A Table, a few pumpkins and a TON of Memories

This last long weekend was exactly what I needed in my life.

Positive people, laughter, and Joy!

A date night with 2 of our favorite couples was just what the Dr. ordered for me.
If only the world’s problems could be solved around a table with friends drinking wine, sharing appetizers and reminiscing.  Why do we let busyness get in the way of doing this more often?

To sit with a group of people you love and just laugh, share and break bread together….it really doesn’t get any better than that!  I am so thankful for these 2 beautiful ladies in my life.  They know the true me and love me not in spite of it…..but because of it!

Kristen and Kristi, thank you for always being there and for sharing so much laughter with me….it was just what I needed.

Then, it was a trip to “God’s Country”.  My hometown and time with my family just made the long weekend even better.  Time to sit and talk, time to reflect and time focus on making the smiles on my girls’ faces even brighter.

One of my favorite parts of the whole weekend was watching Lauren and My dad Carving a pumpkin together.  It reminded me so much of how I grew up.  I was fortunate to get to spend a lot of time with both of my parents.  My mom stayed home for a lot of my childhood and my dad was a farmer…..so, he would meander around throughout the day and if I wanted to see him, he was usually only a couple fields walk away.
I would follow him around and I am sure get in the way more than anything, but he showed the same patience and love to Lauren the whole time that he would have to me.
I am sure you have all heard the song “Daddy’s Hands” before, but one of my favorite traits of my dad is his hands.
They are rough from hard work and trying times, but they are also so loving and patient when it comes to those he loves.  Both of my parents taught me to work hard and to always try my best…and they are both great examples of that themselves.

I was able to spend time with my godson Wyatt, who has pretty much one of the best personalities EVER!!!!!  Him and Kate are quite the match for each other because they  both seem to have an extremely high energy level ALWAYS!  And I cherish any time that I get to be his “Auntie”.

It’s a simpler life when I get to go home.

I actually take the time to finish a cup of coffee.
I take the time to sit.
I take the time to play games.
I take more time to snuggle.
I actually RELAX when I go home and those who know me well know that relaxation isn’t something that comes easy to me.

It was a quick weekend, but a weekend that I didn’t realize how much I needed.  I needed to let go of some things and just reconfigure some thoughts.  Home was the perfect place to do it!

Thank you to my amazing family and friends for the fun memory making this weekend🙂

Hypo—you will not get the best of me

If only that title were true.

This is one of those posts that I have had written for a few days, but it is hard to talk about and it is vulnerable to share.

If you have followed me for a while, you know that with each of my 3 pregnancies I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you also would know that after I had Kate, (my youngest) I thought it would be the same scenario as the other 2…..that it would go away after I had her.

Well, after a few months of feeling tired…like really really tired, watching my weight fluctuate, feeling overly emotional, off balanced to the point of falling down the stairs once,  and just really really tired,  I sought the opinion of my Dr.  There I heard some life-changing news.

Hypothyroidism is a nuisance…..it sucks……it is something that I don’t like to talk about because I hate letting things that I don’t have control over affect me.
But, in the last 2 weeks, it has…..BIG time!
My levels fluctuate with hypothyroidism and my medication works for a period of time then I need to have it adjusted, but then it takes time to regulate the change which leaves me tired………crabby, cold (yes, it is a symptom, bloated and feeling like I am retaining water, and tired!

One of the hardest parts of dealing with these issues is that a lot of times, I feel like I am in it alone.  Don’t get my wrong, my husband is supportive of anything I can do to prevent myself from feeling like this, but once I do, it is hard to snap out of it.  I don’t love throwing myself pity parties, but that is exactly what I have been doing.  I have been moping around just waiting for things to regulate again so I can feel like myself.

I have been short, angry, sad, depressed, and quite frankly, hard to be around at times.
Yes, I admit it and I know it and now that I recognize it, I am doing everything I can to change it!

Which, led me to a new journey.

