Apr 17, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Lasagna & Fitness Giveaway

I am excited to share two fun things with readers today:

1. A recipe I tried out this past weekend with my family to celebrate my grandma's birthday. 


2. A chance for you to win some seriously awesome fitness items in a giveaway.


So, I am always looking for a good gluten free recipe to try out.  I made this recipe a few weeks ago for a trivia night and shared it with my colleagues at work.  It got rave reviews, so I decided to try it out with my family for my grandma's birthday celebration last weekend.  I had a lot of interest when I just posted the pictures on my IG & FB feed, so I wanted to share it with others. 

Now, please note that this is by no means a HEALTHY recipe. :)  It was a splurge for us, and although it is gluten free, it is full of sugary treats.  The kids loved it and it was definitely light and not too filling - although not light in calories!  We all loved it and I loved that it required no baking!

I used a recipe I found on Pinterest (of course) and tweaked it to be gluten free for my family.  You can see the original recipe HERE



Gluten Free Chocolate Lasagna:

Ingredients:
  • 2 packages of Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Crème Cookies (like Oreos) about 36 cookies
  • 6 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons cold milk
  • 1- 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided
  • 22 oz Kozyshack gluten free chocolate pudding
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Begin by crushing 36 cookies. I placed them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. When the cookies have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.
  2. Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
  3. Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust.
  4. Use a spatula to spread the pudding over the previous cream cheese layer.
  5. Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

Like I said, the kids loved it and it was a perfect spring/summer treat for them.  It was beautiful and warm and we all enjoyed it.  Happy Birthday Grandma Vee! :)



Now to share some info about the Get Fit for Summer Giveaway that I am helping out with.  My friend Alicia over at Brew Loving Mama is hosting a giveaway with me and 17 other ladies.  We have come up with a great amount of fun fitness items to raffle off to a lucky winner.  And, we are super excited to partner up with these lovely and inspirational ladies.  I have contributed an entry into my next 30 day challenge, and the rest of the goodies will be amazing additions to your success during the challenge.  Head over to Alicia's page to sign up with the rafflecopter for your chance to win and to see the rest of the prizes. :)
 
Wishing you lots of luck in this raffle!  Enter as many times as you can - let me know if you win!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Apr 15, 2014

YOUnique 3D Mascara GIVEAWAY

So who doesn't LOVE a giveaway?? I mean I know I do.  However, they become even more awesome when...

A. You are friends with the person who is helping us giveaway the amazing product

B.  and, the product truly is amazing.

Today I want to tell you a little bit about the amazing products YOUnique cosmetics makes.  They are affordable, quality items, and amazing!!!
I tested out the 3D Mascara...and I'm officially hooked.  I don't know what I did BEFORE this.  Oh wait...yes I do.  I walked out of the house looking homeless with no eyelashes. The biggest perk to this wonderful product is that it was EASY.  I am a P.E. teacher that wears her hair in a ponytail almost every day.  I don't pencil in a ton of time in the A.M. for make up and eyelashes.  I take about 10 minutes to get ready every day. 

Now, I have the worst eyelashes in the world.  I do.  I can admit it.  I envy my daughter's eyelashes SO much.  They are full and long.  Mine are short and thin.  It's ok.  I have accepted it.  However, the 3D Mascara really PLUMPED them up.  Here is a before and after of my eyelashes using the 3D Mascara...

Literally like night and day.  It took just a minute to do, and I actually have eyelashes.  The 3D Fiber lashes go on just like regular mascara.  There are two steps...
 Seriously, it was THAT easy!!!

Our friend Erin is hosting a giveaway on her facebook page.

To enter the giveaway you need to enter HERE on Erin's page. You can also enter by heading to her instagram feed as well.  Her handle is @stremy!!!! Head over and enter to win some fun product!! She is giving away a 3D Mascara to someone, so enter by FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you want to read more about the amazing products or even become a presenter yourself head HERE an check it out.  Erin is having a great promo right now for those interested in joining!!!


Happy Giveaway!!!!





Apr 10, 2014

How to "diet" AND cook for your family...and BBQ Pineapple Chicken!!!


We get a lot of diet and meal plan requests here at FourFitSisters.  The biggest struggle that I see from my clients is how you successfully cook for the entire family while changing your eating habits.

