the cereal aisle

the cereal aisle

The cereal aisle is a dangerous place. I spend roughly 8 minutes of my life each and every grocery trip arguing with my children about why they can’t have 99% of the boxes in the cereal aisle. Here is a fun fact, 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. So, for all my math nerds, lets do some simple addition. A typical serving of cereal is 3/4 of a cup and contains 9-12 grams of sugar. If you buy your kid Honey Nut Cheerios and they have 2 servings (because really, who the fuck eats 3/4 of a cup of cereal?); that equals 18 grams of sugar, or 4.5 teaspoons of sugar. Go dump 4.5 teaspoons into a small glass, you want your kids munching on that to start their day? I hope not. Now this is an argument I sometimes lose. This week, my kids won and I bought them Cinnamon Toast Crunch (9 grams of sugar per serving). Lucky for me, they barely finish one serving and round off the meal with fruit or a smoothie. (which I pack with spinach or kale to offset the sugar) Personally, I can’t eat that shit but they’re kids and no matter how hard I try, sometimes they just want plain garbage.

However, for me, the convenience of cereal has its benefits. It is something quick that I can eat in the morning and helps me to avoid getting something on the way to work. I’ve been shoving plain Cheerios with a banana in my face nearly every day but I’m hungry less than an hour later. It just doesn’t sustain me. Bottom line – from a box is bad. Homemade is good. But since my new project is all about being real – who the hell has time to make homemade cereal????

Unfortunately, in doing research for my new project I found that a lot of plant based recipes are a disaster. Millions of unknown ingredients, most VERY expensive. Picture me in Whole Foods searching for psyllium husks. Twenty minutes and $10 later I found them but I was super annoyed. My new motto is – it doesn’t have to be this difficult. This recipe takes 5 minutes to put together. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool so you can dig in!

The recipe for this cereal is typical of what you will find in my new project. Easy to shop for, make and conquer. And how about the health benefits of the ingredients:

Flax seeds: help reduce risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, contain omega-3 (healthy fat!) essential fatty acids, lignans (antioxidants!!) and fiber (both soluble and insoluble)
Almond flour: low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and high source of protein.
Coconut Oil: high in natural saturated fats which increase healthy cholesterol in the body which assists in heart health.
Unsweetened applesauce: an especially good source of soluble fiber, the type that dissolves into a gel-like substance and helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Cinnamon: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, helps protect brain function
Coconut Sugar: coconut sugar contains inulin. Inulin has the ability to stimulate the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria, commonly found in probiotice, which can provide an overall boost to the immune system. Don’t be fooled though, I do want to point out that sugar is sugar so best to be cautious when using.

So, here you have it, housemade cereal! P.S. This recipe goes a LONG way. Don’t let it fool you. I put like 15 squares in a bowl with lots of fresh berries and I was full until lunch. In fact, I had to push myself to eat lunch. The fact that it is grain and gluten free also means easy digestion and a slow release of energy. Also incredibly helpful for our whacky hormones. One recipe should last you a full working week.

HOUSEMADE CINNAMON VANILLA CEREAL – MAKES 7 SERVINGS (1 serving, roughly 12-15 squares, with a cup of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries is 267 calories) (this does not count almond milk)

Note: I don’t think this is meant to be enjoyed alone, I would always have it with a little fruit

1-1/2 cups organic blanched almond flour (you can find this in the organic section of Hannaford)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds (I just bought regular seeds and through them in the blender)
1-1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup coconut sugar (I actually cut this in half to 2 tablespoons and added 2 additional tablespoons of almond meal to reduce the overall sugar but you can do whatever suits you)
1/4 cup organic, unsweetened apple sauce (use an extra dollop if you need to for moisture)
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325°F

2. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl, adding a touch more applesauce if you need to in order to achieve a “dough” that sticks together. I used my hands, using a spoon just didn’t make sense. Gather dough into a rough ball.

