When You Don’t Bake Like Martha Stewart but Want Some Healthy Cookies

*This post is sponsored by Silver Fern Brand. They kindly donated the items I tested for review. All of the information stated below is my honest opinion, because I would never lead ya’ll astray!

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I have these friends who whip up amazing baked goods, with all kinds of hidden healthy ingredients, that taste like they were handcrafted by Martha Stewart herself. I, on the other hand, burn everything. No matter where I am, or what I’m making, if I am cooking, I am undoubtedly burning something. Not only do I burn things, I kind of “eyeball” my measurements. To me, all of those fancy instructions are basically cute little suggestions. But, when it comes to baking, I’ve heard that this isn’t the best approach. Apparently you are supposed to measure things exactly when baking?!!? Who knew? I am guessing Martha Stewart.

Silver Fern Paka Baking Mix Review

Because I clearly lack basic baking skills, I’ve stuck to box mixes for all of my baking needs. I am all about simple, easy-to-follow instructions, and few ingredients. 

While box mixes are simple, they are typically laden with chemicals and sugar and devoid of any real nutritional value. Let’s be honest, none of us dive into a bowl of brownie batter thinking we are giving our bodies any “fuel”. We don’t devour 5 freshly baked cookies and think to ourselves, “Wow, my body sure did get a bunch of great nutrients from those tasty cookies.” No, we feel gross, like we should go for a 3-mile run. Or maybe that’s just me. I feel gross and like I should go for a 3-mile run. You’ve probably never eaten that many cookies at once.

Boxed mixes are yummy, but they’re super unhealthy. Which leaves the baking-challenged like me with no real options. Because let’s be real, there’s no way I am mixing up some homemade chocolate chip cookies with carrots hidden inside of them. That’s like baking 500, and I am still in baking 101.

Enter my friend Amanda. She somehow found this fantastic company that gets my baking skill predicament, yet cares about the health and well-being of my family.

Silver Fern Brand has a wide range of products, from baking mixes to popcorn. They are all about delivering on taste, while fueling your body with much needed nutrients. Their Paka Baking mixes are full of things your body can actually use, as opposed to most store-bought mixes that are full of empty calories. With high amounts of protein and fiber, and low amounts of sugar and net carbs, these mixes are not only delish, but they are going to aid your body in getting stronger and healthier!

And…

They are super simple, ya’ll!

Like 3-ingredient-5-minutes-of-prep-time kind of simple.

Which is exactly what I need.

So Silver Fern Paka Baking Mixes and I are basically in love. Lots and lots of love.

The lovelies over at Silver Fern Brand were kind enough to send me some of their totally awesome, nutrient-rich products to test out. Here are my thoughts.

pancake mix-silver fern brand

I tried their pancake mix and it was fantastic. The hubs didn’t even know it wasn’t the normal mix we buy. But great-tasting pancakes isn’t all these Paka Mixes have to offer. In 3 small pancakes, you get 16 grams of protein and 11g of fiber.

Ya’ll, that’s crazy!

Most women don’t eat anywhere close to enough protein each day. And getting fiber in is a real struggle for most of us. These tasty pancakes help you load up on protein and fiber, without loading you up with added sugars and empty carbs. And did I mention they taste delish?

While Silver Fern mixes are super easy, they aren’t impossible to burn. Which I did. Because that’s what I do. My first pancake was just a little on the crisp side. That’s what I like to call things that are charred, black, and sometimes smoking. But, my second pancake, and all of the following pancakes, were almost perfectly cooked. Perfectly round, not so much, but perfectly cooked … well, kind of!

I also tried Silver Fern’s Paka Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. My husband ate two before I could snap a pic and had zero complaints. Score for Paka. My daughter ate one, too, and said she liked them, so another score for Paka cookies. These cookies were just as simple to make as the pancakes. All they needed were some eggs and butter, a little mixing, and some scooping onto a cookie tray.

And of course they needed to be baked. I burned a few. Don’t act surprised. I told you, I burn things.

