Orthodox Lent and Fasting Recipes

Growing up Catholic I never really though too much about other religious sects within Christianity. I didn’t know any Orthodox Christians and I didn’t know a ton about how things were different. Fast forward to college, not only is Nick’s family Greek Orthodox, but we had friends that were Orthodox as well (Russian, Serbian, etc…)

There is definitely a lot to learn about Orthodox Christianity, and I think I understand most of the basics, but one of the areas that is vastly different is Lent. For Catholics, the more public aspect of Lent is mostly about giving up one thing for the duration as a sacrifice. For Orthodox Christians you fast during Lent, not a fast like no eating or drinking, how you usually associate the word fast.

Keeping it just about the food for WIAW, you fast every Wednesday and Friday. Everyone I know does fasting a little bit different, but for the most part you don’t consume meat or dairy, this also means no eggs or seafood with a bloodline. There are obviously exceptions, pregnant women, children, women who are breastfeeding, etc…

I thought I would share with you some recipes and ideas that follow those guidelines. Recipes that I’ve tried, recipes that friends and family members have tried. If you have any you would like to share please link them below.

Breakfast

For my morning coffee I tend to use almond milk or coconut milk and I use almond milk in my oatmeal. Obviously you can use soy milk as well, but for me personally, I prefer almond or coconut.  Vegan butter can be used as a replacement for regular butter. Personally, I find breakfast to be the hardest meal to keep dairy free, so many breakfast foods have some sort of dairy/meat component, the one that always slips my mind is eggs.

Mindy’s Banana Bread Muffins

 Iowa Girl Eats Immitation Starbucks Oatmeal – like she did, I would use almond milk instead of dairy

Kammie’s Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats

Lunch and Dinner

In previous years, I have lived on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and pasta. Not exactly healthy, but I didn’t know nearly as much about cooking as I do now. Now, I have more carbs than I do most weeks of the year, but I try to keep it to things like quinoa and brown rice. I try to load up on lots of veggies and to make sure I find a way to get protein. My favorite family recipes are spinach and rice or lentils. Both recipes I need to write up and share with you. I tend to eat the same stuff for lunch and dinner because it is easier then prepping four different meat & dairy free meals for each of us. Try some of the recipes below if you are fasting this Lent.

Thug Kitchen’s Basmati Stuffed Grilled Peppers, I prefer tomatoes to peppers and might even leave out the rice.

Laura from Mommy Run Fast has a ton of great recipes but here are some highlights: Quinoa Minestrone, Soba Noodles with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Tofu, and Crockpot Black Beans.

Wildly Fit’s Lentil Stew – lentils are such a great way to get protein!

Two Peas & Their Pod’s Black Bean and Enchilada Quinoa Bake – this is a family favorite. You can either use vegan cheese or just omit the cheese altogether. It also makes A TON of servings, you can make a whole pan and freeze some so you can take out the servings you need instead of eating it all week.

Burgers – There are a ton of black bean burger recipes out there for you to make the following ones are ones that either I or my family members have made and loved. Maria’s Spicy Black Bean Burger – just omit the cream sauce and Girls Gone Sporty’s Spicy Buffalo Black Bean & Quinoa Burger with Vegan Blue Cheese Sauce. You can also try a Greek Veggie Burger or an unfried Falafel Burger.

Still want pasta, but want something to add to it? Try these quinoa meatless meatballs!

Try slow cooker Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

And if you need something sweet at the end of the day? Try these Crockpot Baked Apples!

Find more recipes at Jenn’s WIAW Linkup!


What are your favorite meat and dairy free recipes? 

Weekly Updates: 02/24/14 – 03/02/14

Weekly WorkoutsMonday – 

I took Monday off, we were traveling over the weekend and when I do that I like to use Mondays to prep for the week.

Tuesday -

I took Poise Fusion XPress at Studio Poise. I forgot how much I love and hate that class. I do get frustrated with how I do struggle with a lot of the moves, but I know that with consistency I will get better at pushing through the pain.

