CycleBar, West Fargo

I’m back with another new to me class I attended recently – CycleBar in West Fargo. CycleBar is a chain that dubs itself “premium indoor cycling”. I was really excited to try out this particular class because I knew the instructor – he is the brother of one of my good friends. His name is Jake and he taught an awesome, upbeat class. I went on Sunday, April 2 after celebrating hard the night before with my sister for her birthday. <<< Not really recommended, but really fun!

CycleBar West Fargo is a newer location and it is located off of Veterans Boulevard on Bluestem Drive close to Flatland Brewery, Pub West, Blvd Pub and Spicy Pie.

Here is what you can expect – a nice, clean, modern facility with all the amenities. This is a regular spin class but it is elevated to another level with stadium seating, lighting and an awesome sound system for music. The class is totally accessible and riders of any fitness level would fit in. A unique feature of CycleBar is the video graphics that shows at the front of the room highlighting rider-specific performance data.

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To register for class, you sign up online. The first ride is free and they have packages you can buy. A single ride after your free pass is $18 so a bit steep in my opinion but these boutique like gyms seem to have the going rate of about $15-$20 for a drop in. When you arrive you are warmly greeting and you sign in on a tablet and get a pair of cycling shoes. You are then ushered back to the locker area where you can leave valuables and grab a bottle for water where you can choose room temperature or cold water. I really appreciated that little touch as a room temperature water lover.

Even though I do teach cycling class, this was the first time for me using cycling shoes. Jake showed me how to clip in and they really do make a difference. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing my own pair but they were awesome to try. Your instructor is also available to help you adjust your bike if needed. Attendants wash and disinfect the shoes after your ride so no worries on germs. You then go to your assigned bike where it is custom to the stats you put in. You can follow along on the screen to see your numbers – this was a bit of a blur to me on my first class – I think it shows your name, your bike number, your watts, etc. and it ranks you along with the rest of the class on where you are at. Pretty great if you are competitive. It will probably make you push a little harder!

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I loved the class was in the dark, the lights went up and down, the bikes were SUPER fancy/nice and the music kept us moving. Spin class is one of my true loves so I really enjoyed the experience. I went with my friend Alayna and the hour class FLEW by! Such a great way to work up a sweat and get in some killer cardio. You will want to wear form fitting longer shorts, capris or pants. I suggest using the provided water bottle and again, hydrate after class as well.

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After looking over the CycleBar website, they seem to have a variety of classes and even themed rides. They are available for private parties and charity events as well. I appreciated the large locker room and private shower with toiletries available I could use before my 4 hour drive home. Since I sat in the car for most of the day, I was glad to knock the ride out before my drive. I will definitely go again if it fits my schedule.

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[solidcore], Bismarck

A few weeks ago, I was in Bismarck for a show and was spending the night with friends. On Saturday, we signed up to attend the new [solidcore] fitness studio on Saturday, March 25. I thought I’d share a bit about the class, what I thought of it and details on what it exactly is.

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I first heard of solidcore a few years ago. I attended a Women’s Health Conference and the keynote was Anne Mahlum, a Bismarck native and accomplished woman who founded Back on My Feet and was just starting out her solidcore gyms on the east coast. I had thought at that time I would love to take a class from her or at one of her gyms. Well, a few years later, she finally opened a studio in Bismarck and is opening other locations at a rapid pace as well. The Bismarck space is north in the Pinehurst Square shops by TJ Maax, Old Navy and Kohls; in the same strip as 5 Guys. A Fargo location is slated to open soon.

You can go to the website to sign up and see prices. The first class is now $15 or you can buy packages. You also sign up for class online and you can see if you get a spot or get on a waitlist. Classes are limited to 12 people which is nice as you get attention from the instructor quite easily. Classes fill up fast and far in advance so be prepared for that – you likely won’t be able to just sign up for a class that day.

