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Gluten Free Homemade Green Bean Casserole

gluten free home made green bean casserole
I love a good Thanksgiving casserole! One of my favorites is Green Bean Casserole. It’s hard to go wrong!
 
These days, my philosophy with holiday cooking is using as many whole food ingredients as possible. This means trying to make things from scratch and using less canned ingredients.  It takes longer to do and often results in a richer dish.  This is actually helpful for enjoying holiday foods in moderation because you get fuller faster and avoid added sugar and sodium in most cases.  It also keeps you from overdoing it on all of the side dishes!
I’ve adapted Nancy Fuller’s Homemade Green Bean Casserole to be gluten free, and I’ve included suggestions in the recipe below to make it dairy-free and vegan, too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons butter (you can also use a dairy-free or vegan alternative)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken bone broth (substitute vegetable broth for a vegan version)
  • 1 cup half-and-half (use coconut milk for a dairy-free, vegan version)
  • 1 can gluten free fried onions (I don’t make these from scratch)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season with 1 tsp salt, and blanch the green beans for 5 minutes.
  3. Shock the green beans in a bowl filled with ice water, then remove and set aside to dry.
  4. Melt the butter in a large cast-iron pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook until lightly browned.
  5. Add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper.  Cook until just softened.
  6. Add the flour and stir to coat the mushrooms and shallots.
  7. Add the bone broth, whisking vigorously to smooth out any lumps.  Whisk in the half-and-half.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Check the seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Add the green beans, then pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top and friend onions.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes, then remove and serve!
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5 Tips to Gain Less and Stress Less During the Holidays

stress less and gain less this holiday season

Did you know that 75% of all weight gained throughout the year is gained during the holidays (and the average amount gained is between 7-14 pounds)? 

And, ⅔ of people say they look forward to the holidays, but when asked once the season is over say they didn’t get to do the things they were looking forward to because they were stressed out over too many events, too many gifts to buy, and too many commitments. 

Sound familiar?

How would you like to finish the holiday season without having to squeeze into your pants after indulging in too much of grandma’s famous fruitcake (Does anyone really eat fruitcake)?

Or how about having the time and presence of mind to witness the joy of the season without running from place to place?

This year, you can actually enjoy the holidays and all they have to offer without feeling frazzled and needing to let out a notch on your belt!   

I’ve partnered with my good friend and Life Simplification Specialist Stephanie Sikora of Life Made Simple to keep you from overdoing it this season and finding more balance throughout the holidays.  

Top 5 Ways We “Overdo it” During the Holidays and Get Out of Balance

After some research and surveying friends as well as clients, we’ve determined there are five main ways that most people overdo it during the holidays.

  1. Overindulge
  2. Over-sedentary
  3. Over-schedule
  4. Overcommit
  5. Overspend

We’ve come up with some health and organizational tips to help you enjoy a more balanced season.

#1 – No need to overindulge!  You can enjoy holiday treats without feeling like an unsupervised kid in a candy store.

  • Health tip: Pause before you eat and ask yourself what it is you really want.  If onion dip is your favorite, plan to enjoy that at the holiday event.  Then, stop when you are satisfied.  More is not better in this situation.  Also, honor your hunger.  Starving yourself all day so you can splurge later just doesn’t work and leads to consuming more calories and fat.
  • Organizational tipTry to keep your kitchen clean and countertops clear.  Research on eating habits shows that those with clear kitchens participate in mindless eating less often than those with cluttered kitchens.  Take time each day to get rid of papers or other items that might be accumulating in your kitchen.  

#2 – Don’t become over-sedentary: keep your commitment to exercise! 

  • Health tip: Look ahead and plan even small amounts of time for activity.  It might not look the same that it normally does during the rest of the year.  That’s okay. The important thing is that you are making time to be active.  Not only does this allow you to eat treats without the guilt, but it burns off stress. For example, go for a walk at Aunt Millie’s…not only will you get exercise, you’ll get out of a house that smells like mothballs and is full of family talking about politics!
  • Organizational tip: Chaos around us, especially in our environment, triggers a stress response in our brain. This stress response shuts off the part of our brain that allows us to stay focused, optimistic, and disciplined.  Keeping things simple around us and having good systems can help you to keep things on track. Think about your environment – are things a little chaotic? If so, clean off a counter or better yet, have a system for keeping your counter clear. You will find that you stay focused on fitness even during the holidays.

#3 – Instead of over-scheduling, have time to truly enjoy what matters most.

