When someone has decided to start living a healthy lifestyle, I always suggest making small changes over time in order to develop new healthy habits that will stick. One of the first places I suggest when it comes to cleaning out the pantry and fridge is to get rid of everything that has white sugar and white flour in it. There are so many reasons that white flour and sugar are bad for your health, and I highly suggest you do some research for yourself if you don’t already know why that is. Personally, I have found that my weight, my energy, my health, and my overall well being has been dramatically improved since I removed all products with sugar and flour in them years ago.
The purpose of this post however is not necessarily to discuss why sugar and white flour are bad for our health, (although I have done so in various places on Dashing Dish), but rather it is to help you learn some easy ways to detox from sugar, and still enjoy sweets!
Where Do I Start?
One of the first places that I would suggest detoxing from sugar is to toss your processed and sugar packed foods and start filling your fridge and pantry with natures sweets! I personally love fruit, because it is naturally sweet, and it is packed with nutrition! I know that it can be tough to think about ‘getting rid’ of some of your (or your families) favorite treats, but once it is out of sight, it will eventually become out of mind! It is so much better to not even have the temptation for sugar in your house!
But what about those days that you are craving chocolate, cookies, cake, etc!?! Well, let me be the first to say that I am a ‘sweets’ girl, so I totally get that! So, instead of cutting out your favorite sweet treats all together, I suggest you replace them with a healthier option…Which is what I provide here at Dashing Dish!
What are Some Swap Outs for Sugar?
We all know sugar is not the best thing for our bodies, but all those artificial sweeteners aren’t good for our health either. So what is a good option that won’t spike your blood sugar, or add unnecessary chemicals to your diet?
After much experimentation in a quest to find a natural no-calories sweetener, I found a couple of great options. And the great news is, many grocery stores are starting to carry these products! So here are some different options to swap out with sugar, with a little review about each one! (Note: There are more options than the ones listed below, but these are the ones that I have personally tried.)
Stevia: This is by far the best natural sweetener I have found. It is derived from a stevia leaf and has been used for years in other countries. It is starting to be used more and more in things like diet soda and drinks. In my opinion, the best brand by far is NuStevia (found at many health food stores, and on Amazon). You can find stevia in the form of powder, a baking blend, packets, or liquid stevia. They even have made flavored liquid stevia, which is great for coffee!
Truvia: Truvia is made from the stevia plant and is mixed with another natural sweetener, erythritol. Erythritol is the naturally fermented sugar alcohol found in fruits such as pears and grapes.
Xylitol: This is a natural sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. You’ll find that most of your sugar-free gum has xylitol in it.
Honey and Agave Nectar: These are both natural sweeteners made in nature. Agave is a natural sweetener made from the plant from which tequila is made. It has a similar texture and consistency to honey. So for those that love honey in their coffee or recipes, this is great for you.
Sugar in the Raw and Coconut Sugar: Sugar in the Raw is sugar made exclusively from sugarcane.The juice is extracted from the sugarcane and then crystallized through evaporation to maintain its natural molasses, golden color and distinctive flavor. Coconut sugar is a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar has been used as a traditional sweetener for thousands of years in the South and South-East Asian regions where the coconut palm is in abundant supply.
How to Swap Out Sugar for Stevia in Recipes:
When it comes to sweeteners, I personally like to use baking stevia and stevia packets like I mentioned above. However, all of these recipes call for a sweetener that measures like sugar, which includes any sweetener that can be measured the same as sugar, or you could use sugar if you prefer.
If you prefer to use stevia or another sweetener, you will have to alter the amount based on the conversion table below, or according to your desired taste. This can take some experimenting, but once you get a feel for baking with different sweeteners, it is very simple to know how much to use. To get you started, I have provided a simple conversion table that works with stevia.
Please also note, that the amounts listed below may vary based on the brand of stevia you are using. The following chart pertains to NuNaturals stevia, which is the brand I personally recommend. If you are using baking stevia, simply use 1/2 of the sugar the recipe calls for. I also provide a ‘sweetener of choice that measures like sugar’ in all of my recipes, and if you do choose to use sugar in the raw, coconut sugar, or regular sugar, you can use this for determining the amount to use in the recipe.
I hope that this information helps you on your journey to health! To find sugar and flour free recipes that still allow you to enjoy your favorite sweets, be sure to check out the Dessert section on Dashing Dish, and my new Cookbook 100 Simple Recipes for Clean Eating, which is packed with sugar and flour free sweet snacks and treats!
