Homemade {Healthy} Hot Chocolate

After trying many, many times to make my own hot chocolate and utterly failing (unsweetened cocoa is bitter) I have finally found the perfect blend. Not to mention it consists of only two ingredients and no added sugar.

I really encourage you to try this recipe as store bought hot chocolate “powders” are loaded with sugars, chemicals, and ingredients that no one can pronounce and have no business putting in their body.

Please just take a look at the ingredients in Swiss Miss hot chocolate:

Ingredients: CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), HYDROGENATED COCONUT OIL, NONFAT MILK, SALT, LESS THAN 2% OF: DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, DEXTROSE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, ACESULFAME POTATSSIUM, CARRAGEENAN, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SUCRALOSE. 

The first two ingredients are corn syrup and sugar. Then comes the cocoa but it is processed with alkali which strips the chocolate of most of its antioxidants, anyways. Followed by  hydrogenated (saturated fat) coconut oil and then a bunch of ingredients that I don’t have the first clue of what they are.

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Hot Chocolate

1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Cocoa

1 teaspoon Pure Maple Syrup

Stir ingredients in a hot cup of milk (steamed milk will help add some sweetness, but microwaved milk still tastes excellent).

Enjoy putting wholesome ingredients in your body. :)

I don’t know how, but the maple syrup perfectly sweetens the cocoa for a dark, rich flavor.

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Happy Hot Cocoa Drinking. 

First Semester Reflections.

First, I want to thank everyone for sticking with me and the blog as I transitioned through my first semester of college. I wasn’t really able to blog recipes or much of anything, but I still enjoyed writing every post I was able to. Thank YOU for hanging around. :)

College was great. My first semester was awesome. My anxiety was much less than it ever was in high school. I socialized more than I ever have. I didn’t dread Mondays because it meant another week of classes with my friends. Friday nights almost always consisted of movie night with whoever could come. Some of my funnest memories involve eating in the cafeteria with a table full of people and laughter. Walking to class on such a beautiful campus was never dreaded. Watching Say Yes to the Dress and eating dove dark chocolate with friends cures any bad day. Christmas time had never been so special; spent with friends I’ve grown to love in just a short few months. Choir introduced me to forty other girls who encouraged me every practice. Chi Omega Pi gave me 120 new “sisters.”

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College did have some struggles, like any new transition has. Roommates didn’t quite turn out like expected. Finding time to exercise was quite difficult. Cleaning the bathroom just plain stinks (thank you mom for cleaning my bathroom for 18 years). Cafeteria food gets really old. Late night snacking is inevitable. Going to bed before midnight is a miracle. “Refreshments” at a meeting/party means junk food, not fresh food like fruits or vegetables that you are craving. Announcements at 2:00 AM that pumpkins are not allowed in dorm are just annoying. Never schedule an 8:00 AM class again.

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The main struggle I dealt with was food. Not surprising coming from a past of disordered eating; however, I managed to remember all I learned and tried to not let it take complete control again. I started out the semester ready to conquer the cafeteria, and for a few weeks, I did well. I tried to eat three balanced meals, two-ish snacks and make sure I was fueling my body correctly. And then, late night studying and snacking happened. And Friday movie night turned into “bring all your candy and junk food to eat” night. And the daily cake in the cafeteria kept sneaking on my plate. And exercise didn’t happen.

And yes, I realize it’s college- four years of fun, so if I gain a little weight, it’s not permanent so it’s not worth obsessing over because college is a once in lifetime experience. But that doesn’t mean I plan on throwing all my nutrition knowledge and healthy habits out the window. It’s still four years of your life and you only have one body.

So, I decided to start counting calories. I downloaded the myfitnesspal app and started tracking my food and exercise intake. I didn’t plan on counting calories for long but I wanted to get my eating back to normal and also make sure I was getting the right amount of carbs, protein, fat, and potassium…etc. So, for about two months, I diligently tracked my eating habits. I don’t regret counting calories or feel like I got too obsessive. I pretty much learned what I already knew. Some days, I would eat more than my calorie intake and other days, I ate less. Hence, it’s all about balance, on the outside AND inside. It all goes back to the fact that your body balances everything out in a couple of days. Eat too many cookies one night? Don’t fret because your body works it all out for you. That is how God designed us. Your metabolism is quite effective. (A dozen cookies every night may not be the best idea though.)

Another way I knew my body balances it out is that some days, I didn’t eat my required amount. Which is one reason I didn’t like counting because when I saw “the number” of calories I still had left, it immediately triggered me to want to eat something, even when I knew I was perfectly full. On the other hand, some days I reached my limit and was still hungry. But you know what? Most of the time I still ate something because food=fuel and apparently my body needed some extra energy that day.