Now, as women, we all know that men can usually always eat more than we can.   If you are anything like me your husband can down three times the dinner you can and maintain his weight.  It's not fair, but it's the truth.  Most husbands, though supportive, don't want to feel like they are always eating "diet" food.  I do feel like you can still make changes without totally uprooting the family.  Here are some of my tips that I go by when cooking for the family when transitioning into clean eating or a healthier lifestyle.

Tip #1 Cook one meal two ways...

I came across a recipe on Pinterest the other day, but now I can't find it.  It was the inspiration to the meal that I cooked the other night.  I only cooked one thing, but it was "presented" in two ways.  One, healthier than the other.  I cooked crockpot BBQ pineapple chicken.  It was scrumptious and easy, and the whole family loved it.

First, to cook the meat gather the following ingredients...
  • 3lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (20oz) of Pineapple slices or chunks...whichever you prefer
  • 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  We already had a Sweet Baby Ray's in the pantry.
  • Seasoning of your choice.  I had some (true story) "Big Black Dick" Key Lime Jerk seasoning that we bought in the Cayman Islands.  That is a popular brand there...Though inappropriate they make some amazing Rum :) ha ha ha
  • Options: 1 head of broccoli or cauliflower, cheese and soft tortillas
Get out your handy dandy crockpot...
And layer the ingredients in, chicken first...
Then pineapple...
Then the sauce...
And I just sprinkled a decent amount of seasoning on top to spice it up a bit...
I cooked mine for 6 hours on high.  My crockpot has a setting that turns to warm after that.  It is a lifesaver.  If you have to "watch" your crockpot I would highly recommend getting one that goes straight to WARM when the time is up.  It's magical!!!

So after the meat is cooked you will then prepare the food in two ways.  For the kids I made quesadillas.   I used some Mexican cheese and the soft tortillas.
I spooned some cooked meat and pineapples onto the tortilla...

I sprinkled with cheese...



Then I sprayed some coconut oil and threw it on the skillet for like a minute on each side.  SO EASY!

Quesadillas are then done!!!

For myself I just cut up some broccoli to add to the meat mixture.

Nothing fancy...just healthy food!!

This is the easiest way to cook for the family.  I cooked ONE thing and "presented" it two ways.  It keeps the entire family happy.

Tip #2 is to make an extra side.

Most dinners at our house consist of a meat and a veggie.  Our family is in love with those.  They are automatic at hour house.  If I am watching my intake sometimes I will make an extra side and NOT eat it myself.  A side of wild rice, or gluten free macaroni and cheese, or an applesauce for the kids is a fine side every now and then.  I know that it's something that everyone will eat, and I will just opt out.  My kids try food easily.   They are not picky.  So, they know they get what we eat and usually a side that is "safe."  Sometimes the side is a sweet potato, which they love too.  Just make it work for you.  I know Marta has posted about it before...dinner doesn't need to be FANCY.  

And Adie has posted HERE about doing little changes at a time.  You don't need to shell shock the family.  If you transition them to ONE healthy meal you will be a fitter and happier family in no time!!!

Apr 8, 2014

Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor


Before giving birth to my first child 4 weeks ago, I had never thought twice about my pelvic floor, let alone how strong it was. Well, things have changed. Now I notice...all day, every day.  I took for granted the ability to stand and walk for more than 10 minutes at a time without feeling like my insides might fall out.
I learned from one of my challengers that once you become a mom, nothing is TMI.  So true.  That being said, I’m sorry if you are NOT a mom and reading this...because I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty details.
I’ve been recovering (and will continue my recovery) from 2nd degree tears on the INSIDE.  When this happens, muscle tears occur as well.  Just like if you were to tear a muscle like your calf or hamstring, it takes rest and rehabilitation in order to heal properly and feel better.
An estimated 20% of women have a dysfunctional pelvic floor after child birth.  You are not alone!

