Easy pumpkin protein pudding

Easy High-Protein Pumpkin Pudding

If you find yourself with left-over pumpkin puree, use it in this super easy pumpkin protein pudding that delivers 30 grams of protein for fewer than 200 calories. Continue Reading

Wedding Stress & Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

banana chocolate oatmeal smoothieLast night, I tossed and turned for hours while I stressed over tiny wedding planning details. It seems like every couple weeks I have one of these sleepless nights when my anxiety completely takes hold before my emotions simmer down again. Things always seem worst at night in the dark, don’t they?

We’re still more than 6 months away from the big day, but there really is so much to do. Other than our venue, we don’t have anything else confirmed! Now, we’ve made significant progress in narrowing down our other vendors, but I know I’ll feel a lot better when we have a few more deposits down and contracts signed.

My sister reminds me that I should spend at least as much time being happy and excited as I am stressed, but it’s really hard! I am so excited to marry Mike, and I know that our wedding is going to be wonderful, but there are just so many things that I need to get into place between now and then that sometimes, like at 4am last night, it all just seems so tremendously overwhelming.

Wedding planning has also been hard because it really makes me feel my mom’s absence. It’s strange, but even now, 6 years after her death, I sometimes almost forget that she’s gone. It’s that momentary urge to pick up the phone to call her, and lately such a strong presence in absence when I visualize my wedding day. To be honest, since my mom died, I don’t really think of her very much in my day-to-day. When she died, everyone told me that she’d always be with me, and would always be watching (kind of creepy!), but I’ve never felt that. I’ve really never felt her with me, but lately I’ve more strongly felt her absence.

This ties into my stressing lately when I have those moments of feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have a mom to help me plan my wedding, and I don’t have a mom to actually step in and take care of things, like moms do. Before she died, I remember talking to her about this. I remember wondering, “But mom, when you’re gone who is going to help me??” And she logically responded that I’d find differently people to help me depending on what it was that I needed help with. Totally makes sense. If I need help fixing the sink, I’ll call a plumber. If I need help with the seating chart, I’m sure I have a friend that will come help me out.

Her response was comforting to me at the time, but now I realize that it misses that moms offer a sort of help that no one else does; it’s that  comfort and assurance that everything will be ok, always. But even when I’m up all night stressing over how we’re going to coordinate flower pick-up, and who’s going to light the candles for dinner, and how we’re going to learn to dance, I do know that everything will be ok, always. I guess way down underneath all that stress and anxiety, I really do have that comfort and assurance somewhere deep within, so maybe that’s how my mom is helping me after all 🙂

Now I’ll follow that up with a delicious Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie that is wonderfully thick and creamy and a deliciously indulgent way to start the day.

The trick to getting those rolled oats smooth is to use a high powered blender. Having a great blender is totally key to putting the smooth into smoothie. A good blender can be a big ticket purchase, so if you’re unsure of which blender to choose this blender guide can help!

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk, divided
  • 1 chopped and frozen banana
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 handful raw spinach
  • ½ cup ice
Instructions
  1. Soak oats in ½ cup almond milk overnight, or for at least 1 hour
  2. Add spinach and remaining almond milk to blender and blend until smooth
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend, adding more almond milk if necessary

banana chocolate oatmeal smoothie

High Protein Biscotti for a Healthy Breakfast or Snack!

high protein biscotti

What inspired this high protein biscotti? I work in an office, and out of habit and boredom, I’m a frequent snacker. I try to bring a big variety of healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day, but by the time 3pm hits, Starbucks treats are calling my name. Since 400 calorie muffins aren’t doing anything to help me achieve my weight loss goals, I know I need to find a way to kick that habit.

I’ve been logging my food on MyFitnessPal.com for nearly two months now, and I’ve noticed that my daily protein intake is quite low, often at only 40-50 grams per day, which is less that half of what I really need. No wonder I’m always snacking, right?

I was pretty surprised to see this, since I already drink protein in my smoothies, eat fish and chicken often, and snack on nuts. It’s still not enough! I’m going to be making a big effort for the next few weeks to double my protein intake to find out if I’m left feeling more satisfied and less snacky.

So while I find myself craving carby snacks like those 400 calorie muffins, protein has greater satiating power, meaning it keeps you feeling full longer. Since a cup of protein-packed cottage cheese doesn’t exactly seem that appealing when my afternoon munchies hit, I decided to arm myself with a higher protein baked good. I’m working towards progress, not perfection!

To help me along my journey, I made a batch of biscotti to enjoy at work each afternoon along with a big mug of herbal tea.

With double the protein for half the calories, a couple pieces of this High Protein Biscotti should help keep me full longer than my go-to muffin.

quinoa-flour

High Protein Biscotti
 
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Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (28g), quinoa flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs melted coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop (30 g) Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla protein powder
  • Mix-ins: ½ cup mixed nuts and dried fruit
Instructions
  1. To make quinoa flour, rinse well and spread in thin layer on an ungreased baking sheet
  2. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven until dry and lightly toasted, about 15 minutes, remove and allow to cool before grinding in a coffee grinder or blender
  3. Pre-heat oven to 325F
  4. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine
  5. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and beat gently
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and mix
  7. Stir in desired mix-ins
  8. Form dough into a long log (approx 4"x12"x1.5") on a non-stick baking mat or lightly floured baking sheet
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven an allow to cool before slicing on an angle (approx. 10 pieces)
  10. Bake on each side for 15 minutes, until browned
Nutrition Information
Calories: 103 kcal Fat: 4 g Carbohydrates: 11 g Sugar: 5 g Sodium: 194 mg Fiber: 1 g Protein: 5 g Cholesterol: 19 mg

Based on Protein Powered Breakfast Biscotti from Powerhungry.com.

biscotti-high-proteinDo you worry about how much protein you get? What are you favourite sources of protein?

