About Me

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Who am I? Wife. Mother of 2. "Newbie" to fitness. Personal Trainer-in-training. Lover of health. Fitness. Religion. Family. Gluten and refined sugar intolerant. Welcome to my journey. Learn with me.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Fond Farewell

I have been debating this for some time but it is time to say goodbye. My passion does not lie in updating this blog anymore. I have a full and rewarding life that keeps me on my toes. My time is limited and I must fill it with that which I am most passionate about. I appreciate all those that have followed me over the years and that have enjoyed this blog. I continue to use Pinterest periodically if you still want an idea of what recipes I am interested in and trying. Visit my "Tried and True" Board if you want some real suggestions.

I will leave the blog open, for now, so that everyone (including myself) can have access to past recipes, but I will no longer be writing or updating. Friends and family - you know where to find me.

Lots of love to all. I hope that life treats you kindly, that you find happiness in what you do, and that, above all, you know that God loves you.

Love, Shayla

Monday, April 8, 2013

Just a Snippet

I have so many things on my mind right now and I have been burnt out in every way. I took the weekend off from exercise. No formal exercising - just playing in the park with my babies, going on a walk with my family, resting and recuperating.

It was glorious.

It was hard to get back to the normal grind this morning (early) but I managed it by the sheer goodness of God who inspired me to get to class and preserve my grade when I am so close to the end of the semester.

I will be quite swamped over the next 4 weeks trying to get lots of projects finished for the end of the semester. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be in school, however. I do enjoy so many of my classes... and some of them I will just be very grateful to see go away. :-) That is pretty much how it always is in school though, right?

We had an absolutely lovely weekend full of love, happiness and peace. I sure hope I can capture those feelings and pull them through this week with me.

What about you, dear readers? How was your weekend?


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I {Love} Wednesday

I think it is time for another edition of What I {Love} Wednesday. {Go here for edition #1.} Making "Why am I happy?" lists is my go to activity for always improving my mood. I have tried really hard to focus on all of the reasons I have to be happy instead of focusing on all of the reasons I have (even legitimately) to be sad. It doesn't always work... (aka Life's Lemons) but most of the time it does! Plus, isn't it fun to focus on things that we just love?

  • I LOVE peanut butter. It is probably one of my all-time favorite foods on the planet. My fitness friends who get my daily updates know that this is the case. There are two foods that I eat almost every single day... popcorn and peanut butter. (Not together although I would be lying if I said I hadn't considered it...) I could probably be better about variety in my diet, but when you can't eat gluten or refined sugar... by golly just let me have my popcorn and peanut butter! My favorite way to eat popcorn is to air-pop it and drizzle it with coconut oil, tabasco sauce, and then sprinkle ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and lemon pepper over it. It tastes like delectably spicy, cheesy popcorn. My entire family (including my babies) LOVE it. My favorite way to eat peanut butter? Stirred into greek yogurt with a sprinkle of stevia and unsweetened cocoa. Thick, delicious, amazing. 
  • I love not getting ready for the day. If I don't have anywhere to go during the day I typically get ready for the day around 2 - 3 pm. I like to look presentable for my piano students and my cute hubster but other than that? Jammies + No make-up. All day. For example, right now. 2:25 pm and I am sitting on the couch in my jammies. 
  • I LOVE lazy days when I don't have to be running around like crazy!
  • I love sleeping in. I get up to go to the gym super early in the morning because I know that that is the best way for me to guarantee working out for the day. But I love just laying in bed for long periods of time. When I get home from the gym and cute hubster goes to work I lay in bed with my phone or tablet under the covers until my babies wake up and it is blissful!
  • I love falling asleep to movies. I know that for optimal sleep your bedroom should be free of technology and blah blah blah but I love it. I don't know if I just fall asleep better when there is a little bit of noise or when I have the option to not just be laying there wondering when I am going to fall asleep. We set a sleep timer on our movies and we have been trying to make our way through The Lord of the Rings for quite awhile now... but we are finally on The Return of the King!
QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Your turn! What do you love? Do you have any "unusual" snacks that you enjoy? When given the choice do you get ready for the day? Are you a morning person or a night owl? What is your favorite movie?


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Check Back With Me

As it may have been so blatantly implied by my last post... I have been pretty swamped around here lately. I apologize that my posting has been so sporadic. I don't even have a Supper-Time Sunday post for you because things have been SO crazy that I have hardly been cooking anything. Things are going to get better soon and slow down a little bit before they pick back up again near finals at the end of this month. I think tomorrow will be a pretty slammed day but then I am hopeful that the rest of the week will be a bit more calm.

Check back with me! I will be here. And I can't say that I am sorry that I will be MIA tomorrow. April Fool's Day is my least favorite holiday of the whole year. If you enjoy it, I hope you have a wonderful day pulling pranks on whomever. If you are like me, I hope you survive it and find reasons to enjoy the day despite any pranks that are pulled on you!

