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I like trying to make homemade granola and snack bars, but sometimes all the sugar (even honey) poured into them concerns me. And of course a lot of the store bought ones have it too. I like these for having lower sugar and its that perfect blend of sweet and salty , chewy and crunchy.
I've been testing out this new product called VitaFiber a higher fiber, low calorie natural sweetner in a syrup form. It keeps the sweetness but without all the sugar. They sent me a recipe to try for their Apricot Almond bars, and of course, me being me I made them with a little "bitchin'" flare. (Ok most of the change was adding chocolate.) Who doesn't like chocolate though?
Check out this recipe and let me know what you think!
- Calories: 172
- Fat: 11 grams
- Carbohydrates: 20 grams (Net 9 grams)
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Sugar: 5 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- 1 1/4 cup almonds (half almonds half cashews taste yummy too)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 10 dried apricots
- 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 1 bar of unsweetened dairy free bakers chocolate. (can also use Enjoy Life Vegan Chips)
- 1/2 cup VitaFiber IMO Syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
Putting it together:
- Toast almonds and coconut flakes at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.
- Chop up almonds and apricots.
- Add almonds, apricots, coconut, puffed rice, flaxseed, chocolate and chia seeds into a bowl.
- Add VitaFiber syrup, vanilla and salt into a saucepan, bring to a bubble and let simmer for 2-3 minutes
- Add VitaFiber syrup to the fruit and nut mixture. Mix well.
- Add mixture to a lightly sprayed 9x9 dish.
- Let set up for 15 minutes in the fridge.
- Take cooled mixture out of the pan and cut into 12 bars.
Jen The Bitchin' Housewife
Although it may be hard for me to admit to, I struggle a lot with the expectation of perfection.
Being the perfect friend and never letting you down.
Perfectly following my diet plan.
Buying the perfect gift for a birthday present.
Throwing the perfect holiday party.
Perfectly remembering every school note/snack/color of the week.
Even write the perfect blog post.
Well you know what? F*CK it. Why do we do this? What is this pressure to perfect everything in our lives? Life is suppose to be messy and sometime chaotic or disorganized isn't it? The weight of expectations from others and ourselves is far to heavy of a burden and I think it's about time we cut ourselves some damn slack.
I'm taking a stand against perfection and it's ugly grip on our already busy brains.
I realize I may let some friends down, I do not take this lightly, but I recognize I will and know I'm trying my best. A happy me, is a way better friend anyways.
I may blow my caloric intake on a bag of chips. I will move on rather then scrambling to make it up somewhere else.
Do you even care what I bought you anyways? Can you remember what I bought you for your birthday 5 years ago? But do you remember how drunk we got on 3 bottles of wine and laughed until we peed a little though?
My house might be messy and I might just give you your own bottle to pour wine from at the next Christmas, but you can feel at home and relax. Hey, even let out that fart you were holding in.
Sorry kids, you will from now on learn the life lesson of how to adapt. Starting with telling some punk kid to piss off that wore the right shirt color on the right day.
And to you my readers, well my post might be messy. Messy with emotion and I hope you still follow along.
Jen The Bitchin' Housewife
Recently The Chopped Leaf launched the new Beet Bowl. Now I will let you in on a secret. I hate Beets. *gasp* Okay I should say I USED to hate beets. I tried. I really tried to like them, but I've never found a way I like them. They are super good for you. They are high in vitamin c (good for immunity) and fiber (good for nutrient absorbtion) and other essential minerals.
From an Ayurvedic standpoint they are good for all constitution types and are known as a powerful blood builder and treater of ailments because of it's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
So last week I went into try the new Beet Bowl for lunch. It came in this pretty bowl. And we all know we eat with our eyes first right? The colorful bowl certainly makes a pretty display.
This bowl is packed full of nutrients and deliciousness. The blueberries create this nice sweetness, and the smooth feta adds a bit of saltiness getting that sweet and salty taste just right. The pecans add a wonderful crunch with the crisp lettuce, and the brown basmati rice adds a heartiness to the dish, leaving you feeling satisfied. Add the beets and top with the honey dijon dressing and perfecto! The sweet, salty and slightly sour from the honey dijon make a trifecta of tastes. In Ayurveda these three tastes are even known to be the three of comfort.
I topped my bowl with smoked tofu since I'm a vegetarian, but they have other protein options or eat it on it own! At just 190 calories for the starter size this bowl is super satisfying and easily added to most's eating plans.
Make sure you check out The Chopped Leaf giveaway and enter to win prizes they are giving away weekly!
Jen The Bitchin' Housewife
"Going Dark" - As in social media free days.
I realize I've already struck panic into your body as I say "social media free". Palms are getting a bit sweaty and heart is starting to race. But what do you mean Jen? Why would I do that? And why the hell is that a self care thing?
