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testimonials

testimonials

I met Monica Koch on a sunny afternoon at the pool. She was splashing around with her 1 year old and rocking a bikini. Not only was she gorgeous to look at, but she was so approachable and easy to talk to. I shared my frustration about my post baby body and she said, without missing a beat, "Come to my boot camp 5 times and you will see changes". I wasn't convinced but something about her sincerity and emphatic response made me want to try her class. Reluctantly, I showed up and she pushed me harder than I have ever been pushed. I hadn't experienced interval training before and even though it was incredibly difficult, Monica was so encouraging and motivating that I kept going even when I wanted to quit. I survived by telling myself that after I complete 5 classes I could return to my Body Pump class at the Clayton Center. That never happened. I was quickly addicted to the post workout high and so proud of myself for what I could accomplish. My body was transformed and I had definition in muscles I never realized I had. My friends were amazed at my new body and quickly flocked to Monica's class. I liked the way I looked but I LOVED the way I felt. I have never looked back and I consider Monica, not only the most amazing trainer I have ever had the pleasure to work with, but as one of my dearest friends -Sally King, 42 years old LCSW, LMFT, Licensed Clinical Social Worker  
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my thoughts on group fitness classes

my thoughts on group fitness classes

by Risa Brown It was about nine years ago that a friend of mine finally convinced me to go to an outside boot camp in Forest Park at 8am on a Saturday morning…what????  8am on Saturday morning?  Ok fine, I will give it a try, I work out, heck I even worked out with a trainer for a short while.  I was fit…I was not scared…my biggest fear was getting up in time to make it there by 8am!  Well, that should not have been my biggest fear!  I got there and met Monica, she is not only gorgeous and has an amazing body, but she was friendly and immediately made me feel comfortable.   Boot camp started and I was still not scared, I already made it there.  Then we were told to run up art hill as fast as we couls because, “it is not a race, but don’t let that bitch beat you,” and then we were to recover by jumping rope.  What?!?!  In my mind you recover by sitting down and having a drink.  Monica taught me about active recovery, she taught me that when you feel like you are going to puke that is when change is happening.  She also taught me that my body is able to do much more than I would have ever thought.   After my first class, I was hooked.  I was not only hooked on the great workout, but Monica created a group of women that were so supportive, welcoming, fit and funny.  These women became some of my best friends.  They started out as my “workout friends”...and now they are my lifelong friends that have helped and supported me through some of the hardest times of my life.   Oh, wait, I am supposed to be writing about group fitness classes…going to Monica’s classes gave me the confidence to try other classes.  I love the camaraderie. Having these people around me makes me want to do my best.  I want to be the person in the class who helps to keep the energy going…so it motivates me to keep going even when I may want to quit…I don’t want to let my classmates down.    Monica does not do her classes as Forest Park anymore, now she is at Core3 Fitness, still kicking ass, but with air conditioning and sans the bugs!  I look forward to going to klean&lean cardio fit camp to see friendly faces and catch up, as well as meet new “work out friends,” oh yeah and to get my butt kicked…as Monica says, “this time is for you, get out of your head.”  She is right, it works and I always leave class feeling so much better than when I got there!
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get out of your comfort zone

get out of your comfort zone

to learn that i was diagnosed with RA about a year ago was, to say the least, depressing and scary.  when i saw scans of my hands and feet with erosions on most knuckles, i was so scared of what the future was going to hold.  my crazy mind went to a dark spiral.   i initially tried to control my symptoms and pain through diet with no avail.  upon hearing my doctor's strong "advice", i agreed to take the heavy hitting drugs to help stop the progression of my disease.   my body feels best when it's MOVING, so that's what i do. somedays are easier than others but i ALWAYS feel better after a good sweat. weekly workouts consist of weekend runs with my bffs, DOING everything in the classes i teach, bikram yoga three times a week, and one day of NOTHING. i have practiced bikram yoga for the past nine years. i am addicted. my body CRAVES it as well as my mind.  I've come to realize i would NEVER be able run and jump around without the healing it provides. i am forever grateful.  the class is hot, there are a lot of rules, you do the same 26 postures every single time, and it's incredibly challenging.  it's a never ending PRACTICE of moving meditation on your breath.  bikram heals from the inside out.
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what's hot at the market?

what's hot at the market?

