Hormone-Balancing Chocolate Mint Drink

Hormone-Balancing Chocolate Mint Drink

Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!

Today feels like a Wednesday, but thank goodness it’s only Tuesday-packed full of organic chemistry! I have decided to finish the rest of the semester up in the next two weeks before I start a new job that I just accepted (more on this later), which means I don’t have much free time. However, I did manage to procrastinate just long enough to whip this baby up.

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I started off this cold, chilly fall morning thinking, “I’m going to make hot chocolate” but it turned into a frothy morning drink thing. We’re going to call thing a “Mint Chocolate Hormone Balancing Drink”.

This concoction has hormone-balancing ingredients like coconut oil and maca root powder. I read several articles on maca and finally ended up consulting pubmed for more conclusive/reliable research. Many of the healthful claims about maca haven’t been scientifically proven [yet], however, maca does appear to be beneficial in elevating mood (1), regulating estrogen levels, especially in menopausal and post-menopausal women (2) as well as serving as a helpful alternative for persistent pain management (3). Until we know more about maca scientifically, take all the “maca will change your life and your energy levels and help you grow strong, Rapunzel-like hair” with a tiny grain of salt. Yes, it’s a great root starch from the Andes mountains, and yes, it does provide health benefits (and I’m hopeful that with more research we will know more). But remember that in most areas of life, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing”…so don’t make maca your daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner situation.

Okay. Recipe time. This one is quick and easy, and the balance of the nutty flavor of maca with the cacao powder and mint gives such a satisfying taste without being overbearingly sweet. If you do find your sweet tooth in need of some TLC though, just add a couple of tbsp of organic maple syrup to this recipe- I’m sure that would be a treat!

Mint Chocolate Hormone-Balancing Drink

  • Servings: 1-2
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A smooth, mildly chocolatey and refreshingly minty morning drink with hormone-balancing benefits.

Ingredients

  • high speed blender
  • 1 C water
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder (I bought a bag for $3.99 from Trader Joe’s, right by the hot cereals)
  • 1 ½ tbsp maca powder (also purchased from Trader Joe’s for $3.99)
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (favorite is linked here!)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • small handful of fresh mint leaves, trust me…
  • 1 C ice cubes

Directions

  1. Pour water, protein and remaining ingredients into blender
  2. Blend on high until ingredients are mixed well. Note: This will be frothy and smooth, not thick and creamy.
  3. Pour and serve. I like to top with fresh mint leaves. Enjoy!

This has been perfect for today’s cold weather. Let me know if you decide to give it a try yourself!


Vega Probiotics

A note on maca powder or cacao powder: make sure the only ingredient on the bag is “maca powder” or “cacao powder”. Sometimes sneaky ingredients like “sugar” will find their way into you pure ingredients, and sugar deserves to be somewhere fun and celebratory-like cake. 🙂

-Stacey

Also note: this isn’t a miracle smoothie that will solve all your hormone troubles. It’s ultimately up to you to eat a balanced diet consistently from whole food sources under the direction of a doctor or a registered dietitian, and I am neither.

Sources
(1)
(2)
(3)

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Keepin’ On + Vanilla Berry-Kiwi Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Keepin’ On + Vanilla Berry-Kiwi Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Guys. I’m gonna be real.

For the past few weeks I have struggled with feeling inspired…more than just with my blog content (you may or may not have noticed that I slowed down from hammering out a post daily).

I started wondering, “Should I continue pursuing my degree in dietetics?” Graduation seems so far away at times since I’m working full time using my sociology degree (Yes, kids. You CAN get hired using that liberal arts degree after all!) and taking one/two classes at a time is DRAGGING.

So naturally, I started looking at other degrees career paths. Master’s in Pubic Health? Oh. I could do that! But as I was doing a case study for my nutrition class on Friday night I thought, “I love this crap. I’m just gonna have to suck it up and stick it out.” So that’s what I’m doing. Sticking it out- juggling work with school, and keepin’ on (even though TBH I wish my school wasn’t online and was in person- I LOVE THE CLASSROOM. But I’m thankful anyway).

