Feelin' Chalky

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chippin' Away!

This week has been the hardest week I've had in a long time - emotionally.  Not really sure what is triggering it.  Maybe detox from sugar and dairy, maybe just my body trying to recover from the rollercoaster it's been on for years - especially the big loops I've thrown it over the past several months.  I talked a little bit today at my meeting and throughout the week with friends and family about this warped mental junk that's been creeping up on me. I look in the mirror and I see no progress.  I see all the flaws.  I see so much more work to be done and it gets me down.  I'm not denying that I have lost weight.  I KNOW that I have and I KNOW that my clothes are baggy and that I have gone from a size 28 to a size 20...I know all of this.  Like I said, it's all in my head.

The suggestion at my meeting today was to take another "progress picture."  I have all of my before shots, now I need a 19 week shot - one that I can look at and say...yeah...there is a difference!  I don't know why, but they are right.  When you look in the mirror you see yourself as more (or sometimes as less) as you are weight-wise.  I think that we just get used to seeing ourselves day in and day out and don't always notice subtle changes.  I didn't notice fully how much my hubby had lost until I went back and looked at old pictures...wow!

I learned something else this week.  A little jewel of wisdom that I can pass on.  We have been talking about worrying at Church and how essentially worry = not trusting God (ouch!).  This is one verse that was referenced in last week's service:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?"  Matthew 6: 25-27

What I realized this week through this verse is that part of my struggle with weight is about trusting God.  I remember times where I would eat and eat and eat like there would be no food tomorrow.  It was like deep down I was worried that I wouldn't ever get a chance to have that Nacho Bell Grande ever again...ha...now I PRAY that I will never have it again (18 points by the way).  It sounds silly, but I really think that part of my success now is the thought that if I can't have something I love today, there is always tomorrow.  Chances are I may not even want it the next day, but just trusting God to provide me with another day of life and with all of the foods I need to nourish my body (and even some that are just downright fun to eat - like dark chocolate) is a very freeing thought...and I never feel deprived and caught up in that binge mentality anymore.

This week I lost another 1.4 pounds!  :)  Still chipping away at the numbers one day at a time.  That brings my total to 47 pounds lost - 13 to go by August!

Here is my week 19 "progress picture" as cheesy as it may be:

and a side view (ugh - anyone else hate their side view?):

Here are a few things I am doing back-flips for this week:

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups - My buddy Jaime made these for a get-together we had on Tuesday this week and they were beyond delish.  The recipe is in "The Kind Life."  I will cheat and let you in on it...but you STILL have to read the book b/c it is wonderful!

1 c. Earth Balance butter
3/4 c. crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (or 10 squares) 
1/4 c. maple sugar or other granulated sweetener (Jaim used maple syrup) 
1 c. non-dairy (grain-sweetened) chocolate or carob chips
1/4 c. soy, rice, or almond milk (Jaim used almond) 1/4 c. chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts (Jaim used pecans)

Line a 12-cup muffin tin w/ paper liners.  Set aside

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar/syrup and mix well.  Remove the mixture from the heat.  Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin tins.

Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.  Stir over medium heat until the chocolate had melted.  Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.  Top w/ chopped nuts.  Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving. (these are 7 points a piece, but SO worth every bite!) 

Grilled Veggies - Can you say HELLOOOO summer?  Big honkin' slices of grilled bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes...it just doesn't get much better than that!  Try marinading them in your fav dressings, or soy/BRAGGs/tamari, or just really good EVOO and S&P.  So yummy and you can eat a truckload for little to no points!