The book, “It Starts With Food”  has been on my list to read for a long time, but in a way it also scared me, because eating fat has always scared me and I didn’t want to read another book telling me that I needed to include more healthy fat into my daily nutrition.
But, after completing the Countdown to Competition plan with the 21 Day Fix Extreme and having healthy fat in my diet and feeling crummy the last 2 weeks I knew it was time to give it a shot.
I read the book in less than a day.
It fascinates me.
It excites me.
And it is teaching me.  (Yes, I am re reading it)

I have been following the 21 Day Fix eating rather closely for almost 2 years, but I am ready to find out more about what the foods I am eating do not just for my muscles or my waistline, but also what they do to my hormones and my brain as well.

One of the statements from the book that has already changed my life “Genetics holds the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”  OMG!  How true is that.  Sure, hypothyroidism is part of my life, but what I do to help eliminate some of the symptoms and effects is totally in my environment which is in my control!  It is time for me to take control.

Another reason I wanted to read this book is because of my sweet Kate.  She has such a sensitive tummy.  When she consumes simple carbs it is not long after that she spends time in the bathroom because her tummy hurts.  I want to help prevent that and find out what is causing it.

We start the “Whole 30” on Monday!
No Dairy, No Grains, No legumes and NO ADDED SUGAR for 30 days!
They dairy won’t be hard for me, the grains won’t even be that bad, and even though I love black beans, the legumes won’t be a problem at all…….but there is sugar in EVERYTHING it seems.

My family eats what I cook, it is just how we have lived since we were first married, and my husband will follow this while he is home, the same with my 2 who go to school, and Kate, well, we are going to play this one by ear.  She really loves her fair share of candy.  I am committed to a full 30 days of no sugar, but my family will be taking it in stride.

Why the Whole 30 you might ask?

I want my brain to listen to my body, not the artificial sugar.  I want my body to know when it is full and to listen more to what it is telling me rather than what a meal plan is telling me.  I need to be more in tune to what our family is eating so I can help Kate.  And, I want to get my energy level back, as well as start sleeping better (and that one goes for my whole family).
It isn’t a plan to lose weight, it’s a plan to teach your body how to communicate without all of the processed crap we put in our bodies.

I am like ridiculously excited to start on Monday.
It will mean more trips to our local food co-op for some great local and healthy protein sources, it will mean picking out great vegetables and fruits with my kiddos.
It will mean a transformation for sure, like a major pantry makeover, but it will also mean results, a deeper understanding of what my body is telling me and what it needs.
But, it will also give me a better understanding of how to help my clients.  How to link certain foods to behaviors and lack of nutrients to things they may have going on.
I am always wanting to learn more and I think this is one journey with will teach me more than I had anticipated.

I am excited to share with you all how it goes.  How some of the recipes are and whether or not it is working for my family.
I am excited to see if I can help my hubby see that his 20 oz Mountain Dew that he just brought home for the gas station has 26 grams of fructose that is equivalent to eating 5 bananas, 9 cups of strawberries or 90 cherries!  (Maybe I can get him to give it up)

It’s the things that are hard that make us stronger, and yes, my body will get stronger while doing this, but so will my mind and the connection that my immune system has with my brain!  I am ready to listen and learn from my body and I am ready to get out of this darn feeling sorry for me-woe is me- I hate hypothyroidism slump that I have been in for 2 weeks!
Stay tuned for my new 30 day journey starting Monday!


Melt in your Mouth Brownies

Oye!  This has taken me WAY too long to get up on my blog!
You all know how it goes though……I am busy doing things that I love so much. Yes, I do love to write and share recipes, but I love soccer games, movie nights, soccer practice, bike rides, manicures and pedicures even more🙂

A little over a week ago, my girls and I shared a recipe on Facebook of some healthier brownies……it was the first time we had ever made them and we made them on LIVE video.
The results……6 thumbs up!
My hubby liked them too!  But he is not picky and 6 thumbs up in our house is a keeper recipe for sure!

