Breakfast Pastries

Lucky for me the whole family loves lemon treats. It gives me an excuse to bake with lemons. Plus they eat most of it!! So that’s a win for me. Their two favorite goodies are Lemon Loaf and Lemon Blueberry Muffins. Basically cake for breakfast. No one can argue with that.

In the Lemon Loafs defense, it’s not entirely horrible. It has yogurt and a bit of oil. So no butter. That’s slightly better, right? The muffins have blueberries, which are dubbed the one of the healthiest foods in the world. So there’s that. The kids are eating. That in and of itself is a miracle some days. Choose your battles.

The Lemon Loaf is an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. It’s super simple to make. Requires only two bowls for mixing dry and wet ingredients. Some light whisking and you’re done! And can I say, that when you zest the lemon, it smells like heaven. So fresh and bright. I used Meyer lemons for this recipe, which add a special flavor to this cake. I’ll bake it either way, but I love using the Meyer lemon!

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The Blueberry Muffins are pretty simple too. I like to wake up a wee bit early to get these in the oven before the kids wake up. Makes the house smell amazing and then breakfast is ready when they wake. I’ve made these for brunch. School functions and snacks. The kids will eat them all day long.

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I’ve had this recipe for nearly 20yrs. Yikes. I just dated myself, but that’s how much I love it. I believe I got it from one of those free grocery store flyers oddly enough. My Grandmother was a firm believer in finding recipes from many different sources.  I’ve tried them with several toppings, crumbles, sprinkles and just plain. They always turn out amazing. This time I did a simple crumble of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter.

They always turn out so light and fluffy. I used a Meyer lemon for these as well. Funny though, I prefer these made with the common lemon. It’s flavor is more traditional lemon flavor and seems to go better in the muffin. Just my preference. The kids still gobbled these up!

 

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Pre heat oven to 400º line a 12 cup muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients together. With a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles course crumbs.

In a small bowl, mix egg, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest together. Pour wet ingredients into the butter/flour mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in blueberries. Divide batter into 12 lined muffin cups.

To prepare topping: combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in cold butter with pastry blender until it looks like course crumbs. Evenly sprinkle topping on muffin batter.

Bake for 2o minutes, until tops are golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

 

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Meyer Lemon Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated Meyer lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk

Pre heat oven to 350º Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with butter and flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest.

Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and slowly whisk to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold in the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure its completely incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer placed in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile cook the 1/3 cup sugar with the 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pan and place on a wire rack that is placed over a sheet pan. The sheet pan will catch all the drippings from the simple syrup and the glaze. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to cool completely.

For the glaze, stir together the confectioners sugar, lemon juice and milk. Pour over the cake and allow it to set.

Both of these pastries are super simple to make. They take very little effort and time, but are huge hits! Give them a go!

Enjoy!

V~

 

 

Lots of Layers

 

The two things that are my biggest stress relievers are………..

I need not even say it. Talk about redundant. But I’ll say, come Friday of last week, it was all I could do to make it through my workout because I wanted to be in the kitchen baking. I wasn’t feeling well. It was a brutal leg day. I felt like I was going to pass out if I had to do one more deadlift. I also knew that I was unequivocally going to eat cake. So I had to bust my butt.

I wanted this cake and all its layers. Layers of delicious, moist chocolate cake. Creamy caramel custard and rich buttery frosting. Exactly what I needed after a week like I had. It did not disappoint.

First I always start with my favorite chocolate cake recipe. The best and easiest cake EVER.

 

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To get the cake layers even, I weigh each cake pan on the scale with the same amount of batter in each one.

 

 

It doesn’t get any easier than being able to mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another and combine them. Cake batter in under 15 minutes? Don’t mind if I do! Weigh out your cake batter evenly in each pan and their ready to go!

Next step is caramel sauce. Well, we already know how much I love that. So that’s easy. (You can see my post on Caramel for the recipe for this)

Next up was the custard. This is where it gets a little tricky. You have to make sure milk comes to a simmer, without scalding. When you add the milk to the eggs, you need to make sure the eggs don’t scramble. You add just a touch of the hot milk to temper them, whisk like mad, then add the rest. Then add it all back into the pot to come to a bubble. Only mine didn’t quite reach the bubble point. It got thick all on its own.

While the custard and caramel cooled, I made a simple vanilla buttercream. Once the caramel and custard were cool, I added the caramel to the custard and the buttercream to taste.

I will say that when adding caramel to buttercream (and the custard for that matter) it doesn’t taste super caramely (if that’s a word). When you read a name like “Caramel Buttercream” you think it should taste like caramel. It does not. It’s pretty subtle. I get it, caramel has a pretty mellow flavor profile to it, especially up against this cake. It’s still a great flavor combo, just not the “in your face” caramel flavor I love.

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This one was gobbled up in no time. A house favorite. I love making the little 6″ cakes. They are just the right size to have around the house. And if you happen to hand out any slices, it goes pretty quick! Always a plus for me!

Recipes Adapted from: Style Sweet CA

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 3/4 cups (90g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (190ml) buttermilk (room temp)
  • 3/4 cup (190ml) hot brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

 

Pre-heat oven to 350º. Prepare three 6″ round cake pans with butter and flour and line each pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine all dry ingredients. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Stir on low speed to mix all dry ingredients together. In a medium bowl, add all wet ingredients together. Add wet ingredients into the mixer bowl of dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Batter will be liquidy. With a digital scale, weigh batter evenly into prepared cake pans.