  • Health tip: Talk to everyone in your immediate family to figure out which events or activities they enjoy most throughout the holiday. Set priorities based on these values.  Next, schedule time for other activities including down time, personal time, and family time. By having the most important things already scheduled, you can let go of the guilt from turning down other invitations.  
  • Organizational tip: Clutter can also occur in your calendar. This triggers stress!  Clear your cluttered calendar by setting some boundaries or a system to run your invites through.  Be okay with saying no or combine events if possible to help avoid clutter in your calendar.

#4 – No more overcommitting! Keep a handle on expectations of yourself and those around you.

  • Health tip: Be realistic about your commitments before you make them.  For example, when asked to make a pie for your kid’s classroom, ask yourself “Do I really have capacity for this?” or determine if there’s a different way to meet the need. Many times, we feel pressure to show up in a way that isn’t consistent with our values.  In this case, instead of making a pie, volunteer to lead a game of Simon Says during the holiday party.  This way, there is no prep involved, the kiddos aren’t all hopped-up on sugar, and you are getting to experience the activity along with them.
  • Organizational tip: Keeping things clear in your home and environment can help you to be more aware of what you are committing to and when things are too much.  And – don’t worry about what your organizational system looks like to others.  As long as it is working for you and makes your home feel clear and less chaotic, it doesn’t matter what others think.

stress less and gain less during the holidays

#5 – Resist the temptation to overspend and opt for more intentional spending.

  • Health tip: Focus on experiences over things.  Research shows that those who spend more often on experiences vs. things have less financial stress and worry.  They also enjoy the experiences more and for longer than material items.  Think of experiential gifts you’d like to give as well as receive to make it easy.  
  • Organizational tip: Do an inventory before you purchase.  Keep a simplistic mindset: you don’t have to go over the top just because it is the holidays!  Also, be aware of what you have already stashed away.  Create a good system to store gifts you buy during the year so you don’t duplicate efforts (and waste money).  Lastly, be okay with not buying a present if it’s not necessary.

Doing things differently can be tough!

We know how hard this season can be when it comes to sticking to a plan or doing things differently, so we want to offer support and accountability to have the balanced holiday you want.

This is not about doing more: it is about taking things off your plate or simplifying things to avoid overdoing it.  

We’re here to help!

Stephanie and I have created a FREE calendar with tips and inspiration to stay on track throughout the holiday.  Coupled with weekly accountability emails and healthy recipes, we’re excited to offer this free support to help you find the balance you desire.

Click here to get the calendar delivered directly to your inbox!

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Bread

gluten free pumpkin spice bread

I love taking the time to bake over the holidays.  It’s nice to see the smile on my kiddos’ faces when I whip up something special.  And, many holiday recipes are traditions or handed-down from family and friends adding some nostalgia to the experience.

My philosophy on baked treats is to use as many whole ingredients as possible.  I also try to add-in extra nutrition where I can.  In this pumpkin spice bread, I used whole grain gluten free flour for added fiber, coconut sugar for a lower glycemic index, flax seeds for healthy fats (and fiber), and coconut oil for it’s many benefits.

It’s delicious with coffee in the morning or as an afternoon snack with some almond butter.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (or use can use regular cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or you can use vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (I use Cup-4-Cup Gluten Free Wholesome Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use a hand-mixer), beat together the eggs, sugars, and vanilla extract (1 minute on  medium speed or until well combined).
  3. Add in the pumpkin puree and oil and beat until combined.
  4. Next, add all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, and flax seeds) and mix until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Want more tips and tricks for having balanced, wholesome holidays?

I’m excited to share a free gift with you to help you stay organized and remind you to take steps daily toward the holiday you desire.  Sign-up here to receive your copy of the Holidays in Balance calendar along with weekly emails to keep you on-track.

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12 Pantry Staples for a Healthy (and Easy) Lunch

13 pantry staples for fast and easy lunches

As a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and human :), I totally understand how busy mid-day can be.  On the days my kiddos are home, it’s easy to find myself eating leftover chicken nuggets and fruit snacks for lunch.  On the days I’m working, it’s not uncommon to still be sitting at the computer at 1:30 having missed my lunch completely.  What does this usually equate to later in the day? Godzilla mom.  No bueno.

Breakfast often gets the most attention as being an important meal of the day, and that’s still true.  But I think lunch is overlooked!  As busy moms (and humans in-general), it’s important to eat a healthy meal mid-day.  What you eat for lunch and the time you eat it can dictate your hunger, food choices, and mood for the remainder of the day.  I’ve found there are a handful of pantry staples to have on-hand so I’m not resorting to leftover kid food at 1:30 on a regular basis.  And, now you can make sure to have these on-hand, too!

