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Homemade Wheat Bread Recipe

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My parents gave me a bread maker for Christmas and since then I had been on the search for a good, relatively healthy loaf of bread that my family would all enjoy. I asked around the bread maker community and was given some great recipes. I am happy to say I have finally found our family’s “perfect” bread recipe! I consider it perfect because it is made with whole wheat flour, doesn’t have the preservatives that the breads found in stores have, and my girls love to eat it!

I’ve had a few people ask me about a good bread recipe recently and since I’m not one to keep great things to myself, I wanted to share with you the recipe and hopefully you’ll find this to be a go-to bread as well.

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Whole Wheat Bread – 2 lb loaf 

1 5/8 cups water

1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I use pure cane light brown)

2 tsp salt

4 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s Whole Wheat. Sometimes I will substitute 2 of these cups with King Arthur’s 100% wheat unbleached bread flour – my girls like this version just a tad better)

3 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp wheat germ (I added this myself. It does cause the bread to not rise quite as much so you will have a more dense loaf but I like the added folic acid, protein, and vitamin E that is provides.)

1. Measure and add water to the bottom of the baking pan.

2. Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.

3. Use your finger and make a small hole (big enough for the 3 tsp of yeast) on the top. Make sure the hole doesn’t go down to the water. Dry yeast should never touch liquids before it is baking in the bread maker. Pour the yeast into that hole.

4. Snap the baking pan into the bread maker and close the lid. I then program the bread machine for a whole wheat loaf (mine is option 3), set it to a 2 lb loaf, and then I put mine on medium crust color.

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I was also asked about storing to keep it fresher for longer since there aren’t any preservatives in the bread. I have found these containers to be the answer!

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They lock on top with a suction-like button which then keeps them air tight and the bread fresher for longer. They are OXO brand and can be found here. Depending on what we eat for the week (how many breakfasts or lunches that we use the bread), one loaf usually lasts us about 5 days. I have never found the bread to be dry on that fifth day. We have not had a loaf survive longer than five days so I honestly can’t tell you just exactly how long these keep the bread fresh.

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Fitness Challenge

A couple week ago, I saw my friend post something about a 10 week fitness challenge. Anyone was allowed to enter with just a $20 buy-in per couple. The object: to increase your fitness level by the end of the 10 weeks (which is measured by her own guidelines on an exercise routine she set up). If, at the end of the 10 weeks, you and your partner increase in points, you could get your money back and maybe even win money on top of that.

Being competitive by nature and having a love for working out, I convinced Adam to do the challenge with me.

We are about two weeks into the challenge and I’m still just as excited now as I was when we began. I love seeing transformation, as slow or fast as it may come. I’ve started strength training 3 times a week (I’m not usually interested in strength training as I am running, but I totally see the benefits of it!) with Focus T25 and continue to run as well. I definitely feel stronger already.

If we don’t win this challenge, I won’t be heart broken. I’m more interested in getting even healthier and who better to do it with than my husband? He’s been faithfully working out as well and I know we will be healthier and stronger at the end!

I’ll update you mid-March after our final test.

What about you? Any fun fitness challenges or any challenge in general that you’ve started recently? I’d love to hear about it! 

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Even HEALTHIER Banana Bread

I had three really ripe bananas that either needed to be used today or get thrown out. I preheated the oven and then realized that I used our last two eggs for Brooklyn’s lunch. I didn’t feel like going to the commissary just for eggs, so I scrounged around in the cupboards for a substitute and came across my girls’ pureed sweet potatoes baby food. I figured if I was throwing these bananas out anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to try a new recipe and just throw it out if it tasted horrible. Thankfully, it tastes awesome!

This is a revision to THIS banana bread recipe I posted earlier:

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose white flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup light butter

1/8 cup organic fat free vanilla yogurt

3/4 cup pure cane brown sugar

1 (2.5 oz) container Organic Sweet Potatoes baby food

3 large bananas, mashed

*optional add-ins: semi-sweet chocolate chips or nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bread pan (I used a bundt pan this time.) Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix and set aside. 