Wednesday -

I was supposed to do an at-home workout, but I was feeling like garbage, I ended up doing an at-home yoga video instead, thanks Cait those have really come in very handy.

Thursday – 

I was still getting over my sickness from Wednesday, so I decided to sweat it out with a HIIT workout from Sarah’s YouTube channel. It was quick and effective, and even though I wasn’t feeling 100% it felt good to get my sweat on.

Friday -

I started with my favorite class, Pound at Studio Poise, I love this class – I hate going a week without! I also took yoga at night at Balance Yoga Studio, they have this awesome $5 drop-in community yoga class every Friday night. I had been once before and there was a great turnout. Thankfully, I had pre-registered for the class because they were at max capacity and I was the last person to show up. On top of it all Amy, a local Boston blogger who I met at HLS two years ago was the yoga teacher. I loved her style, and I can’t wait to try another class of hers. The perfect ending to my week.

Saturday -

I needed a rest day and a family day and we had that. It was a blessing because B ended up spiking a fever late and it was good we were all home.

Sunday – 

I had plans to go to The Remix at Studio Poise with Jane, but B’s fever was still hitting 103, I decided that I should stay home with and make sure things were getting better and not worse and we wouldn’t have to make an emergency trip to the doctor.

Food

I got a bit sick of salad last week so I am prepping some sweet potato baked oatmeal and egg bites for lunch. I also bought some fish that was on sale, and hopefully I won’t get bored. I also prepped for this awesome Black bean and quinoa enchilada bake!

How were your workouts this week? Any new recipes?

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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I am not super in to the holiday aspect of Valentine’s Day, sure Nick and I will go to dinner if we have the time and a babysitter, but we try to do it a week before or after Valentine’s Day. We also don’t really do gifts. Maybe something small if we see something that we think would be perfect, but other than that it’s just a normal day with a more special meal at home.

BAKING

The first gift idea is something homemade, I love this Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe, it isn’t fast and should be done the night before, but it is decadent and perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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A few other of my favorite recipes are these Intense Chocolate Brownies or Conversation Heart Brownies. These are bit easier and you can make them the day of! You can share this with all of your loved ones and even have your kids help make the treats!

BOOKS

I always get B a little gift or two, this year I got him a Dr. Suess board book. He loves books and I love ones that expand his knowledge, but we still aren’t at the age where he doesn’t understand that you can’t rip out all the pages of a book.


CRAFT BEER OR WINE

IMG_2805There are a lot of stores near us that sells individual bottles of beer or half bottles of wine and champagne. I personally love champagne, but I hardly drink it because I am usually drinking it and everyone else is drinking beer and I can’t drink an entire bottle. Or Nick wants beer but I don’t want to buy a six pack because it will sit in our fridge for awhile.  Pairing a nice meal with a wine or beer you love is a great idea, and being able to get a single serving is a plus.

HOMEMADE

If you have no time or the funds to do anything, a homemade card is always a winner. Showing someone you love them is always appreciated, no matter what day it is!

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day gift?

Five Things Friday: Books and Recipes

Five Things Friday

This week has been ridiculous. I will post a longer, more in-depth post on Monday, but suffice it to say, a toddler that has back to back stomach bugs is not a happy camper, and mom & dad don’t get much sleep. This week has been a lesson in survival, that being said, I haven’t been able to browse blog posts as much as I want to. I am going to share some of my favorite links from around the web that I have been able to get to.

 

Valentines Day Recipes

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Buzzfeed put together a list of 27 recipes to make your sweethearts for Valentines Day, I love all of Averie’s recipes, so its safe to say I will probably try to make #1.

Books

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Another BuzzFeed list, Cait showed me this a few weeks ago. Then I won a gift card to use at Amazon. Which obviously meant I needed to buy some new books for my kindle. I ended up getting: The Monuments Men, Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir (recommended by Jane), Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail), Reconstructing Amelia (recommended by Cait), I also have Mindy Kaling’s book, The Divergent series, Gillian Flynn’s other two books (Sharp Objects and Dark Places) and March’s book for From Left to Write in the queue. Also, am I the only one that didn’t realize they were making The Giver into a movie, and angry that Taylor Swift is in it, ugh.

