My Adaptation of My Grandma’s Sugar Cookies!

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My Grandmother baked lots and lots of cookies and made lots and lots of candy for Christmas.  I remember it all fondly.  I am torn at these times of year because I to share and pass down my memories but I do not like giving my kids a lot of cookies and candy.  Also, one of my kids has a sensitivity to gluten.  So, this year, I decided to try to adapt my Grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe.  It was a huge success!  These cookies are puffy and soft just like my Grandmother’s!  Merry Christmas and I hope you and your family enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 3/4 C gluten-free flour (or you can use regular, I used Jules brand)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C soft butter
1 C sugar substitute (or you can use sugar, I have used both Just Like Sugar and Swerve)
1 egg
1/2 C sour cream
Directions:
Sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg. Work butter in a bowl until creamy. Gradually add sugar  substitute and beat until fluffy. Add egg and sour cream, beat thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat until smooth.Cover and chill. Heat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into small portions and roll out one portion at a time, leaving remainder in the refrigerator.Roll dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.Bake 3 to 6 minutes.  I frosted mine with regular powdered sugar icing which obviously added some sugar:)  But much better than a typical sugar cookie!
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39 Things I Have Learned in My 39 Years

Chirstmas3     So, last week I turned 39.  It is not the big year that 40 is, but I think because it is close to 40 it made me especially reflective.  This past year has been a year of transition and changes personally and professionally.  Most notably I started my business Nurturing Fitness and I started teaching it my children’s co-op (they go to this once a week and I homeschool the remaining days).  My two greatest passions are helping other moms be more fit and healthy and my children.  I have been amazed at how life makes room for you to follow your passions!  While  health and fitness and helping other moms is my passion, starting the business has been way out of my comfort zone and very uncomfortable at times.  But, the fulfillment and growth I have gained far out-weight the discomfort.  My youngest and final child also turned 1 this year.  I guess because she is my last, it makes made me feel like her birthday was a turning point into a different stage of my life (which makes me a little excited but sad to be exiting my “baby years”).  All in all, I think I have grown and learning a lot over the last 39 years!  While I realize I still have a lot to learn, I wanted to share with you the 39 most important things I now know from living 39 years.  I was going to share all 39 in one post, but that was going to turn out to be a very long post.  So instead, I will include about half of them in this post and the remaining next week!

