3 Things I’ve Learned About Feeling Overwhelmed

Well, it’s here. Holiday season! Last I checked most people don’t just CHILL during the Holidays. Although that should be the concept, right? Instead, we get busier and more overwhelmed. And if you’re like me, you need someone to hold you accountable for saying NO and staying sane. This is where my fellow Sherpa Wife Tara comes in. We take care of each other, both mentally and physically. She’s my Sherpa Wife Life/Health Coach that gets me re-evaluate my life choices –> Less is more! So today she is writing about her journey with being overwhelmed. I sure hope you take notes or bookmark this page. You might need it these next few months!

3 Things I've Learned About Feeling Overwhelmed www.cottercrunch.com

Hey there! My name is Tara Newman and I blog over at Family Sport Life with my husband John.  We are committed to helping busy families (and singles) redefine balance.  We share stories, experiences, and thoughts on living with greater purpose and practical tips for your everyday challenges.  We also talk triathlon.  I am a (Sherpa) Wife. Mother. Encourager. Geek. Truth Teller. Knowledge Seeker. Researcher.  Behaviorist.  Sometimes Runner.  Full-time Wellness Warrior. Performance + Lifestyle Coach.


Do you ever get the feeling the walls are closing in on you? Maybe your heart rate quickens, your body temp ticks up a few degrees, you’re breathing more rapidly, and the walls most definitely feel like they are closing in on you.

Some of us call that being overwhelmed.

It happened to me the other day. I am short staffed at work and feeling pulled in multiple directions as I try to perform two jobs. No surprise that I woke up the other morning with a stye. I am rocked the red, puffy, crusty eye look.

The night before I collapsed into bed after running after my two very active children all day. Let’s face it, raising healthy kids is a tough job!


When I woke up the next morning, I had two text messages.

One from my neighbor reminding me my babysitter is putting her son on the bus. The second text was from the babysitter saying she was ill and wouldn’t be able to put the kids on the bus.

So to clarify, me + crusty eye + three kids needing to get to school at different times + no babysitter + need to be at work because doing multiple jobs.

Normally, this would elicit the aforementioned physical responses of stress and overwhelm but not this time. I am done with feeling overwhelmed.

Just like that?

Well, no but yes.

Let me explain what I have learned about overwhelm since I started feeling it almost 10 years ago when my son was born. Some of you might already know this but I just made the connection.

Feeling overwhelmed is a choice.
I can choose to feel overwhelmed or I can choose to see opportunity. Remember my Monday? Since the babysitter wasn’t feeling well, she couldn’t get the kids off the bus either. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I chose to take the afternoon off from work to nurse my eye (tea bags worked!) and spend an afternoon savoring the time with my children. Instead of overwhelm, I chose to help my son with his lego project and read with my daughter.


I gave a brief thought about how people would perceive my half day at the office and then I focused on one of my favorite mantras – Now is the time to let this go.

Feeling overwhelmed is within my control.
This is somewhat like choice but it goes a little deeper. For me, being in control means taking responsibility for changing what has me feeling overwhelmed. A lot of times my feelings of overwhelm stem from taking on too much. If I am not careful, I can be a chronic over commit-er. By taking responsibility for this part of my personality, I can control what I take on.

Feeling overwhelmed is an opportunity for self-awareness.
It’s important to chose thoughts and perspectives that empower us. When I listen to myself and observe my thoughts during overwhelming times, I realize they don’t serve me. They are limiting, defeating, fearful, and most of the time they are wrong. My previous experiences have thought me I am capable and resourceful in the face of adversity.

Next time you start feeling like the walls are closing in on you, coach yourself through it with these questions:

How is this empowering me?
If I were feeling resourceful and kind, how might I look at this situation?
How can I change my perspective to support me?


In my moment last week, I realized that getting physically or mentally worked up about the situation was dis-empowering. Thinking about my situation with kindness got me to see the opportunity of a few extra hours to love on my kids. This change in perspective brought me another step further on my journey to live mindfully free from overwhelm.

What have you learned about feeling overwhelmed?

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– Tara

Headshot SQ Dusk

Thanks Tara! Hope you all have a Marvelous and UNDERwhelmed Monday!



Gluten Free Food Must Haves {Grain Free Too}

Seven years ago I told to start a gluten free diet. Back then, gluten free food was really not that great. In fact, it was basically card board and sugar. Yep. And whenever we’d go down to New Zealand, I’d stock up on all their gluten free foods because they had better quality and there were more choices. A gluten free diet was definitely more prevalent there, but for health reasons, not as a diet trend. Which reminds me, has anyone seen that South Park Gluten Free Ebola episode? Haha, it’s hilarious (and so true). Anyway, I digress….

Let’s get to today. Um, ya. So many wonderful gluten free brands out there. Quality brands. Caring brands. Informative brands. So today I thought I’d share with you some Gluten Free food and recipe MUST HAVES for anyone just starting out on a gluten free diet.

gluten free must haves

Granted, I might be an ambassador for almost all of these, but they did not pay me or ask me to write this. It was all my own doing. I truly don’t know what WE would do without them.