And today on my run I was reminded of how I always struggle during the first mile and a half and forget why I love running. It’s not until I push through until miles two or three that I FEEL it. “THIS is why I run. Because I’m out here, when I could be anywhere else.” And it’s liberating, after the first mile and a half of clumsy feet/ gettin’ into my groove.

But I keep on.

And then suddenly my muscles remember what we’re doing. My breathing picks up and settles into a familiar pattern. My legs swing happily beneath me. I can feel the wind (on a good, breezy day anyway). There’s nothing like it. And there’s nothing comparable to the feeling of finishing a race after months of training hard. There’s nothing sweeter than the feeling of accomplishment.

So I’m keeping on.

Past this semester of “Ugh why am I doing this?” until I get my groove back. Because I will. Because nutrition is my ultimate jam, and I’m good with people.

So whatever you’re pursuing, keep on…past the mile/semester/time of being uncomfortable, because trials develop perseverance, and perseverance develops maturity. One day you’ll find joy in what seemed like suffering, because you’ll have accomplished your goals…and there’s nothin’ sweeter than that. (1)

Except this, maybe this:

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Vanilla Berry-Kiwi Chia Seed Pudding

It’s gluten free. It’s dairy free. It’s pudding.

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-1 C coconut yogurt (I used vanilla)
-small splash of milk (sorry, I’m still working on the measuring thing
-1/4 C chia seeds
-1/2 C raspberries
-1/2 C blackberries
-1/2 C strawberries
-1/2 C kiwi, peeled and sliced

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-Mix kiwi, blackberries, and splash of almond milk (we’re talkin’ probably less than 1/4 cup of almond milk, guys. Jusssst a splash) in a medium-large mixing bowl.
-Once mixed(ish), stir 1 C coconut yogurt into mixture
-Add chia seeds and stir some more
-Pour in glass container and refrigerate overnight.
-Enjoy a serving for breakfast (about 1/2 cup), topped with favorite granola

When you wake up in the morning, this should be your view:

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I know it doesn’t look all that appetizing, but it is. Oh. It is. Promise.

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About chia seeds:
-not just for chia pets

 

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source: Target.com

-high in Omega-3 fatty acids (if you don’t like seafood, here’s your substitute!)
-high in protein (about 4g/serving in this pudding!- not including the protein from yogurt)
-an antioxidant! Healthful anti-inflammatory properties in these seeds

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Let me know what cha think if you give this recipe a shot! I’ve got a fun Workout Wednesday post in the works for mañana.

Hope you’re having a lovely week. Keep on keepin’ on!

-Stacey

Footnotes: (1) Romans 5:4

Fuel of Choice for Long Runs + Slow-Cooker Recipe

For today’s post, I’m combining my two favorite worlds: food AND running.

A question I get asked often is “What fuel do you use for longer runs?” I have two answers.

#1. Blue gatorade mixed with water, and it has to be blue, and it has to be Gatorade. Don’t give me the G2 stuff. Gatorade by itself is TOO sweet for me (and no surprise full of sugar), so I learned to mix with water. I have tried: Gu, Powerade, coconut water (two different brands), an Advocare thing, and lemon-lime gatorade. If you (like me) have autoimmune intestinal probs, try out different fuels BEFORE your race!!! Some things will NOT agree with you, and it’s a solid idea to figure that out before you start your race. No shame in the fuel belt game if you need to bring your own fuel for a half-marathon. You are fuel-belt fabulous. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

#2.  Say hello to my little friend:

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This also took a lot of trial and error on account of my crappy ulcerative colitis, but these,  consumed 1/2 at a time, don’t make me symptomatic at all. I normally take one around mile 8/9 and then again around 11 during a race if I feel like I need it. I have friends who carry grapes, gummy bears- all sorts of stuff. Find what works for you and stick with it! Disclaimer: If you try this while you’re not running, it’s gonna taste salty and weird. Wait until you need it, then give it a shot. My favorite part about these is the packaging, “Pull It!” so there’s no worries about having to find a small tear tab while running. Love these.

