Double Chocolate Protein Brownies

Yes, protein brownies.  Why?  Why not! Sure, you can save these for dessert just because, but won’t you feel a little less guilty knowing they have a healthy dose of protein and veggies? Oh, wait.  I forgot to mention the veggies part. Please keep reading. I hope I didn’t scare you away.  The batter alone is worth sticking around for–I promise!

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I made this on Saturday night for two reasons: 1. I wanted dessert BADLY. 2. My kids were sleeping so I could eat said dessert peacefully.  Moms, you know what I mean.  There is nothing like hiding by the garbage can or–true confession here–sneaking into the bathroom just to eat a cookie or spoonful of Nutella in hopes of snagging a sweet snack without your kids being aware.  They are always aware.  They will always find you. They will always throw an accusatory “What are you doing?” at you that makes you choke on your secret treat and to simply reply with a grumbly, mouth-full, “Nothing!” that sounds more guilty than your toddler does when you actually see him punch his sister. So alas, when my husband arrived back home on Saturday night from his quick kids-are-in-bed trip to Dunkin Donuts for our coffees (see, Dads hide treats, too!), he was surprised to find me mixing up some brownies. He was even more surprised to see half a zucchini on the counter.

Don’t be alarmed. These are good. Plus, they are dairy- and gluten-free and flourless.  I did use peanut butter, but if allergens are an issue, you can easily sub in sunflower seed butter.  You could also throw in the nut of your choice if you are a nutty-brownie kind of family.  We aren’t, so I left these to their fudgey goodness on their own.  You can hardly detect, let alone taste, the zucchini in the final product.

I did make it up to my kids, though. On a Sunday morning, I served these as breakfast.  Can you say #momguilt? But really, it was the only way I could keep from eating them all myself! Besides, there is no better way to treat yourself and your family than to a yummy, warm, wholesome breakfast on a Sunday.  I served them with some watermelon, scrambled eggs (for the kids–not me!), and yogurt.  Bed-and-breakfast worthy, if I do say so myself.

I have to give a shout-out to Cleanfoodcrush.com for this recipe idea.  I made some changes to better fit my family’s needs and also to fit the ingredients I had on hand and the end result was so yummy, I just had to share!

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Double Chocolate Protein Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
  • Time: 35min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fudgey, healthy treat good enough for breakfast!

I adapted this recipe from Cleanfoodcrush.com to fit my family’s needs.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
  • 1/4 pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup all-natural unsweetened applesauce (I made my own.)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop vegan chocolate protein powder (I used vegan chocolate Shakeology)
  • 1/2 cup certified gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (do not drain/remove excess water)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, reserving half (I use Enjoy Life brand, which are dairy- and soy-free)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray 8×8 glass baking dish or brownie pan with non-stick coconut oil spray.
  2. In your blender or food processor, blend rolled oats until a fine powder forms.  Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, use a mixer to blend together peanut butter, maple syrup, apple sauce, extract, and protein powder. Gently stir in remaining ingredients, minus half of the chocolate chips. (Don’t forget to add the oat powder–I almost did!)
  4. Add to the baking dish, spreading batter evenly.  Top with remaining chocolate chips.  Slivered almonds would also be delicious across the top!
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Lick the spoon and the bowl and everything in between.
  6. Allow to cool, then cut into squares and enjoy.

Please let me know how these taste!  If you want to give these a try but don’t have protein powder on hand, contact me as well and I will send you a serving size perfect for this recipe!

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Eat that Frog with Me!

SUMMER HAS KILLED MY PRODUCTIVITY

I may be a teacher and a coach, but it is my love of learning that makes me, me.  I am a student at heart.  I love to read and, most currently, to listen to podcasts relevant to my current areas of interest.  And what is my current area of interest? Productivity.

Many of you would have guessed it was fitness or nutrition.  Those are ever important to me and I am ever looking for ways to enhance both of those aspects within my day-to-day. Productivity, along with cutting down on procrastination, is the area in my life that needs work the most, however.