3. Place dough on piece of parchment paper and flatten into a disk to make rolling out easier. Place another piece of parchment on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as evenly as possible, about 2mm thickness (don’t go too thin here or it will easily burn). Remove top sheet of parchment paper, and using a paring knife, score the dough into small squares. (see picture below)

4. Place in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes until turning golden around the edges, then turn the oven off and let the cereal sit in there until cool (this will help dry it out and make them extra crisp). Watch the cereal carefully. My first tried burned pretty badly. I started looking in at about 10 minutes. At 15, I placed a piece of foil on top to prevent browning further. It won’t feel crisp at first, but will dry out and crisp as the pan cools, I promise. If you are nervous about the color, put a piece of foil on while it sits with the oven off.

5. Once the cereal is completely cool, break up the pieces into squares (this will happen very easily) and place in an airtight glass container. Store for up to one month at room temperature.

new waves.

new waves.

Well world, school is done. I graduated December 23 after three relentless years of study. I have a BS in Interior Design (which basically felt like starting over considering the topic of my study) and as of last week; I officially applied to graduate school. My application is for the Fall 2018 semester so I can, thankfully, have a solid 8 months off. And while it will be challenging to do this all over again; I couldn’t be more excited to (hopefully) be part of the Boston Architectural College community. The last three years taught me that architecture has shaped every moment of my life and while I enjoy smaller projects; I want to think on a much larger scale. I want to use architecture and interior design to shape the way individuals age, pursue personal growth and connect with new members of the community. I felt a masters of design in human health would do just that; hence the program I applied to at the BAC. I also feel it will connect my previous pursuits with my current pursuits. It’s ideal to combine two loves, especially professionally.

The free time has been lovely. I’ve had time to get strep throat, bring every family member (including myself) to urgent care and the emergency room, enjoy the mad descent of the holidays and collectively fetch a stomach flu that wiped my household into oblivion. I’ve done no running, biking or swimming except for maybe a few sad workouts here and there. I gained ten pounds. And I have had zero social life due to the nature of my whole family puking/shitting/getting stitches/ultrasounds to critical parts of their bodies/antibiotics, etc. However, I have been doodling and thinking all about my passion project and I’m very excited at how things are shaping up.

The reason for the summer “launch” was really more to do with the content. I wanted to sit with things awhile before I unleashed the site to the world. As many of you know, my ideas are like a revolving door and each one is the next great thing. I want to be quiet with each idea; sift and needle through it before exposure. This has resulted in a well curated direction rather than a misdirection of missile fire (i.e. ill formed ideas). The foundation still applies but with a more refined approach.

Everyone knows about my heart condition but few people know that I struggle with one two other minor health issues. Both were discovered the year I ran the Boston Marathon and just absolutely pummeled my body into the ground. I paid no attention to nutrition or inflammation and as a result my body reacted poorly to any athletic pursuit. This still applies today. I get sick, like wretchedly sick, horribly fatigued, my hair falls out, I have terrible mood swings and I look pale/like death. While racing, I would bonk so hard that it would feel like I couldn’t run a step further and this eventually made its way into my triathlon training this past summer.

The trouble is, women’s bodies are so complex and those complexities relate so closely to food. Sugar and carbohydrates effect our endocrine system and when that system is off, our hormones are all over the place. Food helps to stabilize and regulate. However, too much of the wrong (and I don’t even like to use the word wrong here) kind of food can wreak havoc on a women’s body (anyone’s body!). Aside from hormones, when you are as anemic as I am (and trust me there are people far worse like my sister, who needs iron infusions), eating a diet rich in bread, dairy, starch and sugar can produce a messy situation. None of those items contain iron and easily deplete the body of their ability to properly perform. So, I am trying to (again no big declarations as a general rule) move towards a more plant based approach with limited dairy, carbs and sugar. Eating is a big part of all our lives. I thought this new project should be centered on that. How women eat, what we eat, when do we eat and what does it do as we grow and age? How does it effect our ability to be prosperous, happy and healthy creatures? This won’t be the only topic but I have decided it will be a major portion of the project. There are lots of resources on the internet but everything out there feels so tedious and complex. Once I see a $198 face cream or a recipe with 27 ingredients, I’m like, fuck that, I would rather just feel like shit. I think having a place where nothing feels overwhelming and everything feels accessible can help shift the tide. A place where it’s not just how, it’s why. I know that at 34, I want to know what to put on my skin, what to feed my body, how to workout and how to make my home a place of tranquility.