Bake cakes for 20 minutes, then rotate in oven. Cakes are done when a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean. I keep checking mine every two minutes (after the 2o minute mark) to make sure they do not over cook. Approximately 25 minutes total.

Cool on wire racks about 15 minutes, then with a clean table knife, run knife around edge of cake to losen from side of cake pan. Flip cake upside down onto wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Custard

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup caramel sauce (or more to taste) (recipe in previous post)

Place butter in a heat proof bowl. Set aside.

Gently heat milk in small sauce pan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a separate mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and cornstarch. Once the milk is hot, pour in a very small amount of the milk into the egg mixture while whisking (this is to temper the eggs). Once that is combined, pour the rest of the milk in and continue to whisk. Pour this mixture back into the sauce pan and place over medium heat. Heat until the mixture starts to bubble, constantly whisking. Once the custard is nice and thick (and/or “popping”) remove from heat and strain into the bowl with the butter. You may need to press the mixture through the strainer, leaving the bigger bits behind. You want a nice smooth custard. Add the vanilla and stir the butter and custard together.

Press a piece of plastic wrap over the custard and place in the refrigerator until chilled. Add in the caramel sauce to taste. At this point you can place back into the refrigerator until ready to use.

Caramel Buttercream

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Caramel Sauce to taste (in previous post)

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, whip butter on medium speed for 6 minutes. Needs to get lighter in color and fluffy!

Next add in the remaining ingredients except the caramel sauce. Whip on medium speed another 6 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in caramel to taste, whip until combined.

Assemble Cake

With a serrated knife, trim and level off the cake layers, to make nice flat cakes. Set trimmings aside (this is what I use to taste test the cakes with!)

Place one layer of cake onto a cake plate or a cardboard cake round. I like to use a round so I can easily move the cake in and out of the refrigerator during the assembly process.

Using a piping bag, place some of the buttercream into the bag and cut abut a 3/4″ size whole at the bottom. Pipe a perimeter of buttercream around outer edge of cake. Fill in the center with the caramel custard. Place next round of cake on top of this and repeat process. Place third and final layer on top. Next, lightly frost the cake to get a thin “crumb coat” on the cake. Place into the refrigerator until the frosting has hardened. About 15 minutes.

Remove cake from refrigerator and coat cake with final layer of frosting. Pipe a decorative top on if you wish. Sprinkles too! Place cake back into refrigerator to chill and set. Cake is best served if left out for about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Enjoy!

V~

Rolling Into Week 7

This week has been a bit of a struggle both physically and mentally. Missing two work outs. Not hitting all my macros on point. It can mess with your mind. As much as I like to have a balanced life, I struggle with wanting to be on point all the time. Reality is…..that’s not realistic. I rarely miss a workout. When I say rarely, I’m talking like maybe one missed workout over the course of three months, rarely. Not being on point with my macros, happens a bit more frequently (usually I end up under eating as fate would have it). So when both things happen at the same time, I kind of go into a little tail spin. I feel like I’m sitting watching all my gains wither away!

I start to down play my progress. A lot of self doubt starts to take place of acceptance. Thinking I should be a lot further along than I am. Thinking I should have a solid six pack by now. Blah, blah, blah. All the usual crap. Then I stop. I start to assess WHY I feel that way? Is it just because of a few bad days? Really? That’s just as unrealistic  a notion as being able to hit the gym 365 days a year. After all, what am I all about? BALANCE. Kids get sick. I get sick. Life happens. It’s what you do after, to get back on track, that matters the most.  Picking up and moving forward.

I had to remind myself that I’m training for life, not a competition. I’m training to prove you can do this when life happens. To prove that you can do this and live life in balance. Am I going to have that “perfect” (whatever that is) physique? No. But that’s not from a lack of trying……that’s because that does not exist!! That only exists in the eye of the beholder, so I’ve got to let that notion go. Reality is: I love to bake. Reality is: I have kids. Reality is: I am not competing. I’m living life. MY life that I love. We must strive for progress, not perfection.

With all this behind me, looking forward, I’ve got some gains to make! Week over week it feels like there aren’t many changes (physically). But there’s always changes, even if they are small. I was able to increase my weights on several sets. So my strength is growing. That is the point after all! We all get so caught up in “seeing” the changes. What I have found is, often the strength comes first, followed by the visual change to back that up.

All my nutrition stays the same this week. I’ve stayed consistent with my weight. My strength is increasing, even though my carbs are reducing. I will likely see more change with less sugar intake (wish me luck with that!). It does make a huge difference though. So maybe that’s what this weeks goal will be! Keep sugars at or below 20g per day. Yes, it’s doable. I’ve had days with zero sugars. Just takes diligence.

There’s always going to be days or weeks that go a little haywire on us. The real challenge comes from how we handle them. Tomorrow is a new day! Time to get back at it like nothing ever happened!