What’s hot at the market Summer is a great time of year to get your pasty winter self outdoors and out of your winter food rut. Take a hike down to your local farmer’s market and check out the fresh produce, local meats, hand crafted cheeses and array of other one-of-a-kind products. Farmer’s markets have three things that make them great; They’re inexpensive, filled with healthy choices, and the food you get there tastes better. It’s a win-win-win. I’m a frequent flier at farmers markets, and here’s what we’re seeing in St. Louis this spring. StrawberriesThey may not be as big and red as the ones at Schnucks or Diebergs, and there’s a good reason for that. These locally grown, often organic strawberries are the real deal – full of flavor, fresh from the farm and ready to add to salads, make into a jam or, like my daughter does, eat in the car. Lettuces and GreensLettuce is a cold weather crop, and we’ve had plenty of icy temperatures to support a plentiful harvest. Many different varieties of lettuce can be found, including red leaf, green leaf, arugula, spring mix or bib. There’s also plenty of kale and a variety of exotic locally gown, unique greens. AsparagusHarvested from March until June, this early spring crop is seeing a lot of shelf space at local markets. We love it blanched, but asparagus is versatile, so buy lots and try it different ways. PeasGarden, snap and snow peas are an eat-as-they-are favorite. This year they seem to be crisper and more flavorful than ever. Check out future Sizzlicious! posts for great recipes, or simply toss in a salad for an easy flavor blend. RhubarbWe saw the first appearance of rhubarb last week, and it looked beautiful! Don’t be afraid of this strange and wonderful vegetable. Look for brightly colored, heavy stalks that shine. Talk to the vendors about how to whip this up into a yummy dessert. Radish and TurnipsBoth these salad staples are best grown and harvested in the spring. Local farmers have plenty to sell, so look up some recipes and buy a bunch. Before you pack up the kids and head out, here are a few reminders about farmer’s markets:*Bring cash. Most vendors are local peeps like you and me. Although some will take credit or debit cards, most only accept cash, small bills preferred. In our house, we save small bills and change all week to be ready for weekend trips.*Talk to the vendors. They’re the experts. Not sure what something is? I get it – everything looks green and leafy. Don’t be shy about asking – vendors are usually the farmers themselves and love to talk trade. And sometimes they even have a unique recipe or tip you’re not likely to find on the internet.*Plan, but be flexible. I really hate to buy produce and not be able to use it before it goes bad. We try to research a recipe or two before heading out the door to make sure we’re efficient. That’s my husband – the planner. I’m more of an “Oh, that’s pretty!” kind of shopper. We’ve discovered a few favorites this way, so bring a list, but keep your eyes out and minds (and mouths!) open.
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Top 10 pantry must haves