I think there is a better way. And I’m happy to be working on producing that – even in the chaos that has been my life the past month.

There’s lots of work to be done with creating an honest conversation. I’m hopeful that my journey over the next 6 months to find a better path in health, spirituality, life and love; will translate well in pictures and writing. As usual, any ideas, send them along!

Till the next post,

Jenny

it starts here.

it starts here.

I remember walking around the nation’s capital with a friend of mine in 2014 while declaring out loud “I feel like I’m meant for greatness and yet; I’m falling remarkably short of that greatness.” Now, I get it, this sounds super obnoxious – try to hold back the rolling of the eyes. It wasn’t meant to be quite as douchy as it sounds. My point was simply that I have always felt an itch but I’ve never known where to scratch. I left behind a lot of things when I moved to Maine and in my seven years in this state; I have struggled to find myself. I thought perhaps I left my greatness somewhere in Massachusetts, like maybe at a bar or along the Charles while out running. Probably tossed it in the trash at the Coop and just never went back to claim it. I referred to my own greatness as a tangible solid; something I could pick up and mold. And I also referred to my own greatness as either/or. I either have it now, here in Maine, or I don’t. I’m sure a lot of women think like that. I missed the mark, therefor my life is shit.

What a bunch of crap. Greatness can be curated anywhere, at anytime and for any reason. I didn’t quite get that until some of the stress started to lift off my shoulders and I began talking to myself in a kinder fashion. It wasn’t a light bulb moment but a slow trickle over time that eventually turned into a glass half full. We are the creators of our own destiny.

It took 3 years, a handful of panic attacks, an article about the societal pressures that cause 30 something’s to have nervous break-downs and hating myself for not being perfect to realize the singular thing I could do to achieve greatness. Not just for me, but women everywhere. Start an honest conversation using a platform that feels real. (simple, right?)  It will be small at first. It will take time and hours, days and years. It will cause some commotion and discontent I’m sure but you can’t please everyone. The conversation around women in today’s society goes one of two ways: you are either all done up, looking chic as fuck and juggling the world while making Gwenyth Paltrow-esque meals every night OR you are rolling your kids through the McDonald’s drive-thru, struggling to survive, wearing yoga pants and looking like you just got dragged behind a bumper.

Well, fuck that. I want a conversation that revolves around women who make mistakes, have or don’t have children, care about wellness without ridiculously false expectations, occasionally eat 25 fun-sized Snickers, are educated, getting educated, aren’t educated, want to get educated, hate cooking, love cooking, don’t want to spend $800 on a cardigan, feel a little ugly sometimes and are willing to discuss but most importantly – appreciate a place where the dialogue can be honest without telling each other how to take the easy way out.

My new passion project won’t be unveiled until Summer of 2018. I have rushed into things before and they never felt fully realized. I want a brand before I launch and enough content to pull people in. I also want to invite contributors from all over to write about their personal experiences. But I will tell you this, I’m sick of reading things that are unattainable and I’m guilty of pushing that myself. This brand will be real, refreshing and thought provoking. It will give women a place to come where they can celebrate one another while receiving advice through various platforms.

In the meantime, if anyone has ideas for content or would like to contribute please e-mail me: jennifer@allofthecake.com

Carving out time and peace.

Carving out time and peace.

“You wanna be right or you wanna be happy”-Celeste + Jesse Forever

Well guys. I’m back. It’s been like two months since I touched or thought about this blog. Life has just run away from me. Over the last few months I kept thinking that as I catapulted towards the finish line of school things would get easier. I kept waiting to coast. But, sadly, it never happened. Apparently, I don’t allow myself to coast in academics. (or anything for that matter) In fact, one teacher gave me a 95% on a Portfolio assignment and I imaged smashing his face into a toilet. (shameless, I know) Regardless, it is now basically November and with 6 weeks left to go; I am starting to feel like my old self. The self that can kill a hard workout. The self that can admire the way the rising sun hits my favorite blazing red tree during fall. The self that cares less about telling everyone when they’re wrong and more about building organic relationships. Oh, and the self that shamelessly smiles when my favorite song comes on. As things have winded down; I’ve made some small changes that I wanted to share with all of you because I think they have helped enormously. In the last year; there has been so much discussion about mental health and I think that sometimes people try and use the stress excuse as a way of masking some deeper issues. But, as human beings living challenging lives; I think calling attention to the mental hiccups is crucial. No, we may not be battling anxiety or depression but we are all battling something. After 3 years of feeling like I am walking backwards into a glass wall – I have learned some important coping mechanisms. The ones I have instilled in the last 3 months have made me a collectively more grounded person. I have learned to value being selfish and ask for what I need; when I need it. I have also learned to take a time out when I feel my brain getting hot.