Motherhood

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Honestly, I tend to stay away from any blogs were the person is currently pregnant or just had a baby, but there are a few that I can read without letting it affect my mental state. One of those blogs is Lindsay’s, she recently wrote this post about stretch marks, and why they aren’t as bad as you think. I couldn’t love this post more, I get so frustrated when I see pregnant women or new moms bitch and moan about them, trust me when I say your child will never care if you have them or not. They are just happy you brought them into this world!

Excitement

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If you haven’t read Cait’s most recent post, then do it now. I am so excited one of my great friends is moving to Boston. I am incredibly happy for her new opportunities and glad that I get to spend much more time with her!

The Biggest Loser Controversy

I am actually very frustrated with this. I feel like Rachel was damned if she did, damned if she didn’t. If you’ve never been overweight or too thin, you probably don’t know what its like to have anybody judge your body. I work out hard, I try to eat clean, and when I do have a meal that’s not in the 80% I do it at home, because I feel judged in public.  The fact that people were outright saying she had an eating disorder was disturbing, saying that about anyone is very serious and shouldn’t be used as a joke.This was a competition, she is an athlete, did you really think she wasn’t going to give it her all. Rachel isn’t the one that should be receiving criticism, The Biggest Loser should. Anyway, Sarah’s video and Lauren’s blog, touch on a lot of these points and I liked how they put their opinions out there, and much more eloquently.

What are your thoughts on any of these posts?

Healthy Swaps for 2014

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Designer Whey.

I am definitely a proponent for people partaking in the indulgences that surround the holidays, I don’t believe the holidays should be all about abstaining and calorie counting. I personally love to have the deserts that are only around during the holiday season, and I don’t feel guilty about that.

However, it can be very hard to get back on track after the holiday season. One of the easiest and tastiest ways for me to keep on track is by using Designer Whey in smoothies and different snacks. I had mentioned that I had fallen off the healthy eating path a little bit lately, and I know that getting back on is necessary, I feel like garbage when I eat garbage. For 2014 I will make strides to get my eating back in check. How am I going to do that? By making sure I have plenty of items in my fridge and pantry that are healthy, instead of reaching for some toast or a cookie, I can reach for a bar, smoothie or another protein packed treat!

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Designer Whey has a plethora of protein powder flavors, I haven’t met one that I didn’t like! Most recipes will use the protein powder. My favorite smoothie is my Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly smoothie, which uses the Chocolate Velvet Sustained Energy powder. It really tastes like a pb&j, but it is all healthy, it also has some spinach to ensure I get a lot of veggies during the day. Linz also has a ton of wonderful smoothie ideas for every flavor pallet!

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My favorite bites to make are Lindsay’s Tropical Orange healthy bites, for these I used the French Vanilla powder. I love these because they are easy to make, and I can grab a couple and stash them in the car so that I have something to eat immediately after I leave the gym, because let’s be honest when I get home and B is awake my first priorities are his breakfast and I end up waiting way to long to eat something.

One of the most common ways I use the powder is in my oatmeal, my favorite is to use 1 scoop of the White Chocolate powder and a tablespoon of peanut butter, it tastes like a cookie to me. Linz also has a great sunflower seed vanilla oatmeal that I love making on the weekends as a special treat!

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I have to say, I am really great at making sure I have a bag full of snacks for B whenever we go anywhere. Lots of veggies and fruits and snacks that will keep him full, and ones that aren’t packed with sugar is a must. I used to be terrible at doing the same for myself. I finally realized that if I don’t want to become a bear, either due to hunger or the fact that I am sugar crashing, then I need to keep something for myself in that snack bag. I love having a bar because they are easiest to eat. I love the designer whey bars are perfect for this. They have a few different flavors and you don’t get that cardboard taste that some bars have. There are also recipes on the Designer Whey website where you can make your own bars!

