Low Carb, High Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

For some reason I have a current infatuation with protein balls or energy balls (or bars, I’m totally not partial).

My favorite store-brand thus far are these:

Premier-Nutrition-High-Protein-Bars-18-per-box

I found them on a whim while shopping at Sam’s Club with my mother over Easter weekend. For some reason I was having issues getting my daily protein needs met (preggo momma’s need anywhere from 70-100g of protein a day!) and so I was on the search for a good protein bar. The 30 grams shined over the competition. Though I had no idea how they’d taste, I went ahead and purchased them. They actually taste GREAT! Honestly! And recently I got my hands on their new flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip. Oh yum. It’s practically like a candy bar! And 30g of protein? mmmm-yes… I seriously look forward to eating one of these bars for breakfast. It’s so filling!

Loving the kitchen as I do, I’ve been experimenting with making protein balls/bars from scratch.

Today I came across a recipe from Food Fiasco for:


Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
(vegan, low carb, and high protein)

3/4 C protein powder (I used Body Fortress 100% protein isolate, vanilla)
1/4 C peanut butter OR 1/4 C PB2 w/ 2 T unswt almond milk (I used the latter, tho with Jiff peanut powder)1/4 C unswt almond milk (I used Aldi brand, organic)
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey)
2-4 T sugar, erythritol, or stevia (I used 3 T xylitol)
1/2 t vanilla extract
**tho not on the recipe, I added 1 bar of Aldi’s Moser Roth 85% dark chocolate

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a ball. Either press into an 8×4 loaf pan and cut into (4) bars OR roll into balls (which is what I did– and I got 17 balls out of it). Store in refrigerator.


1 ball= 39 cal, 1g fat, 3g carbs, & 4g protein

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think!!!
And if y’all have yummy protein or energy ball/bar recipes, PLEASE SHARE. I’d love to have a recipe arsenal to pull from when a craving hits! Love these things!

Staying Motivated to Work Out During Pregnancy

I follow several fitness pages & people on Facebook. Here are my FAVS (in no particular preferential order):
Roller Derby Athletics
Derby Fit San DiegoHeath, Wellness, and Roller Derby
Treble Maker909
Fit Pregnancy
Knocked-Up Fitness
Diary of a Fit Mommy
Yoga With Kassandra
Yogadevotion
Yoga With Adriene
Holy Yoga
Spartan Race Training
Spartan Race
Natalie Hodson

In one of the pregnancy fitness pages, a young lady was asking for motivation to work out. If I remember right, she was about 6 months along.

The first thing that popped into MY mind was: find a goal!
There’s something about having a goal or an image or an aspiration to cling to. It REALLY helps get you off the couch and moving.

An upcoming vacation? A sport you want to try? A race you’d like to run? A class at the Y you’d like to try out? An old swim suit or pair of jeans that you’d LOVE to get back into? Getting off medications for blood pressure or diabetes? Just want to be able to play and keep up with your kids or grandkids? etc.

For me, I have several motivations:
1) I want labor & delivery *and* post-partum recovery to run smoothly and quickly and easily.
2) I have a gnarly varicose vein on my right leg that I *know* will flare up if I eat poorly or gain too much weight. Personally, I want that bad boy managed. I do NOT want to be miserable the rest of this pregnancy. Or worse yet, be couch-bound because I have to keep it elevated all the time.
3) I want and *need* the energy to keep up with my soon-to-be (7) children, homeschool, house duties, and whatever else I’m involved in with hubby/friends/family/church/& community. I do NOT want to always be tired or to have to say “no” to things cuz I can’t keep up.
4) I’m in a fitness & clean eating Facebook group where we have to report in daily with what we did exercise/food-wise. ❤❤ my ladies!!! ❤❤ the accountability!!!
5) I use a social media app called YouFood that connects me with people across the world. In this app I post my daily food intake and exercise… I can also share my food/fitness journey, post my groceries, share tips, or start a discussion. It’s SO useful. People can “like” what I post and also make comments. It’s a great tool, esp if you’re like me and can’t stand calorie counting. And I can get food/exercise ideas and inspiration from others. Both iPhones & Androids can use it.
6) I want to join roller derby after this baby is born. And that is a highly demanding physical activity. One in which I do NOT want to be starting out with cold turkey. If I can maintain fitness throughout my pregnancy, that will help drastically in getting in shape post-partum for derby.

