Snickerdoodle Biscotti! (paleo, high protein, low carb, low sugar)

Seasonal baking is in full swing! This is a yummy treat to add to your Christmas gift tins, as they won’t expire quickly, and they’re a perfect coffee dipping delight! Growing up Italian, there was biscotti on the table every morning and evening for the entire holiday season. This is a family tradition that I’ve made healthier and I’m excited to share it with my Grandma Emma this year….we’ll see if she approves 😉

IMG_4347

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cashew butter (almond butter can work also)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs cinnamon powder
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • OPTIONAL- 1 scoop (25g) protein powder (I used pea protein)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

NOTE: If you don’t use the protein powder, add 3tbs almond flour to mixture.

Preheat oven to 350, lightly grease a 9in baking dish. Use a high speed mixture to ensure the batter is smooth and thin. Pour mixture in pan and Bake 30min until browned on top. Set aside to cool about 30-40min before proceeding.

IMG_4349

Lower oven heat to 275. Slice biscotti into desired log size. I chose to make 14 total biscotti logs. If the mixture is still too warm it will crumble, its better to wait until it is completely cooled before continuing. Arrange logs on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-20min depending on your desired crunch preference!

IMG_4348

Pumpkin Coffee Cake Bars made 2 ways! (grain-free, egg-free, OR nut free, gluten free, egg free)

It’s of no surprise that everyone in my family has different food preferences. My kids change their minds daily on what texture they like or don’t like. As a general rule of thumb, everything I bake is gluten free. Sometimes it’s not paleo, because I think you have a diet of nutrient dense foods without resorting to one specific box of restrictions. I talk to a lot of people who have nut allergies or flat out don’t like nuts, and they feel hopeless because they can’t commit to the paleo diet due to the high usage and reliance on nuts. Here is a delicious recipe, made 2 ways because my family likes them both and YOU get to decide which you prefer 🙂

IMG_4350

Pumpkin Coffee Cake Bars (grain-free, egg-free, paleo)

Crust-
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil (butter tastes better!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Should be dry and dense, press into greased 8inch or 9inch baking dish. Bake 350 for 15-25min until browned on top

Filling-
1 can organic pumpkin
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping-
1 cup almond flour
3 tbs butter or coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1-4 tbs maple syrup (desired sweetness)

Lower oven heat to 325. Using spatula, spread pumpkin mixture over baked crust. Using hands, crumble topping in tiny pieces on top of pumpkin, evenly spread. Pat the crumbs down slightly so they stick to the pumpkin.
Cover in foil, Bake 325 for 20min, remove foil and bake additional 15min until browned on top.

IMG_4352

Pumpkin Coffee Cake Bars (nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

Crust-
1 3/4 cups oat flour
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil (butter tastes better!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup cold water

Should be dry and dense, press into greased 8inch or 9inch baking dish. Bake 350 for 15-25min until browned on top

Filling-
1 can organic pumpkin
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping-
3/4 cup oat flour

1/4 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
3 tbs butter or coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1-4 tbs maple syrup (desired sweetness)

Lower oven heat to 325. Using spatula, spread pumpkin mixture over baked crust. Using hands, crumble topping in tiny pieces on top of pumpkin, evenly spread. Pat the crumbs down slightly so they stick to the pumpkin.
Cover in foil, Bake 325 for 10min, remove foil and bake additional 25min until browned on top.

IMG_4351

Fear, truth, and why I live my life loud.

I can count on 2 hands the amount of times someone has mentioned to me that it’s strange how I always announce my pregnancies within a week of knowing about them myself. Some were sweet about it, some were just plain curious, others were a bit more biting with their comments. Yes, I’m completely aware that announcing a pregnancy before 12weeks gestation is odd. I’m not ignorant, I’m fully aware that miscarriage can happen to anyone, and I’m in no way saying that I’m above miscarriage. My opinions for announcing my pregnancies are simple: I live my life loud, and I love it that way. I consider it an honor and privilege to have people from all over the world praying for my family by name. Countless times in the Bible we are reminded that there is safety in numbers! If, for some reason, I were to have a miscarriage, my heart feels peace in knowing that I have people around me to lift my family in prayer.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 ESV 

I know plenty of people who keep miscarriages and pregnancies private, and I’m not at all saying that is wrong. This is purely based on my own personal convictions, taking into consideration my personality.

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12 ESV 

Most of my childhood and teenage years, I lived in irrational fear of peoples perspective of me. I would lie for no reason, just because I thought someone would like that story better than the real truth. I would omit the truth because of fear of rejection. I would hide away from confrontation and avoid taking responsibility when I made mistakes. I lived quite tormented, and it wasn’t anything anyone had done to me. I had no reason except for low self esteem. I remember one day when I was 17yrs old I was watching a Barbara Walters murder/mystery interview, and the topic was a pathological liar. As I listened to the interview, I noticed that had more than 1 of the character traits….it freaked me out!! Now, I was in NO way a pathological liar, however I did mimic the irrational reasons for withholding truths from people. I committed myself to being OVERLY truthful…I told people way too many details in an effort to reverse my lifestyle. I wanted to be known. I LOVE being known. There is freedom and security in being known!