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Do you like April Fool's Day? How do you celebrate the day? Have any of you caught the Spring cleaning bug?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Life's Lemons

I have so much admiration for those people that you come across in life that seem to be so positive all the time. They have struggles and trials and pains and yet they face life with a cheerfulness that lifts everyone around them.

I wish I could be like that.

I try to be. I really do. I try to think positively and to not worry so much and to not let things get to me.

But you know what?

They do.

And sometimes there are days in my life that I just don't know how I am going to keep going. How am I going to get everything done? How is this all going to work out? How could I possibly be happy through all of this?

When you feel like you are drowning in the lemons that life hands you where can you possibly find enough sugar to make it sweet?

Sometimes I think it isn't possible. Today I feel that it isn't possible. There is no way for me to make lemonade out of the situation I am facing. At best I think I can manage an undesirable concoction that you could barely choke down.

And so I sit, and cry, and sip bitter lemonade. Trying to get it down. Trying to get past it. Wondering if there is a bottom to my cup.

And I recognize all of those motivational things people say all of the time. I know that "everything is going to be okay" and "it can't last forever" and [insert motivational theory here].

I know those things. But right now it has just been too much for me to handle in a short period of time. And my husband is not here to  give me a hug and tell me those motivational things and help me to feel like everything will be okay.

I am alone with all of the nagging thoughts in my head, screaming at me to pay attention to them. And I want them to go away and leave me alone but they just won't.

I know that this is the point where I am supposed to turn all motivational and tell you, my readers, that things are going to be great and I'm going to get through this and "it's just a bad day, not a bad life."

And those things are true.

But right now I just need to sit and cry.

And we'll hope tomorrow is a better day.

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Do you feel better after a good cry? What usually helps you to get through challenging situations?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Break Recap

Last week was spring break at my college. You know what that means? 

I spent a WHOLE lotta time with these beautiful babies:

And this handsome guy:

And worked really hard on this:

And caught up on a lot of these:

And totally and completely ignored this:

And it made me feel like this:

But now it is over and I am feeling like this:

And trying hard to focus on this:

And although:

I am grateful I had a break.

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Did you have Spring Break last week? Did you do anything fun? Did you get to relax?


Monday, March 25, 2013

Lemon "Candy" Smoothie

Back when I could still eat refined sugar we used to love to go out for ice cream. Leatherby's Family Creamery has been a tradition in my family since before I can remember. I have a lot of great memories associated with that place; however, my favorite ice cream dessert was always the lemon shake from Iceberg. Oh MAN! That thing is so delicious. I have been missing it and craving it and so when I spotted some pure lemon extract at the store the other day I knew I had to pick some up and try it out.

The base of this smoothie is almost exactly the same as my Chocolate Spinach Protein Smoothie. A few tweaks here and there and you have what can only be described as pure heaven in a glass. Every time I make it for my cute hubster he goes on and on about how it tastes like candy. Since it has no added sugar... we'll let him believe that that is what it is made out of!

Serves 2

*8 ounces coconut milk (or milk of choice)
1 large banana
1 large handful spinach or kale
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, but give it a great thickness)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract
**LOTS of ice

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

*We have been buying coconuts recently and so I usually add 6 ounces of water to the bottom of my Blendtec and then add in a few chunks of fresh coconut. I blend it on WHOLE JUICE for two cycles and then add the remaining ingredients. If you have a Blendtec or other high powered blender you can also make your own almond milk by following the same process with water and unsalted almonds. I will usually do 6 ounces of water and a little less than 1/4 cup almonds. Trust me - you won't have chunks if your blender is powerful enough!

**When I say lots of ice I am talking like at least 2-3 cups. I like my smoothies VERY thick and I usually only consider them finished if it takes a Level 5 mix on my Blendtec to get it to move. Just add it to your thickness preference.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Supper-Time Sunday

Hello friends! I hope your eats were delicious and nutritious this week. We had a crazy sort of week and so I don't have a ton of new eats for you but I have a couple. So here we go! 


Recipe courtesy of Yes, I Want Cake

I love granola but it is expensive and a lot of time it has a ton of added ingredients that I would prefer my family not consume. However, making it at home can take several hours and I would definitely prefer spending those hours on something other than granola.

When I saw this recipe for 10-minute stovetop granola I new that I had to try it! My cute hubster LOVES granola and I was pretty sure my babies would enjoy it on their Activia yogurt as well. I was happy that it called for clean ingredients. The only added sugar is in the Craisins - I will probably use Deluxe Raisins next time so that I can enjoy the granola as well without any digestive repercussions. Unless someone knows where to buy unsweetened dried cranberries at a good price?

But back to the recipe! It really came together sooo quickly and was positively delicious! I don't think I will ever be able to make granola the long way again.

I made a few changes to the recipe. I used coconut oil instead of butter and I only had ground flaxseed on hand so I used about 1/4 cup. I used pure maple syrup instead of the honey and my unsweetened coconut is in ribbons but it worked just fine.


