Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies

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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 14

You will LOVE this cookies! They are super easy to make and you can’t tell at all how healthy they are! 😉

I like to replace sugar with baking stevia, and use ground up oats (into a flour) instead of white flour. The pumpkin and egg give it enough moisture, so no need for oil or butter! Adding in protein powder adds to the soft-baked texture and of course, punches a secret dose of protein.They are soft with just enough outside crunch and full of fall flavors. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
-1/2 cup old fashioned oats
-1/4 cup oat flour (ground up oats)
-1/2 cup baking stevia
-2 scoops Dymatize XT (whey/casein blend) protein powder
-2 Tbsp coconut flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice and/or
-1/2 tsp each: nutmeg, ginger + allspice
-1 whole egg
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-2 Tbsp raisins
-1/4 cup fresh cranberries (or omit)
-1/2 tsp butter or vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp maple extract (optional but recommended)

Other add ins: Chocolate chips, crushed nuts, etc.

Mix all dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients in a separate small bowl, then add to dry; mix well. It will be a sticky dough. I recommended chilling the dough for about 15-20 minutes at this point. Pre heat oven to 350F. (Lightly roll into balls and flatten (lightly wet hands if necessary, I used a spoon to portion out the dough).

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Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Mine made 14 cookies.

Nutrition (for 1 cookie + ingredients above):
52 cals/1g fat/6.5g carbs (1.5g fiber, 1.5g sugar) 4.3g protein

 
 

 

 

 

Adrenal Fatigue Recovery: Where to Start?

self-care_mapIt has been just about three months since I posted about my struggle with Adrenal Fatigue. You can read my first post and the beginning of my recovery here.

I “self-diagnosed” myself with Adrenal Fatigue in August after doing my own research and putting all of the puzzle pieces together. I completely fit the criteria for someone who was dealing with burnout and Adrenal Fatigue; I was utterly stressed out in all ways I could be, had ALL the symptoms, and my lab work didn’t point to any major “medical” issues that doctors could diagnose and treat.

With my research I found that the only true way to “diagnose” Adrenal Fatigue is through saliva testing and measuring levels of cortisol throughout the day. While this is a great option, I felt like I had enough evidence to know that this is what I had been fighting against for almost a year. Getting these tests also would mean I would have to find a new doctor and hope that they would order these tests…which is not easy, as most only do bloodwork PLUS a lot of insurances do not cover saliva testing 🙁 The opportunity to have these tests would be ideal, but I decided it was in my best interest to start the healing process NOW instead of playing the waiting game once again. I didn’t feel I needed more confirmation that I didn’t feel good…!

Anyways, let’s get to how I went from feeling crappy to feeling like myself again!!! 🙂

There are many different components to the healing process and the “treatment plan” will vary for each individual. I will share generalized recommendations from what I have gathered through my own research, and also what has helped me working through specific challenges and symptoms.

The biggest keys for anyone needing to heal the adrenals and optimize their functioning is to:

Acknowledge the Adrenal Fatigue and the NEED for permanent change in multiple ways. Realizing that there is a problem and then making the necessary steps towards change can be embarrassing, overwhelming, or a little scary. It can also seem like you are a “failure” because you couldn’t keep up with the rollercoaster of life. This is not the case AT ALL. It is so important to realize that NO ONE is perfect and that trying to be Superman/woman is not realistic or maintainable by any means. Plus, many people with AF have a “Type A” personality, thrive on productivity, always go go go, and burning both ends of the candle. It can be hard for that person to admit that they have to change their habits and lifestyle, because heck, change is scary. But your long term HEALTH is worth it, and is depending on you making those steps to recovery.

While every person will have to make different changes, the main focus is to:

Eliminate or Avoid the negative stressors that are the causes of the fatigue while creating new positive habits that are sustainable and lead to a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

This could sound like a well, “duh” statement. Of course the stress has to be removed. But it is easier said than done. Yes, there will be plenty of times in the future where we will be under bouts of high stress. Life is not perfect and there will never a be a time that is completely “stress-free”. BUT to know when it gets to be too much and healthy habits in place to relieve the stress is so important. It will aid in managing the stress so it doesn’t get out of control and run the risk of spiraling back into burnout.

