Sunday, January 20, 2013

Coconut-Dark Chocolate Truffles

Last week I was invited to a dinner party. A Paleo Dinner party. If you don't know what a Paleo diet is, you can read about it here or you can Google it. I have a few friends who are making positive changes in their lives with this eating plan. At this time, I don't have plans to adopt the full lifestyle, but I am making some 'paleo' changes - adding more vegetables, less carbs, less starches and eliminating processed foods.

I wanted to bring something appropriate to the dinner, and I had just received my newest Eating Well magazine.

There were several recipes which incorporated coconut in some form. Coconut seems to be a staple in the Paleo diet, so I was intrigued when I saw these truffles. They are sweetened wholly by dates, 2 cups in fact, then mixed with coconut flour and cocoa powder. All this was mixed into a paste with my awesome Ninja blender.

After they sat overnight I rolled them into about 40 little balls. Then covered them with melted dark chocolate, then rolled in toasted coconut.

The recipe stated that after they chilled, the dark chocolate outside would create a nice crunchy coating, in contrast to the soft truffle center. Well, I really didn't believe mine would turn out that way. I had doubts, but they were gone once I tasted these. They were divine. Really, truly gourmet. No sugar, no white flour, no gluten and they tasted amazing. A definite keeper.

You can find the complete recipe here.

 After confirming with my dinner host that all the ingredients truly were on the Paleo good list, I offered to bring them to the party. I bought the dates at my local health food store, Nature's Storehouse, and the owner, my friend John, gave me the dates in return that I bring him a few truffles. What a nice guy! I dropped them off on my way to work, and the report back from him was very good.

The meal that night was superb - all whole foods, very delicious and tasty. You can read about my hostesses journey at My Healthy Challenge.

As I am trying to cut out white flour and gluten from my diet, for health reasons, the baker in me has been rebellious. It was refreshing to know that there are healthier options available to me, that taste just as good, maybe better than my over processed ingredients.

This doesn't mean I'm giving up cookies and cakes all together. But I am branching out.

Try these for yourself - you won't regret it. And even better if you have a gluten free or diabetic loved one to share them with.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Confessions 1.11.13

Well, first of all, I need to confess that it's been quite some time since I did this. I feel a bit rusty.

Here goes!

I confess that I am soooo glad December is over! That is my hardest month of the year. It is my busiest month at work, and add to that the personal stress of Christmas and all that holiday stuff, it just gets downright crazy.

I confess that my diet slid away for a couple of weeks, but I'm getting back into a nice groove and hope to stay there.

I confess that I was able to keep up with some exercise - at least once or twice a week at least, more sometimes. So that was an improvement, and a sign that I am actually making life changes.

I confess that I'm ready for a new year. A clean slate to fill up with new goals and achievements. I've set up some 2013 goals and I'm excited about what this year will bring. You can read about that here.

I confess that I haven't signed up for a 2013 race yet, and feel I need to in order to get serious about my running schedule. I have a couple of options, and just need to sign up. Two of my goals for the year are to PR (get a personal record) a 10K (6 miles) and to run my first Half Marathon  The 10k is in April and the Half will be in November.

Well, that's it for me this week. What are YOU confessing? Head over to High Heeled Love to join the confessions!

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, Fresh Start - 30 Day Push Challenge

Now, I am moving on to another challenge of sorts. Chalene Johnson (of Chalean Extreme, Turbo Fire & Turbo Jam) has a free 30 day challenge to master organization and achieve goals. Chalene is absolutely awesome. She is upbeat, energetic and the most positive person I have every encountered. Granted, what I see of her is recorded, probably scripted, and may not be the whole picture. But compared with other popular female fitness gurus, she is head and shoulders above the others.(And I have a bit of a girl crush on her too).

You can check out the program here: Thirty Day Push. Like I said it's free and you will receive a daily email for 30 days. Each email will contain a short video clip as well as daily "homework assignments", but most will not take more than 10 minutes.I did get stuck on Day 2 for a few days. That was the most thoughtful one for me, so far.  The first few days, for me, were thought provoking, and while I am over-thinking some of the exercises, I am certainly thinking about things that have not been on my mind in years. 

I told my group that this process feels like I am pulling pieces of myself back to me, like putting together a puzzle of myself/life where all the pieces had been scattered to and fro before, and are finally finding their rightful place. I find this liberating and frustrating. Liberating because I feel my life coming back together. Frustrating because this stuff takes time and emotion to figure out. Nailing my top 3 priorities has helped me align myself to future goals and endeavors. 

Here's a quick rundown of the some of the first days of the program:

Day One was about naming my life priorities. It was basically a brainstorming exercise to figure out how we want to be remembered, by naming what is important in our lives.

Day 1: Values

My values:Family
Physical, emotional and spiritual health

I want to remembered as a loving wife, caring sister and the funnest aunt/grandmother. I want to be remembered as being a loyal friend, and someone who was willing to help when needed. I hope to leave a legacy as being one who reached out to others with compassion and who encouraged others to be their best in all things.