Carbs and Breakfast Food Must Haves:

Whenever I need to make a quick post workout porridge or fuel for the kiwi’s long run, ride, etc., I use Love Grown Foods Gluten Free Super Oats. It’s low sugar and Non Gmo. I like to combine it with either Larabar’s Grain Free Granola or an egg on top to give it more fat. Plus it taste’s amazing!

IMG_4192egg and oats

Udis gluten Free is another great brand for breakfast and carbs that you may miss when you are new to gluten free. They have all the healthy options like flax and chia bread, plus the “treat” options like muffins and cookies, but without all the fake ingredients. What I like about Udis is that they provide great support on their site as well. I’m a community leader for Udis and we are always  trying to focus on ways to support and guide each other and others, even if they don’t eat Udis! It’s more about educating consumers and providing the resources needed.



Well of course I’m going to say Healthy bites, but I may be a little bias and have FREE access to a freezer full of them.

Irish Delight Healthy Bites with Protein

Let’s focus on some others, mmmm k?

Larabar make several great fruit and nut bars and so do KIND. We eat both. Although right now I am hooked on the seasonal cookie Larabar flavors and the new Kind Strong protein bars made with pea protein. SO SO GOOD!

larabar seasonal

kind bar flavors

Speaking of more protein, let’s talk about protein and fat must haves:

The new quest protein chips now have more flavors. Don’t even get me started on the salt and vinegar… tasty. Gluten and Soy free. In fact, I used that flavor to bread my Sizzlefish Salmon (recipe coming soon). And although not everyone will agree with certain ingredients, they are still pretty “clean” per se.

quest chips and sizzlefish salmon

I also made my own beet avocado yogurt dressing to go with it. Just combine all these in a blender. Add olive oil to thin it out. And you gotta check out Blue Hill yogurt for more flavors (like butternut squash).

blue hill beet yogurt to make creamy salad dressing

And last but not least, the GRAIN FREE must haves.

Oh I have died and gone to PALEO heaven. I just discovered Cappello’s paleo pasta and cookie dough.The main ingredients are almond meal, tapioca starch, coconut oil, and cage free eggs. And it actually tastes pretty darn amazing too! This weekend we had pasta and cookies. Actually, I think I just ate the cookie dough batter and gave the cookies to the kiwi. No joke.

Cappellos grain free

cappellos fettucine and tomato sauce

cappellos paleo cookie dough

Okay.. who’s hungry now? Pass the Almond Milk and let’s have some grain free cookies.

Do you have any gluten free must haves?

Cheers to Marvelous Monday!


Three New Natural Supplements and How We Use Them

Supplements…. they can be tricky. What works for one person might not work for another. It definitely depends on what that person CURRENTLY  needs, physically and mentally. Not to mention how their body reacts to certain homeopathic ingredients, ya know?

That being said, the Kiwi has to be EXTRA careful with taking certain supplements due to the racing/drug testing protocol. Heck, caffeine was once banned on the banned substance list. Good thing it’s not anymore! And me? Well, I have a sensitive stomach, so it’s always hit or miss with that works.

Okay, let’s get to these supplements. And just to let you know, we’re not telling you to go take them, we’re just simply stating how they’ve worked for us. Disclaimer in layman’s terms. Mmmm k?

First let’s talk about a new source of Non GMO Omegas Oils. Be Bright Superfood oil from Coroemega.

FullSizeRender (6)

Coromega is one of my favorite fish oil supplements. Yes, I eat a lot of fish anyway, but I like that Coromega has Vitamin D added for absorption.

Be Bright is their new Superfood oil and I’m totally diggin it. It’s made of plant based oils and seeds.


We like to alternate our Omega sources between plant based and cold water fish. I find it beneficial to vary our sources of nutrients, just like you would your daily intake of vegetables. Ya know?

This creamy oil tastes like hemp and avocado combined. I’ve been adding it to my smoothies and mixing into gluten free oatmeal.


Next up is Coconut Charcoal. Yes, I said Charchoal.


This is not a supplement we take daily. It’s more of a detox supplement. Even though I hate the word detox, it’s the best way to explain it’s usage.

Here’s what charcoal is used for  –> Thanks to Wellness Mama and Bulletproof Coffee for the info.

    • Activated charcoal is estimated to reduce absorption of poisonous or toxic substances up to 60%. (Toxins from low quality, processed food, and environmental pollution)
    • It works by adsorbing chemicals, thus reducing their toxicity (poisonous nature), through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines (GI tract).
    • Activated charcoal itself is a fine, black powder that is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic.
    • It’s uses as a detoxification agent go well beyond just ingestion. It can be used to cleanse your teeth and face, effectively removing toxins from these areas, as well.

How we’ve been using this? I mainly use it when I travel, have too much wine (hey, it happens), or when I have gone to eat out and feel like the food was poor or had hidden gluten in it. Yes, that happens too. So I’d say I take this 3-8x a month. And when I do, I definitely feel better the next day, stomach and all. Could be placebo, could be real deal. Either way, I’m enjoying it as a “safety net” you might say.

Last but not least, more ADRENAL support. I’d say these supplements are more for the Kiwi, but I have taken both when under a lot of stress (mentally and physically). We take these in phases, not continually.