I have to take a minute to tell you all how much it means to me to be able to share these cooking experiences with all of you on Facebook and here on my blog.
I grew up in or around the kitchen.  My parents and family are all hands-on (learn by doing) people and I am so incredibly grateful for that!
Now, I am a hands-on (learn by doing mom)!
Having my girls with me in the kitchen makes my heart so incredibly happy!
If you want to catch us live on Facebook, shoot me a friend request….we do a live video every Wednesday evening!

So, about these Brownies!
The original recipe was from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

We love Coconut oil at our house so when I saw the recipe I knew that if they held the brownie form that my kids would like them!
The frosting took more powdered sugar than I thought, so next time I would maybe try them without the frosting, but overall………you couldn’t even tell they were missing some of the typical ingredients Brownies have in them!

Here is the recipe!


Melt in Your Mouth Brownies:


  • 1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, separated, I use 53% cacao
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil,
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt* (I made my own by adding vanilla extract to regular Greek Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (brown sugar can be substituted)(it was my first time using this and I am in LOVE)
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (blended regular oats)
Optional Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or whatever milk you have on hand
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 3/4- 1 and 1/4 cup powdered sugar


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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil or parchment paper and then spray with nonstick spray (I use a coconut oil based spray that I love.)
  2. In a bowl place 1 cup of chocolate chips or chopped and measured dark chocolate.
  3. Microwave the coconut oil and measure the coconut oil in its melted, hot state.
  4. Pour the hot melted coconut oil over the dark chocolate and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted.
  5. Add in the Greek yogurt. Make sure the Greek yogurt is quite thick (check the notes) and not watery. If needed drab it with a paper towel after stirring and measuring it.
  6. Stir in the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and coconut sugar.
  7. In a blender or food processor put in quick oats or old fashioned oats. Blend or process until the oats resemble flour. Measure the oat flour after blending and not before.
  8. Stir into the mixture. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
  9. Spread the mixture (it is very thick) into the prepared 8 x 8 pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 28-32 minutes or until a fork comes out clean when inserted.
  10. Do not over-bake. Slightly under-baking is better and will yield a better taste and texture. (More fudge-like)
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Optional frosting
  1. In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips and milk. Microwave in bursts of 15 seconds, stirring for 15 seconds in between each burst until the chocolate is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the Greek yogurt and then whisk in the powdered sugar.
  3. Start with 3/4 a cup and add as needed. Note that the frosting thickens up a lot after being refrigerated.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting (covered in an airtight container) for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Cover the brownies with the frosting.
  6. Remove the brownies using the overhang of the parchment paper or foil. Cut into pieces and enjoy.
Storing Notes:
  1. These are great warm but they are OUT OF THE WORLD good after being refrigerated overnight or for 6-8 hours (and eaten cold.) I never thought I would say a brownie is good cold but it tastes like brownie fudge after being chilled all night!🙂 So when I make these now, I automatically just chill them overnight because that’s the way we like them the best.
  2. However, they are also super good warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds before enjoying! Just be careful warming these as the frosting melts.
  3. Store brownies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  4. Frosting doesn’t freeze well, but the brownies do freeze well by being individually wrapped


If you love Chocolate…..you will Love the Brownies!  My kids loved them and they were relatively easy to make!  I hope you all enjoy!
If you do make them, please let us know what you think!!!

Chicken Teriyaki Tacos

Woeste Girl Wednesday on Facebook this week was maybe a little bit of a flop…..but the recipe was a 2 thumbs up for sure!

This recipe reminds me so much of a wonderful time in my life this summer.  I was surrounded by some amazing people in Nashville, Tennessee and we were enjoying chips, guacamole, nachos, tacos, burritos and margaritas!  It was such a wonderful trip with one of my best friends and some members of my awesome Team of coaches, Team HOPE.  We are a team of health and fitness coaches, but we also know that life is about balance and sometimes that balance includes a great margarita and some delicious Mexican food.
We enjoyed homemade ice cream, a few beers and many many laughs, tears and unforgettable conversations.  Staying up late talking, working out with thousands of people and growing together as a team is an experience like no other.