V~

 

The Heart of the Matter

I’m a few days short of Valentines Day, I know. I had the privilege of spending some one on one time with my daughter while she recovered from pneumonia. It’s a stressful time. Routines  are thrown off, eating is thrown off, sleep, workouts….everything gets disrupted. Often times this leads to emotional eating. Which leads to emotional drinking. Which leads to cake, cookies, caramel, pizza, maybe a burger and fries. You know. We’ve ALL been there. But alas we forget the logic of it all. We get wrapped up in the emotion of it all. We let our heart strings pull us away from our brains!

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This is is SO me. I live by the rules of my heart most of the time. Although I can think logically (Victoria, you know how much those lulu’s cost. Put ’em down girl!) my heart (aka: emotional need for lulu’s) (yes, it’s a real thing) gets the best of me. Sooooo, then I come home with my bag of lulu’s. Sure they’ve made me happy, but often times there is some guilt associated with it as well. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that emotional eating has never been a huge factor for me. However, I definitely have my moments!  I used to do it more before I started eating a macro based diet. Other areas of my life get the best of me way more than eating does. Lucky me? Nope. But I’ll go through what my brain process looks like.

I’ll use this weekend as an example. Daughter gets sick………

Emotion: I could run a train on that cake right now

Logic: Throw the cake away Victoria. Eating the cake will lead to guilt, feeling worse, you’re just stressed, eating something healthier will help you, not hurt you.

Me: makes two Van’s waffles with peanut butter and a banana all weighed and ready to roll out the door to the doctor. Still satisfying and I can log it! Happy!


 

Emotion: I want everything in the store. The cookies, the crackers, the chips, cereal, ice cream, wine…….ooh looky here, Valentine’s chocolate!!

Logic: Listen, Victoria. You’ve got a sick kid, you’re stressed. You will likely end up not being able to work out. Think this through. How will you feel if you eat all this AND you can’t work out? Like a heffer. Just get some almond milk and some rice cakes please. It’s just a Hallmark holiday. You can do this!

Me: Buys almond milk and some Greek yogurt.


 

Emotion: I NEED an entire bottle of wine

Logic: Really? A whole bottle? No.

Me: ok, a glass will do.


 

So as you see,  I’m thinking through the process. How will I feel as a result of my actions?  Sometimes I just don’t care. Like, at all. But that’s usually only about 2% of the time. I rarely, if ever, mindlessly eat. It just doesn’t happen. Maybe I’m an over thinker. I am thinking about my goals a lot. I am considering the aftermath of my actions. All. The. Time. So there’s that. But if I didn’t, my weekend would have become a free for all of take out and sweets. That would have led to guilt, shame and a really bloated belly. Um, no thanks. Instead I sit here relatively well fed, only one missed day of exercise, not bloated, yet still satisfied.

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So, that’s one part of the puzzle. I just work through the emotion of it. I bring myself back to the logic of it. Food is Fuel for my body.

There’s literally no other person in the equation. It’s just a game between you and food. No one else. There are so many other areas in our lives that are controlled by things other than ourselves, which can make decision making damn near impossible sometimes. But food? NO. No way! Don’t complicate food when SO much of our lives already are. No one is out there force feeding you cake. Not even me! Sure, you may be thrust into situations where food choices suck, but you can choose to have only one slice of pizza and a glass of beer, rather than 4 slices and an entire pitcher.YOU call the shots. End of story!

Today I have no progress pictures to post. This weeks progress comes in the form of these thoughts and the fact that I didn’t throw my macros out the window of the 7th floor pediatric unit.  Thanks be to people who live my lifestyle and came to the rescue!

I felt successful this week in reducing my carbs. It wasn’t a huge adjustment for me, but I do see the results of it. Going into week 6, all my macros and calories stay the same. Workouts stay the same with the exception of increasing the weight amounts. Looking forward to hitting the ground running this week!

So, before you grab the biggest spoon in your house to enjoy whatever confection you desire……let your logic speak to first. Think before you eat!

 

V~

 

 

 

What One Year Can Do

How long is too long to see results? One month, three months, one week? When we evaluate our expectations of how long it takes us to achieve certain goals (especially fitness related), I find we become really impatient. Most other things we are forced to be patient in like college, pregnancy, baking a cake perhaps. We’re forced to wait with all of it. Sure it can be tiresome, but I’m pretty certain there’s not one doctor out there that would say “Wow, that class on prescription drugs was a complete waste of time.” What if I pulled a cake out of the oven too early because I just decided I’d had enough? Ridiculous.

So why is it when it comes to fitness goals, we’re all whining a month in, frustrated about our progress? Then we quit and wonder why we continually have to start over.  Just think if you didn’t quit in the first place! It just takes time!! Some peoples bodies take longer to respond than others. It really does require a certain amount of patience and determination. All good things come to those who wait AND work their ass off! (literally)

My fitness journey over the last year has been tremendous. I look back and think if I’d never started this new adventure. I would NOT be where I am today. I would NOT have started this blog. I would not have seen the potential my body has. It’s been very empowering. If I had stopped when the going got tough, it would’ve been, well, a month in.  It would mean not getting the booty I wanted. Not getting the shoulders I dreamed of. Would’ve been me and my baby biceps running all around town. That clearly was never gonna happen.

How did I do it? I didn’t give up. That’s how. Oh…and I work at it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

So there’s that.