Top 10 pantry must haves

What’s in Monica’s pantry? If you opened my pantry doors right now you’d think I was supplying food for a frat party. In my own defense, we just hosted a gathering and decided to house the left-over contributions. Not in my own defense, I kept them instead of throwing them out, rationalizing that we’re having another party in a few weeks and can stock the Cool Ranch Doritos and mini Snickers until then. It’s a little game I like to play called ‘Who Will Survive?’ With my husband hosting a poker game next week, my money’s on us. Not our girl Monica. Open her pantry and you can almost hear the food screaming “I’m healthy!” Here’s what she’s got going on: Level 1 Protein Powder What it is: The highest grade protein powder on the market. Go here for a detailed explanation of what’s in it. In short, it’s a flavored protein powder packed with nutrients. Where you can find it: Online here. Why Monica loves it:  Monica says ‘It sustains me like no other. I also use it to make cupcakes, waffles, pancakes, porridge, protein bread, and popsicles. My girls love it as well.’  Phylum husk flakes What it is: Non-flavored flakes filled with fiber. They have been said to reduce appetite and cleanse the digestive system. To give you an idea of the amount of fiber, 100 grams of phylum husk has 71 grams of fiber, while oat bran has 5.  Where you can find it: Whole Foods and other health food stores Why Monica loves it: Use these flakes to add to shakes or baking for added fiber.   Olive oil spray What it is: Olive oil in an aerosol spray can Where you can find it: Any grocery store Why Monica loves it: Use a few puffs of olive oil spray in place of regular olive oil. You’ll use exactly how much you want and get less calories and fat to boot. Whole Foods Tequila Lime Dry Seasoning What it is: A dry seasoning Where you can find it: Whole Foods Why Monica loves it: Monica adds this all-purpose flavoring to chicken, salads, and other recipes for a kick. Diet Swiss Miss 25 Calorie Hot Cocoa What it is: Powdered hot chocolate mix Where you can find it: Any grocery Why Monica loves it: This 25 calorie treat hits the sweet spot and keeps the calories low.  Monica loves it as an end of the day treat. Nutritional yeast What it is: Nutritional yeast is a somewhat complicated product, but basically it’s non-active yeast made from sugar cane and molasses. Where you can find it: Whole Foods (bulk section) and other health food stores Why Monica loves it: Monica says “I sprinkle the shit on everything; love the cheesy almost nutty flavor.” Try it in Monica’s recipes, like klean cauliflower wraps and klean risotto. Truvia What it is: A stevia-based sugar substitute made from rebiana, erythritol and natural flavors. Where you can find it: Any grocery store Why Monica loves it: Truvia is versatile and easy to measure. Monica uses Truvia as an all-natural sugar substitute for baking and cooking. PB2 What it is: PB2 is a powder form of peanut butter manufactured by taking out the oils of the peanut and putting the remainder through a dehydration process, removing about 90% of fat from regular peanut butter. Where you can find it: Target, grocery stores Why Monica loves it: Monica mixes the powder with unsweetened almond milk and spoons it on apples and says ‘Compare 2 tablespoons of PB2 to regular peanut butter - regular has 200 calories and 16g of fat; PB2 has 45 calories and 1.5g fat.  You pick.’ Mio Flavor Drops What it is: Liquid water enhancer – or a fancy way to say drops you put into water to make it taste better. Where you can find it: Target and grocery stores Why Monica loves it: Monica knows hydrating is an important part of health. She boosts her H2O with these drops – they come in tons flavors and are easy to store. Try them in cocktails for a grown up option. Embasa chipotle peppers What it is: Canned peppers Where you can find it: Most grocery stores Why Monica loves it:  Monica chops them up and adds to dressings and other recipes for a little kick.
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wolf in sweet clothes?

wolf in sweet clothes?

The Sugar Series wolf in sweet clothes? If you’re like me, when you hear the words ‘high fructose corn syrup’ mental images of medieval gluttonous feasts pop in your head. HFCS has gotten a bad rap in the health business, but I haven’t really done any research about why. I know the negative impact sugar has on my body, and avoid that with conscious intention. I avoid HFCS not because I know it’s bad for a fact, but because I’ve been told it’s unhealthy – even worse than sugar. And I believed it. How dopey is that? I mean, maybe it isn’t bad for me at all. So I gathered my 3X5 index cards, highlighter and notebook, walked to the library and started browsing the card catalog. Not really. I sat on my couch in yoga pants and a t-shirt and googled it. As if. A video from the American Chemical Society made things both more clear and confusing in a way only science and math can. Bottom line, although HFCS is processed very differently, the composition is similar to sugar. Here’s how it’s made: 1.     Corn is broken down into corn starch. 2.     Corn starch is broken down into corn syrup. 3.     Corn syrup is sweetened by alternating the proportions of glucose and fructose. Both sugar and HFCS are made up of fructose and glucose, but the proportions we see in products containing HFCS can vary depending on the product – if the soft drink wants to be sweeter, mess with the fructose and glucose levels. By contrast, sugar is made of equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Both substances work the same way in our bodies by sending the glucose and fructose into our blood stream. Glucose energizes our cells, while fructose is involved in cholesterol and glycogen (energy storage) production in our livers.    When comparing sugar and HFCS, the video states “The scientific consensus is that there’s almost no nutritional difference between the two.” All sweets affect metabolism and confuse our brains by crossing signals responsible for feelings of hunger and fullness. Additionally, high levels of fructose, no matter if from sugar or HFCS, are responsible for liver damage, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, among other things. Because it’s only been around 40 years or so, long term effects of HFCS aren’t yet known. But here’s why it’s getting a bad rap; many folks believe, whether led or assumed, that HFCS is the safe alternative to sugar when in fact the impact on bodies is at least the same.  It’s still fructose and glucose, and it’s not safe at all. And, my research also turned up dozens of sites claiming that HFCS was not processed the same as sugar and is actually more damaging. Like Monica says, sugar is the devil. No matter if it’s dressed up, split apart, given a fancy name or funded by the government, it does damage to our bodies in ways science is only beginning to understand. HFCS isn’t a wolf in sweet or sheep clothes. It’s just a wolf.
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soy ginger tuna served over riced cauliflower