Beat butter, yogurt, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add baby food. Stir in mashed bananas and beat until blended well. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir until all is moistened. Transfer to the bread pan or muffin tin. 

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes for bundt pan, around 15-17 minutes for muffins. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool just a few minutes. 

It’s so good and a healthier option! I just may bake with pureed baby foods more often!

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This Little Thing Called Sugar…

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I’ll be the first to admit I have a sweet tooth. I mean, I think everyone does to a certain extent, right? A few days ago I had a little incident. Due to the intense heat, I was in a hurry to get out the door by 7am so I skipped breakfast and went for a hard run. When I came back, I was busy with taking care of the girls’ needs, showered, and once I finally got them down for their nap, realized I hadn’t eaten yet that day. Bad, bad mistake. I had a hypoglycemic scare of shakiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, heart palpitations, and irritability for the rest of the day. I called my doctor and he agreed that is probably what was going on.

I looked up low blood sugar on the internet and they suggested how to combat another attack, which included to cut out all caffeine and sugar from your diet.

So I did. And realized the next day that even though I ate small meals every 2.5 hours (as my doctor suggested), I was still irritable, experiencing a foggy feeling, and had a headache. What the heck is going on?

I then looked up caffeine withdrawal and sugar withdrawal symptoms. Low and behold, they both follow the exact symptoms I was experiencing! Since I cut out both on one day, I probably intensified it times two.

I’m not going to lie. This sugar withdrawal is no joke. I completely eliminated all refined sugars from my diet. I know it’s probably not the best way to cut out sugars (they suggest doing it bit by bit) but since I’m already two days in, what’s a few more irritable days? After that – hopefully I’ll be home free! My body will thank me, I’m sure. Just after it gets over these annoying symptoms.

It’s funny, they actually suggest that sugar withdrawal can feel like a drug or alcohol withdrawal. I never realized that a little substance such as sugar could have such a hold over us! It’s quite scary, actually.

Oh, as for the caffeine withdrawal…

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 I get most of my caffeine from my coffee in the morning. I don’t drink any type of pop (soda/coke for you non-Michiganers). Before last November, when I started drinking the liquid gold*, I never had to worry about needing caffeine. Now, I apparently can’t live without it! It’s a slippery slope, I tell you. First, I started off with one cup a day. Then, gradually increased it to two cups. Now, I usually drink 2 cups a day unless I have a coffee date or something, then might increase it even to three cups in one day.

Yikes.

So, my plan is to get this sugar issue under control, eat at least every 2.5 hours every day (especially during this heat and while I’m nursing), and then I’ll tackle my coffee problem in a few weeks.

So, feel free to check in with me every once in a while. It’s always good to be held accountable and no better way than have people “bugging” me to see how I’m doing. 🙂

If you have ever tried to cut something out of your diet completely, what has helped you?

*It was brought to my attention that some reference breast milk as liquid gold. I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not, in fact, drink breast milk, but coffee. 🙂 

Image sources: 1 // 2

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I Love Baking

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It’s true. I love to bake. As long as the recipe is relatively easy and doesn’t require a lot of random ingredients I don’t have, I would bake every day. Unfortunately, baking usually means sweets, which means unhealthy. So, I try to only do it when I have a reason to. It’s usually for a coffee date I’m hosting, playdate, or somewhere where I’ll be sharing the goodies, not keeping them all to myself.

Today, I had some bananas in the house and in my quest to eating healthier lately, I wanted to try a new recipe. So, I found one online that looked good. I tweaked it just a bit, and ended up having a new, delicious and favorite go-to banana bread/muffin recipe! I love the fact that it doesn’t have as much butter and sugar as other recipes call for. Also, I used more bananas and switched out some regular flour for wheat flour.