So to reiterate, it is about avoiding and/or removing the toxic environmental, physical and mental stressors, and making a whole lifestyle change which includes improving:

  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Supplementation
  • Rest & Recovery
  • Exercise
  • “Mental Health” time aka YOU time

In my post today I want to just focus on the mental and emotional healing with AF. I honestly feel that this is the most crucial part in recovery. You could be eating all the right foods, sleeping more, taking your vitamins…but if your MIND is not in the right place, recovery will never happen. For me, the physical symptoms of adrenal burnout seemed to improve faster than my mental changes. Again this will be different for everyone, but I believe that being happy from the INSIDE will ultimately lead to the best physical health, outward changes and achieving the BALANCE between our bodies and spirit. Lowering my cortisol and balancing my hormones meant that I MUST change my prioritizes, my mindset & perspective.

Let go of the idea of PERFECTION.

Understanding that striving for a “perfect” life, job, body, family etc. is not realistic or sustainable, and sets us up for disappointment and feeling like we have failed. We have to channel our thoughts and idea of “success” to something that is more attainable and balanced. Extremes are easy and having moderation can be difficult when we live life in over-drive, have an all or nothing/black & white mentality with what is success and healthy.

So where do we begin?! We are being pulled in so many directions and it can be overwhelming of what you CAN do.

Make “Recovery Lists”

I highly suggest writing out a first list; let’s call this the “Fatigue List”: the negative things you want to change or improve on. This could be the symptoms you want to eliminate, the toxic stressors, negative issues, etc. These are the things that are holding you back & need to be changed in order to see progress. Create a second list and (let’s call this your “Wellness List”) with all of your goals: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual prioritizes that have taken the back-burner and that you need and WANT to incorporate (back) into your life. Write down anything, big or small, even if you don’t think they are attainable. Be honest and take your time…what do YOU really want? These are things that would make you healthier in ALL aspects and lead to healing the adrenals. These are things that make you HAPPY!!! 🙂

These lists are personal…all about YOU and your health. While I am happy when I am around my family, husband, doing hobbies, it is important to create the INNER happiness, sense of peace and balance. Remember that YOU must be happy and healthy before you can help others or make them happy!

Creating your Recovery Plan

Compare your lists and be honest with yourself. What do you struggle with the most? What do you WANT the most? That should be one of the top “items” on your Priority list. With every stressor that you eliminate, aim to replace it with an item from your “wellness” list. This won’t always be an easy direct replacement, but again, the key is to AVOID the major stressors and find or CREATE healthy alternatives.

I will give you some of the items on my lists and changes I needed to make:

Fatigue List:

  • My goal of perfectionism
  • Aiming to do too much all the time
  • Pushing myself mentally and physically to exhaustion
  • Not taking enough time for myself
  • Lack of sleep/rest and recovery
  • Excessive intense exercise
  • Negative work environment
  • Not prioritizing my relationship with God & spiritual health

Other stressors could include:

  • Poor nutrition and diet choices
    • High carbohydrate and sugar diet
    • Excessive caffeine
    • Processed and packaged foods
  • Poor or lack of supplementation
  • Not exercising at all
  • Prioritizing/caring for others above your own health
  • Negative relationships/people
  • Negative self-talk

Wellness List:

  • Getting more sleep (!)
  • Improve my digestion and gut health
  • Improve my nutrition and diet and supplement where needed
  • Find a new job and work environment
  • Pace myself/create a more balanced daily schedule
  • Be kind & compassionate to myself
  • “Allow myself” for more down time aka “mental health time”
  • Create daily “mental health time” to rest and recover
  • Improve energy levels
  • Gain back my “zest for life” and mental well-being
  • Reduce my fatigue/chronic aches and pains
  • Spend more quality time with my husband and family
  • Reduce & balance my overall exercise volume and intensity

Other priorities could be:

  • Moderate and consistent exercise
  • A whole food, nutrient-dense diet
  • Consistent and balanced meals
  • Creating a positive relationship with food and exercise
  • Finding new hobbies, recreational activities, etc.
  • Rekindling relationships
  • Learning how to say No to situations, people, etc.