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The workout is unique and unlike any class I have attended. The room is dark, has loud music and it was quite warm in there. The instructor goes over the solidcore machine (affectionately dubbed Sweatlana) prior to class and walks throughout the class instructing you as you go. The class lasts 50 minutes but be sure to arrive early to get checked in. You go in barefoot and just with a towel or two and a water bottle. The class is intense but very low-impact. The moves are done slow and controlled with the idea being you lengthen and tone your body. The machine you use is unlike anything else you’ve seen and it uses resistance in every move. Expect a lot of planks, lunges, squats and pushups. Your machine is adjustable to add or remove resistance. The class was challenging but you really go at your own pace and break when you need to. Moves can be modified with cues given by your coach. Our instructor (Steph) was great, super encouraging and light touches to correct your form.

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They do not have a shower but they do have baskets where you can store personal items and a large bathroom to freshen up in with wipes, deodorant, mouth wash, etc.

My recommendation would be to come in with an open mind and be prepared to work. Wear comfy clothes that you can easily move in and don’t gape or droop. Water is encouraged and certainly afterwards you will want to rehydrate well. I was a bit sore the next day but in areas that I typically am not sore – a sure indication of a good workout. My upper abs were feeling it. I think this would be a great addition to all the cardio I currently do. Of course, I am limited since I live so far away but I would encourage you to try a class at least once. It’s always fun to explore. Maybe it’ll be your new fitness go to!

 

 

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Thunderbird Run, April 15, 2017

I took a few days to let my thoughts settle before writing this run recap. I experienced a lot of emotions/thoughts over a few days. Here is my recap of the spring Thunderbird Run held on Saturday, April 15, 2017 at United Tribes Technical College just south of Bismarck, my fourth timed half marathon.

HalfTime

I haven’t been training for a half marathon or any event, specifically. However, I have been running consistently this year in 2017 and in the past months, I have upped my long runs with my primary goal of improving my endurance and strength. A couple weeks ago, I ran 15 miles in Fargo and it went surprisingly well. The mental discord between running 10 miles to say 16 or 18 is a huge hurdle for me. Then, two weeks ago, I ran 16 miles in Minot and it was just a disaster. I felt horrible, took a few walking breaks and felt defeated afterwards. I was also totally wiped after that run – so tired. I doubted my abilities and goals. Fast forward to the week of Easter. I had heard of the Thunderbird Run from the year before and Googled it to see the fees and times. The half marathon started at 9am which is a little bit later than I prefer but the timing was good as it is 75 miles from Hazen to the college. They also have a 10k and 5k. I knew if my Mom was around, she’d probably be interested in doing a 5k.

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The forecast didn’t look all that great a week out – super windy and cool. I don’t really want to pay money to go run when I can run at home for free and be miserable. Haha. But, on the other hand, it is a great experience and the camaraderie is always nice. The Wednesday prior to the event, I checked with my Mom and she was game so I told her I’d sign us up for the event. A little last minute but I also knew this was a small event which I really prefer and she likes too.

Packet check in was a total breeze. I pinned my bib, put on my shoe tag and my husband left to do a few errands. The 5k didn’t start until 10:15 so I knew I wouldn’t see my Mom. I was hopeful I’d see her out on the course though. She walks and always does such a great job!

There was indeed a small group of people doing the half marathon, 30 I believe. I got pretty nervous listening to a small group of gals discuss their expected finishing times of 1:25, 1:35, 1:40, etc. Wow, I thought. These ladies are fast!!! My strategy and hopes were to run the whole thing, keep a consistent pace and try not to get wrapped up in keeping up with anyone else. Just run smart. Under 2 hours would be a great finish for me.

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The course ran two loops around Pow Wow Circle on campus and then we headed out on a bike path that eventually led to Cottonwood Park. We ran around the park once, then back to campus, Pow Wow Circle again and then bike path and the park once more, finishing with one final loop around Pow Wow Circle. After the first loop around the park, I saw that I’d be crossing the finish line area for my 2nd loop around the time the 5k would be starting so I was hopeful to see my Mom. Sure enough, there she was, cheering me on. I was surprised just a bit later to see my husband (I thought he’d still be running errands) and then shortly after that, my Dad. That really gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling boost.

Here are my splits – the first two miles were 8:35 each. I have had issues with going out too fast and burning out. I tried to slow down but it is always difficult for me to find a pace until mile 3 or 4. I thought I could run an 8:45-8:55 race. I did kind of slow down in those middle miles as I was scared of crashing after mile 10.

The run was great – hardly any wind, overcast skies and it was about 50 degrees so really quite perfect. The course was flat and I particularly enjoyed the part where we ran by a little lake and saw kids out fishing.

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I kind of surprised myself going into mile 10, I was keeping consistent and felt strong. I told myself only 3 more miles, I can keep this up. With about one mile left, I came up on my Mom walking so that was another nice boost.

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Going into the finish area, I heard my husband say “Go, Sarah” and I love that. I cruised in and gave a high five to a friend and my husband. I got my medal and hung out with my Dad and husband while we waited for Mom to come in. My Mom finished at 11 and she said she felt like she was slow but I told her she must be around 45 minutes. At nearly 60 years old, she really impresses me with her walking and keeping strong speeds. She does so great even battling with some nasal issues and asthma symptoms she deals with.

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Immediately following the run I was HAPPY for the following:

  • This is my personal best for this distance
  • No walking (first time in a timed half marathon for me)
  • Consistent pace (also a first)
  • I finished feeling strong (also a first)
  • I finished feeling like I could keep going a few more miles (also a first)
  • My family was there with me
  • I doubted myself and my abilities and with a good mindset, proved myself wrong
  • I’ve only been running for a little over 3 years and have taught myself a lot
  • I had strong workouts leading up to this half, including a hilly 8 miles the day before

My family chatted a bit and I also caught up with another friend I saw there and then my husband and I were off to do “town” chores like get a car full of stuff at Sam’s Club and then head home. It started to rain on our way home so we really had the best weather of the day.

I don’t know why after feeling so positive, I let doubt and fear creep into my head again. Here are some of the thoughts I experience that were negative:

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  • I finished near the bottom of the pack (again)
  • I don’t have a clue of how to formulate a training plan for the coming months
  • I literally just find workouts online and then do them to the best I can guess
  • I don’t know jack about what my other runner friends on Instagram post – mile repeats, track workout, fartleks, 3×800 splits, etc, etc.
  • I just run for fun and for me, what am I even trying to prove? Am I just being totally self-absorbed?
  • I run in Old Navy or Kohl’s clothes and free buffs I got from other events. Who do I think I am?
  • I did feel strong at the end of my run, did I not push hard enough?

Then I take a step back and reassure myself. If this was any single one of my friends I would be congratulating them. Just finishing truly is a blessing and I don’t take my abilities for granted, especially after some health issues my husband has gone through. I’m not out there to win. I’m out there to be outside and create memories with my Mom and family. I run for me and to improve my health. I run for the personal challenge. I run to be happy!

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Running isn’t easy for me and it doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe this is why I like it? Whether it’s one mile or 16 miles. They aren’t easy. It is easy for me to sit on the couch. It was easy for me to be obese and eat shitty foods. It isn’t easy to ride my bike 20 miles or run 10 miles or even walk 3 miles. I talked about this with my Mom and we agree we are happy to be out there doing something instead of just talking about it “one day”. We want to change things for ourselves and to be healthy for our family. Those are some great reasons to get after it!

I don’t know what is in the cards for me in the future or if I will continue/be able to keep running. So, in the meantime, I’d love to get a bit faster for sure. Who doesn’t? But, I also want to have fun and enjoy myself without this silly pressure I put on me. No one is going to remember my time, probably even including myself. But someone might remember that we took steps to do something and run (and walk) these events.

Moving forward I want to continue with these goals:

  • Running
  • Getting in more outdoor runs
  • Keep running long (for me) distances
  • Keep biking and cycling
  • Continue improving my strength (I can tell this made a difference!!)
  • Keep building my endurance
  • Stay happy and healthy <<< most important

SO….in a lot of words…I am happy and proud of me and of my Mom for completing our events as strong women! I don’t want to doubt myself or get down on anything. I am happy to accomplish this! Who would have ever thought?!

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Four Years, April 1, 2017

My four year “fit anniversary” is April 1! Wow, four years! I guess this has become my new normal. I’m still trying to find that healthy balance without tipping one way or the other. I love being fit and feeling like I am capable to do anything. The last four years I have done SO much I never would have done in my old body. Little things like going on long walks, swimming, public speaking to bigger things like sky diving, hiking and running kind of long distances. For sure I love being active!

