Beauty In The Busy

Finding beauty, laughter, and thoughtfulness in my busy day-to-day life.

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The Change Continues…

I’m right in the middle of enjoying two lovely weeks of vacation. This has meant more sleep, less stress, more time with family and friends, and less time on the road. It’s also meant more time to enjoy getting back into one of my favourite hobbies; baking!

I’ve really fallen off the home baking/cooking bandwagon a lot in the last few months as work hours and stress have increased. Carter helped by taking over a lot of the cooking, but baking definitely took a backseat. Okay, it pretty much just didn’t happen. Having some more time to myself lately as well as cultivating our new interest in healthy eating has meant that I’ve finally gotten my butt back in the kitchen, and I’m loving it!


This morning, while out blueberry picking with Kitten and my sister, my sister offered us a “chocolate bar.” She wouldn’t tell us what was in it until we tried it. We tried it and loved it! Turns out, she had made some chocolate date bars. When she described the ingredients, I recognized them from Pinterest recipes I’ve seen for homemade “Lara” bars. They seemed to me like something that health fanatics SAY taste delicious, but are disgusting to those of us who actually enjoy sweets in all their sinful glory! Well, I was wrong! These things are amazing!


As soon as I got home (after stopping off at the grocery store for some dates and seeds), I did some poking around on Pinterest, and ended up making my own homemade Lara bars, with a nut-free twist, as I enjoy not dying (I have a nut and legume allergy).

I used this recipe as my guide:

Homemade Chocolate Lara Bars by Ellaphant Eats

Instead of almonds and pecans, I used a mixture of mostly sunflower seeds with some large-flake oats, shredded coconut, and even a handful of banana chips. The mixture was a coming out a bit dry, so I just added a date at a time to the food processor while it was running until it became the sticky dough that the recipe described. The bars ended up being moist, fudge-textured, naturally sweet, and chocolatey, and everyone in my family loved them and wanted more than one; even fussy Frog! Score! I despise raisins and prunes and as a result have always turned my nose up at any recipe containing dates, expecting the product to taste like a giant pureed raisin (barf), but this recipe has converted me. I’ve pinned a few more homemade Lara bar recipes for future reference and am excited that there are many variables and flavours possible, all made from healthy, whole ingredients, no added oils or sweeteners, and whipped up in ten minutes or less, with no actual baking required! I think these will become a regular healthy snack option in my household.  Next time I’m going to try to make them with cocoa instead of chocolate chips to amp up the health factor; but I was trying to ease the family in gently. 🙂

chocolate lara bars

Try them; you might also be surprised at just how delicious healthy can be!


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Turning Over a New Leaf

Making a change is never easy. But sometimes, you just gotta do it!

I’ve written about Carter’s back problems and how much his back pain has affected his ability to work and enjoy life. Well, about a month ago he finally started going to regular Physiotherapy, and what a difference it has made! He goes twice a week and does his prescribed exercises a few times a day. In addition to that, his Physiotherapist sat him down one day and gave him a frank but well-received conversation about his overall physical condition and how much losing some weight and getting in shape would increase the benefits of Physiotherapy.

Carter took a few days to digest the advice and figure out how he wanted to go about making a major change that would stick for once and for all, and then he announced his plan to me. He invited me to join him in his lifestyle change, and I was happy to jump on that bandwagon with a partner! He has a specific goal weight, but I don’t; although I could stand to lose a few of the pounds that I’ve gained over the last few years!

jeans dont fit

We have attempted this many times before in many different ways, but we are bound and determined that this is it. This is the last time we vow to get healthy, because this time we’ll not only do it, but we’ll live it out permanently. Easier said than done, I know, which is why we are undertaking changes that we feel are reasonable and doable for us in the long run. We are experts on trying and then quitting, so we certainly know what doesn’t work!

So without further ado, here are the daily positive changes we’ve made and maintained thus far:

We are drinking a fruit and veggie smoothie every day. Our combinations vary and we are having fun making different creations every day. We’ve used: bananas, all kinds of berries, watermelon, spinach, carrots, kale, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, pears, apples, plums, pineapple, avocado, grapes, broccoli…you name it, we’ve probably thrown some in the blender in the last month!

With that we usually add ice, and maybe a bit of yogurt and/or milk or coconut milk, depending on how thick it is.


They are truly delicious! My favourite veggies to add are spinach, carrot, and cucumber since you can’t really taste them, but I feel exceptionally proud of myself when I drink a smoothie that has kale in it!

As for our other meals, we are focusing on simply making them much healthier than they used to be. We’re eating a lot less carbs, smaller portions, and lots of veggies. We are trying to eat clean or whole foods as much as possible. I’ve never seen so much fresh produce in our fridge in our life!

Our other major goal has been to find a way to incorporate exercise into our daily life. Now, we’ve both done this many times in the past only to eventually quit and become sedentary again. Not this time! Our focus now is not on getting our hot 20 year-old bodies back (vanity is so overrated anyways!), but simply on making our bodies healthy. We got married and had kids young, so we look forward to having fun and freedom together when the kids are grown and we’re still just in our forties. Still relatively young, yes, but we won’t be having very much fun if we’re unhealthy, out of shape, and heck, heaven forbid if one of us suffers a heart attack or worse from preventable causes! So instead of our usual go-big-and-burn-out exercise plan, we are taking one simple step together: walking.

We aim for every day because we figure that inevitably, something will come up during the week that will interfere with our walking plans, so we figure if we aim to do it every day, then we’ll be able to do it 6 days a week. So far, not only are we keeping up with it (we’re doing 30-40 minutes of brisk walking a day), but we are actually enjoying it! I’m used to the experience of pushing through exercise that feels like torture until I can’t take it anymore and eventually quitting, so to simply walk alongside my husband down our country road with our puppy while the sun sets and we chat about our day, our future, and our kids is a pleasure! We’re finding it as good for our relationship as it is for our bodies.

As well, I am using My Fitness Pal, an app on my iphone that helps me track what I’ve eaten for the day. It’s good for me to have a visual reminder of what I’ve eaten, how many calories are in my favourite foods, and if I’ve exercised or not. I don’t see myself doing this in the long-term because it’s too time-consuming, but I’ve found it very helpful in the short-term to get a more accurate idea in my head of how much I *should* be eating in a day to stay healthy. Once it becomes more intuitive, I expect I’ll be able to stop using the app and just *know* if I’m on track or not based on what I’ve learned.  But I’m unlearning too many years of this:


Overall, we’re going for balance, which for us includes allowing ourselves a treat here and there, especially on special occasions! Food is part of celebrating life! During the last month, we had a family reunion and a birthday. Did we have cake? Yes, we did, and it was lovely! Did we go overboard? Nope!

So please wish us luck in keeping up our long-term lifestyle change! We want to be as happy and healthy for each other and our kids in ten years as we are today!