As you can see from my lists, exercise and a healthy nutrition plan had already been implemented into my lifestyle and not something that I had been struggling with. I do not eat junk, fast food, skip the gym, etc. Fueling my body with real whole “clean” foods for my body was and is very important to me. And if anything, I was exercising a little TOO hard and TOO much. It was my escape and stress reliever, but it turn it was creating even MORE stress.

I realized that in order to heal my adrenals, I needed to prioritize my MENTAL HEALTH at the same level if not above my physical health. This meant creating daily “Mental Health Time”. This was (and still is sometimes) VERY hard for me. Again, for someone who is go-go-go all the time, slowing down can be the hardest thing to do! But I had to make specific changes in my schedule and lifestyle to where I could still “be busy” but make sure to not over-do it and fall into burnout again.

My Mental Health Recovery Plan included:

  • Setting up a positive “night schedule” that would create an easier time to fall asleep
  • Daily quiet time, prayer and reading my daily devotional book
  • Daily walks
  • Trying a new recipe or food 1x a week ( Cooking and baking is my hobby!)
  • Quality time + conversation with my husband every day (even just for a few minutes!)
  • Phone calls to my mom + family 2x week (they are in CA and I am in Ohio!)
  • Date night with my husband at least 2x month
  • Creating a “weekly” To-Do list with my goals and necessary To-Dos
    • From that list, making daily lists; this helps me stay on track with time management, feel that sense of accomplishment, but it is not overwhelming and lead to me trying to do too much at once.
  • Setting time each day for “rest”: reading, painting my nails, watching a movie. (Napping would not be a good option for me as it would make falling asleep at night more difficult, but is a great option for those that need it).

I will continue to share my AF recovery plan with my lifestyle changes, nutrition, supplementation, etc. through more posts. I am so happy to share that I am feeling SO much better physically and mentally…I feel like myself again!! 🙂

Take care of yourself! YOU are worth it!

 

 

Holiday Meal Game Plan

The holidays are upon us! And with celebration comes food…and lots of it! Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean your healthy lifestyle needs to go out the window!

Here are some helpful tips in order to stay on track during the big day:

  • Eat Breakfast: Start off the day with a nutrient dense + protein packed meal, like a veggie egg white omelet or protein smoothie. This will jump start your metabolism, keep you satisfied, full and give your body steady energy throughout the day. Set the tone in the morning with something healthy. Avoid pastries and processed foods that will crash your energy levels later when you need it the most. Avoid skipping breakfast; the last thing you want to do is skip meals! You might think you are doing yourself a favor by “saving” calories for the big meal, but you will end up needless to say hungry, cranky, and most likely eating MORE than you would have in the first place. So, start the day off normally…eat breakfast!
  • Get moving! Aim to get a workout in before all the cooking and craziness starts. Something is better than nothing! A quick total body circuit, walk or run outside, etc. This will help start the day off on a healthy note and increase your metabolism so when you sit down for dinner, that meal will be replenishing your energy stores from earlier 😉 I don’t like to view exercise as a way to “eat more” or as a punishment to “burn off” what you ate. HOWEVER, getting a good sweat session in that day will help counteract some extra calories consumed that day 🙂
  • Smart Snacking: Be careful not to fill up on appetizers and mindless snacking. A handful of mixed nuts…a plate of cheese and crackers…that all adds up, and you haven’t even sat down for the meal. Ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry? Or do I want this because it is offered?”Snack only if you are hungry, and be mindful of the portion size. If you are a guest, go for a filling snack like raw nuts, fresh fruit, raw veggies and hummus, etc. and avoid heavy dips, cheeses, breads, etc.
  • Smart Beverages: Wine, beer, sparkling cider, holiday cocktails, egg nog…those all add up too! Be conscious about drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated, ward off bloating, AND it has zero calories 🙂 For every one alcoholic/caloric beverage you have, drink one glass of water as well 🙂
  • Healthy Hosting: If you are hosting, try and substitute healthy ingredients as much as you can. If you are a guest, offer to bring a (healthy) dish. Not only will your host be appreciative, but then you know there will be a nutritious option on the table

  • Be a Role Model: Have a positive attitude about healthy eating and it will help keep you on track, while encouraging others as well! Instead of complaining about food you “can’t” have, find all the healthy options and remind yourself that you are happy with your choices. The less you complain, the less grief people will give you about what is on your plate!