Groats - these are the whole oat (minus the husk - which you probably couldn't eat anyway unless you were a goat)...and they are FAB!  If you like brown rice you will for sure like this.  Great way to get more bang for your morning-oatmeal buck.  They are slightly chewy and fill you way up and leave you with a warm happiness in your tum-tum all day.  I experimented this week with them and here is my favorite version so far:

Bananas Foster Groats

1/3 c. Oat Groats (they also sell buckwheat groats)
1 1/3 c. water (for cooking)
2T vanilla soy, rice, or almond milk
3 t. Brown Rice Syrup
1 sliced banana
sprinkle of cinnamon

Cook your groats on the stove on medium heat for about 40 minutes.  Check on it to make sure the water doesn't completely evaporate...you can always add more liquid to it if you need it (the ratio is pretty much 1 part groats to 4 parts water).  Once it's done - it should be puffy and chewy - add your milk, b.r. syrup, banana slices, and cinnamon.  The brown rice syrup mixed with the vanilla flavor in the milk truly makes this dish taste like Bananas Foster (a rich dessert with butter and brown sugar, bananas, and rum...).  I mean, obviously it's not a match, but you get the undertone of caramel and the warm bananas melt in your mouth...am I making you hungry yet?  Oh...and it's only 5.5 points and very filling!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So You Think You Can...cook with tofu?

I know, let's just get it out of the way now...tofu...ewwww!  That's what I thought too, but then I started experimenting!  So far, so GOOD!  I thought I'd share one main dish with tofu and one sinfully good dessert recipe with, you guessed it, tofu!  And I will also throw in a side dish for fun...without tofu.

My method of cooking these days is what I like to refer to as the "mad scientist method."  I scour the fridge and pantry turn up the heat on a large skillet and just start throwing things in.  I have gotten to this point because I have basically thrown all of my old stand-by comfort-food favorites out the window and have had to get crazy in the kitchen.  It's kinda like Survivor only without the rats and bugs and with money and fresh produce and...OK, it's not like Survivor I guess.  Anyway, I wanted something filling and wholesome for lunch today, so here is what I came up with...

The Mad Scientist Scramble

Red, Yellow, and Orange Bell Peppers (about 1/2 c)
Diced Red Onion (about 1/2 c)
Baby Spinach (a handful or two)
Minced Garlic (1-2 teaspoons)
Crumbled Extra Firm Tofu (1/6 of a block)
Black Beans (1/4 c)
Rice (1/4 c)
BRAGG Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce or tamari) (I used about 4 T - just enough to coat everything)

Spray your pan with some olive oil and throw in the onions and peppers.  Saute until tender.  Add your spinach and wilt and then throw in the garlic (make sure as you throw these items in the pan you really get into the whole mad scientist persona...it's a lot more fun that way).  Don't let your garlic burn or it will be icky.  Throw in the BRAGG or soy and toss around with the veggies.  Crumble the tofu into small pieces with your fingers and add to the pan.  Toss around so that it absorbs the liquid and then remove from the stove.  I kind of cheated today b/c I had leftover rice and beans from Chipotle that I just threw into the mix, but you can easily throw in canned black beans and some brown rice and it would be just as good.  I did like the cilantro flavor from the rice...it meshed well with the other flavors.

This was so so yummy, and it was very hearty.  If you notice it also had more protein than a turkey sandwich (the tofu alone was 6-7 g of protein...).  Oh, and the whole shebang was only 6 points!

Now to the dessert.  Get ready to have your mind blown!

Oh My! Peanut Butter Pie!

16 ounces Soft Silken Tofu (make sure it is silken tofu and not firm or extra firm!)
1 c. Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar added - you are looking for the ingredients to say: peanuts - that's it)
3/4 c. Agave Nectar
2 T. Soy Milk (or almond or rice milk)
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 pre-made crust (I found Marie Callendar's and it was pretty good!)

Bake your pie crust according to the package directions and let cool completely.  Combine the tofu, peanut butter, agave, milk, and vanilla in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth (make sure you scrape the sides several times so that there are no chunks).  Refrain from grabbing a straw and eating the entire pitcher full of filling.  Pour filling into the cooled pie shell.  Let chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.  The recipe had a picture of the pie with chocolate dripped all over it and crushed up pretzels.  I didn't have time to assemble it all so I left all that off.  It would have been good with all the extras, but it was SO good without it.  Very rich.  Very decadent.  It was 7 points per serving (1/12 of the pie), but it was so worth every bite!!