Having these goals at the forefront of my mind really, truly helps me get off my hiney and onto my exercise mat each day!

So what motivates YOU? What gets you moving even if you don’t “feel” like it?

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Processing My Weekend

My family and I had a WONDERFUL and fun New Year weekend. I sure hope you did, too.

In no particular order:

-we ended up ringing in the New Year quietly as a family (well, as quiet as 6 kids can possibly be past their bedtime, LOL). We were gonna hang with friends but everyone already seemed to have plans. And to be honest, it looks like a Christmas hurricane went through our house so I wasn’t super thrilled with the idea of hosting. But it was cool just hanging out as a fam. Bought the kids some sparkling grape juice– they thought drinking “bubbly” was fun. The two littlest ones made it all the way to 10p. The rest stayed up till 1a. We watched ABC’s Rockin’ Eve party and we got to see Pentatonix perform. That was squeal-worthy for our kids. Collectively as a fam, we’re all on a big Pentatonix kick right now. :-p

PTX

Photo Cred: atrl.net/

-I totally gutted, cleaned, and minimalized our master bedroom this weekend. It looks so lovely. It kinda had became a catch-all room, unfortunately. But I wanted to make our bedroom a quiet, peaceful place, or a “Love Nest” as we jokingly coined it. So I did it! And I love it! I so want to keep it clean and tidy from here on out. Another one of my goals for this new year. Actually, what I’m ultimately wanting to do is to develop a cleaning/organizing/decluttering schedule that will touch on every room of our house. I want to then schedule it in my Google calendar what cleaning area(s) are up for the week so that my house can just be maintained all throughout the year. Toughest areas are those darn catch-all areas, aka my bedroom and the basement. One has been tackled. Yea. Next up: the Basement Beast. We just need to get metal storage shelves to put in the basement. We have camping gear, kid stuff galore, holiday decor, etc that we need and want but there’s no real “home” for them. So they sit in boxes on the floor taking up space needlessly. We need to get them UP. Gonna check out ads for Rural King, Big R, Lowes, Menards, etc to keep an eye on sales. That would help SO much having some of those.

-In cleaning my bedroom, I created a little “office area” for myself in the corner. Nothing special at this point in time but a table, chair, and lamp… but I am wanting to use that area for Bible Study time and writing… a little nook away from it all where I can focus. Eventually, I’d like to expand it and maybe have a place to put all my paperwork… and even get a small coffee pot up there. Even my hubby said it’d be great to wake up to the smell of coffee upstairs. I LOVE mornings. That is when I am wide awake and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the world. I do my best thinking in the morning. And no one needs me. It’s a glorious time. 😀

-We had our last Christmas hoorah Saturday with my husband’s extended family. We have (2) smaller Christmases left , one with some super close friends and one with my sister and her family. But those will be pretty low-key. Hubby and I worked hard Saturday morning making our infamous dips: Cheesy Bean and Spinach Artichoke (there was hardly any leftovers). I also whipped up a batch of yummy gluten free rolls. (Four out of the eight of us have gluten issues.) It was just a lot a fun– it’s always a blast hanging out with family, opening gifts, and eating. 😀 Later that night, as the kids were watching movies and things quieted down, I got to thinking about how absolutely blessed we are with family. On BOTH my side of the family and my hubby’s, there are just some fan-tabulous folks. There is so much love and support and encouragement… it blows my mind. God has SO richly blessed us!!!