I’ve always loved planners and calendars.  I get into major color-coding moods and reorganizing moods and new-app moods within which I purchase, implement, and soon forget about one or more methods of keeping track and getting ish done. I most recently fell in love with Wunderlist–a simple app for list-creating–and have also been using Chalene Johnson’s PUSH planner. I love the way it is both specific and open at the same time, but I have not been as intentional and consistent with it as I’d hoped.  I don’t believe it is a lack of resources that plagues me.  How about you?  For me, it is a lack of implementable strategies.

me and mike

I’ve been attempting some time-efficiency strategies over the last few months.  The one that works best has been meal prepping.  By planning and prepping our meals ahead of time, I save time with my family and save the aggravation of paniced dinner making.  I also save money by minimizing on dining out.  Another habit that worked wonders–and I mean that in the past tense–was waking up early.  I began waking up early to workout and/or get some work done before my family woke up each day and it was a true game-changer.  I move through each day with a sense of accomplishment and a level of energy unmatched before.  This habit is no longer a habit, though.  I’ve allows the summer to slow me down and make my mornings lazy.  NO MORE!

I am committed to getting back in gear before the summer fades and the new school year dawns. Meal planning can’t be my only effective tool! I am committing myself to an August geared towards getting my mind and habits as strong as my body has already become.

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE YOU?

If so, you must join my next online challenge group, 21 Days to Strong! We will work on the wellness trifecta:

  • strong bodies
  • strong habits
  • strong minds

We often go through phases in life in which we work towards better health.  We begin exercising and eating better.  We make sure we are drinking water.  We get to bed at a decent hour.  That is all well and good; these are phases that jump-start wellness.  But they usually only impact our bodies.  In order for these physical or health changes to truly resonate and for our choices to become a lifestyle, we need our habits and our minds to become stronger as well.

Over this 21 day challenge, we will explore how our bodies can become stronger or leaner or more fit by following a trusted fitness program.  We will improve our nutritional habits with guidance, portion control, and clean eating education.  We will transform our minds by combating the procrastination and inefficiency that gets in the way of keeping the other two parts of this trio inline.  Our group will be reading and discussing Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. We will use the tools and strategies within the book to not only create a common language and nuanced focal-point for our wellness, but we will be able to motivate one another beyond getting through a set of burpees or reaching a goal weight.  This type of motivation will remain well beyond our 21-day challenge.

HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR OVERALL WELLNESS?

Join me!  Leave your information below and I will be in touch with all the details. Together, we will decide which fitness program best fits your goals and abilities.  I will then enroll you in an online accountability group.  This is a private Facebook community through which I will motivate, coach, and teach you at every step of the way.  And, if you are new to my program and purchase for the first time, I will send you the personal development text we will be following, Eat that Frog!, for FREE as my thank you! 

Don’t procrastinate! 😉 Join today!

The groundwork of all happiness is health. 

The Beetle Parable, or Why the World Needs Love

me and kids fort
Kayden, me, & Paxton,  June 2016

My kids “saved” a beetle today. Why? Because they are kids.

We went for a walk semi-early in an attempt to get ahead of the heatwave.  We were only one door down when my middle son, Paxton–who blog readers know feels deeply, his compassion and heartbreak eternal–squealed with dismay. Oh no!, he kept saying, until Kayden and I and the stroller made our way back to him. He was crouched down, sullen, staring a belly-up beetle in the…well, in the something. Fix him, Mommy!, Kayden yelled. She had joined Paxton’s sense of urgency as soon as she realized the beetle’s legs were moving and he was, in fact, alive but stranded mid-sidewalk. Together, we found a leaf and carefully turned him back onto his legs. Paxton then decided to shade him with the leaf and insisted we check on him when we finished our walk.

Twenty minutes later as we rounded the corner back to our house, the kids ran ahead to check on their friend, now named Jason (of all things!). And there was Jason, back on his back, still on the sidewalk. Mommy! MOMMY! Both kids were distraught now at the thought of this beetle unable to get to shelter and unable to cool down. I picked up the leaf and gentle lifted him to my neighbor’s yard.  We placed him in a shady spot both under a tree and near my neighbor’s irrigation system.  We agreed the damp, cool place would help him thrive.