And for the final recipe (and by far the easiest):

Haricots verts with Mushrooms and Garlic

1 pound French Green Beans aka Haricots verts (hv's are the the skinny ones)
1 pound Crimini Mushrooms (baby bellas)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 c BRAGG Liquid Aminos

This is so easy but insanely good.  Spray your skillet with a little olive oil and heat on med-high heat.  Add mushrooms and saute.  While the mushrooms saute, pop your bag o' beans into the micro and cook according to package directions.  I buy the double bag at Sam's Club and the package says to cut the corner to vent and cook for 4 minutes.  Combine garlic and BRAGGs and add to the mushrooms just until warm and then pour over the green beans.  See?  Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.  My kids love them, my hubby loves the, and you will love them too!

Now go grab some tofu!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A "Kind" Kind of Book

So I am reading a new book right now that I am loving very, very much!  It is called, "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone (yes, the one from "Clueless").  She is, in fact, very clued-in (haha) when it comes to her body and her environment and food.  I am so captivated by the way she writes.  I can almost feel her positive and heartfelt energy as I read the book.  I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out.  Sometimes you can read a book and it feels like cold, hard facts and information.  Sometimes you get a fiery, amped-up, angry energy like in "Skinny Bitch."  Sometimes we need that kind of energy to get us moving!  But this book really feels like a warm hug.  :)

She really dives into how what we eat affects others around us and the Earth and also, of course, our own bodies.  It is a new and refreshing perspective on things that are sometimes hard to swallow (no pun intended).  If you want to check out her blog/website for more info, you can click here:

OR you can check out the book here:

If you have read the SB book I always talk about and are looking for more of a daily implementation of what they talk about in your life, you can check out:

They have a daily (M-F) newsletter that is packed full of great info, recipes, and products.  I look forward to reading it each day.  I have found some other really cool websites linked from there as well.  Check it out!

This week I lost 1.8 pounds!  I am down 45.6 pounds - just 14.4 pounds to go for the race in August!  I know I will get there, it is just hard b/c I want to be there now!  By the way, if you are frustrated with your weight loss and such, please take time to read this article (below).  I think that we all kinda get a skewed view of reality due in part to shows like The Biggest Loser (even though they are great motivators as well).  Just remember it is a PROCESS...I am now telling myself that over and over again!  ;)

Due to the fact that my kids now refuse to nap, I am cutting it short today (Lord help me).  Here are some things that I think are pretty groovy this week:

Kombucha - say what?  It is a handmade Chinese tea that is cultured for 30 days.  It's got all kinda great benefits and for people wanting to kick the pop habit - there is no sugar and it is fizzy.  WARNING!  Do not shake it b/c it will explode...and...it kinda smells like vinegar.  I really love it, and now my sis loves it too...thank you, Jaime, the zen food master!  The brand they sell at Sunspot is Synergy...here is their site for more info!

Sleep - not sleeping is WAY overrated - can someone please tell my kids this????

Sanity - once again, being a crazy-nut-bag is WAY overrated and frankly, I'm over it...

Sorry for the sarcasm...really I just ran out of new things to talk about!  ;)

P.S. Make sure you sign up for the Haynes Apperson 3 mile walk or 4 mile run.  I'd love to have some company!  You can register online here: Register or check out the details here: Details

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Would Walk 500 Miles (or a 5K)

So...this week has been quite an adventure!  Last Sunday marked a pretty big accomplishment in my life - one I never dreamed I would be even remotely excited about...I walked my first 5K (with great friends and family in tow)!!  The fact that I am saying "first" means that I plan to repeat this feat again...soon.  I believe the Haynes Apperson festival has a 5K, and I am hoping to walk in it with my hubby!  

We really couldn't have asked for better weather.  It was just the right temperature - not too hot, not too cold, and even though it looked like it could let loose at any minute, the rain held off until the very end.  ;)  I am so proud of all of the WW members who were there for the event - there was quite a crowd.  Here is a pic (photo taken by Renee Westbrook).

I have to say that participating in this event taught me a lot about myself.  I have been really thinking about my personal patterns.  Here is a hodge-podge of what I have learned: I rarely step out to do anything without being 100% sure that I can do it.  I am so fearful of failure that it hinders me from doing anything outside my comfort zone.  I like to watch people do something before I try to do it.  I like to be prepared 100% for what I do and if I'm not - I am a nervous wreck.  Once I do something, step out in faith, I am empowered to do it again.  Maybe I shouldn't give away all of my secrets!

