Holy Chocolate Balls! Jude is turning 5.

WOW. Tomorrow I will officially have a 5 year old son. Words simply can’t express how grateful I am for being graced with the honor & privilege of being Mom to this rad little dude JUDE. For reals though, being a Mom is tough stuff- no matter how ‘ready’ you think you are for the job- You are just NOT.  I had NO idea what TRUE unconditional love looked like until Jude came along. It’s like all the vomit, poop, crying, screaming, crazy & trying times really showed ME what I was made of. As a parent, you really lay it all out on the line for your little person- there is nothing else like it. Such a blessing and a reminder that LOVE ALWAYS WINS. Perhaps some things in my childhood were not the best, but being a MOM reminds me that none of that really matters because as a parent, you are just doing the best you can with what you have. SO, the next time you see a Mom struggling to get her shopping done & keep her kids wrangled in- all at the same time- how about giving some grace & offering to help her- instead of judge her? After all, we are all in this together & I know I could have never done this without  the help of a small village of friends to turn to along the way. You know who you are. Thanks ladies! xo


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Thanks to you my dearest JUDE

– your strong will and curiosity keep me on my toes

-your humor reminds me to HAVE FUN DAILY and not take life so seriously

-your kind heart and desire to help others reminds me that kindness really can change the world

-your building and DIY nature makes me want to make more things instead of buy them

-your love makes me want to be a better ME

-your unique style inspires me to stay true to mine

-your desire to live a healthy life reminds me to take my own advice

-your zest for life makes me feel SO thankful to be alive

-your desire to stop, smell & pick the flowers for me makes me proud of the little man you have become

-your lack of desire to be like everyone else refreshes me

When you LIVE OUT LOUD you force me to do the same & for that I thank you.

Happy 5th Birthday my love.

I love you more than words. You stole my heart. You are the real deal. Shine On.

Love, MOM

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Jude is having a Lego + Boxing Birthday party this year. I’m super excited to teach him & his little friends some KIDboxing (hosting the party at the kickboxing gym where I work) + we will be doing some FUN Lego games too! I will post lots of pics after his party on Sunday 🙂

Tomorrow is Jude’s big day & he requested ‘anything chocolate’ -so I whipped up some gluten & sugar free  Birthday Brownie Balls to send with him to preschool. Get the recipe below! (if you have to avoid nuts at your school then just replace the almonds with sunflower seeds & the PB with sun butter).

Birthday Brownie Balls
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 14 balls
Ingredients
  • ¾ C raw almonds
  • 1 tablesoon raw cacao powder
  • 12 pitted medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoon all-natural organic peanut butter
  • Optional Superfood Add ins: goji berries, Enjoy GF choc chips, hemp seeds, chia seeds, coconut flakes (unsweetened)
Instructions
  1. Place almonds in a small food process or and process for about 30 seconds or until your almonds are finely chopped like almond meal. Set aside.
  2. Next, process the pitted dates until they become like a paste.
  3. Then, add the rest of the ingredients, including the almond meal, and pulse for an additional minute.
  4. Form dough in to balls and eat! If it is having trouble sticking, add a tablespoon or 2 of honey.
  5. *You can make them into bigger sized balls & then place them in cute cupcake wrappers- fun!
  6. **Need more balls? Double the recipe!

FYI: These are such a yummy snack- not just for birthdays 🙂

Keep it real! xo Branda

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Detox Your Life: Healthy Honey Swap!

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You might be wondering- what the heck is the difference?

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Is raw honey more nutritious than processed or filtered honey? While there is no official U.S. federal definition of “raw” honey, it generally means honey that has not been heated or filtered. According to the FDA, “nutritious” can be used in reference to the diet as a whole, not an individual food. Nevertheless, we often see or hear claims that raw honey is “more nutritious” or “better for you,” primarily because raw honey may contain small amounts of pollen grains that are often removed during processing or filtering.

Why is most honey filtered? According to USDA Grading Standards for extracted honey, filtered honey is honey that has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed.

Honey that is filtered by packers is filtered for various reasons:

Many consumers prefer honey that is liquid and stays liquid for a long time.
All honey crystallizes eventually. Suspended particles and fine air bubbles in honey contribute to faster crystallization. Filtering helps delay crystallization, helping the honey to remain liquid for a much longer period than unfiltered honey. Many consumers prefer honey to be clear and brilliantly transparent.
The presence of fine, suspended material (pollen grains, wax, etc.) and air bubbles results in a cloudy appearance that can detract from the appearance. Filtering is done to give a clear brilliant product desired by consumers. For the filtered style of honey, USDA Grading Standards for Extracted Honey give higher grades for honey that has good clarity. <—- so basically they care more about how food looks instead of the nutrient value- ugh.