1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of fiber (keep you fuller longer), as well as vitamins, minerals, and the antioxidant beta-carotene.  Plus, they have a long shelf-life, so if you buy three or four of them and don’t eat them right away, they won’t go bad.  Also – they require very little prep in order to eat.  When I’m going to work at an office, I pop one into my purse.  When it’s time to eat lunch, I wash the outside and pop it into the microwave (I use the potato setting).  Voila!  I’ve got the base to my lunch in just a few minutes!

2.  Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt has become quite popular over the past decade.  It’s similar to regular yogurt except that it’s filtered so that it has a higher protein content (and it’s thicker).  In addition to being a good source of protein, it contains healthy probiotic bacteria to aid in your gut health.  I prefer to eat full-fat dairy products, so I purchase regular Greek yogurt (full fat products are less processed and have less added ingredients).  However, I’ve found that the lowfat and nonfat varieties still taste good.  I like to put a serving of greek yogurt on top of my sweet potato, or I will add some sundried tomatoes to a small bowl of it with mixed greens on the side.

3. Sundried tomatoes

For some reason, I feel like the addition of sundried tomatoes makes a dish fancy (Fancy Nancy would approve).  But did you know they also contain protein?  A 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes has 4 grams of protein.  Not to mention the fiber, antioxidants, and yummy taste.  They are easy to keep on-hand, and I throw some in a salad, mix it with canned chicken on a sandwich, or eat them in Greek yogurt (as mentioned above).  Give yourself a little something fancy by stocking up on them!

4.  Canned chicken breast

The quality of canned chicken breast has really improved!  It used to be rather disgusting and crazy salty, but now it’s pretty easy to find a good quality product.  I like to stock up on canned chicken breast at Costco – it’s cheaper that way, and they usually have a lower sodium, organic product available. I used to even store cans of chicken in my cube when I worked at the office full-time.  If you are in a pinch, you can literally open the can of chicken breast, drain lightly, and eat directly out of the can (don’t judge, I’ve done this).  But, if you’re not starving, it’s a great addition to a salad or can be mixed with other ingredients to make a salad of it’s own.  Three of my favorite things to add to it are dijon mustard, avocado, and sundried tomatoes.

5. Dijon mustard

When you are trying to eat healthy, it’s important to make sure you find ingredients that add flavor.  This is what Dijon mustard does for me.  It’s got a little bit of sodium, but it’s low in calories and is super tasty (another Fancy Nancy approved ingredient).  It can be used in a more traditional way – spread on a sandwich – or used as a base for homemade salad dressing.  I love mixing mine with canned chicken or even tuna in a pouch!

6.  Avocado

Need I say more?  🙂  Avocados are known for their healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which are good for the heart and circulatory system.  Including healthy fat in your diet is also important for brain health and keeping you fuller longer between meals.  Avocados are nutrient-dense, so eating even a small amount of them packs a big punch.  I love to mash them up with canned chicken and sundried tomatoes or with tuna from a pouch and dijon mustard.  They are also super yummy spread on whole grain crackers or on top of a salad.  So many different ways to use them!

13 pantry staples for healthy and easy lunches

7. Lemon

Lemon is really on the list because it helps keep your avocado from turning brown and also from breaking down in the fridge.  I like to make sure I keep some on-hand anytime I’m buying avocado (which is always).  Squeezing a little bit into your tuna and avocado or chicken and avocado can help keep it fresh until lunchtime.  Another tip: if you run out of salad dressing, lemon can be added to a small amount of vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil.

8. Tuna-in-a-pouch

I like tuna-in-a-pouch better than canned tuna because it’s more convenient.  While it’s important to watch your consumption of tuna due to mercury, eating one-to-two servings per week has been shown to still be healthy.  Tuna is high in protein and contains healthy omega fatty acids as well as other important minerals.  I have been known to keep a tuna pouch in my purse (right next to some gum…fish breath, yuck!) for a quick protein boost.  As mentioned above, I like to mash mine together with avocado and dijon mustard, but it’s also yummy on top of a salad or on some crackers.

9. Salad greens

Pre-washed salad greens make it so easy to have a salad!  Including more greens in your diet can improve your mood, ensure enough fiber, and keep you fuller longer.  Plus, having a salad for lunch tends to prevent that mid-afternoon slump.  Even if you work full-time in an office, you can bring salad greens to work with you and keep them in the fridge for easy access.  I like arugula when it’s available because it has a nice peppery flavor, but any mixed salad greens will do.  You can use them with canned chicken or tuna in a pouch, sundried tomatoes, and avocado.

