Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FIXATE DESSERTS:: Flourless Chocolate Chickpea Brownies Review

Today is my 30th Birthday!

So, I decided to give Autumn Calabrese's Flourless Chocolate Chickpea Brownies, from her new cookbook FIXATE, a try so I can stay on my nutrition plan while indulging a little bit!

I mean, what is a birthday without some chocolate??

The very first thing I was very happy to see is that the recipe called for ingredients I already had around the house.  Many of the ingredients are common throughout her recipe book- so you often have what you need on hand which is cost efficient and time-saving!

I have made cookie and brownie alternatives before with chickpeas so I had already worked through the initial weirded-out process in the past.  It is a surprisingly good substitute to flour!  It makes the brownies dense and fudgey.  And honestly, it just takes on the taste of whatever you add into it.  You will need a blender or food processor on hand to whip it up and make the mixture smooth.

Prep was fast and the entire pan was in the oven after about 5-7 minutes of prep.

28 minutes later, I had a warm, gooey chocolate pan of brownies.

My son was excited and what was planned to be a post dinner treat became a post-lunch treat (I kind of knew that would happen in this house!) He didn't notice the difference at ALL (and didn't see me prep the brownies) and gobbled his right up.

I also enjoyed the brownies but made a note in my cookbook next time to omit the coconut oil and go for the butter.  I had committed to a VERY clean brownie today but I can usually detect coconut oil in my baked products and it's not my personal favorite.  So for me, I noticed that flavor more than the others.  Next time I will try with butter (which is listed as an option in FIXATE as long as it is organic & grass-fed butter).

Overall, I was super happy with our midday chocolate birthday treat and I know I will be making again!

******

If you want to learn more about ordering FIXATE, or the monthly fitness+nutrition groups I run, please click here!





Friday, July 24, 2015

Power Greens Shakeology BOOST Review

One of the most exciting benefits of attending SUMMIT, Beachbody's annual conference, is being able to try out the brand new products before they are released to the public.  I was excited to get a sneak peek into one of the new Shakeology BOOSTS, Power Greens, before it became available this past Tuesday.

A major part of the reason this BOOST was created to compliment Shakeology is to help consumers meet their daily requirements of vegetables.  It's perfectly designed to complement the nutrition already found in the shake and help those who have maintain a vegetable-challenged diet (aka-- people who are NOT making a happy plate!).  

Personally, as someone who does eat a lot of greens in my diet I could see the benefit of this Boost for spouses or kids who resist that kind of diet.  And I could also see the benefit of having the boosts on hand for those events which you know you do not have as much control over menu options.  Such as eating while traveling, camping, etc.

The reason these power greens are not already in Shakeology is because the basic Shakeology is designed to provide dense nutrition but also maintain the sweet integrity of the taste. With the Power Greens BOOST, shake-drinkers can control how much additional vegetables are added into the shake.  And honestly, depending on how much is added, the shake does take on a more "earthy taste."  The taste is not bad-- but it does lose some of the sweetness which you can tell is replaced by more dense greens.



Overall, I liked it!  I wasn't surprised by the "green" flavor of the shake.  I feel that anyone who has added extra green to smoothies, shakes, juices, etc knows the kind of flavoring that comes with these kinds of vegetables.  The boost tasted less sweet- But, I felt the compromise of losing some of the sweetness was outweighed by getting extra kale, spinach and leafy greens into my body.

One major benefit of putting this power into the consumers hand is that they can ease into adding more and more vegetables and their palette can get used to the flavor changes over time.  It does not need to be a full scoop right off the bat!  You can work your way up!

Happy drinking!

Learn more about the Boosts & Shakeology at my site!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shakeology Focused Energy Boost Review

This past week at the annual Beachbody conference, SUMMIT, I was able to sample the new Energy & Focus Boost for Shakeology before it was released to the public!

SUMMIT is an exhausting, barely-any-time-for-sleep, kind of event to begin with... but it didn't help any that I was wide AWAKE on one particular night and reduced my potential 5 hours of sleep down  to 1.

Luckily, the next day they surprised all the coaches by offering a free Focused Energy BOOST at the Shakeology bar.  I knew I needed to give it a try- especially running on fumes.

I am the type of person that lack of sleep destroys.  I become nauseous, I get terrible headaches, and it  makes me a complete emotional train wreck (occasionally the I-am-so-tired tears).

Well, I can say definitively that the Boost WORKED!

I felt a lot of calm energy (none of the crazy jitteriness that I get from coffee) during the afternoon activities.  I felt wide awake and focused on the speakers at the different seminars but my hands and feet weren't bouncing all over the place.  I could feel the difference where it mattered-- alert & focused.

I felt energized as I got ready for a night on the town with some of my team.  The festivities lasted well into the evening and I felt great.  And the best part- after a long day and night I fell asleep with no problems.  Sometimes, even when I am totally whipped, coffee after noon can keep me up well into the night.

Some of the highlights of the Boost is that the mental clarity, alertness, focus and increased stamina comes from 100 mg of natural caffeine (from guarana and green tea).  There are NO artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or preservatives.

The Boost isn't designed for everyday.  It's for those days you know you need something extra and it is made to compliment your daily Shakeology!

Learn more about the Boosts & Shakeology at www.beachbodycoach.com/KRYSTANYMARK




Tuesday, July 7, 2015

DIY Laundry Detergent for High Efficiency Washers!




If I am going to be completely honest...  I wanted to make my own laundry detergent so that way I could have the powder displayed in a pretty glass jar.
....and that's how this post came to be!

