Dairy-free and Delish Coffee Creamer

Standard

In my attempt to cut dairy from my diet, the biggest hurdle for me is that damn coffeemate/international delight/liquid sugar deliciousness. Just almond milk and sweetener was not thick enough. And it’s pretty hard to go from peppermint mocha to no flavor whatsoever. Except for “coffee” flavored… but who wants coffee that is just coffee flavored? (I’m sure some of you do. I’ve got you covered too!)

I found a few recipes but most were too complicated or not quite right. After some experimenting and a lot of almond milk, here’s my recipe base for the perfect dairy-free coffee creamer. The quantity is perfect for one of those salad dressing carafes that comes with the good seasonings mixes. Add-ins are listed below to make it your flavor of choice.

Xanthan gum is expensive, but… you use so little of it that it will last you forever and then some. Split it with a health conscious friend!

This is the one I picked up at my regular, local grocery store. There would probably be a better selection at a health foods store, but this was the only one I had available. It’s a good brand though!

20140121_154541

Basic vanilla creamer

  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (plain if you are anti-vanilla)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice, to taste (I did 4 splenda packets)

Toss all ingredients in the blender and thoroughly blend. Pour into carafe, mason jar, or a washed out coffeemate bottle! Creamer will have some trapped air bubbles that will settle out in the fridge over night.

Mix-in flavor options

  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp extracts (peppermint, hazelnut, almond, coconut, etc)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

20140127_203257

That’s it! Super easy. Have fun with the flavorings. If you have any specific requests, ask! I might be able to whip something up. Got a great mix-in combo? Comment below!

Meditation wrap up

Standard

So I’ll admit that I didn’t follow my original plan to a T. But that’s ok! Meditation is a part of my daily routine now. I wake up each morning, start the coffee maker, and hit the yoga mat. Depending on the day I have ahead of me, I have been searching on youtube for the desired length meditation. For example, “20 minute guided meditation”.  Headphones have helped drown out any other sounds of the household (crazy cat).

mediate

The benefits I have been enjoying are spanning the physical and the mental, work life and personal life. I mentioned previously that I am able to almost zone out and focus on a task, like grading 160 boring multiple choice tests, better than I ever have before. I am reading faster. I am running further without injury or strain. I am calmer and a million times more patient with both my two young children and teenage students. I am slower to anger and much more aware of my small, connected existence to the universe.

It has also been a nice foundation to my entire day! After meditation, I pour myself a cup of coffee and sit at the table with my phone and craft my daily to-do list a la Chalene Johnston. Her 30 day PUSH course is awesome and FREE! Highly highly recommend it. I am able to review my day ahead with a clear head after meditating.

I also love that it’s a tool to reboot if my stress levels get too high. I will spend 15 minutes of my lunch or after school with the door locked and speakers blaring. It’s not as easy if things get out of hand at home. Preschoolers don’t like to leave you alone for long. 🙂

I would encourage anyone to give this healthy habit a serious shot! It was hard at first, learning to calm my thoughts and be still. Don’t give up! It took me a good two weeks to get to the point where I felt like I was actually meditating. Since I started this journey, I have found numerous articles and research about mindful meditation helping in a range of situations, from breast cancer patients to inner city school children.

Tell me, did you try? How did it affect you if you did? Or are you going to re-commit? Don’t worry, the wagon is always there to jump back on.

Survival of the Fittest. A reflection.

Standard

tumblr_m8sq28XQ6y1qciesyo1_500

I am fortunate to live in a state that is not under any sort of vortex right now, and I ran outside yesterday with some friends. A mile of the the run was through some wooded trails, which is a challenge for me. Not only is it out of my physical comfort zone, it causes me some injury anxiety. But I did it, thanks to some encouragement from my fantastic friends.

The group spread out a bit throughout the trails, so it was fairly quiet. I felt my lungs work harder, my legs burn more than road running. With the beauty of nature around me, a thought crossed my mind. I am a high school science teacher by day, and I am always in awe of the intricacy of the human body and the complexity of the universe. So as I’m breathing in the atmosphere of our planet, I realize that I am made for this. Literally. Me, a living being, has evolved on this planet, from the elements of this planet, to suck in it’s air and use it. My bones and muscles are the result of billions of years of evolution to maintain core stability against the gravity of Earth. My eyes are adapted to see the range of wavelengths that just so happens to be the wavelengths of light that can get through our atmosphere.

TrailRunning_1000x500

So what really is it to run 3.2 miles? 13.1? 26.2?Just doing what I am built to do. Testing evolution. Survival of the fittest. What amazing machines we are.

New Year’s Resolutions: Put it to ACTION!

Standard

I will go ahead and admit it. I lurve me some resolutions. But… I know most people make em and and break em, so I am here to help make some goals that can actually be met.

GOALPLAN

Common resolutions like “lose weight” or “save money” ultimately start and end the first week of January. Why? There are a lot of blogs/books that break down goals into little bitty pieces and complicate things, but it all boils down to one thing: it’s too dang vague. Oh yeah? You are going to lose weight? How? Doing what? And why haven’t we been doing this all along?