-Thinking about teaching my 12 and 11 year old kids how to do their own laundry. They know how to use a tablet and a Wii U… I think they can figure out a washing machine. Thinking about putting a laundry basket in their bathroom… just for them. Everyone else has been trained to bring their dirties downstairs before breakfast. Laundry is THE THING in our house that everyone seems to absolutely despise. I’m not kidding– they’d rather clean toilets. Trying to figure out ways to simplify. If Ducklings #1 & #2 are responsible for ONLY their laundry… maybe that would help matters a bit.

-Gotta call the midwife tomorrow to make my first appointment. Inching my way to 15 weeks. Gotta get in to see her. Things are progressing well (and normal)– PTL. Meant to call her earlier, but got distracted with my illness and the holidays. Hope to be seeing her soon. Can’t wait to hear the heartbeat. That’s always such a cool thing. Still haven’t felt the little guy/gal move around yet– so hearing that first heartbeat makes it all seem more real. Still wearing my normal clothes. Just have a tiny bump. Kinda thinking this time around about NOT purchasing “maternity” clothes per say and just buying “bigger” clothes. I’ve heard of other ladies doing that and it seemed to work for them. Definitely cheaper going that route– maternity clothes can be expensive. Already purchased (2) larger sized things for this pregnancy– Colt’s shirts. LOL. Preggo in style! And I got a (blessing) text from one of my girlfriend’s and she offered to let me borrow her maternity clothes. She just had her precious baby boy a couple of weeks ago. (What a cutie he is!) SO THANKFUL! I had gotten rid of so much of my maternity clothing with my last baby– we honestly thought we were done. Surprise! Guess not! But I suppose much of what I had was out of style by now anyway.

-Gonna take down the Christmas stuff tomorrow. *sniff* Never ready for that. Christmas lights are so cozy and warm and uplifting. BUT, I plan on leaving the greenery and lights on the banister. That can stay for the winter months. Thinking of ways to make the dreary months of January, February, and March fun and decorative. Guess that means I need to make a big deal out of Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter and decorate the house accordingly. Focusing NOT on the cold and darkness, but instead on the coming of Spring, which honestly isn’t THAT far away. It’s only 76 days away!!! My brain is already thinking about gardening plans! I’ve toyed with gardens in the past, but I’d really like to take a real swing at it this year. My kids LOVE picking veggies and berries and eating stuff out of the yard. And we’ve been blessed with a decent sized city lot, larger than most. We can most certainly grow a considerable amount in our lawn. Hmmm… time to dream and plan!

-My parents blessed us with Culver’s gift cards for Christmas. We went shopping this afternoon and we decided to treat the kids to dinner out. It was SO yummy! THEY HAVE GLUTEN FREE BUNS!!! They were super thick and fluffy buns– and I enjoyed every last carby bite of awesomeness. I cannot even remember the last time I had a BUN with my burger. It was so incredibly yummy. THANK YOU MOM & DAD!

-With that burger in mind… tomorrow, I start my next fitness challenge. Just prior to Christmas, I took on a Challenge to work out 30min/daily for the two weeks leading up to Christmas, only 2 rest days. Conquered it– even with a cold (flu?). My next Challenge is from Jan 4- Jan 31. I am to work out at least 30min/daily, 6 days a week AND I need to stick to an eating goal (which for me is to watch portions!). Gotta weigh and measure tomorrow AM. Now I’m obviously not seeking to lose weight, but I’m all about making healthier lifestyle choices. It’s online in a FB group. Gotta check in daily with what exercise(s) I did and what I ate (I’ll just take a pic of what I ate off of the YouFood app I already use). Gonna crush it. Even if I don’t win any prizes, it’s always a great thing for me personally to have a goal in which to aim for. Helps me make good choices and I always feel so accomplished when I finish.