I will admit that at times I got a bit obsessive and, looking at how many calories I went over immediately made me hate on myself. That’s when I knew it was time to stop counting and move on from this little experiment. Overall, I was getting the nutrients I needed. I usually always ate more fat than needed each day  (which is ironic) but, it was most likely from all the nuts, nut butters, and cheese I eat. However, my protein and carb intake was usually right on target.

So what did I do when I stopped counting calories? I started simply shaping each meal according to the food pyramid, not by numbers. I also started drinking a glass of milk with lunch and dinner to help get some extra protein to stay full and get my daily intake of calcium. I have been trying to eat larger meals (Protein, Starch, Veggie, Fruit, and Dairy) and do less snacking which I have noticed to be effective in helping me stay full and less focused on food throughout the day. I will still enjoy dessert, just not every single night. This is the plan I hope to continue through next semester as it is going to be much more busy than this past semester and I will need a sturdy plan.

As for exercise, I am going to try for three workouts a week. And, I am counting walks as workouts. I know exercise is important, but right now, I don’t think I will obsess over it or make it a major priority. I find eating healthy affects me and my attitude way more than exercise. I like exercise, but I don’t love it. I still plan to be active, but I don’t plan on having a strict regimen. You know what they say, “Abs are made in the kitchen” ;) I just have to remind myself that just because you aren’t exercising, it doesn’t mean you are going to gain weight. It really doesn’t. You just have to tell yourself that and move on. Some days I will spend the whole day battling with myself about needing to exercise when I don’t want to, and I’m not doing that anymore. If I have extra time one day, sure I will workout, but I’m not going to plan my life around it. I’m going to enjoy life.

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Wow. If you made it through this post, you deserve a cookie. (So maybe go make some and send me one?)

Thank you for listening to my long speech that could be even longer, but I will spare you.

Here’s to good food, active days, and enjoying this very short life. 

Gone with the Week

1. I never got around to posting about it, but for our July 4th party, I made S’mores on a Stick. Super easy and fun to make/eat.

2. When we were in Colorado, we came across this house covered in licence plates. It was pretty awesome.

3. A childhood favorite. On our way home from Colorado, we stopped at Sonic and I got the kid’s meal grilled cheese.

4. Best gluten-free bread, hands down.

5. I got my first very own sleeping bag (to use for college and beyond). But to make it even sweeter, I got a mummy bag!! I am totally excited to use it.

6. Another childhood favorite: Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I dragged my friend there a couple of weeks ago because I always pass it on the way to her house and then crave doughnuts for a couple of days.

7. You know whats even more fun than watching the Olympics? Reading about the nutrition behind the athletes. {You are what you eat}

8. I made kale chips to go with our BLT’s tonight. I loved them but my goal is to improve them so my dad likes them also. :)

9. Guess what else I got for college? CHACOS! Pretty much everyone at the college I am going to wears them so I’m so happy I will fit in now. ;)

10. I never got around to blogging about it, but my friend and I made hope chests a couple of weeks ago! We turned ugly yellow boxes into beautiful boxes with just some paper and modge podge. It was so much fun and I love how they turned out- much better than either of us thought they would!

What were some highlights of your week?

I’m off to go grab some frozen yogurt with a friend! Have a splendid night.

Blogging Bloopers + A Healthy Swap

As I was chowing down on my “yay its friday” nine cups of puppy chow* last week, I was thinking how important it is to incorporate “healthier” desserts in with the indulgent ones.

So, when I was looking in the pantry for what I was going to eat for dessert tonight, I made it a goal to make something healthier. (Ok, and I ate about a billion handfuls of animal cookies at work today while the kiddos were napping, so I really needed something other than more cookies.)

Enter the lone avocado left in the fridge.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

It is delicious! I ate the whole serving and couldn’t taste the avocado one bit, although it sure helped make it creamy. So even if you don’t like avocados, you can still enjoy this pudding. (I recommend chilling it in the fridge ten minutes before eating.)

And then I was going to explain how easy this is for parents to make and give to their kids instead of high fructose, sugary Jell-O pudding….

But while I was pouring it into the bowl, I dropped the spatula and added 5+ minutes to clean up time. I blame it on rushing because I wanted to eat it right away.

However, I will say it anyway. This is super easier to make, eat, enjoy and add some extra nutrients to your dessert!

Delicioso.

 *no I did not eat all nine cups. For some reason though, whenever I have a long day at work, puppy chow is the first thing that pops in my mind when I get home and I have to make it.