10. Salad dressing

I sometimes joke that I eat salad for the dressing.  I know I’m not alone.  Here’s the thing: eating a full-fat salad dressing helps you absorb the nutrients in your salad.  Really.  Plus, just like with my full-fat Greek yogurt, there tend to be less added (unnatural) ingredients in full-fat salad dressing.  Just watch your portion (it can be helpful to measure it out until you have a good idea of how much to use).  Make sure you have one you like on-hand as it increases the likelihood that you’ll follow-through with making and eating your salad.

breaking the false nutrition cycle

11. Whole-grain crackers

Something about a good, crunchy cracker seems to be so satisfying!  Including whole grains in your diet is important because they contain B vitamins and many minerals, plus they have fiber.  My family is gluten free due to my daughter’s celiac disease, so I opt for non-wheat crackers.  I look for ones with the least amount of ingredients (less processed) and with whole grains.  I love “Mary’s Gone Crackers,” and have found them in bulk at Costco.  I eat my whole-grain crackers along with a salad, use them as my spoon in the can of chicken, or eat them with some deli meat and avocado.

12. Deli meat

Last but not least, I like to have deli meat from the deli counter on-hand.  I choose deli meat from the deli counter because it is less processed than the pre-packaged stuff.  It also tends to be lower in sodium and doesn’t get slimy in the package.  I buy whatever Boar’s Head deli meat is on sale each week as a way to mix it up, and I choose the low sodium option whenever I have the chance.  Not only do I eat the deli meat, but it has become a quick lunch for my kiddos on many occasions, too (they love it rolled around a cheese-stick).  You can easily put deli meat on your salad, roll up some greek yogurt in the middle (caution: this can be messy), or eat on the side with your sweet potato and greek yogurt for added protein.

Six Healthy Lunches You Can Make and Eat Quickly (even when you’re super busy)

There you have it!  The 12 pantry staples I keep on-hand for healthy (and easy) lunches!

Want some of my favorite lunch recipes to go with them?  You’re in luck!  Click here to get Six Healthy Lunches You Can Make and Eat Quickly (even when you’re super busy) delivered straight to your inbox.

With some pantry staples and easy recipes, you’re sure to fend off the Godzilla mom hangries for sure!

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a registered Dietitian, and I am not qualified to diagnose or treat food-based illnesses or conditions.  If you have concerns about specific foods and any health conditions (including pregnancy), please work with a Registered Dietitian to determine the best solution for you.

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Lose Weight Without the Black-Eye and Battle Scars

Lose weight without the black-eye and battle scars

I reluctantly stepped on the scale a couple of weeks ago.  Lo and behold- I had gained some weight over the summer. Fast forward to one week later and another step on the scale moment…no magical weight loss (but I had managed to maintain the same weight).  I really wasn’t surprised because I knew my regular exercise routine and healthy food choices had slipped a bit. Let’s face it: I don’t know anyone who gets excited to lose weight.

The Number on the Scale Is Just “Data”

In years past, I would have absolutely freaked out.  In fact, I’m still used to that old reaction, so I check to make sure I’m in a good mood before I step on the scale. But, I’ve realized that things are different now.  I have confidence in my ability to lose weight, and I know the number on the scale is just “data.” Data about behaviors and choices I’m making consistently or not. Not data that defines who I am as a person or data that means I’m a failure for letting some weight sneak up on me.

I’ve had enough experience with my own weight and the desires of clients to lose weight that I know what works for weight loss.  It’s been my experience also that most of us (including me) gain weight two times of year – (1) over the holidays and (2) over the summer.  The reason: our consistently healthy habits get thrown off and there are more temptations to resist. I actually have a tendency to gain more over the summer when business slows down and I’m in vacation mode.  My food choices change, I’m apt to have a glass of wine (or two) more often, and exercise is more challenging because my kiddos are home. But, there’s no need to despair. I know I can lose the summer or holiday weight, and I’m excited to share my tried and true approach with you, too.  Here is my proven method to lose weight without the black-eye and battle scars:

#1 – Accept where you’re at.  

Yep. That’s the first step.  Accept the number on the scale and the data it’s providing.  Accept that you want to lose weight and aren’t satisfied with your weight right now.  Here’s the thing: you are still the same amazing person you were yesterday and the day before.  Now, you just want to make some changes to decrease your weight. Your IQ isn’t different. You are no less smart, attractive, or athletic than yesterday.  You just want to make some changes in your lifestyle that result in weight loss. And – the numbers won’t change on their own – it will take some work on your part.  But – you absolutely can do it and will do it. So, make peace with this information.

#2 – Gather more data.  

Your weight is an outcome measure – an outcome of your energy balance.  You’ve got excess weight, and in most cases, that means you consumed more energy than you burned over a given period of time.  So, it’s time to figure out how to change the imbalance. The most helpful data in this situation for me is to track my calories consumed and my calories burned.  I use myfitnesspal for this purpose. I track my own data (calories in and exercise), and I usually start to witness a trend over a few days that gives me some answers.  Other data that can be helpful includes changes in your life, the level of stress you are under, any other health changes, how much water you are drinking, and the amount of sleep you are getting.