Recipe courtesy of Delightful Taste Buds

This is a recipe that you may have noticed has been on my meal plan for a long time. In all honesty, when it came time to make it it just didn't sound good to me so I never actually made it until today. I whipped up a batch and the kids and I sat on the floor with 3 forks and we munched away while watching Wreck it Ralph.

It turned out really good although I felt like the lemon was a bit overbearing. I love lemon, don't get me wrong, but next time I think that I will only use 1/2 a lemon to let some of the other flavors shine.

One of the best things about this recipe is its versatility. I, for once, didn't have carrots on hand so instead I grated up a fuji apple. The sweetness of the apple was a great compliment to the other flavors of the dish. I also used 1/2 green cabbage and 1/2 purple cabbage.

Some of the other changes that I made: I used reduced sodium Tamari instead of coconut aminos. You can use whatever soy sauce you have on hand. Be careful about the oil you use in the beginning. 1 tbsp of oil is too much to cook 2 eggs in a skillet. I would start with nonstick oil and then add 1 tbsp of oil when you are ready to add the onions to your pan. 

This dish tasted a lot like similar Asian noodle dishes that I have had at various restaurants and it is definitely worth a try for an easy and healthy meal!


QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS:  Have you ever made homemade granola? What is your favorite meatless meal?


Friday, March 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes

I have been craving sloppy joes like NO ONE'S BUSINESS! (Where did that expression come from anyways?) However... that is a very unfortunate craving to have when one cannot have gluten or sugar. I have been looking around the web at a bunch of different recipes and I really wanted to try the Tempeh Sloppy Joes that are on our menu this week but when it came time that I needed to get dinner ready I realized that I was out of Tamari and had no time to run to the store. I scanned through a few other recipes but didn't have all of the ingredients for any one of them so I decided I had to just come up with something.

And oh wow! It turned out AMAZING! Cute hubster LOVED it and so did I. It was the perfect flavor - rich and savory with just a touch of spiciness to it. I made the sauce out of two recipes that I adapted together. I used Worcestershire sauce this time (since that is what I had on hand) but next time I will use the Tamari when I actually have it!

Really, this is a very simple recipe if you can have store bought ketchup and barbecue sauce. I can't because of the things they usually add to it. All the sauce ingredients are are the ingredients for a homemade bbq sauce + homemade ketchup. This way I get to control the ingredients.

Sauce adapted from this recipe and this recipe

6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or honey, or agave)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
--------> You can replace all of the above ingredients with 1 1/3 cup ketchup.
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp brown sugar (I used date sugar)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy, or tamari)
3/4 tbsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp paprika (preferably smoked)
1/8 tsp cayenne
Black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and mix until completely blended. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn heat to low. Let simmer while you prepare the other ingredients

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken, or beef)
1 small yellow onion
2 large carrots, shredded
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup water

Brown the turkey with the onion until no longer pink. (You can use a bit of oil in your pan if you need to. 1 tbsp should be plenty or just spray with nonstick cooking spray.) Once the turkey is cooked through add it to your slow cooker.

Add carrots and celery to the same pan you cooked your turkey in. Add in water and cook until carrots are partially soft. Add veggies to the slow cooker, pour sauce on top, and mix all ingredients together thoroughly.

Cook on low for at least 1 1/2 hours. Add more water at the end if you need to to thin it out.

Serve on buns or do what I do and make a deconstructed sloppy joe salad! Yummy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Home Improvement

Yesterday cute hubster stayed home from work so that we could get serious about working on our house. We aren't planning on moving soon or anything but with both of us in school and working and with two little kids running around there were definitely a lot of things that had been neglected over the years that we have been living there.

We started working as soon as I finished my class at the gym. Because cute hubster was home I got to attend Multi-Step at the gym and it was a blast! I got a very good sweat in and I feel like I am getting better and better at Step in general.

We finally brought the couch we were given in from the garage (it has been sitting in there for several weeks) and that necessitated that we rearrange the furniture in our basement. We reorganized and cleaned the entire basement and then started pinpointing improvements that needed to be made - a light fixture that needed replacing, blinds that needed replacing, curtains that needed to be put up, etc.

We made a "quick" trip to Wal-mart (meaning it should've been quick but ended up being quite long) and spent a pretty penny to obtain everything that we needed to do the little improvements throughout the house. As everything started to come together I felt an immense sense of satisfaction. No longer would I need to look at the hole in my ceiling and think, "We really need to get a light to cover that." No longer would I need to go into the newly established toy room and think, "I really wish this closet had a door or at least a covering of some sort."

And that really got me thinking about the way that we live our lives. I think that we get to a point where we are comfortable in the place that we are. We realize that there are little things that we have neglected here and there but they aren't things that interfere with our day-to-day functioning in the here and now so we ignore them and put improvements off.

I am starting to realize, though, that life and change is made up of a bunch of little improvements here and there. As we take the time to recognize the improvements that need to be made in our lives and put in the extra effort to make those improvements the satisfaction that comes with it will leave us wondering why we put it off for so long.

