Gluten Free Blueberry Apple Muffins

I bake a lot of muffins.  I know this, and I am sorry if the number of muffin recipes that I share are more than all other recipes combined.  I actually did have plans to try a recipe I pinned on pinterest today for gluten free cinnamon chocolate chip scones, but then school was cancelled and my awesome, fun loving children drained all the energy that was going to be used on said scones.  My kids tend to bottle up all the questions they have been wondering about for the last, oh, three years and then ask me while I’m grocery shopping.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Today it was “do cats go to heaven?” and “what happens to the people in heaven who don’t like cats?” and “what does Q-A-C-T-H spell?” (followed by about a hundred different combinations of letters).  So I’m afraid we’re back to muffins this time.  Scones next time, I promise!

Blueberry Apple Muffins

wpid-20150129_141114.jpg

Dry Ingredients:

– 1 cup sorghum flour

– 1/2 cup almond meal

– 1/2 cup tapioca flour

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/2 teaspoon guar gum

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 2 teaspoons baking powder

Wet Ingredients:

– 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted to be at room temperature)

– 1/3 cup applesauce

– 1 egg

– 1/2 cup coconut milk

– 1/2 cut up apple pieces

– 1 cup blueberries

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, and then combine.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy!

Advertisements

Snapshots

Hey friends!  We’ve been out of town this week, so my workouts have looked a little different.  And by that I mean I have been running on the beach and ignoring all strength and conditioning.  So basically, pure bliss!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

M – 60 minute strength class

T – 6 mile progression run (well, as much as possible on slick, icy roads)

W – 30 minute boot camp class

Th – OFF

F – OFF (travel day)

S – 4 mile beach run

Su – 6 mile beach run

Here are some snapshots of our past few days:

wpid-20150125_083249.jpg

 wpid-20150125_175545.jpgwpid-20150125_123936.jpg

wpid-20150125_083648.jpg

wpid-20150125_123556.jpg

I hope that you are enjoying the start of your week.  We have a couple more beach days in our future, and then it’s back to the real world.  I love Michigan, I really do, but in the dreary, snowy, ice cold days of winter, I choose the Florida sunshine every single time.  It’s going to be rough going back and toughing it out until May for warmer weather once again!


My Thoughts on “Fed Up”

I finally got a chance to watch the documentary “Fed Up” a few days ago.  I’d been wanting to watch it forever, but when I was having a sugar craving that I knew I should ignore during my daughter’s nap, I figured I needed a little logical reinforcement for ignoring the impulse to grab some chocolate.  And it totally worked!

fed upThere is all sorts of research lately telling us why sugar is so bad, yet we continue to eat it.  And eat more and more of it.  And it’s not helping our waist lines.  Over 50% of Americans are now either “overweight” or “obese”.  Isn’t that crazy?  And type two diabetes is becoming more and more common, especially in children.  Sugar clearly isn’t good for our weight or health, but we keep coming back for more.  Why?

As some of you may know, it’s because it’s so addictive.  In fact, according to the documentary, sugar is actually eight times more addictive than cocaine.  When we have it, we want to keep going back for more.  Our body becomes wired to ask for more.  And food companies know it!  They add sugar to products all the time.  In fact, in grocery stores, there are typically around 600,000 products available for purchase, and 80% of those foods have added sugar!  That’s crazy.

Additionally, even when people are informed, and well intentioned, trying to make good decisions, it’s still hard.  Sugar isn’t always just labeled on foods as sugar.  It has tons of different names, including maltrose, dextrose, lactose, etc.  Totally deceptive!  It’s no wonder that the average American is consuming more than 40 teaspoons of sugar each day (which is almost six times what’s recommended).

So how are these companies allowed to get away with it?  The long answer is probably quite intricate and complex, but the short answer is money.  Money talks, and money influences policy, and money keeps the truth hidden when it’s convenient for it stay hidden.  For example, it’s been well documented that health insurance companies buy huge amounts of stock in fast food companies.  Win win for them, but the rest of us lose big time!

The filmmakers interviewed Bill Clinton, who admitted that we have been “insufficiently alert” to the long term problems caused by sugar addictions.  No kidding!  But despite all of this, I think the tide is turning.  I think more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of processed foods and the sugar that lurks there.  I think more people are getting mad about the state of food in our country, and more people are fighting back.  One of the best things we can do, everyday, is vote with our dollar.  As I said, money talks.  If we start buying local, buying unprocessed or minimally processed foods, buying more fresh produce, things will change.  I have to believe they will, because the alternative is unacceptable.


Workout Recaps + Random Things I’m Loving Lately (Volume 7)

Hey friends!  Here’s to the start of another week!  It’s a fun one for our family, as we leave for Florida on Friday.  We’re spending six days on Sanibel Island, just off the gulf coast near Fort Myers.  My girls haven’t flown before, or set foot in an ocean, so I can’t wait to see how they react and spend some quality time together as a family!