How do I substitute raw honey for sugar in recipes? When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. For baked goods, make sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning; reduce any liquid called for by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used. Because of its high fructose content, honey has higher sweetening power than sugar. This means you can use less honey than sugar to achieve the desired sweetness.

Why can’t I feed honey to my baby less than one year of age?
Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores that can cause infant botulism – a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies (under one year of age). C. botulinum spores are present throughout the environment and may be found in dust, soil and improperly canned foods. Adults and children over one year of age are routinely exposed to, but not normally affected by, C. botulinum spores. Honey is safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation. While infants are susceptible to the infant botulism, adults, including pregnant females, are not. The concern for babies stems from the fact that infants lack the fully developed gastrointestinal tract of older humans. Since the mother is not in danger of developing this condition, the unborn baby is protected.

Does honey have an expiration date?
Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize. These are temperature-dependent processes, making the shelf life of honey difficult to define. For practical purposes, a shelf life of two years is often stated. Properly processed, packaged and stored honey retains its quality for a long time. If in doubt, throw it out, and purchase a new jar of honey!

GET LOCAL HONEY! Raw honey is great, but local raw honey is even better! Local raw honey contains pollen that is specific to your area and therefore can really help those local seasonal allergies. Taking a spoonful of raw honey once or twice a day is a great help. It is also advised to begin taking local honey a few months prior to the allergy season; this gets the pollen introduced into the body and gradually builds up the body”s tolerance to seasonal allergies. Visit your local farmer’s market for local honey & pollen.

DID YOU KNOW?

Studies have determined that children who get a dose of raw honey cough less and sleep better than those who get cough and cold medicines? Plus there are no side effects!

Raw Honey also boosts the immune system and helps the body fight the cold faster!

Cough and cold medicines are NOT recommended for children under 6 years old. They are not effective and side effects can be very dangerous. *Just remember that cough and cold medicines won’t cure your child’s cold or make it go away any sooner. And of course don’t give honey to children under 1.

Keep it real,

Branda

*Source for some of the info above: honey.com

Confused about food? Start here.

Most people hear about a particular way of eating such as vegan, paleo, vegetarian or low carb/high protein etc & just jump in with trying to eat by the ‘rules’ of one of these diets. After awhile they meet or hear of someone having success with a different way of eating & might decide to adopt that one instead. If they are not following a specific diet then they are on the ‘free for all’ plan – which puts them on the fast track to weight gain & health problems. And so the cycle continues. Do you ever stop to question the food you are eating? Or do you just choose whatever fits into the ‘rules’ you are currently following? Sure those shakes & bars or lack of carbs etc might help you lose weight initially, but you must ask yourself- what the heck am I actually eating? Is my diet well balanced? What nutrients am I lacking? When you start diving into what is really inside the food you eat – this is when the real journey begins. After you learn more about food, you will start to develop your own standards & way of eating that feels right for your body.

I highly encourage you to watch this TED talk!

It’s one mother’s journey to understand what’s in our food & a great sneak peek into why we should be more concerned with what’s IN our food rather than what ‘diet’ we should follow.

Keep it Real,
BRANDA

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Someone has been sipping on my Kombucha…

Attention Everyone: My husband has decided to eat healthy.
Apparently after 10 years of me warning him that bad food & bad habits will catch up to him; they finally did. I know I should be happy for him, but I’m a bit annoyed. WHY?

Well #1 I’m fighting the urge to scream “I told You SO!!!!”- yes I know this is not helpful so I didn’t actually do it- I just screamed it inside my head.

#2 he’s been a bit of an ASKhole (someone who asks for health advice but NEVER actually uses it).

#3 He will steal all my healthy food now. My healthy food has been seriously safe for the last 10 years – right next to his junk. Now I come home to empty hummus containers and I think someone has been sipping my kombucha….

#4 He needs recognition after every bite. Just like most men I know, my husband has to be recognized for every healthy piece of food that enters his mouth. So our dinners go something like this –> HIM: “did you see all that squash I just ate?” ME: “yes” HIM: “check it out- all my greens are gone” ME: “yeah mine are too and so are Jude’s and he’s four years old”. HIM: “Guess what? I ate a salad for lunch!!” ME: “Jude please join me in a slow clap for your father because he had such an incredibly healthy day!!!!”