Silver Fern Brand Paka Chocolate Chip Cookies

Eventually I got enough of the cookies baked well enough to not only eat, but photograph for ya’ll. The consistency of these cookies is slightly different than that of a regular chocolate chip cookie, but they were super tasty, and took just minutes to whip up. Store-bought chocolate chip cookies have lots of fat and tons of sugar. Paka Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix has 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in each cookie, plus they have no added sugar. I got about 20 cookies out of the box. Only about 14 of mine were edible. I swear, it’s the oven’s fault.

Overall, I loved my Silver Fern Brand Paka Baking Mixes and will be ordering them again. As a company Silver Fern Brand is committed to providing families with flavorful mixes packed with the nutrients our bodies need. Their products have not a single artificial ingredient in them and are packed with all kinds of goodness. As a mom, I am thankful to have a healthy comfort food option for my family.

If you are looking for a simple way to give your family nutritious, delicious baked goods that won’t require too much of your time and effort, I highly recommend checking out Silver Fern’s Paka Baking Mixes.

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get back in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, you can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do.

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

Quickstart

The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference Recap

Gospel Coalition Women's Conference Recap

7200 women singing In Christ Alone will undoubtedly bring you to tears; which is basically how I spent much of my three days at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference.  My tears came with joy, conviction and a ginormous hope.  That hope has always been there, but lately, it feels as though it has been sleeping way down deep, in the crevices of my heart.

During the conference their were exactly 0 attempts to stir emotion. No rally cries, no repeated lines of worship for 10 minutes, and no overly emotional pleas to change. There was simply God’s Word, people who were committed to teaching it, and the most gospel rich songs one could imagine. There was much discussion among my group of friends about how refreshing it was to experience true emotion, that could not be conjured up by humans, but emotion that could not be suppressed in light of the character of God.

To say last week was refreshing would be an understatement.

I wish I could write out everything I learned, but it will take a while to process through it all. This conference is like drinking water from a theological fire hydrant. Every speaker requires your full engagement, both in mind and spirit. Each of the girls I went with, left with pages upon pages of notes. There were few breaks, and little time to socialize. At the end of each day, you basically wanted to eat and go to bed. At the end of three days, I left wanting to dig deeper into God’s Word, cling more tightly to the cross, honor Him in every thing He calls me to, and do things, both big and small, that will have an eternal impact for the kingdom of God. There were lots of small practical things I left with, along with quite the haul of deeply discounted books. I even made a few new friends at a meet-up hosted by Grace Laced and Deeply Rooted.

If you are at all able to attend this conference in 2018, you must do it! The links to all of the main sessions and workshops just posted today. I will be going back through everything I attended again (I am telling you, there is so much to go through), in addition to listening to most of the other workshops I couldn’t get to. I will highlight where to start below, but I encourage you to work your way through as many of them as you are able to!

You can find the Pre-Conference, Plenary and Workshops Here!

The Pre-conference

This series was great; it’s focus was prayer. Listen to all 3 of them!

Plenary Talks

All of these were fantastic. They go through the book of 1 Peter in order. So, my recommendation is to listen to them that way. However, the ones that stood out most to me were:

  • Jen Wilkin
  • Mary Wilson
  • John Piper

(The Panel on the Persecuted Church was amazing. It wasn’t part of the 1 Peter Series, but is something every believer should listen to.)

Workshops

Each attendee is allowed to attend 3 workshops. I went to:

Raising an Alien Child (Jen Wilkin)

I basically love everything Jen does. There was a lot of good, practical things to consider for parents as we seek to raise children who are not at home in the world. I love Jen’s down-to-earthness. If you are a parent, this is a must-listen-to. Also, it should be noted that my sweet friend Kristin went over to Jen at the end of the conference and got a selfie with her…which the rest of us thought was awesomely hilarious. Kristin, you are the best!

Sojourner Citizens (Jennifer Marshall)

Jennifer Marshall works for the Heritage foundation and speaks knowledgeably and practically about the believer’s role as citizens of the U.S. I really love how she gives you an overview of theological concepts as they relate to politics and then breaks it down into specifics for you.