What I Ate: Tuesday

I thought I would do a post of my eats for the day for two reason. One, I always try to get back into a healthy routine after vacation and two, my breakfast was pretty awesome.

An egg sandwich with spinach, avocado, and tomatoes + a side of strawberries. So maybe it’s not that awesome to you but anytime I eat something with avocados, it’s awesome in my book. {Plus, just one avocado has more potassium then a banana.}

Lunch was packed and brought to work. {spaghetti squash with broccoli, wild berry yogurt, a cheese stick, blueberries, and almonds} I ate this while helping the kids heat up their corn dogs and chicken nuggets while enforcing the rule that no one can eat their cookies until their sandwich is done. I love my job. {Oh ya, and today was my first nine-hour shift with no breaks! It might be a long week…}

While we were eating, a girl pointed to the floor in which I found a billion raisins and the box…

I asked who dropped their raisins and I got two very logical answers: The three little pigs and a ghost.

Needless to say, no one admitted but I knew who it was when I found 10 more stuck to his pants and on his seat. Oh well, it took two seconds to clean up anyways. :)

When I got home I was pretty hungry so I quickly grabbed the PB jar and an apple and went at it. Two spoonfuls later, I was happy.

While eating my snack, I quickly whipped up a batch of Katie’s Quinoa Cranberry Cookies {I used raisins because we don’t have cranberries}. While mixing, I had a handful of dark chocolate chips.

After they semi-cooled, I taste tested one right before I went to the gym (for my first workout since vacation).

Dinner was fruit salad and cheesy ground turkey enchiladas.

Dessert was one more Quinoa Cookie…

So there you have it. Not to shabby of a day.

Have a great night!

Sweet Tooth Therapy: Update #1

One of my “solutions” for my Sweet Tooth Therapy was to share more of what I am eating each day on the blog. Therefore, I am here today with a little update.

So, what I have been doing?

Experimenting with oatmeal. (More on this later)

Bumping up my protein intake with nuts, nut butters, lean meats, and oatmeal/cereals.

Creating meals with at least three food groups. The picture above has carbs (brown rice tortilla), protein (cheese, eggs), dairy (cheese), and vegetables.

Making desserts “healthier” and more filling. For example, my Fudgy Almond Joy Protein Cake and Chocolate Ice Cubes.

It hasn’t been super easy but I am taking each day at a time. Plus, I managed to go to the gym today which hasn’t happened in a while so it’s only onward and upward from here! :)

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As many of you have heard, this week is Nation Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week. It’s crazy to think of the epidemic it has become.

Lauren and Janae have had some great posts this week about it.

[I really recommend Janae's post if you are a runner/exerciser. I have often wondered how some people with eating disorder can still have such endurance. If only they knew what they are doing to the one and only body we are given.]

Pray, encourage, and support those you know going through an eating disorder. Also, if you have eating disordered behaviors seek wise counsel right away. An eating disorder is no joke and something that should not be taken lightly.  Hope and healing are possible and available for everyone. It’s all about taking the first step.

Happy 1st Day of March!

Sweet Tooth Therapy

If you haven’t noticed from my post’s lately, I have been consuming a lot of sugar. I have gone from one dessert a day to multiple desserts every day.

From my daily dose of dark chocolate chips, to late night bowls ice cream after work, to Valentines Day goodies…I’ve been eating it all.

And unfortunately, I have been feeling the negative side effects too. Workouts have been put on hold, the only way homework gets done is with some candy by my side, late nights result in sugary snacking, and sleeping has been anything but relaxing and rejuvenating. I have been tired and lethargic for the better part of the past weeks.

The past few days I have been thinking about what I have been doing that has encouraged this sugar struggle…

1. Not managing my time as well

2. Getting to bed  late

3. Not scheduling workouts

4. Waking up to late to make a large breakfast

5. Eating to distract me from doing what I should be getting done (read: homework)

6. Stressing about my next dentist appointment because heaven only knows how many cavities I have…

After reading this article I knew it was time to get back on track.

My Plan of Attack:

Breakfast: Normally, I always make sure I have a good 10-15 minutes on weekdays to make/consume a good breakfast. However, for some reason the closer we get to the end of the school year, the later I wake up and less prepared I am. While I don’t ever skip breakfast, I haven’t been taking time to make something filling and wholesome. And eating ceral in the car is just a really bad idea.

1) Schedule 10-15 minutes for breakfast

2) Add more protein and health fats (I will try oatmeal this week and find a way to like it!)

3) Try to eat around 500 calories to ensure I am fueled for the day and incase I miss my morning snack

Lunch:

1) Prepare bagged items on Sunday (veggies, carrots, cheese sticks) and keep in a container in fridge for easy grabbing in the morning

2) Make sandwich the night before

3) Aim for higher protein

4) Try, try, try to make something other than peanut butter and jelly for 5 days in a row.