-Tried my hand at Eggs Benedict this morning and EVERYONE loved it, even our picky 2 year old. We didn’t have English muffins or breakfast meat– but we used GF rolls from Saturday, and those that could have gluten just ate regular wheat bread toast. Poached some eggs with the poaching pan I got for an Xmas present this year. Topped it off with homemade Hollandaise sauce. So so yummy. Honestly didn’t know how the Hollandaise would go over with the kids, but they adored it. I’ll need to make a double batch next time. Everyone wanted seconds.

-In our shopping ventures this afternoon, I got a diffuser from Bed, Bath, and Beyond with the money we’d gotten back from a gift return. Didn’t even think to put that on my wish list, but I have wanted one for a loooong time. To experiment, we put some lavender essential oil in it when we got home and the kids thought that was super cool. Smelled wonderful. The toddler’s especially liked sticking their hands in the mist. It’ll be nice to put calming essential oils in it during homeschool hours. And it will also be cool to use healing essential oils like eucalyptus when someone gets sick. Gotta do some research now and see what kinds of essential oils we can use with it. All I have is lavender, Taming the Wild Child (LOL- it’s a calming blend), eucalyptus, lemon, thieves & citronella (although, I don’t know if thieves or citronella can go in a diffuser… gotta look into that). But it’d be fun to have different scents to work with. I know a lot of herbs and alternative healing methods… but I’m slowly baby stepping into EO’s. Heard so many people rave about their effectiveness. It’s intriguing.

-Introduced our kids to the movie Apollo 13 this weekend. Boy, I’d forgotten how on-the-edge-of-your-seat that movie was. Nail biter. And I even knew how it ended. Didn’t matter. Kids had mixed responses. The boys were all like, “SO cool… space… danger… there should have been more explosions, though…”. The girls were all like, “I NEVER EVER want to go to space… eek!” Me? I freakin’ loved seeing the clothes, home decor, and hairstyles the characters had. Not sure I’d like the ’69-’70 time frame– which is when Apollo 13 took place. But I’d LOVE to be able to go back in time to see the 50’s and 60’s. Life just looked so much simpler then. Harder in one sense because they didn’t have the conveniences we have today. But life just seemed so much slooooower. Ahh. That would be right up my alley! And to be honest, I like the fashion. 😀

-Re-picked up the book “Choosing Gratitude” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, now Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth!!! I’d gotten in back in 2013 and attempted to read it but didn’t get much past the first chapter. Not sure why. But man alive it sure is speaking to me now. It’s perfect! Not sure who all’s reading this… my close friends and family already know this, but perhaps you don’t. I’ll just get this out there: I struggle with anxiety and depression. Been that way now on and off for much of the past 2 years. Early symptoms showing up a couple of years prior even. Thankfully it hasn’t been debilitating. Nor do I have any desire to take medications for it. (Meds are for some people but I don’t feel it’s right for me.) Trying to heal this naturally. The more I seek for answers, the more I’m realizing that part of the problem is my lack of thankfulness to God for the many many blessings that He has given me. My focus is off of Him and instead is on the things that are going on around me circumstantially. I neglect to see God and His goodness all around me. That lends itself to a darker walk of life. I don’t want that! I want to walk with JOY. But it’s got to be a purposeful and intentional endeavor. JOY doesn’t just happen. It must be cultivated. So I am trying very hard to incorporate THANKFULNESS in my daily (moment-to-moment) walk. His blessings are literally everywhere, if we would just open our eyes and try to see it. Even in the darkest situations, there’s got to be a glimmer of something in which to be thankful for. Look for it. Well, that’s my goal. I want to be a more joy-filled person. I want to see the positive and the good… no longer focusing on the negative and the bad. And as a believer, I can have SO much joy just in thinking about being saved from my sins (thank You, Jesus!) and spending an eternity in Heaven with God Himself. I just have to focus on it. So I must take captive my every thought.

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So anyway… yeah… had a lot on my mind from this weekend. Wanted to share it with y’all. Looking forward to a new week. Gonna focus on the blessings!!! Hope you, too, have an incredible week.