Living Our Theology as we Disciple Others (K.A. Ellis)

This workshop wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, but K.A. Ellis is a phenomenal speaker, with tons of wisdom on a number of things. She walks you through applying God’s Word to life, by walking you through a real life example.

Other Workshops I Plan to Listen To

Cross Shaped Discipleship (Panel)

Standing Beside the Persecuted Church (Mindy Belz)

When Women Pray Together (Megan Hill)

Deepening Our Walk With Jesus (Melissa Kruger)

The Thorns and Thistles of Our Work (Kathleen Alsdorf)

A Peculiar Glory (John Piper)

Help Me Teach 1 Peter (John Piper and Nancy Guthrie)

I will eventually work my way through almost all of the workshops and plenary talks, because, as I have already nauseatingly overemphasized…this stuff is just so good!

And…because I love you all, I am hosting a giveaway! All you have to do to enter is head on over to my Instagram account and follow the guidelines :)

Giveaway

 Get Listening Ya’ll!!! I am serious. Like now.

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get back in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, you can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do.

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

Quickstart

Macronutrients 101

Macronutrients-aka-macros, have recently been the topic of much discussion in the health and fitness world. I had not really heard much about them until a few months ago, but when  started looking into the topic, I realized that there was a ton I had to learn. While there are people whose main weight loss and maintenance strategy is counting macros that may not be for you. But, I do believe that understanding the nutritional building blocks our bodies need, will at a minimum, help you to better filter through the myths that circulate around, promising amazing results while only eating Cheetos.

While I love fitness and creating workout plans for clients, I am still finding my footing when it comes to nutrition. So, I called in a friend to break things down for you. Jenna has tons of certifications that make her sound fancy, but I love her simple approach. If this kind of thing is something you would love to learn more about, I highly recommend checking out her VIP nutrition coaching program. If you want to follow her for more tips and lots of great info, check out her social media links below!

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Other than alcohol, all calories in the diet come from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are your macronutrients because they are nutrients that your body needs in large quantities. Alcohol calories are empty and excessive consumption will stall progress. When considering body composition success, we must educate ourselves on five important variables: calorie balance, macronutrient amounts, nutrient timing, food composition, and supplements (in that order). By understanding macronutrients and how they affect our body composition, all other variables will fall into place and you will feel more in control of your body! Let’s break down each of the three macronutrients in simple terms and discuss strategies that you can begin implementing today to move your health forward!

Macronutrients

Macronutrients 101

Protein

Protein offers 4 calories per gram and provides amino acids for muscle repair. With every meal, protein balances blood sugar which can aid in weight loss. For body composition purposes (weight-loss or fat-loss), protein is the most important nutrient, for the sole reason that muscle is made out of it. In essence, protein both builds new muscle and saves existing muscle from being lost. Both functions are important in maximizing muscle and minimizing fat. In addition, our hair, skin, and nails are made-up of protein as well.

When adjusting your macronutrients, a general guideline is to set your protein between 0.82 grams to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds you should be targeting at least 106 grams of protein per day.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates offer 4 calories per gram. The optimal amount of dietary carbohydrates varies for each individual. A moderate carbohydrate intake may be better for those who are active and women with menstrual problems, while a low carbohydrate intake may be better for those who are obese, have epilepsy, diabetes, PCOS and other conditions. For body composition purposes, carbohydrates are second in importance to protein. In terms of body composition, the primary role of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the hard workouts that build muscle. Fiber, while not digested or absorbed by the body, is critical for satiety (feeling full), reducing blood sugar, improving intestinal and gut health, and aids in weight control.

When tracking macronutrients, I will typically have my clients keep a close eye on their fiber consumption. Eating too little fiber or too much fiber can leave you bloated, gassy, and feeling very uncomfortable. A general guideline for women is to aim for 25 grams to 35 grams of fiber in the diet, while men should aim for 35 grams to 45 grams of fiber in the diet.