Here’s how my workouts looked this past week:

wpid-20150116_095004.jpgM – 60 minute strength training class

T – 4 mile run

W – 3 mile run + 30 minute boot camp class + “the sally challenge” (I lost a bet to one of the trainers at my gym, and this was what I had to do!  If you’ve never tried it, well, I dare you!)

Th – 60 minute kickboxing class

F – 8 mile run OUTSIDE with friends (<-Hence the big smile)

S – 60 minute strength training class + 60 minutes kickboxing

Su – OFF

And now a few things I’ve been enjoying this past week:

  • Watching the documentary Fed Up.  I’ve been wanting to watch it forever, and I needed a little more incentive to keep going with my reset challenge.  This definitely provided it.  I’m hoping to share more thoughts later this week in a full review.
  • My husband’s homemade hummus.  He’s been working on a homemade version of my favorite roasted red pepper hummus and after a few attempts I wasn’t crazy about, he hit the latest version out of the park.  So yummy!
  • Sleeping in.  My girls, on their own, decided to stop waking us up on the weekends.  This morning I woke up at 8:30(!!!) came downstairs and my older daughter was reading a stack of books to my younger daughter, and had also made her breakfast (aka put peanut butter on some bread).  Glorious!  Hang in there, moms of younger kiddos.  You will one day get to sleep again.
  • Running outside again.  It’s been above 30 degrees for a few days which means the sidewalks are clear and I can run without fear of slipping and injuring myself.  It’s so much better for my soul to get that fresh air.  I can’t wait to get some beach runs in while in Florida.  Few things in this life make me happier than running on the beach!

A Guide to Gluten Free Flours

Hey everyone!  I’m currently in the middle of my 21 day reset, which eliminates wheat from our diets, and I’ve noticed that a lot of people in our group have been missing breads.  When I decided to start eating a gluten free diet, bread was – hands down! – the number one thing I missed.  Well, okay, it was really more of a toss up between bread, pizza, and baked goods.  Either I was forced to pay twice as much to walk away with half as much (and almost no flavor) or I had to go without.

But then I embarked upon the LONG and sometimes FRUSTRATING journey that is gluten free baking.  The first few things I tried to make failed.  Miserably!  But I kept at it, continued reading and experimenting, and have come a long, long way.  In fact, there are times my family tries to guess whether I have made a gluten free or glutenous (our made up word for items containing gluten) version of a food and they are wrong!  What follows are some of the gluten free flour options that I have used.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather the only ones that I have personal experience with and can categorize and describe a bit.

Potato Starch, Corn Starch, and/or Tapioca Starch I’m lumping these three together because they are the lightest of the flours that I bake with, and I kind of use them interchangeably based on what I have on hand.  I think the corn starch may add a little more of a “crunchiness” to a crust or bread, but other than that, the taste and texture are about the same.  In any recipe, I always make sure that part of my flour blend includes one of these “lighter” and “fluffier” flours.

Oat Flour Basically just ground oats, this is a fun middle of the road flour in terms of heaviness.  I don’t use it often, because I consume oats in my diet in many other ways, but I’ve had good success with it.

Quinoa Flour This one has a strong flavor to it.  If you’ve had any experience with quinoa, you know what I mean.  It’s kind of nutty, kind of heavy.  If I use it, it’s always in a blend with another medium to heavy based flour, and I don’t typically use more than a quarter or a cup to a half cup in a recipe, but it’s got all the same great health benefits that quinoa does, so I try to sneak it in sometimes.

Sorghum Flour Love it!  This is one of my two most used flours, because it bakes most similarly (for me) as a regular wheat flour.  The taste and texture are great and it seems to rise very nicely, meaning that things aren’t nearly as dense when I use it.  It’s also very slightly sweet, I’d say.

Brown (or White) Rice Flour This is the other flour that I use most often, probably because it is sold at my local grocery stores and some of the others I have to order from Amazon.  It’s the main ingredient for the bread I use almost daily, and performs similarly in texture and heaviness to sorghum flour.

Almond Meal or Flour This one is a little trickier to categorize, because it appears very fluffy, but it’s also pretty dense.  It’s nutty (duh!) and provides a good balance when used in moderation with some of the lighter or medium density flours.  It’s also paleo friendly (no grains!) so used in a lot in paleo versions of baked goods.

Coconut Flour Heavy and sweet; that’s how I’d describe this one.  Definitely not a stand alone, but I like to use it in cookies, muffins, and cakes.  I typically only use an eighth of a cup or a quarter of a cup though.  Otherwise the flavor is overpowering (especially if you are baking with coconut oil instead of butter)!

So, there you have it!  A number or gluten free flour options.  Typically, my flour mixes for baking purposes are about 1/4 of one of the starches, 1/2 to 3/4 (or more) of the medium heaviness flours (oat, rice, sorghum), and occasionally up to 1/4 of the heavier flours (almond and coconut).

