Let's chat about cozy, warm beverages and reading because those two go hand in hand for me. If I think back to my younger days, I never wanted to stay in....ever. I remember my now husband suggesting to me in my early twenties when he was visiting me in Boston that we stay in on a weekend night. I didn't get it. It was like he was speaking in a foreign language to me. What do you mean don't go out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night? Didn't he know there was an entire city out there just waiting for us all to join in the fun? Staying in on a Tuesday night was one thing, but the weekend? Not a chance. Well, time changes everything and I haven't gone out regularly in a loong time and if given the choice, I'd stay in with a good book, warm socks and a hot cup of tea or coffee over an 11PM pint or cocktail at any hot spot. My twenty something year old self would not recognize my forty something year old self.
With 2020 approaching, I feel like I'm continuously running into online reminders about the new decade being on the horizon. Many personal development voices are posing thought provoking questions for reflection and intention setting as we move into this new decade. The gist of the message I'm getting from these diverse voices is simple: "Did you see how fast this past decade went? You've got one life here on Earth. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you living like you want to be living? If yes, what do you need to do to continue on that path? If no, let's do the work to get clarity around what's working, what's missing and what you need to do to bridge the gap."
One of the biggest pieces of living with intention is what you fill your mind with...what you read, what you listen to etc. I find reading and podcasts to be a big part of my regular life these days so I thought this week's cozy latte recipe was a nice time to reflect on books that had an impact on me this past year and what I'm planning for reading going into 2020. More on the podcasts later.
Here are some of my favorite reads from 2019:
The Mindful Catholic by Dr. Gregory Bottaro- I stumbled across Dr. Bottaro's books via podcast interviews and it instantly grabbed my interest. Remaining in the present moment is one of my daily struggles. My mind historically wanders to the to-do list, the what I haven't got done yet list, the grocery list, the budget list, the what could go wrong at work list and the what my kids need list. This is all surrounded by thoughts of " I need to be more this" lists, am I giving my family as a whole, each child as an individual, my husband, my job and my home enough attention in all those different needed ways? Is everyone eating nutritiously? Does someone need a dental appointment? When did I work out last? You get it. Monkey brain. I've used prayer, exercise and the physical practice of breath, movement and yoga to settle this frenzy down and I found that Dr. Bottaro's book bridges gaps between wellness terms we hear such as "mindfulness" and "remain in the present moment" and my Catholic faith. The subtitle of "finding God one moment at a time" seriously summarizes my spiritual goals.
Pope John Paul II's Love and Responsibility. This is a book I wish I had known about twenty years ago, but maybe I wasn't ready for it twenty years ago. I didn't find it to be a fast read as Pope John Paul's theological and philosophical intellect is robust to say the least. I knew he was a very smart man before I read it but this book blew me away as to just how smart and compassionate he truly is. In a world plagued by a lack of respect within relationships, scandal and abuse, Pope JP's work feeds a lot of truth and goodness that I think the world needs more of.
The Gift of Tears by Keith Nano. This one has a personal connection for me as I worked with Keith and know him personally. His book is the true and heartfelt story about the miraculous healing from a sudden and terrible illness of his son Jacob. It's a story that reminds me that life can change on a dime and that prayer, community and purpose are pillars of life. It has a happy ending but tissues were needed throughout this beautifully written book.
Going into 2020, I'm planning to read the following...
Harry Potter- I just started the first book in this series. I know, I'm like 22 years late and this isn't the usual personal or spiritual development book that I gravitate towards. I've never watched one of the movies from start to finish but the clips I've seen peaked my interest and I'm reading it because it's exactly the type of reading I don't usually do. I'm amazed and baffled as to how an author creates this type of story, the world the characters live in and the details that go along with it. It's the opposite of the type of writing I can do well. Call on me if you need a policy, procedure, grant proposal or executive summary. Maybe that's why I like developing recipes...step by step...do this, then that...Need a creative short story that will keep readers turning pages? I'm not your girl. In fact, this blog post is likely too long to hold anyone's attention at this point. So, I'm diving into this impressively creative book series in awe of JK Rowling's creative mind and I would love to learn more about how she developed the series.
Made for This: The Catholic Woman's Guide to Childbirth by Mary Haseltine. Ok, I've actually read this one before. I found it about 3 weeks before the birth of my third child in 2018 and I was feeling all the anxious feelings as labor and delivery approached so I read it quickly...like I was cramming for a final exam or something. I loved it. The book brings to life the beauty of all those really hard parts of labor and delivery. I'm due with #4 this Spring so I'm breaking out this book again. This time, I plan to really give it time and space over the course of a few months to mentally and spiritually prepare for what I pray will be the delivery of a healthy new baby boy.
