Paleo Pumpkin Bars with Cinnamon Coconut Butter Frosting

I am not paleo.  I honestly do not like meat enough to be paleo but that’s another story.  However, I like eggs and almond butter and honey and pumpkin.  And these bars have all the above.

These bars are paleo in nature but you can’t tell.  The combination of salty roasted almond butter, sweet honey, pumpkin pie spices and the coconut butter frosting takes these to another planet.  No one will know or even assume these are “paleo”, let alone healthy.

These are super easy because the ingredient list is short and you probably have most of these in your kitchen already.  I whipped these up for a “healthy” work potluck I had last week and EVERY single person asked me for the recipe.  That’s a pretty good statistic no?  These take 20 minutes in the oven and only use 1 bowl as well.  Ok, enough talking, make these tonight!

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s salted almond butter

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup honey

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

Frosting Ingredients:

2 T coconut butter

1 T coconut oil

1 T honey

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.

3. Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until set in the middle and golden brown on edges.

4. Combine ‘frosting’ ingredients.

5. Let the bars completely cool and then drizzle with cinnamon coconut butter frosting.

Enjoy!

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What I Ate Wednesday: Intuitive Eating

wiaw fall into good habits button

Happy Wednesday!  Another week with a peak into what I eat on the daily.  Not always the same but always aiming to eat 4-5 meals each day, lots of nutrient-dense foods, some ‘fun’ foods, and some quality protein to help with those muscle gains.  I do have a certain amount of macronutrients I try to eat each day but am really trying to listen to my body more instead of eating my consistent meals I feel comfortable with.  I do not track calories currently and I haven’t for over 6 months-this was a huge step for me and I would love to show others the light when it comes to NOT counting calories.  However, I am a creature of habit and crave consistency.  I like my meals that I eat so I always think “why should I change them?”.  This may be OK for some but I am realizing this is unhealthy for my body and mind.  I should want to add more variety to my meals than I have been allowing myself.  And it is OK to eat outside of your comfort zone and try new things with your eating patterns.  Let’s see  how this panned out shall we?

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breakfast//1/2 cup oats cooked with MTS vanilla whey protein powder, topped with blueberries and cinnamon with about 2 Tbsp coconut butter drizzled on top

I made a version of these oatmeal into pancakes the other weekend….just sayin’.  I wanted to eat my usual breakfast since I knew the rest of the day would be a little inconsistent with food choices.  I swear I am addicted to coconut butter and just can’t shake it…

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IMG_5333IMG_5311lunch//kale, carrot, and avocado salad I made for a potluck topped with 4 oz of swai fish (I had broughten this myself to add some protein) and then a paleo pumpkin bar I made earlier this week. Along with bites of cauliflower mashed potatoes and hummus and veggies.

Listening to my body meant eating a kale and avocado salad instead of my usual roasted or steamed vegetables.  Finishing lunch with a pumpkin bar because they are HEALTHY and not because I cared about the macronutrients in it.

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4 pm pre-workout work snack// Quest peanut butter and jelly bar, almonds, organic Chocolate O’s cereal

Listening to my body meant eating my usual 4 pm snack because I needed some fuel for my workout. Not skimping on food because I had more than usual at lunch.

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dinner//black bean veggie burger with more avocado, Joseph’s high fiber whole grain wrap, and Trader Joe’s cruciferous blend of kale, broccoli slaw, and brussels sprouts with nutritional yeast and Sriracha.

Listening to my body meannt eating more vegetables after dinner because my body was craving greens.  And eating more healthy fat in the form of avocado because I love it.  No other reason needed.

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dessert// A protein brownie made with 1 scoop protein powder, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 cup almond milk, and 1 tsp baking powder and microwaved for 20 seconds topped with 1/2 Tbsp Enjoy Life chocolate chips and 2 Tbsp peanut butter.

Dessert to me means something with peanut butter. And if I can add some chocolate, that is fine by me!  I never used to think I could buy chocolate chips and eat them in moderation.  Well, times have changed and I can’t believe I have had a huge bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (they are dairy, soy, and gluten free and I found them at Walmart…I usually just buy dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips…doesn’t matter to me) in my freezer for months and don’t even “crave chocolate” anymore because I know I can always add some into my meals and not feel like I am eating a “cheat food”.

You know what surprised me by switching up my meals?  I love what I eat. And that’s OK.  I love trying new foods as well. And that’s OK.

Everyone is going to get to their happy place with their nutrition intake.  I am still working on it!!  But the fact that I feel healthy and happy inside and out should be a good starting place.

