein, 1 oreo cookie crumbled up and mixed in.

I’ve been having so much fun creating these bars, and I’m still tweeking and trying new things!  I would love to hear back from you about what you try.  Enjoy!

8 Ways To Stay Motivated To Workout This Winter

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I woke up to temps in the 20s this morning in the New Orleans area, and all I wanted to do was stay in my warm bed.  I know that might be laughable to those of you further North, but the struggle to be active during the winter months is a reality for us all, even the fittest of people.

I’m the queen of hibernation when it’s cold outside.  I could stay in my pj’s and slippers all day long, and if I have my Kindle, I’m having a perfect day-:) With this crew, it’s pretty easy to do just that!😀

 

That’s not going to sustain a healthy and lean body, but maybe a soft and cuddly one;)

If you want to avoid putting on winter padding and keep making progress, take a look at this list I’ve put together.  These are things I do that help me stay motivated to exercise during the winter months.

1.)  Get a workout plan

I look forward to following plans that I get on bodybuilding.com.  As a health coach/personal trainer I’m always providing instruction to others so it’s nice to kick back and not have to think.  Here are some of the plans I’ve done that you might want to check out:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/shortcut-to-size.html http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/erin-stern-elite-body-4-week-fitness-trainer.html?searchterm=Elite%20Erin  beginners: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jamie-eason-livefit-trainer.html

2.)  Meet with friends

Nothing can lift you out of the doldrums like being around your friends.  Spending time with friends is great for boosting oxytocin, aka the love & cuddle hormone, which has an anti-anxiety effect.

We meet up at least once a month and have our own bootcamp class; we sometimes catch a coffee after.  As you can tell, we’re not having a problem with the winter blues;)

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3.)  Try Out Something New

The winter months can be an opportunity to get creative and try some fun activities.  You could look into some intramural sports like volleyball, try out salsa or a winter sport.  Your gym might offer a variety of group exercise classes.  Why not sample them all?

4.)  Search for workout inspiration

I subscribe to several fitness channels on YouTube to get new ideas, and I also get good workouts from Fitness Rx.  Whatever form of social media you enjoy, follow fitness and nutrition professionals.

I just started incorporating kettlebells into my workouts, and I’m feeling muscles that I’m not used to working.  Here’s the link to that workout:

https://healthyjustice.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/change-up-your-workouts-with-kettlebells/

4.) Lug Your Gym Bag to Work

There is nothing that can zap your mojo like leaving work when it’s dark & cold outside. The best remedy is to pack up all your gear, your preworkout snack, drink, & workout clothes, so that you can hit the gym on your route home.

5.)  Get outside

It can initially feel like you’re about to jump into a cold pool to open your door to go for a hike or a run, but it’s so invigorating!

  • Ease yourself into that transition by doing some jumping jacks, squats and lunges inside to warm up.
  • Get the proper gear and clothing to face the cold

6.)  Treat Yourself

After a long run or a hike, have some type of treat planned for yourself that you can look forward to like having a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with cinnamon sprinkles. Recently I’ve been rewarding myself to a facial once a month if I’ve done good with my workouts and meals.  It’s been the leverage I’ve needed to help me win the mental battle.

7.)  Find healthy alternatives

This isn’t so much of a workout tip as it is a tip for keeping it clean in the kitchen.  This time of the year we crave those warm, delicious, and carb heavy foods.  I’m with you, and this is why I always have healthy swaps available.

  • If you are having sweet cravings prepare roasted root vegetables, make your own healthy breads or protein snacks. recipes: https://healthyjustice.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/homemade-chocolate-protein-bars/ https://healthyjustice.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/pumpkin-pancakes-and-protein-bread/
  • Try making spiralized noodles with zucchini instead of traditional pasta. Here’s a perfect comfort food recipe: https://healthyjustice.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/creamy-avocado-paleo-zoodles/comment-page-1/
  • Eat nutrient dense and fiber rich foods like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, bananas, whole wheat pastas.