All this talk about books finally brings me to our latte recipe. This latte can be made at home without a frothing or latte machine. It's a healthier version of a Gingerbread Latte and it packs in those festive flavors without refined sugars, syrups or artificial ingredients. All you need for equipment is a fresh cup of coffee and a blender!
- 1 1/2 cups fresh, hot coffee
-1 tsp molasses
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1-2 tsp sweetener of your choice (I've used Swerve, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
-2 TBS unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-1/2 tsp ghee or grass fed butter
Pour the coffee into a blender and add all of the other ingredients. Secure the top of the blender...double check to make sure it is on tight. As a precaution, I also hold a dish towel over the top of the blender before I turn it on in case anything should steam out. Turn the blender on low, then move up to high and blend for 20-30 seconds. Pour into your favorite mug and sprinkle some more cinnamon on top. Ta-da for a healthy, frothy latte to pair with your warm socks and reading! Have any reading suggestions for me?
And in case you're interested in some of the reflection questions I've come across as we roll into the new decade, check out Marie Forleo and her decade in review post!
My pregnancy sugar dragon has been in full swing lately so I'm weaving in a healthier version of the chocolate chip cookie, which makes them appropriate for breakfast....or at least that's what I'm going with. I believe in a "no guilt" approach to wellness, exercise and nutrition and I can generally feel when I've swung a little too far to one end of the spectrum between truly enjoying indulgences and over doing it a bit, which is where I'm at right now. If you've followed my recent Instagram posts, you'll know that we just hit the 1/2 way mark of this pregnancy and we found out that #4 is a boy! Just about 20 weeks to go and I want to keep active and well. So, onto these breakfast cookies. They'll give you that sweet little something with the wholeness of oatmeal and no refined sugars.
-1/3 cup ghee or grass fed butter
-2 scoops protein powder (I use Devotion Angel Food Cake)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 ripe bananas
-1 1/2 cups oats
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1-2tsp cinnamon, depending on taste preference
-2 TBS flax seed
-2 TBS chia seed
-1/2 cup chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the ghee/butter, bananas, eggs and vanilla. Add in all the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips. Stir until fully mixed together. Fold in the chocolate chips. Prepare a cookie tray with parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray. Using a small cookie scooper, scoop out the dough into little balls on the prepared cookie tray. Bake at 375 for approximately 12 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!
If you happen to be on the lookout for the lighter version of a Thanksgiving classic, then this post may be just for you. I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation but sometimes you want to really indulge and sometimes you just don't. To each his or her own, right? This recipe is a lighter twist on the Turkey Day favorite of pumpkin cheesecake. The filling doesn't require any baking (yay!) and it's sweetened with Devotion Angel Food Cake Protein Powder and their Flex Flavors in Pumpkin Pie. This is not a sponsored post- I just like their products and I have a few more recipes with them coming soon. I've found it challenging to bake with protein powders until I came across this one AND I have a sweet tooth that is on overdrive when I'm pregnant so this stuff helps keep it in check...most of the time.
The crust for this recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker's ginger snap crust on their classic pumpkin cheesecake. This requires just a few minutes in the oven to set but that's the only oven time you will need for this recipe. This is a recipe to make the night before and allow it to set in the freezer over night so no dessert scrambling after the big feast with this one.
For the Crust:
-approximately 32 Ginger Snap cookies
- 1/4 cup butter
For the Filling
- 2 8oz packages of low fat cream cheese
-1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 can pumpkin
- 2 scoops Devotion Angel Food Cake Protein Powder
- 2 Devotion Flex Flavors in Pumpkin Pie
-1-2 tsp cinnamon
For the topping
-1 container sugar free whipped topping
-cinnamon for garnish
Prep a 8-9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the ginger snaps in a food processor or place them in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs. Melt 1/4 cup of butter and mix with the crumbs. Pour the crumb/butter mixture into the spring form pan and use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to pat the crumb mixture down, spread throughout the pan and slightly up the sides of the pan. Place the crust in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Place the cream cheese and plain Greek yogurt into the large bowl of a stand mixer and stir together on low/medium speed. Add in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin. Continue to mix until smooth. Add in the protein powder, flex flavors and cinnamon. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly with a rubber spatula or spoon. Cover the whole cheesecake tightly with plastic wrap and place overnight in the freezer.
Remove the cheesecake from the freezer approximately 2 hours before serving and allow to sit on the counter. Dip a sharp knife into a cup of hot water and run along the edges of the spring form pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides. You will notice that the dessert is thawing from the outside edges. Remove the springform pan edge and lift the cheesecake out of the edges of the pan. Top with sugar free whipped topping, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve!
I would love to hear how this recipe works out for you if you give it a whirl. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!
New England wife and mom. Faith, fitness, yoga, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.