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And for anyone who doesn’t want to talk about running, here’s the slow-cooker recipe I promised 🙂

Slow-Cooker Lemon Gahhlic Chicken + Potatoes

  1. Chop about 8-10 small potatoes into quarters, layer the slow-cooker with them, adding small slivers of butter on top of them (in total, about 2 tbsp butter- my favorite brand is Smart Balance).

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2. Season 4 chicken breast (or two sliced in half if the breasts are thick) with fresh crushed pepper (liberally), oregano (2 tsp), and garlic (4 cloves, minced)

3. Lay the seasoned breasts on top of the chopped potatoes in the slow cooker.

4.  Use the juice from two freshly-squeezed lemons and pour juice over chicken and potatoes in slow-cooker. I also like to slice the lemons and leave them on top of the chicken breasts.

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^Behold, my very favorite kitchen toy.

IMG_2275-2Do NOT use the lemon juice in the plastic squeezy thing from the store expecting this to taste stellar. Trust me, you won’t want to take the easy way out when it comes to fresh lemon juice. Evah.

5. Pour 2/3 C organic chicken (or vegetable) broth over chicken and potatoes in slow- cooker.

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6. Set cooker to low for six hours or high for three hours. TA-DAHH- Dinnah is served.

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I really love slow cooker recipes because you don’t have to worry about them- just set the timer and go on about your day…just don’t forget about them, because that could end in disaster. Let me know what you think of this recipe if you give it a shot!

Hope your week is treating you well 🙂

-Stacey

[Addictive] Maple Vanilla Granola Recipe

[Addictive] Maple Vanilla Granola Recipe

Hope everyone had/is having a wonderful weekend!

The pup and I hung around the house thanks to thunder storms all weekend long. I don’t complain about an excuse to watch “You’ve Got Mail” until I fall asleep though 🙂

IMG_2264-2Zack survived his very first solo grocery shopping trip, and he did quite well. He even sent me texts as he frantically searched for all the items on my list. He returned with a chai tea from my favorite coffee shop in town. Marriage to this guy is so good.

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^ made me laugh. God bless him.

If you follow me on Instagram, you can find a slow cooker recipe for lemon garlic chicken and potatoes on my story that I threw together today. Turned out fantastic! I’ll post the recipe on the blog later this week if you missed it.

But first!

I have to share this granola recipe with ya’ll before I forget it. This granola is like crack, so if you’re hoping for something that’s not completely addictive…oops. But don’t take my word for it! Give it a shot yourself, and let me know what cha think!

This stuff is gluten free and full of goodness.

Maple Vanilla Granola

1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
4 C gluten free oats (or whichever rolled oats are your favorite!)
a dash (or two or three) of cinnamon- I love cinnamon

Mix all these ingredients together in a bowl separate from the wet ingredients.
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Mix:
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C organic maple syrup
Justtttt a tad of organic vanilla- I like to eyeball it. (Still working on measuring things!)
1/4 C natural peanut buttah
I like to heat these ^ until softened (not too long!)- it’s much easier to stir.

Then, pour the mixed, wet ingredients over the mixed, dry ingredients.

Stir until nice and mixed, once it seems all the dry ingredients have been nicely covered.
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Spread evenly on a non-stick pan and pop in the oven for 30 minutes on 275, stirring frequently (every 8-12 minutes) and making sure it doesn’t burn. You want it this golden brown color!

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You can also get creative and add raisins, almond slices, coconut slivers, or dark chocolate to this mixture once it cools. Store in an air-tight container. Serve over smoothies, ice cream, yogurt, or enjoy by the handful. This stuff is packed with healthy fats and carbs (complex ones!) and also makes a great fuel for athletes.