8.)  Music makes a difference

Sometimes I enjoy a long quiet run to air out my thoughts, but during the winter I need music to help me power through the cardio.

Jim Stoppani, PhD exercise physiology and bodybuilding.com contributor did a study with the Weider Research Group that showed significant strength gains across all lifts when athletes train to their favorite tunes.

🎧Before you even step foot in the gym, make sure you’ve got headphones in your ears.

I hope some of these ways I’ve found to stay motivated will also help you beat the winter blahs.

12 Healthy Roadtrip Snacks

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We had been talking for awhile about going to Disney World, so when we found out we had four days open this month, we loaded up the car for a long road trip of almost 12 hours!  That’s a long time with plenty of opportunities for eating fast food and grabbing junk food at gas stations.  I wanted to make sure we were ready to hit the ground running the next day and not dragging because we ate crap the whole ride down to Orlando.  Here are the snacks I packed for us that also served as meal replacements.  I hope you find inspiration for your next road trip!

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Breakfast/lunch snacks

  1. Pack whole wheat bread
  2. organic nitrate and preservative free turkey and ham lunch meat.
  3. Peanut butter (you can bring food into Disney so make up some sandwiches to eat so you can save your money to eat somewhere really nice.)

Mini Fritattas  *I share this recipes at the end of the blog*

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Turkey veggie roll ups

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These are surprisingly really good!  Roll up 1-2 steamed green beans, a carrot slice and a strip of mustard.

It can be so hard to get in vegetables on the road so I worked them into those recipes.

Fresh Fruit:

  1. Tomatoes
  2. bananas
  3. grapes
  4. whatever you like

Veggies:

  1. green beans (boiled them for about 4 min.)
  2. celery slices
  3. carrots
  4. kale chips (my 1st time making these, and they’re not really my fav.)

For savory & sweet cravings:

  1. String cheese
  2. Pistachios (or your favorite nuts)
  3. Homemade granola (so worth making!)
  4. Peanut butter protein balls  https://healthyjustice.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/peanut-butter-protein-balls/

Drinks:

  1.  bottled water
  2. LaCroix  (I like how it gives you that carbonation but not all the additives as a soft drink.)

Other necessary items: 

  1.  cups & plates
  2. napkins
  3. plastic forks and spoons
  4. baby wipes
  5. hand sanitizer

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When we 1st got to Epcot!  I was so excited to be there!  I had my 1st full serving of a margarita at this lovely outdoor Mexican restaurant. Well Donny finished it off after the sun starting making me feel dizzy..

Some of the fun characters we got to meet and hug!

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My pipe dream has always been to be some Disney character at Disney Word;)  I did get to play “Ariel” a couple of times.  One of my most fond memories is getting to dress up as the Little Mermaid for a friend’s precious granddaughter’s birthday party.

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Going through the Smith Family Tree House was a one of my fun big kid moments!

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Although it was very commercialized, the magic and energy of the place was invigorating.  We are looking forward to our next visit and this time with the grandkids;)

Mini Fritattas

8 whole eggs and 4 whites

Almost the whole bunch of asparagus cut 1 inch thick

1/2 cup of mushrooms

1 tsp garlic

salt and pepper to taste

handful of spinach sliced up to sprinkle on top

1/4 cup of cheese *optional

  1.  steam asparagus for a few minutes.  Let them cool and then chop them.
  2. saute’ asparagus with mushroom (or your favorite veggies) for about 4-5 min. The last 30 sec. add a tsp of garlic.
  3. Mix up eggs and egg whites in a separate bowl.
  4. Spray a muffin pan with Olive Oil and fill each muffin tin with a small amount of the egg mixture.
  5. Put veggies into the muffin tins.
  6. Put in the rest of the egg mixture and top with shredded spinach and cheese.
  7. Bake for about 15 min at 350 degrees
  8. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, before removing! Serve immediately or let finish cooling on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for no longer than 4 days. You can freeze these. To thaw, remove from the freezer the night before and store in the refrigerator. Then just pop it in the microwave in the morning until warm.

*Add hot sauce to it to spruce it up some:)