The reason I really like the Cortisol Manager is because it helps the body with regulating the natural rhythm of your cortisol hormone (high in morning, low at night).

The two ingredients we have found most beneficial when regulating cortisol and and adrenals are below.


phosphatidylserine (PS) is a naturally occurring phospholipid nutrient that is most concentrated in organs with high metabolic activity, such as the brain, lungs, heart, liver, and skeletal muscle. Phosphatidylserine  supplementation has the potential to attenuate the serum cortisol response to acute exercise stress. (Source and Study)


- an herb with an adaptogenic benefits.  Adaptogens are substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that help naturally regulate your response to stress or environmental changes Source

So why the two? When my husband races a lot, it can be stressful. Especially with back to back races, long hours of travel, exposure to sun/toxins, etc. I like to have him take this the week of the race and after to help off set any additional stress.

AdreCor doesn’t have either phosphatidyleserine or Ashwagandha, but it does have another propriety blend of minerals and adaptogens that I like. Plus 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) which supports the nervous system. You might want to read the difference between folate and folic acid here! Super important! I have been taking this on and off when needed.

Again, every one responds differently with supplementation. I would definitely talk to your practitioner before taking any of these (I did). But it’s good to know what’s out there and what’s working.

Have a MARVELOUS Monday.

Any new supplements you have found worked well for you?



3 Quick and Healthy Gluten Free Recipes Made from Leftovers

We don’t waste anything in our house, food in particular. I think it’s because food is literally FUEL for our jobs. But we’re also always on a budget, yes, tis life. With those two things in mind, I find myself getting more thrifty in kitchen, recreating meals from leftovers, and making do with the GOOD goods we got.

Healthy Quick GF recipes made from Leftovers

These leftover meal creations are what I call “peasant meals.” They are cheap (because they save us money), nutrient dense, and satisfying. And yes, they are tasty! In fact, they are some of the kiwi’s favorite meals, haha.

First up, Sprouted Brown Rice Pasta with Lentil Veggie Stew and Parmesan cheese.

sprouted brown rice noodles with lentils and veggies

We had 2 leftovers; sprouted GF noodles and Amy’s Organic Lentil Veggie stew. I drained the stew and tossed it with the noodles. Reheated and then added Parmesan, butter, and sriracha! Seriously, it’s delicious and so easy!

Second, salmon bean roll ups. Trust me, kids will even like this!

salmon bean wraps with @udisglutenfree tortilla

Just mix together leftover grilled or baked salmon with organic baked red beans (or black beans, northern beans, lentils, etc.) and a little sharp cheddar cheese. I mash up the beans a little before mixing. Then melt and spread on a gluten free tortilla (we use Udis Gluten Free) to roll it up. I often will add in salsa or a curry sauce to give it more flavor. Almond Cheese also works here if you can’t eat  real cheese. Don’t do beans? Try it with mashed squash!

Last up, and one of my favorite, zucchini chickpea fish cakes! I posted this on Sizzlefish Blog a few weeks ago and just had to share again.

zucchini chickpea fish cakes


  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained (could also use cashews or walnuts if you can do beans)
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil for mixing
  • 3 cups (or around 12- 14 oz) of cooked fish that’s chopped (Haddock, Salmon, or Cod)
  • 1-2 large zucchini, grated or chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of chili  pepper flakes
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • gluten free flour and almond meal coating
  • oil or butter for frying
  • plain or red pepper hummus for topping
  1. Place chickpeas in a blender or food processor and add in your 1/8 cup of your olive oil. Mix or puree until mixture is some what smooth. Then pour into a bowl. chickpeas.
  2. Next, add in your cooked fish, chopped zucchini and veggies, and other spices/herbs. Mix well with hands.
  3. Roll the mixture into small patties and on a dish in the fridge. They will need to stay in there for about 30 minutes. This is because there are no eggs in the mix so patties/cakes need longer to set.
  4. Remove patties from fridge and then coat the outsides with both gluten free flour and a little bit of almond meal. You can use bread crumbs if you don’t have almond meal.
  5. Heat your skillet and add a little oil for frying (about 1 tablespoon)  then fry cakes on both sides till they brown. If they seem moist, then pat them with a paper towel and then fry a little long or bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes more.
  6. Place on bed of salad, add a little bit of lemon juice (if desired) and then top with hummus.

Serves around 2-4[/print_this]

I know, lots of beans. But remember, if you soak them first, you can digest them better. Also, you can replace most of the beans with any other starchy vegetable or nut.

Well friends,  that’s all I got. Maybe I should really go to the store now. Hmm….

Have a Marvelous Monday!


Favorite meal to make with leftovers?



How to Embrace Mental and Physical Rest

You know that saying…. “Do as I say, not as I do?” Well, that just about sums up our Colorado trip. I had full intention on taking time off from work projects to focus on getting a little rest and being a good Sherpa wife to the Kiwi. But what I realized is that I have a hard time saying no, even when I’m fully aware that I need to. In my mind, I hear “work more, save more, work more, save more” (money that is). But even with that mentality, one can be left feeling depleted (ME). It wasn’t until a week into our trip that I realized I was doing just that. I wasn’t even giving myself a chance to slow down. And when I don’t slow down, I can’t be there to help my husband when he needs me. Which is the whole point of this training at altitude trip to begin with.