Goals will be met if there is a plan! So instead of stating the outcome as your goal, restate your goal as an action goal. What are you going to DO in 2014. Here are a few examples of how to change a vague goal into an action goal:

Vague, sucky goal: I’m going to lose 20lbs in 2014! (high fives all around! Woot woot!)

Action goal: I’m going to exercise 4x a week for 1 hour each day, 30 minutes cardio and 30 minutes weight training.

Vague, sucky, never-going-to-happen goal: I’m going to save a ton of money in 2014! Gonna be super stacked! Dolla dolla bills ya’ll!

Action goal: I’m going to write up a budget that saves me $300 a month and I’m going to follow it! Yay math!

See the difference? I mean, outcomes are the reason you try to make these resolutions, I get that. However, that seems to be the never-ending problem with health and fitness. Wish for the accomplishment without giving any real thought to the work that is involved to reach that milestone.

So I encourage you to stop and think, before you are popping the bubbly and smooching your date, to write out your goals on paper. Yep, old fashioned paper and a pen or pencil. Underline your goal. Then ask yourself, what will I have to do to accomplish this? Make a list. Brainstorm. Write down everything and anything you can think of that you are willing and able to do to reach that goal. And be honest with yourself. Can you afford that crossfit membership? Can you get up at 4:30am before work? Really??? Be realistic, and also understand that it will probably look a little daunting. Then draw a line across the paper after the idea dump. Look at your list. Pick out one or two tasks that, if followed through with, would snowball into more and more tasks accomplished. A task that if you complete it, other tasks would naturally be completed. For example, if you chose “go to the gym 4x a week for an hour each day,” you would naturally have to get a membership and get some new workout duds.

Now, under the line, re-write your goal as an inclusive action statement. Make it say what you are going to actually DO that will take you to your ultimate goal, without stating the ultimate goal itself. Don’t worry about it including every little thing in your brainstormed list. As I said before, they will all get done by default. When you commit to your action goal, doing the little things will seem more do-able because you have taken out the vagueness and put in something tangible you can accomplish. You know it is not going to be easy, but that’s ok, because you have been honest with yourself and tailored your action goal to be something you know you CAN do!

ACTION

That’s why you haven’t gotten to saving money yet; it’s hard. That’s why most people do not reach their goals, small and large. They are goals because they are something you want to do but it is an uncomfortable thing to do. But if we are really putting ourselves out there and truly reaching for more, these goals should be scary. Uncomfortable. Even intimidating. If they don’t scare you at least a little bit after you have wrote down what it will take to get there, then you are not aiming high enough.

So happy goal setting, peeps! I’d love to hear what your action goal is for 2014! Comment below and tell us.

Meditation challenge week 2

Standard

Happy holidays, peeps! Hope it was full of love and family. I had a fantastic Christmas eve and day. The holidays are still rolling around here, as I have my baby brother and his lovely girlfriend in town through the new year. 🙂

On the Momstar (previous blog) I mentioned my new years resolution to try out a new positive habit every month of 2014. January is meditation, and I decided to start early. Last week I completed class one at http://www.onlinemeditation.org and it was… interesting.

I enjoy meditating. I already can tell that it is a very underutilized wellness tool. I am a skeptical scientist at my core but I could truly feel the energy. It may have been created by my mind because I wanted to feel it, but either way, the experience so far has helped my mindfulness, so what could it hurt? Even if it is pseudoscience?

A few hiccups:

  • Finding time. Even for 15 minutes, finding alone time where I am not solely responsible for the well-being of my two small children is difficult without sufficient planning.
  • Forgetting about the world around me. Hard hard hard. The hardest. I’m trying.
  • Posture. My posture sucks. If I am truly emptying my mind for a chunk of time, I am forgetting to remind myself to sit up straight. After 9 minutes my shoulders are almost touching my knees and my neck hurts.
  • Finding the optimal time to  harness my own energy. Let’s just say its not 10pm. ZZzzzzz….

While I intended to complete two classes a week, I only got through one so far. Oops. Ah well, good thing I started a month early. During the past two weeks I did meditate at least once a day almost every day. So I will chalk that up to a success! On to class two this coming week, Preparing yourself for Kundalini awakening. You can get to the class 2 page here.

Please comment below with your experience of class one! I’d love to hear what you thought. And of course start now with us! The course is free, online, and self guided. Get at it.

This would also be an amazing journey to take with a spouse/partner. Just saying. 😉

Happy meditating!

– Amy

*I don’t receive anything from the meditation site. I simply found something cool and am sharing!

New things, plus some begging.

Standard

happy voltaire

Hey all, and welcome. I really appreciate you stopping in. If you are a momstar reader (my previous blog), thank you thank you thank you for coming over here. With my future endeavors, it was important for me to have a more professional platform that was more focused on my goals. The switch has been a long time coming, but rest assured that I will maintain my same snarky self. Couldn’t stop if I tried.

So while construction is underway, please take a minute to subscribe/share/etc! Here I will be sharing information on all things wellness. Fitness tips and challenges, nutrition advice and recipes, and essays and discussions on personal growth. I want to get the most out of my life, and I want you to come with me. So please, share! (I’m not above begging 🙂 )

If you have any suggestions or ideas, please email me at stellawellsfitness@gmail.com.

Have a happy day!

❤ Amy