We all know one pretty glass jar can lead the way to bigger and better laundry room makeovers.

One small step at a time over here, folks.

But, really, there is a lot of money-saving potential if you want to take a few minutes to make your own detergent.  The entire process took me about 15 minutes and it was WORTH it!

I found all four products at Publix for roughly $13 total.  The products came in the exact quantities needed for the recipe.  The mix should last for 200+ washes!  Of course, the container is a one time purchase as well as a grater-- [if you don't already own those].


Here are the supplies you will need:

1. 1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap
2. 1 Box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda [55 ounces]
3. 1 Box Borax [76 ounces]
4. 1 Box Oxi-Clean [or similar brand]
5. Glass container [I recommend a 2 gallon jar]
6. Cheese grater




The next step is to grab any kid helpers who like to be involved and literally dump the powdered ingredients into the jar.  Lastly, you will want to grate the bar of soap and then mix, mix, mix.  {I reminded Owen multiple times during this process this, in fact, is not grated cheddar cheese!}


Finally, once you have it all mixed up find a tablespoon measuring scoop to keep in the jar.  Each load takes one scoop-  if you have a VERY dirty/heavy load, you can use two tablespoons.


I did a lot of research before diving into to this to be sure it was HE machine friendly.  In the process, I learned what really makes HE detergent specific for those HE machines is that it is a low suds product.  The HE machines use a lot less water than the old fashioned kind and you don't want a flood of suds.

I have done about 6 loads of laundry with our new mix and I can say I LOVE it.
-The clothes are nice and clean.
-The laundry machine has functioned normal and smells nice.
-And the clothes have absolutely NO scent, which is exactly how I like it.  

For those of you that do like to add scent to your laundry you can always consider adding a bottle of "Fireworks" from the GAIN brand, a scent enhancer for laundry--totally optional though.  It really doesn't need it (and saves you $6.00!)  It smells fresh and clean on it's own.

And that glass jar gave us enough inspiration to tidy up the drab laundry room.  Hopefully more improvements coming soon!  Now that it is more functional we can work on the beautification process.

It all starts with a glass jar. 

BEFORE
AFTER

Happy Laundering!





Saturday, July 4, 2015

Artwork Scrapbook for the Kids


I posted this idea on Facebook the other day and it got a lot of great feedback so I will post it here as well!

This is a simple solution for all the adorable -or hilarious- artwork that kids bring home from daycare or school.  Sadly, it is just no realistic to save every single piece.  My sons must have brought home HUNDREDS this year.

As they bring their work home I do a preliminary sort-- things that I know I won't save make their round son display and then discreetly get thrown out.  The stuff that is really cute, funny, sentimental, well-done all goes in a big pile and I don't think about it again.  The simple pile strategy is nice because it keeps things in order of development/seasons and it keeps the kids work separated as  I make a pile for each child.  I usually store it high in on a closet shelf after it's had its time on display- out of sight, out of mind, and out of reach.
At the end of each school year I sort through the pile and pick out my absolute faves...usually a couple from each season or anything particularly cute or funny. 

At this point I toss the rest and I trim them up and collage them into a scrapbook. I like to do this at the end of the year once I have made all my finals sections.  If I tried to scrapbook along the way I know I would end up keeping way too much stuff.  This lets me look at the entire year and use the best pieces. 

Each boy has a "pre-k" book. A gallery of all their best (or hysterical) pictures up through kindergarten! And I'll probably do the same through Elem. Once everything has been pasted down I go through and label the years.   It;s a nice, organized and NON cluttered what to save some of these gems!  ��

Saturday, June 27, 2015

6 years!

Happy 6th anniversary, Jud!

I am beyond thankful that our paths crossed so many years ago and the endless funny stories, high school crushes, sorority date functions, and long distance love that got us to our wedding day 6 years ago.  Being able to grow up with you an has been the greatest joy of my life.

I am always hearing that marriage is hard.  I disagree.  Yes, marriage can be full of compromise, growing and changing together through challenges.  For us that looks like 6 years of 5 moves, 2 layoffs, 8 job changes, 3 kids and 9 ears.

But through it all our marriage has never once been "hard".

Because, at the end of the day, it's aways you who I want a hug from when I feel angry, frustrated, or exhausted.  It's you that can annoy me to my wit's end and then turn right around and make me laugh harder than anyone.

I feel so thankful our marriage is a constant in my life that never waivers. It's never something I have to doubt even when life gets hard.  As we continue growing, changing and facing challenges-  I am thankful I have you in my corner.

I love you, always.  Happy Anniversary!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Simple Baby Easter Basket Fillers

I love the holidays, and I often have to hold myself back from making every holiday a spending spree.  Luckily, I have a husband who plays a good sounding board and can often let me know a reasonable price cap for a 7 month old baby who will be more interested in trying to chew the plastic green grass over what's actually in the basket.

This Easter I was challenged with keeping Emerson's Easter basket to $20.  I love a good challenge.



1. Pat the Bunny.  A classic book with touch and feel fun for baby. $6.41 on Amazon.
2. Infantino Peter Rabbit.  Good teething toy for the little one.  And it keeps with the classic bunny theme. And he rattles and jitters. $7.99 on Amazon.
3. Peter Rabbit Organics. Averaging about $1.40 each you can fill up baby's basket with healthy, and themed, foods.  I find mine at Target, of course.

Very simple.  But very cute.  What more could a 7 month ask for?

Well, maybe this 100% organic, smiling carrot teether.  But I wanted to stick to the budget. :)

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