Fast forward to after lunch.  I needed a few kitchen staples–and an iced coffee–so I shuttled the three littles to Whole Foods.  Somehow, Jason came up in conversation while we were gone, so the second we returned home, the kids ran to our neighbor’s yard and found him, on his back again.  Before I could finish putting the groceries away, Kayden and Paxton made a little eco-system out of an old Tupperware container: they stuffed it with small twigs and leaves and grass and dirt, they poured a little water in the bottom, and they gently placed Jason inside using a sand shovel. He’s our pet! We will protect him and take care of him!, they proclaimed.  I did not, still do not, have the heart to tell them that Jason, their beloved pet beetle, is already gone, that his legs haven’t wiggled since we placed him under that tree.  They saw this creature, no bigger than a peanut and something that would have startled them if they found it in the house, and they cared for it.  They nurtured it.  They loved it, instinctively.

Kids default to love; we model hate.  This is nothing new.  Countless bloggers and authors have explored this very subject.  But today, the day after learning of the terrible tragedy in Nice, I was overcome with this notion as I watched my kids react, feel, and love.

I have no intention of getting soap-boxey or political.  I have no intention of changing your belief system or of persuading you to seek a way to save the world.  The world, unfortunately, cannot be saved.  Our kids, though, we can save.  We cannot save them from harm or from tragedy or from reality. So much is out of our control.  We can save them from their own hate. Model love for your kids.  Model positivity. Model coming to the rescue. Model forgiveness.  If these become our default reactions, our instincts, they just may remain the traits our kids bring into adulthood, too.

And, when you really don’t know what else to do, when the world and people’s actions stop making sense, let your kids house and feed a pet beetle named Jason that never really had a chance in the first place.

Saturday Morning Quickie: Weekend Travel Essentials

‘Tis the season for weekend getaways, family vacations, and road trips.  Often times, we hit one or more snags in our travels, we leave one or more necessities at home, or we spend one or more percent over our budget–either because we throw inhibition to the wind, eat out more than we expected, or because we have to make up for things left behind. I am heading to a weekend at the beach with some girlfriends and thought I’d pass along the essentials I am bringing along so that I can stay on track and on budget! I will keep this quick and to-the-point.  Please Pin or share with someone who could use these reminders!

