Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dealing with Stress

When a New Year starts, life can get a little crazy for all of us. Between traveling (work or leisure), cooking, new personal or career goals, work functions, it seems like there are weeks where every night is booked. There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Managing stress can sometimes be hard when you feel like you never get to just sit on the couch. But I think the key to all of that is to find joy through what you are busy doing. At the end of the day, we all deal with stress in different ways… like reading a book, painting, spending time with Jesus, hanging out with friends/family, working out, a bubble bath, etc. I want to share different way I manage stress during busy weeks (really, all the time).

Getting outdoors. You might live somewhere where getting outdoors in January/February is rough because of the cold weather, snow, or rain. For myself and others in Fort Worth, we never know what the weather will be. One day it can be 37 degrees and the next 80 degrees. In the middle of my work day I try and get outside for a quick run or go to the gym that is upstairs in our building. Sometimes all I want to do is walk the neighborhood and listen to worship music and pray. No matter what you do, getting outdoors can be such an amazing stress reliever. Breathing in the fresh air helps remind yourself that life is about so much more than what is on your schedule, phone, or calendar.

Staying active. Many people ask me how I stay motivated to consistently workout 5-6 days a week. The answer to that, honestly, is that I truly just love it. Working out is probably one of my biggest stress relievers. Whether you go for a jog/walk outside, spin class, or a simple workout you got online… staying active is one of the best ways to manage all of that stress. Even if you are saying to yourself right now I dislike working out so much – make that goal for yourself to do something active for about 30 minutes a day only a few days a week. I can promise you that you will start to feel somewhat less stressed, plus you will feel better about yourself!

Serving others. During those busy weeks, it can seem like you haven’t carved any time out of your schedule for others. But I can tell you it will be worth it. Choosing to serve others when you have way too much stuff on your schedule is an important reminder that you are not the center of the universe. There are many people out in the world with hurts and needs that you can give your gifts, resources to help, and to bless them. There are so many opportunities in each community to serve others, such as volunteering to read to students at a school or helping serve at your church. The smallest things can mean the world to others. By just inviting others into your home and cooking a meal for them, remembering to give a sweet treat to your neighbor, or just sending a sweet message to a friend is a great way to serve others.

I want to encourage you to try one of these things when feeling stressed. Call a girlfriend and go on a walk or meet up with your boyfriend/husband to check out the local farmers market.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Healthy Brownie Recipe

I don’t want to say this, but I’m going to. I think I have officially made the best healthy brownies ever! I know that sounds conceited, maybe too bold, which isn’t my personality, but I swear you will completely agree after you make them.

I made these a couple of Sunday’s ago out of desperation. This is how it happened… I’ve been wanting something sweet after dinner almost every night (which isn’t something I normally do), but I was wanting something healthy that would help curb that sweetness. I started wandering around the kitchen, then remembered I got these two amazing cookbooks from Against All Grain (Danielle Walker's- Celebration & Against All Grain- Eat Well & Feel Great). Yay she has brownies in her cookbook, butttt I didn’t have all of the ingredients so I improvised. I had read a couple of different blogs and articles about making desserts healthier with black beans and dates. So, why not start now? If they don’t taste good I’ll throw them out.

I was wanting something fudgy-tasting, moist, and something with a distinct chocolate flavor. I still wanted to crusty part on top just like when you cook brownies out of a box. I had heard that black beans can make that crusty part, so here it goes…

With the little knowledge I had about black beans and dates, this recipe seemed a little scary. However, the instructions were surprisingly easy! No melting, whipping with a mixer, or adding the dry to the wet ingredients! All it had said was to put everything in a food processor, mix the chocolate chips in (use red & pink for Valentine's Day), and cook for 30 mins in the oven. Sounds simple, right?!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips and process until smooth. Stir in the measured chocolate chips to the mix.

Since I was using dates I didn’t use the honey the recipe called for. I even threw in some applesauce that I had! 

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan (8 x 8 is what I used but use what you have), smoothing the top with the back of the spoon.

Bake for 30 mins and they are ready! I didn’t check with a toothpick because I wanted them somewhat moist. I was licking the knife clean!

These healthy brownies are low in carbs and fat. Super clean and healthy for the whole family. Enjoy!

Healthy Brownie Recipe 

-14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (one individual cup equals ½ cup)
-1/2 to 1/4 cup packed pitted Medjool dates (depending on how sweet you desire)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup cocoa powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 to 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (maybe red & pink) 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking dish with parchment paper. (You can spray with cooking spray if you want but I didn’t). 

2. Add all ingredients, except the dairy-free chocolate chips, to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and stir. 

3. Pour batter evenly into baking dish, and for a little treat you can top with more dairy-free chocolate chips. Smooth the top with the back of the spoon before adding the extra chips if you decided. 

4. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let the brownies cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into 16 squares.

*Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Goals

Happy February, my dear friends! January was filled with changing routines and habits to start the year off right. Last month taught me the positive impact of staying up later to spend time with Jesus, taking my multivitamins, planning out dinners, getting little tasks completed, and trying to be simply mindful of what my body/myself needs each day.

I'm really happy with how January turned out. Goals and learning what you are capable of accomplishing is a goal within itself in my opinion,

January Goals in Review:
-finish decorating the front 2 bedrooms (I've been selling things to finish this project up)
-make new dinners out of my new cookbooks
-finish getting little tasks completed around the house
-lay out a plan to get the fence fixed or redone (this is somewhat done)
-fix the sink from leaking
-wake up or stay up a little later to spend more them with Jesus

Lately I've been a little confused with the month of February we had a family member pass and a couple of close family friends lose their loved ones as well. While I’ve never experienced this kind of loss, I do know God, and I know that He will always provide for His children. In the midst of each unexpected path we encounter in our lives, He finds a way to show us His love. He reminds us that “His love is like a hurricane and we are the tree, bending beneath His weight and mercy. How He loves us with such an unconditional love.” 

February Goals:
-send birthday presents in snail mail
-visit my sweet friend 
-get a couple of things order for the house (post to come)
-two of our close friends are having babies (one was yesterday, sweet baby boy)
-finish decorating night stands and dresser
-continue to cook dinner during the week
-celebrate Valentine's Day 
-pray through my prayer journal each week 
-continue our workout schedules 

What do y'all have planned for February? I would love to read some of your goals in the comments below :)