I am of the personality that always strives for improvement. I have had to maintain a careful balance between challenging myself and pushing myself to unrealistic expectations. But, little by little, I have made improvements in my life and I have reaped the benefits of those improvements.

So I guess what I want to leave you with today is this:

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Are there improvements in your life that you have neglected for too long? Are there things that you know need to be changed but you haven't done it yet? Have you recently made improvements in your life? What were they and how did you go about changing them?


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I Love Wednesday

Usually on this day each week health and fitness bloggers around the web post about what they ate in a "WIAW" post. I have done a couple of these posts myself and they are a lot of fun; however, today I wanted to change things up a little bit and share with you a few things that I love. Of course there are a lot of things that are "given" that I love - cute hubster, my girl [A], my boy {N}, my religion, God, etc... but I wanted to list some other things that I love that people might not know about me. So, without further ado, here is:

  • I love to read. I don't mind reading my school textbooks but I definitely prefer to read things that I would choose. My favorite book of all time is The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It is over 1000 pages and I have read it once and listened to it on my MP3 player while working out and working around the house. Some of my other favorites include: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley, Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan - among MANY others!
  • I love The Mentalist. Jane is a given for a favorite character but I definitely love Cho as well. Something about that monotone and expressionless face - you just have to love him!

  • I have mentioned this before but I really love Step. I also love Yoga.
  • This may be an extension on my love for yoga but I love stretching. I usually stretch at night after the kids have gone to bed and my cute hubster and I are just watching something in our room. I feel so relaxed and free after stretching.
  • I used to love Tres Leches and Chili's Molton Chocolate Cake - absolute favorite desserts! Sadly... I can't eat them anymore. No sugar and no gluten for me. :-(
  • I love lemonade, especially Simply Raspberry lemonade. Since I can no longer have that either I usually squeeze 1/2 lemon into 24 ounces of water and add stevia. Delicious! I will drink it hot or cold. Really.
  • I love the texture of Greek yogurt. I actually don't mind eating Greek yogurt totally plain with just a few slices of fruit in there but my favorite way is with chopped apples and a scoop of peanut butter.
  • I love almost all types of cuisine. Indian, Mexican, African, all kinds of Asian. There isn't a lot that I can have in the way of Italian but I'm alright with that. We tried a new Ethiopian restaurant last night and it was AMAZING!
  • I love jet skiing. There is something amazing about being behind a large motorized vehicle over the water that just gets your blood pumping and makes you want to go fast and do things you never dreamed of. I LOVE that rush!
  • I love shopping with my mom. It doesn't matter what we are shopping for. Shopping with my mom is just always fun and relaxing.
  • I love reading blogs. I follow a whole bunch of them and their updates get sent to my inbox daily. I love experiencing life through other people's eyes. Some of my favorites are Lindsay's List, Fitting it All In, and Oatmeal After Spinning. (Among MANY others!)
QUESTION FOR MY DEAR READERS? What are some things that you love?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Game Changers

I don't think I actually outlined my game change plan.... I don't know how many of you noticed that my side bar changed just a little bit. Where it says "Personal Trainer in Training" you may have missed that under that it says, "Currently Pursuing AS Chemistry and AAS Fitness Technician:Personal Trainer at SLCC."

A bit of background here... I was very involved with science throughout high school. I took regular chemistry my sophomore year and instantly fell in love with it. My teacher recommended me for a special program for high school students at the University of Utah that summer and I attended on scholarship with several of my friends. We went to class five days of the week, on campus, and got a good feel for what college level study would be like.

In my junior year I, unfortunately, didn't have room in my schedule for any kind of science; however, I had caught the bug of science love and my parents were able to connect me with a group of researchers at the University of Utah to work as an intern in a lab studying properties of magnetism the summer of my junior year. I also had the opportunity at the end of that summer to go to Peru for two weeks on a humanitarian service project - we took food and supplies to the people of Cajamarca.

By my senior year I was seriously considering pursuing chemistry as a career and so I took both AP Biology and AP Chemistry. I passed both AP exams, was the Science Sterling Scholar at my high school and was accepted into the ACCESS program at the U specially for women in science and technology. Once again, I spent the summer at the U going to classes and immersing myself in science.

After that summer I was lined up with another research opportunity studying DNA and RNA at the Emma Eccles Medical Research Center. I was continuing to pursue a degree in Biochemistry at the U on a full tuition scholarship and spent almost all day, 5 days of the week, on campus.

And you know what? I wasn't really happy. I felt incredibly lonely on campus and in the lab and knew that that wasn't the kind of life that I wanted to live. I didn't want to be a researcher - I liked to teach and be around people. And chemistry was no longer fun and interesting - it had become a chore.

So I dropped out. And I got married. And it was wonderful and I was at peace with the decision. I needed time to reevaluate my life and figure out where I needed to go.

