Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a great week and are starting to get excited about the holidays – I mean holiday baking, fall everything, and finally some snow – it’s the best time of the year!

I am so excited to share that I’ve partnered up with one of my favorite accounts and ladies on IG – Ali from Stelle and Co Bakes! She shares the BEST grain-free, refined sugar-free, and all-around nutrient-dense treats (seriously make her fudge!). You can check out her website and/or her IG for her recipes!

Ali and I connect on the fact that we believe there’s more to health than only nutrition. We both strongly believe in the fact that our lifestyles have a huge impact on our health, and find common ground in things like meditation.

We wanted to learn a bit more about each other, and wanted to share these things with you as well, and decided to do a kind of shared interview. Check out below for a little more info on who we are, what we do, and why we do! (Not to mention there is a really fun bonus at the end of the interviews so make sure you check that out!   :))

Questions for Ali – @stelleandcobakes

Q: What led you to start Stelle and Co Bakes?

It was sort of a gradual evolution of a hobby that turned into a blog/Instagram. I started dabbling in gluten free baking after going gluten free in 2014. However, I felt like so many of the store-bought goodies were overpriced, loaded with refined sugar, and often the texture was all wrong. After having my first daughter in 2016, I began experiencing hormonally-induced autoimmune issues that led me to explore grain free and refined sugar free baking. I was hooked on the texture, and the idea of enjoying desserts made from whole foods–with added nutrients that didn’t flare my symptoms. I spent 2 years or so baking others recipes, and began realizing that I was tinkering with them almost every day. It became a passion of mine to tweak and play with blends to create the perfect taste/texture. Then, after the birth of my second daughter I finally got the courage to start an Instagram account and began actually sharing my recipes.

Q: What is the inspiration behind your recipes?

I usually just go based on what I am craving or what sounds good. I find if I bake impulsively, I inspire more creativity and have more fun than if i plan it out too much. Sometimes, I like to recreate childhood favorites, or go with a theme/series. One example would be my fudge cookie dough series, or my muffin top series. 

Q: And what does the recipe-creation-process look like for you?

I typically get an idea randomly: maybe I will see something on Pinterest or Instagram, or have an idea based on a recipe I have made before.  I write down a rough draft of a recipe. Then, I will make it, editing ratios as I go. Then, I style my dessert– using a few simple props, etc. I always set up shop next to my windowsill upstairs (best lighting!) Then I take a million pictures. I later go through and pick at least 3 that I like before drafting a blog post and Instagram post.

Q: Is there a reason you choose to bake using grain free/refined sugar free/ (and I think typically dairy free) ingredients over the “standard” ingredients?

I didn’t originally seek out to bake this way, nor did I really know any different. When I first ate gluten free desserts, I used rice flour, or baking blends with lots of refined sugar, preservatives, and dairy.  It didn’t really occur to me when giving up gluten that my gut needed to heal–and that giving up gluten wasn’t enough for that to happen.  For years before giving up gluten, I experienced chronic health issues. After the birth of my child, these issues exploded and it really came to a point where it was time to make a big change in my diet.  In the past doctors prescribed loads of meds, but it only made things worse for my health in the long run. I wasn’t addressing the root cause.  As I began my journey in eating in a way that healed my gut, I didn’t necessarily want to give up my sweets– and I don’t think that is sustainable or necessary, either. So instead I focused on desserts that were gut friendly, with sugars made from nature (coconut, maple syrup and honey) and whole foods ground into flours (like almond, coconut, cassava and tapioca starch) Another reason I choose to use alternative ingredients (aside from health-related reasons) is that I try to include a variety of dietary preferences and lifestyles. I know some people who don’t eat gluten will still eat dairy, so I include butter sometimes, or organic grass-fed whey protein. On the other hand, some people eat vegan, so I like to make lots of egg and dairy free options, or options without nuts for nut allergies, etc.

Q: What is your favorite recipe?

I would probably have to say my Snickerdoodles! I am a big cinnamon and sugar fan and this one is so simple, yet so authentic, while still being nutrient-dense.

Q: What kinds of things do you do outside of baking to take care of yourself?

This is a really important question. I think many people focus on JUST healthy eating, and that is what I did for a while– I soon realized that eating is only one dimension to healing and feeling well: and that is part of what interested me about your coaching. I am SO passionate about self-care. And I don’t mean doing my nails or taking bubble baths. Self-care for me means addressing and changing habits to experience wellness: this includes journaling, meditation, yoga, and setting healthy boundaries with individuals. I won’t go into this too much because that is your area of expertise! 🙂

For Alex – @alexandriaswellness

Q: What inspired you to become a health coach?