It's a self care for many reasons.
Let's start with the fact that most social media is a time suck. It drains minutes/hours from our days with no productivity or real satisfaction. Leaving us with our to do list still unchecked and time drained from things you could have been doing otherwise. (Okay enough of the guilt trip Jen)
Next, we usually scroll through staring at people's awesome photos of girls nights, parties, new cars, kid's early development milestones, gorgeous new haircuts, abs and whatever else that makes us ourselves feel slightly inadequate/jealous in the moment. How does that serve us positively?
Finally, and I think most importantly, it consumes our thoughts. Whether we are aware of it or not. We see 500 images images of women with purple lipstick and all of a sudden it's ingrained in our minds we like purple lipstick. Seriously. That's how it works. We consume every billboard, Facebook ad and t.v commercial without even really thinking about it. (THAT is a whole other post). Taking time away from these things helps us reconnect with what it is WE like and what WE find beautiful.
Last weekend I was in a 3.5 day mediation teacher training weekend and we were told not to have our phones in the room, and suggested even restricting social media in the evenings of these days. I took it seriously and "went dark" for 3 days. I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook messenger off my phone.
Since it was meditation teacher training, we were obviously meditating a lot and I had time to think about what it is I like and I want without interruption. I felt quite rejuventated and once I got over the habit times of picking up my phone it was quite comfortable. I realized also sometimes I was picking up my phone just to avoid certain sensations (like embarassment or awkwardness) and I had to kind of overcome those, rather then run from them.
Sooooooo this week for self care is being away from social media. Maybe a day, maybe a couple, maybe a week. Now of course I realize many people have jobs on social media, don't worry I have suggestions for you too.
Tips on "going dark":
- Delete the apps from your phone. Not being able to see those notifications wont tempt you to look.
- Make a status. In case you know people communicate with you there. Make a status and anyone that needs your number can message you and get it.
- Find yourself bored in a line up at the bank? Chat with the person next to you! "Hey I like your shoes" or "chilly today!" are good conversation starters.
- For my social media managing friends. It's unlikely you can go completely "dark" BUUUUUUT you can schedule posts on certain outlets. (Which I know most of you know).
- Log in to facebook pages through the Facebook Page Manager app rather then your personal account. Be there just for the work.
- Still find yourself scrolling through IG and "liking pictures to create relationships" for your business? Set a timer on your phone before you log in. 10 minutes you should be able to be in and out with posting your thing, a few comments and likes a long the way. This by the way, if you really need a selling point my social media peeps, is a time saving strategy, making you more productive and staying on target with the task!
- Fun bonus: keep a journal of those times you would have pulled out your phone for and did instead. Example: At a redlight (guilty), instead I sang a song at the top of my lungs. Example: Waiting outside of the school to pickup kids, instead I chatted with another mom.
Maybe plan a time you know you can be a little slower or just say "fuck it" and pick a date. Plan how many days you are "going dark" and stick to it.
Jen, The Bitchin' Housewife
(P.S notice I didnt add any of my FB, Tiwtter, IG or Snapchat links in the post?)
I have a bit (okay a huge) love for stationary so maybe part of this is more pleasing to me then anyone else but in reality journaling is definetly an act of self love. Taking some time to sit down with our thoughts.
Journaling can be done a number of different ways. Sometimes I write just to get things flowing if I feel stuck in a decision. Sometimes it's to brainstorm ideas. Sometimes it to find what it is I really want. So...... I have like 10 coiled notebooks. It's almost a problem really.
I have a journal for gratitude and positive affirmations. Sometimes it's daily and sometimes I go weeks without writing anything in it. I come to it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Actually putting pen to paper about all the things in your life you have and are grateful for really puts things into perspective. Also, as time goes by and I look back at what I have been grateful for is also a beautiful reminder.
I have a journal for each child and my husband too. I write them letters randomly (usually birthdays and random months in between). I hope to give them to them when they are full and older. It helps me ground and reconnect with my family. Taking a moment to revel in our love.
Among my journals I also have one that thoughts just go. Without judgement of myself. I allow myself to write without holding back thoughts, whether they be uncomfortable or wonderful. I find this one is best to write in at the end of the day. After going through the paces of the day and experiences and feelings and thoughts and sort of "dumping it" before going into sleep and not taking it into the next day.
Sooooooo, you want to journal now maybe? A few options I suggest and you can find what works for you.
- Coil notebook. My personal favourite for everyday crap. Big pages and easy writing.
- Fancy journals. I have nice journals for the ones I write to my girls and husband. Since i'm hoping they stick around for the years. They can be a paint o write in a bit, but I usually take me time writing these anyways.