Any comments or questions, feedback on EO’s or seeking joy or about anything else I posted, I’d love to hear it.

Later everyone.

~Momma Duck

Washing Fruits & Veggies With Vinegar

We all know that we’re “supposed” to wash our fruits and veggies before we eat them. But lets be honest… how many people actually do? Or if we actually do try and wash our produce, how many of us simply just run water over it and call it “good enough”?

Been there. That was me.

But something recently has been firing in the back of my mind that perhaps I should care a little bit more about the cleanliness of the produce that my family and I eat. Eating healthier is a process and if anyone has embraced this “healthier lifestyle”, we are all going to be a different stages and levels at different times. This is where I am today with our family.

Thoughts crossed my mind like: I don’t know who handled this food, or where has this food been, or what was sprayed on it, or what animal came in contact with it out in the field or garden… or who touched it at the grocer? Especially with cold and flu season just around the corner! My mind was filled with a whole lotta “ewww”. And the more time I spent pondering this, the more I started getting grossed out and worked up. So I began looking for ways to get the gunk and grime off our food!

Ideally, I’d like our family to go organic. But there are (8) of us living under this here roof and where I won’t say it’s “impossible”… I will say it’s impractical. Let’s be real… it can take a lot of money to eat organic. And our grocery budget is already tight. So is there any we could get “kind of” or “mostly” organic?

**It dawned on me at some point that pesticides are designed to be able to withstand rain… so how would just rinsing produce off with plain water get it off?

Bacteria, germs, icky farm/grocer unknowns…
Pesticides, herbicides, and icky unknown “icides”…

As I started doing research, I realized you could most definitely get commercial Veggie Wash sprays. But… this mom (yours truly) is always looking for a way to do things homemade– it’s just fun, usually cheaper, and almost always healthier. So I found several articles that talked about using “vinegar water”. Sounds pretty daggone easy to me! And it is!

Gonna share how I now wash our veggies.

But first of all, if you’re interested, check out this brief article online: http://goodgreenhabits.com/wash-your-fruits-veggies-with-vinegar/

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We have a giant kitchen sink. I ♥♥♥ it! If you’re ever considering updating your kitchen, considering getting one of these kinds of sinks. They are fabulous!
Anyways… I placed my produce in the sink and covered everything with cold water.
I then added 2 Cups of white vinegar and let it soak for 15 mins,
often swirling it around with my fingers because some stuff floats.
Actually… I easily conned my kids into it. They LOVE water and so
are thrilled to help me in this endeavor.
2015-10-09 12.54.27

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Then I rinsed everything off with cold water and dried it/bagged it.
The stuff I bagged, I put a piece of paper towel at the bottom to keep
the moisture at bay.
**Supposedly washing the grime off your produce makes them last longer. I’m not really sure about this personally as our food gets consumed within the week. But apparently the bacteria or whatever that is on the produce starts the break-down/decomposing process right away on fruits & veggies. So if you remove it, the produce can last longer. If you decide to vinegar wash your food, please let me know if it does prolong the life of your produce. I’m quite curious.2015-10-09 13.37.27

This is another batch I recently did.
After doing further research I have decided to pull out things like lettuce a bit earlier, like after 5-10 mins. They apparently don’t need to be in the wash as long as smoother veggies & fruits do.2015-10-19 18.02.43

It’s amazing how dirty the water is when I get ready to drain the sink!!!

Another yuck… check out the who-knows-what that I often find at the bottom of my Romaine lettuce bag. This is the part of the bag near the stems. I have no idea what it is but it’s slimy. Ewww.2015-10-19 18.03.43

So wash those veggies if you’re now feeling the pull to!

And if any of you have some other tricks of the veggie-washing trade to share with me, I’d love to hear about it. I’ve just started, so I’m open to further learning.

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**Note: you can also make a vinegar-water spray. Simply mix water to vinegar with a 3:1 ratio and put it into a spray bottle. Shake the bottle and spray your produce and allow to sit for approximately 5 mins. Rinse with cold water.

