Jello Yogurt Bites

Here is a fun little snack that everyone in the family will love…I mean just take a peek at these ingredients…

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Yep – super yummy and super easy!!  Mix 3 (6 oz each) strawberry yogurts and one .3 oz Sugar Free JELL-O Strawberry gelatin into a large microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir.  Microwave 2 to 3 more minutes or until gelatin is completely dissolved, stirring after each minute.  Spoon into 16 paper-lined mini muffin pan cups.

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Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.  Remove from liners and top with half a strawberry.  Its the perfect combo of jello and creamy yogurt!  And it tastes like a sweet dessert treat! The kids will definitely LOVE this one!  ENJOY!!

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A Better Sweet Treat

What kind of sweet tempts your sweet tooth the most?  Are you the chocolate-chocolate lover, the sour candy pucker face, or the fruity-chewy combo kind of sweets eater?  I am not picky…I love them all, but I will say that a good fruity sweet is probably my favorite.  When I am trying to make healthier choices, but that sweet tooth is really nagging me, I turn to this quick little trick.

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Grab a pound (or two) of grapes – red or green – whatever suits your fancy.  While you are there, hop on over to the jello isle and grab a 3 oz box of sugar free gelatin – again, whatever flavor suits your fancy. (Tip: One 3 oz box of gelatin will cover 1.5 – 2 lbs of grapes!  A little goes a long way!)

Poor the dry gelatin onto a plate, rinse your grapes and SHAKE dry.  The grapes still need to be slightly moist so don’t pat dry or leave them out to dry too long.  Pluck those grapes, toss them into the gelatin, and give the plate a little shake, shake, shake!  The grapes will roll around and get coated with the gelatin.  Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes or so, then take them out, and pop those little sweeties into your mouth!

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Today’s combo at my house was red grapes with strawberry sugar free jello (just because I had some jello left over from another recipe), but the best part of this treat is trying out different combinations!  My absolute favorite combo is green grapes + green jolly rancher jello!  They taste like sour patch kids!!  Speaking of kids, this is a treat they LOVE and can even make themselves!

Make sure you try them out, then come on back to the blog and leave a comment with your favorite combo!

Friendship Day

Friendship day was originally founded by Hallmark in 1919. It was intended to be a day for people to celebrate their friendship by sending each other cards, but by 1940 the market had dried up, and eventually it died out completely. However, in 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations (believe it or not!), and in April 2011 the United Nations officially recognized July 30th as International Friendship Day; although most countries celebrate on the first Sunday of August!

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So today I want to to recognize some very special friends that I have in my life!  Of course this isn’t the complete list of friends that are important for me.  I have many many many people that I work with, live with, run with, celebrate with, etc. that are all so super special to me.  It would take me a month to write about them all and a week for you to read it. Smile  But I did want to speak about my most important friendships on International Friendship Day!

I have to start with the best friend I have ever had….the one I love with all my heart…the one I chose to marry and spend my entire life with…my Hubs!

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Hubs is the best friend I could ever imagine!  He supports me in all my crazy dreams, he loves me when I am unlovable, he values my strengths and balances my weaknesses.  I couldn’t live such a beautiful life without him!

Next up, is my Best Girl Friend – Jamie!  I can’t believe that we have been “besties” for almost 20 years!  We have been through so many life-changing events together.  She is the ONE and ONLY person I can tell absolutely EVERYTHING too!  I can call her when I need to cry, laugh, vent, or even just breathe.  She is the one person I know will be there no matter when I call, and no matter what I need.  Her daughter is the most precious thing to come into my life and I wouldn’t trade being her “Aunt CC” for anything in the world.  I know that Jamie and I will be Best Friends until the end of time, because I couldn’t imagine my life without her!

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My Best Family Friend – Jill!  Wow – I couldn’t survive all our big family events without Jill by my side.  I love her so much, and learn more about her every day.  She is in my life to challenge my thinking, show me what real passion looks like, support me when I need a smile or just someone to talk to.  She is the perfect match for my brother-in-law, and that makes me love her even more.  Jill is one of the strongest women I know!  If could be just a little more like her, standing up for what I believe, doing the research on the big topics, challenging the system, then I know I would be a much better person.  I wish everyone could know and love my Jill!  I am so glad that we are more than just friends…we are family too!