Oh, and one final note!  I also use xanthem gum as a binding agent when I bake.  Typically 1/2 teaspoon to a full teaspoon per cup of flour.  Some people prefer guar gum as well, and it may be slightly healthier (I haven’t done a lot of research about either one), but I get the best results when I include a bit of xanthem gum and I’m a little afraid to change up what’s working well right now!

I hope that’s helpful.  Gluten free baking can be totally intimidating.  I’ve been doing it for almost three years now, and I still totally mess up a recipe on occasion!  But if your body is one that does well without wheat, learning to work with other options is an absolute must (unless you like overpriced, flavorless store varieties)!  Happy baking!


Workout Recaps + Random Things I’m Loving (Volume 6)

Hey everyone!  I’m one week into my 21 day reset, and feeling pretty good.  I cheated on Saturday night when my husband and I went out to celebrate our anniversary and indulged in a glass of wine and a couple of bites of his dessert, but otherwise I’ve been hanging in there.  I’m adding meat and a moderate amount dairy back in this week; I just don’t love plants enough to make it three weeks without meat!

Here’s what my workouts looked like this past week:

M – 60 minute strength training class + 4 mile run

T – OFF

W – 6 mile run + 30 minute boot camp class

Th – 60 minute kickboxing class

F – Unexpected day off (snow day)

Sa – 60 minute strength training class + 60 minute kickboxing class

Su – 8 mile run (avg. pace 8:25)

And, I really love writing these, so I hope you enjoy reading them – a few things I’ve been loving lately:

  • Running a little more.  I’m officially signed up for two spring races, and I’m feeling a little less “lost” in my running.  I’ve got races to focus on and train for, and time goals I’d like to achieve.  Running “long” yesterday felt so good; my body missed those longer runs!
  • My new running jacket from New Balance is amazing.  So cute, so functional, and so warm.  It’s perfect for those days I’m ready to brave running outside!
  • This homemade pasta sauce.  Seriously, it’s so easy to make and tastes amazing.  I never buy stuff from a jar anymore.
  • Gone Girl.  Have you read the book?  I couldn’t put it down, and we saw the movie this weekend.  I knew what was coming, so I didn’t love it quite as much as my husband did, but watching his reactions to what happened was priceless.

Happy Monday everyone.  Enjoy your week!


Three Days of Detoxing!

I’m three days into a 21 day reset with my eating.  For these 21 days, I’m avoiding sugar, wheat (this isn’t new for me, but included in the detox), and most dairy and alcohol.  This isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this, and I do think it gets easier the more you do it, but I still find myself struggling!  I usually think of myself as a pretty healthy eater, but I’ve definitely got room for improvement, and the sugar withdrawal headaches prove it!  This time we’ve been encouraged to practice more mindful eating, avoiding the impulses to mindlessly snack and graze.  Turns out, I am a master at eating little bites and tastes here and there!  Dinner preparation is the worst; I am constantly putting things into my mouth while I get dinner ready for my family.  But knowledge is power, so here’s hoping I can learn to eat only when I’m hungry.

In case you’re interested in trying something like this for yourself, here are a few things that have helped me this time and in the past:

  • Preparation is key, both mentally and logistically.  I have to go in fully committed to the detox, not just thinking I’ll go along halfway and see how I feel.  If I’m in, I’m all in!  And I have to prep things ahead of time so when I get hungry I have healthy options!  If my fruit and veggies are cut up ahead of time, I am so much more likely to eat them.  And I love carb filled, bread like snacks (granola bars, muffins, etc.) so if I make sugar free versions ahead of time, it helps me feel like I am not going without the things I usually love.
  • Be realistic.  I’d love to follow the “rules” 100% all day every day for the entire 21 days, but reality is that I’m going to mess up, give in to a craving, or simply forget that I can’t put a few chocolate chips into my mouth.  That’s okay, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed, and I can still make a healthy decision with my next snack or meal.  I also can’t function without coffee and I can’t drink my coffee black; I just can’t do it!  So I still choose to put a single tablespoon of a natural sweetened creamer in my coffee, and I’m okay with that!
  • Add natural flavors to my water.  I don’t like to drink water, but I know it’s good for me.  And I do feel better when I’m fully hydrated.  It’s not as big of a deal this time of year, but it’s still important.  In order to help meet my goal of drinking lots of water, I add lemon or lime wedges to my water.  For me, it’s amazing how much difference this makes and how much more I find myself drinking.
  • Grab a buddy.  Accountability is huge for me, and if I’ve got someone else to ask me how it’s going, I’m so much more likely to succeed.  Plus, if you do make the decision to eat healthier together, you can also complain to someone else who really gets it, and share little daily successes.  I can tell my husband that I made it 24 hours without chocolate, and he’ll give me a high five.  But if I can share that same information with someone who really, truly understands how difficult that was, it’s a little more rewarding.

Here’s to a couple more weeks of clean eating!  We’re headed to Florida on the 23rd, so I’ll be stopping my detox a few days early (remember, be realistic)! 🙂