Day Two was figuring out the top three priorities and writing mini-mission statements for them.

Day 2: My Priorities:

My priorities are my family, maintaining peace in my life and home, and doing the best job I can at work.

My husband is the most important person in my life. To honor him and my relationship with him I will spend quality time with him. To do this I need to use better time management to get my workouts completed in the mornings. I also need to really be present when I am with him, not thinking about all the other things I think I need to do. Eating well also plays a part because not eating well causes mood swings and crankiness. Taking care of myself with clean eating and healthy exercise also honors my husband. I will also spend less mindless activity on the computer in the evenings.

He deserves my best, which includes all my love, respect and support.

Day Three was fun - ten goals for the year.

Day 3: Goals:

1 & Push Goal: I will PR a 10K - April 2013
2. I will lose 20 pounds - November 2013
3. I will run my first Half Marathon - November 2013
4. I will increase weekly running mileage to 15 miles or more. June 2013
5. I will get stronger - 75 push ups - June 2013
6. I will get super cool stuff for "Swag Bags" for PAC Run (I'm race director) - May 2013
7. I will have a couple Bible Devotion/prayer w/ Dave once weekly - starting Jan 2013 and continue.
8. I will plan/cook dinner 3x weekly (at least) to share meal with Dave - Feb 2013
9. I will pay down credit card debt - Dec 2013
10. I will buy a sleep number bed with cash - December 2013

Days 6, 7 and 8 were interesting. Charlene asks us to put our "To Do" lists on a smart phone. This was kind of overwhelming for me. I tend to over-research things. So I looked at several different apps. Did Google searches for the best kinds of apps and then searched for reviews of the top apps that I found. One thing I really wanted was a program that I could also access on my computer that would sync with my iPhone  And I found "Orchestra". So far so good - but I've only been using it about 3 days. I've committed to it for 2 weeks and will then give my group a review of the Pros & Cons.

I love always having my list with me. I've had things scattered all over my house, my office, my purse. Now it's all in one spot. I can look at it anytime (either on my phone, ipod or computer) and update it anytime. The bulky notebook I kept in my purse is gone, the notebook I kept in my day-timer is gone as well. I'll still use pen/paper for quick notes, but can quickly add things to Orchestra. One of the neatest things so far is that it has a voice option. I can press a button and dictate a new task. How freakin' cool is that?

If you have set New Year's resolutions this year, but haven't put any plans in place to meet those goals you may want to check out the 30 Day Push Program. It's free and will help you make positive changes in your life. Goals are great, but there absolutely must be a plan so you can reach the goal! 

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Holiday Hotties Recap

Thank God the month of December is behind us. It's a hard month for most, with the temptation to eat more, move less, not to mention the added stress of buying gifts in a short amount of time, with money we may not have. It's stressful to say the least!

Where I work, my co-workers and I are surrounded by food from Thanksgiving to New Years. We get a small taste of temptation around Halloween, but then it hits hard at Thanksgiving. I work in a Retirement Community that has a strict "no-tipping or gifts" policy. The exception to this rule is "if we can eat it, we can take it." Sooooo, since the residents and their families know this rule as well, we are given food, food and more food as gifts of appreciation and friendship. This keeps us in sweets for years if we were to keep it all for ourselves. I dropped most everything that made a stop in my office in the staff room. Out of site, out of mind. Almost. Good in theory. Okay, I had about 2 really bad weeks between the food at work and the cookies I baked at home.

But, I did jump a major hurdle for myself this year. I only baked 5 types of cookies, and only enough for immediate family and one neighbor. This is huge, huge. In years past I have baked up to 20 different kinds of cookies, hundreds of dozens and dozens. Pre-rental property days we gave them away to customers of husband's business. Then we gave them away to all our renters (about 22 of them), friends, family, co-workers, the dentist, the vet - you name it - we gave them cookies.

This year I went to mini quick breads. I can bake more of them at a time, and they are not tempting to me at all. At. All. Really. That is a true statement. Next year I plan to scale back even more and bake only 3 kinds of cookies. Get it all done in 2 days, and then it's done and safe in the freezer.

So, all of the above was to lead into the results of the Holiday Hottie Challenge I was in with my Beach Body Facebook group. You can check out the guidelines of the challenge here.

My sister got a big head start at the beginning, and try as I might I was never able to catch her. But I came very close, and came in second. Our coach, Lindsay, came out with some super awesome prizes.

The top 3 finishers (Me!) will receive: Clean Eating's Meal Plans Made Easy..."the Clean Eating Meal Plans Made Easy" bookazine, 16 weeks of easy, slimming dishes.

The top 2 finishers (Me!) will receive: 2 year subscription (16 issues) to Clean Eating Magazine.

And the top finisher(My sister) will receive: a $50 gift card to either Lululemon, Underarmour, or Nike

(She chose Lululemon.)

So, awesome prizes, dontcha think? I was impressed and glad I kept up with the contest!

Now we are on to something new - more about the Push 30 challenge in my next post. Stay tuned! Pin It Now!