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My Best Life Coach Friend – Amy!  What in the world would I do without my dearest friend Amy?!  Our friendship has grown and changed over time…a long time.Smile  Our relationship started almost 20 years ago when I started babysitting her precious kids.  She helped me get through the crazy journey of those teenage years. I remember asking her one night what I should order for dinner on my first date!  As I have grown into a woman, I have continued to turn to Amy when I need someone to help me reflect, step of the ledge and jump into my dreams, or help me find the words for those difficult conversations in life.  I have no idea where I would be without her!    Even though there are many miles between us now, I still value every moment I spend with her, whether it is a quick email, a phone call, or a girls trip!  I know we will continue to support each other for many years to come, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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And finally My Best New Friend – Becca!  You have different friends for different reasons, and different friends for different seasons.  Becca and her husband were a very welcomed surprise in our life.  Becca is a work friend (which I typically don’t get too close with – I like to keep work and personal life separate as much as possible).  Something in the world brought Becca and I together, like we were meant to be friends for a long time.  We have very similar philosophies on education, which gives us a lot to talk about, but even more important to me is the fact that Becca challenges me!  She challenges me to be a better teacher, to be a healthier woman, and a better wife.  She literally pushes me (yep, she has actually pushed me when I tried to walk in a 5K, to keep running) to go that extra step, that extra mile.  Having someone at work to support me in my journey of life has been a piece that has been missing for me.  I am so blessed to have met and founded a new friendship with Becca, and I know this is a life-long friendship in the making!

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It is amazing to me that these phenomenal ladies are in my life!  I love them all, and need them all, for very different reasons.  They all feed a different part of my soul, which in the end makes me complete!  I love these ladies (and Hubs) with all my heart!  My life is happy, full, positive, and complete with them in it.  I love spending my days with them.  I love sharing my special moments with them.  And I love that International Friendship Day exists so that I can honor their importance in my life!

Water with Super Powers

Water…boring!  Yeah, water is not fun, but whoa man it is so very important!  Here are just a few reasons why you should drink water daily:

  • It could aid weight loss.
  • It hydrates during exercise.
  • It keeps things moving, digestion-wise.
  • It can improve your mood.
  • It may help prevent headaches, naturally.
  • It keeps our kidneys working.
  • It energizes us.
  • It protects our joints and cartilage.

And the list goes on and on and on….

So how can I make drinking a TON of water every day a little more bearable??  I infuse yummy goodness into it!  I have tried a lot of varieties like strawberry-cucumber, mixed berries, and cucumber-lemon, but this one is a little extra special so I wanted to share it with you all.

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     Grab your ingredients:

     – 8 – 9 cups of water

     – 1 medium cucumber (peeled and sliced)

     – 1 medium lemon (sliced)

     – 12 mint leaves

     – 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root

Mix everything together in a pitcher (don’t      you just love this one that my sister-in-law brought me back from her trip to Poland?!).  Let the water sit overnight in the fridge so that the flavors can infuse the water.  Drink a whole pitcher of this water every day to reap the best benefits!

 

So how about I tell you what’s so special about this water:

1 – Cucumber – It is good for your muscles (cucumbers contain silica which is necessary to keep connective tissue healthy).  It is good for your skin (the silica and antioxidants help your skin stay clear and supple).  It is low calorie (an entire cucumber averages 45 calories, so a few slices in your water is not adding many additional calories).

2 – Lemon – The health benefits of lemons are due to its many nourishing elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and protein.  Lemon is a fruit that contains flavanoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties.  It helps to prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion and many other problems, as well as improving the skin, hair, and teeth!

3 – Mint – Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion. It also soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation. The aroma of mint activates the salivary glands in our mouth as well as glands which secrete digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion. Mint is a naturally soothing substance, so it can alleviate the inflammation and temperature rise that is often associated with headaches and migraines.  Mint is a natural stimulant, and the smell alone can be enough to charge your batteries and get your brain functioning on a high level again.

and finally…

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4 – Ginger Root – Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

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I mean with all those amazing health benefits you couldn’t call this water anything other than super powered!  Go ahead and whip up a batch, enjoy the refreshing flavor and all the health benefits!