soy ginger tuna served over riced cauliflower

soy ginger tuna served over riced cauliflower 2 handfuls of freshly chopped cilantro 1/2 chopped jalapeno (more if you like it spicy) 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger juice from 2 limes 2 T low sodium soy sauce 1 tiny pinch of sugar sea salt and freshly ground pepper 4 T olive oil 2 six ounce pieces of ahi tuna 1/2 ripe avocado sliced riced cauliflower (see recipe on website) combine the first 8 ingredients together in a mixing bowl adding 2 of your tablespoons of olive oil.  set aside. season the tuna steaks generously with salt and pepper on both sides. heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. make sure the olive oil is hot and sear the tuna on each side for about a minute to form a slight crust. pour half of the soy ginger sauce over the tuna in the skillet, then remove from the skillet and top with remaining sauce and top with sliced avocado.  Serve over a bed of riced cauliflower for a complete, low carb meal!
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eating more

eating more

Eating more When I think of my time with Monica, there’s a before and an after. Here’s what it looks like: Before – Mini vacation to Chicago includes me not eating anything until around 11:00, at which time I become famished and eat a keg of caramel corn. After – I’m considering buying stock in protein bars. I’m still not hungry, but they are the one thing I can actually eat in the morning without my body telling me to go to hell. Before – I thought a big salad was 90% lettuce topped with 10% cheese. If I had a tomato handy, bonus. After – Cheese is gone, lettuce is less, protein added, and nutritious veggies dominate. As I detail in my Sick of Salads post, I’ve had so many salads I now consider myself the Dali Lama of roughage. Before – Wait….what’s protein? After – Every time I eat I make sure I’m getting some protein (sorry Monica, I’m just not always as sure as you are exactly how much that’s supposed to be….yet). The biggest, most profound change, though, is the quantity of food I eat. Like so many of us, I was under eating – which, can I just say, is so counter intuitive I keep researching it to make sure it’s right. But it is. Somehow, by some crazy genetic  evolutionary mishap, not eating enough can make you weigh more. Gwyneth Paltrow must have some hand in this. I had a hint of this when my daughter was born 12 years ago. During a brief stint with Weight Watchers I began paying attention to what I ate. Within a few days I realized it was impossible for me to both eat enough points and eat the right kind of food. It felt like juggling with water balloons. Let me say, to clear the slate, that this girl can hit a calorie goal. Being the over-achieving, please-others Catholic girl I am, if someone in authority tells me to eat 1200 calories, I’ll make sure I hit that number on the head and ask for the gold star afterwards. My problem isn’t that I don’t like food or to eat. My issue is I’m just not hungry, or recognizing I’m hungry, enough.  So by the time I do get hungry, or understand I am, I’m not simply interested in food but ravished and in NEED of food, any food, the quicker and cheesier the better. This was my eating MO. Eventually these peaks and valleys cost me – weight gain, stomach pain, aches, crankiness. And so by the time I went to the doctor(s) last summer to figure out what was going on, I already had a love-hate relationship with food and eating. After being made to feel helpless, I pulled way back and began eating even less. By the time I came to Monica, I was probably only hitting 1000 calories a day. Monica’s guidance set me free in a way that seems to make little sense on paper but makes huge differences in reality. Before, I ate when I felt it, which was way after I needed it. Now, I eat with intention. I put food in my body because the purpose of that is to nourish and replenish – so even if I’m not quiet ‘feeling’ hungry, I know I have to fuel up. Other tips from Monica that save me: *Always keep something handy – Apples, power bars, nuts, and water come with me everywhere, just like my driver’s license and Target debit card. *Eat food that counts – Not as in counting calories, but as in will give my body what it needs. I need energy in small packages, so for me, that means planning out my day in a way that accounts for exercise, stress, or other needs. *I’m not a nun – although I briefly considered it in second grade. I know Diet Pepsi isn’t the greatest for me, but if drinking one every now and then rewards me in some way, then okay. I definitely have foods to avoid – like sugar and dairy – but other staple no-no’s are really controllable go-aheads. *It’s an (expletive) process – I’m not going to feel better in one week, or all at once, or all the time. I’m not going to up my miles or reps and wake up the next morning ripped. The measure isn’t how fast it comes, but how much better I feel, day by day. Like everything worthwhile, eating as much food as I need has a learning curve. I still struggle to balance my day so I’m not looking at chugging 500 calories at 9 pm. But my eye is on it, and slowly I’m finding that the more I eat, the healthier I become. And the crazy part, that I’m actually getting fitter and not fatter, doesn’t have to make sense to me. I can hold it in the same place I hold quantum physics and teenage girls – I see what’s happening, but can’t begin to describe why. Luckily, other people, like Monica and Neil deGrasse Tyson, can.
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when backsliding is a good thing

