Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Another week, another muffin recipe! This one is a big-time winner! Oh man. It made a TON and its a good thing because the way Neely is chowing down on these, they may not last more than a few days!

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More and more, these little mini muffins are becoming a favorite item for me to have on hand for the kids. They are perfect to pack in school lunches and are an awesome option for snacks or meals. I love giving my kids food that they enjoy eating, that even feels like a treat, but that has fruits and veggies and healthy grains packed in. I try to be sure to tell them what is in there, too, hoping that maybe if I say there is zucchini in their muffins, they’d be less afraid of trying actual zucchini one day. Might be wishful thinking but who knows! I just don’t want to feel like I’m trying to deceive them or trick them into eating healthy – I want them to realize that eating healthy is delicious!

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I kind of love that these don’t include bananas. I like bananas fine, and so do my kids, but its nice to have a muffin that doesn’t have a banana taste to it every once in a while! These aren’t totally clean, but they pack goodness (& veggies) into them and are sweet and delicious! I modified the original recipe (found here), and next time may continue to modify to try to get rid of some more of the sugar (I decreased the original amount already but I wonder if I could still do less!) So I will be coming back to this one to try some new things. All in all though, definitely a winner.

Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs + 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup raisins*

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and apple sauce. Stir in grated zucchini and carrots. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined. (If your batter seems dry, try adding a bit more applesauce)
  3. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

These were dense when they came out of the oven, so my toothpick kind of stuck inside and made me wonder if they were cooked all the way through – but they were perfect!!

*I would say the raisins are optional or replaceable – you could use something else like craisins or apple chunks, or even chocolate chips I suppose! But my kids love raisins so we used them. You could probably leave them out all together, too!

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“Please mommy, just one more?!” (she had already eaten 2, so I gave in and gave her just one more!)

 

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Freedom

Freedom

I switched things up yesterday evening and went for a run when Bryan got home from work. I couldn’t resist the beautiful weather. The sun was starting to set, it was cool and crisp – perfection. As I ran my mind was flooded with thoughts. How can it be that as I run around my happy little neighborhood – people walking their dogs, playing in the yard – that other parts of the world are in utter turmoil?

I’ve been reminded the last few days that this life I am living is fleeting. Everything I have, that I tend to take for granted, could all be gone tomorrow. As I ran I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of freedom. Not because I live in America and was born into such privilege, but because I live in the freedom of Christ. There is no fear in that freedom, no worry, no despair. There is hope.

And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (‭1 John‬ ‭2‬:‭17‬)

This is a freedom that cannot be taken away. This is a freedom that is un-wavering. This is a freedom that will be victorious.

In order for me to live out this freedom, I believe that I first should live in a spirit of gratitude. Thankful to God that while the world seems to be falling apart, I stand firm in my faith and on the solid rock of Christ. Thankful that while others may fear for their life, I know that my life is not my own, but belongs to God and is dedicated to his own glory. Thankful that I can lose everything here on earth – everything – but I will gain more than I could ever imagine in heaven. These are PROMISES of God that I can only cling to when the world around me offers no promise, no peace, no certainty. These promises, of course, are available to anyone who believes.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

I then believe that I am called to live in a spirit of love. If I am truly living in gratitude for all that I have and all God has promised, there is no other response except love. Love for God, love for the life he has given me, and love for other people, both near and far. I don’t have much control over the things going on in the world, but I can control my heart, my thoughts, my words and my actions.

So I will spend time in God’s word and in prayer to care for my heart and my mind. I will flood my thoughts with the words of God, not the words of the world. I will take care of my body, the only thing that (aside from in death) cannot be taken away from me. I will choose to love deeply – my family, my friends, and yes, even strangers, even the unloveable. I will do my best to be a representation of Christ to this broken, dark world, and wait expectantly for God to move in mighty ways. He WILL overcome.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Muffin Tins – A Busy Mom’s Best Friend

Over the last few months I’ve realized that eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or way more time consuming, it just requires a little bit of planning ahead! One of my FAVORITE ways to plan ahead is by making recipes using a muffin tin. It creates a little batch of goodness that will last all week! I’ve been loving making muffins for me and mini muffins for my kids. The mini muffins are perfect to send to school or to grab as a healthy snack, or to use as breakfast… really any time works for these cute little meals and it feels great to have a healthy option right there in the fridge! I usually just quickly warm them up in the microwave and they’re ready to go. Here are a few of my favorites!! Feel free to print out these little recipe cards, too 🙂

First are these healthy toddler muffins, you’ve actually seen me post about these here on the blog before. While they aren’t completely “clean” they pack in a lot of goodness for the little ones, and they taste great!

