Strawberry Creamsicles

Summer is almost over; Labor Day is right around the corner, and hopefully cooler temperatures are soon to follow. That is not the case right now, though! It is late August in Texas and we are all about ready to sleep in our freezers. Every time I walk in from outside, I literally say a little prayer thanking God for air conditioner; I can’t imagine how miserable we would be without it!

Now, as hot as it is, summer brings lots of fun things like swimming, lake trips, beach trips, and of course delicious summer produce like berries! Selah, my youngest daughter could eat her weight in blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, but Zemirah, my oldest, is a bit more picky when it comes to fruit. She doesn’t really like blackberries or raspberries because of the seeds, only likes the perfectly firm yet sweet blueberries (such a pain trying to find those illusive berries in the container), and loves strawberries…dipped in honey. In general Zemirah is less of a picky eater than Selah – not so when it comes to berries! But what is a mom to do in the summer when the store has wonderful sales on berries?! I have to get them! Oftentimes I use berries in smoothies, but when I got a giant bag of frozen strawberries (for a super steal!) I decided to do something a little different with them.

While we do love to eat nice cream or drink chocolate milkshakes for a summer treat, something portable is always a nice option. When Selah started refusing bottles at 10 months old, I started making her breastmilk popsicles to have while I was away at work. Because of that I had these popsicle molds and I thought blending up a creamy strawberry popsicle would be a hit for the girls. Check out these pictures to see just how much they enjoyed them! They were a perfect treat for us all (mom, too) after playing outside in the sprinkler one hot summer morning. These are so easy, full of only real ingredients, creamy, sweet, and I bet your kids will love them as much as mine did!

Strawberry Creamsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries (stems removed), or thawed from frozen
  • 1.25 cups of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Pour into popsicle mold or small freezer-safe cups
  4. Insert popsicle sticks or small spoons or straws if you’re using a cup
  5. Freeze until solid – at least 3 hours
  6. Run a little warm water over the molds to easily remove popsicles
  7. Store leftover popsicles in freezer for a month.

These little frozen treats are so deliciously strawberry flavored, sweet, and so creamy thanks to the coconut milk, and they are so refreshing to have on a hot day. If your kids are crazy about strawberries, they will love these! If popsicles aren’t your thing, but you’re not trying to sweat with the oven on, check out some of my other no-bake treats like Date Cake, Cookie Dough Bites, or my coconut milk based Cheesecake; all of these desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you cool! It may be hot, but soak up these last few weeks of summer, get some sun…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Instant Pot Black Beans

Well, it’s mid-March and the year is just running by, full speed ahead. After our wild snow storm in Texas last month, I’ve never been so relieved to see Spring. My second baby is about to turn one in a few weeks *cue the ugly crying*, spring break is here, the time change is looming, and our red bud tree in the backyard is starting to blossom. Even though I’m relieved that spring has sprung, and I’m enjoying seeing the “rebirth” of nature, I am sad that time is moving so quickly – it’s like each day slips through my fingers like sand. These days are filled with equally precious and hard moments of motherhood that I won’t get back.

Part of the reason time is moving so quickly is that we have been extra busy over here. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that we have Selah (our baby) in physical therapy right now. She has both low and high muscle tone and is struggling with gross motor development. For the last three weeks or so we have had about 3-4 appointments a week between the chiropractor, PT, and other meetings with the therapists. However, after seeing improvement after just two PT sessions, I am encouraged that this busy season won’t last too long. But, wow! 3-4 appointments a week, on top of regular mom life, on top of two part time jobs, I just feel like I don’t have much extra time. Especially for cooking.

Enter: the Instant Pot. This little kitchen gadget has become all the rage in years past, and after receiving one for a Christmas present in 2019 I can see why! To be honest, I was a little terrified of it blowing up, and was hesitant to get started using it, but once I did, I started with beans, and I was sold! The first bean recipe I made in the Instant Pot was red beans, and even with the time it takes to get to pressure, then cook, then release (side note: I hate that Instant Pot recipes don’t account for that time – I learned quickly not to trust the “15 minutes” marking on a recipe), what would normally be an all day venture only took 90 minutes, and the beans came out the perfect creamy texture! Next I tackled black beans. We eat black beans and rice often for a cheap, plant-based meal; then I get to use the leftover black beans throughout the week to top fajitas, tacos, salads, and even scrambled eggs. So if you want to save time and money with this quick and easy dinner and/or side, keep reading for the recipe!