Weekend in Groceries

Happy Tuesday!  I had a super relaxing weekend after traveling for much of November and December and wanted to share some of my favorite weekend shopping trip finds with you all.  And by shopping trip finds, I am obviously talking about grocery shopping finds.  Yes, I did lots of Christmas shopping as well but who likes to talk about clothes and shoes when you could be talking about food.

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Has anyone else seen these?  Thank you Walmart.  No, I did not purchase these.  If you or anyone you know has tried them, please let me know.

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Coconut butter for 3.99 a jar?!  Thank you Aunt Patty.  You can probably see that I normally pay 7.99-11.99 a jar for coconut butter.  I guess they are discontinuing this brand of organic creamed coconut…tastes just as delicious as Artisana and is organic too!!  I bought every jar that was left on the shelf (6 jars) and now I am in coconut butter heaven.

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I made a trip to Trader Joe’s on Saturday and of course spent 2 hours in there which is just really unnecessary.  Have you seen all the Christmas stuff they have? Coffee, cookies, spreads, crackers.  I swear you don’t need to look anywhere else for Christmas party necessities.

First up is the Candy Cane Joe- Joe’s. I actually tried a free sample in the store and they have real candy cane pieces in the creme.  Gives a different crunchy texture to the cookies that was enjoyable.

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Next up was there ice creams.  So many flavors-pecan pie, salted caramel, peanut butter tracks, cookie butter, pumpkin, and caramel swirl.  They all looked SO delicious however I’m actually not a huge ice cream person.  I would rather have everything that is IN the ice cream instead of the ice cream part.  Like I normally just pick out the chunks of goodness and leave the ice cream. To each their own I guess!

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My final grocery haul clockwise included coconut oil spray (this is my FAVORITE and what I came to TJ’s for), quick cooking steel cut oats, almond butter, organic green beans, shaved brussels sprouts, avocado, carrots, delicata squash, hatch chili salsa, reduced sugar raspberry preserves, bananas, cashew butter, organic broccoli slaw, and organic kale.  I am making a kale, carrot, and avocado salad for a healthy pot-luck at work this week!

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I want one of these. The name sounds dirty… “Veggetti” but it’s cheap and makes spiralized noodles out of veggies. I am sure I will leave Target with this one of these days!

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Purchased a small haul from Sprouts as well.  I love Sprouts for organic dairy, whole grain gluten-free or sprouts breads, organic cereals, and their nut butters.  I have never had Canyon Bakehouse bread before but I LOVE this bread!  The ingredients are incredible and the macronutrients are on point as well: 1.5 g fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 1 gram protein. The Stonyfield greek yogurt was on clearance!!  This was my first time trying this cereal and I really like it!  Not sure I will buy it again (because there are just too many cereal varieties to buy the same one every time) and I’ve never had Chocolate Cheerios to compare  but I like the subtle sweetness and chocolately flavor.

I am sure I will find some more grocery finds this week too.  I am never far from a Target.

Have you tried any new grocery finds recently?

How to Calculate Your Macronutrients Part 1

Happy Monday!

I wanted to do a couple posts covering calories and macronutrients, what they are, how to calculate how many calories you need, how to set your macronutrient goals, and how to make adjustments so you continue to progress.  This is officially Part 1.  Obviously I recommend you work one-on-one with a registered dietitian to set you up with a full diet plan as your initial resource but if you want to take some first steps alone, look no further!

What are macronutrients?

Carbohydrates, protein, and fat.  You cannot live without the consumption of macronutrients.  These are what your body uses as energy!  Different foods have a different mixture of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.  Some foods only have 1 macronutrient (ie chicken is mostly ALL protein) however most foods have all 3 macronutrients in them (ie nuts are a good source of protein but also have fat and carbohydrates).

Can you explain the different macronutrients? 

Carbohydrates: These all break down into sugar (glucose) in the body.  I think of carbohydrates as the nutrient that is used first.  Most people think of ‘sugar’ as negative, however, all carbohydrates end up as glucose once digested, broken down, and absorbed.   Sugar is the major source of energy for us!  We NEED carbohydrates for brain function as well as for muscle recovery and growth, digestion, and anything and everything else to keep us alive.

Examples of carbohydrates are fruit, vegetables, legumes, sweet potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, and cereal.  We can go into the difference between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ carbohydrates and FIBER in another post.

Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.

Protein: Protein is the major structural component of all cells in the body.  Protein breaks down into amino acids in the body.  This process take A LONG time to study and understand.  There are 20 types of amino acids that protein breaks down into.  They all fit into a category of either essential, nonessential, or conditional amino acids.  The key to know is that ESSENTIAL amino acids must be provided by your diet and your body does not produce them.