when backsliding is a good thing

When backsliding is a good thing by Sharon Linde Last month, I met with Monica for the first time to talk about my food and exercise needs. I’m already relatively active, and my primary concern was maintaining my health as I age. I’m staring down the genetic barrel of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and joint issues. I want to make sure I’m taking care of what I need to now, so I don’t wake up in 20 years too unhealthy to go to the park with my grandkids. I’d visited doctors last summer to determine this exact thing and left disappointed and dejected. One wanted me to keep two months of detailed food diaries (are there people out there capable of this?); the other dismissed my worries as something ‘all women my age’ fretted about. I answered all of Monica’s questions about what I ate and when, how I felt afterwards (almost always NOT GOOD), and spelled out my concerns. She asked me if I trusted her, and I did. Then she flipped my life. Right off the bat, she zeroed in on two culprits – sugar and dairy – and ripped them right out of my world. I’d been off sugar years before, and knew the massive problems it caused in me. (More about that in The Sugar Series). I also knew the huge benefits of not consuming the stuff, so although it’s a super bummer to not eat it, I knew I could. But ice-cream? And cheese? Does the plan come with therapy? I saw results immediately. Stomach aches, which I had daily, were gone within a week; lethargy, irritability and joint pain, two. As my physical symptoms decreased, though, I noticed something else immerging – being hyper vigilant about what I ate began bleeding over into other parts of my life. Being intentional with food, taking the specific time and energy necessary to control my health, started to become how I approached other things too. It caused me to slow down, in a way, to measure not just my food intake but my inertia towards living.I sailed through the first month, feeling better every day. And then, last week struck. It was one of ‘those weeks’; the car blew, I had big deadlines, my mom became seriously ill, and the holiday loomed. All that intention went right out the window as I was forced to eat on the run, if at all. Because one thing Monica taught me was that I tended to not eat enough calories, and therefore harm my body, I sought calorie dense, quick foods. In short, by Saturday it seemed like a great idea to have nachos from Qdoba. The whole week was an otherworld experience. It seemed so completely out of my control, when in reality, it wasn’t. I was simply unprepared to not have the quantity of time and energy I needed to eat well. The fallout was my newfound intentional lifestyle was replaced by a chaotic one, topped off with several days of severe stomach pain, followed by a few days of general discomfort. Oy. Being bad did not, in any way, feel good. I saw Monica at yoga Monday morning and relayed my week, expecting a firm talking to or at least a head whack. Instead, she asked me if I’d learned – how to do better, how to prepare better, and how much I truly wanted to feel better. Sometimes, she said, you just need to backslide to gain perspective. It was only from that spot, way down in belly-ache, cranky hell, that I fully experienced and recognized, again, how much being healthy meant to me. I’d love to say I’ll never slip up again. I don’t plan to; in fact, I’ve made an emergency plan for the next hell week or vacation or whatever else throws me off. But I probably will, because I’m just a human, and humans are mistake monsters. Like all the other tools Monica gave me, I’ll keep this one belted for when that happens. And hopefully, I’ll be able to kick myself out of it a bit quicker, or at least before I pass Qdoba.    
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support systems