Hope you all have a great Monday!!!

Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey

Day 1 Half-Marathon Training Recap + Pick-Me-Up Morning Smoothie Recipe

Today started off with a phone call from my neighbor.

“Are you Jaxon’s owner? He’s in my living room.”

Silly me-thinking we had a morning routine, especially on gorgeous days like these.

fullsizerender Jaxon normally likes to do his business and then sunbathe when it’s a warmer day, just for about ten or twenty minutes, and then he comes to the back door when he’s ready to come back inside. But today, he decided that he needed to explore beyond his monstrous back yard and travel WAY down the street to the neighbor’s house. Thank goodness for dog tags.

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Also thank goodness for friendly neighbors, because I’d be lost without my Jax. 😦

Last night’s run was slow, but it was good. I bought these New Balance shoes awhile back, because they felt so good when I got fitted for them, and I do like them. But my all time faves are still my Brooks Launch 3’s. I also can’t do a run without water. It doesn’t matter if it’s only two or three miles- girl needs her H2O. I’ve tried to train myself out of it, but it’s not worth it to me.

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My absolute favorite part of running is exploring, and since I’m in a new town in a new state, each run has taken me on a new adventure.

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I felt like I was trespassing here, so I didn’t cross the bridge. Maybe that makes me less adventurous than I thought? Oh well.

Check out that sky magic!

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When I got home, I spent some time planking and doing some light abs. I was short on time, but I felt accomplished. It’s so, so tough to get back into movement sometimes…
But it’ll be worth it; it always is.

Reminder: If you’re feeling sluggish and heavy on your runs, push through. Sometimes  Most of the time, the first couple of miles are the hardest. It feels like you’re learning to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time, and your feet feel heavy, and your legs feel uncoordinated, and your breathing feels all off. Just keep going. Your body will find its rhythym, and soon enough you’ll forget how uncomfortable you were.

Then our friends picked us up for “burger night”. There’s a place in town that has half-price burgers on Wednesdays, and we have gone religiously for the past three weeks.

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I always get a chicken breast with avocado and sweet potato fries. This is my favorite beer currently, and if you’re a fan of sours, you’ll love it too. <- sounds like I know what I’m talking about, but really I have no idea. I just know that this is “yummy”.

And today’s breakfast smoothie snack was really just too good not to share, so here’s a “pick-me-up smoothie”.

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I know you’re probably like, “This girl loves the crap outta some smoothies.” <- Not untrue, but I am also taking a protein prescription from my doc to help my immune system, and I have found this has been the easiest way to hide it in a breakfast snack. Normally, I’d scramble myself eggs or make an omelet for breakfast…but since life has brought me here for now, a recipe:

Pick-me-up Morning Smoothie

-1/2 cup coffee
-1/2 frozen banana
-1 cup (lactose free yogurt for Low FODMAP), or yogurt of choice
-1 handful of greens
-2 tbsp pb
-dash of cinnamon
-1 scoop chocolate Vega Sport protein (1/2 scoop if Low FODMAP)
-1 C ice (add this last if the coffee you’re using is still hot)
Blend, serve, and enjoy 🙂

Pro-tip: Top with 1/4 C granola, and thank me later.

* you’ll notice that I like my smoothies THICK, because I like to eat them with a spoon, so it feels like I’m EATING. Feel free to add more yogurt and ice to make it creamier, or use less ice than I recommended to make it more watery, depending on your preference.

Let me know what cha think! 🙂

-Stacey

Slow-cooker chicken breast recipe (low FODMAP friendly)

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-1.5-2lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast (mine was frozen, and that was fine!)