  1. Life is too short.  We never know how long we will live or how long those around us will live.  Although I am always working on this, I realize that I need to live each day to its most, tell those around me that I love them, and be true to myself and the Lord.
  2. Kids are a precious gift from God.  As I stated above, my last child turned a year old this year.  It made me think about what a miracle a child is and how amazing it is that they turn into little people from just a sperm and egg (also on my mind after reading to my boys about the birds and bees).  Along with this, I am much more aware that my children are gifts and that is how I should treat them each day.  Not that they should be spoiled, but they should be loved, respected, treated well, disciplined when necessary, and taught all the things necessary to be successful adults.  They are only on loan to me for a short time and it is my responsibility to raise them accordingly.
  3. Junk food may taste good but makes me feel bad.  When I was younger, I could splurge on pizza and ice cream and feel just fine the next day.  But now days, I will have a headache and stomach ache for several days if I do.  My bottom line is that it is now it is just as important to me how a food makes me feel as how it tastes.
  4. It is much easier to maintain your body than it is to lose.  After four pregnancies and recovering my pre-baby body back after each, I definitely want to be in a permanent maintenance mode now.  Maintenance mode doesn’t require a lot of thought or effort compared to trying to lose.  I also realize that as we get older, recovering takes more effort and time!
  5. I love foods that taste sweet and that will never change.  I have spent years wishing that I prefered savory to sweet because to me, it seems that it should be healthier.  I have tried to change my preferences but it is just not worth the effort or deprivation.  Sure I eat lots of healthy foods (veggies and protein), but I even want a little sweet taste in my salads and I am OK with that!
  6. Stress management is huge when it comes to mood, sleep, and body composition.  Including stress management tools in my life as a busy mom is crucial because stress raises cortisol levels.  Elevated cortisol levels cause all kinds of problems including belly fat, muscle wasting in arms and legs, sleep disturbances, and we all know if makes us short-tempered and grouchy.  There are some really fun things that I like to do to lower stress and these include massages (especially foot massages), pedicures, and talking with friends.  Walking is also an excellent way to lower stress.
  7. I have to take care of myself first to take care of everyone else.   This is a key for me mentally and physically.  I workout first thing in the morning because it makes me more energetic for the rest of the day, it makes me feel centered, it makes me more patient, and it puts me in a good mental place for the rest of the day.  Homeschooling two and taking care of two takes a lot of patience and energy.  I do a much better job if I stay with my early morning workouts.
  8. You can exercise too much.  Too much exercise (especially steady intensity cardio for hours at a time) has many repercussions that I have experienced which include increased appetite and cravings, sleep disturbances, fluid retention, muscle aches and pain, adrenal fatigue, and fat loss resistance.  There is a law of diminishing return when it comes to exercise and more is not better.  A balance of resistance circuits and cardio intervals is optimal for balancing hormones and fat loss.  An added  benefit is that it frees up more time to do other things.
  9. Healthy foods are not always fat loss foods.  Over the years I began to change the way I ate because I was listening to my body.  My diet became mostly protein and veggies because that is what made me feel the best.  Then, I started taking nutrition and exercise certification courses through Metabolic Effect and learned the science behind why these are best for me and make me feel the best.  It is all about balance metabolic hormones for optimal metabolism, energy, and body composition.  Some healthy foods such as whole grains and dairy do not have an optimal effect on metabolic hormones.  You can find out more about this HERE.
  10. People grow and change as they get older and sometimes they grow apart. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn and one that I am still dealing with.  I am not the same person I was when I was 20.  My faith has grown and priorities have changed.  My current perspective is that I must stay true to my beliefs and faith and more forward in life away from relationships that do not allow me to be myself or compromise my beliefs.
  11. Happiness is contagious.  You are much more likely to be happy and have a positive attitude if you surround yourself with others that are.  Living with someone that is negative does wear off on you!  Also, even if you are if a bad mood, try smiling!  I promise it will make you feel better!
  12. Nutrition is more important than exercise.  When it comes to being fit and healthy, how you eat has a greater effect than how you exercise.  It is not that exercise is not important (it is because it builds muscle and strengthens are heart), but when it comes to losing fat, what you choose to put in your mouth is key.
  13. Love and express yourself without regret.  I have spent a lot of my earlier years not expressing myself in a worry of what people might think of me.  When you are true to yourself and express the way you feel, you will attract those that should be around you.  My grandmother passed away when I was in my later 20’s suddenly, not too long after I had been to visit her.  Unfortunately, I had something else on my mind at the end of that visit and I do not remember kissing and hugging her and telling her how much I love her.  I still regret it to this day and try to always make sure I do not leave things unsaid.
  14. I still have a lot to learn.  Learning never stops.  With respect to life, my children are my great teachers and show me each day my flaws and gifts.  They also ask a ton of questions that I have to find the answers to.  With respect to health and fitness, as my body changes as I age, I continue to learn what it needs to stay healthy and fit.  With respect to my business and my job as a physical therapist, I will never stop learning, experiencing, and growing until I stop these activities.
  15. The greatest things we can instill in our kids are faith, self-esteem, a love of learning, and gratefulness.  I believe these are all keys to being happy and successful in life.  One of the reasons I decided to homeschool was to be able to provide my children with these things at a young age.
  16. Many things are much more important than money.  I became a physical therapist so that I could easily support myself, but when I became a mother, I gave up a lot of the money I could make because I felt staying home was more important than the money.  Sure, you have to pay the bills and that is why I work on the weekends.  I also have my business, but I have done that out of my passions (as it does not pay the bills).   I am much happier with my non-paying job (homeschooling and staying home with my kids) than I would be if I had a huge house and lots of money.  The thing about money is that no matter what, I think you feel like there is never enough and it definitely does not make you happy. 
  17. When you follow your passion, life makes room.  As I have mentioned, I started both my business and teaching in my children’s co-op this year.  I already had a very hectic schedule and really did not have time for anything more, but I felt a calling to do these things.  The amazing thing is that my life is no more hectic than it was before.  Yes, I do still have to prioritize and cannot get everything done, but it is no worse than before and I am more fulfilled.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the remaining next week!