#3 – Resist the temptation to starve yourself.  

For many of us, the natural reaction to needing to lose weight is eating less.  Way less. That can work, but here’s the problem: you are doing your metabolism a disservice.  When you don’t eat enough calories and go long periods of time without eating, your brain tells your body it’s starving.  It signals hormones to hold onto fat – especially in our fat storage areas (stomach and hips/thighs for most of us, depending on your body type).  So, you might lose “weight,” but it’s muscle and water weight.

#4 – Eat five small meals and get active daily.  

Feeding yourself regularly will rev up your metabolism and also keep your blood sugar stable (read: no hangry Godzilla mom). Ensuring that your small meals include protein, healthy fat, and fiber keeps you fuller longer and fills your body with healthy nutrients. This turns your body into a calorie and fat-burning machine when coupled with regular exercise.  Exercise can be so many different things – but do what makes sense for you and aim to get at least 150 min/week if you aren’t currently active at all. And – all of your exercise doesn’t have to be done at once – you can add it up between different sessions each day. Don’t forget that tracking your calories in and out will continue to provide you with data along the way.

#5 – Remember “progress not perfection.”  

Most of us will admit to some perfectionistic tendencies.  The trouble with perfectionists and weight loss: when you don’t do everything exactly as planned, you tend to throw in the towel.  The key here is to remember that progress is more important than perfection. Consistency is key – not perfectionism. So, if you’re able to make healthy food choices 80% of the time and work-out four days per week consistently, you’ll see results.  And, even if the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you hoped, you’re more than likely feeling better as a result of your healthy choices.

You CAN Lose Weight Without the Black-Eye and Battle Scars!

So, there you have it.  My plan for losing weight.  It won’t help you lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks, but chances are, it will help you learn more about your own habits and what works (and doesn’t work) for you.  And, don’t let me undervalue the hard work that goes into weight loss EVERY. STEP. OF. THE. WAY. Weight loss is hard, and I’m here to help you.

Having someone work with you…

  • to understand your “data
  • affirm the changes you plan to make
  • hold you accountable to the goals you’ve established, and
  • root for you in the good times and the bad

…can make a huge difference.  You don’t have to struggle through weight loss on your own! Let me help you lose weight (and keep it off) confidently.

Start now by scheduling a free, 30-minute call (click to schedule)  or contact me  with any questions.

Health Coach Denver

You CAN lose weight without the black-eye and battle scars!

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How Kelly Got Unstuck…Her Confidence…and a 20% Raise

how kelly got unstuck

Kelly first came to me as a consulting client.  She was so overwhelmed and knew something had to give.  She thought that hiring a consultant to take some of the extra work off her plate would take the pressure off and allow her to perform like she used to. And it helped a little, but as we continued to work together, it became clear that what Kelly really wanted was help to get unstuck.

She felt overloaded with the amount of work she had to get done every day.  She loved her team and the idea of her job, but what it had become was unsustainable.  Kelly felt like a failure for feeling like she needed to ask for help.  And she didn’t believe that things would really change if she did.  Plus – she wasn’t sure where to start.  It all seemed impossible.  Kelly was tired of feeling helpless to change her situation and figured the only way to improve things was to look for a new job.  But, that had challenges of its own.  So, she continued to struggle through things and hope that something would happen to make things different.

What It Means to Be Stuck

What Kelly was experiencing happens to a lot of us and causes us to get stuck in the first place.  We start to experience the discomfort that comes from a change in our lives or our routines or even a mindset shift.  In Kelly’s case, it was an increase in demands of her job and the size of her team without a change in compensation or even input into how things were done.  When trying to talk to others about her challenges, she was only able to talk about what was going wrong and how she felt.  Her ability to come up with a path forward was clouded by her fear of being a failure or letting others down.

How Coaching Helped

I approached Kelly with the idea of giving coaching a try to help her get unstuck and see new possibilities.  Like many others, she wasn’t sure how coaching worked or how a health coach would help her job situation change.  But – she felt like it was worth a try.  I started with Kelly as I do with my other clients – establishing a vision for the ideal situation.  She resisted at first because it seemed worthless to envision something that seemed impossible.  However, she was able to bring herself to do it.

Just gaining clarity around what she really wanted – to keep her current job but with credit and compensation for her increase in responsibilities as well as better work/life balance – brought a sigh of relief.

