Gluten Free Muffins

Hey friends. I haven’t been doing much baking or cooking lately (well, not trying new recipes) so it’s been a while since I have been able to put up a new post. Tonight, however, I am very excited to share a gluten free muffin recipe. It’s so delicious!!!!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour mix ( I used almond flour and it turned out delicious)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen (unthawed) fruit and/or nuts

Preheat: 375º                                                                                                                                                               Directions: Stir together until dry ingredients are fairly well moistened and divide batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in fruit and/or nuts. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add eggs. Beat eggs, then add oil, yogurt, and vanilla.

Faith, Food, Fitness Challenge

Hey friends! As I mentioned the other day, I have decided to become a BeachBody coach. I have been using their products (exercise DVDs) for a while now. I became more invested in the Fall of 2013 when I took a job that paid less and wanted to save money. I got rid of my gym membership and started doing Insanity. I also started running and doing workouts that I found on Pintrest. I’ve recently been doing Max 30 and LOVE it. How can you not love a workout that only requires a 30 minute commitment and includes modifications?! I am also doing the 21 Day Extreme Fix. It has made healthy eating so easy! Most of all, however, I have started drinking Shakeology. I was skeptical for a long while. I just didn’t know if it was worth the money, but I am here to tell you that it is! My energy levels have really improved!!!! I feell much better and I noticed fewer digestive issues since drinking it. At any rate, with all of that being said, I am excited to host my first challenge group. I am doing it with a former classmate who is awesome (she encouraged me to get started on becoming a BeachBody coach). Here is some information about the challenge group:

Grow closer to God, get into better shape, and improve your overall health—-all at one time! Email me about this challenge group starting April 5th! You’ll receive daily Bible verses as well as an awesome community of believers to support and encourage you along the way. Reserve your spot before March 31st. You won’t regret this!

faith, food, fitness

If you are interested in this amazing challenge group, email me at casspop@gmail.com. It’s going to be amazing!

Why I Run

Hey friends. I am so sorry for the absence. Life got crazy and I decided this was the best thing to eliminate for a while. But, I am back and ready to get going again. A few things have happened since my absence. First, I became a BeachBody coach. I stopped going to the gym about a year and a half ago. I had taken a job earning considerably less money and wanted to save money. I bought Insanity and ended my gym membership. I focused on doing at home workouts and running. I have not regretted it since. No wasted time driving to the gym and since I am not paying for a membership I don’t feel obligated to be inside exercising when I would rather be outside. I am going to tell you a little bit about BeachBody and how it has helped my energy levels thus far. Stay tuned. Tonight, however, I just want to share with you all about why I run. It first started as a way to lose weight. I remember thinking I could never run a mile. I was that girl in gym class who always walked the mile and didn’t care about my time. In college I gained weight and started going to the gym. Eventually I started running and it helped me lose weight quickly. I found that I actually like running. I would crank up my music and it would help me clear my mind. I prayed a lot while running. Then someone encouraged me to run a half marathon (I thought I could never run 13.1 miles). I decided to give it a try and LOVED it. I became addicted to running races and trying to beat my own personal record. Something happened though……it started becoming less about clearing my mind and more about races. I fell out of love with running and just started doing it because it was something people knew that I did as a hobby. Over the past few years I tried to start running again regularly and failed. Why? Because as soon as I start running I start thinking about races and training…..and then I don’t want to do it anymore. Tonight I went for a 3 mile run and it was amazing. I wasn’t concerned about time and I took pictures along the way. I just wanted to be alone. I just wanted to enjoy the nice weather. I just wanted to spend time with God. I’m glad I did. So, find a physical activity that truly helps you feel alive. One that helps you feel encouraged and whole….because then being healthy won’t seem so hard!

Delicious Quinoa Salad

Hey friends. I’m most of you have heard all about quinoa. It’s everywhere these days. It’s no surprise that it’s so popular these days. It has a ton of protein and fiber (and lots more). At any rate, I decided to bring you a delicious quinoa recipe. I actually inherited from my sister. I was visiting her in Florida and she made this for us to eat at the beach. We (even my picky husband who hates healthy food) loved it—it’s especially perfect in the summer.

Ingredients
Quinoa seeds

Salt

Olive oil

Lemon

Tomato

Red onion

Cilantro

  1. Cook desired quantity of quinoa seeds (1cup quinoa to 2 cups water). Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed (usually 10 to 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.
  2. Chop red onion, tomato, and cilantro.
  3.  Combine quinoa, tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro together. 
  4. Pour dressing (olive oil, lemon, and salt) over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. 
  5. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator. We love eating it the next day.

The best part is that you add all of the ingredients according to your taste preference. It’s very tasty—trust me!

The WHYs of Life

Hey friends. Something I have been thinking about lately is living life with intention. We hear it often, but what does it mean? I think we all have intentions with our life, but eventually we fall into routine. We eat the same sorts of foods, we go the same places, we see the same people, etc. Life becomes routine. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with routine. Routine is great, but sometimes in the midst of the routine we lose track of WHY we are doing it. When we lose track of the WHY it is easy to allow ourselves to be halfhearted in our efforts. So, I’ve been asking myself these sorts of questions lately:

Why do I go to church?

Why do I exercise?

Why am I a teacher?

Why do I (try to) eat healthy?

Those aren’t the only questions, but it is a good start. Then I try to answer them. The WHY is what motivates us. After a week off from work due to snow I lost motivation (and my normal routine). I realized that I needed to revisit my WHYs. Today I encourage you to take a step back and re-evaluate the WHYs so that you can remain motivated and do all things with your whole heart. If you find that your heart is not in it, maybe it’s time to reconsider if it something that should be in your life (or maybe you just need to rediscover your passion for it). Trust me when I say that remembering the WHYs is important!

Sugar and Autoimmune Disease

Let me start out by saying that this post can be helpful to all people, not just those with autoimmune disease. I have been researching autoimmune disease and the impact of sugar. As many of you know, I have been trying to live a gluten free life due to the impact it has on autoimmune disease. While the research surrounding gluten and its impact on autoimmune disease is seen as controversial (by some, not all….my own endocrinologist recommended it), eliminating it from a diet can prove very beneficial. What I have seen, however, is that people will eliminate gluten and then replace it with gluten free junk food. Junk food is junk food. My quest to live a gluten free life has not been completely successful. I have limited how much gluten I eat and I have found that it has helped some, but I found that completely eliminating it (I had a period of time for a couple of months last year) made the biggest impact on my health. Could it have been a placebo effect? Sure, but even so, it’s worth it, right? At any rate, I typically fall into temptation when faced with sugary treats, especially donuts. We all know that too much sugar is not good for anyone. Processed foods are not good for people either. With this in mind, I decided to start researching the impact of sugar on individuals with autoimmune disease (and it affects those without it in a similar manner). Here is the truth about sugar:

Blood sugar imbalances can inflame the digestive tract, causing leaky gut. In turn, leaky gut may trigger the development of autoimmune diseases.

Inflammation in the body negatively impacts how the immune system functions. In addition, sugar compromises the ability of our white cells to destroy toxins. This effect begins within 30 minutes of eating the stuff and lasts for five hours.

Insulin spikes (from consuming sugar) can destroy the thyroid gland and adrenal glands. Insulin resistance affects our adrenal glands and they respond by secreting cortisol. Cortisol is the “flight or fight” hormone and if cortisol is over-used and abused (from eating sugar daily), this all suppresses pituitary function. All of this is pivotal for thyroid function (the hypothalamus, thyroid and pituitary work together).

I found this wonderful anti-inflammatory pyramid; it’s very fascinating:

 anti-inflammatory-food-pyramid

With all of that being said, I have given up sugar for Lent. I do not say this to get a pat on the back or admiration, but instead for accountability. I truly want to improve my health. Even more so, I tend to stress eat when I am upset. Instead, I want to focus on God and trusting that He will provide for me and is in control. I am looking forward to growing closer to God and improving my health. If I am a little grumpy for at first please have patience with me. I hope you found this information helpful; please let me know if you have any questions.

Yummy Veggie Dip

Hey friends! I hope you all are doing well. I’ve been a little quiet lately. I have been a little lazy and tired. The snow days have helped me though. Today is Fat Tuesday and in honor of the holiday I am bringing you an extra healthy, but delicious recipe. I found this one on Pintrest and after trying it I knew I had to share it with all of you. I try the food and then pass along the ones that go well. If you enjoy taco dip (we always called it 7 layer dip) then you will love this. It is a take on this dip, but much healthier. I am truly looking forward to entering into the Season of Lent. Every year I give up something (usually a food related item) as a means of attempting to grow closer to God. This year, however, rather than focusing on what I am giving up, I have decided to focus on what I am gaining. I encourage you to challenge yourself to give up something good for something even better during Lent. For now, let’s get back to this delicious veggie dip; take a look at it:

dip

I am really proud of myself for finally remembering to take a picture of the dish!

Ingredients

  • 16 oz garlic hummus
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp finely diced fresh chives, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup diced orange bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine the Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons diced chives. Refrigerate while you prepare the other vegetables.
  2. Layer the hummus around the bottom of a standard pie dish. Remove the Greek yogurt/chive mixture from the fridge and give it a quick stir. Spoon over the hummus and spread evenly on top.
  3. Combine all the vegetables, including the olives, in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over the Greek yogurt layer to cover completely. Garnish with remaining 2 tablespoons of chives.
  4. Serve immediately with chips or veggies.

I left out the orange peppers because I was worried about whatever I didn’t put in the dip going bad (my husband doesn’t like peppers so it’s all up to me). I also had olives, but they didn’t smell right to me so I decided to throw them out. Nonetheless, it was delicious. I served mine with gluten free crackers that I bought from Aldi. In case you didn’t know, Aldi has a gluten free brand that is very affordable and delicious. If you are trying to live a gluten free lifestyle then I highly recommend it! I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions…or if you would like some encouragement/accountability during Lent (or just in general). Happy eating friends.