Instant Pot Black Beans

Ingredients

  • One medium bell pepper, chopped
  • One half of a yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 pound of
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • Optional for serving: rice
  • Optional toppings: avocado, lime, cilantro, jalapenos, scallions/red onions

Directions

  1. Cover beans with water and soak for at least three hours, or up to overnight. This is optional, but I find that it helps with digestion and less “tootie booties” as we say in our house hehe!
  2. Once beans are done soaking, drain and toss remaining water.
  3. Turn on “sauté” feature and cook bell pepper and onion in olive oil until tender and beginning to brown.
  4. Turn off Instant Pot and add garlic, stirring to get the garlic warm but not toasty.
  5. Add broth and water, scraping the bottom of the pot to get up any browned bits.
  6. Add in beans and seasonings.
  7. Select “pressure cook” and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, allowing a 20 minute natural release at the end.
  8. Serve warm with rice and toppings, or as a side dish.
  9. Keep leftover beans in remaining liquid, cover and refrigerate for up to five days.

If you haven’t yet boarded the Instant Pot train, I hope you’ll check out my slow cooker recipes here, here, and here. Save some time in the kitchen…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Ten Minute Home Workout

I Like to Move It, Move It!

Let me preface this post by saying to please consult your doctor/trainer if need be. I am a certified Fit4Mom trainer, but exercise is not a one size fits all situation; I am simply sharing a little home workout I created for those busy days where I can’t find the time for a longer workout, or those freezing cold days (like today) where I don’t want to step foot outside for a walk/jog.

My blog is all about finding easy, healthy meals that go well with “A Pinch of Crazy”; healthy food doesn’t have to be pretentious, expensive, or complicated, and healthy movement and exercise doesn’t have to be either! To read more about my food and movement journey, check out my post 23 Pounds and Other Non-Scale Victories. I sincerely hope you can find an extra ten minutes in your day to do this quick workout to get your heart pumping while working arms, core, legs, and booty. Enjoy!

Ten Minute Home Workout

Repeat each movement for a total of 30 seconds, then move on to the next immediately, or with a short 10 second break if needed. Count your reps so you can measure your growth! It’s amazing to look back and see how much stronger you’ve gotten.

Cardio:

  • March in place
    • Keep your knees high
  • Jumping jacks
    • Keep your arms straight
  • Burpees
    • Start in a standing position, feet hip width apart
    • Squat down, touch the ground
    • Keeping feet hip width apart, jump back into a high plank
    • Jump back to squat
    • Finally, jump up in the air, then return to standing
      • Modification: replace all jumping with stepping (i.e. step back to a high plank)
      • Take it further: add a push up after you jump back into plank
  • High knees
    • Run in place, but bring your knees above your hip line

Legs:

  • Skater jumps
    • DSCN1825.JPG
      Demonstration of “Skater Jumps”

      Jump sideways

    • Land with one leg straightened behind you, hand touching the ground by your front foot
    • Repeat going the opposite direction
      • Modification: instead of jumping side to side, simply step it
  • Squats
    • Keeping your back straight, squat down as low as you can, then rise to standing
  • Lunges
    • Place one foot in front, bending both knees so that your legs are both at 90 degree angles
    • Alternate leading leg
  • Side Lunges
    • Standing with your legs a little wider than hip width, lunge to one side
    • Come back through center, then lunge to the other side

Core:

  • Crunches
    • Don’t crunch your neck- really use your abdominal wall to lift!
  • Bicycle Crunches
    • Touch opposite elbow to opposite knee
  • Leg Raises
    • Lie flat on your back and place hands underneath tailbone
    • With control, raise your legs slowly, then slowly lower them
  • Plank

    DSCN1903
    Demonstration of “Plank”

    • Hold a plank with a flat back from neck to tailbone, either on your forearms or palms
      • Modification: Place your knees on the ground, but keep your bottom in line with your back, not up in the air

Arms:

