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
 
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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: 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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Skoop: Get Your Super On!

Some of you already know that I am SUPER picky about what I put in my body. I read ingredient labels for a living and will not recommend any products with shady business practices and/or suspect ingredients. SO, basically I rarely recommend or get behind any food brands or supplements. BUT, on that rare occasion when I find something I LOVE- I must share. This is it! A seriously amazing product that I DO support!

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Okay, I admit it. I am a Superfood junkie, but let me tell you why! Our minds and bodies flourish under the influence of plant-based Superfoods. They’re rich in antioxidants, probiotics and adaptogenic herbs that reduce inflammation and acidic build-up, give you all-day energy and resilience, and supercharge your immune system’s ability to fight disease. Skoop is not a meal replacement, but rather a good choice ‘kick-starter’ for your day. Most Americans don’t get a full ‘packet of nutrition’ which means our bodies think we are never quite full. So we graze and graze (mostly on processed foods) which leads to weight gain. If you start your day with Skoop – you will be taking on the day by taking in something speedy and wholesome- this alone raises the health bar. Easy peasy & just my style.

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Skoop is plant based, free of gluten and GMO’s plus packed with with 41 plant-based ingredients that have been thoughtfully selected, harvested, and blended to work synergistically with each other and you!

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Have you ever wondered what THREE pounds of vegetables looks like?

Here is one version —>

Now imagine having this for breakfast. Not that appealing if you ask me. But one little scoop of Skoop has the equivalent of this and can get your day off to a great start!

Skoop can be enjoyed several ways, but my favorites are in my oatmeal & in my almond milk. SO easy.

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Skoop even comes in handy dandy packets. Perfect for traveling or when you are on the go!

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Alright! I will stop raving now, but expect to see new recipes from me that involve the use of this amazeballs product because I’m hooked! Check out more info  + get your hands on some here –> Skoop

Take the 5-Day Challenge: Try Skoop for 5 days straight. If you don’t begin to feel a difference, they’ll refund your purchase! Click here for details.

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Just for Janet: Coconut Cake {gluten + dairy free}

Today is my aunt Donna’s birthday- she died way too young from the C word. Another lovely lady named Janet {whom I have never met} also died from the C word. I really hate CANCER- ugh! Janet is my friend Jamie’s mother. Jamie is very special to me because I believe we were brought together at just the right time. She is also my longest standing client. She was one of my Stroller Stridin’ mamas back in the day, then did my Body Back program and now she is in my boot camp classes (oh & she has done every single one of my virtual challenges). Jamie is dedicated and I have absolutely loved watching her reach her goals + continue to make her health & fitness a priority (btw -plus she has twins!) Jamie told me her mom Janet used to make a coconut cake –> so I set out on a mission to adapt a healthier version for her this year 🙂

Happy birthday aunt Donna & Janet- I hope the two of you are partying together in heaven today.

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Here’s the recipe: *I also want to add that I had my boot campers taste test this recipe (after a brutal workout of course) & it was approved!

Janet's Delight: Coconut Cake {gluten + dairy free}
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Coconut Cake
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • For frosting:
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp melted coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together wet & dry cake ingredients into separate bowls and then combine. Use mixer to blend until all clumps are gone. Pour into two {well-greased (use coconut oil)} 9inch round pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Make the frosting while the cakes are baking/cooling.
  2. For frosting: place all ingredients into a blender or food processor & blend then refrigerate. Once cakes have completely cooled you can frost them.
  3. Options: You can frost one cake then place the other on top and frost it or slice each cake in half and make 4 layers. Sprinkle top with coconut & almond slices if you choose.
Notes
Keep it refrigerated at all times because the frosting will melt easily.

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Maple Quinoa Squash

Maple Quinoa Squash
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 delicata squash (I used delicata but you could use acorn or another type)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1-2 tbsp raisins or unsweetened cranberries
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt & cinnamon to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice squash in half & scoop out seeds (save the seeds for roasting!) I peeled my delicata squash (optional) and then massaged it with coconut oil as well as lightly greased the glass baking dish with coconut oil.
  3. In a bowl mix up the quinoa, red onions, raisins or cranberries, and coat with most of the the maple syrup.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the squash halves & then drizzle with a little bit more syrup + sprinkle with salt & cinnamon.

 

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My son’s birthday requests + CHOCOLATE Yum Yums

When I  asked my son Jude what he wanted for his third birthday he had just two requests:

  1. A Bouncy House
  2. Chocolate Cupcakes

So I went to work! The bouncy house was easy peasy- just googled local monster truck bouncy houses & came up with this:

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Next up, CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES! The panic set in because this tasty little treat would need to meet my snobby ‘clean’ standards. This means no sugar and no gluten. I found some recipes online to work off of and after a few trial runs  I found one I loved! The original recipe called for unsweetened cocoa powder but I used cacao powder instead. Why?  Because superfoods rock! Please note that the main sweetener in the recipe = dates so be sure to stock up if you will be making large batches of these yum yums!

Ingredients
For the cupcakes (please note: this recipe only makes 6-7 cupcakes so try one batch first to see what you think)
  • ½ cup dates, pitted
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
For the Nut Butter Frosting (I modified this recipe from one I found at The Gracious Pantry)
  • 1 cup  natural creamy peanut butter, no sugar added or almond butter)
  • 1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Blend everything together in a large mixing bowl until you have a creamy frosting.

Note: If you want a heavier chocolate flavor, you can stir in 2 extra tbsp. of cacao powder and a little extra honey to offset the bitterness of the the cacao. Just add to taste.

*Once I frosted all of the cupcakes, I also topped them with a few Enjoy Chocolate chips

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Gluten, Grain, and Sugar Free….. YUM!

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Another fun party snack option I offered: ice cube trays filled with healthy & colorful finger foods. They were a hit!

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Is it more work to create a healthy party?

Yes & No. The cupcakes were time consuming, but totally worth it to me. I am not even sure if all the guests noticed that the cupcakes were ‘different’- which to me is a compliment 🙂 There were no sugar crashes/meltdowns from the kids- so again totally worth it! Are you planning a healthy party? Share your ideas in the comments section!

XOXO,

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