(Thanks for reading this – I really put myself out there online. In person, I probably would not show these photos other than to my husband and family. The internet is strange and wonderful!)

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One thing I wanted to talk about quick is on perception. Obviously, I spend a large chunk of time at work and I have many friends and acquaintances there. As with many workplaces, a lot (most?) of our events revolve around food. I think many people here know I strive to be healthy and eat well. I really try to practice everything in moderation. I actually feel a lot of pressure when it feels like every time we sit down together people are asking me about fitness or calories or running or fitness gear or what to eat/what not to eat. A gal here baked something and asked if I “could” eat it. I told her I can eat whatever I want, I just sometimes choose not to. I wonder – is this what people perceive of me? That my only thing of interest is food, calories and working out? It is a big part of my life, but I DO other things than go to the gym. Most days. Ha. The pressure I get then is that I should probably step it up and look/act more like a fitness or nutrition guru since people want to talk about that with me?? I probably failed when I gained some of my weight back? I don’t know? I am human after all. And I do seriously love food. It is honestly a compliment when someone asks me about getting started with eating better or trying to make it to the gym. But in a group setting with others I don’t know so well, I just feel pressure and super awkward. More awkward than usual which is general awkwardness 24/7.

I am not perfect or close to perfect. I struggle. Often. I eat pizza – lots of it – and chips and dips and cookies. I love to drink – I love to sleep. I am kind of an all or nothing gal and that goes for all areas of my life – good and bad. If someone wants an honest conversation or questions on things that work for me, I am an open book. But I don’t know what will work for you or how to live your best life. I am still working on mine. So when you see someone who you think has it all together, or even half of her shit together, trust me, she doesn’t. None of us do. I thought adults always knew the answers and had “it together”. But I am an adult and sometimes I feel just as lost as when I was a kid.

On the flip side of that perception is what some women perceive of themselves. I know because I have been and sometimes am still there. Social media has made it very difficult to NOT compare yourself to others. There are so many women who seemingly have it all and are perfect. How could I ever be like them or even attempt to be like them? Well, I am letting you know that I think you can do “it” and I have faith in you. If I can go and lose (and maintain!) a 75+ pound weight loss, so can you. Educate yourself and surround yourself with inspiring people. There will be ones that want to drag you down but believe in yourself. I know you can do it and you are worth it. Social media is super inspiring to me (I love Instagram – I’m on there as @FeistyEats) but it can get overwhelming so a break here and there is good, mentally. But you can see so many stories of women improving themselves with weight loss or biking or running, etc.

One thing I know for certain, is I am better off and a different person than I used to be. I need to remember that and give myself credit for that. I found some old pictures I wanted to share here from I am guessing around 2009 or 2010? I remember how I felt in some of those photos. I was having fun. I was with friends but I was also ashamed of myself. In the blue top I was at a Twins game and I remember how tight the chair was on my hips and how it would have been fun to wear a cute Twins shirt and not a skirt and shirt because that is all I had that fit.

For some reason I have a very bad memory and forget a lot easily. However, going through these scrapbooks, I can remember articles of clothing so well and if I was comfortable or not, having a “skinny” day or not and why I choose those clothes. Instead of looking at these events and the friends I was with, those are my first thoughts that come to mind. I still do that to this day. While I just shared earlier this week I have 10 lbs. I’d love to lose, and that is true…my one hope is to just become more confident and proud of what my body has done for me. Through weight gains/losses, physical fitness changes, biking, running, jumping, etc. I want to be proud of where I am today and now. I feel like a broken record saying these things, you know? Maybe this will be the year it “takes”. I do NOT want to go back to those large weight gains/losses (I am talking like 50 pound swings) but maintain and yeah going up or down 10 pounds here and there isn’t horrible. Life happens. But I want to stay within my comfort zone and in my healthy range.