DWshakes

The last product that I use a lot are the shakes. They come in two flavors, gourmet chocolate and french vanilla. They are 100 calories, 18g of protein, and only 2g of sugar. I prefer to drink them cold, so I bring them to the gym and stash them in the gym fridge, or I leave it at home and drink it as soon as I get in the house while I am getting B’s breakfast ready. My favorite is the chocolate because it tastes just like chocolate milk, which is one of my favorite post-workout drinks!

What all these things have in common is being prepared, when I first started on my eating healthy and weight loss journey, planning was something I didn’t really do, and it was a slow start. Once I started planning, by keeping bars in my bag or putting my shakes in the fridge. Even just portioning out my smoothie components the night before, that way I could just put all the items in my blender and mix.

If you aren’t sure about Designer Whey products, you can also try out a sampler pack. For $20.13 you receive 1 can of powder, three protein bars, three drink mixes, and a water bottle!

Prepped and Ready for 2014, are you!?

Prepped and Ready for 2014, are you!?

What are some of your favorite healthy habits? Share with us so we can all start 2014 on the right foot!

Stocking Stuffer Guide for the Host!

This year I put together a gift guide for the fitness enthusiast and last year I put together a list of gifts under $100 for the new runner. The last guide I am going to share with you is stocking stuffer ideas for the host. That person that loves to host parties, or even just spend lots of time in the kitchen and put together lovely elaborate meals for his or her family and friends.

I know that gift guides seem materialistic and silly, but I do honestly love sharing products that, for the most part, have either been purchased by me or gifted. I am grateful for many things in my life and I know that life is more than gifts. For me this is a fun and light-hearted post.

Now, on to the fun stuff. I picked items that I love in my kitchen or that I think I would love. Sometimes, the little items that seem frivolous are the ones we never buy ourselves. These gifts are what I would definitely call frivolous, but they are all under $20 and I am sure would be appreciated.

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1. The Olive Stuffer $17.95. This would seem perfect for someone who loves to throw parties with lots of cute apps, and I can imagine, would save a lot of time.

2. The Apple Corer $10. I don’t have this brand, but I love my apple corer, it makes Fall baking so much easier!

3. Zester $9.99. I just bought my first one a few weeks ago, and oh my gosh it was a life saver when I needed a ton of orange zest for the Koulourakia.

4. Grater $7.99. I don’t grate a ton of cheese, but I have a few recipes that need small amounts of grated cheese, and to be honest my current method is just asking for a bloody finger.

5. Juicester $7.95. I use a lot of lemon juice for everyday cooking and I have a handheld juicer, but I love this because it catches the juice for you, and you can juice the lemon or limes while you have down time in-between steps.

6. Cherry & Olive Pitter $13. Again, an item for the entertainer, it may take a lot of effort up front, but at least you won’t be finding pits everywhere the day after a party.

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1. Cupcake Corer $6.99. Hands Down one of my favorite frivolous items. I could never get my coring to be perfectly circular, nor could I get each cupcake to match, this solved all of those problems.

2. Rubber Spatula Set $11.99. I have these and use them all the time, in baking and cooking. I love the different sizes, and definitely did not realize how much I would utilize the smallest one. This is a must have!

3. Mini Metal Cookie Cutter Set $3.29. In my mind you can never have enough cookie cutters for any holiday. Christmas, Halloween, Valentines Day, I even have a football one for superbowl parties. This is also fun for kids when they get to help with the holiday baking.

4. Medium Cookie Scoop $13.99. Actually, I have the medium and small one, I use them both. There are just certain cookies that are meant to be a bit smaller (snickerdoodles) and ones that should be larger (pumpkin chocolate chip) so I appreciate having options. There is also a large scoop, but I do not have that one yet.

5. Cake Tester $2.99. This is an item I could use. I am always scrambling to find a toothpick and then they always roll onto the floor creating a bigger mess, it is extremely frustrating.