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17 ESV 

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?” Romans 14:1-23 ESV

My way is not the “right” way, and it’s not the only way. It’s just the way that works for me! Once again, I want to repeat that this is merely an explanation of my behavior, and I’m not saying that you need to live your life blasted on social media! I’m merely trying to convey that because of my past, I choose to let people into my life because it’s safe! I no longer live in fear of rejection, I no longer live in fear of judgement. I choose to be who I am, and show you into my world, even if it’s something that could be potentially messy. I’ve lived in loneliness and a world where I felt no one truly knew who I was, and walking out of that has shown me that I need friends, I need family, I need CHURCH. I love people knowing me also so that I can receive guidance and counsel. If there were an issue I was dealing with, how would I be able to learn or grow from it if I wasn’t willing to be completely vulnerable? If you were to ask me any question, it would be answered. If I were to keep my real emotions or feelings hidden, that leaves limited room for friends and leaders to guide or encourage me. I want to grow, and for me, growth comes from openness. I love community. Welcome to my life!

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14 ESV

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV

“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:16 ESV 

“But Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:6 ESV

 

 

 

Q&A with AQ!! (Juice Cleanse Safety & 10 Recipes!)

Hi Alyssa, I have never done a juice cleanse before, but I have been having some tummy issues lately and thought this may be a good idea. Considering how I’ve never done this before, can you walk me through what I need to do before, during, and after….. If you could give me some recipes I’d greatly appreciate it!” — Megan

Juice cleansing is an art, it looks different for every body type. Based on your insulin and blood sugar needs, every will be different on the basic facts of when to do it, which veggies to use, and how long to do it for. Since I am NOT a licensed nutritionist or doctor, this is all based on my own research, trial and error with my own personal cleanses, and advice from nutritionists that I know. This is all info for the average person, a generalized rule of thumb. Please take into account your own dietary needs if you’re diabetic, have autoimmune diseases, or any other insulin balance issues.

1. On average, the most effective and safe juice cleanses are no longer than 3 days. This is to help support the fat burning process of your body. Because juice is primarily sugar carbs, if you deprive your body of protein and fat for too long, your body will think it’s starving! Don’t get crazy.

2. Before starting your cleanse, devote 3 days to a very clean diet. No processed sugars and junk food. Try to keep your meals small and nutrient dense.

3. Focus on GREENS as much as possible. They have the highest cleansing properties, lowest sugar content, and provide a bit of protein. About 2 liters per day of greens.

4. Try to keep your juices low in simple sugars like apples, grapes, fruit. Only about 1/2 liter per day of these.

5. For a total of 3 liters per day in a juice cleanse, this provides your body with enough calories to function, enough nutrients to flush the toxins, and enough quantity to keep you feeling full. Be sure to also drink equal parts water in between juices! Most of the time when I cleanse, I’m never hungry due to feeling totally stuffed on juices. Cravings are a total bummer though, and they make you think you’re hungry when you’re not.

5. If exercising while cleansing, keep it to 30-45min tops, moderate level. I recommend yoga, walking, biking. If you’re incorporating weights or muscle toning, be sure to add some vegan plant based protein powder to your juices.

6. When coming off of your juice cleanse, be gentle to your body! I recommend a raw food diet for 1.5days after the cleanse is completely. Steamed veggies, nuts, etc. DO NOT BINGE EAT!! If you flood your body with a massive meal full of junk, you will have ruined your entire cleanse, and you’ll most likely feel incredibly sick.

Here’s some recipes!! If you can, challenge yourself to add spinach or romaine to every juice recipe to up your green intake!

show_slide

Citrus Fat Burning Refresher:

  • 1/2 orange (peeled)
  • 1 lemon (peeled)
  • 1 small knob Ginger
  • 1/2 apple OR 1/2 tbs raw honey
  • 1 grapefruit (peeled)
  • 1 shake cayenne pepper (optional)
  • (if this is too zingy for you, add half a cucumber to tone it down)

Green Digestion Booster:

  • 1 green apple
  • 1 packed handful spinach
  • 2 stalks kale or 2 leaves romaine
  • 1 stick celery (include leaves!)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 stick of fennel, including 1/4 of the bulb
  • (1 cube ginger for a little kick)

Water Retention Flat Belly Flush:

  • 2 beetroot (you can juice the stalks and leaves too!)
  • 2 sticks celery (rinse thoroughly, include leaves)
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 5 leaves parsley OR 5 leaves dandelion
  • (1 cube ginger)

Glowing Skin/Sharp Mind:

  • 1/2 grapefruit (peeled)
  • 1/2 lemon (peeled)
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 apple (if not sweet enough)

Craving Kicker:

  • 4 wedges watermelon (about 1 cup juiced)
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1/2 apple
  • (3 leaves mint for a fun perk!)