The End of Sugar-Free September and Pumpkin Spice “Nice” Cream

pumpkin spice ice cream

Hey guys! I did it! I survived Sugar-Free September, and am so excited to share my experience.

First of all, I need to confess that I didn’t keep things 100% sugar-free. I enjoyed a glass of champagne at an engagement party, as well as two sugar cookies that were shaped like diamond rings. I also had two mojitos when I went out with some friends, had a scoop of ice cream, and ate sweetened cranberry sauce along with my (otherwise) Sugar-Free Thanksgiving dinner. But y’know what? I feel great about it! During a regular month, I bet there are days when I’d eat 5 things with sugar just in one day, so to eat added sugars only 5 times in an entire month? I think that’s pretty awesome! Progress not perfection, right?

Reduced Cravings

I actually found that I didn’t crave sugar very much at all. During a regular month, I usually crave sweets of some sort every few days, but I think avoiding sugars almost entirely eliminated those cravings. I certainly didn’t experience those strong cravings that sometimes have me grabbing for a muffin during my mid-afternoon slump. My boyfriend kept things fairly sugar-free, too, and while he normally LOVES his candy, he hardly missed it this month. One evening he said, “I wish I could have some candy….actually, I don’t!” I could completely relate. It was almost like we thought we should want those sweet treats, but we actually didn’t. It wasn’t about mustering will power and fighting cravings. We just naturally weren’t super interested in reaching for those sugary foods.

Feeling Happy

I felt great all month. I woke up each morning feeling positive. Each and every morning. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotionally stable month before in my entire life! Normally, I have my regular ups and downs, but I felt so consistently well all month that I couldn’t help but notice. A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in helping depression!

Looking Good

A month without “fat days”? Heck yes! I lost 5-6 pounds this month without even trying and hardly experienced any bloating. All I focused on was avoiding added sugars, so there was none of the usual candy and baked goods, and I also avoided a lot of the carbs that I usually eat. Even though I felt like I was always eating, and never felt deprived, I lost some of that extra softness. Woohoo! On top of that, my skin was pretty clear all month and I just generally felt happy with my appearance.

Convenient Substitutions

One thing that I think will be a long-term benefit of this month-long sugar-free experiment is that I was forced to identify sugar-free substitutes for some of the convenience items I regularly buy. It took a little bit of extra hunting, but I did manage to find marinara sauce, granola and canned soups that didn’t contain any added sugars. I’m going to stick to buying these products since it’s such a simple way to cut out some of the sugars that I don’t miss at all. I also found sugar-free prepared chili, frozen spinach patties and bread for those times when I need quick and easy food options. I also paid a bit more attention to my fruit intake. I’d normally eat a banana or two each day, but I simply substituted apples, peaches and berries, which have lower sugar content, and only ate a few bananas over the course of the month, even cutting them out of my daily green smoothie.

What Now?

I’m not going to be avoiding added sugars as strictly as I did this past month, and I’ll be more open to using alternative sweeteners like stevia, honey, and maple syrup. I’m going to keep looking for sugar-free substitutes for everyday staples to continue cutting sugars where they just aren’t necessary. I’ll also continue to explore sugar-free baking, since I now know I can make delicious muffins, pies and breads. My Sugar-Free Thanksgiving proves that I can even enjoy my favourite holiday meals without needing the usual piles of sugar, and that’s pretty awesome (go download your free copy of the menu, if you haven’t already!).

To celebrate the end of Sugar-Free September, here’s an easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice “Nice” Cream. Enjoy it on its own, or use it to top a slice of sugar-free pumpkin pie. This is a delicious dessert that you can enjoy, guilt-free. Add some granola and enjoy this “nice” cream for breakfast! By swapping in these healthier treat options on a regular basis, it means I’m able to really enjoy my special occasion treats…like those Nutella crepes I’ll be enjoying soon in Paris next week!

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice "Nice" Cream
 
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Healthy Ice Cream made with bananas and spiced with pumpkin pie spice
Author:
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 overripe bananas (1 banana per person), chopped and frozen
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbs pumpkin spice (or cinnamon/nutmeg)
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place ingredients in a food processor and process on high until smooth
  2. Serve immediately, or freeze to harden (thaw for ~5 minutes before serving)

pumpkin "nice" cream

Did you do sugar-free September? How’d it go? Or if you haven’t tried it yet, have I convinced you to give it a shot?

Find all my Sugar-Free September posts HERE, including lots of recipes!

And don’t forget to get my complete Sugar-Free Thanksgiving menu. All you need to do is subscribe to receive updates from Home at Six, and you’ll receive a printable PDF download. If you’re already subscribed, just enter your email address to receive your free download.

free thanksgiving menu download



Recipes include:

  • Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Turkey Stock and Gravy
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Soup
  • Thanksgiving Stuffing (Dressing)
  • Turnip Sweet Potato Mash
  • ……….and Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie