Archive | Food RSS feed for this section

The Diet from Hell

19 Jun

If hell has a diet plan, it surely does not involve delicious things.

I met with a nutritionist at my doctor’s office a few months ago and I’ve been waiting to share the results until I was more comfortable and experienced with the change.

You’ll remember that I am already gluten free due to my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (the autoimmune disorder that causes my body to attack my thyroid when I eat gluten, which is very similar to what the thyroid produces).

When I started this journey I weighed about 175 pounds. And I’m 5’4″. I’m not ashamed to admit where I’ve been because I hope that by writing my experiences, you all will see that this way of living is possible for anyone.

But after having a more limited diet being GF, I really didn’t want to hear about more restrictions. Being GF, I had lost about 10-15 pounds, but I was plateauing.

The nutritionist was very knowledgeable about my Health Diagnostic’s Lab results and walked me through why my particular problems (including many cholesterol issues) would benefit from a change. And considering the mortality rate in this country from heart disease, I’d say it’s a good bet for most people!

But this is not a diet in the sense that this is temporary or a fad. This is a way of living.

Here are my goals:
– Limit starch to no more than 1x per week (this includes potatoes, rice, corn, pasta, bread and grains) Yes, corn is a grain. The exceptions to this rule include oatmeal, beans, sweet potatoes, and wild and brown rice, which I can have once a day in small amounts.
– Eliminate sugar (baked goods, candy, soda, juice, flavored coffees, ice cream, granola bars, etc.)
– Eat 1-2 handfuls of veggies at lunch and dinner
– Eat up to 2x fruit daily
– Eat at least one serving daily of nuts, olives/olive oil, or avocado

The basic template I was given includes:
Breakfast: 2-3 eggs (add veggies if desired) + 1 pc fruit or 1/2 c. cooked oatmeal
Lunch: Meat + veggies or salad; optional: fruit and/or fat (nuts, etc)
Dinner: Meat + veggies or salad + beans/wild rice, etc.; optional: fat
Snacks: Fat: olives, avocado, nuts

The plan also includes intense exercise 3 days a week, specifically body weight resistance, and 1-2 days a week walking.

I had a mild 3-year-old fit about all of this, cried because I didn’t want more limits, and it’s taken about three months to make any progress. But then I pulled up my big girl pants (which are slowly becoming too big) and decided to be an adult about it.

Beyond the fact that I was sick of being considered in the obese category (which is just crazy to me), I want to live a long, healthy life that is active and enjoyable!

The nutrition advice I received is similar to the Paleo Diet in many ways. When I was growing up I wanted to be a paleontologist and I’ve always been obsessed with pre-historic time and where we came from. So the idea of a way of thinking about food that really connected to our hunter-gatherer roots as beings, touched something in my soul. It fascinated me. Because we were never meant to live the way we live. We were never meant to consume what we consume. It’s not really food.

The change in my mindset began to sink in slowly. This lifestyle, it’s not about all the limits, all the restrictions; it’s about what we CAN eat and what we were meant to eat. When you put on blinders to the over-processed, over-sugared, artificial world we live in, it opens your eyes to the true beauty in food and the true beauty in this world.

I slowly began to really taste food.

I slowly began to see food as fuel and not an emotional escape or form of satisfaction.

The hardest part in all of it is giving up sugar. I was (and still am) addicted to sugar. It is a process and a daily decision, or maybe a daily battle. But it is an addiction.

The truth is, in the scheme of things, cutting down sugar intake and adjusting intake of other real foods, is not a big deal. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not even hell (I jested in the beginning for dramatic effect, but it really does feel that way at first).

After three months I’m down to 151 pounds and I feel so good about myself. I’ve always been heavier, no matter what I did, so this is huge for me. Life-changing. Encouraging.

I’m sure you’re tired of reading by now, so I’ll share some more in detail about actual food details and struggles another day.

I’ve also got to tackle the whole exercise part. It was a huge change for me with food. And add to that the fact that my boss resigned shortly after all this and I’ve been literally drowning at work for months, and it’s been a crazy time around here. So the exercise is my next focus.

Oh and I start a new job in two weeks…!!

Until then, take a risk, challenge yourself, be brave, be encouraged. You can do this!

Advertisements

Health Matters: Door to Door Organics

26 Sep

Image

Part of any healthy lifestyle involves lots of fruits and vegetables. And since I am incapable of growing my own (due to relentlessly awful city squirrels), I’ve been thinking about joining a CSA to get local produce delivered to my door.

1. I barely have time to get milk at the grocery store, let alone spend 30 minutes in the produce section.

2. I’ve been wanting to go organic/local for fresh fruit and meat.

3. I’ve been spending a lot more time in the perimeter of the grocery store anyway.

4. It doesn’t cost that much more!

I choose Door to Door Organics after seeing their ads on Facebook and checking out their website. They offer boxes for two people all the way up to a large family. I chose the second tier, cause we eat a lot of fruit especially and I want to cook more.
I paid $41 (after a $10 first-timer coupon). You can make substitutions based on your preferences (up to 5) and they also have a store where you can shop for dairy, bread and tons of other stuff!