Dinner:

1) Eat more of the lean meat prepared

2) Load up on veggies

3) Drink a glass of milk for extra protein

Other:

1) Make meals larger so I don’t eat so much at my snacks (I typically eat three 200ish calorie snacks a day but lately they have been the size of meals)

2) Focus on getting more healthy fats and proteins

3) Indulge in dessert every night :)

4) Blog more about my meals to help keep accountable

Any suggestions for helping my slightly out of control sweet tooth?

What nutrient dense foods help fill you up?

A Day of Eats

Today I am going to show you my usual “day of eats.” I have been working on this post for a while, so I hope you like it!

I have wanted to jump on the “What I Ate Wednesday” train, but unfortunately, never capture everything I eat on camera. So, I decided I would just collaborate some of my pictures and show you what I typically eat.

6:30- Breakfast

9:30- Morning snack

11:30- Lunch

3:00- Afternoon snack

6:00ish- Dinner

8:00- Dessert

Weekends are a little different since I wake up later. Usually I have a bigger breakfast on weekends and no morning snack.

Breakfast: Breakfast is slowly becoming one of my favorite meals. I can often be found cooking an egg, pouring milk on a cereal concoction, slathering my pancakes in syrup, or crunching on a granola and fruit yogurt mix. I also think breakfast is the most photographic meal. :)

Lunch: Is probably my least favorite meal of the day because Monday-Friday I pack it and bring it to school. Usually a sandwich, cheese stick, fruit, and veggie are found in my brown paper sack. On weekends however, it’s often a veggie quesadilla, egg sandwich, or pasta!

Snacks: My morning snack usually consists of something small; a handful of nuts, a granola bar, or some trail mix. My afternoon snack is much larger (as that seems to be when I am most hungry during the day!) and consists of yogurt and granola, sweet potato fries, cheese and crackers, or a higher calorie granola bar (I usually have a piece of fruit in the afternoon also). Sometimes a caramel latte is a necessity to get over that “afternoon slump.” :)

Dinner: Is almost always cooked by my mom, hence I do not have many photos of it. Most nights will consist of a meat, carb, veggie, and a glass of milk. She makes the best Cesare salad in the world and we often have that at least twice a week. Stir-fry is a family favorite as is pizza, king-ranch chicken, tacos and really anything spicy! I consider my family pretty special that we all appreciate and love spicy food.

Dessert: There is only one thing I have to say on the subject- Is any day complete without dessert?

What does your food schedule look like? What is your favorite meal of the day?

Hope y’all enjoyed the post! I think this has been my most detailed-thought out one yet :) Lets say it’s in celebration of now owning my  blog domain!

Check out my Recipe page to find some of the recipes to the meals I mentioned!

Veggie Fair

You know you’re pretty special when the Texas State Veggie Fair has been written on your calendar for months.

That’s right, this past weekend my mom, oldest sister, and I headed to the veggie fair where we tried veggie, vegan, and vegetarian everything. It was glorious.

We went to the 12:30, “Get Vegucated” class which was a nutritionist talking about how to make daily steps to improving your health. She was vegan (which I am not) and had some great points. However, she wasn’t a registered dietician so you had to filter through some stuff you knew wasn’t exactly correct. Cheese is a drug? I don’t think so…

Obviously, “healthy” ice cream was in order….

(I decided to go along with the healthy and natural theme and not wear make up or do my hair. You’re welcome. Why else would I buy sun glasses to cover half my face?)

Overall I has a splendid time and got lots of pamphlets and coupons which I have yet to filter through….

One of my favorites was the “Nutrition Rainbow.” I love color coded things….

Last but not least, as if we didn’t have enough ice cream + samples, we stopped for dinner at a place I have wanted to try in forever!! They finally came to Texas.

That’s right, In and Out Burgers, ladies and gentlemen. Yum! We ordered them “protein style” (aka wrapped in lettuce) to avoid gluten and they were delicious!

Great way to end a great day.

What is something that has made your day great lately??

Besides the veggie fair, I would have to go with this.

Whole Foods Foodie

It’s been a long week.

Obviously, a field trip was needed.

Therefore, I did what every normal teen does and went to whole foods. Duh.

It was just what I needed to de-stress.

I love that shopping for food gives me more joy than shopping for clothes. I told my mom that when I am older I’m going to have a separate bank account for whole foods.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!

What are you favorite health food stores??

I live closest to Sprouts so I usually go there but whole foods is about 35 mins aways, so I go there occasionally.