Fat

Fat offers 9 calories per gram. Children need more fat than adults because healthy fat aids in children’s brain development and growth. Fats are also good for brain function in adults and are a great energy source for long fitness related efforts.

Beyond meeting the minimum requirement of 40 grams per day, fats do not seem to offer much in terms of body composition benefits. However, they work great as a calorie buffer if your needs are targeted towards increasing calorie consumptions.

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It is important to understand that there is an appropriate nutrient strategy for many different goals. Your body needs different nutrients to work effectively, based on your body size, body type, activity level, and specific goals. If you are currently following a specific macronutrient distribution and are not seeing results, this is likely due to adaptation. Your body adapts to its stressors and the availability of different nutrients. We all have a specific set point that our bodies want to continually go back to. When we deviate from that set point, our bodies adapt. If you have been following the same macronutrients for a while now, and these numbers worked for you in the past but you have seemed to hit a weight loss plateau, your numbers MUST be adjusted because of adaptation. It is very important to keep up with your ever-changing body in order to continue to see results.

In addition, deviating from calorie balance (balancing your calorie intake based on the 3 macronutrients) or macronutrient amounts (especially protein) can seriously hinder your goals. Supplementation, and food timing are things to consider, but they typically offer minimal benefits. They are not necessarily something you need to focus on, unless you are feeling confident and clear with your calorie balance and macronutrient needs! Macronutrient amounts and calories are much more powerful in their effect on body composition!

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If you are new to this and want to learn more, check out Jenna’s:

Periscope: @jennacarelli

About Jenna

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Jenna is a Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Crossfit Coach, Run Coach, Personal Trainer, and Small Business Mentor. Jenna runs an online business under J.Carelli Consulting, LLC in the health and wellness space, where she works 1:1 with individuals who are looking to reach body composition (weight-loss and fat-loss) goals through realistic means. Jenna helps her clients understand that achieving desired health and fitness goals does not need to take you away from your family, friends, and community and that the diet that works best for you is the one that you can stick with forever, and not short-term fad diets that don’t last. Jenna also mentor’s fitness professionals with an established brand or business and enthusiasts with an idea for a brand or business, who are unsure how to get started.

Need some help while eating out?

Grab this awesome Restaurant Ordering Tip Sheet from Jenna!

Restaurant Ordering Tips-2

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get back in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, you can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do.

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

Quickstart

Promoting a Healthy Body Image for Your Teen Daughters

As believer’s the easy way to view body image is through the lens of scripture. We know that God created each of us in His image. He delights in who we are, and is not concerned with our outward appearance. As we talk to our daughters about how they see themselves, this always needs to be where we start. However, there are several other ways we can promote a healthy body image among out girls.

How to Encourage a Positive Body Image for our Daughters

Don’t talk negatively about your own body.

Body image is something that girls create based on the things they see and hear around them. Media today gives our girls plenty of fodder regarding what they should look like. At school, their friends will have much to say about what everyone looks like. Our girls are bombarded with all types of messages about what they should and should not be in terms of their bodies. Which is why it is so important that they never hear those things from us. If we are talking about how big our thighs are, or how much we hate our nose, they are going to think that it is normal for people to feel bad about the way they look. Ya’ll this struggle is real for me, as I have wrestled my entire life with wanting to look a certain way. But, as I’ve seen my girls pick up on those patterns, I have been convicted about my role in perpetuating that cycle.

Talk about food as fuel and exercise as something you get to do.

I try really hard not to talk about foods as either good or bad. Instead, I tell my girls about the foods that fuel us and the ones that don’t. I try to frame that in the things they want to accomplish throughout the day. If they have a long practice, or lots going on at school, they will need lots of fuel. So, they can have a few things that aren’t necessarily fuel, but they need to be sure to stock up on the things their bodies need to run well. In addition to that, I want them to look at exercise as a way to be strong so that they can better live their lives. I never want them to associate exercise with some kind of punishment for eating badly. Exercise is something they get to do because they are healthy and able, so I want them to see it that way, as opposed to thinking it is a way to work off what they just ate.