Thank goodness I have friends who keep me real and helped me realize how I was RUSHING, not UNRUSHING. Needless to say, the second part of the trip was all about being present.

photo 1photo 2

So today I wanted to talk about the gift of rest. And lucky for me, I have a good friend and fellow Sherpa wife (Tara) who speaks from experience and is here to share tips on HOW TO REALLY EMBRACE REST!

Tara headshot 2

Hi! My name is Tara and I am a Performance and Lifestyle Coach.  I help individuals, families, entrepreneurs, and athletes leverage key strengths to achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.  My blog, Family Sport Life, focuses on personal leadership, productivity, organization, healthy living, parenting and triathlon.  I hold a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and 15+ years experience in Corporate Leadership Development.

I am a skilled life juggler, a mom to “The A Team”, and a proud Sherpa Wife to my husband (and co-author) John.  I am passionate about living an authentic life.  In addition, I enjoy running, reading, skiing, paddle boarding, travel, organizing pretty much everything, and game night with my family.

Another Mother Runner 7

When I received a message from Lindsay asking me to guest post for her, I was honored and quickly asked what she wanted me to write about.  She responded with “How to embrace rest.  Physical and Mental.”  I responded with three letters “L-O-L.”

You see, I am about 4 months into the long journey of healing from Adrenal Fatigue.  Adrenal fatigue is what happens when mental, emotional, and/or physical stress causes your adrenal gland to stop functioning the way it should.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme exhaustion making it hard to get out of bed on some days.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Brain fog.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • A number of different “itis’” – plantar fasciitis and tendonitis of the supraspinatus
  • Disrupted sleep.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Here are some other symptoms that might indicate your adrenals are broken.

Trust me when I say this really threw a monkey wrench in my life plan to be Super Mom and Super Sherpa Wife (yep, I have a crazy age-group triathlete husband)!

Kids Jumping

I am almost positive I have been suffering with busted up adrenals for years (like 6!).  However, it wasn’t until this year when my body started to completely break down did I seek the care of a Naturopath.  Breakdown means every itis a runner can have and collapsing with pneumonia while training for a 10 miler.  The level of fatigue I was suffering from not only impacted my physical performance but it impacted my mental and emotional performance.

So, here I am in recovery, much like any other recovery – taking it one day at a time.  Some days I spring out of bed and have consistent energy throughout the day.  Other days, not so much.  The silver lining is I have finally started to have more “spring out of bed days” than “not so much” days.

As a recovering perfectionist, recovering overcomplicator, recovering “no rest for the wicked” kind of person I should feel ill equipped to write a blog post on embracing rest from a physical and mental perspective.  But I have to tell you, in the last 4 months, I have turned my life upside down looking for ways to heal and create long lasting habits to help me embrace rest.

Here are some of my lessons learned when it comes to How to Embrace Rest:

Be honest. For me there is a lot of fear around rest. Fear of being lazy. Fear of missing something. Fear of becoming sedentary. Fear of not being all things to all people. Ask yourself “what are my fears around rest?” Honesty with ourselves is an important step on our journey for self-awareness. Self-awareness is the first step in creating personal change.

SLEEP.  We all know that we should be getting between 7-9 hours of rest.  However, this just scratches the surface on what we need to be practicing when it comes to sleep.  Dr. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells us to start with the end in mind.  In other words, from the time you rise think about how every action you take throughout the day might affect your sleep.  Looking at the behaviors that might affect your sleep throughout the day (i.e. food, life stress, physical stress, mental stress) will help you create better daily routines that will aid in getting the best night sleep.

Promote Better Mind/Body Connection. Confession: I have found this is where I have a tremendous disconnect. It probably is deeply rooted in my fears mentioned above. I tend to mentally push myself well past my physical limits. There are a lot of great ways to promote a better mind/body connection like yoga, meditation, and journaling. I do all these things but what has been working even better – monitoring my Heart Rate Variability to give me an objective view of my body’s stress. I use the Sweet Beat Life app and a Bluetooth heart rate strap. Measurement is on a scale of 0 – 100. On my best days, I am around an 85. On my bad days, I may be in the 50’s. I can then look at what factors might have contributed to my score so I know what I can improve in the future. It is immediate and clear feedback.

Strive to uncomplicate your life.  One of the best books I have read lately is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (video link).  He teaches his readers to become Essentialists who focus on the “less but better” mantra.  Nothing has done more to heal my symptoms than eliminating the grey area in my life.  It’s either a “heck yes” or it is a no.  This way I ensure my focus is only on the critical few.