Spring is such a beautiful time. It represents awakening, renewal, and life. Where once lay a dormant seed, life and beauty begin to spring forth. A seemingly simple seed is such a profound visual for understanding the power of God’s word in our lives. A seed unplanted doesn’t provide much inspiration or beauty. But, when that little seed is planted deeply into fertile ground, watered, cared for, allowed to have light shine upon it, and waited for patiently, gives birth to breathtaking beauty and nourishing fruit. It transforms barren landscapes into glorious panoramas.
The Word of God refers to itself as a “seed” more than 40 times in the New Testament. Why? Because the Lord understands that we can imagine the process a seed goes through, we can observe it because He gave us a real-life, visual understanding of it. Just like a flower seed, the Word of God must be planted in our fertile hearts, fed and cared for, spoken for light to expose darkness, and persistently and patiently pursued to produce the fruit and beauty we desire in our lives. In Mark, Jesus taught three parables about this very concept. The word of God is to our experience of God and His plan for our lives what a physical seed is to spring blossoms and rich harvests.
Unfortunately, lies can also be planted and produce fruit. What we feed grows. If somewhere along the way in our lives, a lie is accepted as truth, planted and fed, it produces fruit of doubt, anxiety, fear, anger, etc. The good news is that those lies can be plucked by the root and replaced with seeds of truth!
As you enjoy the physical splendor of spring, I’m inviting you to begin preparing the soil of your heart for awakening and renewal as well. We can experience a true spring in our spirits by digging up the weeds that entangle us and begin to replace them with the beautiful bouquet that comes from planting God’s truth into our lives.
Beginning April 1st, I invite you to join the Facebook Group “Renewing Your Mind with Seeds of Truth”, where there will be daily posts with some of the most common lies we accept as truth. Accompanying this will be your opportunity to dig up that lie and replace it with truth. To replace each common lie, there will be a scripture to declare over yourself as you plant new seeds of truth in your heart.
There will be a printable version of every post so you can print and post God’s word to be seen and declared over and over. Remember, a seed doesn’t blossom into a daisy in a day, and neither does replacing truth for lies. But, keep declaring them over yourself and you will reap a rich harvest! It’s not just my promise, it’s God promise!!!
1 Peter 1:23 “23 You have been born again [or anew], and this new life did not come from something that dies [a perishable seed], but from something that cannot die [an imperishable seed]. You were born again [or anew] through God’s living message that continues forever [the living and abiding/enduring word of God].”
Prioritizing exercise is challenging at any point in life, but it can become even trickier after having kids. However, exercise is an important part of caring well for yourself and when scheduled as a priority into your day makes you feel better and sets a great example for your kids. Here, I’ve shared some of the ways I’ve learned to make exercise a daily habit even with kids. I hope it blesses you.
Get up early
Getting up early to make exercise a priority is easier at different stages of our kids’ lives than others. I remember after my little girl was born, I would get up at 5 a.m. to work out after having been up 3 or 4 times during the night to nurse her. I was choosing that for the wrong reasons. I was exercising out of panic and not out of a desire to treat my body well. I strongly believe the season of infanthood should be more about self-care than running yourself into exhaustion (literally)! If that’s your season, be kind to yourself, the time to exercise will come! For those of us with older kids though, early mornings are the perfect opportunity to get a workout done for the day. Making the decision to get up instead of hitting the snooze button can be a challenging one, but it always worth it. I’ve come to cherish that quiet time while everyone is asleep. By the time my family is waking up, I’m filled up from some quiet time with God and feeling great physically. It’s good for all of us!
Have the Kids Join You
Last summer I was having a hard time prioritizing exercise myself. Our routines were off. Too many late summer evenings and too few regular early morning work outs were becoming the norm. I was working to find a healthy balance between restful home days and busy fun days. Despite my attempt to strike a healthy balance, my exercise routine was suffering. About three weeks into summer break, I decided to institute “home-days” boot camp. After breakfast while it was cool or in the evening after dinner we would all put on our gym shoes and get to it! We would run laps around the yard, have sprint races, jumping jacks, and do push-ups. We would each take turns calling out an exercise and try to do it for two minutes. Can I just tell you that I not only got a legitimate workout, but we had a blast! The kids loved it and it was a great way to burn off some of their energy.