  • Plan your Plate: Plan out this meal like you would any other meal; choose your protein sources first, complex carbohydrates and lots of veggies and greens. Look at your plate and make sure you have balance. There ARE tons of good healthy options at holiday meals: white meat turkey, yams and sweet potatoes (without all the marshmallows ;)) root vegetables, brussel sprouts, green beans…! Aim to have a colorful plate with lots of variety of food.

  • Play Favorites: Usually at holiday gatherings there are plenty of options (if not too many!) to choose from. Survey all of the dishes beforehand, and then choose what you really want to eat first. Ask yourself, “Which do I want the most?” For example, I really enjoy homemade stuffing and sweet potatoes, but I can easily pass on the bread and the mashed potatoes. Don’t deprive yourself; this will leave you feeling unsatisfied and reaching for something else in place. Avoid choosing dishes just because they are offered. Save your appetite for YOUR favorites!
  • Start Small: Although you might not be in control of the type of dishes, you can control your PORTION SIZE! Again, the choices at holiday meals are not ALL unhealthy, and you CAN enjoy the whole meal without deprivation…it is about how MUCH you eat of everything! The trouble with holiday meals is really about the amount of food consumed. For each food item that you choose, give yourself ONE serving, and even a slightly smaller portion than you think. Chances are, you will be satisfied and didn’t need the larger amount anyways!
  • Slow and Steady: Ahh. The meal is finally here and ready to be enjoyed…not shoveled in! Take your time while eating and really taste all the different dishes. Chat with your company and enjoy the meal. This will leave you satisfied but not stuffed, and will ward off going back for seconds.
  •  Have Fun! There is more to the holiday than just the meal. Remember that without family and friends, we would have nothing to celebrate! Play games, go for a walk, etc. Staying active after the meal is ideal because it will help with digestion and ward off that “food coma” sleepiness.

Most importantly, BE MINDFUL about your food intake and activity levels. This is one meal…on one day. It is all about enjoying the meal & the company and making memories. All of these tips above are to help you stay accountable to YOURSELF, your goals and lifestyle. BUT it doesn’t say anywhere to deprive yourself, track calories or measure portions, stress about if it is “high-calorie” or “not healthy”.

Yep, you will most likely eat more than normal and eat “not normal” foods on Thanksgiving or Christmas. AND THAT IS OKAY. Remember, this is one day of enjoying yourself and enjoying LIFE. If you choose to have a cookie…do it because YOU want it, and then enjoy it, because it probably tastes damn delicious right??! Because how often can you get your Grandma’s special homemade cookies? It is sometimes more about the memories WITH the food than the actual taste 🙂

Mindfully having treats in moderation is the best plan or “advice”I can give!

OK, so what about if I am dieting or REALLY trying to stay on track with my meals, and those (awkward) social situations come up?! Here are my recommendations:

Scenario-Aunt Jean is insisting that you try her homemade dish that she made just for you: To be polite, go ahead and take a small portion of it; this way you are respecting her AND yourself and your goals. Thank them and let me know how much you appreciate the effort.

Scenario-The host wants you to take leftovers home…and lots of it: If the host is asking you to take food home, offer to take the healthiest option like the veggies or some turkey. Stay away from taking tempting foods or large portions like whole pies. Leave it there! If they insist, take it…doesn’t mean you have to eat it (at home); just be respectful and you can put it in the freezer, take it to work, etc.

Scenario: The day is getting stressful…and you are reaching for the adult beverage: There is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or beer. But, everything in moderation and be mindful of why are drinking; is it to enjoy the beverage or to drown out your crazy company? Don’t feel guilty for taking a few minutes for a breather & break away from the group. Step outside or somewhere quiet to regain your mental clarity and focus on keeping a positive and strong attitude.

Smart Sayings to Remember:

Won’t you try some of my _____?? Come on, its just one piece/bite!

 Oh, thank you, but not right now.

I just had some of ______ so maybe later!

No thank you I am full from the meal.

Thank you, but I am not hungry right now, but I can take some home.

Why aren’t eating more?? Why didn’t you get any of the ____??

This is plenty of food for now, and I can always go back for more.

Why are you eating so healthy?? Live a little!

Thank you for your concern, but I enjoy these foods and I am completely satisfied.

Be Mindful-Be Strong-Have Fun!