So please picture my giddy self checking the front porch every 30 minutes like a kid on Christmas yesterday when my first box was due to arrive. They deliver from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

My box arrived at 5:30. It was a LONG day! 🙂

I told my son it was a present and he helped me open it. He was so excited!

Image

Here’s what we got:

(1) Potatoes, Mixed 1LB (Local)
(2) Bananas
(2) Red Tomato
(1) Green Leaf Lettuce
(1) bag Carrots, Baby 1LB
(1) Celery
(1) Broccoli bunch
(1) Mango
(2) Pomegranate
(3) Jonagold Apples
(1) bag Grapes, Red Seedless 1LB

(2) Sweet Potato (Yam), small – $1.58
(1) 1lb Qaswa Ranch – Ground Beef – $5.99
(1) 8 oz Organic Prairie – Pork Hardwood Smoked Bacon – $6.99

Image

It’s really hard for me to stay motivated cooking after one or two days in the week (I know! But I work A LOT…), so the box’s arrival on a Wednesday is the perfect incentive to cook and eat out less on the weekends, too. I even roasted some of those delicious organic vegetables last night to go with our grass-fed beef burgers. Grass-fed beef is leaner and drier, but I was happy knowing that my cow lived a nice life.

Image

I can’t wait to see what’s in next week’s box!

Here’s to investing in health, friends!

Health Matters: Food Education

23 Sep

I’m the first to admit I have an unhealthy addiction to food. I’ve been an emotional eater as long as I can remember. I’ve always lived with a small semblance of self control, which is why I’m not 500 pounds, but the idea that food has this control over me and my well being is certainly troubling.

My quest to live more healthy and figure out what the heck is going on with my body most definitely includes a food makeover.

I happened across a neat app called Fooducate in a random magazine one day and I decided to check it out. It comes in free and paid versions and basically it allows you to scan almost any barcode at the supermarket and it will give you an A-D rating based on its overall healthiness. In the paid version you can customize ratings for GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), heart health, etc., which of course I did.

The app will always suggest healthier alternatives and you can track your health, too, with calorie goals, food and water intake, exercise and weight tracking. You can set goals, receive daily tips, browse a huge database of healthy food options and create shopping lists.

As someone who knows very little about GMOs and the huge list of products that contain these naughty things, it’s nice to have a personal dietician at my beckon call. It’s scary how much “food” out there is not really food at all. For more reasons to avoid GMOs, read this.

Like many people my age (31), I grew up on processed foods. When both of your parents work full time and their jobs are demanding, quick, easy meals are where it’s at. As a parent myself working 50 hours a week, I totally get it. I struggle to cook twice a week, if ever. But I want to change that. I want my son to know food for its 80% nutritive, fueling purpose and 20% for enjoyment. I don’t want him to battle the same demons I’ve battled my whole life, because food is such a hard thing to change.

Because my doctor suspects gluten is the culprit of my thyroid problems, my aim in the next year is to weed gluten out. We’ve been eating more fruits and vegetables for the past three years, but I want to focus on getting those all organically (more on that next time) now. I also want to purchase naturally fed, humanely treated, local meat and eggs. These are my first steps. And it makes me excited to cook again. In my mind, I think that it will be more simple to plan and cook meals without all the boxes and processed snacks and distractions around. I’ve always had a deep connection to history and anthropology and living simply as they did in centuries past is very appealing to me. My goal for the future would be to work toward a modified Paleo diet, which really isn’t a diet, but a lifestyle, and one that sounds actually really nice. But it’s not going to be easy. I like bread and cookies and cake and pie and pasta and lots and lots of processed things. But I’ve gotta try. I’ve only got one life.

I can’t say how much damage I’ve already done to my body with diet, but I can help my son develop a healthy relationship with food, and I hope becoming a part of the clean eating movement, I can help make the world a little better for the generations to follow.

Take steps friends, no matter how small.

Rainbow Cake and the Forgotten Sugar Cookies

2 Jul


It’s no secret that I like to bake. A lot. So when birthdays come around I get all giddy. I thought I’d share how to do the rainbow cake from Liam’s second birthday as well as some sweet cookies that I totally forgot and left in the freezer.

First mix up a box of white cake mix (gasp…not from scratch? Um…not this time folks, do you know how crazy I get with birthdays?) and put 1/2 cup of batter into six bowls.

Dye the batter in the bowls so they are vibrant and then scoop 1/4 cup of each color on top of one another. If you are doing two layers, do the opposite order in the second pan.

Then stack, frost and enjoy! I used a simple vanilla buttercream recipe and topped it with M&Ms. People are so surprised when you cut into this white cake!

Next, since the party was Yo Gabba Gabba themed, I wanted to make some cookies that looked like Brobee. See tattoo:
So I got the idea to buy two pre-made sugar cookie doughs and roll them up together to get the stripes. One package I dyed green, the other I left natural. Roll both doughs out onto floured wax paper and when they are roughly the same size, flip one onto the other and roll up. I added sprinkles to the outside for some fun.

