“What is saving your life right now?”
It’s a question that my friend and fellow blogger, Sarah Bessey has mentioned several times lately and it keeps prompting interesting ideas and tips that I’ve decided to finally share. And don’t tie me down and hold me to it, but I’m hoping to do this from time to time around here.
There are several things (be they physical or theoretical) that are saving my life – making my days easier, coming in clutch in the crazy moments, really working for me. Isn’t there something so powerful about letting others, especially others who may have similar daily lifestyles, in on those key elements? Maybe in the sharing someone else’s life will be saved too.
Certainly the ones that I will share today are not the deepest of possible responses to that question (the realization that God’s mercies are poured out on me new every morning? Saves my ever. loving. life.) but I went the pragmatic route for this post, and I hope that even still there could be something you find helpful.
1. no-bake granola balls
Also called energy bites around the pintrosphere, I first had these puppies when Heather of the EO shared them with OBoy and me last October. They are equal parts genius and delicious.
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1 cup oatmeal
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips (the ‘mini’ part is nice but not imperative)
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup shredded coconut (sometimes I toast it, sometimes I don’t)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (when I have them – if not, I substitute chopped almonds)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix ingredients together and place mixture in fridge to chill and set for about an hour (or whenever someone small isn’t hanging on you). Once set, roll into bite-size balls with your hands. To portion, I use my cookie dough scoop which is probably about 2tbl in volume and makes a ball about 1.5 inches in diameter. Store in the fridge. Each recipe makes around 30 balls.
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About every other week I have been making a double batch and the men of the house subsequently destroy them (while I daintily enjoy one here and there – snort). I’ll pop a handful of them in a baggie to bring with me in the car for easy snacks for the boys (bonus! It’s colder outside than my fridge, so they stay nice and refrigerated in the car!).
If you close your eyes, you can pretend they’re cookie dough. (Says the dieting girl.) Also, a word of caution (from said dieting girl) each ball is between 90-110 calories based on my calculations. Protein and nutrient packed, yes, low calorie, definitely not.
2. make-ahead oatmeal
(O look! More oatmeal!)
I want to invite you into freedom from meal choices. I will always remember when Kristin Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan (man, what am I today? A blogger name dropper? Not intentional, I promise; these people just bring so much awesome and happy to my life!) told me that she makes the same lunch for her four kids every. single. day. It was eye-opening and so very freeing. I remember thinking “You can do that?! I thought I had to offer a variety of options to be selected per the preference of my children!”
It has been a couple of years since that conversation, but I have finally instituted this model in our house and I couldn’t be happier.
Friends, walk with me down the gloriously liberating path of same breakfast for everyone, everyday. That’s right. Breakfast freedom. Every ding dang day the boys and I eat oatmeal for breakfast. By some stroke of parenting genius, I have never even introduced sugar or mix-ins to the boys’ oatmeal. I serve it plain. Always. I guess you could see this as cruel and unusual, but y’all, both of my toddlers inhale it, usually two or three bowls each morning. Zero complaints ever, and now Mommy isn’t standing at the fridge humming and hawing every morning, pandering to the (albiet adorable) masses. For the record, DanO often fancies things up in the breakfast department on the weekends and to that I say more power to him.
Not only have we eliminated a breakfast menu, but I have stumbled upon an even simpler way to do oatmeal first thing in the morning: I found those 8 minutes waiting for the oatmeal to cook and subsequently cool some of the most painful of my day, with two morning-hungry blond heads standing at my feet, getting between myself and the counter, waiting impatiently to eat. So now I take those 5 minutes to make the oatmeal the night before, refrigerate it, then stick it in the microwave to be re-heated and expediently shoveled into tiny waiting mouths.
In other words, I walk into the kitchen every weekday morning, take a container from the fridge, stick it in the microwave, pour it in some bowls, and bam. Item one on my to-do list, feed the children, is checked. What a life saver.
3. drinking crap-tons of water
DanO and I had a conversation in which we discussed the possibility of giving up caffeine.
While that clearly didn’t happen as is evidenced by the fact that I’m alive right now, it did result in some interesting realizations regarding what I drink during the day (read: coffee. and coffee creamer). This is not healthy. It needs to change.
It wasn’t a resolution, but since that conversation in December I have had a water bottle by my side at almost all times. Right next to my coffee mug. I got this three pack of re-usable 24oz water bottles for Christmas (but no seriously, I asked for them) and they have been pretty clutch. I can keep one in my purse for when I’m out and use a different one around the house, even while one is in the wash. I try to drink 12 8oz glasses of water (or 4 of my bottles) on a day when I don’t work out and at least 18 glasses (6 bottles) when I do. I keep track on an app on my phone (specifically MyFitnessPal, but it does All The Nutrition Things, too. There are probably much simpler ones out there if all you’re looking to track is water).
I’ve also been having a slightly sweetened cup of hot tea before bed to feel like I’ve had a treat and also to tack two more glasses onto my count.
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Let’s chat: What’s saving your life right now? Food-wise or otherwise, I’d love to hear!