Black Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Trim Healthy Mama

I think I almost died.

Ummm…k.  Maybe not.  But these black bean chocolate chip cookies are amazing!

I dished them out to every member of my family (except Pepper – dogs should NOT have xylitol or chocolate) and EVEN the skeptical hubster LOVED them.  He did!

In fact, everyone loved them.

They don’t taste healthy…but they are.  Win-win!Continue Reading

Best of the Black Hills

We are heading out in less than 1 week.  As I’ve considered our time here in Rapid City, I naturally think about the things I will miss.  Of course I will miss friends, but if I could recommend my favorite places here in the Black Hills, what would they be?  Below is our list of the best of the Black Hills.

Favorite Restaurant

We love Minerva’s.  Love it!  The last time Mark and went out on a date I had the Champaign Chicken.  Amazing.  My mouth waters even now it was that good.  The food has always been quality and it’s very kid-friendly.  Minerva’s is what I would call upscale family dining. I will miss Minerva’s.

Best Donuts

Jerry’s Cakes & Donuts.  These are the best donuts in town.  We’ve tried at least 4 other places.  Jerry’s wins.  I always get their maple bacon.  Everyone loves bacon right? Don’t knock it until you try it.

Authentic Bagels

So it’s pretty funny that I have a category for bagels, I think this recommendation might be the ONLY bagel place in Rapid City.  But Black Hills Bagels is authentic.  My favorite is the Everything Bagel, (White Chocolate Chip is a close 2nd) but everything I’ve had from there is  yummy!  Perfect bagels.

Local Coffee

I say skip Starbucks and go to Black Hills Blends.  The little coffee huts throughout town serve up delicious cups of joe and as a bonus the company is local.  I think their coffee is better than Starbucks and the LaCrosse location even has Black Hills Bagels available on the menu.  Win win!

Pampering

Mystique Edge is the place to go for some local pampering.  The services there are superior, but the ambiance at Mystique really makes it a retreat.  I love going there and it is a relaxing enjoyable experience.  I’ve never had a better massage than at Mystique.  The pedicures and haircuts there are also top notch.

Camping

Spearfish City Campground & Legion Lake were our absolute favorites.  There is so much great camping in the area, but these particular campgrounds made the favorites.

I realize my list is short.  With 4 kids, it’s not often that we go out to eat and we are living on a budget.  But these are most definitely the cream of the crop and what we enjoyed in Rapid City. For the food recommendations, I specifically avoided mass-marketed chain restaurants.

(Also, I did not receive any compensation or incentive for these recommendations, just so you know.  These are honest recommendations with zero strings attached)

Anyone else familiar with Rapid City that has a local favorite?  I’d love to hear your recommendation of where to go.  We have only a few more days to enjoy the Black Hills and would love to hear what we may have missed out on.

 

Favorite Pinterest Pins Tested in Our Home

The great thing about Pinterest is how it motivates.  Motivation to try a new recipe or follow a tip.  These are some of my favorite pins from the past few months if you want to check em out.

Perfect Salmon by Pioneer Woman – Perfect.  Truth.

Triangular Folded Grocery Sacks – Ummm, I HATE the grocery sack dilema.  I hate having a bunch of scrunched up grocery sacks and I love this tip.  On the surface, it seems a little over the top.  But oh it made my heart happy to see all my triangular grocery sacks neatly tucked inside the box I store them in.  And I have bought reusable grocery bags but without fail, I forget them.  That is something I’m working on.  For now, I have a neat way to store the plastic sacks and reuse them.  And it is the perfect job for the kids while I put away groceries.

triangular-folded-grocery-bags

Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken – Delish!  Everyone loved this one.  I added the dried red pepper flakes to my plate separately.  It is a keeper!

Sugar Cookie Bars – Oh my word, I love these and have made them several times!!  I made them recently when I got together with friends.  They are a favorite.  Only thing I change on these is I sub in almond extract instead of vanilla extract for the frosting.  These taste very much like Eileen’s Colossal Cookies but better.

 

Sprinkle-Cake

Sprinkle Birthday Cake – A few months ago, we celebrated Eva’s 3rd Birthday.  I wish I would have loaded up her cake more with the sprinkles but this was a cute and easy idea.

And if you want to follow me on Pinterest, you can here.  Do you have any favorite pins you care to share?  I’d love to know what gems you’ve found recently!

 

Julie-Signature

Why I Gave Up Coffee

Red Rooibos Chai Tea

Oh no she din’t.

Yes, I did.

My Love of Coffee

Let me start off by saying that I truly LOVE coffee.  I love it so much I continued to drink it throughout my pregnancies because I didn’t want to have to deal with withdrawals.  That and I wanted my babies to be able to handle me drinking coffee while nursing.  (I know, I know you crunchy mamas, don’t chastise me!)

Needless to say, there is some weird psychological pull with me and coffee.

I wrote about my perfect morning, here where I described how it included a big cup of coffee with creamer.  Coffee was a necessity.

My Pestering Friend

Up until about a month ago, I hadn’t even considered giving up my java.

In fact, when a friend mentioned that maybe I should fast, I adamantly opposed that foolish suggestion.  (okay NOT foolish AT ALL…just illustrates where my heart was)

What a ridiculous idea though.  Psch!  I’d have to stop drinking coffee! I would have headaches! No way was I going to go through that on purpose.  How would I function?? Her suggestion was ludicrous.

Because she is a stubborn kill-joy, she managed to convince me to at LEAST get off coffee and then figure out the fasting thing.

Coffee Detox

I removed the coffee pot from the camper and dumped my creamer down the drain.  For 3 days I had a horrible headache.  I was tired and actually fell asleep sitting up on the couch several times.  I felt like a regular old lady.