The 5K went against almost all of these thoughts.  I wasn't prepared, I haven't ever watched anyone do it before, and I wasn't sure if I would succeed or fail.  I was so proud to complete that last lap that I probably could have cried.  The bar has been set.  I am now aware that I am stronger than I thought I was!  The funny thing was that I was tired, but I was OK.  I didn't pass out from exhaustion and I didn't keel over.  Imagine that!

Here's the deal - I realized this week (thanks in part to a kick in the pants from my loving husband) that I don't always have to be the best, fastest, or smartest to be successful.  I can be successful all on my own in my own time.  Success is pushing yourself to that next level - the place you aren't sure you can go.  With that in mind, I even decided to start mixing in some running with my walking.  This is so beyond what I ever thought I'd be doing that it makes me laugh every time I think about it!  I used to say, "I'm not running unless someone is chasing me with a knife, and even then it's still questionable!"  I also used to say that I only wanted 2 kids.  Funny how things change (for the better!).

This week I lost 2 pounds!  (By the way my buddy is a rockstar and lost 4 - let's all give her a round of applause!)  That brings my total to 43.8 pounds lost and sent packing!  

Here are some things I am really geeked out about this week:

CLIF Mojo Mountain Mix bars - This is the perfect on-the-go snack for me right now.  I have one in my purse at all times so that I am armed and ready.  It has so many yummy and good-for-you things in it, it will make yer head spin! (yes, I meant to spell it "yer")  Here's what's inside: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, peanuts, almonds, raisins, soy beans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, little pieces of pretzel, peanut butter, unsweetened chocolate pieces (this stuff is all organic by the way) - it is SO good and good for you - Love it!

Ezekiel 4:9 Bread - very yummy, super-healthy - found in the freezer section in most grocery stores in town.  I love the fact that it is based on scripture: "Take also unto thee wheat and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it..." Ez. 4:9  It is a flourless bread (is that possible? yes.) and it is organic.  The whole basis of the bread is what is called "sprouted grains."  What???  and Why???  Well, sprouting grains unlocks their potential and nutrients, so you are getting a super-charged "live" food.  For more info check out www.foodforlife.com or talk to my buddy, Jaime, who is reading all kinds of info and learning hands-on about eating "raw" and "live" foods.  She has a blog too that you can check out at: www.healthyjaime4life.wordpress.com

Peaches and Cherries - I mean, who doesn't love a fresh peach or cherry?  OK...get your mind outta the gutter!  I totally did not mean it that way.  Seriously, though, both are starting to come into season and they are marvelous!  Look for them at a grocery store, farmer's market, or organic co-op near you!

Alrighty...better get back to the kiddos...have a happy, healthy week!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's For Lunch? The June 10, 2010 Edition

I thought it would be fun to start a series entitled, "What's For Lunch?" where I would from time to time pop in and give you a menu of what I had that day.  Of course I am starting on a good day, but there will be not so great days too!  That's where the fun comes in...and keeps me accountable.  :)  Eventually, I'd like to have a video to go with each post, but today I polished off my lunch before that could happen.

Actually, my lunch lately almost always includes a salad and some form of fruit, but it can vary, so here's what's for lunch today!

A Big Honkin' Salad:
1 c. Romaine mix (it has carrots and red cabbage in it as well)
1/2 c. Baby Spinach
1/2 c. Baby Bok Choy
cherry tomatoes (about 6-8)
orange peppers, sliced
Basic Vinaigrette (1 1/2 t. good Olive Oil, 2 t. Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 clove garlic, sea salt and pepper)

1 cup Trader Joe's Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1/2 c. Blueberries
 about 4 large Strawberries
about 10 Cherries (fresh not canned!)

This meal was 6 points total and was brought to you by my refrigerator!

Seriously, though, it was super-yum and I am stuffed!  Guess I will be taking a breather before hopping back on that treadmill!

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Skinny (or fat) on Dairy

OK.  I am prepared for the back-lash that this might cause.  So, here we go!

