Traci’s Test Kitchen: Grain-Free Cookie Dough Bites

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I am choosing to avoid refined sugars. I don’t like to admit this, but I feel physically better when I avoid these sugars. I love sweets and want to keep eating them; however, sweets seem to like me quite a bit too. The reality, in this extraordinary journey, is that I must master this vice rather than letting it master me.

During my recent 90-day challenge, one of my victories was eliminating iPad and iPhone games from my daily habit. I made this a goal because I realized how much mindless time I spent playing these games during the day and late into the night. It was tough at first, but today (nine days after completing the challenge), I still haven’t played a game. It has definitely become a new, positive habit in my life.

Mastering my iTime played a role in my decision to eliminate refined sugar. The other motivation and encouragement in choosing this new habit is the inspiring story of my son, AJ, completing a one-year, No Candy No Soda Challenge. Here’s what AJ had to say, “Without doing challenging things (like this challenge), I wouldn’t be ready or able to do other challenging things God has for me later.” He’s right! I want to be ready. I want to inspire, motivate, teach and coach. I don’t want to be in this same space, working on this same vice five years from now. It is a challenge, no doubt, but it is worth it.

I strongly believe in replacing old habits with new ones, replacing iTime with new productive habits, and old sweets that don’t serve me with new ones that do. Simply eliminating anything from our lives without replacing leaves a gaping hole that desires to be filled. The easiest thing to put in the empty space is the old habit I am attempting to eliminate. Therefore, I must fill it with a new healthy, positive habit that serves my long-term goals.

I want to thank my friend and blog editor, Sharilyn, for this awesome recipe. If you would like to see the original recipe from Texanerin Baking, click here.

20131104-165048.jpgThis recipe is delicious and relatively easy (necessities for me to choose a recipe). Here are a few pointers:
1) Make this recipe!
2) Use a food processor. I do not currently have a full-sized food processor and I would highly recommend that tool for this recipe because the ingredients are fairly dry. (Magic Bullet, which can do wonders with so many things, didn’t work well here).
3) Follow the instructions for “natural peanut butter”.
4) Enjoy a healthy, guilt-free, sweet treat.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups canned chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (165 grams) natural peanut butter or almond butter – room temperature
  • ¼ cup (80 grams) honey (commenters have used agave and maple syrup with success!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn’t have salt in it
  • ½ cup (90 grams) chocolate chips (use vegan or dairy-free, if needed)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 175°C. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and the top to get the little chunks of chickpeas and process again until they’re combined.
  2. Put in the chocolate chips and stir it if you can, or pulse it once or twice. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
  3. With wet hands, form into 1½” balls. Place onto a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper. If you want them to look more like normal cookies, press down slightly on the balls. They don’t do much rising.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes. The dough balls will still be very soft when you take them out of the oven. They will not set like normal cookies.
  5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the fridge) for up to 1 week.

Don’t want to bake but still want to enjoy yummy, healthy, sweet treats? Click here to see what I use and recommend.

Be Extraordinary!

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Clean Sinks, Floss, and Sit-Ups

Cleaning_Sink What do clean sinks, floss, and sit-ups have in common? Quite a bit actually. Each one of these is a relatively small act that has great impact. Many years ago I heard about Fly Lady, a woman who teaches people how to keep their houses clean. What is the first and continual step for keeping your entire house clean, according to Fly Lady? Clean the kitchen sink to sparkling clean and keep it that way. I was sceptical, but I gave it a try. What happened when I cleaned my kitchen sink? I ended up cleaning the kitchen counters too. I swept the kitchen floor. I cleared the kitchen table and even placed a centerpiece on the table. The entire house became more clean – not overnight – but very quickly the house was in better shape, starting with the simple act of cleaning the kitchen sink.

stick_figure_sit_ups_sticker-r48557f93248940129e6ee904b500d55c_v9waf_8byvr_512I have had similar experiences with exercise, most recently with sit-ups. I am currently participating in a 30 day Strong Ab Challenge. Day 1 involved 15 sit-ups, 5 crunches, 5 leg raises, 10 second plank, a healthy nutrimeal shake and protein snack bar. The rest of the day I could do and eat whatever I wanted. This relatively small challenge inspired even greater things out of me on that first day. I chose water to drink, I snacked less and I avoided late-night eating. Just like the clean sink, making a small, easy change can motivate change and better decisions in even more areas of the house and my life.

sanseusanaOne more example: I rarely choose to wash my face at night. I use the best skin care products and I love the feeling and smell after washing my face – in fact I think I even sleep better at night – yet I still choose not to do it. After my last dentist appointment, I made a decision to floss my teeth every night for the six months between appointments. Guess what happened 21 days into this new daily routine? I started washing my face! Flossing my teeth at night is a very small thing that very quickly impacted another area of my health and life – washing my face (not to mention the fact that my mouth is experiencing great benefits also).

So what’s the point? Go clean your kitchen sink, floss your teeth and do some sit-ups? The point is to embrace the small changes – daily – and allow those small changes to impact greater areas of your life. What is a small change you can add to your life that does not feel too difficult? Commit to doing this new habit daily for 30 days and watch what happens. This may be the thing that propels you into an even more extraordinary journey.

Be Extraordinary!

30 Day Strong Ab Challenge

1234767_10201086160730462_232045701_nI love goal-setting and challenges. It can be difficult to stay the course over the long haul, therefore, I find it more motivating to set up small, short-term challenges that are in alignment with my bigger goals. Other important factors in accomplishing goals are accountability, camaraderie and fun.

Setting goals and being challenged is part of living an extraordinary life. Without goals, I would just do the things that I FEEL like doing and I would end up having what I already, comfortably, have (not my dreams!).

In line with all of these things, and with the final 30 days of my 90 day challenge approaching, I’ve enlisted the help of my friend and business teammate Lisa to set up a 30 Day Strong Ab Challenge. My hope is that you will want to join us – accountability, camaraderie, fun and prizes – in the quest for bigger goals and dreams in the area of health and fitness.

Here are the details for the upcoming challenge.
Date: October 1 – 30
The Strong Ab Challenge was created for the purpose of accountability, camaraderie, and fun while releasing inches around the waist, building Strong Abs and earning prizes!

Requirements to qualify for prizes:

1) Order 3 bags of USANA Nutrimeal and 2 boxes of Protein Snack Bars.
** Replace one meal with a Nutrimeal Shake each day
** Replace one snack with a Protein Snack Bar each day
** Purchases must be made through Lisa, www.lconnaghan.usana.com or Traci,www.traci.usana.com
(current USANA associates contact Traci for participation requirements)

2) Complete daily Ab Challenge
** Even if you are unable to complete the entire Challenge for the day, push yourself to do as much as possible. You are worth it!
** Print a copy of the Ab Challenge from photos

3) Post 5 or more times each week on the Strong Ab Challenge Facebook page.

4) Post your favorite plank pose photo on the Strong Ab Challenge Facebook page.
** This can be done any time during the Challenge.

5) Have fun!

PRIZES:
– Bag of Nutrimeal Shake Mix
– Box of Protein Snack Bars
** Number of prizes awarded will depend on number of participants. Winners must meet the above mentioned requirements in order to qualify for prizes.

Even if you are not looking to have the strongest abs, I hope you will join in the Strong Ab Challenge. This type of challenge brings out opportunities for growth in many areas of life (perseverance, character, healthy habits, positive example to others, belief in yourself) if you are on a quest to live extraordinary. My goal in this is not simply to have extraordinary abs (although that would be nice), but to develop extraordinary character and to encourage myself and others to live an extraordinary life. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it! Will you join me?

Be Extraordinary!