Being a Goal Setter

Since I was little girl I’ve been a goal setter. It wasn’t like I had a sheet of paper with all my goals documented on it, most of them were just in my head; things I wanted to accomplish so badly I would have sold my first born to make it happen. Okay, maybe I’m not quite that driven, but some have described me as motivated, and a work-aholic. Hmmm…that is good and bad I suppose.

For the past several years at the ringing in of the New Year I have made a list of personal goals. One of the things I have learned about setting goals is they have to be CHALLENGING but ACHIEVABLE. If they are too lofty, I get discouraged, and if they are to easy, I tend to slack. Does that make sense?

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Anyways…before this gets too wordy here are a some of the goals that I have for 2014.

Relationship:
1. Have one date night with the hubby every month.
Since there is no where to “go out” per se, I have some other fun ideas: cooking dinner together, going on a sunset picnic, bonfire night, etc.

2. Put the needs of others before my schedule.
Not only my husband, but my co-workers, Nahuatl friends, and others with whom I find myself. This one is super hard for me, and I will have to be in a constant state of awareness to make this one happen.

Spiritual:
1. Be more mindful during my devotions.
Every morning I spend time in the word, but I have to admit, it is not always the most mindful time. Often I have the days tasks spinning through my head, or there are visitors at the door that need something. And I know it won’t be possible every day, but I would like to have my time in the Word be just that, time with Him, listening, trusting, noting what He has for me that day.

2. Pray. Period.
I have to admit, I find myself praying on my feet a lot. My life’s work brings about the types of situations where I’m constantly asking God for direction, wisdom, safety, and healing. But I want my prayer life to be SO much more than that. I want to pray this year more intentionally for my Nahuatl friends, for Pete, for my family and friends back in the U.S. and for what God is miraculously doing not only here where I live, but around the world.

Work:
1. Finish my formal Nahuatl language study.
This one is non-negotiable. I’m finishing, and then I’ll spend the next good portion of my life perfecting it. 🙂

Exercise:
1. Challenge myself.
It is easy to get stuck in a rut doing the workouts that I love, but I want to challenge myself this year and try new things. Lift heavier, run faster, rest adequately. Yes…making myself rest is sometimes a challenge for me. 🙂

2. Do More Functional Fitness & Yoga
While I love heavy gym style lifting, I have to admit that the older I get the more I’m realizing the importance of functional fitness. Doing exercises that imitate the way we move in real life. These type of exercises condition my core, and the muscles that I use everyday, plus this type of training combined with a healthy diet will produce a lean body.

And yoga, once you’ve practiced a few times you’ll know why I want to do more of it. It’s awesome! Not only is it relaxing…but it feels so good to stretch and tone your whole body, and I feel like a million bucks afterwards.

Diet:

1. Be more mindful of my protein intake.
Living in a remote place a lot of my protein comes from plant sources…which often takes more meal planning and preparation. I want to be better about planning meals, that meet my protein needs, as well as Pete’s without sacrificing the variety in our diet that we both crave.

2. Eat even less sugar.
I already eat very little, but I know there is nothing nutritionally sound about it so why eat it. I as well as anyone know that those cravings for something sweet are hard to beat, but a few weeks cold turkey, I don’t even want the stuff any more. When I do use sweetener I’ll be trying my best to use raw honey, or Grade B Maple syrup. Still sugar, just more natural sources.

Just for Fun:
1. Go on a memorable trip with my man.
I don’t mean our truck broke down and we hitch hiked to the nearest mountain village for a cell phone signal memorable. I mean a real trip, where we just “be” together. So hubs, what do ya say? Roadtrip? Camping? Italy?

2. Go Surfing.
We buy all our supplies in a coastal town, right next to the ocean…I still have not been surfing. I’m going. That’s all.

3. Put some of my favorite recipe creations into a PDF Book
Not sure how or when this might happen, but I’d love to do it. Maybe I’ll work on it on that road trip.

Well, this was a wordy post. But hope you enjoyed reading some of my goals for the year, and I also hope you’ve been inspired to write down some of your own.

See you tomorrow!

Liesl

Jumpstart January Challenge 2014

Hey everybody!