Resources:

http://lajollamom.com/drink-cucumber-water-health/

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-lemon.html 

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-mint.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

Snack Hack

While we were in Florida this past week, my mom introduced Hubs to these Sargento Balanced Breaks Snack Packs.  He loved them!  And I loved that he was getting a serving of fruit, protein, and dairy all in one simple energy packed snack!

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What I didn’t love so much about these snack packs was the price!  The suggested retail price is $3.69 for a 3-pack.  But never fear, mom to the rescue!  She mentioned that sometimes she just buys the pieces and makes up her own little snack packs.  Sometimes when I try this technique it ends up costing me the same amount of money, but more effort…ugh.  But I thought I would give it a try anyways…plus I could cater the snack packs to meet the finicky taste buds of my hubs.

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So today we picked up a block of colby-jack cheese, a container of unsalted mixed nuts, and a package of dried berries.  The total cost for all the ingredients $9.17….yikes!  So after I put together our own Balanced Snack Packs, I sat down to crunch the numbers…was it worth it?

  Nuts Cheese Fruit Total Sargento
Calories 170 200 33 403 190
Fat 15 16 0 31 13
Sodium 0 340 0 340 180
Protein 6 14 1 21 7

Wait a minute!!  Something can’t be right!  How in the world are my nutritional facts almost DOUBLE what we would be getting from the Sargento Packs?!  So I went back and checked the serving sizes.  Found it!  The Sargento serving size is 43 grams and I had created 80 gram packs!  So my servings were actually 2 per pack!  When I look at the nutritional facts that way (per serving), it looks more like this:

  Homemade Sargento
Calories 201.5 190
Fat 15.5 13
Sodium 170 180
Protein 10.5 7

Well that’s more like it!  I see that as almost identical!  So now that I am satisfied with the nutritional content, lets go back to the price….

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Sargento works out to $1.23 per serving…or if you get a $0.75 coupon, you are looking at $0.98 per serving.  Not bad…but let’s see how it looks on our end.  Was it worth the 15 minutes it took me to put the packs together?

I would say so!!  My personal balanced snack packs work out to $0.92 per serving (if you look at the double serving).  BUT, if you take serving size into account, it is only $0.46 per serving!!  WOWZA!  That was totally worth it to put together a healthy, balanced snack that the Hubs will actually eat!!  Try it out my friends!!

Post-Run Smoothie

After I run, I am not in the mood to eat a big meal, but I know it is super important to start recovering my muscles pronto!  So I have been hunting for some delicious, easy smoothies – with TONS of health benefits! 

The Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie is packed full of the good stuff!  The best part is that it is only 3 ingredients, so it is quick and easy to whip one up after a run!

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Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorous. In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavanoids which makes strawberries bright red. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations. Their fiber and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fiber is thought to have a satiating effect. Leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.  The vibrant red color of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease.

Soy milk, which is made from soaking, grinding and boiling soy beans with water, is a very nutritious drink. Soy is naturally high in essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients provide energy and keep your body functioning at its optimum level.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup tofuIMG_1918
  • 1 cup strawberries 
  • 2 cups chocolate milk

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the blender. 
  2. Blend until very smooth. 
  3. Add a straw and Enjoy!

My New Favorite Snack

I am going to be honest when I say that I have never given guacamole a real chance…my bad!  I tried a twist on a recipe for homemade, fresh guacamole and whoa baby….I am so glad I did!!!  Try it out – even if you haven’t really liked guacamole before – I promise, it’s delish!

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Fresh & Fast Homemade Guacamole

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Ingredients:  

  • 1 ripe avacadoIMG_1827
  • 1 roma tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Optional:  a splash of lime juice (I leave this out personally)

Directions:

  1. Rough cut the avacado, then slightly mash with a fork.IMG_1828.jpg
  2. Add in the diced tomato, onion, and garlic.  Mix with a fork.
  3. Continue to mash slightly until you reach a texture and consistency you are happy with.
  4. Enjoy with tortilla chips!