  • Push-Ups
    • Starting in high plank, lower down halfway, then rise back up
      • Modification: begin your plank on your knees, keeping your bottom in line
  • Tricep Dips
    • Sit on a chair or couch, clasp the edge with your hands, and straighten your legs
    • Slide your bottom off so that you are supported only by your arms
    • Dip down halfway, and rise back up
      • Modification: bend your knees
  • Up/Down Plank
    • Start in high plank
    • Lower down to forearms one arm at a time
    • Rise back up to high plank one arm at a time
      • Modification: plank on your knees
  • Inchworm
    • Start in high plank
    • Slowly inch your hands back to your feet, keeping legs straight
    • Slowly inch back to high plank, keeping legs straight
      • Modification: bend your knees while inching your hands

Booty/Hips:

  • Leg Push Backs

    DSCN1943
    Demonstration of “Leg Push Backs” with a Zemirah cameo 🙂

    • Start in tabletop- on hands and knees
    • Lift one leg and straighten it backwards with a flexed foot
    • Repeat one leg for 30 seconds, then switch to second leg, or alternate legs for one full minute
  • Fire Hydrant Extensions
    • Start in tabletop
    • Lift your leg to, yep it’s gross, but to simulate a dog with a fire hydrant
    • Straighten that leg to the side with a flexed foot
    • Repeat on one leg for 30 seconds, then switch to second leg, or alternate legs for one full minute

Stretch

Some of my favorite stretches include:

  • Child’s Pose
  • Downward Dog
  • Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold

DSCN1955
Demonstration of “Child’s Pose” with a child 🙂 

As you can see by that last picture, this workout is fast paced and fun enough to do with kiddos around; they can join in, too! I’ve been convicted of how closely Zemirah watches me; it’s so important to model healthy habits for her! Whether that be exercise, eating a nutritious meal, indulging in a cookie, taking a long walk in the sunshine, or (and maybe especially) positive self talk – showing gratitude to our Creator for my body – not trash talking it. You can read a poem I wrote on appreciating our bodies here.

So I hope this quick little workout can help you to move your body in a fun way, while instilling in your kids, and yourself, the importance of healthy movement. If you need a delicious and nutritious post-workout snack, check out my Kale Chips Two Ways, or for a sweeter snack, my Fruit and Nut Granola or Banana Bread with Granola Crumble would be perfect! Move your body, have fun…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

23 Pounds and Other Non-Scale Victories

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase using the link, it is of no extra cost to you; just a small pantry fund for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

I didn’t know if I would ever write a post like this because I don’t want this to be a “weight loss” blog, but here I go. I have shared a little bit about my food journey in my first post, here, and how the Whole30, as cliche as it may sound, truly changed my life and my relationship with food. If you want to learn more about Whole30, I highly suggest reading The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig, the co-founder of Whole30. And for you mamas out there, I have found such encouragement about raising healthy eaters in the Whole Mamas Club podcast; I hope you check out these resources!

As far back as I can remember, even back to first or second grade, I wanted to lose weight; I was a chubby, but happy, girl with crazy, curly hair (in fifth grade, I was nick-named Tornado thanks to my ‘do) who just wanted to fit in like other kids. I recently went through some old journals where I was in 7th grade and documenting everything I ate while berating myself for eating Oreos…a 12-year-old should be out having fun with friends, not worrying about calorie consumption. It was the same all throughout high school, but add in some mean boys commenting about how “you aren’t as hot as your big sisters”, or “you’re prettier when your hair is straight”, so I kept trying to fit in and meet their beauty standards.

Then in college, I gained the classic “freshman 15”, but tried not to worry about it; however, anytime I would go out for late night fast food with my friends, I would feel guilt to the point of wanting to vomit up everything I just ate; that was “bad” food only contributing to my weight gain. I eventually cut out sodas and started running my sophomore year; I also started experiencing symptoms of IBS, so I lost weight fairly quickly. I was, and still am, so proud of myself for running a half marathon that spring semester, but my relationship with food was still off, and my anxiety was high.