I was a gymnast for like 13 years so I was always really active, but things like food and self-care weren’t something I considered a priority. Towards the end of college, I was starting to see my relationship with food and exercise become somewhat negative. Luckily, with the help of my boyfriend, actually, I began to find balance and realized how detrimental restriction of certain food groups was to my happiness. I did start to enjoy cooking and things like yoga, and when I heard about IIN, I felt really called to just do it. My mindset around health totally shifted. I realized that my entire view of health wasn’t sustainable OR good for my body. So, after my own journey, I wanted to help women who truly wanted to feel better to make small changes that were enjoyable, that didn’t ONLY revolve around food and fitness, and in ways that felt natural and could be kept up consistently.

Q: What are the 3-5 most important pillars of health, to you? Is there any one thing that comes over another?

Ok so I wouldn’t put these in any order, because I think that can change from person to person based on the point they are at in their life and their priorities, but here are my top 5:

  • Spirituality: it gives us something to return to, whether that is our faith, sinking deeper into ourselves, etc. It gives us a space for reflection, for community, and can resonate through our entire lives.
  • Physical activity: Finding movement that is natural and/or that makes us feel great is huge – we don’t have to completely drain our tanks every time we work out! It can do a lot to lift us up or bring us down depending on how we practice.
  • Nutrition: Our food does have a big impact on our health – it’s literally our energy and what fuels us! Not to mention, our nutrition can affect our lives while our lives can also affect our nutritional choices.
  • Relationships: First of all, our relationships can lift us up and support us in being our best selves or they can be toxic and bring us down. Also, the people we spend the most time with have a big effect on the small changes that we make or don’t make in our lives.
  • Career: No matter how healthy we seem, if we hate our 9-5, that can have a big effect on our health. Imagine the difference – you wake up looking forward to the day, or dreading it.

 

Q: How do you go about meal planning/is there a system you use in order to be intentional?

I have a few main goals when I plan my meals for the week. I want to have something quick, easy, and tasty on hand that I can just heat up at the end of the day or during a quick lunch break. However, I can also be someone who gets bored of eating the same thing over and over, so I also like to have some bigger batches of individual ingredients that I can put together in various ways. Usually I’ll prep 1-2 full meals per week, and then for the rest of my meals I’ll have ingredients on hand that I can use for breakfast toasts, sandwiches, salads, bowls, etc. This helps me have food ready for when hunger hits but also be able to be really intentional about what my body wants and my cravings.

Q: What is mindful eating?

There are so many distractions nowadays, I feel like it can be hard for us to remember the last time we had a meal completely “unplugged”. Mindful eating is a practice that brings you back to your body, and brings your full focus back to your meal. It helps us do many things like show gratitude for the food we’ve cooked or that a loved one has cooked for us, honor our hunger and fullness cues, and chew our food thoroughly. These things not only help us eat a meal that leaves us feeling both comfortable and satiated, but can also even support things like our digestion!

Q: What are your top three tips for beginners learning to meditate?

I would tell beginners to most importantly be patient. Your mind will probably wander, mine still does, and that is never a bad thing. Remember that you can always intentionally turn your focus back to your breath and/or your body for a quick scan to bring you back. Second, I would recommend dedicating a specific spot in your living space to meditation. Make it cozy, quiet, and separated from things like work and sleep. Lastly, work your way up to stay consistent. Start with 5 mins daily, and work your way up from there.

Q: I know we’ve talked about this e-journal you are launching, tell me a little bit more about how this could be a good resource or tool for self-improvement?

I am so excited about this journal! I took some time to think about some of the biggest pain points from women I’ve spoken with – things like staying consistent, getting out of their OWN way to achieve goals, and improving that mind body connection I talk about so often. It’s really a space to build more awareness and mindfulness about how your choices affect your physical and emotional health, and can even help you create more space for things you love and that make you feel good in your life.

Another goal of this journal was to help women find journaling and mindfulness practices that they enjoy and can use for a long time. The journal includes five different activities, with the intention of focusing your time and energy on one per day. There will be a few different journaling exercises, a food journal, a gratitude prompt, and a fun page for creativity as well. I’m actually making a challenge out of this so we have a little community of support, which will go from November 9th to November 13th.

I am offering additional support in the form of 1:1 coaching for during the challenge – this includes one 45-minute session before the challenge, and one 45-minute session after the challenge. This way, we can totally personalize the journal, and challenge, for you as well as chat through any of your current goals! You would also receive Voxer access to me over the entire week – meaning you can ask me ANY questions at ANY point during the week.

I would LOVE for you all to join and to download this journal! Here is the link to download, as well as more info on the 1:1 support for the challenge: https://mailchi.mp/b0481b620116/aw-e-journal-subscribe