We had a wonderful Christmas back in my hometown of Hillsborough!! It was both exhausting and relaxing. Exhausting because being away from home these days is tiring and the girls didn’t sleep all that well, but relaxing because there were grandparents and cousins to provide endless entertainment.
The weather was gorgeous on the 24th, and we went to a local park for playing and exercise.
My dad took my sister and me shopping for cowboy boots at a local shop on Christmas Eve and it was so much fun. I didn’t really need new boots, but my dad loves supporting local friends so I was happy to help:) There was a huge boot room and I ended up picking a pair of black boots because I already have a honey colored pair from college. There were so many options and many of the vintage boots are offered at awesome prices.
Matt’s parents arrived on Christmas Eve, and we all headed to my parents church for the kids service before a feast of pulled pork, brisket, and all the fixin’s from Hillsborough BBQ.
And this incredible cookie cake from Milk Mustache Cookies in Charlotte. When I found out they make GF cookie + buttercream cakes, I knew I had to find an occasion to buy one!
We were all tired by the time the kids went to bed, but we had more work to do (winky emoji).
Emerson and Mazen shared a room for the first time, and I think they woke each other up on Christmas morning. When I woke up around 8, they had already opened their stockings. Emerson also got a Belle costume from Mazen and it was by far her favorite gift!
Avery was thrilled with her new shaker eggs, whale, bottle and more paci’s, and got some great toys from Grammie.
We had Christmas brunch with quiche, mimosas, and fruit, and then exchanged our annual Elfster secret Santa gifts.
My mom had me and I had Matt!!
I’m the proud new owner of pink All Birds!
We said goodbye to my sister’s family, and then I took an epic nap while the rest of the crowd (minus my mom) went to the movies.
We had champagne + a cheese plate for cocktail hour – love this family tradition of always gathering before dinner to hang out.
Matt and I helped my mom prepare Christmas Dinner. We decided to skip the ham this year and tried a new mushroom & goat cheese stuffed chicken breast recipe.
Corn pudding + brandied pears + burned green beans (my fault).
And Matt’s mom made cheesecake for dessert!
Now we are back in Charlotte and gearing up (down?) for a very low key New Year’s. Matt’s finishing out the last few days of work and is then on paternity leave (his company’s new policy goes into effect Jan. 1) for the month of January!!!! I don’t think this has really set in yet – so excited!!!
Thanks for following along on such an amazing year!!
Hi friends! Happy New Years Eve! What are you up to this evening? I’m excited to take the girls to a Noon Years Eve party (more my style than staying up until midnight) and Meg is going to be my dinner date since both our hubbies are working. Later tonight, I’m really looking forward to watching the ball drop on TV and hanging out with the crew. It should be low-key and perfect.
Since it’s prime time for resolutions and goal setting, I thought I’d share some tips as we brainstorm any New Years changes or resolutions. While I don’t love the pressure of an ambiguous date, I do love the fresh feel of a new year. I especially love the fresh feel of this year because it’s ended on kind of a blah note. I’m really looking forward to a shiny new start and chance to shake off the shadows that have been around for the last few months. It feels so amazing to take out my planner, jot down ideas and goals and start to fill the pages.
While I don’t think you need to wait until New Years to make a change – if you want to go after something, do it now! – I thought I’d share some tips to consider as you’re planning your goals.
Tips for smart New Years resolutions:
Maybe you don’t want to change anything, and that’s AMAZING. This time of year, we’re often flooded with messaging that makes us feel like we NEED to change or that we’re “less than.” You’re absolutely perfect the way you are. If what you’re doing is working, and you’re happy and fulfilled, keep doing your thang. Don’t feel like you have to make a resolution or any drastic changes because everyone else is doing it!
Instead of focusing on subtracting from your routine, think about adding. I feel like a lot of resolutions are centered around deprivation, which can set you up for a feeling of failure. (Really it also just sucks the fun out of life.) Also, what makes you want something more than anything? Telling yourself you can’t have it. Instead of taking things away from your routine, think about what you can add. More vegetables on your plate, more meditation minutes, more time outside, more memories with the people you love, more soul fulfillment, more reading, etc. What can you do MORE of this year for a happier, healthier you?
Don’t make changes you don’t want to sustain indefinitely. If it doesn’t make you excited, don’t do it! If you’re doing something that you don’t want to do forever, it’s not worth it. Aim for lifestyle changes you can implement for the long haul.
For fitness resolutions, make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Goals should be achievable within a certain time frame and make sense for your lifestyle. Be sure to crosstrain (don’t do the same thing every day), take rest days, fuel yourself appropriately, and get proper guidance and coaching to avoid injury.