-2 large Idaho potatoes OR 4 new potatoes, diced with skin on (I used Idaho potatoes because it’s what was in the pantry, but I think new potatoes would be even better)

-2 tbsp of garlic-infused olive oil

-2 large lemons, juiced

-1/2 tbsp rosemary

-1/2 tbsp oregano

-dash of black pepper

Mix olive oil, fresh lemon juice (NOTE: don’t use the lemon juice that comes in the crappy plastic lemon and expect this to taste just as good), rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. Pour about 3/4 over chicken in slow-cooker, and pour the rest over the diced potatoes layered on top of the chicken. Close slow-cooker and set to high for four hours, or low for 6-8 hours.

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If you want to make this and you’re not following low FODMAP, feel free to add minced garlic and some diced onion to this recipe! Very aromatic, and you’ll come home from work feelin’ 50 shades of accomplished!

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This could also be layered with green beans and be delicious. I steamed some broccoli separately, and it made for an easy meal.

I intend to make some chicken salad with the leftover chicken. mmm.

Let me know if you try this recipe! Feel free to tweak it! Confession: I have a *hard* time measuring ingredients. I’m more of a pinch and pour kind of cook, so if you feel like it needs more or less of something, make it your own! It’s YOUR kitchen! Go crazy.

Hope you have a great Wednesday 🙂

-Stacey

Vanilla Berry Smoothie Recipe

Vanilla Berry Smoothie Recipe

CHECK OUT THAT BLUE SKY!

For the past few days it has been gorgeous outside! Seriously. Wow.

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View from the top floor of a parking garage in OKC. Am I the only person who always parks on the top floor of the parking garage so I don’t forget where I parked my car? I am a grandma.

Last night dinner wins:

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I found a low FODMAP friendly version of delicious shrimp scampi from here (THANK YOU), and discovered that garlic infused olive oil is permitted on low FODMAP- PRAISE!!! I was about to lose my mind (up in here, up in here) over the no garlic rule. Give.Me.Gahhlic. Also, all the brown rice pasta (in moderation). I actually had two heaping helpings- serving sizes be damned.

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Sides were arugula salad with olive oil and lemon drizzle and some walnuts, green beans, and peppered tomatoes…because I was craving them. Zack thinks I’m weird *whips hair*.

Low FODMAP update:
-I have stopped counting how long I have been enduring life without salsa.
-Update: 3 weeks since I started over after eating my body weight in chicken fried steak a few weekends ago (but in my defense, it had been 4+ years since the last time I ate chicken fried steak at all)
-Symptoms are still happening, but I’m in pain far less often- WIN!
-I STARTED RUNNING AGAIN AND THIS IS A HUGE DEAL
-Energy levels…slowly, ever so slowly, increasing! 🙂
-Also on new meds, so shoutout to those bad boys

You can’t win, ulcerative colitis.

Today I made a smoothie thing in an effort to disguise my enteragam protein from the doc.

I’m going to call it this thing a vanilla berry smoothie. And in case you haven’t had granola on top of your smoothie, you are missin’ out. View this post for a homemade pb granola recipe.

Here’s a new smoothie recipe:

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-1 scoop vanilla Vega sport protein (1/2 scoop if you’re low FODMAPpin’)
-1 C water
-2 tbsp pb
-1/2 C frozen raspberries
-1-2 C frozen blueberries
-1/2 C plain Greek yogurt (lactose free yogurt if on low FODMAP/ maintain dairy free diet)
Blend!

Top with granola, eat with a spoon
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Fun facts:
-smoothies should be consumed as snacks, rather than replacement meals, because drinking your calories doesn’t register in the brain the same way food does. You could be drinking more calories than you would be consuming if you were eating them, because drinks just aren’t as satiating as food. You can read more about this here
-Try to blend your smoothie to a consistency where you CAN eat it with a spoon, and make them full of protein and fats to make you feel fuller, creating a more satisfying snack
-Also, be careful not to add TOO much fruit, because it will turn to sugar!
-I wasn’t intentionally doing any sort of marketing by using their glasses, but Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston is worth checking out. They’re big supporters of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, and their beer is good.

Hope you’re having a fantastic Friday 🙂 Keep moving forward! YAY WEEKEND!

-Stacey