- Type it out. As you could maybe tell another form of my journaling is typing. Writing my blog. You can totally start your own blog, there are many options for free sites. Or maybe you just like typing into a word document.
- And finally, voice memos on your phone. I actually do this one a bit too. It's more when I have thoughts or ideas I want to explore further but I am not home to write. Or have the time to sit down and write. I go back to some memos and blow my own mind all over again.
Whatever form(s) of journaling you like, this week try it a bit. Being able to unload the crap we walk around with can sort of help "declutter" the mind leaving us a little more relaxed and calm.
Jen The Bitchin' Housewife
I've been writing Self Care Sundays for a few months now. And I believe we are all ready for this week's self care. It's a doozy.
I was talking with a friend/client yesterday morning and we were talking about how easy it is for us to name off all the things we don't like about our physical appearance. I imagine most of us can easily name of a dozen without thought. But most of us may find it hard to find something we like about ourselves.
I'm currently reading Michele Theoret's book Empowered Body and in it she talks about how the world of marketing and social media basically sells us stuff based off of the fears of not "being enough" or good enough". We create these images in our heads of how we "should" be, rather then loving and accepting who we actually are.
Today we aren't focusing on who we are in progress of something. Today we love ourselves for who we are. Period. The end.
So this week's self care Sunday is uncomfortable. It may be challenging. But it will be worth it.
We are going to look at ourselves in the mirror and find something we like. Actually two things. Because I guarantee you have at the very very very very minimum two things about you that are worth YOU loving.
For those that are unsure, maybe it's sitting in front of a mirror staring at your face. Study it while repeating self love words. "I love........ my freckles, dimples, eyes", "I like the way........ my skin does, my hair is, my lips.......". Catching yourself when you start to put words out that do not serve you in self love.
For those maybe a little bolder.... Get undressed. Stand in front of the mirror. Find things you love. "I love.... my toes, my posture, my skin tone, my butt, the way I can wrap my arms around myself in a hug, the way my scar makes me look badass, my belly button......" or "I like...... the way my muscles pop as I flex, my height, my hair, my tattoos, my....." whatever it is. This is obvious deeply personal.
Be kind to yourself. Show yourself some love. Genuine unfiltered love.
Jen the Bitchin' Housewife
This week for Self Care Sunday we are talking about acupuncture. A little while back Andrea Wingrave from Acupuncture Edmonton and I put together THIS post, all about acupuncture and what it is. I thought what a wonderful self care idea. Getting some acupuncture.
Luckily most benefits cover acupuncture these days up to $500 or $1000 so in reality you aren't out anything if it isn't your thing. But really, it's going to be.
The needles are sterile one time use needles. I know this is something people have expressed concerned about when I tell them about acupuncture. I was also worried I wouldn't be able to donate blood anymore, but turns out if they are sterile singe use then you still can. (Bonus!)
At first it seems a little intimidating thinking about the needles going in and/or staying in. But really after they go in and some minor adjusting to your comfort, you don't even feel them.
But here is the best part people..... you get a 30 minute nap. Yeah, the needles go in, adjust as needed and then you get 30 minutes all to yourself to relax on a soft comfy bed and have a heat lamp on your feet. Oh that glorious heat lamp. I need one for home.
Now whether or not you are sure if you "believe" in acupuncture working or not, the relaxing time spent in the room and you taking time for yourself is a huge step toward tapping into that parasympathetic (rest and digestion) cycle of the body. This is truly self care. Calming down, unwinding and finding time for yourself.
Oh and before I forget.... you get a head massage at the end.... *drooooool*
So a few tips for heading to the acupuncturist.
- Maybe find a referral from a friend. I love friends that tell me about professionals they love and why, that way I sort of know what to expect.
- Wear loose fitting clothing. That way pant legs can be rolled up if access is needed to the knees etc.
- They will have music but honestly I think this relaxation time would pair perfectly with a mediation podcast or yoga nidra recording on youtube.
- Turn off your phone. Not on vibrate, You don't want to hear buzzing and crap as you are trying to relax.
- I highly recommend booking an appointment in the evening so you can go to sleep after!
Have you ever seen an acupuncturist? Whats your favourite part?
Jen the Bitchin' Housewife
I've seen a few friends post about this challenge and finally a good friend said she wanted to do it and well... here we are. I donated my $22 at www.woundedwarriors.ca (you should too) and today I start the challenge.
Suicide is a real threat to our Armed Forces personnel, veterans and first responders. Let's show them some love by having some fun and spreading the world. The more people that share what they are doing, the more exposure the people have to it, eventually prompting them to engage! Just like I did. You, as the one single human being you are can always make a difference.
To keep it fun, check out my Facebook page everyday for a new style of push up to try!
Jen The Bitchin' Housewife