Enlist a buddy, or someone who knows what you’re up to. I don’t share all of my goals with everyone – that would be annoying because I have a new one pretty much every day – but a select few people in my life know what I’m up to and check in with me. Have someone join you on your goals, or even just share your goals with someone you love that will be cheering for you.
Are you into the resolution thing or not so much? What’s something you want to do MORE of in 2020?
See ya next year
This 30 min hiit workout is the last of this 30/10 series that I’ve been running with for more than a month. If you love this structure, check out last week’s which requires no equipment.
30 Min HIIT Workout with Weights
EQUIPMENT YOU’LL NEED
This 30 min hiit workout (28.5 minutes to be exact) is broken up into three mini circuits. In each circuit, you’ll get three exercises. You’ll go through them four times, alternating between the left and right side of your body. So in total, you’ll complete the circuit twice on the right and twice on the left.
The interval structure is 30 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. After each set, you’ll rest for 30 seconds. After each completed circuit, you’ll rest for 60 seconds. If you need more recovery time and are following along with the video, just hit pause!
As with all workouts, you want to make sure you’re properly warmed up beforehand, and always listen to your body, modifying or stopping as needed. Here are two guided warm ups you can choose from (or do your own!):
For a preview of each exercise and how to modify, see the noted times in the above video.
CIRCUIT 1 (02:18)
- Lunge Hop Row
- Curtsy to Low Squat
- Deadlift Tap
CIRCUIT 2 (12:43)
- Chest Press x2 Glutes Bridge
- Crossbody Mountain Climbers x4 Toe Touch
- Hammer Curl x2 Fly Rotation
CIRCUIT 3 (22:40)
- Shoulder Press Lunge Press
- Burpee Knee Drive
- Squat Cleans
Hope you all enjoy this 30 min hiit workout! I’ve been posting a lot of these 30/10 interval workouts, so I’m going to switch it up next week. New year, new workout structure.
I know there are a lot of sugar cookie recipes floating around out there. And I know you probably have a tried-and-true sugar cookie recipe passed down from your great-great-grandma. But I’m telling you, you can throw those all in the recycling because this is the perfect sugar cookie recipe for cutouts.
I’ve been using this recipe for years, and it has never ever failed me—and since I originally shared it years ago, you guys have been telling me that you come back to it again and again, too! That’s because it’s a total no-fail rolled sugar cookie and icing recipe. This recipe results in soft, tender, fluffy cookies that don’t spread in the oven—making them absolutely perfect for cut-out cookies. And the cookies have the most beautiful, mild vanilla flavor!
I also have the perfect icing recipe that goes on top that ends up drying hard enough to pack these perfect frosted sugar cookies in a tin, but is still soft enough to bite into without chipping a tooth. And it shines so bright and glossy in the light. It makes for some obnoxiously pretty cookies.
What do these sugar cookies taste like?
I think the perfect sugar cookie is mildly flavored and very buttery. The cookie itself isn’t too sweet—because the icing will add even more sweetness.
I usually just flavor these cookies with high-quality vanilla extract (I say “high-quality” not because I’m an ingredient snob, but because you can really taste the flavor of the vanilla in these, so you want to make sure it’s something good), but you can easily go with other flavorings, too. Peppermint is delightful for the holidays. Almond and coconut are also both delicious.
In fact, I made a batch of these cookies for my coworkers one Halloween (pumpkin and ghost-shaped, of course) and used almond flavoring, and I repeatedly had people stopping by my office telling me they were the best sugar cookies they’d ever had. Most folks don’t expect an almond-flavored sugar cookie! It’s a really nice change of pace.
How do you make rolled sugar cookies with icing?
Making sugar cookies is a bit of an experience—it requires a few hours’ worth of work. It’s easy to do, but it isn’t something you want to try to wedge into your schedule before work one morning. Here’s the process:
- Make the sugar cookie dough: I like to do mine in my stand mixer, but you can also do it with a hand mixer or with a wooden spoon.
- Chill the sugar cookie dough: I suggest chilling for at least an hour, but you can speed that up by popping the dough in the freezer.
- Roll out and cut the cookie dough: On a floured or powder sugared surface, roll out the dough. Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut out shapes.
- Bake and cool: Bake for just a few minutes (really keep an eye on them), and then immediately remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate: Mix up a batch of our sugar cookie icing, and decorate to your heart’s content!
The post Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with the BEST Cookie Icing Recipe appeared first on Wholefully.