Examples of high protein foods are meats, poultry, fish, dairy (greek yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, cheese), eggs/egg whites, tofu, tempeh, protein powder.

Protein provides 4 calories per gram.

Fat: Fat is a major energy source for the body and is important for brain function, blood clotting, and controlling inflammation .  Fat aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A,D,E, and K) and is critical to body function. Fat makes our skin and hair healthy. Fat breaks down into fatty acids and glycerol.

Examples of fat sources are nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocados, oils (coconut oil :)), and butter.

This is a very high level overview but I wanted to help you understand the first step in WHY it is important to know what macronutrients are as you are consuming them every time you eat!  Each macronutrient gets digested and absorbed in a process in our body and it is up to us to provide our bodies with the correct fuel and energy.

Fat provides 9 calories per gram. (Why fats are so energy dense) 

Up next: CALORIES!

 

What I Ate Wednesday: Full Day of Eats!

Happy Wednesday!  I am in a super good mood today. I don’t even know why.  I didn’t get enough sleep but feel super productive today and am just having a great week.  Does anyone else feel like that?!  Am I crazy?  Hump day is going strong!!

Wanted to share a full day of my eating!  I also shared an amazing high protein chocolate chip cookie recipe on Monday so don’t hesitate to make some of those this evening.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.  You will only need canned pumpkin, vanilla protein powder, egg whites, and BEANS!  Chocolate chips don’t hurt either.

Some of my ‘current obsessions’ will be the highlight of my WIAW post this week.  I’m currently crushing on some serious foodie items and food preparations so enjoy!!

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breakfast//old-fashioned oats, vanilla MTS whey protein powder, sliced banana, cinnamon, peanut butter AND coconut butter

Current obsession: Peanut butter and coconut butter together

When I think about nut butter, I swoon.  So when I think about putting two different ‘butters’ on my oatmeal, I become obsessed.  I put a dollop of peanut butter in the middle of my oats and drizzled coconut butter all over that.  I know Robyn does this with almond butter and coconut oil so this is my own version with peanut butter and coconut butter.

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lunch//Wild responsibly-caught tuna wrap (brand is Ocean Naturals from Walmart) with sriracha and eaten in a Joseph’s lavash whole wheat wrap, steamed broccoli and cauliflower with Mrs. Dash garlic and herb, almonds

Current obsession: A snacky plate lunch.

I also love putting everything on a plate before I shove it all in my Pyrex for work.  But I love being able to eat the tuna in the wrap, or munch on some almonds, or dip the broccoli in some mustard.  My favorite types of lunch! These Lavash wraps are super amazing too.

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Pre-workout snacks//Fage 0% greek yogurt, Chocolate Chex, more almonds, medium banana

Current obsession: Chex cereal

So far, I have only tried Vanilla and Chocolate chex cereal but I just loving this right now!

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Current obsession: A new grocery market find: cashew milk!  So creamy.

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post-workout dinner//1 omega-3 cage-free egg scrambled in coconut oil, 4 egg white omelette, stir fry vegetables, baked sweet potato chunks with cinnamon

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dessert// protein brownie with 2 crumbled lightly salted rice cakes, Enjoy Life chocolate chips, and natural peanut butter

Current Obsession: This #beltsanderbrownie protein brownie.  I have no idea where the term came from but it is so easy and SO delicious (check out the hashtag on Instagram).  You combine 1 scoop protein (I used Trutein Red Velvet Cake), 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.  You cook in the microwave for 25-30 seconds and it’s done.  It honestly tastes like a brownie?!

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Current Obsession: THIS TANK TOP. I WILL FIND THIS and buy this and wear this to the gym.

What are you current obsessions?  Food or otherwise :)

Have a happy Wednesday my people!

What I Ate Wednesday: Full Day of Eats!

Happy Wednesday!  I am in a super good mood today. I don’t even know why.  I didn’t get enough sleep but feel super productive today and am just having a great week.  Does anyone else feel like that?!  Am I crazy?  Hump day is going strong!!

Wanted to share a full day of my eating!  I also shared an amazing high protein chocolate chip cookie recipe on Monday so don’t hesitate to make some of those this evening.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.  You will only need canned pumpkin, vanilla protein powder, egg whites, and BEANS!  Chocolate chips don’t hurt either.

Some of my ‘current obsessions’ will be the highlight of my WIAW post this week.  I’m currently crushing on some serious foodie items and food preparations so enjoy!!

IMG_5209

breakfast//old-fashioned oats, vanilla MTS whey protein powder, sliced banana, cinnamon, peanut butter AND coconut butter

Current obsession: Peanut butter and coconut butter together

When I think about nut butter, I swoon.  So when I think about putting two different ‘butters’ on my oatmeal, I become obsessed.  I put a dollop of peanut butter in the middle of my oats and drizzled coconut butter all over that.  I know Robyn does this with almond butter and coconut oil so this is my own version with peanut butter and coconut butter.

IMG_5187

lunch//Wild responsibly-caught tuna wrap (brand is Ocean Naturals from Walmart) with sriracha and eaten in a Joseph’s lavash whole wheat wrap, steamed broccoli and cauliflower with Mrs. Dash garlic and herb, almonds

Current obsession: A snacky plate lunch.

I also love putting everything on a plate before I shove it all in my Pyrex for work.  But I love being able to eat the tuna in the wrap, or munch on some almonds, or dip the broccoli in some mustard.  My favorite types of lunch! These Lavash wraps are super amazing too.

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Pre-workout snacks//Fage 0% greek yogurt, Chocolate Chex, more almonds, medium banana

Current obsession: Chex cereal

So far, I have only tried Vanilla and Chocolate chex cereal but I just loving this right now!

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Current obsession: A new grocery market find: cashew milk!  So creamy.

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post-workout dinner//1 omega-3 cage-free egg scrambled in coconut oil, 4 egg white omelette, stir fry vegetables, baked sweet potato chunks with cinnamon

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dessert// protein brownie with 2 crumbled lightly salted rice cakes, Enjoy Life chocolate chips, and natural peanut butter

Current Obsession: This #beltsanderbrownie protein brownie.  I have no idea where the term came from but it is so easy and SO delicious (check out the hashtag on Instagram).  You combine 1 scoop protein (I used Trutein Red Velvet Cake), 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.  You cook in the microwave for 25-30 seconds and it’s done.  It honestly tastes like a brownie?!

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Current Obsession: THIS TANK TOP. I WILL FIND THIS and buy this and wear this to the gym.

What are you current obsessions?  Food or otherwise :)

Have a happy Wednesday my people!

High Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies

What better way to start off Monday than with a healthy high protein chocolate chip cookie recipe?  These cookies are based off of the #KimHoeltjeCookie recipe on Instagram and are quickly becoming a staple in my house (well, apartment).

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I made these for my family over Thanksgiving and then again for my boyfriend this past weekend.  No one can believe these are healthy!  My family even did a taste test between real chocolate chip cookies (REAL meaning butter, sugar, white flour) and these healthy high protein chocolate chip cookies and they really couldn’t tell much of a difference.  My mom did note “it just tastes like something is missing but I don’t know what that is”.  Which is FINE by me because there is A LOT missing in terms of fat and simple carbohydrates and sugar and you can’t even notice.  So without any more suspense here is the recipe.  These are very macro-friendly and high in fiber too.  Don’t forget to subscribe to Kim’s YouTube as well if you want to find more recipes like this!

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High Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies

What you need:

1 scoop MTS Whey Vanilla protein powder

1/2 cup canned white beans (navy, garbanzo, etc)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 T egg whites in carton

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 t baking powder

2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Combine drained white beans, pumpkin, egg whites, and vanilla in blender and blend until smooth.

3. Empty into large bowl and stir in protein powder and baking powder.

4. Fold in chocolate chips.

5. Drop onto baking mat on cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Do not overbake!

Macros for ENTIRE recipe: 382 calories, 9 grams fat, 46 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein

The macronutrients may change based on protein powders used as well or if you use less/more chocolate chips.

Make these tonight, I swear they are WORTH it!

Talk to you soon!

 

What I Ate Wednesday: New Foods!

I love grocery shopping.  And I love finding new and fun foods at the grocery store.  I used to only eat “clean foods” and didn’t enjoy grocery shopping because I felt like I couldn’t buy any fun foods.  Now that I eat with more moderation, I can finally buy foods that may have been ‘off-limits’ before.  Although I usually choose whole foods anyway, I love the freedom that balanced eating has given me.

This post is dedicated to some new fun foods I have tried.  Because life is too short to eat boring food.

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breakfast// 1/2 cup oats cooked with vanilla MTS Whey protein for 2 minutes in the microwave, swirled in 1/4 cup pumpkin puree and lots of cinnamon, dumped into almost-empty Sprouts natural peanut butter jar and topped with Artisana coconut butter

Breakfast is a no-brainer.  I haven’t added new food finds to this in awhile…maybe I need to change that soon!

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lunch at work// Wild-caught trout from the weekend and steamed organic broccoli with Joseph’s flax and oat bran pita and Justin’s honey peanut butter

snacks// Fage 0% greek yogurt, Chocolate Chex cereal, almonds, Chocolate Peanut butter Quest bar

The Joseph’s Mini flax, oat bran, and whole wheat pita was a new find!  I heard about from 1FitAshMom on YouTube and found these near the Deli in Walmart.  The nutrition stats are amazing as they are made with wheat gluten and oat fiber.  They have 50 calories, 1 gram fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein!  These are a great substitute for a whole grain rice cake or low-carb flax wraps-they even have lavash and flatbreads that you can make pizza with! They do have soy flour and soy oil in them which I usually try to moderate in my diet so I probably will not eat these daily.

The Chocolate Chex is a new cereal to me.  I honestly like the Vanilla Chex better though.  I like Chex because the cereal has a mix of plain and flavored Chex pieces-so it’s not too sickeningly sweet.  These little squares are perfect for a pre-workout carbohydrate source.

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dinner (after my evening workout)//salsa and egg scramble (1 egg and 4 egg whites) with a boat-load of broccoli slaw topped with nutritional yeast, sweet potato and pumpkin pie spice, La Croix coconut (the BEST)

dessert (eaten 1-2 hours after dinner)// the infamous Kim Hoeltje Soft Chocolate Chip cookies (drizzled with peanut butter after photo).  These are a perfect healthy treat and you would NEVER know it!!  Made with white beans, pumpkin puree, vanilla protein powder, egg whites, and 2 T Enjoy Life chocolate chips.  Even my parents and cookie-connoisseur of a sister approved when I made these over Thanksgiving!! Search for KimHoeltjeCookies on Instragram or I can do a post on the cookies if anyone cares for the recipe and isn’t on Instagram?!

These Enjoy Life chocolate chips are new to me.  And so are the cookies I made them with!  I have made these cookies before without beans but the beans make these cookies SO believable that they are FULL fat and full sugar!  The chocolate chips are dairy, gluten, and soy free and are great.  I don’t have any allergies to these things so I may just buy dark chocolate chips next time.

Thanks for following along.  Any new fun foods you have tried from the grocery store?  I love finding new hidden gems so spill the beans!! Thank you to Jenn for hosting as always.

wiaw fall into good habits button

 

My First Article, November Goal Checklist, and setting December Goals

Hi my friends.

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It’s December 2nd already?!  How did that happen.  I am writing out my December goals and wanted to go over the goals I had set for myself in November.

Here we go!!

http://www.austinfitmagazine.com/December-2014/Aids-and-SupplementsWhat-Every-User-Needs-to-Know/

 

 1. Check back on article written for local fitness magazine (Personal)

CHECK!  My first article has been PUBLISHED!  It covers all you need to know about ergogenic aids and dietary supplements and how to find a legitimate supplement on the market these days.  I talk about what you want to look for on the label, where to go to do your research, and how products are regulated (they really AREN’T).   You can preview it here!  The hard copy will be in the Austin Fit magazine in December!

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2. Travel to Nashville and Tampa to see family members and enjoy the weekends without feeling like I am getting ‘off track’ (Personal)

CHECK!  I enjoyed both my weekends traveling in November.  I drank beer, had burgers and fries at dinner, ate ice cream and fried pickles, went 5 days without lifting weights and didn’t increase my cardio or exercise routine to “burn off” my indulgences.  This was a big win!!

3. Get back to being able to do 8 unassisted pull-ups in a row (Fitness)

CHECK!!! I can now do 10 pull-ups in a row!!  I practice my pull-ups at least 1-2 times per week.  Practice makes perfect and that is really the only way I have improved on these.

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4. Create new protein pancake recipes (Nutrition)

CHECK!! See here where I cooked up three different types of pancakes in one weekend.

5. Continue to find new carbohydrate sources for dinner meals so I don’t feel bored with meals (Nutrition)

CHECK!!  New carbohydrate sources I’ve tried: Chocolate Chex cereal, Joseph’s flax and oat bran pitas, Mission extra thin corn tortillas, gold nugget squash, and delicata squash. Loved all these choices but I think my favorites are still kabocha squash and rice cakes :) Oh and Vanilla Chex is pretty amazing too.

Did I make these goals too easy or something??!!

My December goals:

1. Update LinkedIn profile. I have nothing on LinkedIn and it’s kind of sad. (Personal)

2. Find a nice local gym while at home over Christmas in order to keep up with strength training instead of just running outside. (Fitness)

3. Blog every Monday and Friday (outside of What I Ate Wednesday) to be more consistent. (Blog)

4. Work on food photography skills. (Personal and Blog)

5. Try out Title Boxing gym for new workouts. (Fitness)

Ok, here’s to another productive month.  What are your goals?