Unplug. Don’t worry, I am not going to bash your iPhone.  The world we live in has shifted.  We have shifted from growing and producing things to what is now being referred to as a “knowledge economy.”  This means there is an overabundance of information available to us and we are required to consume it.  Many of us, whether we realize it or not, have become voracious consumers of content with very little cognitive rest periods.  We are now self-directing our own learning and probably haven’t given much thought to the pace of our education.  As I become more mindful of this myself, I have been scheduling one day a week for intensive learning.  Additionally, I have been scheduling daily blackout periods where I unplug or minimize my connectivity.  Don’t forget to lose yourself in a good book just for the fun of it!


Support. THE MOST important of all the lessons I have learned.  Find people who support your vision of wellness and who will encourage you to rest.  We are lucky to be living in a big world connected by the interwebs.  If the support doesn’t exist in your immediate circle, find on-line friends.  You can always hang out with me and Lindsay.  We love to encourage people and share how we are learning to take better care of ourselves through proper rest.


You can Find More of Tara and FamilySportLife Here:

What lessons have you learned about embracing mental and physical rest?


Sherpa Wife Cotter

How To Grill Sweet Potato Chips

Have you ever attempted to make your own potato chips but failed miserably? Um yes, that would be me. For some reason, I can’t get them crispy enough. That’s probably why I just stick my old resistant starch with nut butter tactics. Haha!

photo 3

Well, today you are in luck! I just so happened to convince yet another super talented food blogger and gluten free friend of mine (Ari) to share her tricks ad tips for making the best sweet potato chips. Hint–> you wont have to bake them!

But I must warn you, once you start reading Aris blog and trying her recipes, you will become infatuated! Hehe, good thing I know her in real life and she doesn’t mind me stalking. She’s the best! So again, take notes, try it out, and then EAT UP!

Oh and you have to read all about her story too! So inspiring!

Super simple & healthy, these crispy grilled sweet potato chips are the perfect side dish. With just 2 ingredients (plus salt and pepper), they are perfect to make any time, and they are paleo, vegan, gluten free, and whole 30 friendly! Super simple & healthy, these crispy grilled sweet potato chips are the perfect side dish. With just 2 ingredients (plus salt and pepper), they are perfect to make any time, and they are paleo, vegan, gluten free, and whole 30 friendly!

sweet potato chips

Hi guys! My name is Ari and I blog at Ari’s Menu. I started my blog as a place to share my lightened up recipes after losing 75 pounds. Friends and family kept asking how I did it and what I was eating, so obviously the only solution was to start a food blog. ;) It didn’t start out as much (I mean, my first couple of posts didn’t even include a picture!), but soon I developed a passion for food photography and recipe development. I’m so thrilled that Lindsay gave me the opportunity to share with you guys today. I’ve been a huge fan of her blog, and pretty much just Lindsay as a human being for a long time, so I’m super excited to get to borrow her corner of the internet for a day. ;)

Grilled Sweet Potato Chips A little over a year ago, my husband discovered he had a gluten intolerance, so I started focusing my blog on gluten-free recipes. However, I strongly believe that gluten-free does not equal healthy. I believe that unless you have celiac or an intolerance, whole grains of any kind are great for you, and I always aim to make my recipes accessible to everyone, regardless of dietary needs. We just happen to eat gluten-free.

Grilled Sweet Potato Chips These chips are ridiculously simple and easy to make. The hardest part is slicing the sweet potatoes. If you have a mandolin slicer, it will be easier, but I don’t have one, so I just sliced my little heart out. ;) Then I tossed them in some coconut oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and threw those babies on the grill where they hang out for just a couple of minutes per side. That’s it! The secret to getting them crispy is slicing them verrrrry thin and getting just enough char while they’re on the grill. You don’t want them burnt, but a little char is a good thing!

[print_this] Grilled Sweet Potato Chips Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • generous pinch each salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Toss sliced sweet potatoes in coconut oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill until browned with a light char, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve immediately.


Pretty simple! Now eat up and enjoy.

Ari from Ari’s Menu

You can follow Ari on Social Media below!

Thanks Ari! Believe it or not, I’m going to try grilling these this week! It’s our last week in Colorado, might as well LIVE it up! haha.

So what do you think? Will you grill chips?

Cheers to a Marvelous Monday!




only one more day to enter the Healthy Bites and Lovegrown food giveaway!

Build a Better Breakfast in a Bowl – Grain Free Sesame Squash Porridge

Happy Labor Day Folks! Today I have one of my favorite Canadian friends (Blends) sharing an amazing recipe and her health journey here today. Christa (from edible balance) and I met at Blend 2013 but had been blog friends long before that.

Christa is one heck of a chef in the kitchen and a beautiful person in general. I’m so blessed to call her my friend. That being said, I wanted her to chat about both her passions, food and nutrition! Since I chatted about my random (not boring) breakfast porridge from last weeks food hacks post, I thought it might be good to continue that topic. BREAKFAST! Let’s beat the boring breakfast trend and start building a better and MORE nourishing one. Sound good? Okay, here’s Christa!

coconut fig rice pudding

Hello Cotter Crunch friends!

My name is Christa and I blog over at Edible Balance. I’m a whole food lover, diagnosed Celiac (for over 12 years now), Culinary Nutritionist and healthy living enthusiast.

edible balance

I met Lindsay just over a year ago at the 2013 Blend Retreat in Park City, Utah, but had been a reader for a quite a while before that.