shore bound

  1. Protein bars: I am packing some Lara bars and some Luna bars–my snack/protein bars of choice–so that I always have a healthy and protein-based option available.  We will be dining out for most meals and though I plan on picking the healthiest menu options I can find, I want to make sure I reach my protein goals.  I also know that since we are dining as a group and celebrating with friends, our meals will be scheduled later than normal.  I also will be taking the Cape May-Lewes ferry for the first time and want to have a healthy snack on hand in case my ferry is delayed or travel hits a snag.
  2. Nuts: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, and other nuts will energize, satisfy that salty-food craving, and pack a protein punch in a pinch.  I try to have a snack baggie of one or more of these in my bag at all times.  I will also stash some in my overnight bag.
  3. Fruit and Veggies: I have some baby carrots and apples stowed away in my suitcase so that I can get my crunch on after I do some crunches. 😉  Healthy snacks that allow me to reach my nutrition goals will make indulging on an adult beverage or a greasy appetizer a little less guilt-riddening.  Plus, since my entire family will be traveling this weekend, packing these perishable items to take along allows for minimal waste. That is a win-win in deed!
  4. Sunscreen: Pack sunscreen.  No matter what!  It is always more expensive when you are in touristy locations.  A travel sized bottle can tuck away nicely even in the slimmest of Michael Kors cross body bags. And don’t forget to protect your lips!  Chapstick or lip balm with an SPF is a must–even if only under your favorite lip gloss.
  5. Protein powder, mixers: This may be just me, but as I’ve shared with you before, I have found such health and balance thanks to incorporating Shakeology into my diet.  I don’t want to let that slide while away.  Whatever powder you choose, bring some along! I have some packets packed along with a non-refrigerated carton of almond milk (my liquid of choice), some bananas, and my Shakeology tumbler.  If there isn’t a blender in our rental, I’ll nix the banana and just give the rest a good shake, most likely for breakfast!
  6. Medicine–prescribed and OTC: Don’t forget your meds!  That’s it.  No reason besides you need them! 🙂
  7. One extra set of clothes: This is mostly important if you are traveling far.  If transportation gets too delayed, unexpected weather strikes, or you decide on an unplanned detour, having an extra set of clean emergency clothes is never a bad idea.  A basic tee or tank and a pair of jeans can easily fit most occasions you did not expect!
  8. Your workout essentials: I plan on going for a run each morning and, hopefully, getting in a BOD workout as well.  I am packing sneakers and socks and sweat gear so I am more likely to make it happen! Tuck your socks and even a set of yoga pants into your sneakers if you need to save room in your overnight bag.
  9. An extra book: I love to read, but I have been slacking on it the last few months. I am making myself the promise that I will read throughout both ferry rides and while lounging on the beach tomorrow.  I am going to pack an extra book just in case I get through one.  I don’t want to break my own promise!
  10. An extra charger: If you lose one, you won’t be sorry. If you don’t, I am sure one of your travel companions will need to borrow one at some point. It never hurts!
  11. Earbuds: I will hold myself to my morning runs if I have earbuds.  I will be able to catch up with my kids bright and early without waking the other ladies on my trip if I have earbuds.  I will be able to listen to podcasts and music if I have earbuds. I will survive almost anything with earbuds.

Oh, yeah. Sunglasses.  How can I forget my fave no-makeup but who knows accessory? 😉

What essentials make your must-pack list?  Let me know below!

Saturday Morning Quickie: Beach and Pool Tips

This July, I am going to try a series called “Saturday Morning Quickie.” I’ll make it worth it in a short amount of time.  Today, in honor of 4th of July, I am sharing some tips for beach and pool safety and fun!

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This weekend allows us to enjoy time with friends and family and to indulge in time by the pool and at the beach. We must keep some tips in mind to make sure we stay healthy while enjoying ourselves!

1. SUNSCREEN! No one is too-cool for sunscreen. Sun burn and skin damage–not to mention melanoma–are not to be overlooked.  Apply sunscreen while putting on your suit and reapply often. No need to use anything higher than 30 if you are sure to reapply!  If yoy plan on going for a hike or doing yardwork, please use sunscreen as well.  And always wear sun glasses and/or a hat to protect your eyes and face. I promise you that even on an overcast day you can get a sun burn!

2. HYDRATE! Water intake is extra important when we spend time outdoors on a hot and sunny day. We should all aim to drink half our body weight in ounces of water every day.  Add to this when you are outdoors or exerting yourself.

3. GET MOVING! At the beach?  Take a walk!  Build a huge sand castle.  Boogie board!  Get a game of volleyball going. At the pool?  Swim some laps!  Do water aerobics!  Laying out and getting a tan–which really defeats the purpose of tip number 1–or reading a book under an umbrella is relaxing and deserved. Just be sure you add some physical activity.  It will keep you alert and keep your body from getting too stiff.

4. BRING FOOD! Whether you are attending a BBQ or spending the day at the beach, bringing foods your family and you can enjoy will save you money and will save your waistline. I can recommend many healthy options.  Just ask in the comments below!

5. TIME IT! Hit the beach early in the morning or the pool later in the day.  Avoiding midday will let you beat the crowds and the hottest sun. This will keep everyone from experiencing sun stroke or from getting overheated. Plus, if you are one of the first ones on the beach, you’ll get the best spot and be home by nap time.

Have kids?  Here are some suggestions for making their time at the beach or pool easier on you!

What are favorite tips for staying healthy and having fun at the pool?  Leave me a comment below and I’ll post some of the best!