This is my years journey following Jessie Hilgenberg’s e-book programs. First picture is beginning of February 2015. Second photo is after completing the Muscle Building e-book in May of 2015. The third picture is after completing the Bikini Body program in June of 2015. The last picture was taken just a couple of days ago, 4 weeks into the Muscle Building 2 program. By the way, in all of these pictures I never gained or lost one pound. Not a single one!! Pretty awesome.

This progression of pictures is me working every single day. Not just lifting weights, but working at making progress in some way. Tracking my food. Weighing my food. Being mindful of my choices. Working through illness. Working through injury and pain. Working through exhaustion. Waking up at 4am to get the workout done. Overcoming fear and failure. Not letting those railroad me into quitting. Spending an obscene amount of time figuring out my macros. How to get food to fit and fit my lifestyle. I need wine. So I have to make it work!

This is a progression of being consistent. Not quitting. Never giving up. Not getting caught up in the time it was taking me to achieve certain goals. Time will pass regardless of what I chose to do with it. So, I may as well just keep working. ANY progress is movement in the right direction. So just do something. Anything! Every day.

So, where do I stand today? Well, I’m still sitting at around 130lbs. Since going into phase two of the Muscle Building 2 program I have dropped the amount of carbs I’m eating. This helps in the leaning out process. I’ll be gaining lean muscle, while losing some body fat. So my calculations are as follows: 185g of carbs, 58 g of fat, 164g of protein, for a total of approximately 1925 calories.  Cardio will increase slightly and our weight lifting pattern has changed as well in a way that will speed up the leaning out process. Really looking forward to some big changes in the weeks to come!

 

We’ll get to cake later on this week!

Don’t let time dictate what changes you see. Let progress be the predictor of your success. Never lose sight of the small victories. It could be as simple as making a better food choice, when in the past you would’ve had all the pizza. Or perhaps last month you could only lift 10lbs now you can do 15lbs. Its all progress and with those small victories, the transformation will begin. Keep going!!

~V

 

 

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

 

What did I do with that glutinous purchase of Kodiak Cakes at Costco? I made chocolate chip pancakes of course. I happened to post this picture the other day on the Jessie’s Girls Facebook page and everyone was likely licking their phones, drooling over the thought of having these delicious pancakes.  They are pretty damn good, I must admit. I’ll get to the recipe here in a quick minute.


 

I get asked frequent………how can I keep all these sweets around and not eat them? I get asked how I’ve arrived at the point where I don’t have to refrain from outings (namely wine tasting in my case), or gatherings, or going out to dinner so as to stay on point with my nutrition. You wanna know the real truth?? (I always prefer on upfront answer)

So here you go…….I. Don’t. Know.

It’s complicated, is another answer to that question (which I really can’t). Or maybe it’s just a long process. Yes. Lets go with that! It’s a process. Learning about myself and what triggers I have. I’ve learned over time what foods are “red light” foods for me. Certain times of the month are bad for me, so I behave accordingly. We all have bad days. I try my best to drink my wine and leave it in that moment. I don’t let it turn into a week long binger. But ALL that came with time and practice. And failure. Lots of trial and error.

I did go about a year where I was pretty strict. I would only allow myself a couple of times a month to have a little something extra.  I would log my food every day to stay on track and make sure I was eating the correct amount of food. I think being so strict and tracking every morsel of food for an entire year, built a strong foundation of knowledge of what I was eating. Now I can look at a food and know how that fits into my daily diet. I am pretty secure on what my limits are and if I go over them. Once I was done losing the baby weight and running on a regular basis I started to eat more intuitively. I didn’t track or log anything. I ate what I felt like eating. I knew I could pick up that empty bottle of wine, throw it in the recycle bin, drink some water, and move on. This is how I can go on vacation and know how to control myself. Eat two really well balanced meals a day……drink the rest, right?  LOL. Not exactly how it is, but I am able to balance it out.

The other thing I did, was weigh myself every single day. Every. Day. Not as a self deprecating tool, but as a learning tool. “Oh, you drank that entire bottle of wine? Ok, lets see how that worked out for you.” Or, “Hey…I ate really clean all week! Hmmmm…somehow that seemed to work better.” So as the days, weeks, months went by, I learned more and more about how my body responded to foods. This is definitely NOT what I do today. I’m at the point where I trust my body to know what to do. What I am saying, is there is something to be said about being strict. Staying on track with whatever regimen you may be following. You may need to just hunker down for a bit until you get a grip on your habits. If you know that going wine tasting will lead to a sip, then a glass, then several bottles, then cheese, oh and brownies (mustn’t forget those!) and then it’s a weekend binger……you may want to rethink your plans. If you know you can go to your friends house party and bring your own food and stick to your plan….go!! It’s mostly about knowing yourself. Trusting yourself and letting go of the times where we slip. It will happen because you are a perfectly imperfect human.

Yes!! I have sweets around the house. I have a whole bunch of food laying around the house that doesn’t necessarily come in line with my fitness goals. That’s life. I just don’t binge eat it. It’s just not who I am. When I make a cake, I’m typically making it for a particular reason (not just to eat it!). Do I have a piece (or two) on occasion? YES!!! But I can go weeks with out it too. So it’s just about balance. I really want people to find the right balance. However, if you’re just starting out new. Or maybe starting over. Or just scared of letting go of the control, do it slow. Be “all in” for a time, then slowly let go. Trust yourself a little that you’ll know when to stop. Give yourself permission to slip and let it go.