  1. I called in help. No, we can’t all afford expensive smoothie and meal delivery services but there are small modifications everyone can make. Suddenly one day I realized that my busy schedule was creating dietary chaos. Sugar, I was eating so much sugar. (which meant I was snappy and tired ALL THE TIME) I was also eating huge meals at lunch because I had this urge to feel satisfied during the day. I’ve tried cutting out sugar cold turkey before and depriving myself of all the things I love and truthfully, it never lasts long. Maybe a week and then I binge on whatever I felt was missing in my life. I also realized that attempts to eat healthfully meant a lot of wasted food because I never actually had time to make a morning smoothie with 87 ingredients. So, I sat down and weighed the pros and cons of a service called Daily Harvest. The smoothies are roughly $6-$7 per smoothie depending on how many you sign up for per week. They come pre-portioned in little cute white cups. All you do is add your choice liquid. After throwing out like a bunch of kale, a shit ton of cauliflower and saw the pineapple rotting on my counter I decided to pull the trigger. It’s an $87 splurge per week. To make up for it I have cut out smoothies out and coffee in the morning from my local bakery. In the end, I spend less for something delivered to my doorstep that I can blend in two seconds. (p.s. the strawberry cheesecake sundae is fucking bomb, it’s made from strawberries, cauliflower, almonds and coconut-perfect for a late night sugar craving)
  2. I put my cell phone away. I started turning my cell phone off and tucking it downstairs for the night about a month ago. 8:30 PM – I am officially disconnected from the world (9 on some nights, it depends but no later than that) It has been proven that the blue light emitted from cell phone usage effects levels of melatonin (the hormone that controls sleep/wake cycle) and can create activity in your brain that will keep you awake. Also, 6 AM texts from my insane family members meant that on weekends; I was losing out on valuable catch-up sleep. In the past month, I have had no trouble falling asleep and I have STAYED asleep. I’m often surprised when my watch alarm wakes me up. I sleep more soundly and it is much easier to get up in the morning. On Sundays, I keep my phone off for the majority of the day. It has made such a difference in my tude.
  3. I started taking baths. I have always responded to the sensation of water and now that it is hella cold in the lake/ocean and I can’t open water swim – I have started taking baths regularly. It’s a way for me to have a connective experience with something natural. It is also a way to immerse myself in something healthy for my mind/body (bath salts, essential oils, scented candles, I love Pursoma bath products which range from $12-$36 per bath, they have a great one for when you feel a cold coming on) Taking a half hour to myself means that I get a little bit of time away from the world I live in. I try not to think or focus on anything but how my body feels in the water.
  4. I slowed down my running. After being seriously burnt out from running at the end of 2015; I backed off from running. My body fought every single run. I couldn’t get out the door. I was miserable. But at the same time, I knew I was missing the only time I felt fully immersed in something that allowed me to be outdoors, chat with friends or be alone with my music. The last month, my coach has forced me to slow down through heart rate training. It has shifted my perspective a great deal. The runs are no longer about beating my head against a wall to meet some stupid goal. Right now, it is just about intention. Be outside, control my heart rate, enjoy the experience. I’m not jumping for joy every day I have to run but I can get out the door willingly and I feel good while out there. After, I feel cleansed and renewed; ready to tackle whatever life throws at me.
  5. I stopped asking people for their time. I used to hang out with friends up here in Maine a lot and when that kind of fizzled; I was definitely sad about it. Now, I appreciate the fact that I have time to be alone when and if I need it without the lingering guilt. While having a packed social calendar is fun, it is important to realize that being a grown up with kids means that those around you have less and less time as life progresses. While my schedule might be freeing up, that other person might still be in the weeds. So I stopped asking for their time. I’m allowing friends who have grown distant to just be distant. What this means is that I appreciate when I do see them and I don’t set unrealistic expectations. It’s not always personal. Sometimes its just life.