Then freeze the dough because after working with it this much, it will be very soft. After it is frozen, cut it into 1/2″ slices and place on a cookie sheet, baking according to directions. And for the record, they spread like mad, so put them farther apart than I did! 🙂


They turned out cute and with good flavor, but kind of crunchy. It was definitely an experience…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

5 Apr

There are few better combos in the world than peanut butter and chocolate. (Please don’t lick your screen, that’s gross.) And since my love of baking compels me to make cupcakes for peoples’ birthdays, I decided to try these out for our friend Ross a couple weeks ago. He’s the lead singer/guitar player of my husband’s band Fullbloods, and he’s a wonderful person to know. We also call him Uncle Ross as we adopted him as Liam’s uncle whether he likes it or not. But we think he likes it.

I love making cupcakes because A. They’re really easy; and 2. They’re unbelievably impressive. Ever since I started making them for people they’ve gone nuts. These look so professional; they’re so delicious; I can’t believe you made these. Yadda…yadda…yadda. Which makes me giggle because out of all the things I love to bake, they’re surely the easiest. But I’ll take the compliments. 😉

For these cupcakes you can use any old chocolate cake recipe (or brownie cupcakes!) and top them with this super awesome fluffy peanut butter frosting recipe. Then add some contrast for decoration. I used chocolate covered peanuts and Hershey’s bars broken in half.

Then place the cupcakes in a box (I get mine at Hobby Lobby for less than $2) and tie a bow around it and everyone will think you’re the coolest person ever.

I made three kinds of cupcakes for my son’s birthday last year: Red velvet with vanilla cream cheese icing, topped with raspberries; a delicious lemon cream; and these fat free angel food. You can see my frosting skills have improved the fourth time around. 😉

I can’t believe his second birthday is coming up so quickly. I definitely need some new cupcake recipes to try out. Leave me a comment if you’ve got one you love!

One of my Favorite Thrift Stores

3 Apr

Shortly after we moved into our home I discovered a nearby thrift store called Through Our Children’s Lives. It’s a small shop tucked in among other stores, but you can’t miss the big moving truck they have out front with their name on it. As thrift stores go, it’s good. If you dig, you’re bound to find some treasures.

But that’s not what I love about this store.

I’ve been going to this store since Liam was a baby and the sweet woman who runs it has always been so loving to him. I don’t know why this surprises me though, considering the name of her business.

The store’s proceeds go toward helping victims of domestic abuse. It’s a wonderful cause.

But it gets better.

Whenever you bring your child in with you, they let you pick out a free book. I love this. I strongly believe in the importance of reading to a child.

They also have donated bread you can choose from every time you make a donation or purchase.

Last week I strolled in to browse as I sometimes do and I walked out with this loot for $2.72.

And here’s the breakdown:
The shorts were originally $2.99, but because they also have awesome sales, that day clothing under a certain price was automatically $2.
The dinosaur must have been about $.50.
The car was free because the sweet owner rummaged through a bin and picked it out for my very grateful son. Who does that? Loving people do that.
The books were free. Technically you’re supposed to get one, but I think she likes us. It is one book and one coloring book.
The bread was free! Although I recommend using or freezing this bread right away because it is donated, I usually never have a problem eating bread. I used the asiago cheese round to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with tomato soup and the Italian bread I cut to make meatball subs.

If you’re in the OP area, I definitely recommend stopping in to Through Our Children’s Lives. I have friends who have found great deals and you can’t beat the love you’ll receive. 😉

Heart Healthy Muffins

8 Mar

I’m straying a bit from the norm today, but in addition to treasure hunting, magazine creating and loving on my family, I also enjoy baking. A lot. I also enjoy eating these baked things. A lot. However, with a family history of heart disease and my own diagnosis of high cholesterol about 5 years ago, I’ve started taking food more seriously.

I love muffins. Any excuse to eat cake for breakfast, right? I was craving a bluberry muffin, which in itself is not terrible, but the giant canister of oats on my counter is a constant reminder for me to get more oats in my diet. I decided to try and craft a muffin with two very heart-friendly ingredients: oats and berries.

I found the basic muffin recipe in my BH&G cookbook from 2005…wow that’s old! It had an option for oatmeal muffins and blueberry muffins, so I thought, why not combine both? I also added half whole wheat flour and applesauce instead of oil (a common substitution around this house when baking).

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Heart Healthy Mixed Berry Oat Muffins
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. oats
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. 1% milk
1/4 c. applesauce
1 c. fresh or frozen berries

Streusel topping:
Combine 3 T. all-purpose flour, 3 T. brown sugar, and 1/4 t. ground cinnamon. Cut in 2 T. butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 2 T. chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups, set aside.
In medium bowl, combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In another bowl combine egg, milk and applesauce. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 min or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove and serve warm.

I think I may still need a little tweaking, but overall I was happy with my Frankenstein muffins. We’ve been on whole wheat for a long time now, so my tastebuds are used to, and really love, the nutty depth of whole wheat. The oats definitely make them oatmealy, but they are very filling because of that. And I might add, filled with good stuff. 😉 The berries add great sweet/tart flavor and the streusel topping adds just enough sweetness.

How about you? I’d love to get more heart-healthy recipes in my repertoire. Share yours below!