The first time I made this shaved Brussels sprouts salad, I was deep in the midst of my standard holiday season merriment. Cookies, eggnog, and bourbon, oh my! After a few weeks of rich and decadent eating, I woke up one morning and my body said, “Hey, this has been fun, but let’s have something green today!” So I listened to my body’s intuition and headed to the kitchen to create this hearty, flavorful, and gloriously nourishing Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad.
I like to remind folks that for a diet to truly be healthy, you have to nourish both your body and your soul! And that means enjoying your favorite chocolate chip cookies and listening when your body asks for veggies. Tuning into your body’s innate wisdom is a skill that is honed over time. Don’t expect to be able to do it overnight—I sure as sugar couldn’t. But after a little bit of practice (and maybe some reading and homework), you’ll soon find the diet that makes both your soul and your body feel its best.
Shaved Brussels sprout salad is winter seasonal eating at it’s best!
This salad is such an excellent way to bring fresh, raw veggies to the dinner table in the winter without having to head out and buy $20 worth of out-of-season ingredients. You can nab almost all of the ingredients for this salad at your local winter farmers’ market (they have those where you live, too, right?). Brussels sprouts, onions, and apples are all excellent winter storage crops, meaning they’re readily available locally for most folks in the wintertime. Using fresh, in-season produce makes for a salad that tastes fresh and healthy, but is still hearty and filling—just like food should be when the temps are low.
You can grab Brussels sprouts on the stalk or off for the recipe, but just make sure to grab fresh ones. Frozen won’t do here. And while it’s technically spelled Brussels sprouts, whatever you call them—Brussels sprouts or brussel sprouts—they are a delicious way to nourish your body!
What do raw Brussels sprouts taste like?
You might be afraid to try raw Brussels sprouts (after all, they are so tasty roasted with some bacon and apples), but I promise raw Brussels sprouts are something you have to test out! In fact, if you are a Brussels sprout-hater, you have to try this salad out! The sulfur flavor that a lot of people dislike about Brussels sprouts comes from cooking (specifically, overcooking) the sprouts. When you eat them raw? No sulfur flavor. They taste like super sweet cabbage! Get the recipe »
The post Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples and Walnuts appeared first on Wholefully.
Whether you just purchased a bottle of avocado oil at the grocery store or would …
Less of These Equals More Energy for You Increasing your energy levels is not just about taking supplements, getting more exercise, getting better sleep, etc. Sometimes, removing a few of the negative influences in your life can work wonders for your energy levels.In this article, we’ll look at 7 factors that may be depleting your…Read More
If you know me, you know that I’m not much of a light snacker. I’ll rarely grab a bag of chips or a granola bar by itself to hold me over. I like to feel FULL after I’ve eaten, so what I really prefer are “mini meals” as opposed to true snacks. A lot of the time, I will actually snack on small portion of leftovers from lunch or dinner in order to get a balanced ratio of macros. To me, there’s nothing worse than eating only to feel hungry just an hour or two later.
I like to eat, and I don’t do small portions, which is entirely opposite of what we’re conditioned to believe is the “best” way to lose weight. I mean, 100 calorie snacks? No, thank you! Diet culture promotes that the feelings of fullness and satiety are a “bad” thing – and in order to maintain a calorie deficit and see progress, we should learn to live with a constant feeling of hunger. What a recipe for disaster! You can’t find a healthy and sustainable way of eating if you’re starving all the time!
While, yes, you do technically need to eat in a calorie deficit to lose body fat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat LESS – notice I said calorie deficit, not food deficit. If you strategize your diet correctly and learn to make the most of your macros/calories, you can lose weight and maintain it while nourishing your body and feeling satisfied and content after each meal. What’s the trick? Enter high volume foods!
Many of you guys have likely heard the term “high volume” thrown around and may have even seen examples of volume-based meals. But what exactly are high volume foods? Put simply, a high volume food is one in which the amount of food outweighs the caloric density. Typically, the more fiber, water, and/or air a food contains, the higher its volume is in relation to its calories. Let’s break it down using cauliflower rice and white rice as an example.
If we’re comparing both foods (apples-to-apples), one cup of cauliflower rice contains about 25 calories and 5 grams of carbs while one cup of white rice contains about 220 calories and 46 grams of carbs. Both foods fit the same portion size, but if you’re maintaining a deficit, you would get way more bang for your buck if you subbed in cauliflower rice from time to time. You’re technically eating the same amount of food, but for fewer calories (and carbs) overall. In fact, you could eat double and even triple the amount of cauli rice for less than one serving of white rice – and get a bigger dose of nutrients and fiber!