Other small modifications: blasting music while making dinner, eating for fuel rather than just to eat, giving myself a fucking break when I fuck up, limiting my drinking (I probably have a drink once every two weeks), wearing real pants and looking like I give a shit about myself and most importantly, being nicer to my husband because he is fucking rad and deserves to not get the scary side of me quite so often.

It’s Friday guys and tomorrow night I get to see a bunch of people I love at the most ridiculous annual Halloween party ever, so lets unplug, unwind, have a few laughs and wind down the hours.

xoxo,

Jenny

The hustle.

The hustle.

I’m an obsessive person (surprise, surprise); which means that you could say one single thing to me that I don’t necessarily appreciate and I will feast and fawn over it for like, an ungodly amount of time. Until I have dissected it into nothing and talked about it at nausea with eighteen people. If I wasn’t married, I would be doomed. No one would want to date me with this behavior. It would immediately signal stage five clinger warnings and the men would flee. All the men. In the world. No, I wasn’t always like this. I never before had the urge to make sure people knew systematically that they are wrong. My feelings get hurt easier now that I’m older and just, weathered. It feels lately like I’ve come under fire and my response is to defend each criticism vigorously. Try and prove it’s not true, that there’s no merit behind it. And perhaps its the whole thing I’m throwing out there to the universe. The car, the tude, the fucking $100 yoga pants. Some people choose to have the same chair for 20 years, I want something, I buy it. I choose to do a triathlon and a week later; I have the best wet-suit, new headphones, a bike, you name it, I’ve purchased it. Yea, I get how that looks and I understand the comedy of watching someone buying up a sport but even still; I’m not sure where the toxicity comes from. Last time I checked, not one single person knows about my hustle. And guess what,  I’m never going to let you see me sweat. I may say I’m overwhelmed. I might say I’m busy. I might blow off plans and reschedule a million times but world, seriously, you have no fucking idea. My ass is hustling every single day. This shit doesn’t come without sacrifices, lack of sleep, enormous amounts of stress, time away from my kids, crippling anxiety–it doesn’t come for free. My job isn’t glamorous. It never has been. Did I think that in a previous life I would be living the glam dream? Sure. But I diverted from the original plan and here I am. I pick up trash. I pick up broken tile. I beg, plead and bribe people to get shit done. I agonize over each detail and I pray, I mean I pray that in the end, things will work out the way I imagined. I go to bed every night with a list in my head of things to do. All while being a full time student, having two kids, a husband, two dogs, a giant house to take care of and family I basically never see. I don’t whine to Josh to get the things I want. I participate and work hard just as much as he does. We have built something really special together as a team. I want for nothing because I have worked for it. And at the end of the day, guess what, I’m not a lazy person. Making it look easy doesn’t equate to it being easy. It just means I’m really good at pretending.

I’ve always been a pile on person but I can count on one hand the things in life I walked away from without finishing. The list is short. I finish 95% of what I start. And if by some miracle, I choose not to do something, not to race a distance I signed up for, not to train the way I originally planned, whatever, it doesn’t come without days and weeks of sorting through the pro’s and con’s. There isn’t one thing in life I am nonchalant about. Everyone has a vice; mine-making things extremely difficult on myself. I take everything seriously. The people who have know me best, will tell you that without hesitation. They will also tell you the enormous weight I carry on my shoulders from a life time of self induced expectations and guilt. I have sacrificed a lot for the things I have.

So don’t sweat my hustle and I won’t sweat yours. Everyone has different priorities and a different approach. I have a vagina which means 60%, maybe 70% of the time things come twice as hard in my industry. How about we just support one another? Lift each other up? Applaud success and nurture the broken moments? Is that possible? Because I’m over the condescension. I only want people at my table who get what this is all about. And in return, I’ll sit at your table with nothing but support and adoration for your hard work.