Let them Watch
I’ve discovered from my own journey, and from speaking with many moms that one of the hardest challenges of prioritizing exercise when you have kids is often based on one common factor – guilt! It’s taken me eight years, but I can finally say that I am able to exercise with my kids guilt-free. I’ve settled into the peace of knowing that it’s really ok for them to entertain themselves for an hour or to watch an hour of TV while mom gets her exercise done. I think not only is it ok, but actually sends a really healthy message. It tells them that I value my health and that I’m choosing to care well for myself. I’ve also discovered an added bonus. Because I only listen to worship music while I exercise, they see me worshiping and spending time with the Lord. I overheard my daughter playing “mommy” one day and realized she was pretending to go for a run and I saw her praying and worshiping. It was a wonderful confirmation that it’s ok for her to just hang out and watch while I work out.
I’m so incredibly blessed to belong to a gym. If you get to enjoy that blessing as well, I would encourage you to take advantage of the childcare they offer. This was another source of “mommy guilt” I unnecessarily carried for years. I felt so guilty taking my kids to childcare at the gym. I was certain they were miserable and that I was being selfish. Thankfully the Lord used my sons’ words to release me of that last summer. About half-way into summer I asked him what he was enjoying most so far about summer break. Without hesitation he answered, “I love going to play with new friends at the gym.” I vowed to take off mommy-guilt that day over using childcare too.
However you choose to prioritize exercise, I pray that you always choose it as an act of worship and self-care.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for our children and for our bodies. We thank you in advance for showing us how to balance caring well for both gifts. Lord, please reveal to us “hidden” times in the day when we can enjoy a workout. Release us of guilt over taking time for ourselves and remind us of the truth that our bodies are a temple, a dwelling place of the Most High God, worthy of care and blessing. We thank you ahead of time for faithfully providing the time, the resources and the ability to make exercise a priority in our day. In Jesus name, amen.
If you haven’t already ‘met’ Sarah Shaffer, I would love to introduce you to this phenomenal woman! :) She joined the Dashing Dish team this past summer, and she has already been an incredible blessing to this ministry and to countless women! She has not only ministered individually to so many precious hearts, but her devotionals and more recently, the Fit Spirit Challenge she led has ministered to thousands! Sarah truly has one of the most beautiful and humble hearts I know, and I can say with sincerity that she seeks the Lord daily for what His heart is for each and every woman who visits Dashing Dish!
Because of you Sarah, this ministry has extended the heart of our Father to more hearts that I could have ever reached on my own. I’m so thankful for you, and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store!
Now…Let’s get to know more about this dynamic woman, Sarah Shaffer!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Well, I’m a little like vanilla ice cream (pretty simple) at the core, but enjoy some sprinkles now and then! Through and through I am a home-loving, yoga-pant wearing, lover of Jesus and my family. Coffee has a huge portion of my heart as well. ☺ I’m a born and bred Coloradan, God knew I belonged here. I adore my home state. I thrive outdoors in our amazing weather and The Lord speaks to me here though radiant sunset kissed mountain tops. I love God’s word. I am fascinated by it! And, as I continue to grow in it, my other true love emerges more and more. I love sharing the Lords messages! I remember when my son was born feeling nervous over how to teach Him about God. The Lord clearly spoke these words to me “teach Him as I teach you.” The same hold true today, one of my greatest gifts has been opportunities to simply share with others what God shares with me!
What passage or verse in Scripture is currently influencing your walk with the Lord?
Getting a little rocked by John 3:30!!! The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about the scriptural teaching of self-forgetfulness (dying to self). It’s taught in passages throughout the Word and I’ve been on a treasure hunt learning more about the concept. The Lord is really showing me that the key to true joy lies in these verses. I’m working on putting all of this together and will be excited to share it with everyone!
Have you struggled with your personal identity? How has God affirmed that you are His?
I can literally tell you that I had no idea who I was until as recently as five years ago. I never understood my worth. As a result, I would “morph” into whoever I sensed different people desired me to be at any given moment in hopes of gaining their approval. It was flat exhausting! When I finally understood and believed that God was not disappointed in me, that I was not a failure in His eyes, and that when I lived with His love for me in the forefront of my mind, the opinions of those around me naturally had less power. I also realized that all of a sudden not only was I more comfortable with myself, and had a deep sense of God’s approval, I discovered that my earthly relationships were deeper and more genuine as well. I spent the better part of my life trying to be “perfect” for others. The truth is, not only is that impossible, people desperately want fellowship with imperfect people. We all just want to know that we’re not alone and walking together is so much more the heart of God than exhausting ourselves to convince others that we’re the only human not struggling! I still have to be aware of my thoughts, especially when it comes to my physical appearance, but now I know it’s part of my calling and has holy motivation! Now I’m effective for God!