Our next steps together included mapping out the top priorities for attaining this vision and action-oriented goals she could accomplish in order to move closer to it.  This part of the process helped her see how much control she actually had over the outcome and made her feel less helpless in her current situation.  And – by setting deadlines for the goals – she was being held accountable to completing them but also knew there was a timeframe to re-evaluate the situation if the outcome wasn’t what she hoped.

Confidence As An Unexpected Outcome

It took several months, but eventually Kelly devised a new way to tell her story to a leader who would listen.  And, then things started to change for her.  It’s possible that Kelly could have done this on her own over time.  But like many of my clients, she felt that having a coach listen and help her see things from a different and sometimes more objective perspective expedited the process.  It also helped her increase her confidence to a higher level than it was before.

Kelly was also able to use her new skills to tackle some additional areas where she felt stuck.  With her confidence at a new level, she decided she would start exercising more.  She also started a new meditation practice.  It turned out that getting unstuck in one area opened up the opportunity to more easily change in other areas.

You Can Get Unstuck, Too

Where would you like to get unstuck in your current life?  Is it your job like Kelly?  Or maybe it’s losing weight.  Or finding more balance.  Whatever the reason, I’d love to help you get started.

I’m running a group coaching program, Get Unstuck, starting the week of August 13.  Click here to read more about the program, or contact me to ask specific questions. 

It’s never too early or too late to begin working on the best version of yourself.  Your dreams can be achieved…let’s get started!

 

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Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

gluten free black bean brownies

Since my daughter, Cora, has celiac disease, our entire family avoids gluten when at home.  One challenge of a gluten free diet is incorporating enough fiber.  Many grains are eliminated, and processed (pre-packaged) gluten free foods are often low in fiber.  So, I try to find ways to incorporate additional fiber (and nutrition) into our diet.  Here’s a recipe for one of our favorite treats: Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies!

Ingredients

  • Butter or cooking spray, for greasing pan
  • 3/4c cooked black beans (I used low sodium)
  • 1/2c avocado oil (you can also use canola or other vegetable oils)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4c cacao powder (this is different than cocoa powder which is often sweetened)
  • 2/3c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1/2c chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3c gluten free all purpose flour (I’ve been using Cup 4 Cup Wholesome Flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Food processor

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9×9-inch square baking pan. (I used a Pampered Chef pan that has individual squares)
  2. Puree black beans with oil in a food processor or with blender until smooth.
  3. Add eggs, cacao powder, sugar, and vanilla.  Blend well.
  4. Melt half the chocolate chips and add to the mixture, blending until smooth.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the black bean mixture and mix until just moistened (do not over mix).  Stir in the remaining chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake approximately 20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool 15 minutes before cutting and removing from pan.

Note: I did not have to make any adjustments for baking these at altitude (above 3,500 ft).

Recipe adapted from Food Network’s recipe courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian.

 

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Summer-Inspired Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Before having children, my husband and I lived in a neighborhood called Park Hill in Denver.  Our house was built in 1942, and rhubarb was planted in the back yard.  We’ve since planted rhubarb at our newer home in a suburb of Denver to remind us of our first home together.  The first growths signal spring, and then I know it’s summertime when the plant has taken over it’s entire corner of the yard.

Why Eat Rhubarb?

Before living at our house in Park Hill, I had never tried rhubarb.  And, even then, I had to learn what to do with it (I wasn’t even sure what the strange plant was at first).  I was curious to find out about the nutritional benefits of this vegetable, and it turns out it is good for you!  The most prominent nutritional benefits include being high in fiber (aids in digestion and weight loss), low in calories, high in vitamin K (important for neural health), and contains several different types of antioxidants (fight off harmful free radicals).

A New Way to Enjoy Rhubarb

This week, my kids and I harvested some rhubarb and wanted to try out a new way to use it.  I’ve made strawberry-rhubarb pies, but these are usually for a special occasion since we limit our sweets most of the time.  I found a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins, and decided to modify it a bit.  Here’s the recipe as I modified it…these are super yummy, y’all!

Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

(makes 18 muffins)

1/2 cup butter (you could try using the same coconut oil instead)

3/4 cup coconut sugar (you can use brown sugar if needed)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I used Cup 4 Cup)

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tbs vinegar)

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

3/4 cup diced rhubarb

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Line muffin tins with muffin cups.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light.
  4. Add egg or egg substitute and vanilla.  Mix until incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating small amounts until all is combined.
  7. Stir in chopped strawberries and rhubarb.
  8. Fill muffin cups 2/3-3/4 full.  Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

(recipe adapted from Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins: www.gfjules.com)

Tips for Enjoying as Part of a Healthy Diet

The fiber in these muffins help your body metabolize the sugar at a slower rate, so they are a good choice for breakfast or a pre-workout snack.  Add some protein from hard-boiled eggs for a breakfast on-the-go, or serve with some Greek yogurt (or your favorite non-dairy yogurt) for an afternoon pick-me-up.  I also enjoyed one as an evening treat instead of a dessert with higher sugar, calories, or fat.