I made half with semi-sweet chocolate chips and half without. (I only give my girls the non-chocolate version but thought others might like that little extra bit of sweetness added to it.) The muffins have just enough sweetness in them to make them good, but not an overly sweet bread that tastes like pure dessert. So, in other words, you might not feel as guilty eating one for breakfast. I made these in muffin form because it’s easier for Brooklyn to eat, but obviously you could make it in a bread form as well.

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Healthy Banana Bread Recipe:

1 cup all- purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter (I used light)

1/8 cup nonfat plain yogurt (I used organic)

3/4 cup (pure cane) brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 in. by 5 in. bread pan or line the muffin tins with cupcake paper. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix and set aside. 

Beat butter, yogurt, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in mashed bananas and beat until blended well. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir until all is moistened. Transfer to the bread pan or muffin tin. 

Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes for bread pan, around 15-17 minutes for muffins. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool just a few minutes. 

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Super simple, right? Enjoy!

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Non-GMO Eating

In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve attempted to extract GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) from my girls’ and my diet. I went through my pantry and moved all food with GMO’s to the top shelf (there are a lot!), which I’ve deemed off limits for us. If I find this change to be a positive one, I’ll give theses away and stick to our organic food I purchased from the grocery store. There are a few reasons I’ve switched over and gone on this major health kick.

The first and most pressing reason is to try to get rid of Brooklyn’s tummy issues she has had chronically since around 15 months old. I have talked to doctors about it, tried different foods or taken foods out of her diet (it’s not an intolerance to dairy as I first thought) and so I figured, why not try non-GMO food and see how it goes? After the first couple of days, I can already tell a positive change. Maybe this is what she has needed all along. If so, I feel bad for it taking me so long to figure it out!

Also, it’s better for us. All of us, as a family. If you watch this video, you just might be inspired to change your eating habits drastically as well! I’ve already scouted out the Organic shops near our next duty station and am excited for Adam to come home and start this new change with us!

Have any of you gone non-GMO? Are you interested in learning more? Check out this website here to learn about all food that contains GMO’s and how to shop for the right non-GMO products at your grocery store. I’d love to hear your stories!

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Cleansing

So, yeah. I’ve let twelve days go by without a post.

Oops. I apologize.

It’s been pretty busy here with us gearing up for our 3rd (and a half) deployment here in Japan. While we don’t want to say good-bye to Adam, it’s getting to that point where I almost just want the deployment to begin solely for the fact that it means he’ll be home sooner. Does that make sense? Probably only to other fellow military spouses.

Anyway… a couple days ago I decided I was consuming too many sweets and not enough fruits and veggies. After Scarlett’s birthday party we had a lot of sweets and non-healthy foods sitting around. I hate for anything to go to waste, so I pulled my own weight in helping finish off the food before it went bad.

Well, after a couple days of this, I finally decided enough was enough. So, yesterday I went on a bit of a cleanse. It consisted of lemon water (um… I’m addicted now. Seriously.), and raw fruits and veggies.

The outcome?

A happier, more energetic me. I never really sat back and realized just how badly non-healthy foods can make me feel. Now, I don’t eat fried foods. I don’t drink carbonated beverages. But I do enjoy my sweets and snack-y foods. (I’ll admit. I’m a snacker. I’m one of those people who eats 5 small meals a day instead of 3 large meals.) In cutting them out yesterday, I just felt a lot better.

Today I decided to do the same. I allow myself a small slip-up here or there, but overall it’s mainly fruits and veggies. And lemon water. I still love it. My goal is to continue this as long as I can. There are only positive benefits from it, so why not?

Side note: you should look up all the benefits of drinking lemon water. The one that stood out the most to me is it helps prevent the forming of kidney stones. As a person who has had three, I will continue to drink this from here on out!

So, in the next few days, I challenge YOU to try the cleanse. Eat those fruits and veggies, drink that water. See how much better you feel. I’d love to hear from you if you do it!