Now, onto the recipe!
These Chicken Teriyaki Tacos are amazing and they have the most delicious fruit salsa EVER!!!!!!
I found a recipe I followed somewhat on Pinterest, but of course, in typical Valerie fashion….I didn’t follow it!  I AM TERRIBLE AT RECIPES!!!!!

I had so many request for this one, so here it is!!!!


Chicken Teriyaki Tacos with Pineapple/Pear Salsa and PIneapple Crema


1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
4-6 taco size whole wheat tortillas or lettuce for salad or lettuce wraps

For the Teriyaki Sauce:
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. reduced sodium teriyaki sauce
2. tbsp. honey
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

For the Salsa:
1/2 ripe pineapple, trimmed and sliced
1 large medium-firm pear sliced into 1/4” slices
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1/2 small red onion, peeled and cut in half (so you have 2 quarters of whole onion)
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

For the Crema
1 5.3 oz. pineapple yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon lime juice (or more to taste)


For the Teriyaki Sauce and Chicken:
1. Mix all ingredients for the teriyaki sauce together until blended.
2. Place chicken in a container with the teriyaki sauce and marinade for at least 1 hour (I usually do overnight)

Start the Salsa:

  1. Grease grill and heat to medium high heat.
  2. Place fruits and vegetables in a Ziploc bad and pour in olive oil.  Shake to coat.
  3. Place red onions on a skewer
  4. Working in batches as needed depending on grill size, grill pineapple and vegetables at medium high heat (uncovered) until tender crisp and lightly charred all over, about 12 minutes for the onions, turning occasionally, about 8-10 minutes for the pineapple, or until caramelized, flipping once, 6 minutes for the red bell peppers, flipping once, 4 minutes for the pears, flipping once turning occasionally.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, dab (or rinse) off any excess oil with paper towels and chop pineapple (cutting around core), pears, red bell peppers, and onions.
  6. Toss the pineapple, pears, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, ginger, cumin and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl.
  7. Can be served immediately and can be chilled for leftovers
    (This salsa is delicious as an appetizer as well.)

    After you take the fruit off the grill, add the chicken to the grill!

  8. Grill the chicken until no longer pink in the center.
  9. Whisk together the Pineapple Crema
  10. Cut up the chicken and place on a whole wheat tortilla, cover with fruit salsa and crema. Add any other favorite taco toppings you might enjoy!   Garnish with freshly chopped Cilantro and Enjoy!

    I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!!!!! Please let me know what you think!!!!



French Toast Protein Pancakes

I remember when I was little the smell of bacon, pancakes and coffee.  My dad makes the most amazing “Swedish Pancakes”  they are very similar to a crepe and they are just so amazing!
My girls love breakfast food…. and I know they love to help me make breakfast on lazy Saturday mornings (although as they get older we don’t have as many of those)
But I love waking up early sometimes so my girls get to experience the same smell right when they wake up and they know I have cooked them breakfast like my mom and dad used to for me!
If you ask my girls what their favorite breakfast food is……you would have gotten pancakes, bacon and French toast…..and I came up with a solution to prevent me from having to make all of them.

These French Toast Protein Pancakes really do taste like French Toast and they are my kids’ favorite breakfast.
I cook up some turkey bacon and scramble some eggs and it’s a hit for breakfast, lunch or supper!
I also make these for meal prep rather than having to fill them with sugary cereal or frozen pancakes or waffles.  If you are making them ahead of time, place a paper towel on the bottom of the container and put one on top of the pancakes before storing them in your fridge.  You can also freeze them and heat them in the toaster just like an Eggo!!!

French Toast Protein Pancakes

1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup cottage cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups egg whites
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup ground flax seed (or flax seed meal)

1. Blend all ingredients in your Blender
2. Spray skillet with cooking spray and cook just like pancakes.  We always look for bubbles in the middle before we flip them!
3.  Top with your favorite pancake topping!