Fast forward to now. Because of all of the work I already put in at the U I am only 4 classes away from earning my Associates Degree in Chemistry. FOUR. And it just so happens that I am only 5 classes away from fulfilling all of the science requirements to smoothly transition to obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science. Yes... these classes are: Intermediate Writing (no problem), Human Anatomy (not too worried), Calculus 2 (PROBLEM!), Organic Chemistry 2 (PROBLEM!!!) and College Physics I (PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!!); however, it would be foolish of me to not tough it out, finish it out, and open the doors for me to get even more education. Getting a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science would open the possibility of going for a Master's Degree someday. I'm not saying that I definitely will, but I love the option that I COULD.

The two degrees/programs that I am looking at the most are BS Exercise Science at the University of Utah or BS Exercise and Wellness at BYU. I will be honest, the degree at BYU seems to fit my interests more closely; however, if I were to go to BYU I am pretty sure that we would have to move in order to work it out. We wouldn't leave the Salt Lake Valley but right now we live further north and would need to live further south.

So there are still a lot of questions to be answered. The plan is to finish up my AS Chemistry AND AAS Fitness Technician with FALL 2014 being my last semester. My girl [A] will be in kindergarten by then and my boy {N} will be in preschool so that will allow me a little bit of flexibility to even start working as a personal trainer at that point while I go through my Bachelor's degree.

I am sure that this plan will change with time but this is the plan for now. I am nervous and excited about it and I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing.

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Have you faced "Game Changers" in your life? What would you pick as your biggest game changer?


Monday, March 18, 2013

On the Menu Monday

Happy Monday everyone! If you are like me then your Monday snuck up on you way too quickly. Did the weekend happen? Oh well... here are the round-up of delicious NEW eats that we will be enjoying this week!


Photo + Recipe courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe

We always love a delicious burrito around here and these look divine. I will have to change up the cooking method because I have to use gluten free corn tortillas but I bet this filling will be amazing!

Photo + Recipe courtesy of Can You Stay For Dinner?

Have I ever mentioned my absolute love for all food Indian? Because I love love love it!

Photo + Recipe Courtesy of Eat Move Balance

I have been MAJORLY craving the savory richness of a sloppy joe so when I saw this recipe on Eat Move Balance I KNEW that I had to try it out. I couldn't find tempeh so we are using tofu instead.

Photo + Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home

I am not a big fan of just plain pot roast so I always get excited to find a new way to mix it up - especially when pot roast is on sale!

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: What meals are you excited to try out this week? Have you eaten anything lately that you absolutely loved?


*Disclaimer: All photos from individual bloggers are used with the express written permission of the blogger indicated. These photos do not belong to me and should not be used for reproduction without written consent. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Supper-Time Sunday!

I gotta say... of all of the posts that I do these ones are probably my favorite. I really love sharing all of the delicious eats that we have been able to enjoy lately with my lovely family and friends - and all of you that I don't know but would love to! We had another great week of eats this week!


Photo + Recipe Courtesy of Primally Inspired

I have to talk about this one first because it is the one that I am most excited about. When you are sugar intolerant it is easy to feel that your options are very limited - because they are. When I saw this all natural fruit sweetening paste on Primally Inspired I knew that I wanted to try it out!

Our local Winco Foods has a large section of bulk bins and I was able to get all of the ingredients for this paste from there. The recipe says that you can use any amounts of any combination of dried fruits so, really, the sky is the limit. I got the recommended fruits and made sure none of them were listed with added sugar. (Another great benefit to Winco Foods bulk section - they list the ingredients and nutritional information on all of their bins). I got 0.47 lbs Deluxe Raisins for $0.36, 0.36 lbs Dried Apricots for $1.23, 0.57 lbs Dried Adriatic Figs for $1.18, and 2.94 lbs Dried Whole Pitted Dates for $1.46. Total weight = 4.34 lbs for $4.23. Pretty awesome, right? 

What is even more awesome is that it tastes DELICIOUS! My husband had some spread on a piece of toast and I had some spread on my Tone It Up Protein Pancake at breakfast IMMEDIATELY after I finished making it.

And if that weren't awesome enough... We ended up with about 40 ounces of the finished product ~ 40 ounces for $4.23. If you buy honey at Sam's Club it costs $12.80 for 80 ounces. And pure maple syrup (grade A) at Costco is over $13 for 33.8 ounces. This is a delicious and very cost effective alternative!

You can see that we have already dug into the smaller jar

I am so happy to have this all natural product to sweeten my eats with and to finally have something that resembles jam again! 


Photo + Recipe Courtesy of Lauren at Oatmeal After Spinning

There have been a lot of St. Patrick's Day eats going around right now. Since today is St. Patrick's day it seems to make sense, right? Well it is no fun to be left out of favorite traditions when you are trying to eat healthy so there have been a lot of copycat shamrock shakes going around as well. I even blogged about one last week that we enjoyed.

However, this one takes the cake for me. I loved this recipe and made it twice this week. One time I hoarded it for myself as my lunch and hid away from the kids so I wouldn't have to share. The second time I was feeling more generous so I made the same amount but distributed the goods throughout my little family so everyone could enjoy it. Cute hubster is not a fan of peppermint but even he enjoyed it!