Here are 4 signs of pelvic floor dysfunction:
1.     Incontinence- leakage during coughing, sneezing, laughing, and/or exercise.
2.     Levator ani syndrom- pain, feeling of tightness, burning, or feeling of incomplete defecation (yeah I went there).
3.     Constipation- this is due to poor GI or rectal motility, NOT from diet or food sensitivities.
4.     Hemorrhoids

If you are experiencing any of these issues, here are some exercised you can do to help:

1.     Deep belly breathing- Here is a test:  place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.  Take a DEEP breath in and watch which hand moves.  Most likely, the hand on your chest moved.  This is bad because you are not using your diaphragm, but only shallow breathing through your lungs, making your pelvic floor weak.  This takes practice, but your goal should be to ONLY move the hand that is placed on your belly when breathing.  Think about pushing the air deep down into your abdomen and expanding a full 360* around your waist.  Breathing this way forces your pelvic floor to contract and support the air in your diaphragm, strengthening it.

2.     Laying on your back, knees at 90*- when in this position focus on pulling the belly button to the spine.

3.     Practice Yoga- When you practice yoga a few times a week, there are so many benefits!  One of those is strength.  You can strengthen your pelvic floor and entire core.  When you are in the poses, practice that “deep belly breathing.”  Push the air all the way down into your bottom.

The next time you see a young baby, I want you to watch how they breath.  When they breath, their belly expands rather than their chest.  This is how we are created and meant to breath.  Here is a short clip of my babe breathing.  I promise that is his belly button...its very big because his cord was very unique when he was born.
video


My hubby has been helping me with these and helped me put all of this together.  I hope you can try some of these exercises and tips.  Especially the breathing...how easy is it to breath throughout the day?!  Ha!  Let me know what you think on this topic!  I would love your feedback.


Apr 1, 2014

Eat fat to burn fat...say WHAT?????


It is true.  Fats are NOT off limits.  In fact, we are finding out more and more that some fats are, dare I say it, GOOD for you!!!

Reread that sentence again.  Fats are good for you. You just need to learn about their purpose and which are healthy.  For so long we have been told that FAT is what makes us fat.  This is so false.  My favorite quote comes from the book Primal Body, Primal Mind...

"Being fat doesn't come from eating fat; being fat comes from an inability to BURN fat, which is a direct consequence of relying on carbohydrates -sugar- as a primary fuel source."
- Nora Gedgaudas in "Primal Body, Primal Mind"

Healthy fats are great for the body.  Read what they do below.


The truth is, your body NEEDS fat to do several jobs.  It helps you build muscle.  It supplies your body with essential nutrients.  It helps you absorb your vitamins and antioxidants.  But, the most important place that fat does the work is in the brain!!! I am reading the book "Grain Brain," and I am astounded to find out how important fat is in brain function.  Because our body's are not getting enough healthy fats, and WAY too many carbohydrates, our brain is not functioning at it's best, we are being bombarded with disease, and we are holding on to stubborn fat.


Now, we need to learn more about what are HEALTHY fats!!!

The following picture shows some wonderful examples of healthy fats.  Avocados, nuts and seeds, olive, fatty fish, and the essential oils listed above.  These are some of the most nutrition dense foods we can eat.  They work hard to provide our bodies with the right fuel for burning fat and staying healthy.   If we are eating these nutrition dense oils and fats our bodies will be functioning at their best.

Here is another great list from balancedbites.com explaining what saturated and unsaturated fats do to the body.  These are found in oils and even peanut butter *unless natural.  Read the labels and avoid these items as well.


So how do we get these essential items into our diets more regularly??? I am a HUGE fan of nuts and seeds for my snacks.  I will make my own "parfait" in the mornings as a wonderful breakfast or snack.  I will throw some fresh nuts and seeds on top of my greek yogurt to make a delicious snack.  I even squirt some honey in there for some natural flavor.

Another snack that I am a HUGE fan of is mixing fresh and natural (refrigerated) salsa with an avocado.  It's like the easiest version of "guacamole" that can ever be made.  My favorite brand of salsa is Italian Rose.  We get it at Sam's Club in the refrigerated section.  I'm obsessed.  I top it on my eggs and more.


So when I make this delicious mixture I usually throw in some baked chicken and shred it up.  It is so moist and delicious.  Full of protein and healthy fats.  I make this for lunch all the time.