Blend Fun 2013


There are people that just draw you in immediately because of a life experience shared, and our connection is no different. However, our love for nutrition, and our crazy husbands who are incredible athletes are what brought us even closer. My husband may not be a professional athlete, but he is quite competitive. I feel every single bit of Lindsay’s pain and frustration after a struggling performance in races and the major highs after huge successes. There’s nothing like a happy runner/cyclist/triathlete after completing a race where they have accomplished exactly what they were hoping for, and sometimes more! Am I right? Last weekend was definitely a good one for my husband…

photo 1 (4)

Alright, back to our shared life experiences. When I started really struggling with my health, most especially with my digestive health and hormone health (I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome last year), I found a support, encourager, and friend in Lindsay regardless of how far apart we are from each other. I know many of you feel the same, and I am quite sure I can speak for all of us in saying how grateful we all are for you crazy Cotter!

This time last year I was in a very different place, and I will fully admit, a scary one at that. I was struggling with extreme digestive issues and a slew of health problems that was catching up with me big time. I had just started an intense food elimination and was having a real hard time with it because it was summer and I couldn’t have most of the foods I loved, including all fruit and sugar, nuts, almost all seeds, nightshade vegetables and the list goes on. Just before I had started, I was also about 95% vegan. I couldn’t have dairy (which I was fine with), eggs, or grains either. I found pretty quickly that I had to incorporate a bit of meat in because I didn’t have much to rely on to keep me satiated and help to regulate my hormones, a big concern with PCOS.

Quite frankly, I was a mess. I also had to rotate all of my food, even more so for the leafy greens I was eating. Every single day had to be different for all foods, but I couldn’t have the same greens for four days. My whole life literally revolved around food.

I also had to journal absolutely everything. By the end of the almost six month process, I was spent. Thankfully I had the support of a fantastic naturopath to guide me through all of this, even as a culinary nutritionist, I felt so lost and downright emotional about it all.

This year I feel like a brand new woman! I’ve been able to eat almost everything that I have wanted to bring back into my daily routine and it feels pretty amazing actually. However, once in a while I feel that I need to scale back and have something simple. Something to soothe and calm my digestion down.

One of my favorite breakfasts to fall back on is a very simple squash porridge. Any squash can be used, but in an effort to keep it lower on the glycemic index I used spaghetti squash.

squash porridge 2

This recipe is quite simple, and my go to when I need to give my digestion a good break. The best part about it is that it can be adjusted to anyone’s taste. If you would rather a more savory dish, or if you want to use up what you have in your pantry, no problem! It’s incredibly versatile.

squash porridge


Sesame Squash Breakfast Porridge
gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free
Serves 1

  • 3 tbsp lightly toasted sesame seeds (or 1 1/2 Tbsp tahini)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp chia/flax seeds (or both, like I do)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup water or non-dairy milk, more if needed
  • 1 cup spaghetti squash, cooked (or any squash you wish!)
  • Optional
  • hemp or pumpkin seed protein powder
  • coconut sugar, lucuma, honey, liquid stevia, or pure maple syrup
  • ghee


1. Combine all dry ingredients and grind in a coffee grinder or blender until you get a flour-like consistency.
2. Remove 1 tbsp of the dry mixture and put it aside, this will be used to top the porridge.
3. In a small bowl, add the dry mixture with water or non-dairy milk, let it adsorb and form a gel.
4. Scoop cooked spaghetti squash and gel mixture into a blender, and blend until smooth.
5. Heat the porridge stove-top on medium heat just until it starts to bubble. Stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from heat, pour into your favorite bowl, and top with the dry mixture you set aside.
7. You can add 1 tsp of ghee if desired, this is incredibly healing for your gut and helps improve digestion adding in healthy fats to help absorb the nutrients. [/print_this]

By now I have an extremely low tolerance of sugar/sweetener, so I don’t find that I need to add any to my porridge. You may wish to add it to your liking, or give yourself a bit of a challenge and try it without! Allow your taste-buds to enjoy the flavors of the spices and sesame seeds.

This breakfast just happens to be the most warming, grounding, comforting and delicious breakfasts I make. I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for having me Lindsay! xo

Christa Collie is a healthy living blogger and Culinary Nutritionist, who shares her love of clean, whole, nutritious food on her blog, Edible Balance. Most notably, her series ‘The Skin I’m In’ showcases her journey in balancing hormones and dealing with a PCOS diagnosis with a natural approach. Her aim is to encourage, inspire, and share her passion for healing and nourishing food.

Want more breakfast in bowl ideas?

Check out her Forbidden Black Rice Porridge.


My Banana Avocado Matcha Granola Bowl

banana avocado matcha bowl

And of course, my favorite recovery Porridge! ( I used gluten free steel cut oats)

Recovery porridge 3

What’s in your breakfast bowl today? Where are you on your Health Journey?

Cheers to a Marvelous Labor Day!