**I’ve also read that you can SALT your vinegar water, too, to further draw out bugs, bacteria, dust, dirt, and other unwanted things. If you’re going to salt your water in the sink, add about 2 Tablespoons of salt. In a spray bottle, just adjust the salt content down to maybe a teaspoon for a small spray bottle and increase for larger bottles.

**Another Spray recipe I saw was:
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T baking soda
1 C water
I hesitate to make this just because I know what lemon juice and baking soda do when mixed and I’m just imagining a big mess on my hands. So I’m personally going to stick to vinegar water…

Although next time, I may try adding salt to my vinegar water and see how that does.

Happy veggie washing!!!

Brief Miscellan-ey

Not too shabby for my 11 year old & 7 year old sons!
They can def make a mean salad.

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This summer, my children have taken it upon themselves to keep praying mantises as pets. Not sure how it’s been elsewhere in the US, but where we live, there has been a crazy number of them in our yard! They’re actually kinda cute… for a bug.

We had a male, Camo, but he recently died for unknown causes. Our female, Maple, however is thriving and just recently laid her egg sac! We knew she was “with child” when we saw her eating her partner. Very gruesome.

Anyways, we now have an egg sac. We took it outside so it can winter safely and perhaps we can watch it hatch in the spring. Kids are wanting very much to have future mantis pets.

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And finally, I have picked up yoga this summer/fall. I am *really* liking it as it is extremely calming and healing. Since I struggle with anxiety, it has been wonderful getting introduced to yoga.

Any other yogi’s out there?

Homemade Granola

We LOVE this homemade cereal! It is OH so yummy just with milk -or- sprinkled on yogurt -or- for a snack -or- a part of trail mix, or or or… it’s so simple to make and so tasty! You gotta try this!

Homemade Granola

Preheat oven to 350F.
Set aside in a large bowl 7 C rolled oats.

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In a small pan on the stove, bring to a low boil:
-1/2 C oil
-1/2 C honey
-1/2 C brown sugar

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Remove from heat, add and stir well:
-1 t cinnamon
-2 t vanilla

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Pour over oats.

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Stir until well coated.

Spread mixture out onto a cookie sheet.

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Bake 10 min. Stir.
Turn *off* the oven and return to oats to the oven. Leave granola in the oven as it cools. Leave overnight.
Ready for breakfast the next morning!!!

Store in ziplock bag or some other sealed container.

Let me know what you think if you make this recipe!
It’s a for sure family favorite of ours!

Master War Bird’s Perfect Sunny Side Up Eggs

Instead of using my children’s real names (in an attempt to protect their online privacy), together the children and I created fun alias’s for each:

Child one: Miss Fashionista
Child two: Master War Bird
Child three: Little Miss Seamstress
Child four: Master Lieutenant
Child five: Master Bam-Bam
Child six: Miss Pebbles

I thought they did good picking names. 🙂

So… this blog post is all about Master War Bird’s infamous and PERFECT sunny side up eggs. He has far SURPASSED me in the egg cooking department, and at this moment in time he’s only 10. Seriously, this kid has amazing budding culinary skills. I’m quite impressed.

So without further adieu…

Start off with a good amount of real butter (NOT oil or anything else), approx 2 dollops of this size.

2015-05-06 10.43.54Cook on medium low heat.
Season with paprika, minced dried onion, and garlic salt.
Cover with lid.
Check often. Keep a very close eye on it.
As *soon* as the white around the yolk is fully cooked, it’s done!
Turn off heat & *immediately* remove from pan
2015-05-06 10.35.27Voila!
If you used enough butter, it should basically just slide out of the pan.
Especially good served over a buttered piece of toast.

2015-05-06 10.35.52Master War Bird makes a seriously excellent/mean egg.

2015-05-06 10.36.29This can easily be replicated in a bigger pan with more eggs.