Thanks for your patience while I’ve been dealing with frustrating internet connection issues over here.

So, how was your Christmas week?

Mine was awesome, and relaxing. We enjoyed a Muscanero family traditional Christmas breakfast of stollen, and red grapefruit. Followed later by a turkey dinner with white sweet potatoes, beet & pear salad, and fresh cranberry sauce. MMMmmm

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Oh…and how could I forget the Cranberry Creme coffee with foamed milk and fresh-grated nutmeg. Delicious.

I indulged a little this holiday season and I don’t regret it. I have no idea if I’ve gained weight, I haven’t weighed myself in 2 years, but I do know that with the healthy habits I sustained 90% of the year that it all evens out. 🙂

Plus, it’s New Years this week! The start of 2014. Seriously…wasn’t it just the year 2000…where does the time go.

I love New Years because it means a fresh start and making new goals for the year, (those to come in another post), and I don’t know about you, but I love an automatic chance to refocus on what is truly important to me, and think about what I’d like to accomplish this next year. What about you?

As I was thinking about the New Year, I’d like to Jump Start January 2014 with some fun health and fitness related challenges for myself, and for you if you’d like to join the fun!  The challenges will not be difficult, and they will be fitness and health related.

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Here’s how it will work. Every Saturday afternoon I will post a new challenge most likely it will be a simple challenge, and you’ll have the week to see how it goes for you. And it’s flexible, if you want to start your week on a Tuesday, start the challenge that day…whatever works best for your schedule. And the best part…we get to keep each other accountable for how our weeks’ went.

On Saturday I will write a short post about how my challenge went during the week, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments about how your week went too! Make sense?

Let’s get started:

Week 1 Challenge: 12/29 – 1/5

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This is one area where I have been majorly slacking lately. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or what, but I for one want to get back on track with drinking more water.

Tracking your water is simple. First, pick a glass or water bottle that you are going to use on a daily basis and determine how many ounces the glass or bottle holds. Then in a small notebook or on your IPhone or computer if you want, track how many glasses or bottles you drink each day. That’s it!

So who is going to join me? Let’s get to downing some serious H2O!

On another note: I was thinking about making a January workout calendar and posting it for you to follow if you were looking for some workout ideas and inspiration…is that something you all would be interested in? Let me know!

Have a fabulous weekend!

~ Liesl

Eats & Fitness Plan – 12.29

So this is the first day of my Jumpstart January Challenge. This week I’m tracking my H2O intake!

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Wanna know what the Challenge is all about, check it out here and join me on a simple journey to jumpstart 2014 with healthy habits!

One note about the Challenge: you are only to go through a normal week and track how much water you drink. Don’t go googling how much water you should be drinking, this challenge is to find out how we can make practical changes to make ourselves healthier and happier.

Now that the holidays are over I’m back to planning some healthy and easy meals over here that are filling and delicious. This week I’m attempting some vegetarian versions of some weeknight favorites…like tacos! We’ll see if the hubby approves!

What are you making this week?

Meal Inspiration:

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Shepherds Pie w/ Mashed Cauliflower
Roasted Beet & Carrot Millet Salad
Split Pea Soup w/Carrots & Camote
Channa Masala
Chipotle Lentil Tacos

It’s been raining out here in the mountains…which totally makes my devotion to running wane….raining + cold < staying in my warm bed cuddling with the hubby, pup, and cat. This week I’m determined though to get back at it. Here’s the fitness plan:

Tentative Fitness Plan:
Monday – Up & Down Leg Workout
Tuesday – Run HIIT intervals
Wednesday – Tabata + Upper Body Strength Combo
Thursday – Run steady + 8 sprints
Friday – Jump Start January workout
Saturday – Yoga/rest
Sunday – fun run day

Yes, I know, I owe you guys some new workouts. I have several of them on the schedule for this week, so stay tuned!

How are you jumpstarting your 2014?

~ Liesl

Internet Troubles

Hey friends!! Hope this Christmas week has been treating you amazing!

I just wanted to check in and say hey, and let you know we are having some internet challenges out here. Once things get a little more stable with our connection I’ll be back with some new (challenging) workouts, and healthy recipes to kick start your New Year right!