Other items I think are wonderful in the kitchen are Silpats and an Egg Timer that you put in the pot with your eggs to hardboil! What are some items you would want in your stocking?

Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Koulourakia

I was so excited to finally participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! This is the third year of this event, but the first year I have been able to participate. First I need to mention that Lindsay and Julie were amazing, they always responded fast to any questions, and they sent emails along the way to make sure everyone was on track. The idea is that you make 3 dozen cookies and send 1 dozen to 3 different bloggers, and you receive 1 dozen cookies from 3 other bloggers. If you want to participate next year sign up here to get on the mailing list! Side note: that is what I did after I realized I missed the 2012 deadline because I didn’t want to miss it again!

Second, when you registered you donated $4 to Cookies for Kid’s Cancer with those fees, extra contributions, and the contributions from the brand sponsors who generously matched the donations the Food Blogger Cookie Swap raised over $13,000. What a wonderful thing! The amazing sponsors are: Oxo, Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour, and Grandma Molasses.

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Now onto the cookies!

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This is a traditional Greek cookie, Nick’s mom gave me the recipe, and she got the recipe from his Nouna (Godmother). I will warn you, they are addictive, and this recipe makes an obnoxious amount of cookies.
They are great for dipping in your coffee or just eating as a dessert. I have to pat myself on the back this year, even Nick’s mom said they taste just like hers. And that is quite the compliment.

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Packed in cute little Gingerbread House themed boxes!

Before I get to the recipe, I want you to know this really does make a lot of cookies, roughly 7-8 dozen depending on how big you make your cookies. This is great for a large cookie swap, to bring to work, or to put into gift packages. If you are making for a smaller group, I highly suggest halving the recipe.

Ingredients:

8 Eggs + 2 more
1 lb Sweet Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
3 Tb Crisco
1/2 cup Mazzola (corn) Oil
3 tsp Vanilla
5 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tb Orange Zest (I zested one large orange)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
8 – 10 cups of Flour

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat the 8 eggs, butter, sugar, crisco and mazzola oil until well mixed.
3. Add vanilla, baking powder, orange zest*, nutmeg and cinnamon until just mixed.
4. Add 8 – 10 cups of flour*.
5. This is the most tedious step, the braid. Roll into snake and twist twice*.
6. Crack 1-2 eggs and brush the tops of all the cookies*.
7. Decorate with fun and festive sprinkles.
8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. The cookies should be light brown on the bottom and gold on the top.

Notes:
1. I used one large orange to zest, and that was the perfect amount, last year I only did a half an orange and you couldn’t really taste any of the orange notes.
2. I usually only use 8 cups of flour, use your best judgment. Add the flour one cup at a time until each cup is just mixed.
3. My mother-in-law is a pro at the braids, they all look the exact same. As you can tell, mine are not. Honestly, it is tiring and I am still new at this. It comes with practice, don’t worry if they aren’t all perfect.
4. I forgot the egg wash this time, which is why the sprinkles are lacking, whoops.

I sent these cookies to Lynsey, Jill, and Megan!

I received gingerbread madelines from Jen, Red Velvet Cookies from Alison, and Chocolate Pinwheel Icebox cookies from Catherine. They were all so different, and all so good, I liked that I was able to try so many different flavors. I put them out at my cookie swap and they were all gone before people started leaving! Thank you ladies for sending me such wonderful cookies! Make sure you check out their blog posts for the recipes!

Have you ever had any type of Greek cookies?

Swanson 30-Day Healthier Holiday Giveaway

It’s kinda crazy to think that one of my first ever reviews was for Swanson Health Products almost 2 years ago!

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Here we are just in time for the holidays with another review and of course a giveaway! I am so honored to be a part of this group, each day for 30 days, well now there are 20 days left, a blogger will be hosting a giveaway and you could win $100 to spend at Swanson Health Products for the Swanson 30-Day Healthier Holiday Giveaway!

Swanson was wonderful and also gave me a $100 to spend. Here are a few of my favorites!

