Thursday, September 18, 2014

Functional Fitness: Making it a Priority

I decided to do something a little different today, instead of my typical Paleo recipe post.    Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle goes beyond food (although that is a huge part of it), so today I'm talking about exercise.


Getting in workouts has always been a bit of a struggle for me.  In the past, I tried using the "I live an active lifestyle" line to compensate for the fact that I simply was not putting in the necessary effort to make workouts a priority.  I always felt like I just did not have the time, so I put it on the back burner.

Fortunately, the amount of passion I have for food & diet is mirrored by my boyfriend Dathan's passion for fitness & training.  He has inspired me to make exercise a habit- and helped me find a balance so that I don't feel overwhelmed.

Previously, I would try and tell myself to get in as many workouts in a week as I could- without planning out when they would happen.  Day by day, things would come up:  I overslept, got home late, was too tired, brought home unexpected work or homework, my dog needed someone to hang out with, it was cloudy out, I needed to empty the dishwasher-- you get the idea.

Now, I have decided that rather than aiming for daily workouts & "seeing what happens/when I can fit it in", I have a basic schedule that works for me.  This might not be the answer for everyone, but for my schedule:  it works.

I prefer to work out during the late morning or early afternoon when I can fully wake up, eat breakfast, and let my food digest prior to exercising.  That is what I do on the weekends- but is obviously not an option on the weekdays when I need to be out of the house before 8 a.m.

our "home gym" in the garage!
My goal is to hit 4 solid workouts throughout the week.  I know I can do Saturdays & Sundays, because I'm typically at home and with Dathan- who will motivate me.  For the other two days per week, I commit to mornings before work.  This means going to bed and waking up a little early- but the way it makes me feel is totally worth it.  I sort of feel like SuperWoman knowing that I got up & kicked butt before most people were hitting the snooze button or having a sip of coffee.  :)  I also find it much more manageable knowing that I only have two days during the work week to worry about it.  I can do "early" two days.... not five, but I can definitely do two.

Basically, do what works for your schedule.  Pick a number of workouts you would like to complete throughout your week, and make it happen.  Think about which days you're off earlier, have fewer obligations, can go to bed early the night before, or have a little extra time.  If you have to be a "weekend warrior" as Dathan refers to it- and only exercise two days per week- then be it!  It's better than nothing.  Just commit to it, stick to it, and build up from there as you can.

As far as what type of workouts I do, let me know if you guys would like some posts on that.  Dathan creates all of my workouts for me (I'm very lucky!) & I would be happy to share them with you if you're looking for some inspiration.  All of the workouts I do are "CrossFit style" & tailored to my fitness level and goals (which are to get stronger & build my endurance).

If you guys are on board, I would like to make "Functional Fitness" a series here on my blog.  I use the word "functional" to describe the types of workouts I love- those that are composed of movements that will give you the strength and ability to perform in your everyday life.  However, "functional" can also relate to some of the tips & tidbits I have planned to share with you all, that make fitness a little more practical.  Let me know what you think!

My goal in life is to be a happy, healthy, and overall balanced person.  Exercise is just another piece of the puzzle to add to a clean Paleo diet for ultimate health & wellness- and I don't think it should be skipped!  Make it a priority, and you will feel so proud of yourself!  I promise the extra effort is worth it  :)
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Creamy Vanilla Frosting (Paleo)


I know it's not "technically" fall yet.... but can we pretend?  I've already been burning my favorite fall candles, making dinners in the crockpot, and enjoying all those other festive things us simple folks do when the leaves change.  Like watching football & baking/eating pumpkin pie bars  :)

Similar to most, I love pumpkin everything.  This weekend I was craving pumpkin bread, but decided that I did not want the hassle of baking in a loaf pan, wondering if it would turn out, and praying that it held up for slicing.  Bars sounded much more convenient, and I couldn't help but think of the ease of slicing through a piece of pumpkin pie.  

So that was my inspiration-- pumpkin pie, but minus the extra steps caused by a crust, and sliced into single-serving size bars.  The frosting was just a (delicious) afterthought  ;)

These bars have the texture & taste of a slice of pumpkin pie, are absolutely easy to make, and require just a few simple ingredients.  The frosting is optional- but I highly recommend it!  I also love that aside from being completely Paleo-friendly, this recipe is also nut-free.

I hope you guys give these a try- and that you love them as much as I do!  Enjoy!

For the Bars:

  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • coconut oil

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I used full-fat, canned)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Add all of the bar ingredients to a large bowl, and stir until combined & smooth.
  3. Grease a 8" square baking dish with coconut oil so that the bars don't stick.
  4. Pour the batter in and smooth out the top.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned around the edges.
  6. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled.  Slice them when they're cold~ it's easier!
  7. To make the frosting, add the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until smooth & creamy.  Try heating the coconut butter a bit if it's difficult to smooth out, and make sure your jar of coconut butter is fully mixed before hand.
  8. Spread the frosting over each bar, and store extra frosting in the refrigerator so it doesn't get too melty.  Make sure you mix it up each time you remove from the fridge.  :)



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Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Five: Game-Day Recipes

In honor of football season's recent start, I have decided to focus my Friday Five post on recipes that are perfect for feeding a crowd of football fans (while keeping it Paleo).  & Don't worry~ with big flavors & hearty ingredients- no one will be thinking "health-food" while they're enjoying the game.

You might notice a trend of finger-foods & minimal hands-on cooking time.  That's because football is for enjoying~ not ignoring while you're making all of the food!  Enjoy the season, & Go Niners!  ;)

Here's the breakdown...  Just click the title to go to the recipe!

Perfect bite-sized finger foods that you can prep ahead of time, then pop in the oven in time for the game.  & They taste like a pizza- not kidding.
Every gathering needs guacamole.  If you're unsure of what to dip into it while keeping it Paleo, try bell pepper wedges, cucumber slices, or plantain chips.  Tortilla chips are great if you're just looking for gluten-free.
These are super savory, easy to make, and perfect for dipping.  Make sure they're pre-spiked with toothpicks for easy eating while game-watching!
This is my favorite meal to serve a crowd.  It's slightly spicy, with a hint of sweetness, and hits the spot every time.  Make a giant batch to simmer in the crockpot until you're all ready to eat.

My cookie dough bites are always a hit~ for kids & adults alike.  You would never guess they are free of eggs, gluten, and grains.  The perfect bite to finish off your meal~ without the use of plates (aka extra dishes).

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