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I know that I want to feel fit and happy. Here is what works for me:

  • Surround myself with strong women friends, a supportive husband and an awesome family. (Check, check, check!)
  • Be active. Move.
  • Eat well most of the time.
  • Enjoy treats – if you are going to pig out, make it worth it. Truly enjoy that pizza or dessert instead of eating it in shame.
  • Travel.
  • Quality sleep.
  • Keep in touch with friends that matter.
  • Try to balance your body size by what fits and what doesn’t versus using the scale. Don’t slave too much over the scale. (Still a work in progress here.)
  • Eat fresh foods. Limit packaged or processed goods.
  • Enjoy those drinks.
  • Talk to someone when you are down. They will listen.
  • Do what makes you happy.
  • Everything in moderation.
  • Don’t get caught up in the hubbub. (I mean there are so many things out there saying what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, don’t exercise too much – just find what works for you and what you enjoy.) Bike, hike, run, walk, weights, yoga – so many options!

And with that, here is to a happy and healthy journey for me and you. I said this last year too but I’m not sure how long I’ll continue blogging. I have cut back significantly and I’d like to stay here a bit to recap any fun events or to even just type out words. I don’t really talk a lot (outside of in my head, anyway) and writing is therapy for me when things are on my mind. I’ve really gotten in the groove of cooking mostly healthy food, baking less and creating fewer recipes to share. So, I will keep checking in a bit here and there for a while as a time goes on and as long as it keeps making me happy! Have a great month – remember it is never too late to start living the way you want. And thank you so much for listen to me ramble on! Thank you to my family for their never ending support – especially Mark, Jodi and Mom.

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March, 2017 check in

I have put off writing my monthly update for a while now. Honestly, I am just frustrated and embarrassed by how the first half, no, the first 20ish days of March went. I don’t really know why, but I found myself in a big funk the first few weeks of March. I wasn’t myself and was feeling really, really down. I do not like admitting this because honestly, how can I complain about my life? I love my family, my pets, my house, I have good health, etc. I really should not complain. But here I am! I have this unfortunate ability to take some minor thing that might go wrong and let it spiral out of control. That could be a number I see on the scale (yes, I hate to admit that), feeling bloated, eating too much, drinking too much, and so on. I’ll let that one feeling (even though I KNOW it is insignificant and will change) pick itself into my thoughts and tear down so many other things about me. Between the lack of sunshine, this dreary weather, brown landscape, wind and not doing much socially in March, it kind of came crashing down. Finally, on March 21, I said no more. I have 10 days to get it together and end this month feeling positive, healthy and happy. I can do this!

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So this month has been down, down, down BUT ended up. I am feeling great, happier, lighter (emotionally) and the warmer weather has certainly helped as well as doing a few social events with friends. I didn’t gain any weight, even when I was feeling down on myself and not eating the best. My workouts have gone great overall. I have been doing the same kind of mix for a few months now so I am ready to switch that up starting next week. One thing I did focus on this month for me was facials – either at the salon (or whatever it is called) or doing cheap ones at home. It gives me at least 15 minutes to relax and just chill. I cherish those mini treats!

I’d love to say I can eat in moderation every day of the week and have it balance out, but I am still looking for that. My food is where I struggle and probably always will. I can exercise for hours. I do a lot of times, actually. I love to run, bike, do plyometics, try new workouts I find online, etc. That part is NOT difficult for me. I love to move! But I find myself saying it is OK to eat an extra cup of Cheerios because I really pushed it on my workout. Well, it probably is fine. BUT…I am still trying to shed these last DAMN 10 pounds. #*($@& all the curse words. It’s so hard!! I mean I know that it isn’t hard – cut the food and snacking and I’ll see results. But I feel OK here, my clothes fit well, hubby says I look good, and I feel good so that is where the hard part comes in. I go through periods of time with really great focus and determination and then quick lapses but those lapses are where a few hundred extra calories are really going to add up. I teeter between being fairly strict and just living life and enjoying myself.

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Top left is January, top right is February and bottom is yesterday. I should have tucked in my shirt. The biggest change I can tell is my bloat and puffiness is gone and that feels nice.