What is your favorite go-to meal to make for your family and why?
Honestly one of my greatest pleasures is feeding my family well. It’s an act of love for me. My husband blesses my heart because he receives it as an act of service and thoroughly enjoys being fed well. ☺ We tend to enjoy “simple” food. I almost always have what I need for any given meal already in my fridge or pantry because most of what I cook only requires very basic ingredients. The Dashing Dish meals are a perfect example. For me personally, my very favorite meal is a lot of pretty veggies and protein. I like them plain and simple with salt and pepper, and hot sauce for sure!
Your family has been affected by various food allergies. Do you have any helpful tips for moms that have had to navigate around the food allergies in their family?
We have. But as He always does, God has used what the Enemy intended for harm (anxiety, stress) and used it for good (healing, teaching). My husband was very sick to the point of near death about 5 years ago. At that point food took on a whole new meaning for us. I began to emotionally “detach” myself from food as I embraced the idea that if we were going to heal, I couldn’t attach so much value to what we could, or more importantly could not eat. The Lord has been incredible and healed my husband, and later my son, right before my very eyes. I get emotional every time I talk about it. My advice would be to get support if you don’t know where to begin, understanding how many options there are is a great source of peace and power. And, prepare. It takes work, but preparing to not feel “different” has been a huge part of our success. I take cupcakes to birthday parties, bring our favorites to Thanksgiving, send pizza for pizza parties – we rarely end up feeling “left out”. While I don’t claim any medical expertise, I am happy to help support moms who need it in this area by sharing our journey!
You are a certified health coach and fitness instructor. How have these certifications helped you guide others on their journey to health.
In ways you might not expect! The more I learn, the more I let go of! I’ve really settled into the knowledge that this life is a journey and the only way to be successful long-term is to find peace through balance. Extremes rarely bless us or last. It’s true in exercise and food. My whole focus when I coach people is to help them seek peace and pursue it. There is SO much information (mostly mixed) and it breeds a spirit of confusion that breaks my heart. Helping people uncover layers and breath into the way God intends to bless us with abundant life has been my greatest privilege.
In today society, there are so many definitions of health. What does being healthy look like to you?
The Lord really spoke to my heart one day about this very question. I wrote a short devotion about it that day, I hope it’s a blessing.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start eating healthy and exercising, but doesn’t know where to start?
Start with your mind. We usually reverse it and determine to eat “better” and exercise and then work to find the “willpower” to sustain it. True health begins in the mind. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “So think clearly and exercise self-control.” We renew our minds and then exercise self-control. We have to do both, but the mind must be right first for the body to follow in a truly healthy way. Then, I would encourage them to pray Romans 12:2 for God’s plan about food and exercise. I love the amplified version that says, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for YOU].” The Lord has a different journey for each of His children and to imply that there is one standard of health that applies to everyone is unfair and sets us up for deception and failure. Healthy eating should be about enjoying foods that make you feel great, give you energy, nourish your body, but also leave you feeling satisfied and praising God! I always tell people if you walk away from your meal feeling physically satisfied and blessed it was a good choice, if you walk away resenting everyone who just ate a slice of pizza while you ate salad and grilled chicken, more balance may be helpful. A healthy life can include pizza in reasonable portions, because if your goal is to walk away singing praises for the blessing of a great meal, your mind is in the right place! The same goes for exercise. Start by seeking Gods direction for the best form of exercise for you. Trust Him to lead you into His perfect will, what is good and acceptable in His sight for YOU and your body. Allow yourself to experiment with exercise until you find something that is a blessing to your body. For example I love, love, love weight training, because it makes me feel strong and healthy! Exercise really is a blessing and should not be something we do to punish our bodies.
Since joining the Dashing Dish team, you have had quite the impact on so many women! One of them being the 31 day Fit Spirit Challenge that you led in January this year. Tell us how leading this challenge impacted your personal spiritual walk.
The truth is that so many women have had an impact on ME – truly!!! I feel so blessed to GET to be a part of these journeys! The depth of gratitude and humility I feel before the Lord for the privilege of being used by Him even in the smallest ways to help draw people near to him and lead them into truth is something I don’t have adequate words to describe. I’ve never understood as deeply the truth of God’s promise that iron sharpens iron as I have come to over the past six months.