So how can you actively incorporate high volume foods into your diet to really maximize their benefits? Below are some of my favorites and how I fit them into volume-based eating. I hope this gives you guys some ideas and inspiration for your next meal or snack!
Greens – and lots of ‘em!
Basically, if you’re maintaining a deficit and it’s a green veggie, it should have your name all over it! 🙂 Think kale, spinach, arugula, etc. Greens are way more versatile than we give them credit for. Eating as many of them as possible is one of my top tips for adding bulk to meals without adding calories. I love topping a bed of greens with a piece of protein and healthy fats (like grilled chicken and avocado) or sauteeing them with a bit of olive and sea salt for an easy dinner side dish. I will also throw them frozen or fresh into smoothies as a way to add fiber and nutrients. (I swear, you can’t taste them!)
Most non-starchy veggies are low in calories but HIGH in nutrients, packed with vitamins, minerals, and, of course, fiber and water, which helps to increase the fullness factor while keeping your digestive system happy. Examples include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, cucumbers – even beets! My favorite trick is to make sure half my plate is non-starchy veggies to fill me up, especially riced or spiralized veggies! Like the cauliflower rice example above, these carb “alternatives” are awesome when you want something filling and substantial, but also want to keep the meal light on calories. Top them with a protein and a sauce, like lean ground turkey and marinara sauce, for a meal that’s as delicious as traditional pasta, but far more nutritious!
Rice cakes are the most underrated food, in my opinion! Rice cakes are low in calories, but big on air, so they fill you up quick! Plus, I see them as basically a vehicle to eat other delicious foods. I eat mine topped with nut butter + bananas or fresh berries and mashed avocado + Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. I love these combos for a quick and satiating pre-workout snack when I need to put something in my belly, but don’t want to feel weighed down by a full meal.
Smoothies and soups
Both of these are liquid-based, and anyone who has ever chugged a ton of water knows how full that can make you! And both smoothies and soups are awesome ways to incorporate veggies, especially if you’re not the biggest fan of all the green things! Throw frozen chopped spinach into your smoothie and add a ton of non-starchy veggies to your soup for an easy, tasty way to get an extra hit of nutrition while filling up! I’m loving the frozen, pre-made ones from Daily Harvest right now. Use code carrotsncake to get $25 off your first order!
Bring on all the berries, watermelon, and cantaloupe! Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries have some the highest fiber counts for fruit, while watermelon is chock full of water. When I need a little something sweet after a meal, I try to opt for fresh fruit whenever possible. I’m loving blueberries nuked in the microwave with a scoop of melty nut butter. Mmm!
When most people think of oats, they think “boring” – but it doesn’t need to be that way! Oatmeal is great for high-volume eating because oats absorb a lot of water, and you can up the protein quotient easily by mixing in egg whites (which actually makes them more voluminous), protein powder, or collagen peptides. You can top the bowl with fruit and nut butter for sweetness and texture, and if you’re feeling really fancy, you can add grated carrots, rice cauliflower (I swear, you can’t taste it) or zucchini for a truly well-balanced and satiating meal that will leave you full for hours! No more mid-morning hangry!
*It’s important to note that just because these foods are less energy-dense, doesn’ mean that they are a free-for-all. You should still measure out portion sizes and track accordingly if you are following a macro-based plan!*
By eating for volume, you’re setting yourself up to eat a lot more food for a lot fewer calories, and in my experience, this is one of the best strategies you can utilize to stay on track for fat loss. We’re literally wired to continue eating if we’re still hungry (as we should be!), but sometimes the reason we are unsatisfied is due to the fact that we’ve eaten a small, calorically high food that has little nutritional value rather than a big, nutrient-dense meal.
I’m all for flexibility in my diet (that’s why I love macros!), but treats should be the exception, not the rule, especially if your goal is fat loss. There’s a big difference between a bowl of potato chips and a bowl of broccoli, and that rings true no matter what way of eating you adhere to. Plus, successfully losing and maintaining weight isn’t just about what we eat or how active we are – our mindset comes into play as well. The way we perceive a full plate of food versus a tiny portion is vastly different. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m hungry, even just looking at a small portion of food makes me grumpy and unsatisfied!
So there you have it – a quick how-to on maximizing high volume foods for weight loss! By implementing volume-based eating for even a few meals and snacks a day, you will find that sticking to a healthy lifestyle will be far more satisfying, enjoyable, and easier to maintain!
The post The Best Foods for Weight Loss: Maximizing High Volume Foods appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.