5 Food and Fitness Tips and Tricks

When it comes to food and fitness, I’m all about making things more simple, do-able, and effective. Aren’t we all? And these days, simple and effective are my life motto.  I just want to get THINGS done and make them count. I don’t need a 10 step process, I need 2 or 3 max. I don’t want to buy things that are not functional (okay maybe I do buy the prettier looking shoes sometimes), I want my purchases to work FOR ME. I know, I sound like I’m complaining, but I promise I’m not. Nope, can’t complain when all your little tips and tricks are paying off.

Here me out now.

5 food and fitness tips and tricks

Fitness Tips/Tricks

1. Buy the right shoes and gear. And buy ONLINE for discounts! What do I mean by that? Usually you can find end of summer deals online sooner than in store. Sometimes they will have free shipping as well! As far as having the right gear goes, invest in the gear that WORKS with your body.

under armour heat gear sonic

I ordered these Under Armour Heat Sonic tights because they block odor (uh, I teach classes for a job, I need it!) and because they are wearable in the heat. So perfect for my outdoor classes. I also saw that they are compression tights—> BONUS!

2. You don’t have to kill yourself with a ton of tucks or Crunches to work core. In fact, sometimes one simple movement will get the shebang! I do this exercise at the end of class as a CORE FINISHER. You can use paper plates or towels as well. The focus is on the pull in, keeping the abs engaged. Trying do 1 minute on, 10 seconds off for 4 –5 rounds.

Food/Nutrition Related

3. Where Orange to increase your melatonin. Confused? What I mean buy that is is protect yourself from blue light (from laptops, iphones, etc) at night. It can disrupt circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin production. I actually took Wellness Mamas advice and bought a pair myself since I’m on the computer a little more these days (nights).

orange glasses for night reading

Although the Kiwi seems to be wearing them more now than me. But if it helps him sleep better, I’ll share! (p.s. he placed 5th last weekend at Ironman Steelhead 70.3 –> Proud wife moment!).

james in glasses

4. If you are like me and don’t want to spend money on FROYO or think it’s too sweet. Yes, I’m not that big of fan of FROYO shops. Gelato is a whole other story though.

photo 1photo 2

When I want to make my own frozen yogurt, I freeze my fruit in milk or in another protein smoothie mix. Then once frozen, I blend with banana and a little greek yogurt or kefir! It’s AMAZING! I used apricots in the one above. You can do the same with coffee for a coffee flavored froyo, minus the fruit of course.

5. Last but not least, my favorite FISH tip! I find a lot of people are afraid to cook fish, let along poach. Here’s one of my favorite ways to make the PERFECT salmon!

Do you have any Marvelous Food or Fitness Tips/Tricks?





Huge congrats to my designer friend jenny for starting another inspirational blog!

Living Out Life’s Bucket List

A funny thing happened this weekend. I was cleaning out the garage and found a box full of old books, notes, etc. It must have been from about 15 years ago. That would make me in high school then. Anyway, I opened up the box and there it it was, my life bucket list, or what I labeled..


1998 bucket list

Wanna know what was on that list?

New beginnings quote

Here goes.

  • Be Happily married to a Christian man (DONE—> well most of time we’re happy, depends on the day. haha!)


  • Have wonderful kids (uh.. *crickets *chirp *chirp… hopefully one day) But for now, I’ll just enjoy my nieces and nephews.


  • Be Healthy along with Family (much healthier today than years past!)
  • Be a good care taker to my Family.
  • Go on a Mission trip (Best experience of my life –> Summer in AFRICA)


  • Travel the world (so far I’ve been and lived in UK and Europe, Africa, South America, New Zealand, St. Thomas/St. John, Bahamas, and Quebec).

Villa in Cinque Terre

pre-hike in Cinque Terre

  • Give to Charity (yes, always try to give what I can. Something is better than nothing)
  • Live for a year in a dream city (we’ve lived in Christchurch, New Zealand and Hawaii)



  • Get tickets to be in the audience of a FRIENDS episode (dang it, I missed this one. Maybe they will come back on air?)
  • Hike the Mountains in Switzerland (DONE, LOVED it! Must go back and visit Lucie now)

me and dad- swiss alps

swiss alps & trees

  • Be Happy in My Job (Ha.. self employed. But I love it!)
  • Visit NYC (I have been 4x!)


  • Walk through a field of sunflowers in Italy (did that, loved it!)
  • Study Abroad (yep, Germany)
  • Work on a Farm (worked on my college roommates farm and m Father in law used to have a Coffee farm in Hawaii. It’s where our Rehearsal dinner was!)
  • Volunteer at a hospital (did that in college.. let’s just say it wasn’t the most fun, but I did it!)
  • Go fishing in the islands. (I’m not sure what islands I’m talking about but I’m pretty sure I fished at some point when I lived in Hawaii too. I snorkeled with fish in St. Thomas and Bahamas, does that count?)


  • Eat Lobster in Maine (How did I forget this when I went last year? Must go back)
  • Start a bed and breakfast. (ya, I’m changing my mind on that one. But I did start a Healthy Bites business!)

orange dark choc. chip

  • Go to Japan and eat sushi
  • Workout or Train with a celebrity. (I think I accomplished that at the Malibu Triathlon. But I still think my husband counts. He’s a celebrity to me because he’s competed and beat a certain celebrity in an open water swim race… Ahem.. you can see below.) Yes, I’m Corny!