 

OK!! Lets talk pancakes!

Chocolate Chip Kodiak Protein Cakes to be exact. So in those times where we are being diligent and staying on track, but the day goes to shit and you need something comforting…..look no further. This is what you’ll want to make. It’ll be on your plate in 10 minutes!

I start with one bowl and set it on my scale to weigh out the Kodiak Cake mix, protein powder and almond milk.

Next, weigh out your chocolate chips. Remember, if you’re not weighing your food, how the heck will you know if you’re eating the correct amount of food? Could you imagine shorting yourself chocolate chips?! That would be sad. Really sad. So just weight them. For all of us.

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Pour your batter on the griddle and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Cook until done. Meanwhile in a smaller bowl weigh out your Greek yogurt and maple syrup (sugar free if you have it).

Spread your Greek Yogurt mixture over the Pancakes and enjoy!!

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Chocolate Chip Kodiak Cakes

53g Kodiak Power Cake mix

25g NLA for her Vanilla cupcake

3.5 fl oz of Almond Milk ( I use Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond milk)

14g Lilly’s Dark Chocolate Chip

56g Non fat Greek Yogurt (Fage brand)

15 ml Sugar Free Maple Syrup (Josephs Sugar Free Maple Syrup)

 

Macros For the Brands I use:

444 Calories • 49g Carbs • 10g of Fat • 42g Protein • 556mg sodium • 8g sugar

 

The great thing about this it makes two big pancakes. More than enough to fill you up and satisfy your hanger pains. The other great thing, is it’s only one serving. So there won’t be any left to nibble on! Easy to stay on track.

Unfortunately there is no magic pill friends. It’s good old fashioned will power most of the time. Fortunately for me food is easy to say NO too. Now….other things, not so much!!

V~

 

 

 

Too Busy? Think Again. 

This has been one heck of a busy week. Painting. Kids. A Dog (a puppy to be exact), carpool, baking, working out, life. It’s just life. But we all give certain things in our life priority. For me, kids come first. Lately, the puppy comes in at a close second. Food. Then exercise. You’ve all heard the “there’s 24 hrs. in a day, you can find one hour to exercise” shtick. Although that statement is true, it’s actually more about what we are giving priority to. You say you want to lose weight or perhaps build a stronger physique. However you’re giving priority to other things. What do your TV viewing habits include? Perhaps there’s opportunity there. What does your lunch hour look like? Can you squeeze in 30 minutes of some weights? The dreaded 5am wake up call is daunting, I know that. I’ve done that. But if you want to make fitness a priority and your day is filled full of all the other responsibilities of life, perhaps that is your best option. Point is, you’re filling your day with something. What is it? Evaluate and adjust.

I make exercise a priority. Everyday I have to evaluate my day. What are the kids schedules? What school priorities are there? What needs to be done at home? What work needs to be accomplished? THEN I decide…..ok, what time will I go workout today? Is it that 5am alarm clock or is it a 7pm workout? I prefer to keep it regular times everyday, but that is not nearly as important as just getting it done. Maybe I have to break my workouts up. Weights in the morning and cardio at night, or at home. So, it’s just part of my everyday scheduling I do. We all schedule appointments every day. This is no different. Life gets busy and we need a way to be flexible, yet, not give way to our priorities.


 

I’ve reached week 4 in the Jessie’s Girls 3k Challenge!! I’m seeing progress. Although it may be small, it is progress. It’s in the little things you may not see, but can feel. My strength is increasing. My endurance is holding up longer. People come up to you at the gym and tell you that they didn’t recognize you because your arms are getting so big. Funny, but true. We tend to not see our changes quite as quick as others do.  So there’s that.

Week over week, here’s the difference. Last week I was around 131ish (I don’t weigh myself ever), I stepped on the scale this morning just for this and it read 130.4lbs. I’m currently eating roughly 2000 Calories a day. What’s more important is the macro breakdown of those calories. I consume 164g of protein per day, 59g of fat, and 203g of carbs. I also try to keep my sodium at 2000mg or less and sugar 30g or less. It’s funny because I’ve been feeling like a busted can of biscuits lately, which can be from any number of things. Sodium, carbs, water intake…you name it. I’m a woman, so you never know from one day to the next what’s going to happen. Which is why consistency has been the key for me. Every damn day. Gotta work at it.

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I have been changing things up a bit lately with my meals. I have a tendency to get stuck in a rut. I like routine, which has me eating pretty much the same thing every day. Which is ok, but after a while, that same bowl of Cream of Wheat and protein powder starts to taste like gross warmed up baby food.


I recently made some great purchases at Trader Joes. First off was their Fire Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions. I cooked up one pound of lean ground turkey with the entire bag of roasted veggies. I divided it up into 4 equal servings and would eat each serving in a flour tortilla. It literally took me 10 minutes to make up four meals! So fast and good!

The other finds were the Frozen Shredded Hash Browns and the Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausages. I’ve been using the Hash Browns as part of my pre-workout meal. Mixed with some egg whites, they are a low fat, high carb, high protein meal. Exactly what I need.

One of my favorites recently was a combo of the hash browns, chicken sausage and some whole eggs. This was higher in fats (not ideal for a pre-workout) but still a good mix, macro wise.