Throughout college and into my first year of marriage, my IBS got so bad that if we went out to eat, I would be sick all night. My darling husband saw me throwing up while sitting on the toilet so many times during our first year of marriage that I’m sure he wondered what he had gotten himself in to! On top of being sick so often, I was also an anxious mess, and had gained about 12-15 pounds in our first year and a half of marriage. I had just decided to start working out more regularly when we found out *surprise!* that I was pregnant. So of course from there, I just kept gaining and getting more and more anxious; despite my efforts to have a healthy pregnancy, I gained 40 pounds.

After our sweet Zemirah was born, things took a turn for the worse in a battle of postpartum depression and anxiety (which I will write about at another time), and I not only “hated myself” (actual words I said to David), I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion, had zero energy, and felt absolutely out of control with everything: life, weight gain, motherhood, and fear. I tried the best *I* could (never truly handing my burdens to God), to deal with my anxiety, and cooked us healthy-ish meals, but because I was nursing, ate so many carbs, and not the healthy ones like fruit, whole grains, or potatoes. The carbs I consumed were more along the lines of bread with refined sugar and flour, brownies, cookies, ice cream, doughnuts…you know. Carbs, dairy, and sugar are the staple comfort foods when you’re feeling depressed and anxious…but in reality, only make things worse.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2018, Zemirah and I were living with my parents while David was deployed, and I wanted to lose the rest of the baby weight before he came home. I found this “diet” called Whole30, and knew a few friends who had done it. It seemed hard, but I love a challenge, so with nearly all my family joining me, we tackled our first round of Whole30! I was discouraged to learn that I had only lost 5 pounds at the end of it (others in my family all lost 10-15!), but felt so much better about myself that I kept it up, not a strict Whole30, but very clean eating. When I moved back to California, I was surprised to learn that I had lost a few more pounds, now totaling 12 pounds lost! I kept exercising to tone up for David’s return; he was so surprised to see how different I looked! He had just come from a steady diet of pizza, ramen, and soda, and I really wanted him to experience how wonderful the Whole30 was, so we tackled a round together: his first, my second. It was during this round of Whole30, that I really began to notice my non scale victories.

I noticed that my anxiety was greatly reduced; even though we were starting to prepare for a huge career change, I felt down in my spirit that everything really would be okay.  I also no longer struggled with insomnia! I used to take a Melatonin every night before bed just so I could fall asleep, and hardly slept through the night even when Zemirah did, but that was all changing. During my second round of Whole30, I stopped taking Melatonin, and would fall asleep peacefully without help and sleep hard all night, and even if I only got 6 hours of sleep (because, let’s face it, babies wake up early), I would feel so rejuvenated in the morning.

(Just a side note: we are currently a mere four days away from a cross country move, and, though I have my freak out moments, I still generally feel calm, with no chest pain and no insomnia. That is huge for me!)

After that second round of Whole30, I was beginning to notice how much I truly enjoyed working out; I started going to Stroller Strides and doing those hour long work outs twice a week, and on the off days, walking and/or running. I hadn’t run in a while, but I noticed a dramatic increase in my energy levels, and even ran my personal fastest mile! (Once we get moved, I am going to try and break that record again 😉 ) Exercise is much more fun now than it used to be, and I appreciate seeing all that my body can do!

In addition to the changes in exercise, sleep, and anxiety, my IBS is all but gone, and I now know with certainty which foods trigger it. And emotionally speaking, my relationship with food has changed entirely; I don’t view foods as “bad” anymore, but just as something to have very sparingly, and I choose to focus instead on which foods make my body feel good! I’ve found that going through life focusing on the good things (whether food, people, circumstances) as opposed to the bad is a much better way to live.

So, counting from around December of 2017, I have lost a total of 23 pounds. That doesn’t really seem like much; you hear the stories of those pills/shakes/wraps and how you can lose 30+ pounds instantly, but I love seeing the slow change of my body. I have been learning which foods fuel me, which make me feel yucky and anxious (hello, refined sugar), and have been slowly enjoying the process of a true lifestyle change. Weight will fluctuate, and that is simply a fact, so the number on the scale is not as important as the non scale victories! Because, yes, I lost fat, but I’ve also lost anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, mood swings, and low self-confidence!

I am working on, with the help of God, losing the desire for other people’s approval, and finding my true worth in Him! It is my prayer that you can do the same. Celebrate your non-scale victories…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!