I have been asked a lot lately why my family is no longer drinking dairy.  Both of my sons have milk issues...not formally diagnosed but very obvious to me and my husband.  They both have severe stomach cramping anytime milk is consumed and that most likely leads to a extended episode of screaming which would deafen the ears of anyone in a 5 mile radius.  That was a no-brainer to explain to friends and family. So why everyone else?

First of all, let me start this post by saying that this is what my husband and I have decided is "right" for OUR family.  We feel like we have done the research and made an educated decision.  Most people would agree that 99% of parents don't withhold something from their children that they believe is necessary for their growth, development, and well-being.  On the other side of the coin - most parents are not going to willingly feed their child something that they believe can do them harm.  Obviously, there are exceptions - unfortunately.  :(

So, why are we trying to eliminate dairy from our family's diet?  Aren't their bones going to crumble?  Don't they NEED dairy products (mainly milk)  to survive?  What about calcium and Vitamin D?  You decide.  You have to do what you believe is best for your family - no matter what anyone else says or does, including me, but I hope that what I say in this post will pique your curiosity and that maybe you will do your own searching for the truth.

First of all, dairy is BIG BUSINESS...anyone disagree?  I have to say, I love my dairy products, so my natural inclination when I found out some of the naked truth was to first be disgusted and second get defensive.  Nobody's taking my cheese away!  ;)  Most of what I am about to say comes from my fav book these days (Skinny Bitch).  There are many other books, articles, scientific studies, and websites out there saying the same thing, but this book really gets right down to the nitty gritty and doesn't add any extra fluff to the facts.  Plus, it's just downright funny.  Let's just think of it this way:

A mommy has a baby (let's say it's a baby boy)...awww...the baby cries...mommy produces milk to feed her baby.

The mom feeds her 8 pound baby boy breast milk so that by his first birthday he has in most cases tripled his birth weight to 24 pounds.  At that point, typically, mom starts feeding her baby boy fruits and vegetables, grains, and some meats and weans him from her milk.  Would we be accepting of a mother who was still breast-feeding her 20-year old?  And think of it this way...if she did...I wonder how much that 20 year old would weigh?  (think about it for a sec)

Cows produce milk when their baby is born, just like we do.  They don't have an endless milk supply their whole life, they don't NEED to be milked to survive.  They produce just enough to take their 90 pound calf to a 2,000 pound calf in two years and then their milk dries up and they go about their lives. Cow's milk has more fat than human breast milk simply because it is a much bigger animal and it has a four-chambered stomach!  In order for humans to digest lactose (the sugar in milk), we need the enzyme lactase.  The trouble is that we lose 90-95% of this enzyme between the ages of 18 months and 4 years.  So what happens to the milk in our bodies after 4 years?  Well,  it sits...in our intestines...and causes the growth of bacteria - and not the good kind (can we say gas and bloating? IBS, anyone?).  The acidic nature of dairy products also makes our body acidic which if you know anything about cancer, well, your body starts to look like prime real estate for cancer cells to move in.  To top that off, your body starts to try and fight this invasion on your system and will develop more colds and allergies in attempt to get rid of it...mucus...mmmm.

But what about osteoporosis?  Well, a study of over 72,000 women over the course of 12 years, done by Harvard showed that milk had no protective effect on bones.  Another study done by Yale used 34 surveys from 16 countries and found the same thing.  The irony?  Americans are among the top consumers of  dairy products in the world.  American women over fifty have among the highest rate of hip fractures in the world.  The only countries who had higher incidence?  Those who consumed more milk!  OK, so either people who drink milk are just by nature more clumsy, or there is something getting slightly skewed when it comes to the slogan that milk, "does a body good."