My Top Five Tips for Busy Moms for Healthy Eating for Kids

1456986_10152091457351214_455119378_n For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about my kids and their nutrition recently.  Maybe its because of the holidays coming and all the memories of cookies and candies I have from childhood.  Maybe it’s because my oldest daughter (3) has a very small appetite and it is hit or miss if she eats at meals.  Maybe it’s because keeping my kids mostly gluten-free over the past 6 months has made a difference for my 7 year-old’s behavior and stomach aches.  Ultimately, I think it is because, through my multiple nutritional counseling certifications, I have learned that food is medication for our bodies.  It is hard as adults to change our eating habits to be more healthy.  So as mothers, it is crucial that we teach our children from the beginning to eat for great health and to have a normal relationship with food.  So, below are my top five tips that I use personally with my own four children to try to make sure they eat for health for the rest of their lives.

1.  SET THE RIGHT EXAMPLE!  I believe this is the most important tip and also probably the hardest.  As moms, how can we expect our children to eat healthy if we do not?  And how can we expect our kids not to eat emotionally if we do?  So, the first step is to make sure we (ourselves) have a healthy relationship with food. The next step is to know the right combinations of foods to eat for our bodies.  I help clients discover the best foods to eat in my customized 12 week program.  You can find out more here.  Once you know what to eat that keeps you fit, healthy, full of energy, and satisfied; all you have to do is eat that way.  Set the example by eating healthy and nutrition 80% of the time and eating those sweets and treats 20% of the time.

2. LET THEM READ THE LABELS!  It is important that our kids know what is in the foods they are eating.  I try to feed my kids whole foods, which do not have a label, as much as possible, but they do eat snack foods and packaged foods.  So, I let them read the label and teach them to look at the amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sugars food has.  I also teach them to look at the ingredient list and that it is best if we stick to foods with a limited number of ingredients that can all be pronounced.  My children love to read labels and for my older children I teach them a label rule that I teach my clients when deciding on whether to eat a food or not.  So, here is the label rule total carbohydrates – fiber – sugar alcohols – protein <= 10.  This helps assure that the food will not cause a blood sugar spike or an energy crash later on.  I also teach my children to look at the sodium content in packaged foods and what percentage of the day’s allowance the food contains.

3. SERVE PROTEIN, VEGETABLES, AND FRUIT WITH EVERY MEAL!  Here is how I feed my kids, I make sure that I serve a protein, vegetables, and a fruit for each meal.  The exception to this might be breakfast and I do not always include a vegetable with it, although two of my kids love scrambled eggs or egg whites with spinach.  I will also serve a side of starchy carbs (such as waffles, toast, rice, pasta, ect.) at two to three meals a day.  My kids do not like casseroles so I cook simply.  An example of breakfast might be gluten-free waffles, nitrite free bacon, and an apple.  An example of lunch might be baked chicken nuggets, steamed broccoli, and strawberries.  An example of supper might be baked chicken, carrots, some rice, and frozen grapes.  After either lunch or supper, my kids will often have a dessert.  This might be a cookie (usually gluten-free), a piece of chocolate, or a scoop of ice cream.

4.  DON’T FORCE THEM TO EAT!  I never try to force my kids to eat, but I do encourage them to at least try one bite.  Did you grow up in a “you must clean your plate family”?  I sure did and I learned to hide my vegetables all over the place!  As frustrating as it is when we cook a meal and our kids only pick at it, it is really important that we do not try to make them eat it.  There are several reasons for this.  First, what they put in their mouths is one thing that children have control over and they are likely to rebel when pushed.  Second, forcing a child to clean their plate can often lead to them feeling guilt as an adult if they leave food and can often interfere with their ability to listen to their own bodies’ telling them when they are hungry or full.

5. DON’T GIVE IN!  What I mean by this is do not did your children unhealthy foods just to get them to eat.  I have heard moms in the past say that their children will only eat French fries and chicken nuggets.  The best choice is to never feed these foods to your children in the first place.  I understand their frustration and need to find quick and easy things to feed their children, but my kids have never eaten fried chicken nuggets and have only eating French fries a handful of times.  Once of my daughters would eat dessert and candy and chips only if I allowed her to.  She will often sit at the table and request chips and refuse to eat anything I am serving.  I do not give in to this request.  The result is sometimes she does cries and does not eat for that meal, but she will eat the next meal.  The problem is that if I give in, then she will behave the same way each meal and never eat anything healthy.

I hope you have found this helpful.  I do not have all the answers and I do not feed my kids 100% whole, organic foods 100% of the time.  But I do think I have found a healthy balance with my kids and their nutrition.  I have also written a post on this in the past, which you can find here.

 

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