Complete the phrases: Jesus is My Love___. I am _CHANGED__.
The topic for today’s devotion has been something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I’ve been asking the Lord to put just the right words to this topic so that I approach it with care and sensitivity. My prayer in sharing this is that the Lord will use it to convict us all to seek peace and pursue it, and offer kindness and understanding toward one another every chance we get!
I have become acutely aware of a theme lately, particularly among my women and mom friends. I’ve really begun to recognize that a heaping-helping of shame and judgment have attached themselves to the concept of health.
The term “healthy” is really very relative, but it has become overused and misguided. The word healthy used to simply imply not being sick, but somewhere along the line it has lost meaning and gained judgment, especially as it relates to food. Depending on who you ask “healthy” means Paleo or vegan, gluten-free or whole-grain, low-fat or high-fat. We hear that healthy means egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or only organic and non-GMO. It’s daunting isn’t it? As always, I would never claim that any of these ideas are wrong (my own family follows several of these). But, for the purpose of this devotion, what I’d like to focus on is living shame-free.
The depth of this awareness really hit home for me one day recently while at the grocery store and after having family in town. Both times, I interacted with moms of small children who emphatically apologized and reasoned with me about why their food choices weren’t as healthy as mine, or made declarations about their need to “do better” about how they fed their families. It broke my heart. And, it caused me to pause and ask myself if I am unintentionally making others feel “less-than” by how I communicate about my family’s particular healthy lifestyle choices?
While I obviously believe that living our best life is God’s heart for all of His children, I am also more and more reminded that above all else, His desire is that we love and support one another. The truth is that my healthy lifestyle can be different from yours and still be equally effective! Do you want to know a secret? I’m allergic to kale! Yep, kale! You know, the so-called healthiest food on the planet? Well, not for this girl (I love kale by way, if you can eat it, do!!). What’s healthy for me, may not fit into your heathy lifestyle and the whole point of this devotional is to understand that that is ok!! I pray that right now, in this moment we all release ourselves and others of judgment or shame for having different models of a healthy life!
While the word “healthy” is relative and can have many different meanings, the Word of God is not and is clear about this subject. God’s word says, “If I partake of my food with thankfulness, why am I accused and spoken evil of because of that for which I give thanks? So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:30-31. And, we also know from Romans 8:1, that there is no condemnation (shame or judgment) for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Friends, I pray today that if you are feeling “less-than” or are being pulled into the temptation to compare your healthy choices to someone else’s, that is not the voice of the Lord. Above all else today, ask God to help you focus on what TRULY matters and that is the health of your spirit. There is no shortage of judgment, shame, or opinion in the world, especially around the topic of health. But, be encouraged today! That heap of shame is not yours to bear! May God release us of that today and remind us to look for ways to love one another! Walk in peace and freedom today knowing that not a single person who puts their hope in the promises of God will be left empty or put to shame! God loves you EXACTLY where you are today!
1. Plan Ahead. Meal planning has proven to be one of the best ways to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle in my own life. During busy week days, it is incredibly helpful to have healthy meals that are ready, (or at least part of the way prepared), and it also helps save money, and last minute take-out runs!
2. Be Prepared. Being prepared is essential when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Being prepared can be as simple as carrying a small protein packed snack with you in your purse or car. Having a healthy snack when you are out, and keeping your fridge and pantry stocked can prevent unhealthy choices when you find yourself busy and hungry.
3. Choose Wisely. You don’t have to let healthy eating fall by the wayside when you go out to eat, or are at a get together with friends. Making wise choices with what there is to offer is one of the best ways to stay on track when you are not eating at home. I personally like to fill up on veggies, fruit, and lean protein choices when possible. Another great option is to bring a healthy dish to pass!
4. Be Active. Being active can be fun, and it does not have to take a lot of time out of your day. Even if you take a 30 minute walk every day, try to do something to get your body moving at least 3-6 days a week. Not only will it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will improve your mood and give you energy!
5. Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies simply do not work the way they should, and we are less likely to make smart choices when it comes to our health if we do not get enough sleep. I recommend getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
6. Be Well Balanced. Overall, living a healthy lifestyle should be something that is not only achievable, but is also maintainable long term. The only way that this is possible is with balance. I always say that the key to living a truly healthy lifestyle is moderation! Too much of anything is never a healthy thing, and that goes for all extremes, even if they seem like a good thing. Aim to enjoy life, make wise choices, and take care of your body. It will thank you in return!