Be careful in how you describe other women.

When we describe other women as thin, pretty, in shape, or overweight, we allow those markers to seep deeply into our daughter’s thinking. Instead, I try to describe people with adjectives that don’t have a positive or negative connotation in today’s world. When outward appearance is the first descriptor we use to talk about someone, it slowly creeps into our girl’s minds as the most important thing. When I can, I really try to stay away from things like that. If I am being honest, I am terrible about this. But, I want my girls to continue to grow in character and grace, and I want them to at LEAST think those things are as important as their outward appearance. This is not easy, but is something I am really working towards as a girl mom!

Comment regularly on who your daughters are, not what they look like.

My husband and I both tell our girls they are beautiful, regularly. However, over the past couple of years, we have worked really hard on telling them the ways we are seeing them grow as people. We talk about the work we see God doing in them, and the ways we see them as gifted. We let them know how kind and gracious they are and try to keep the talk about their appearance to a minimum. We do want them to feel beautiful, because in God’s eyes, and in ours, they are. But, we are working really hard to create in them a hunger to be a person whose beauty radiates from within.

Please know that at each of these points I have failed multiple times. But, as God grows me in my own pursuit of a healthy body image, He is helping me change the ways I communicate with my daughters. While the struggle for our girl’s body image is a tough one, God’s ability to heal and restore what the world taints propels me toward fighting for the hearts of our girls.

 

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get back in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, you can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do.

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

Quickstart

On Saying Goodbye

On Saying Goodbye

Coming to Bangkok was never my dream. While many of the expats we encountered in our time overseas lived for adventure and loved to travel, I never really cared much for that. Instead I have always longed for the deep relationships that only come from staying planted in one place for years.

Which is why my sadness over leaving took me by surprise. If I’m being honest, I am pretty excited about this upcoming move. It feels like the perfect fit for our family. While there is a lot that is unknown, God has already begun clearing a path for us. On top of that, I never really loved living in Bangkok, and I often missed my friends and life back home. Yet, for the entirety of our last day in BKK, I felt myself getting all teary-eyed thinking about leaving this place. With every “last” came a deeper twinge of sadness.

Last massage, last pedicure, last trip to “our mall”. Last brunch with this friend, last dinner with that friend. Last time we would eat at this table. Last time with our beloved, although once hated by me, dog. The goodbyes got progressively harder, and my sadness grew deeper with each one.

As I thought through how strange these feelings were, I realised that this had in fact become home for us. And while this wasn’t my dream life, it had been a pretty good reality for our family. There were people here we loved, and places that were special to us. Bangkok marked one of the biggest steps of obedience we had ever taken as a family, and God had been so faithful to us throughout our time here.

And while we are going back to what really feels like home, saying good-bye was hard. Really, really hard.

Leaving our friends, home and favorite places behind brought an outpouring of tears I did not expect. And that dang dog ya’ll. Although I couldn’t stand her, or any dog for that matter just a few short months ago,  she had become part of our family. Saying good-bye to her felt like leaving a piece of our heart in Thailand. (I cannot even believe I wrote that people. Seriously. Who have I become?!?!? I need an intervention.)

I know we will see many of our Bangkok friends again. I am excited to see our old friends in South Carolina. I look forward to getting to know some new ones, in Nashville. I am also looking forward what God does in our family and ministry with this next step of obedience. But for today, and maybe for a few more days, I am just going to be okay with the sadness. While it  is a bit more than I had imagined it being, the tears remind me that God built connections here. I wouldn’t be sad if there was nothing to leave behind. So, I am thankful for the sadness and the good it represents. And while the U.S. will always feel like home to me, I will miss Bangkok and the life we built there with shaky hands and hesitant hearts. 

God was the one who called us there, and He is the one calling us back. He gave us such a sweet community, some friendships that will remain forever, and a worldview that can never be diminished. God did things both big and small in our lives and in our hearts in the Land of Smiles, and we will forever look back on our time there as an Ebenezer of His faithfulness.

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