When you try these, let me know how you enjoyed yours!

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5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals: Tips to Organize Your Ambition From A Project Manager Turned Health Coach

5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Learn how to meditate.  Volunteer more at my kids’ school.  Join the chamber for more networking.  Plan a monthly lunch date with my husband.  Achieve my goals of training for a half marathon and eating less fast food.  Drink less coffee (and maybe wine, too). Listen to a daily self-improvement podcast.  Create a new family budget to allow for more vacations. Plan and book family vacations.  Learn how to make zucchini noodles. Get a promotion at work. Start my own business…

Sound familiar?  If you’re like many successful women, you are not lacking when it comes to ambition.  You have goals and aspirations. Your track record shows that you are able to accomplish what put your mind to.  Yet, you continue to struggle to find time for those “nice-to-have” goals. Things that would contribute to your health and wellbeing.  Things that you’ve always wanted to try…but never seem to have the time or energy to bring to fruition.

5 Steps To Achieve Your Goals

Plan for Success

When an organization wants to ensure success for an important initiative, leaders generally assign a project manager (or several if it’s big enough).  Why? Project managers are skilled at breaking down initiatives into measurable tasks; tracking dependencies, risks, and issues; keeping the team accountable to success; and influencing members of the organization when they are holding things up.  You can use these same concepts to ensure success for your own important initiatives.

5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Five Steps to Organize Your Ambition

As a project manager for over ten years, I find these same skills to be quite handy when working as a health coach. I’m excited to help you achieve your goals in five simple steps:

  1. Write all of your goals and ambitions down.

    Put everything you aspire to do on this list.  This is more or less a brain-dump. It’s an opportunity to get everything down on paper.  TIP: Some of my clients have preferred to do this exercise on a computer in an excel spreadsheet so they can organize it more easily later.

  2. Create categories.  

    Next, take a high-level look at the list.  First, notice any similarities.  Are there some items that can be grouped together into a category?  For example, if you have “learn to meditate,” “take a regular yoga class,” “journal daily,” and “listen to a daily self-improvement podcast on your list,” you could list each of these items under one header such as “Personal Self Care.”  Try to create three to five broad categories so that each task has a larger category it belongs to. Write the category name, then list each of the items that belong to the category under the header. TIP: Most frequently used categories include self care, work/career/purpose, family/spouse/romance, finances/money, health, self improvement, fun/recreation, and physical environment (i.e. home).

  3. Consider dependencies.

     Once you’ve finished your categories, it’s time to consider dependencies.  These are items that depend upon one another in order to be completed. For example, if you have “eat less pre-packaged and fast food” as well as “learn to make zucchini noodles” on your list, you might feel that eating less pre-packaged and fast food is dependent upon you learning new cooking techniques…such as making zucchini noodles.  Consider any dependencies for the items on your list and write them down in a column to the right of the corresponding item.  TIP: Common dependencies include time, money, skills, and personal permission (giving yourself the permission to make this a priority).

  4. Assign support to complete the tasks.

     Now that you’ve considered your dependencies, it’s important to think of a strategy to manage them.  This might be a person reminding you of your commitment, finances to get started, or learning new skills.  Create a new column labeled “support” to the right of each item, and fill in the strategy or support for managing the dependencies.                TIP: Outsourcing or delegating can be a helpful support mechanism.  For example, to make more time for tasks, the support you need might be someone to clean your house periodically or a personal chef to help you make healthier meals while you are still learning.

  5. Determine a timeline.  

    Now it’s time to add your final column: timeline.  The most important thing here is not to pick too many items to complete at one time…or you’ll be right back where you started.  When I work with clients, we pick two to three overarching goals per three month period. In this instance, you would pick two to three of your larger categories to work on for the next three months.  Then, determine which of the smaller tasks in each category you’ll complete in order.  Assign a date to have each item completed. When you are doing this, you might notice that some of your items need to be broken down into smaller tasks to make them manageable. TIP: This step can be really helpful in calming your overwhelm.  If you’d like to learn more about how designating a timeline can reduce stress, check out my blog on “creating a when to do list.”

 

Support is Key

Now that you’ve organized your ambition into a manageable plan and set a timeline to complete your goals, make sure to share them with someone.  Telling someone about your plans will make you more likely to complete them. 

Want more tips on achieving your goals? 

Join my Facebook group for women where I share free tips to be healthy, feel happy, and live well.  Plus – you’ll have the support of others who are striving to do the same!