Mojito Make you Feel Better:

  • 5-8 leaves kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1-2 limes (peeled)
  • 2 green apple’s (I prefer less)
  • 3 leaves mint

Sunshine on The Beach Energy Replenish:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 pineapple (peeled, cored)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup coconut water (stirred in after)
  • (1/2 apple if not sweet enough)

Kickin’ Kidney Clear:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups radishes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 apple (if you’re a sweet tooth add more apple!)

Happy Gut, Happy Life:

  • 3 cups purple cabbage (chopped)
  • 1 stick fennel, 1/2 of the bulb
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1 apple

Cancer Defense:

  • 1 cup broccoli (can include stalks)
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro
  • 4 leaves romaine
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lime
  • 1-2 green apples

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Vanilla Birthday Cake, with “Diva” Caramel Frosting

Ella loves Vanilla cake, just like me! She specifically didn’t want cupcakes though, so I had to scrounge up some ingredients to make a cake. She had 2 parties, one with family, and one with friends. The first cake I made for the family birthday was good….but the second try was WAY better. As Ella would say, “Nailed it!”

The reason I called the caramel frosting “diva” is because in Redding we had a cupcake shop called SweetSpot. They had “Diva” cupcakes….caramel vanilla amazingness. These were Ella’s favorite, so I tried to recreate it! This frosting can be slathered on anything….oh my word I’m drooling just remembering how delicious it was!! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me using my hashtag! #fitmamaq

I’m sorry I don’t have better photos! I was in a rush so I forgot to take pictures of the sliced cake!!

 

IMG_9392

 

Vanilla Cake

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbls vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (I prefer maple syrup)

Combine wet ingredients first, except the coconut oil. Then add dry ingredients. Be sure to blend everything in food processor or use hand mixer so it’s not clumpy. Add melted coconut oil last, mix well. Pour into greased 9×9 baking dish. I baked mine in a flat pan so it would look like sandy beach. Bake 325 for 25-30min. Let cool completely before frosting.

IMG_9448

Diva Caramel Frosting

  • 1 & 1/4 cup vegan palm shortening OR quality organic butter, softened
  • 3 egg whites (you can sub 2tbs full fat coconut cream here***)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar (this gives the caramel color and flavor)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs tapioca flour (or arrowroot powder)

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is warm and sugar has dissolved. Taking the metal bowl off heat, start to whisk immediately using high speed mixer. Either a hand mixer or kitchenaid. Mixture should start to peak, about 10 min. Keeping mixture on medium speed, add shortening or butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract at the end. Let set in refrigerator about 30min if piping. Frosting keeps at room temperature for 2 days.

**If you’d rather leave out the egg whites, using full fat coconut cream instead– Set the can of full fat coconut milk in refrigerator over night. Open can without shaking, scrape just the top cream out of the can, leaving the clear coconut water behind. Save for smoothies! Over low heat, warm the coconut sugar and salt with 1tbs water, stirring constantly until completely dissolved. Then add to the rest of the ingredients like above, whisking high speed.

 

(Here is a photo of my cupcake recipe from Aria’s birthday party, with the caramel frosting instead of strawberry!)

 

 

IMG_9472

 

4 ways to get more out of your Pilates workout!

The list of celebrity women with incredible bodies (especially after having babies) is endless. I hear numerous women complain though, and say that Pilates isn’t challenging enough for them, and they didn’t see results like the celebrities claim. There are a few reasons behind that, because I can relate to those same frustrations. These are just a few celebrity women who say Pilates and Ballet Bar is their weekly workout! I see muscle, I see strength, I see definition… but I also see curves and a little bit of “fat” in the right places.

victoria-beckham-weight-loss kate1 Beach-Grown-Celebs-who-do-Pilates-edited megan-fox--z Kelly+Ripa+Heels+Platform+Pumps+v5Hzos-Nb3Yl o-GISELE-BUNDCHEN-BABY-GIRL-570

I also see a lot of women give up on Pilates and turn to workout such as Crossfit or heavy weight lifting. While I love both those forms of exercise, I don’t believe they are as effective at toning a body while maintaining the classic curves that come with womanhood. While I think muscle is absolutely beautiful, I believe the every day womens body should have a little softness, the lengthened toned arms, and extra roundness in the buns and thighs. These are all the gorgeous qualities of a womens body that God created!! I know I’ll get a lot of heat for this post, because I know that a ton of women love the womens body building look, and as I said, I think it’s gorgeous, but it’s extremely difficult for a woman to maintain daily without going to extremes.