I made a couple of changes to this recipe. The first time that I made it I didn't have a frozen banana or peppermint extract.... so instead I used 1 whole small banana and pure mint extract. I used 1/2 tsp mint extract (*DISCLAIMER! Only use this much if you like STRONG mint flavor!) and I used frozen kale instead of the spinach. It got incredibly thick and I ate it in a bowl just like mint ice cream - DIVINE!

When I made it for the family I actually had peppermint extract. I kept my other changes the same but used 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. It was pretty good still but I liked the strength of the mint extract and will probably continue to use it for my own hoarding smoothie purposes.

Overall this is, by far, my favorite copycat Shamrock Smoothie!


Photo + Recipe Courtesy of With Just a Bit of Magic

This is a recipe that my wonderful sister-in-law posted about and I knew that I wanted to try it. I love Jambalaya but usually can't eat the ones that you get at restaurants around here because they are made with noodles. (No gluten for me!)

I had a bit of a hectic day and didn't get the ingredients for this one in the crockpot until there were only about 4 hours left to dinner time. I placed the ingredients in my "depths of Mordor" crockpot and set it to high hoping that it would be ready in time. 

Well, it was and it wasn't. The brown rice is extremely finicky about when it will cook right and it was still a little crunchy by the time it was time to eat dinner. We didn't mind it and we ate the jambalaya anyway. Cute hubster took the leftovers to work and didn't mention any bad crunchiness so I assume it was fine.

What we particularly enjoyed about this recipe was the delicious flavor. I used all natural Sweet Apple Chicken sausage and the contrast of the sweetness with the hot sauce we added to our bowls was divine. 

I didn't want to buy fresh thyme so I used 2 tsp dried thyme instead of the 2 tbsp fresh that it calls for. I also didn't want to spend the money for the shrimp so we just left it out completely. If you have a food processor the chopping of the veggies for this dish is a cinch, otherwise it would be a bit time consuming. 

*Side Note: I have found the PERFECT method for cooking even the most finnicky and stubborn of brown rice:

Photo + recipe courtesy of Pinch My Salt

Seriously. This technique has NEVER failed us. We love it!

Overall, this jambalaya recipe was very good and if I am in the mood for jambalaya again I will probably pull this recipe out of the archives; however, there are so many other recipes out there that I want to try that unless I am specifically craving jambalaya I will probably not revisit this recipe.

PIN IT! (Jambalaya)
PIN IT! (Brown Rice)

Recipe courtesy of Life After Bagels

I love my morning oatmeal greatly and I am always interested in finding new ways to switch things up. I used to love carrot cake greatly when I was still eating sugar and gluten and so this recipe particularly caught my eye. Especially since this is a great way to add some veggies to the most important meal of the day!

And it was delicious! Very hearty, flavorful and filling. However.... I did change several things about the recipe.

I didn't want to bother cooking steel cut oats so I just used my normal 1/2 cup of gluten free old fashioned oats. To that I added all of the gratings of 1 medium carrot, 1 small banana (sliced), 1 tbsp ground flaxseed (optional), and a large sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice. I cooked it on high in the microwave for 3 minutes and then added 2 tbsp of unsalted almonds to the finished product. Like I said, it was delicious and it was quite sweet enough for me with the carrot and the banana to not need the additional maple syrup.

I am sure the original recipe is just as delicious - this is just what worked for me!

*Note: If you would like to see a picture of this recipe, the recipe itself, or pin this recipe please click on the "Life After Bagels" link under the title above. This link will take you directly to this particular recipe on Life After Bagels site.

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: What was the best thing you ate this week? Are you doing anything special with your food for St. Patrick's Day?


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spreading the Love

It is time for another round-up of wonderful posts that I have enjoyed around the web lately! There is some seriously great stuff out there and I feel privileged to get to experience the world through so many different pairs of eyes.

On Being a Mommy:

Mommy Meltdowns: They Happen to Us All - Oh so easy to relate to! I loved reading this story when my local news first ran it and I loved re-reading it as I am writing this post. I feel as if that post was written in my very own words.

On Finding Fitness and Exercise Balance:

New Research: Getting Ultra Ripped May Make You Ultra Weak - I believe firmly in "all things in moderation" and I could write an entire soap-box post about getting ultra ripped and super lean and all of that jazz... but I think that this lengthy article has some fabulous points and some killer information so I will let you browse Charlotte's hard work.

Intuitive Eating - This is another post that I can relate to and something that I have struggled with. It is a balance that we all want to achieve but seems to continually challenge us in ways we never imagined.

Intuitive Eating Out - I could've yelled at the screen several times on this one, "That's me! I need to do that!" Clare is one of my favorite "real" bloggers.

Reduction in Magazine Reading - Although I don't personally read "popular" magazines I thought that Annette brought up some really good points and gave me some great food for thought with this post.

On Obtaining True Glory:

I first saw this pinned by FitFluential on Pinterest. I love following FitFlutential - they have a lot of motivating quotes and ideas. Diane Sanfilippo from Practical Paleo has this exactly right! And it is applicable to all walks of life.

On Learning from the Past and Inspiration:

Using the Past to Heal the Future: Learning One of the Hardest Lessons - 9 years later - I loved how open and honest this post was and how much it struck me. It is nice to know that there are still so many  seriously good people in this world that are working hard to live life right.

My UNC Classmate Maria's Story: Losing 50 Pounds and Keeping it Off - I love it when bloggers are real. This woman is beautifully real and I wish that I knew her in real life!

On Having a Positive Attitude:

22 Things Happy People Do Differently - I seriously need to work on #9 and #13...

Boost Your Body Image: Self-Love and Acceptance at Any Size - There are some excellent suggestions in this article and several of them definitely resonated with me.

On Intimacy in Marriage:

The 72 Hour Club: A Man's Perspective: The Without  - I can't begin to say how much I loved this article. It gave me an entirely new outlook on this issue when it was written from a man's point of view. I really feel like this article helped me to personally understand how my husband works better.

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Have you found an article, quote, or story on the web lately that you just loved? Did any of these links resonate with you?


Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting Connected

In trying to increase my social and peer networking to get better connected into the fitness industry I have taken a couple of significant steps:

1. I have really picked up more on this blog and changed a lot of the content in what I am posting about. I love health, fitness and nutrition. That is what this blog is going to be about.

2. I have started to comment more on other blogs. I want them to start to recognize my name and I am slowly inching my way into the blogger "circle."

3. I decided to attend the BLEND RETREAT which is being held in Utah this year! I thought this would be my best opportunity to actually MEET people that I admire so much and get some good ideas on how to get more connected. They are actually doing a series of giveaways from the sponsors of the retreat. This week Chobani is giving away 2 cases of their yogurt. Oh I would so like to win! To learn more about Chobani and to enter the contest visit this link here.

4. I VERY recently signed up on Twitter. I have spent the past couple of days trying to get aquainted with the site and how it is different from Facebook. Although I enjoy Facebook to keep up with my friends I am really liking the peer networking aspect of Twitter. Some might argue that they are practically the same thing but I am feeling a very different vibe from each of them.

In other news - I AM SO GLAD THAT IT IS FRIDAY AND ALSO THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING BREAK!!!! I absolutely love school but I am worn out and I need a good break. It helps that Spring has sprung around here and the weather has me positively itching to get outside and play.

QUESTIONS FOR MY DEAR READERS: Any tips for me in getting started on Twitter? Are there people that you think I would really enjoy following? Do you have any favorite health/wellness/nutrition/fitness blogs?


Thursday, March 14, 2013

GUEST POST: Cancer and Fitness

I am very excited to have my very first guest post here at Change Your Way of Thinking. This article is courtesy of Melanie Brown who contributes to The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog. Melanie is an Awareness Advocate for Natural Health and cancer cure initiatives and is currently pursuing her Master's degree. You can check out more of her articles here

Cancer and Fitness

When you are diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, you know you are in for the fight of your life. You begin treatment that can include things like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. But did you know that there is one powerful tool that often goes unused? That tool is physical exercise.

Physical fitness may not cure your cancer, but it can often help with things like emotional stability, energy levels, immune system function, and sleep quality. Of course, there are precautions for some cancer patients, but most can exercise and benefit greatly from it.

One great benefit that comes with exercise is an improvement in emotional stability and mood. If you partake in some strenuous exercise, your body will secrete hormones such as endorphins that lift your mood and even help reduce pain levels. Hours after you have completed your exercises, these chemicals will still be circulating in your bloodstream, elevating your spirits and boosting your energy levels.

Exercise can also boost your immune system, helping prevent future recurrences of cancer. A recent study conducted at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that cancer survivors who exercised several weeks following chemotherapy had higher-functioning immune systems than those who did not.

In fact, their immune systems remodeled themselves and became more efficient, which could help prevent future cancers. Regular exercise helps prevent future cancers and the chances of people getting cancer at all.

Regular physical exercise can also help with a common problem among cancer patients undergoing treatment: fatigue. If you exercise, you can expect to be less tired after your treatments. That is because exercise increases energy levels, whether you have cancers like colon cancer or mesothelioma cancer. The same benefits seen by healthy people who exercise apply to cancer patients.

If have cancer, you must take your current physical condition into account. Be realistic about how much your body can take and start slowly at first. This is not a contest. You should consult with your doctor or the physical therapy staff to offer suggestions on what type of exercise would be appropriate for you, and how much.

As you start exercising, listen to what your body is telling you. Do not be afraid to ease off if you are overdoing it. Moderation is key. You should also find a form of exercise that your enjoy doing so that you will stick with it.

*All photos were supplied by Melanie. 

*If anyone else is interested in doing a guest post on my blog go ahead and contact me at shaylabentley {at} gmail [dot] com!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

WIAW: Intuitive Eating


Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body's natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods. It's a process that is intended to create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, (Wikipedia, 2013)

This is a concept that I have heard a lot about lately and one that I agree with. Although it is important to try and maintain a healthy diet and get adequate amounts of the different food groups, sometimes our bodies just need something a little bit different. That is what happened to me yesterday on my Tuesday eats.


Gluten Free Banana Coconut Oatmeal with Almonds

This has been my favorite flavor of oatmeal lately. I cook 1/2 cup gluten free oats with 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 sliced banana, and a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut. I thin it with water and after it is cooked I sprinkle it with 2 tbsp unsalted almonds. I love the flavor and it is very filling.
 SNACK 10:45 AM

1 medium Fugi apple, 1 100% natural string cheese

This is usually what happens when I try to do this WIAW... I forget to take the picture until after I actually eat the meal. I was at school in the car, thus the lovely background of the picture.
LUNCH 2:25 PM & DINNER 8:00 PM

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque, 1 large carrot

Chocolate PB Banana Yogurt

This was the major intuitive eating portion of my day. I started with the bisque because I felt like I really needed to get vegetables into my diet today. I munch on carrots while my meals are prepping which is why the carrot is already partially eaten in the picture. I got about 2/3 of the way through the bowl and knew it just wasn't going to satisfy me, although it was delicious. So I mixed up the yogurt. I sliced a very small banana into a bowl, added 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tbsp stevia in the raw, a spoonful of all natural pb and about 1/2 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt. It was delicious and left me feeling very satisfied and VERY full. 

I could've eaten dinner earlier since my class gets out earlier on Tuesday but instead felt the motivation and energy to go on a short 1.8 mile walk with the family to enjoy the weather. I munched on another large carrot during the walk and when we got back I finished the last 1/3 of the soup and mixed up some more of the yogurt. 

Although it was a less-than-average day yesterday for various reasons (aka car problems and defiant children) my eats kept me satisfied, full and energized.

QUESTIONS FOR MY READERS: Have you ever tried the intuitive eating approach? What is something that you have eaten lately that just hit the spot perfectly?


Monday, March 11, 2013

Motivation Monday

Reasons to workout.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Supper-Time Sunday!

I have a wide assortment of different recipes for you this week - all delicious! Definitely a great week of delicious eats.

Recipe + Photo Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Oh man oh man! These were sooooo good! I was extremely skeptical about the cooking technique but these ribs turned out super tender and flavorful. I only had 7 country style pork ribs (meaning that they were boneless) and I used tamari instead of soy sauce to keep it gluten free. 

A lot of the reviews talked about the saltiness of the dish. Truth be told, the more of the sauce that ends up on your actual rib the more salty it will taste. Next time I make this (because there WILL be a next time) I will probably cut back on the tamari. Probably try 1/4 - 1/3 cup instead of 1/2. 

Also, the cooking time is way off. I think my water took at least an hour to boil down and I was conservative about it. Plan ahead and give it the time to boil down - you won't regret it. 

Even with 10 cloves of garlic it didn't taste overly garlicky to us. The whole family loved them. Try this one out! You won't be disappointed!


Recipe + Photo Courtesy of Food.com

I served these on the side with the pork ribs and they were delicious. I would've liked them to be a bit more crispy than they turned out but I think that could be achieved by letting them sit on broil for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time.

Sweet potatoes can be incredibly frustrating to cut. I didn't want to fight with them this time so I peeled my potatoes, pricked them a few times and microwaved them for 3 minutes. It was only a short time and the potatoes were not cooked through but they softened so that they were MUCH easier to cut!

The only thing that I changed about the recipe was that I used date sugar instead of the brown sugar. My boy {N} GOBBLED these down! My girl [A] is still very skeptical of sweet potatoes but at least she tried these. 

Recipe + Photo Courtesy of Primally Inspired

We had these shakes for breakfast this very morning and they were delicious and filling. Very thick and creamy. Cute hubster said they tasted fresh and green. 

I didn't use the honey in the recipe and instead used 1 banana and a little over 1 Tbsp stevia. Since I was sharing it with cute hubster I knew he would want it to be more sweet than I usually make things. I also didn't have peppermint extract - just mint extract. It still worked but I think that it would be even better with peppermint extract. Yes, they are different. 

Recipe Revisit from here

Obviously, I can't eat these anymore because I have to eat gluten free; however, my extended family loves them so much that I am still asked to make them from time to time. 

My mom and I discovered something amazing about these this past Sunday... you can completely skip the first 2 risings! All you have to do is to make up the dough, form the rolls and let them rise for 40 minutes before you put them in the oven. They turned out perfectly and I think that some of the rolls were even bigger than when I let them rise for the extra 1 1/2 hours! 

So without those risings these take just over an hour to make from start to finish - awesome!


QUESTION FOR MY DEAR READERS: I still haven't gotten any recipe recommendations! Surely you have tried something lately that you loved? Share the love with me!