The True Meaning of Christmas

It's that time of year again! I can't believe that it is almost the end of December! Time flies!

This blog post is going to be a little personal but I wanted to share with everyone what the holidays mean to me and hopefully you can get a little something out of it because there is so much more to the holidays than just presents. I think we all get wrapped up in the season of giving and getting and while that is a very fun and exciting part of it, that is not the true meaning. I am not going to get into the whole Jesus thing because I know that may offend some people. Yes, I am Catholic and do believe that the TRUE meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus but I am going to talk a little about the other big picture that many people miss and that is LOVE

When you think of the holidays what comes to mind first? I picture the scene in The Grinch where everyone is running around franticly trying to get all of their presents in time for Christmas. Why are the holidays associated with stress and chaos? I am not going to lie, up until last year, I was that person. I have always loved the holiday season; the lights, the songs, the movies, but I would stress out HARDCORE about getting the right presents, if I spent enough money on the presents, what food I was going to make etc. What happened that made me realize what the true meaning of the Christmas is, you may ask?

Unfortunately, last year we lost the heart and soul of our family right before Christmas. My grandmother passed away suddenly 3 weeks before Christmas. When I tell you that was probably the hardest thing that I have been through so far in my life, I am not joking. She meant the world to me and my entire family. In the beginning of December I received a call from my mom while I was at work informing me that my grandmother had suffered a stroke while she was on her way to Hershey with my Aunt and Uncle. She was immediately rushed to the hospital. That night I drove to Hershey to see her in the hospital. We were informed by the doctors that she could have surgery but she would never be the same. My parents, aunts and uncles needed to make a huge decision, one that would be best for my grandmother. I went in to sit with her while she slept that night and held her hand. I will never forget the grip she had on my hand. She was not awake, but I knew she knew that I was there. To this day, I wish I could go back to that moment. For the next 3 days I drove back and forth from home to Hershey to see her. The hospital had to give our family our own waiting room because at any moment there were about 20 of us there. 

The night of December 4th, my family had decided to take shifts staying with my grandmother since nobody had gotten sleep. I, however, had a gut feeling that I had to stay there all night. Me, my brother, sister-in-law and boyfriend (now fiancé) all decided to stay there all night. We sat in the waiting room while all the members of my family came and went. We colored, talked, reminisced, laughed, cried and bonded. Around 4:00am we decided we were going to go back to the hotel and try to catch some sleep. As we were packing up to leave, we saw my dad walking down the hallway to come get us. I knew that look and that walk. My grandmother had passed away.

I tell you this story, not because it is sad but because this is the moment that I knew what mattered the most in life...love, family and happiness. My grandmother taught me so much about life. She was the most selfless, loving, caring, generous person I have ever known. I have an amazing guardian angel looking down on me every day. With all of this tragedy happening right before Christmas, I thought that it was going to be the worst Christmas ever, but it wasn't. I was surrounded by the love and comfort of my family. I have never felt as much love as I did last Christmas. For the first time I realized what Christmas is all about. It is not about gift giving or food. It is about love, family and happiness. 

This Christmas, try not to focus on the presents or the cooking. Those are all great but you will forget about those things next year. What do you want to remember for years to come? For me, it is the feeling that I had last year. Yes, I suffered a great loss but with that came a family bond that I will never forget. This year I am making sure to focus on family, love and happiness. I thank God every day that I am blessed with a truly amazing and loving fiancé, a family that would do anything for me, a crazy dog, a roof over my head, food to eat, and my health. What are you thankful for? Because these are the important things in life and the things to be grateful for over the holidays. 

Have a very special and memorable Christmas! 

XOXO

Lisa Catherine

 

This blog is dedicated to my grandmother, the best grandmother and guardian angel I could ever ask for! I love and miss you so much. Merry Christmas!

Guilt- Free Healthy Holiday Desserts

Cookies, candy canes, ginger bread, peppermint lattes, hot chocolate! We are surrounded by sugar during the holidays! Don't give up on your healthy eating though. Here are some AMAZINGLY delicious guilt-free desserts to make that everyone is sure to love!

The Healthiest Cookies EVER (Paleo, Vegan)
Makes 12 cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw walnut halves
1 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 12)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional– see sugar-free options in the notes below)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the dates and walnuts together until a crumbly texture is formed. Add in the salt, baking soda, vanilla, and flax egg (see how to make a flax egg here) and process again until the batter is relatively smooth, a little stickier than traditional cookie dough.

Add in the chocolate chips and briefly pulse, just to combine.

Spoon the batter onto a lined baking sheet, and use your hands to gently flatten the cookie dough. (Tip: Wet your hands with water to prevent sticking!) Bake at 350F for 12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve immediately, and store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for best shelf life. These cookies should last a week in the fridge, and a month or more in the freezer.

source: www.dexinista.com

 

Sugar Free White Christmas

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups coconut butter.

1 1/4 cup coconut milk.

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped.

1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup.

1/2 cup desiccated coconut.

1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped.

1 cup pistachios.

1 cup frozen raspberries (keep in freezer until ready to use).

Directions

1. Line a 20cm square slice tin with baking paper. Melt the coconut butter in a bowl over hot water until it has completely turned to liquid.
2. Place the coconut butter in a food processor. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, syrup, and coconut until well combined. It is important to work quickly here, because you do not want the coconut butter to start solidifying. It is easier to stir through the dry ingredients when it is still runny. Stir in the macadamia nuts and pistachios. Gently fold in the frozen raspberries. 
3. Pour mixture into prepared tin. Place the tray in the freezer for 3-4 hours.
4. Use the baking paper to lift the White Christmas out of the tin and slice into squares (about 20). These are best stored in the freezer.
Note: You can eat them directly from the freezer or you can place them in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving to allow the raspberries to soften a little.