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It’s not holiday time in my house without baking. I am participating in the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I am hosting my own cookie swap, and of course I bake for my family, friends and neighbors. This means I need A LOT of flour. I am very loyal to two brands, one is King Arthur and the other is Bob’s Red Mill. I love that Swanson carries a variety of Bob’s Red Mill products, including some gluten-free items!

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I got hooked on this stuff when I received it in a Foodie Pen Pals box last year. I drizzle my veggies with olive oil and sprinkle this on top, it is so delicious, and I cannot find it anywhere else!

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The first time I tried Coconut Oil was the first time I ordered from Swanson, and I haven’t used any other brand since. Nick loves to use this when we make popcorn on the stove top!

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A fun treat for the B man and also my sister, ha. I love that Annie’s Organics are available online at Swanson.

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My favorite flavor or kind bar, Swanson actually has quite the variety of bars!

There are a few other items but some of those are going in stockings so you will have to wait until Christmas to see them, but if you would like to enter the giveaway to win $100, enter the widget below! This is only open for 24 hours so make sure you enter now!


What item would you buy first at Swanson?

Elf4Health and Other Fun Stuff!

My blogging is never 100% on point around the holidays, frankly it is the easiest thing for me to step back from and just take a break from in order to not feel (super) overwhelmed and stressed.

Just to give you an update on what’s going on/what’s coming up, I thought I would throw together a fun picture post!

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I am participating in the Elf4Health again this year!

Here are the list of everyday “activities”. Yesterday was meatless monday. Usually this isn’t a big deal, I had my usual oats and peanut butter for breakfast and eggs with avocado and tomato for lunch, but because of the holiday Nick and I are in the mode of “use everything in the fridge” so I made a steak & cheese sub with peppers and onions for Nick and was planning on making a veggie sub for myself but there was too much steak, and I didn’t want to throw it out. It’s the thought that counts right?

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Today, I unsubscribed from a lot of emails, I get a lot of duplicates between my blog email and my personal email. Tomorrow is a new workout, I think I will try a Pinterest one, Thanksgiving is to make a phone call and Friday is to track water intake, both are things I like to do and will hopefully be easy! Saturday is Treat YO SELF, Nick and I are going to a dinner dance at church, so definitely treats ;) and Sunday is 100 burpees…that last one looks fun ha!

Another fun item on the horizon is the Swanson 30 Day Giveaway. 30 Bloggers are working with Swanson Vitamins and each day one blogger will have a giveaway on their website, giving away $100 to Swanson, the only catch is that each giveaway is only valid for 24 hours. It started yesterday, so make sure to check the list here to see which blog is hosting the giveaway each day. Mine will be up on December 4! I can’t wait to show you what I got with my $100, it will surely come in handy for holiday cooking and baking!

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Speaking of holiday baking…I finally put my cookies in the mail (yesterday) for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I am so excited to be able to participate this year!

Come back on December 11 and I will share with you the family recipe Nick’s mom passed down to me that I made and sent to my recipients!

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Now with all this baking, I am glad that Achieve is holding a competition to get our butts in the gym. Basically we get points for every class, vacation workout, check-in, smoothie, etc… A lot of these things are ones I already do but this is a great way to stay on top of things during the holiday season!

I am going to take a break until after the holiday, but tell me what exciting things do you have going on?

Pin It Party #2

Before we get to anything today, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your heartfelt comments, emails, texts, phone calls and messages on yesterday’s post. They mean so much to my family and I.

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Lindsay is once again hosting a PIN IT PARTY, I joined in on the fun for the second one and I can’t wait to join the second. A pin it party is where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Without further ado, here are my 5 posts:

Designer Whey Chocolate PB & Jelly Protein Smoothie

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I still think this is my favorite smoothie!

Sweet Potato Bread

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

 

Joy the Baker’s Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

The perfect cup.

The perfect cup.

Flour’s Oatmeal Maple Scone

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I’ve never made the glaze, but it is still wonderful!

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Did any of these recipes strike your fancy? I can’t wait to see what you all linked up!