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Next are these yummy, healthy oatmeal cups!!

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And finally, egg cups! I love these because they are SO versatile!!

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What I love about the last 2 is that they can so easily be modified to fit your tastes! You can change up the fruit in the blueberry oat cups that you put on top, or even use raisins or chocolate chips to make them a little sweeter! And the egg cups can be modified SO many ways – just use whatever veggies you like best, or whatever you already have on hand!

These recipes originally came from here, here, and here.

30

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. Not that I expected anything over the top in terms of celebration, but I must say the day was a pretty big let-down. I spent my birthday sick in bed! Boo! Thankfully, my loving husband did give me the gift of rest that I so desperately needed while he took on the task of caring for 2 toddlers who also weren’t feeling well (while Bryan wasn’t even feeling well either!) Basically, it was a sad day all around. But alas, it happened, and I feel the need (now that I’m healthy and thinking clearly again) to think about entering my 30’s and what that means for me, as well as look back a bit and see where I’ve been and what brought me to this place I’m in now.

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This picture is from this year, pretty close to my 30th birthday.
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I don’t think I ever could have imagined my life now, as I turn 30. I don’t think I ever could have imagined that I would have 2 beautiful children, pretty close in age, a boy and a girl. I couldn’t have imagined that we would have left Young Life and moved to the suburbs while Bryan works in the city. I would NEVER have dreamed that I would be in the best shape of my life. And who could have foreseen the fact that I am a health and fitness coach?!

But here we are! And I am so incredibly thankful. Even as I type all of those things, I realize it still feels so fresh, so new, so scary and exciting. Being a mom – yikes. How am I qualified to care for these two tiny humans? Living here, near family for the first time since college, finding our place in church and the community – it is exciting and new and uncertain. My health and my job as a coach is an ever-evolving transformation that fascinates me and terrifies me at the same time!

I think, though, when looking at the big picture, and when looking into my heart and soul as I process these changes, I realize that every one of these experiences has been a lesson in faith. A lesson in giving control over to the Lord, and in trusting him to use my life for his glory. My old thoughts believed that I was too selfish to be a wife and mom, too shy to be a part of community, too afraid of failure to take control of my health, and not confident enough to be a coach. But look at the ways the Lord is able to transform! In my weakness, he is strong, and in my unbelief, he creates faith. Even though I placed my faith in Jesus long ago, I feel like in this past year, I have truly become a new creation.

The past year has looked nothing like the rest of my life – I have grown and changed in physical, mental, and spiritual ways that I never could have dreamed of before. Thanks be to God! From the looks of it, my 30s may just end up being the best years of my life so far!!!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  – 2 Corinthians 5:17

12 Months

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Well, I’m only a month late in updating that our baby girl officially turned ONE year old! There aren’t enough words to describe how much joy this little lady has brought to our family over the past year. Her energy, her spirit, her laughter, her funny faces – she has blessed us every single day. She has been the perfect addition to our family, the perfect little sister for James, and certainly carries an incredibly important role in our family!!

Neely is brave and adventurous! She isn’t afraid of getting messy, in fact, if she’s presented with dirt or mud or leaves she prefers to touch as much as possible, and even get little tastes in here and there. Once she started walking there was no stopping her, and she tends to speed-walk from place to place now! She doesn’t want to be left out of ANY excitement so she has learned that to keep up with big brother, she needs to move quick!

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Speaking of her brother, Neely is so in love with James. But in true second-child fashion, she loves to pick on him 🙂 She pulls his hair and takes his toys and pinches and bites – but I’m sure it’s all done in love! Wherever James is and whatever he is playing with, she wants to be right there too!