So what’s the point of this whole post? I know you’re wondering. Well, today I am year older. Yep, past 30 now! ACK! And as I look back at my life, I realize my bucket is about complete without even focusing on accomplishing it. All those wonderful experiences, people, adventures, and more began with saying YES to life.

What’s left check off that list? I’d say its’ the REAL STUFF: Gratitude, thanksgiving, and saying yes to DREAMING BIG! That has to be the best birthday present ever –> Realizing the FULLNESS of your life, no amount of money or material things can replace that.



Have a Marvelous Monday.


Corny (and older) Cotter

Do You Need a Digital Detox?

I often reminisce about our time in New Zealand back in 2011-2012. You see, those were the days when all we had was a local Nokia phone with no extra features, our car had no radio, and the only access to internet we has was when we were at the house connected to wi-fi. That means when we left the house, we DISCONNECTED. We did not have access to email, facebook, instagram, twitter, etc. And when the kiwi was out training for ironman, I’d often tag along and walk or read a book while he trained.


On rest days we’d take day trips and just relax.


akarora.jpg 2

When we got back to the states our lives went from 50mph to 100mph again and I found myself trapped in busyness trying to run a business. Work Work Work, go go go. Crash, burn, repeat. It wasn’t until this past year that I really tried to channel that slowdown and work on disconnecting. Yes, work on disconnecting more. Sounds so easy, right?

Recently, my good BLEND Jess decided to take a complete 7 DIGITAL DETOX to celebrate her 10 year anniversary with her husband. I couldn’t wait to hear about her trip, and honestly, I wanted to hear more about her time AWAY from it all. No phone, email, social media, etc. I recruited Jess to share her digital detox “musings” here, today!

digital detox

Birds chattering. Crickets chirping. Loudly. All evening and all morning. Waves lapping the shore. Toes in the sand, warm and soft. All of these are quiet, seemingly small moments. But to me? They were monumental.

st. lucia

It meant I was in the moment. Soaking it all in. Completely present and undistracted. Truly there.

Sure, it would’ve been fun to share all of this on instagram. I fully admit that I’m a totally instagram addict when I’m at home. I love sharing snippets of my day in photo form — to me it’s sort of become my form of ‘blogging’ now that I don’t blog any longer. However, instagram was the farthest from my mind in these moments.


To say that I learned a lot while Scott and I were away in St. Lucia to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary would be a giant understatement.

For the first time in Lord knows how long, we completely unplugged. And I truly believe it was this disconnecting to reconnect that brought us closer than ever before. It all hit me about halfway through our trip. There was a singer on the stage near the pool after dinner, he sang country song covers all night long and was taking requests.

When he sang the first few chords of ‘We Danced’ by Brad Paisley – our wedding song – I felt the tears on my cheek, the rush of emotions (that took me by surprise quite honestly) and I leaned my head on his shoulder. After just a few days completely detached from the ‘real world’ – a life at home that we adore but that is typically chock full of activity –I finally took a second to exhale. Letting my mind rush back to our wedding day soooo many years ago and that very first dance. I remember how excited I was. I was over the moon in love with my new husband and excited to share that with my family and friends who surrounded us while we danced.

dinner on beach

In these moments, over ten years later, it was just Scott and I. Our song playing. I was simply in awe of this man with his arms around me, a man I am ridiculously proud to call my husband. A man that I all too often am so distracted around, that I simply don’t spend enough time just being with him. Just us. No electronics. No distractions. Appreciating him for all that he is and all that he means to me. Truly there.

As our week away neared its end, and we realized this little digital detox of ours was almost over, I was a little bit sad. It was so nice to just focus on Scott, on each other, and on nothing at all (and surprisingly WAY easier to disconnect than I thought it would be…).


Why on earth do we NOT do this more often?? I mean sure, we have jobs, we have commitments and responsibilities. But we have a choice in how we spend our down time, our free time. Why not make that ‘free’ time, truly FREE? Uncluttered by all things digital entirely. If you think about the word ‘free’ even – by definition it means open, unrestricted. And if I look back on our time in St. Lucia, I’d absolutely define that time as open, unrestricted and yes, liberating.

Now that we’re back on home turf, I’m taking what I’ve learned to heart. And lucky for me, Lindsay asked me to share that learning with you guys here.

Lesson learned from our digital detox

  • To be free, to have free time, to have the freedom to choose to spend that free time however we want is a gift.
  • It’s a gift to yourself as much as it is a gift to the loved ones around you.
  • Give wisely. Give freely. Give often.
  • Time literally slows down when you aren’t constantly checking in on facebook, instagram, twitter and foursquare.
  • My mind felt at ease that week, no mind crazies, no fretting over what I was eating, drinking, doing for my workouts (or not doing). Coming home, it’s been far harder to shut the mind crazies down but I’m trying.
  • Conversations were more engaging, we weren’t constantly half listening to each other. We were REALLY listening.

Also? I learned that I love my husband a whole heck of a lot more than a week ago.


Sounds pretty Marvelous, yes?


Do you need a Digital Detox?