Being a follower of the Paleo diet is a great way to ensure that you are limiting your carb intake.  However, staying away from grains doesn't mean EVERYTHING in your diet is then full of fat.  You should be balancing healthy fruits and veggies along with those as well.  When I do splurge on grains I choose brown rice in small doses.


This visual below also helps us make sense of why it's so hard to burn fat.  This is the type of diet our ancestor's were on compared to our diet now...
Grain Brain page 27
When you look at it this way it is mind boggling.  We've been brainwashed into thinking that fat is the enemy.  Our bodies are made to CRAVE sugar and carbohydrates naturally.  However, in our ancestor's day we didn't come across these items regularly.  Fruits and sweets were rare so we splurged when we found them.  Sweets and carbs are at hand every second of the day now.  This is a battle we will all face for as long as we live.  It's not fair...it's science.

The fact is, we have the most science and information and medical access then we ever have, but we are the most sick we have ever been.  It's not medicine's fault...it is in our diets.  The book talks about "inflammatory foods" and how foods that cause this reaction in our body is what is making us so sick. You have control.

These two books are great reads and I would recommend them to EVERYONE.  Grain Brain & Primal Body, Primal Mind.  Get them ASAP and fill your mind and body with the best there is out there.


Mar 28, 2014

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Soy-free and Refined sugar-free NO BAKE Coconut Apricot Freezer Squares

As many of you know, I love me some dessert.
Like, a lot.
I have a major sweet tooth.

So when I was diagnosed on the Celiac spectrum, I was so sad that I would never get to indulge in cupcakes and cookies in the regular world.
Yes, I still can enjoy a cupcake and cookie if I want, it just now needs to be made without wheat.

But after time, I realized how much BETTER I felt without all that refined sugar and junk in my diet.

I learned fairly quickly that instead all swapping all my old faves, likes cookies, breads and cupcakes with gluten free versions, I could create yummy HEALTHIER treats that are free of all of the things that cause inflammation in many of our bodies (and most people don't even realize it's happening)…. things like grains, dairy, gluten and refined sugars.



(Flashback Friday photo. Gracie, age 3)



So today I'm sharing one of my favorite no-bake desserts that I am obsessed with.
I love no-bake options.
Especially in the spring and summer when I limit my oven use as much as possible due to a kitchen that gets HOT.

The recipe I'm sharing today is sooooooooo good.
I posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram the other day explaining that many of you may want to make-out with me after I share it with you…….

I call them  Coconut & Apricot Freezer Squares.

Keep these tucked away in your freezer to pull out whenever your sweet tooth strikes.
Packed with healthy fats from whole foods, just one square will satisfy even the peskiest of cravings.

*Note, if you are not a fan of coconut & apricot, you can make Cranberry & Almond Squares by simply replacing the sunflower seed butter with almond butter and use dried cranberries instead of the apricots.

Ok, here is what your cute self will need:

1/2 cup coconut butter, such as Artisana
1 T virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup (packed) pitted Medjool dates
3 T unsweetened sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of sea salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (packed) dried apricots, chopped small
1-2 T water as needed

Directions:
Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhand of at least 1 inch.  You'll use this overhand later as a handle to life the bars out of the pan.

In small pot, over VERY low heat, combine the coconut butter and coconut oil.  Stir constantly until melted and smooth.  Transfer to your food processor with steel blade in place.  Add the dates, sunflower seed butter, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Process until the dates are finely chopped and mixture resembles a slightly oily dough.  Transfer to large bowl.

Add the coconut and chopped dried apricots to the bowl with dough and stir to combine.  The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers.  If it feels dry or crumbly, add the water 1 T at a time to achieve the right texture.  Do not use anymore water than necessary to make the dough stick together when you squeeze it.

Pat the dough firmly and evenly into the parchment-lined baking dish.
Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.  Using parchment paper overhang, remove the bar slab from the dish and cut into 25 (1 1/2 inch) squares with a sharp knife.
Store the squares in the freezer or refrigerator in an airtight container.

Try not to eat them all in one night.

*Tag us on Instagram (find me at @hausofgirls_fitfamily) or on Facebook using the hashtag #FourFitSisters.

Tell us what you think and share with us so we can virtually high five you for creating a yummy HEALTHY treat for your family.

Enjoy!

XOXO
-Marta