support systems

   you’ve all heard the depressing statistics: 95% of dieters fail within a year and 70% of people who go to the gym quit within the first three months. ugh. sorta makes you want a cookie, right? not so fast. diet and nutrition experts know another little fact: people who diet with a friend, spouse, group or any other type of network lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who go it alone. turns out having a support and accountability system is just as, and sometimes even more important, than the exercise and food plan you choose. here’s why a fitness system works. THE ACCOUNTABILITY FACTOR we all break promises to ourselves from time to time, and have learned to be forgiving. it’s much harder to break a promise to someone else. when you set fitness goals with others, you’re more likely to keep them – you know they’re counting on you, and you don’t want to let them down. factor in a group of people, and the accountability increases. joining groups online, with friends at the gym, or with co-workers ups it because you know you’ll have to come clean to them, and that’s uncomfortable if all you have to report is watching the entire series of Orange is the New Black and a pizza. GETTING OVER THE HUMPS we all have days (or weeks) when our motivation lags. being part of a support group means built-in cheer leaders. they’ll pick you up, brush you off and put you back on the right track in a short amount of time, which leads to quicker recovery from your slide. it feels great to reach out to a friend and know she’ll grab the donut out of your hand and push you on the running path, all with a sense of humor (and maybe a little cussing). THERAPY having a buddy makes working out fun. time goes by more quickly when you talk, laugh, gossip and commiserate. like all uncomfortable events, taking your mind off things helps to motor through. plus, it’s a great time to catch-up with other busy friends. regular workouts with friends are a great way to feel like part of a team with common goals and life choices. so don’t go it alone, for the reasons mentioned above and many others. pay just as much attention to your support system as you do to your food and exercise program. at the end of the day, you’ll need them all.       
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klean cauliflower wraps

klean cauliflower wraps

1 head organic cauliflower 1/4 cup psyllium husk (whole flakes) or ground gg's 2 eggs 1/2 cup nutritional yeast 1/4 cup water salt, pepper and any herbs you like 1.  preheat oven to 375 2. line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. 3. pulse cauliflower in food processor until you achieve a rice like texture. 4. place riced cauliflower in microwave safe bowl, add water and cook for 8-10 minutes, until soft. 5. let it cool, then place in a dishtowel and squeeze as much water out as you can. be aggressive with this or you will have soggy wraps. 6. transfer back to bowl, add whisked eggs and all other ingredients. 7. take a small handful of mixture, place on parchment and form into a circle. make sure it's thin, but not so thin that you can see through the dough. 8. bake for about 15-20 minutes or until they start to brown. store in ziplock. you can reheat in a lightly sprayed skillet for a crispier version!
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coconut breakfast porridge - low carb

coconut breakfast porridge - low carb "oatmeal"

Coconut Breakfast Porridge [low carb “oatmeal”]Prep Time: 2 mins | Cook Time: 10 mins | Servings: 1 Ingredients: ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut1 scoop protein1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk2 teaspoons coconut flour or ground flaxseeddash of sea salt and vanilla extract Directions: 1. place coconut in the pot over medium high heat 2. cook until coconut is slightly toasted, but watch carefully as it burns easily 3. add protein powder to the almond milk and shake. add to pot. 4. continuing to stir, add coconut flour or ground flaxseed, and stir until mixture begins to thicken (about 5-8 minutes)
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