Neely got a new play kitchen for her birthday and she loves playing with all the foods and silverware and cups! She is constantly chewing on something so all the kitchen supplies work well for that. She also decided recently that she likes to suck on a pacifier… I never knew a child could decide at age 1 that they want a paci but hey, we don’t mind so much! She doesn’t depend on it for sleep, but she does depend on her taggy blanket! She has to have it to sleep so she can suck on the tags!

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Neely isn’t really saying any real words yet but she certainly can talk! She babbles all the time and it is especially cute to see her grab a book, flip through the pages, and babble and “read” the whole time.

She’s still enjoying her fruits and vegetables and is developing certain tastes and distastes. She doesn’t love bread as much as the rest of us, but she loves fruit and really loves cheese! She also handled the transition from formula to milk beautifully and she LOVES drinking milk from her sippy cup! Such a big girl.

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I love going to get Neely up from her afternoon naps. She is content to hang out in her crib for awhile after she wakes up, but when she’s standing up in the corner, I know she’s ready to get up. Every day I walk in and she gets a huge smile on her face, then collapses back down into her crib giggling. Its like she wants me to try to catch her as she runs away! But she can’t get very far… so I tickle her and let her get back up and when I come toward her she collapses back down again and crawls away, giggling the whole time. It is a really fun game we like to play 🙂

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We celebrated Neely’s birthday with a party of family and it was so fun for her to be surrounded by so many who love her, and all of her fun cousins! She had a lot of fun being celebrated and I think her favorite part was the birthday cupcake! She was NOT afraid to dig in and get messy, much to the dismay of her brother who does’t like to get messy!

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It has been just amazing watching this little girl’s personality blossom and we can’t wait to see what the next year brings. She is so loved and cherished – Neely our lives wouldn’t be the same without you! Thank you for coming into our family and showing us how our love can grow bigger than we ever dreamed imaginable. Thank you for being such a light in our lives. We are blessed to get to watch you grow into the beautiful girl, young lady, and woman you were created to be!

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See Neely Grow:

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3 Day Refresh – Results and Thoughts!

This week I did something called the 3 Day Refresh. This is a Beachbody program designed to kick-start healthy habits and/or break bad habits, and get a fresh start without starving yourself or depriving yourself of proper nutrients. For me, it came at a necessary time because I have been “off” for about 2 or 3 weeks and was in desperate need of a kick in the booty to get back on track with the healthy lifestyle I’ve worked so hard to maintain for the past almost 10 months. So I wanted to share my results, my thoughts, and my recommendations for anyone who would like to learn more about the 3 Day Refresh!

First – this is not a crash diet. If you are looking to drop a few pounds fast, this is certainly a way to do that, but if you do not plan on continuing with a healthy, clean diet after the refresh, I would assume you will quickly gain your weight back. Overall good nutrition is VITAL to maintaining a healthy weight and body for the long-term, so I would recommend using this program as a kick-start into a healthy lifestyle rather than a quick weight loss tool.

Second – the refresh cuts out meat, dairy, and carbs and focuses on a diet of fruits, veggies, fiber, and protein shakes to ensure proper nourishment to your body during the 3 days. It is also designed so that you will not feel starved. There were times throughout my 3 days that I did feel hungry, but usually it came at a time when I could have a snack or some tea or was in need of more water. Those things typically satisfied the hunger I felt. I did cheat on my last night and have a handful of cashews 😉

So one of the best parts of this program is that it isn’t an all-liquid cleanse. You eat real fruits and veggies throughout the day. I wanted to share some of the food I enjoyed while doing the program:

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Vanilla Fresh Shake with Grapes with lunch

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Afternoon snack of broccoli sautéed in olive oil

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Carrots, hummus, and vanilla fresh shake blended with fruit for lunch

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I enjoyed some decaffeinated green tea sweetened with stevia throughout each day

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Delicious cucumber and tomato salad (recipe included in my 3 Day Refresh guide)

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Steamed green beans with a teeny pinch of salt and avocado

So you can see, I wasn’t totally deprived of food for 3 days. I did get tired of washing my blender multiple times a day, though 😉

On to results! I lost 4.6 pounds during the 3 Day Refresh. My stomach flattened and I lost some bloating overall in my body, specifically in my tummy and face. Let me be clear again – I was NOT doing this as a crash diet to quickly drop weight. I knew that I had lost track of my self-discipline in terms of my personal health and fitness, and I needed a reminder of all that I’d learned over the past several months and a kick-start back into healthy, clean living. I had gained back some weight that I had worked hard to lose, and wanted to get myself back on track!