4 ways to get more out of your Pilates workout!

 

1. Don’t go to a boring, slow moving Pilates class! Majority of Pilates classes these days, especially at gyms, the teachers are NOT Pilates instructors. And most of them teach only basic workouts, that are meant for every level of strength. Before joining a gym, try their Pilates classes… look for the most challenging class and go to that one! I’ve had memberships/worked for 7 gyms, and I can honestly say I’ve only liked 1 Pilates instructor out of all those classes! So, chances are, the workouts at your gyms are not challenging enough. (Stay tuned for my workout dvds, hopefully out by the end of the year!!)

2. Try variations to make the moves more challenging. Jillian Michaels, Blogilates, and numerous other fitness gurus use Pilates foundations, but change it up to make the resistance more intense! All of my classes are basic Pilates moves, just turned into harder moves to make my muscles scream more! Add in weights, do some circuit training throughout the week. Don’t stop lifting weights! Just every thing in moderation, every thing in rotation! Try Ballet Bar…these are great ways to lengthen the muscles and build strength!

3. Diet is everything. In every exercise, you burn a lot less calories than you think you do! Workouts like Pilates on average burn about 200cal per hour (my classes burn 400cal per hour), and that’s because they don’t incorporate cardio. So the main benefit of Pilates for slender muscle is the “afterburn”. You continue to burn calories after the workout is over because muscle burns more calories than fat. Be sure to incorporate protein and vegetables all day long to get the most out of your workouts.

4. Don’t forget your cardio!! Whether you do high intensity interval cardio, or low intensity steady state cardio, JUST DO IT. Cardio activities help shed fat, and push those muscles to the limit. You’ll start to see that hard earned muscle!

unnamed

Processed with Rookie

Q&A with AQ! “Balance in the chaos”

“…What advice do you have as a young mom and wife trying to find balance between our relationship with God and making sure our husbands needs are met, as well as making sure our kids love tanks are full? And ya know, making sure the house is picked up, kids are fed, laundry is put away, etc.” 

–Question sent from Gabby

 

This was probably the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn, and I’m still learning! Choosing priorities will always be different for each family, so be sure not to compare your lifestyle with anyone else. The main principles to remember is that you need to keep a tier set of God first, marriage second, kids third, ministry/work last. Once you’ve determined those priorities, each person will pick the little things to fill in at different places. For example, laundry is high on the list of household chores of one of my friends, but comes last on my list. I prefer to keep dishes high on that list!

The way one family does life is going to be completely different than how another family does life. That’s ok because there should never be comparison in the body of Christ!” –Jenn Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding CA)

 

SO, the house chores are definitely the extras, and I personally feel that if you have the option of sitting and snuggling your kids a little longer, or folding a load of laundry, your children should always be priority. Your children won’t remember the unfolded laundry, they’ll remember the times you got down on your hands and knees and tickle wrestled with them!!

When it comes to devotional time, that’s always a struggle to keep in priority because it feels like I never “have time”…but that’s a very twisted perspective. If I ever feel myself think I don’t have time to read my Bible, I kick that to the curb and cancel all plans. Nothing will ever be more important than sitting at the feet of Jesus. If that means I stay up later at night, if that means I wake up before my kids, it’s inevitably going to happen. I can’t love and serve my family without my attention set to God first. Actually, I can, but I would be doing it all wrong and I’d be much more exhausted! My strength is founded on Christ alone.

My husband is a traveling musician, as you all probably know, which makes our rare times together ALONE far and few between. No matter what your professions are, making time to meet each others needs in marriage is a daily choice. Whether Chris is all the way across the ocean, or sitting right next to me, my radar is on and I initiate meeting his needs. That can look like rubbing his shoulders, or asking questions about his tours, or making him something to eat. If my kids are whining for food, guess who gets their dinner plate at the table first? My husband. This is a Biblical principle that most women forget. He is the head of our house, and the man I adore. My kids will always respect him and wait their turn! it takes 20seconds, and it may seem like a small detail, but it’s something to be aware of if we’re going to keep priorities in order. This also helps your children be aware of virtues such as patience, self control, love, peace. On a romantic level, Chris and I have a cute game. We count our kisses almost every day! So let’s say noon rolls around, and he gives me a little peck, he says “ONE”, and that reminds us that we spent almost half a day without even the slightest kiss. And we continue this throughout the day, making sure we hit a quota. If you have kids, you know that make out sessions are hard to keep up with, but there will always be time for quick kiss, a quick lock of the eyes, a quick comment of adoration to the other. Be aware! The more you give affection, the more you will receive from your spouse!

I hope this answers your question, finding balance starts with choosing priorities, acting on those priorities, being aware of your time, and making time when there is none!!

— Signed,  AQ