Source: www.iquitsugar.com

 

Shakeology Nutty No-Bake Cookies

Serves: 24 servings, 1 cookie

Ingredients

1 cup all-natural almond butter

1 tsp. pure almond extract

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

½ cup raw honey

1 cup Chocolate Shakeology

Instructions

Combine almond butter, extract, oats, honey, and Shakeology in a medium bowl; mix well with a spatula or clean hands.

Roll mixture into twenty four balls, each about 1-inch in size.

Flatten each slightly so that it is shaped like a traditional cookie.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving

source: BeachBody

 


Cranberry Crumble Bars

Serves: 12 servings, 1 bar each
Ingredients

Parchment paper
Nonstick cooking spray

Crust

1 cup dry old fashioned oats, gluten-free
1 cup whole raw almonds
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
3 Tbsp. coconut sugar
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil, melted
 

Filling

3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries
¼ cup 100% orange juice
1 Tbsp. finely grated orange peel (orange zest)
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch, preferably GMO-free
 

Topping

3 Tbsp. coconut sugar
2 Tbsp. gluten-free all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry old fashioned oats, gluten-free
1 Tbsp. + 1½ tsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper. Lightly coat with spray. Set aside.
  • To make crust, place oats, almonds, salt, and sugar in food processor (or blender); pulse into a fine meal. Make sure no large pieces remain.
  • Add oil; pulse to mix. It should form a loose dough that sticks together when squeezed between two fingers. Add more oil if too dry.
  • Spread oat mixture into prepared pan. Press into an even layer with your fingers or a flat object (like a drinking glass).
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Increase heat to 375º F. Bake an additional 5 minutes, or until crust is fragrant and edges are slightly golden brown. Set aside.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350º F.
  • To make filling, heat cranberries, orange juice, orange peel, sugar, and cornstarch in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until bubbly. Set aside.
  • To make topping, combine sugar, flour, oats and oil in a small mixing bowl; mix with fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside.
  • Add cranberry mixture to crust; cover evenly.
  • Top with crumble topping; cover cranberries evenly.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cranberry filling is warm and bubbly and topping is golden brown.
  • Cool completely for 1 to 2 hours. Lift parchment paper from pan; cut into 12 bars.

source: BeachBody

 


QUINOA BRITTLE


Serves: 10
Ingredients

1/2 cup (92 g) uncooked white quinoa
3/4 cup (75 g) pecans, chopped
1/4 cup (22.5 g) rolled oats
2 Tbsp (24 g) chia seeds
2 Tbsp (24 g) coconut sugar
optional: pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut oil
1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, ensuring it covers the entire surface and all the edges (to prevent spill over).
  • Add quinoa, pecans, oats, chia seeds, coconut sugar, and salt (optional) to a mixing bowl - stir to combine.
  • To a small saucepan, add coconut oil and maple syrup. Warm over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the two are totally combined and there is no visible separation.
  • Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine and coat. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer with a metal spoon. Try to get it as even as possible, or the edges will burn and the center won’t crisp up (see photo).
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan around to ensure even browning. Bake 5-10 minutes more and watch carefully as to not burn. You'll know it's done when uniformly deep golden brown in color and very fragrant. The edges may appear to be getting too brown, but they’re just getting crisp and caramelized, so don’t be afraid of that!
  • Let cool completely before breaking into bite-size pieces with a sharp knife or your fingers.
  • Once completely cooled, store leftovers in a sealed bag or container at room temperature for 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. This makes an excellent holiday dessert or gift!

source: The Minimalist Baker

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

XOXO

LISA CATHERINE

5 Ways To Stay Fit During The Holidays

Between travel, shopping, baking and eating it seems next to impossible to stay fit during the holidays, right? WRONG! I have heard from countless people (you may be one) "I will start eating healthy and working out after the holidays." Why are the holidays an excuse to neglect our health? Yes, we should be thinking of others during the season of giving but we can't forget about ourselves. You can only help others when you are happy and healthy. If an airplane were to crash, aren't you supposed to put your air mask on before you help others? You would be useless if you didn't. Same goes for your health. 

So if you are one of those people that put your health off until the New Year, here are a few helpful tips to stay fit and healthy during the craziness of the holidays.

1. Schedule it!

Make working out a priority! Pencil it in your calendar. I like to workout as soon as I wake up so that I know I get it done. If I don't do it in the morning, something always happens to come up that seems more important. A lot of people like to work out after work. It is a personal preference. Whatever your preference is, just do it!

2. Set a Challenge

Setting a challenge or a personal goal is extremely motivating! I hold group fitness and nutrition challenges every month to help motivate people to set goals and achieve them! Striving to reach a goal is so much better than just working out without any type of goal in mind. Challenge yourself!

3. Sightsee

If you are traveling over the holidays, take this time to sightsee! Go biking, walking, or hiking and take in the sights around you. Get the family in on it too! This is a fun way to get your exercise in.

4. Baby It's Cold Outside

Sometimes Mother Nature brings some pretty crappy winter weather. If you don't want to leave the house, pop in a workout DVD. DVDs are, also, great to bring with you while you are traveling. There are SO many amazing workout DVDs out there! If you need help deciding on one, you can always ask me:)

5. Friends Who Exercise Together, Stay Together

Grab a workout buddy. Whether it be a walking buddy, running buddy, biking buddy, yoga buddy, whatever! If you have a friend to workout with, you both can motivate each other and hold each other accountable.  

 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Stay healthy, have fun and, most importantly, be happy! 

Best Wishes,

Lisa Catherine