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“Busy-ness” = More Stress, Less Happiness

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

Let’s say you somehow got granted two extra hours in a day.  No one else knows about these extra two hours, so you get to spend them however YOU want.  What would you spend them doing?  I have asked this question of clients who would like to have more balance or less stress.  None of them answered “work more,” “check my email” or “watch tv.”  The most frequent answers are: sleep, exercise, or spend time doing something fun with family (kids) or friends.

This is your mind and body trying to tell you something.

The Busy-ness Cycle

The last time you asked someone how they were doing, what did they say?  9 times out of 10, people say “busy.”  Do you answer this way? So many of us – especially women – feel we need to be busy as a badge of honor.  If we are not busy, we are not proving our worth.  But, this constant “busy-ness” is a fast road to burnout, chronic stress, and missing the best of what our lives have to offer.

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

Your Body is Telling You Something

I have had many successful female clients tell me about their “wake-up” calls as it relates to their stress and busy-ness.  Some had some serious health scares themselves or ended up with symptoms of illnesses that have no real explanation.  Others find themselves turning to food or more to do in order to stay awake or make it through their day.  So many of us have stopped listening to our body’s cues to slow down.  We just keep pushing forward until our body makes us stop.  This is not a healthy or happy way to go through life.  But you already know this.

It Starts with What You Say

In her book You are a Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life, Jen Sincero writes “Stop talking about how busy you are.  Focus on what you enjoy about what you do and the spaces in between the doing instead of feeling weighed down by it all.”  Reading this allowed me to change my own perspective and increased my awareness.  If I stopped talking about being busy, what would I say?  It turns out that the simple act of changing this perspective allowed me to reexamine my priorities. Give it a try the next time somehow asks you how you are.

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

What Are Your Priorities?

In her book The Sweet Spot: How To Find Your Groove At Home and Work, Christine Carter suggests that we aim to spend 95% of our time on our top priorities and saying “no” to virtually everything else.  She writes “Spending 95% of my time on my top priorities left only about 5 hours a week for other things.   Something often had to give; for me, it was my health.  Like many working mothers, I had put my own well-being on the back-burner, never exercising and rarely getting enough sleep.  I was sick all the time.”  But once she started looking at her time from a place of sufficiency (there is enough time), understanding that “more is not better,” and realizing her power to change things, she was able to shift her time and focus.

So, get really clear about your priorities.  YOUR priorities based on YOUR values.  Not the ones you think you should have or that someone else thinks you should have.  Try picking three to five top priorities and use them as deciphers when starting or stopping an activity.

Listen To Your Body

Our bodies are pretty amazing if you consider all they do (and all we do TO them).  It’s important to honor this and start listening to your body’s cues.  For example, do you find yourself in a mid-afternoon slump – having to push yourself to finish one more thing?  Or – maybe you reach for things like food (or wine or coffee) to help you feel comfort or even to push through the day.  I’m not saying all of this is bad.  I’m just asking you to take a deep breath and decide if your body is trying to ask for what it needs.  For example, maybe you’re actually dehydrated in the mid-afternoon.  Research shows that many people feel much more alert after drinking 8-12 ounces of cold water when this happens.  And, if you couple this with a quick walk around the block, researchers have found that many people come back to their work or tasks more productive and with a new perspective.

Time for You

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our routines and forget about the priorities and goals you’ve set for yourself.  Sometimes the best place to start is to stop doing something.  Take a good look at your time spent on different activities each day.  It might even be helpful to keep a running tally for a week.  You can create different categories: taking care of kids, work, housework, self-care, sleep, social media/email, cooking meals, driving. Keep a running tab of how much time you spend in each category.  If you have new goals, like starting to exercise, cooking more meals at home, or even finding more time to rest, take a look at the different categories and decide what you can stop doing to make time for your goal.  This might require that you outsource, ask someone else to help you, or stop doing it altogether for a period of time.  Creating systems to group certain activities for efficiency (like meal-prepping) can also help.  The trick is – once you’ve created the extra time for your new goal – you have to make sure to not fill it with something else.  Use it as time for you!!!

Fall Into Healthy Habits

Happiness Instead of Busy-ness

Let’s all make a decision to start focusing on our happiness or productivity instead of our “busy-ness.”  It starts with each of us deciding to do things differently to shift this new norm.  And – maybe you’ll even end up with the extra two hours to spend the way you want without having to call upon your fairy godmother. 🙂

If you’re in the Denver metro area and would like some more tips on how to make the time and energy for your goals, join Stephanie Sikora of Life Made Simple and I for a workshop this Saturday, Sept. 15.  Click here for more info and to register!