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I also purchased the riced cauliflower, which is good, but really low on carbs. This will be fine as I near the end of my challenge. Right now I need foods high in carbs……I’m eating a bowl full of oatmeal every night before bed for Pete’s sake!! Cauliflower isn’t working for me now. However, talk to me at the end of the Biking Body Program and I’ll be gobbling that stuff down!

I also had a fellow Jessie’s Girl post a recipe using the Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Biscuits baked with the Trader Joe’s Brie Bites in the center and topped with the Trader Joes reduced sugar strawberry jam. That was so delicious and one of the easiest things to make!

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Overall, it was a good week. Although it was busy I made the time to get my workouts in and plan my food accordingly. Having a well stocked kitchen is key for that. Making a daily plan was key for that. Making it a priority for my life was key to getting it done.

V~

Should-ing Accountability

What I SHOULD have done is gotten up super early today and published this post by this afternoon. I want Monday’s to be my accountability post from here on out. Especially as I  lift and bake my way through the Jessie’s Girls 3k challenge. However, I wanted to sleep. So now I’m up late doing it.

My decisions as of late seem to be at odds with one another. Where (I think) I should be and where I could be. Like this post for example. I thought I should’ve had it done by today. I was a little hard on myself for not getting that done. This was not from any external pressure. No one told me I had to have it done today. No one gave me a deadline. It was my own self dialogue. My own internal battle.

In todays world there *seems to be a lot of external pressures to be/act/live a certain way. However, I’ve yet to have person hold a gun to my head saying, “Victoria, you must build those biceps or we’re not going to love you.” Right? How we process all those external pressures, is how we arrive at our “should.”  Everyone I surround myself with is supportive of me (and the size of my biceps). When it comes to big life choices, no one was there telling me I “should” do any thing. It was me who was “should-ing” myself to death.

So, are we Should-ing our accountability?

I should’ve done better. I should’ve lost more weight. I should’ve met ALL my macros. I should’ve made that weight heavier. I should’ve not eaten that extra brownie. Well, you know what? Should-ing isn’t going to change any of that.  Instead own it.  It’s ok that all those things didn’t happen. No one really cares!! We care because you care about it. We care because of your health perhaps. But beyond that, it literally does not matter!! Own it and move forward.  It’s our own internal dialogue that gets us into this spiral. We can get stuck there for a time. Even when everyone is telling you, “you don’t HAVE to do this!” you do, because you think you “should”……….. and there you stay. Stuck.

And lets not get need confused with should. You’re probably saying, “That’s all well and good Victoria, but there are some people who SHOULD lose weight.” No, it’s not should, they NEED to. For their health. For their life. It’s like saying someone with cancer “should” get treatment. No, they NEED treatment. So the fact that you should’ve lost weight is a cop out. Did you need it or was it just a “should” statement?

I don’t exercise and count (almost) every morsel of food because I think I should be doing this. I definitely don’t do this because I think this is what I should look like. I’m doing it because I WANT to do this. I like doing it. I find it interesting and challenging. It’s really hard to be in any position when you think you “should” be there. Its miserable. So if you don’t want it, maybe you need it. Change that thought from “I should” to “I need” until you can get to a place of acceptance. Tough. Trust me, I know. But it’ll come round. Even if its “I need to do this for my kids.” or  “I need to do this for my health.”  Anything to get that “should” from stealing another moment.

Ok….On that lovely note…..Let’s have some fun at my expense, shall we??

So when I started my fitness journey WAY back in the day, circa 1995, I believe the heaviest I ever weighed was 155lbs. Now, on a 5’5″ small frame female that’s heavy. Plus it was NOT muscle. By 2002 I was down in the 125-130 range. That was my “I just want to be skinny” stage of life.

Then after having my first baby I was able to get down to 135 and maintained that for a very long time. But after my third baby, I was back up to 156 and wanted to get back to my normal self again. (read  the post “My Fitness Journey” for a more detailed explanation)

Last year when I started the Jessie’s Girls program, I was at 126 and I maintained that weight all the way through. My current weight is 131….meh…you know, a little fluff, some added (intentional) weight, PLUS muscle….that all adds up to about about 5lbs! I rarely weigh myself anymore. I’ve come to learn that the number on the scale is merely an exercise of learning what my gravitational pull on the earth is. I look at myself. I asses how my cloths fit. I assess before and after pictures. Progress pictures all the time.

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Far left hand was from February 2015 I weighed 126lbs, the last picture was June 2015 I weighed 126lbs.

So here I am today. Like literally only moments ago at 12am in the morning. After a long day and night of food and water……you can see why I chopped my head off of this picture. No need to frighten people away from my blog. I believe my current weight is 131lbs. A little extra fluff around the mid section as I take on eating a higher amount of carbs in this beginning phase of the Muscle Building 2 program.

 

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I’m currently in week 3 of the Muscles Building 2 program. I lift 5 days a week with steady state cardio 3 days a week and 2 days of HIIT (high intensity interval training). Each week I have increased my weights. At week 5 I will reduce my carb intake and continue lifting just as frequently. So that’s where the leaning out process will start to happen for me. I will start to really see all the muscle I put on during this first phase of work. Consistency and dedication is all it takes!

So as the weeks and months press on, you’ll get to follow me along this journey. Follow my progress and set backs when they happen. I will not work on what I should be doing, but rather what I need or want to be doing. What I need is all around me!