Here's the deal with all of that mumbo jumbo.  Milk is not the only source of calcium on the planet, in fact, in comparison to the other sources we have within our grasp, it is a pretty poor source because we can't absorb it as easily - the absorption of the calcium in milk is a measly 2%.  Here are some examples of foods that have calcium and are also highly absorbable (is that even a word?) in our bodies: Brussels sprouts (the highest touting an absorption of 63.8% - dang - I knew they were good for me), broccoli (52.6 % - whew - I love my broccoli), kale (50%), mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, bok choy, cabbage, okra, watercress, legumes (peas, beans, etc.), chickpeas, red beans, soybeans, almonds, sesame seeds, and sea vegetables (like seaweed).  It is also found in calcium fortified juices, cereals, soymilk, rice milk, and some tofu.  Sounds like a pretty good list to me!  Oh, and that vitamin D thing?  Well, that's easy.  You just need 5-25 minutes (depending on your skin tone) of sun a day, 2-7 days a week.  Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun...in moderation of course...skin cancer is not cool.  You can also find it in vitamin D-fortified cereals, rice and soymilks.  If absolutely necessary, you can also take a vitamin D supplement.  Watch out though b/c too much vitamin D can be toxic.

Now to my favorite part...

Let's make this simple.  Cows only make milk for a two-year span while their babies are growing.  Farmers need to keep the milk production high and continuous...cows are injected with growth hormones, mainly BGH, to increase their milk supply,  SURPRISE!  That hormone is brought to you by our ol' pals, Monsanto.  Oh Monsanto...how you just woo us with your charms.  (confused?  watch Food Inc or check out my post "From Foodie to Food Inc.")  Don't let anyone trick you for one second and tell you that the pesticides cows ingest from tainted grains (not grass) and the hormones pumped into them are not getting through to milk.  If you have ever had a baby or known someone who breastfed - everything you eat, drink, ingest goes into your milk.

Also, because the cows are raised in ways that are less than ideal, they get sick which means they need medicines.  So...they are also pumped full of antibiotics to help keep them "healthy."  (which translates to keeping them working until they keel over and get ground up into hamburger)  Now, yes, there is organic milk, which is definitely "better" than regular milk because there are less hormones and antibiotics and pesticides found in the milk...but there is still pus and poo.  WHAT!!??

OK, here's the deal.  The cows are hooked up to metal milking machines and think about it...the are lined  up very close to each other.  The metal causes abrasions on their sensitive utters and those abrasions get infected...pus.  The farmer most likely is not stopping production and using a sterile method to clean the wounds and prevent the pus from getting into the milk or giving the cows a rest period to heal...in fact, he probably isn't even aware that it's happening half the time.  Pus gets in the milk.  Even though it's pasteurized, there are still dead white blood cells from pus floating in the milk we drink...organic or non-organic.  OK, I just made myself sick.  As for the poo...I'll try to make this short and sweet.  There is a thing called Johne's Disease.  It is very similar to what we call Crohn's disease in humans.  Both cause uncontrollable, chronic diarrhea.  Remember how I said the cows are lined up closely?  Poo gets splashed onto the udders, and well, you get the point.  Farmer John isn't on poo alert ready and armed with a soapy bath...

Here's the deal.  If what you read bothered you...do something about it.  There are local farms that sell milk that is hormone, pesticide, and antibiotic free that is still much better than the organic milk you can buy in the stores.  They don't have big milking mechanisms and the living conditions are more than likely night and day different.  You can look up farms in your area on www.eatwild.com.  You can do a search by state and then zoom-in on the map to find the closest one to you.  Most of the farms also have grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and a number of other things that are better for you than what you can buy in the store.  (thank you, Lindsay, for the link!)

There are many dairy-free options out there - more than ever now b/c people are demanding them.  There is soymilk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, and several others.  I have tried all but the hemp milk and they are great - really!  It is a little more expensive, but think of it this way...you can pay more now at the grocery store or more later at the doctor's office (or, God forbid, the hospital).  Also, you can find good deals if you are willing to search.  We get 3 half gallons of SILK at Sam's Club for 6 something - not too shabby!

There is so much more about this whole topic that I didn't have the time or space to include it all.  There is a study that was done called The China Study that covers things in even more depth.  You can either check out the website here www.thechinastudy.com or the book here The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.

Got Milk?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Secret Agent

A lot of people tell me that they just don't like veggies and so therefore cannot eat healthy - plain and simple - end of story.  I beg to differ.  ;)  When my girls were babies I read every article I could find about child-rearing, sleep scheduling, and feeding babies.  One thing really stuck out in my mind and that was this - it can take babies up to 10 times trying a new food for them to accept it and like it.  I think that we as adults are much the same.  We are a little more discreet about our likes and dislikes.  I haven't seen very many adults spit out peas at a dinner party, but we kinda go with the attitude that if we've tried it once and didn't like it, well then, we'll never like it.  That's normally not the case.