Until then, in a workout rut or trying to get back on the wagon? Check out my fitness page for some fabulous ideas!

Blessings!

Liesl

A Healthier Classic – “Peanut Butter Balls”

As a little girl one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes to help my Mom make was Peanut Butter Balls. I have fond memories of dipping the delicious morsels of peanut butter and sugar into a warm bath of melted chocolate. I think often my brothers and I were more harm than help in the process…but in the end we always achieved the same goal…a mess of peanut butter and chocolate goodness.

The original recipe is loaded with butter, highly processed peanut butter, powdered sugar, and waxy chocolate, I would almost say they are more like candy than a cookie…my teeth hurt just thinking about them…but, I LOVE peanut butter and chocolate. So what’s a gal to do? Create a healthier version of course.

This version uses natural peanut butter, pure maple syrup to sweeten, and coconut flour to add texture. I coat them in dark chocolate to complete the combination with less sugar and in my opinion more taste. You will not miss the original version! And these are SO simple to make, regardless of what time of year they would make amazing treats for a party, or to keep in the freezer for when a craving strikes.

Hope these become a Christmas or otherwise tradition in your home as they are in mine.

“Healthier” Peanut Butter Balls

1 c. natural peanut butter (100% natural, peanuts and salt that’s it)
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
Dash sea salt
4 tsp. coconut flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1.5 oz. dark chocolate
1 tsp. coconut oil

In a small bowl add the peanut butter, vanilla and sea salt, stir together.image

imageThen add the pure maple syrup.

imageYour mixture will be quite runny (more or less depending on how runny your pb is), but keep stirring. The maple syrup with cause the peanut butter to almost seize up and get thick. Stir until thick and coming together nicely.

imageNext add the coconut flour by teaspoon. You want your dough to come together in a ball and not be sticking to the sides of the bowl. Keep add coconut flour until you have achieved a dough that is not too dry, but not too sticky either.

imageRoll the peanut butter dough into small balls, placing them on a large plate, or cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Place into the freezer to harden.

Meanwhile in the microwave or a double boiler melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil.image

imageTo make a double boiler: add 1 inch of water to a saucepan and set a metal bowl to rest over the top. Bring the water to a boil and melt your chocolate in the metal bowl. Once boiling drop heat to a simmer. It works wonderfully.

Once nicely melted…imageDip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate covering them with a blanket of chocolate. You can dip them using a toothpick or roll them through the chocolate with a spoon.

imagePlace them back onto the waxed paper covered surface. Once all are dipped, place them back into the freezer for about 20-30 minutes to harden.

imageBut lets be honest, you may not be able to wait that long. 🙂 Just get that goodness in your mouth.

Once the chocolate is hardened I would recommend storing the balls in the refrigerator as the chocolate gets soft quickly.

I only made a half batch, since it’s just the two of us, and they didn’t last long. Full batch recommended.

These will be the little starlet of your Christmas cookie plate; decadent and healthy. You are welcome. And Merry Christmas.

Liesl

The Best Fruitcake Ever

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Fruitcake…so many jokes, so little time.

It’s one of those nostalgic hostess gifts that everyone hopes they don’t receive…again this year.

If you are among the masses that could easily live the rest of your days without seeing another fruitcake, I don’t blame you. Dry, crumbly, plastic tasting candied fruit, laced with cheap alcohol…sign me up for a taste of that. Not.

However, before you sign off on fruitcake forever, promise me this: that you will give it one more try. And try this recipe. You will not regret it. More than any Christmas cookie my holiday season would not be complete without a few slices of this fruitcake. The recipe come straight from my amazing Momma, and while I did make a few small changes, it mirrors the original quite nicely.

THE BEST FRUITCAKE EVER

5 oz. butter, soft
3 oz. coconut oil, soft
1/2 c. sucanat
1/2 c honey
1.5 lb apricots
.75lb dates
.5 lb golden raisins
.75 lb pecans, chopped

5 eggs
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c almond flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t allspice
1/4 c almond milk

Glaze:
1/2 c brandy
1/4 c Gran Marnier
1/2 c apricot nectar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, soft coconut oil, sucanat, and honey. Add the eggs one at a time and beat the mixture well after each addition.