I didn’t know how long I’d be coffee free, the longest I’ve been without coffee for the past 15+ years was 10 long days.

My Coffee Came Back to Bite Me!

After one week of no coffee, I asked Mark to pick up one while in town. I had decided to enjoy a random cup of coffee but not drink it every day or throughout the day.

I savored that cup of coffee. It was delectable!

But then it hit me. The caffeine assaulted my bloodstream. I do not think I can properly explain how awful I felt. I was jittery and my mind was just a mess. I had a bunch of things to get done but was spinning around in circles.

Yeah right!  You’re exaggerating – you say.

I’m telling you that I couldn’t even think straight.  My mind was racing through all that was before me. I had a list of things to do but for a few hours, I was extremely inefficient and not even accomplishing much of anything besides being a scatterbrained whackjob.

I’ve been pretty loyal to coffee for many years and have never noticed the effects of it like I did this time.  Freaky.

It’ll Hook You!

Coffee has a strange pull with many people.  I was discussing my coffee issues with several friends and they agreed – there is something weird about coffee.

Fellowship happens around a cup of coffee – sure.

But it’s more than that.

For most people, it’s addictive. That pestering friend I have, the one that urged me to get off of coffee, doesn’t drink it because she is certain she would be addicted to it.

But I think it’s EVEN more than that.

I think it’s the fact that it’s a stimulant, appetite suppressant, and mood enhancing beverage – all in one. Or am I just crazy?? Out there, someone is far smarter than I am and can explain it I’m sure.

New Coffee Habits

So I decided that every once in a while, I will have a cup of coffee.  I figure this will serve several purposes.  #1 – I’ll get to enjoy a random cup of delicious coffee.  #2 – I can enjoy the fellowship that comes with drinking my delicious cup of coffee with friends.  #3 – I’ll get to remember how terrible it really does make me feel,  Then I’ll be renewed in my resolve to not get hooked again.

How to Get Off the Bean

Since it was less than 30 days that I was arguing against ditching coffee, I’ll just say that these are my suggestions should you decide to give it a try.  No pressure from me. I’m totally NOT the pestering kill-joy kind of person (but those type of people are great to have in your life).

  1. Get rid of your coffee pot (or put it in a very inconvenient location)
  2. Find a good caffeine-free tea that satisfies, (I love Red Rooibos Chai from Saavy Tea and Herbs).  I also like Dandy Blend and Teeccino.
  3. Realize that your body will adjust to not *needing* that caffeine jolt to be coherent.  I actually think I have more energy now that I’m not drinking coffee and relying on it.

I know there are health benefits to drinking coffee in moderation. But for me, it’s too easy to drink 3 or 4 cups of coffee every day rather than limit myself.

So I’m obviously VERY human in this area of my life, but just to show you WHY coffee is not a good idea for me…

This past Saturday night, I had one cup of coffee over at a friend’s house.  The next morning, Mark got coffee from town and brought me one.   Wouldn’t you know, I had a headache Monday.  Old habits are hard to break so it’ll be interesting as I figure out the balance in this area.

Do you have any suggestions of a good non-addictive replacement?  I’d love to hear them!

Your Caffeine Detoxified Friend,

Julie-Signature

 

 

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Today, I’m going to switch gears a little (or a lot).

My heart hurts for the Lakota at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

If you’ve never seen this 20/20 episode that aired last year, I highly recommend it.

The piece by 20/20 is fairly well done.  But they leave you with the feeling that things are looking up for these kids.  We know the aunt of Robert Looks Twice’s and can tell you that his mom is back to drinking heavily.  The picture you get from 20/20 is not the reality.

Not only that, but you don’t hear what the main problem is on Reservation.  I don’t entirely blame the producers, because they have a target audience to cater to.  Still there is a blaring problem that is not mentioned once during the show.

First let me tell you that we live less than an hour from this Reservation and have been friends with and loving on a Lakota family for about 2 years. We’ve ministered to them and seen their ups and downs throughout this time.

reservation-home

We have received calls from them telling us that their 13 year old niece killed herself, then another niece, then a nephew.  Multiple attempts at suicide.  Tears over getting drunk again and admission to addiction to prescription pain medications. Demon oppression & possession (yes it is true I don’t care who you are or your lack of “experience” with it). Our own frustrations with the times they struggled or finding out that money we gave them for gas was really for pot. We’ve prayed and cried with this family.

But the problem that 20/20 can’t share is that the sexual abuse is very normal and begins at a young age for so many of the Lakota on the Reservation. Many grow up, and in turn, do the same thing. This is just how it is. It is heart-wrenching to know what goes on.

Pine-Ridge-Indian-Reservation-Home

This evil is what we have come to believe it is one of the biggest contributors to the sucicide and alcohol problems on Pine Ridge. There is no hope of ever escaping the abuse.  Add to that, the shame and embarrassment that comes along as baggage.

To the Lakota, if you leave the Reservation and make something of yourself, you are betraying your people. You are an apple, red on the outside but all white inside. “You are no better than anyone else so stop trying to be.”

pine-ridge-indian-reservation-adrienne

Three families have set aside Saturday to go and do church with them. They invite their family and extended family. Several souls have committed their lives to Jesus but there are obvious ups and downs as these babes in Christ learn who they really are.  They are 100% Lakota, no doubt about it, but the alcohol, drugs, & abuse have ruined their culture.   Christ redeems them and their culture from what is destroying them.

We’d covet your prayers as we love on this family.

pine-ridge-indian-reservation

Blessings,

Julie-Signature