Sometimes I really get caught up in the Groundhog Day effect. Anyone else? I love my life, I do! But sometimes all I can think is, get up, work out, shower, breakfast, work, walk the dog, clean the house, cook food, laundry, etc. like life is just an ongoing checklist of chores. My husband and I really try on the weekends to do things that add value to our lives (not that work doesn’t, but let’s be honest, it is still work) and break up that monotony. I don’t know if others feel like that or if I am doing something wrong? Hopefully this will improve a bit with the weather and getting outside more. I feel in a rut right now though and need to mentally turn things around. Good thing is, I know I am capable. I know my MOM thinks I am capable and I have my husband and sister who know I am capable too. They wouldn’t lie to me so I’m going to keep working on ME. I’m about 12-15 pounds down from the beginning of the year….I’d love to get 10 more down. (Keep in mind, I am 5’11” so 12-15 pounds on me is very different than on most women who are shorter and certainly some of that was water weight from holiday pigging out.) I feel like my muscles (not that there are many) are more defined now. These last 10 lbs. are my evil crutch, vanity pounds, whatever you want to call them. If it happens, I will be thrilled, and if it doesn’t, my main focus is to have a FUN and ACTIVE spring and summer with my friends and family. That is truly the most important. I am looking forward to fresh foods, getting outside and weekend getaways. This will be my last monthly recap in my effort to lose weight. I am going to keep working on getting more fit and hopefully those two will go hand in hand!

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Circuit / Tabata workout

I’ve mentioned here that I have been incorporating more circuit type workouts into my fitness routine. I like variety, plyometrics, tabatas and anything that can get my heart rate up with using body weight or basic gym equipment. Here is a pretty basic set up I have done. I wanted to share with you in case you are looking for a new routine to use.

Try this circuit / tabata mix and see how far you can make it in 45 minutes or go all the way through and record how long it takes you. Keep notes to compare your time here and there. Modify as needed. This workout does not require ANY gym equipment and can easily be done at home.

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Warm up run 800 meters (if you don’t have space to run, do high knees and/or butt kickers for 5 minutes)

Circuit (do each move for 45 seconds and rest for 15)

  • Inch worm push ups
  • In and out plyo squats
  • Shoulder tap planks
  • Pogo jumps (right)
  • Pogo jumps (left)
  • Boat pose in-n-out abs
  • High knees or tuck jumps

Tabata #1 – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest (x4)

  • Wide arm push-ups
  • Tricep dip

Now run 800 meters again, do the circuit, move on to Tabata #2

Tabata #2 – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest (x8)

  • Burpees

Now run 800 meters again, do the circuit, move on to Tabata #3

Tabata #3 – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest (x4)

  • Right plank + hip dip
  • Left plank + hip dip

Cool down with an easy 800 meter jog

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I just print or write these out on some paper and take with me to the gym. If you want other workouts, type in “gym wod” into Google and you’ll get some great ideas.

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Quinoa Protein Bites

Another month, another energy bite recipe. I am obsessed. These are just perfect to have on hand to grab and go. I have been looking for a quinoa cookie / no-bake treat to make for a while to use up my stash of bulk quinoa. I came across this recipe from Boys Ahoy and knew it was perfect. I swear I don’t stalk her, but I love nearly all her recipes and follow her on IG for some great workouts.

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I made the recipe almost exactly as she posted but doubled the recipe, used my own brand of protein powder, regular Jif peanut butter and as always, added in a dash of salt. I am a salty sweat-er and a salt lover as well so salt is my jam so to speak. The hardest part of these is letting the quinoa cool.

These are like healthy cookies? I keep mine in the freezer and grab one or three after a workout. They are perfect.

Quinoa Protein Bites, makes anywhere from 30-40, depending on size, adapted slightly from Boys Ahoy

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (cook in plain water)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (other flavors should work, but I loved this combo)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped

Directions

Put everything except coconut in a medium, microwave safe bowl. Nuke for about 30 seconds to soften up the peanut butter/honey. Stir until combined. Spoon about 1 inch roughly ball shaped bites onto wax or parchment paper. Then, roll into ball shapes into the coconut to coat. Store in fridge or freezer in air-tight container or zip top bag.

Here you can see the before and after. I simply spooned out the cookies in a rough shape and then rolled them in coconut and made them more into a ball shape. You could skip the coconut or roll it in something else. I love the coconut flavor though. Enjoy!

 

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