20131221-094842.jpgDoesn’t that honey look amazing? Raw, local, honey from Durango, Mexico. Love.20131221-094915.jpgI know that looks like more than 5 oz. of butter, but it’s not. The sticks of butter here in Mexico are much smaller than the stuff in the states. I assure you I weighed each ingredient just to be sure.

In a medium bowl sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, allspice, and cinnamon.20131221-094902.jpgFold HALF of the flour mixture into the butter and sugar and mix well.

Chop all the dried fruit and nuts ,and toss with the remaining flour mixture.20131221-094931.jpgAdd the dried fruit mixture and almond milk to the batter and stir to blend.

Pour the mixture into lightly greased loaf pans, fill them, but not all the way as the mixture will overflow in the oven if too full.20131221-094947.jpgYou can use regular size loaf pans, or mini loaf pans, both work well. I wanted smaller loaves, but didn’t have mini loaf pans so I made one larger loaf, and then filled 3 small ramekins, and two larger heart shaped ramekins. Random, I know, but festive. 🙂

Bake the loaves in a very slow 250 degree oven for 3 hours.
TIP: This baking time is for sea level…I live at 4,800 feet elevation and my small fruitcakes took about 1 hour to cook and the larger loaf about 1.25 hours.

Cool the loaves on a cooling rack.

Before removing the loaves from their pans sprinkle with a mixture of 1/2 c brandy,1/4 c orange liquor, and 1/2 c apricot nectar.20131221-095002.jpg

imageWrap well. Refrigerate for 2-4 weeks before eating. These also freeze very well.image

**Tips: If I plan to freeze a few of the loaves I will wrap them well in heavy duty plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil, and then put the loaves into individual ziploc freezer bags.
** Made as mini loaves these fruit cakes make fabulous gifts. Wrap the loaves in parchment paper and put it together with a festive cloth ribbon.
** These fruit cakes are truly best eaten after several weeks in the fridge, but if your schedule doesn’t allow for that much ahead of time baking…eat them when you like. And like a good woman, they only get better with age. 🙂

Happy Holidays!

Liesl

Fitness & Eats – 12.22

It’s Christmas week! image

Around the world people are gathering with family and friends to celebrate love for one another, and the greatest demonstration of love that history has ever known. God sending His Son to earth as a baby so that we could know Him in intimate relationship. Best birthday ever!

Christmas week will be a relatively quiet celebration out here in Las Moras, just Pete and I noshing on some tasty holiday eats, and taking time out of life to just be.

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Precious.

I’m not meal planning this week, rather indulging my creative side, with some warm roasted veggie & grain salads, fun appetizers for Christmas Eve complete with an outdoor fireplace (bonfire), traditional Christmas stollen for breakfast, and roast turkey and camote (white sweet potatoes) that we just harvested from our yard for Christmas dinner. I’m planning on some yummy leftover creations as well. 🙂

Also tomorrow and Tuesday I’ll be posting two of my favorite all-time Christmas treat recipes!

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Just a few little teasers…but be sure to check the blog while you are traveling or have some down time. I hope you’ll bookmark them for next Christmas.

Christmas week for me is about reflecting on what the day means, how so many years ago the birth of God’s Son so completely changed my life forever. And refocusing on why I live here in Mexico, to share with my Nahuatl friends how His birth made the way for life, hope, and eternal joy for them too.

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Jesus truly is the reason for the season.

Even though there’s no meal plan I’m still planning my workouts. Not only does it help me stick to my healthy habits, but if I know what I’m doing, I save time, which is important during the holidays. So here’s how I’ll be sweatin’ this week:

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Monday – Legs day + HIIT

Tuesday – Run + Sprints

Wednesday – Hike w/ my favorite guys (the hubs & the dog!) + Cookie Burner

Thursday – HIIT Run

Friday – Burpee Love (new workout)

Saturday – Holiday HIIT + Strength

Sunday – Leisurely run

What holiday eats will you being enjoying this week? Fitness? What’s your plan?

And to you and yours a Merry Christmas!

Liesl