V~

For the Macro Counters

Ok. I’m the first to admit, not much on here has been “macro friendly.” But what makes something “macro friendly?” In reality if you really, really want something you can make that shit fit. End of story.

I was talking with a friend about this whole notion of macros, sugars, negative calorie foods etc. We both came to the solid conclusion that food is all about balance. You must find the right balance for you. In fact, I remember having a conversation with my mother about this very thing. If you eat too much of any one thing, no matter how “good” for you it is, it will eventually throw you out of balance. Kale is an example of this. Cruciferous vegetables are an example of this. When eaten in high amounts, it may affect your thyroid. Oh, you’re eating Kale at the rate of 100g a day cause you thought it was good for you? Let me offer you a brownie instead.

Put. The. Kale. Down.

So in comes the Macro crowd (yep, me included). A macronutrient based diet consists of calculating the correct amount of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs) to fit your body’s needs. So for example, my goal is to build muscle. Currently it’s to pack it on!! So, that not only requires protein, but larger amounts of carbohydrates. You can look up how to calculate your macros very easily on the web. It’s not magic. It’s science. You can calculate your nutritional needs based on what you want to do; build muscle, lean out while building muscle, maintain, loose weight, gain weight. It’s all about what you eat and the balance of it. What’s really great is you can adjust it as time goes on. If you feel you’re not seeing results, adjust the balance. If your body is having a hard time with the amount of protein, change it. Nothing is set in stone and every body is different, so it’s always important to listen to your body.

All foods have macronutrients and micronutrients (sugars, sodium). ALL FOODS.  So although a food may metabolize in your body in such a way that it burns more calories than what’s in the food, it still has macronutrients in it! There’s still fats, proteins, carbs, sugars and sodium. So in some way that food will affect how your body functions. Where are you getting energy from if it takes more effort to digest the food then the food has??!! The MACROS!!! All food has energy to provide. If all you did was eat food all day every day that required more energy to digest it than the food actually offered, well you’d quickly waste away. So clearly you can’t do that. You have to balance your diet to offer your body actual fuel for living. Again, science people.

We are all searching for that easy way out. That magic diet where miracles happen.  The other thing my friend said to me (in another conversation about another subject, yet it still applies) “it’s never gonna happen. Ever. So just move forward” She was right, unfortunately.

So forget the notion that there’s some super spectacular diet that’s going to change your life. Nope, YOU will change your life by eating only one brownie and not the entire pan. So there’s that.

Today, I’m going to talk about some healthy snacks!! I know. Crazy. But don’t fear, I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled baking soon. As in this weekend soon. So be ready.

I don’t often bake savory type snacks. It just doesn’t occur to me. However, the same friend had recommended I make Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Potato Muffins.  So happy she did! These were really good. Very dense. Very filling and really good for you! IMG_4578

One glance at these ingredients and you know they will be really satisfying and healthy. The sweet potato’s are the star of the muffin providing much of the bulk. Which then helps reduce the amount of flour you need in the muffin. The eggs provide the protein and fats. There aren’t any added oils or butters, making this heart healthy. The cheeses provide some added protein and flavor.

The process of making this muffin requires grating 600g of sweet potato. Say What?? That’s not going to work after arm day. Oh no! You’re going to break out the food processor with the grater attachment.  Other than that bit of work, the rest is really simple.

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I whisked the eggs a bit in a separate bowl, then added that to the sweet potato mixture. Added in the cheeses and flour and mixed all together. The original recipe calls for self rising whole grain flour. *If you can’t find the self rising flour, just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder per 1 cup of whole wheat flour and sift well.

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These little muffin tins were packed full!! Also, another little helpful hint is to use regular baking cups, but spray them with a nonstick spray. I used my coconut oil spray. He calls for parchment paper cut into squares and put into the muffin tin. No. No one has time for that. Especially after shoulder day. Just use the baking cups, you’ll never get that time back cutting all those little squares out!

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On top is a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and poppy seeds. Adds some crunch which is nice. Overall they are a really great little snack. Or if you’re like me and have to eat all day everyday, these are part of a larger meal, not just a snack.

I’ve also found some great buys at the store recently that are super macro friendly and are very tasty. First is a wheat berry, quinoa, Farro and Barley dish. Really hearty, low in sugars and high in carbs, with a good balance of protein and fats.

I like to add a little shredded chicken to this or as a side dish to salmon. I found this at my local Costco the other day. So far this is a keeper! The other find is a granola from Kind. It is also low in fats and sugars, yet has a decent amount of carbs, great for a pre or post workout meal. I’ve been adding it to my Greek yogurt for a mid afternoon snack.

It’s really crunchy with bits of raspberries. I found it at my local grocery story in the cereal isle with the rest of the granolas. Granolas are usually really high in sugars and fats (super tasty, but don’t necessarily fit my daily plan), so when I came upon this I was excite to give it a try. It was really good. Satisfying that granola craving without all the sugars!

Sweet Potato Muffins

  • Non stick spray
  • 600g sweet potatoes
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons cottage cheese
  • 250g whole wheat self-raising flour (*see note above)
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350º

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with baking cups. Spray each baking cup with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Peel sweet potatoes and coarsely grate by hand or with a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl. Trim and thinly slice the spring onions and add to the sweet potatoes. Finely slice the chilies add half to the bowl and reserve the other half and set aside.