Most of the time our tastes change as we get older and our palette becomes more sophisticated.  My mom swore for the longest time that she hated anything with too much garlic...now...I can tell she's at my house even before I open the door...not really...love you mom (but she does have quite the love affair with garlic and onions these days).  I thought I hated cantaloupe.  For years and years I avoided it like the plague - until recently.  I tried it for the first time again with my kids and you know what?  I love it.

The other thing is that there are SO many ways to prepare every fruit and veggie it would make your head spin.  Maybe you don't like broccoli steamed  - so try it sauteed or even roasted in the oven.  Add an asian dressing to it or eat it raw.  You would be amazed how different something can taste just by the way it is prepared.  My hubby - HATES fresh tomatoes (he's crazy, I know).  BUT he LOVES (and when I say loves I mean that he would marry it if he could) salsa and marinara sauce.

If all else fails, you could just take on a new persona and become a Secret Agent.  I have a book that is all about this kind of stuff called, "The Sneaky Chef."  I bought it to help incorporate more veggies into my family's diet.  I have had it for a couple of years now, but got it out the other day for a refresher course.  It's great for moms who have picky eaters (kids and husbands alike).  It centers around the concept of pureeing certain nutrient packed veggies and fruits and slipping them into comfort food favorites like mac n' cheese, pizza, and spaghetti.  It really is a fabulous cookbook.  You should check it out!

I was in the mood to make pizza yesterday, but I really wanted to amp it up, so I looked in the book for ideas.  Here is what I came up with after some inspiration (don't get nervous when you see the ingredients - this makes a TON of tomato sauce):

Undercover Cheese Pizza

6-veggie sauce:
2 cans Hunt's 100% Natural Tomato Sauce
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
2 medium zucchini
2 cups of Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell peppers (or all 3!)
1 medium onion
1 jar stage 2 carrot baby food (I like Beech-Nut)
1 jar stage 2 sweet potato baby food
2 T minced garlic (or more if you are my mom)
Italian Seasoning (to taste - I'd say I used 2-3 T)
Basil (to taste - I added about 1-2 T)
Oregano (to taste - I used about 1 T)

The rest:

1 Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (I used pizza dough from Trader Joe's)
2 c. Italian Blend Cheese (this is important b/c the "blend" has parmesan and asiago cheeses)

Ok, whew, don't panic - it's so easy!  Start by roughly chopping your veggies (size shape don't matter in this case b/c it is just going to get pureed later anyway).  Add about a tablespoon of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add your zucchini, peppers, onion, and garlic to the pan and saute until tender.  Keep it moving so the garlic doesn't burn.  Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, baby food, and seasonings and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer (in small batches) to a food processor or blender and puree it until smooth...VOILA!  No one will ever know!  ;)

Heat your oven to 350 and get your pizza dough ready (If you are using a pre-made crust - follow the package directions).  Make sure you put a little EVOO on the pan so that it doesn't stick.  Add your sauce liberally (probably 1/2 cup or so) and spread out.  Add your cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes until bubbly and brown...mmm...I'm having flashbacks!

Seriously - my family will not eat peppers, onions, or zucchini when I make it normally, but they LOVED this pizza.  My hubby says it's my best yet.  He was pleasantly surprised when I told him there were 6 veggies in it.  Don't you dare say, "ew!"  If my family will eat it and love it so will you and your family.  We are quite the pizza connoisseurs here.  You see tomato is a strong flavor and it masks the flavors of the rest of the veggies pretty well.  You can taste some of the bell pepper, but it is not over-powering by any means.  By the way - I used baby food: a. because I have it around 24/7, and b. because I didn't have time to make my own carrot/sweet potato puree.  If you have the veggies around, by all means make your own!  :)  Oh, and you can add whatever toppings you little heart desires - get creative!!