I know I know I should be happy for him and I will be. Right after I find a really good hiding place for all my kale.

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Detox Your Life: Healthy Chocolate Swap


This is the time of year that we NEED to talk about chocolate! First, take a deep breathe. I would never tell you to stop eating chocolate because let’s be honest- it’s amazing BUT I do want you to chose a cleaner healthier version.

healthychocolate swap

 

Rule #1– NO milk chocolate period. Why? It lacks any type of nutrients and is so processed that you are basically just eating sugar & fat. AND it has weird ingredients in the label. For example what in the world is PGPR???? Remember: if we don’t recognize the ingredients then our body won’t either.

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I had to do a little research to find out what exactly PGPR was & here is what I found:

PGPR can be used to replace the traditional but more expensive cocoa butter as an ingredient in chocolate. Palsgaard’s website asserts, “Cocoa butter is an expensive raw material for chocolate manufacturers. By using PALSGAARD 4150 the chocolate recipe has lower costs in terms of less cocoa butter but also gives the benefit of having less fat.”

So it is basically some man made chemical that will probably be linked to cancer someday. All in the name of reducing costs right? Ditch the milk chocolate people!

Rule #2– Dark chocolate rules! Why? Because it is less processed and contains good stuff that is actually GOOD FOR YOU. Like what? I’m so glad you asked!

-Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals.

-Quality dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants. Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC? ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods. Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.

IN A NUTSHELL: There is considerable evidence that chocolate can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease. But of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them. Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is filled with crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

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Detox Your Life: Healthy Oil Swap

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Do you cook with vegetable/canola oils? It’s time to make the healthy swap to coconut oil.

Many people think that cooking oils like corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola are good for their health just because they’re made from vegetables or plants. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, these oils are probably the worst oils you can use for cooking. One reason is that they are loaded with omega-6 fats or polyunsaturated fats. What’s more, when these oils are heated, their antioxidants become damaged and oxidized, adding more toxic burden to your body.Instead of these unhealthy cooking oils, opt for a wiser and safer choice like virgin coconut oil. Virgin Coconut Oil Offers Better Benefits Than Other Cooking Oils Virgin coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts. For many years, it was vilified and accused of causing heart disease and other health problems. But now, many health experts are recommending this oil, claiming it to be one of the most healthful found on Earth.

healthy oil swap

 

Virgin coconut oil is highly recommended for cooking because it is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage. It is even better than extra-virgin olive oil, which is great when used as a salad dressing or mixed in cold dips but can be a problem when heated. This is because olive oil’s chemical structure also makes it susceptible to oxidative damage.

Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are smaller and more easily digested by your body, so they do not get stored as fat. Meanwhile, vegetable cooking oils contain long-chain fatty acids or long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs are larger and are difficult to break down, adding to your body’s toxic burden.

So, the next time you’re planning to use vegetable oil for your meals, reach for virgin coconut oil instead. Not only is it better, nutritionally-speaking, but it also boasts a richer, sweeter flavor that will certainly complement any dish.

Coconut oil is so versatile and good for you. It’s great for the kitchen and has many personal healthcare uses, such as moisturizing dry, winter skin. It’s the go to oil our home!

*Some info above provided by Green Living

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Detox Your Life: Coffee Creamer Swap!

Your body is SO smart & knows exactly how to heal you. IF you stop pumping it full of pills & toxic foods & let it do it’s job.

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If you want to clean up your diet start with your drinks. Water is your friend & most other drinks are not. I know you might NEED your coffee, but please figure out a way to sweeten & add cream to it without chemicals. When I drink coffee I use unsweetened almond milk and coconut oil to flavor it, but when I first made the transition away from creamer, I also used a little bit of pure maple syrup. The maple syrup helps to get the sweet taste without all the chemicals. Be sure you are using a PURE  natural maple syrup- NOT the sugar filled artificial syrup like Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima. Why? Because here is what is in the fake sugar filled syrups –>  INGREDIENTS: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE.

What is in pure maple syrup? INGREDIENTS: MAPLE SYRUP

Get the point? I thought so.

My #1 rule to eat by? LESS IS MORE. Real food rocks.

Take a look at the back of your creamer bottle- how many of those ingredients do you recognize? That’s what I thought. Make the switch today.

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