I was reminded of a few major ways that my self-discipline had been slacking. First, hydration. With this program everything was planned out for me, to a T, and so I was much more aware of the amount of water I was drinking. During these 3 days, I drank a LOT of water – and felt SO much better for it!! It reminded me that I need to be very intentional each day about my water intake and being sure I stay properly hydrated!

The other thing was simply in my overall self-discipline with snacking and eating out. I’ve found myself grabbing foods that are left on my kids’ plates that they didn’t eat, or feeling hungry and instantly going to the fridge or pantry and picking out whatever sounded good. Granted, we don’t keep much “junk food” in the house so I was typically still eating healthy-ish food, but I was getting my portions all out of whack. And then eating out – this has been a bad one lately! I’ve just been tired of cooking and have been very quick to suggest we just go grab some food out, which has had an impact on both our money and our bodies. Eating out typically provides much larger portions, first of all, and also more ingredients than I need/want. And its expensive!!!

So, all in all, the 3 Day Refresh was a good experience! I was a little grumpy during the 3 days and was definitely craving meat, but I am very pleased with the results and happy to feel back on track and in a much better place nutritionally! Here’s to fresh starts and healthy habits to lead into the holiday season!!

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If you’re interested in trying the 3 Day Refresh, leave me a comment or send me an email at elder.meredith@gmail.com and I’d love to talk to you about it!

Reality vs. Internet Reality

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I’m struggling a little bit today. And the truth is, I struggle a little bit (or a lot-bit) every day, in some way. And then I am faced with this other struggle – the struggle of what I portray on social media. I’ve worried since day 1 of starting my Facebook page that I wouldn’t portray reality. I wanted to be transparent and real, but I also wanted to put forward ideas and images that would encourage, inspire, and add value to people’s lives. I wanted people to see what I was doing to try to live a healthy life – my workouts, my meals, my sketches, etc. I’ve tried to include posts about failures and struggles as well, but I don’t know if those always come through.

I was at a women’s event at church with some friends and it included dinner and dessert. As I began on my delicious caramel cake, my friend leaned over and said how it was nice to see that I post about workouts and healthy living, but I also indulge every now and then too. I was so grateful she said that because it caused me to think for a second about what I put out there for the world to see, and what I don’t.

The thing is, if I don’t post a picture of my caramel cake or my glass of wine or my cookie, its truly and honestly NOT because I am trying to be sneaky or hide it. It is NOT because I want to portray perfection when in reality I am not perfect. It is more because I honestly don’t think about it. I look at my new healthy recipe I just cooked or the tough workout I just pushed through, and automatically think I should post it because maybe it will encourage someone else. I don’t usually get that thought when I’m eating junk food or not exercising.

So, then, I’m faced with the struggle of how I’m portraying myself. And as I ponder that today I guess I just have to realize that no matter what or how hard I try, I can not post every second of every day on social media. And because of that, anyone who knows me on social media will only get a fraction of my reality. It’s not less real, it’s just not my whole reality.

So I guess I just wanted to put in writing a bit more of my heart and my reality, so that maybe, if someone sees this, they will get a better glimpse into who I really am than just by seeing my posts on Facebook. I am not a nutritionist or an exercise expert. I learned what I know about nutrition and portion control from 21 Day Fix and I have learned how to maintain that healthy mindset into my every day life. I eat mostly clean, and mostly healthy, and I workout most days. Not every day. Not every meal. My heart for my Facebook page is to offer encouragement, ideas, inspiration, and help to anyone who will benefit from it. I hope to come across as my true self – someone who cares deeply for other people and who struggles daily, just like everyone else.

I am learning so much about myself lately and it seems that at the end of every day, I come to the conclusion that I am a deeply flawed person in desperate need of Jesus. I am doing the best I can to take care of myself and my family, while sharing my heart with others, but it is not, and will never be, perfect. So I hope you can understand that and be encouraged by it.