Whisk eggs in separate bowl, then add parmesan and cottage cheese. Add egg mixture to sweet potato mixture then add flour, stir until combined. Divide the mixture evenly in the muffin tin then sprinkle with sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and dot with the chilies.

Bake in the middle rack for 35 minutes or until golden and set. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Macros for One Muffin:

169 Calories ·23g carbs· 5g fat ·8g protein· 3g sugar· 150mg sodium

Enjoy the food you eat! Make healthy balanced choices and you will always come out ahead. It’s not magic…..its science. 🙂

V~

What’s Your Why? Mine is Brownies :-)

I get asked all the time why I work out. What am I training for? Why do I eat like this? How can I bake and stay fit? How the hell can you have brownies in the house?!?

Well, the brownies we’ll get to in a moment. My Why? Well, my why has changed a lot over the years. At first my why was because I got fat. Pretty simple. I didn’t like what I looked like. I didn’t like how I felt about myself so I made a change. Then my Why changed to be because I needed to maintain. For quite a while it stayed this way, fluctuating between needing to lose weight and needing to maintain. That was mostly due to babies. Legit reasons (kinda….I did take those lovely 9 month vacations…..three times).

Then my Why became about wanting to be in shape. Not just be skinny. I wanted to be really fit. Healthy. Heart healthy. To actually do something with my body. Make it work hard. Run. Run fast. My Why became about being mentally fit. It all ties together. My Why currently is about building muscle. Not to compete. Not for show. Not for anyone or anything other than the fact it just makes me happy. I happen to love the way muscle looks on a person. The shape it gives. It *may be because I *may want a nice booty for summer (or year round, that works for me as well). Its a beautiful thing, our bodies. Its an exciting and interesting process to me. My body is my canvas and I get to decide how to shape it. So it’s pretty simple. My Why? It makes me fucking happy. That’s it. I’m training for me. For life. For my kids. For my health. And yes, because I like to eat brownies.

So my Why gives me a purpose to make it easier to have those brownies in the kitchen. My Why is always in my head. My vision. I know that I can’t  eat ALL the brownies. So I don’t. Is it hard? Yes. Yes I would love to sit on the couch with my favorite TV show on, with a gigantic bowl of warm brownies with ice cream smothered by caramel sauce. Sounds amazing. I’m just not going do it. Nope.  Instead I’m sitting here blogging away, while brownies chill in the freezer with my 5am wake up call looming so I can drag my ass to the gym. That’s how I do it. I just fucking do it. No excuses.

“But Victoria!,” you cry, “It’s so hard! How do you find the motivation?”  I want it. It’s literally that simple. Either you want it or you don’t. There is no in between.

Yes I love to sleep in. Yes I have really bad days. Yes I get sore. Yes I have moments with body image issues. Yes I deal with injury. Yes I hate meal prepping. Yes I have days where I don’t eat spot on and have guilt associated with it. Yes I wish I could look like Jessie Hilgenberg or Paige Hathaway when I walk out of the gym. Yes I want ALL the wine. And lets not start about all the Lululemon I’d love to have. And YES, every damn day I plow through all those thoughts of doubt, hurt, pain, fear, guilt, exhaustion, envy and gluttony over Lulu. The struggles are real. Yes, I am human. Bottom line is I’m willing to work through the struggles. All those things aren’t going to get me to my Why. To my vision. They’re road blocks, but I choose to not let them stop me in my journey. You can choose to let them consume you or you can choose to take them to the gym and leave that shit there.  Then on those really great days, I make a plan for brownies and wine.

That’s exactly what I did this weekend! It’s  been a while since I’ve made brownies. They are one of my favorites, but they kinda got shuffled to the side in the interest of making new things. However, it made them all that more delicious. I love the process of making brownies! Melting a pound of butter with a pound of chocolate. There is nothing better. It’s beautiful. Magical. Hypnotic even. Smells like heaven.

And they are really simple too. A few bowls involved, but no mixer and it all gets mixed together into one big bowl. Pretty easy. Baking time is reasonable as well. You can add caramel. Add peanut butter. Add walnuts, almonds, or chocolate chips. Or keep them simple. Its up to you! I use Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies with a few little tweaks.

Outrageous Brownies

  • 1 pound unsalted Butter
  • 1 pound semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter and flour a 12x18x1 inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of semi sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, instant coffee granules, and vanilla. Stir together but do not beat. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Toss the pecans and the remaining 12 ounces of dark chocolate chips in a small bowl with the remaing 1/4 cup of flour. Add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, them rap pan on oven rack to force the air out of the batter. Bake for another 15 minutes until just done. Do not over bake! Allow to cool thoroughly. Refrigerate then cut into squares. Enjoy!

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They are so rich and dense. These brownies definitely lean more toward the fudgy side than the cake like texture type of brownie. So if that’s your thing, then give them a try!

Remember to reflect on your WHY. What is driving you? When someone asks you Why, have an answer. Not for them, but for you. Also, re-evaluate your why. It may need to change from time to time to keep your journey going. Is it to get past an injury. Is it to get over a hurdle or obstacle to get to a certain goal. It’s ok to change why we do what we do, so long as it keeps us in the direction we want to go. Even if your why is because you want to eat brownies!!

V~