One more big plug this week to a new find.  I am in love with it - maybe slightly obsessed.  It is called Eat Cleaner.  It is an all-natural fruit and veggie wash/cleaner.  I have been looking for something like this and after some research finally found it online.  I have ads for it beside and also below this post, but I will also include a link for you to check it out.  It is significantly more effective at removing pesticides, wax, and contaminants than just rinsing your f's and v's with plain tap water.  It also inhibits browning and helps keep your f's and v's fresher longer.  It comes in a spray form, a concentrate, and a convenient wipe.  I think it is essential if you are eating a lot of produce.  I think I am going to start doing demo videos just for fun for all kinds of things.  I will have to make one showing you what fruit looks like with and without the cleaner.  The website also shows some pics.  Here is the site:

Eat Cleaner All Natural Food Wash

If you decide to buy...make sure you do it through my site so that I get credit!  ;)

OK...the results.  This week I lost .6 pounds!  Yay!  That brings my 16-week total to 41.8 pounds!

By the way...when you are trying new fruits and veggies, don't underestimate the power of positive self-talk.  It sounds cheesy, but if you remind yourself with every bite (preferably not out loud) just how good that it is for your body and even go as far as saying you LOVE it (even if you don't) your brain will start associating positive thoughts with that fruit or vegetable.  I love brussel sprouts, I love brussel sprouts, I LOVE brussel sprouts...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From Foodie to Food, Inc.

So...we watched Food, Inc last night...finally.  (and now here is where I enter a BIG SIGH)  As if my brain wasn't already swimming with information.  I am really not sure how to feel about everything.  I am scared, empowered, sickened, but most of all angry.  I am so angry that I can't even wrap my head around it all.  I don't really understand how we got here.  I mean, where did morals and value for human and animal kind go?  When did we decide that money and greed and technology were miles more important than health and wellness.

If you haven't seen the movie, I really think it is essential that you do if for no other reason than to just know what you and your family are eating, where it comes from, and who is behind it all.  If after seeing the movie you decide that it's no big deal and continue to eat what you eat, fine, no big deal.  At least you know.

A lot of things in the movie I knew already, but to actually SEE it in action was scary.  I covered my eyes several times.  There were some things that I did not know, however, and I am thankful to now be able to use that knowledge and take action.  Two things I learned:

1. What does it mean when a product says "No GMOs"?  I thought it meant that the soybeans were grown naturally instead of hydroponically.  Nope.  In fact, I was way off.  Basically it means this:
a. A company named Monsanto genetically modified soybeans to be resistant to Round-up (weed killer)
b. They patented this new "soybean"
c. Most soybeans in America are GMO (genetically modified)
d. Monsanto prosecutes farmers and/or people who help farmers who try to reuse seed from the previous year
d. Hmmm...do YOU want to eat soybeans that have been sprayed repeatedly with Round-up?  Ones who have been genetically modified?  It makes me that much more willing to seek out products with the "No GMOs" labeling.

2. Ooohhh boy...my favorite part of the movie!  OK, quick question!  Can you bring me all of your ground beef and I will magically take the E. coli and other bacteria and contaminants out of it?  Problem solved!  I am a GENIUS!!!  Huh?  How did I do it?  Oh, you want to know??  Well, I just "washed" it...with Ammonia.  That's OK isn't it?  NO?!?  Oh, well, sorry because 70% of the beef you eat in fast food chains contains some of this "clean" beef.  The goal is 100% in the next several years.

I am at a loss here with this one.  Instead of doing something about the E. coli before it even gets into the beef by changing the way the cattle eat (grass not corn), the way they are raised (smaller farms where they aren't standing in each other's crap all day), and the way they are processed (more sanitary conditions, not using diseased meat, not using "downed" cattle, etc.), they want to just keep it the same and add even more chemicals and crap on top of it.  Problem solved...I mean another problem created.  UUUUGGGGHHHH!

Did I say you need to watch this film?

I'm not really sure how yet, but I know that God is leading me to all of this information for a reason.  It all started with a small (small in the whole scheme of life) task that He laid in front of me - get healthy and get your family healthy.  Then, it seemed to just snowball from there.  Now, I feel like I am standing in front of a pack of lions (LOL - this is reference to a series we did at our church that likened following God's will for your life to "chasing a lion."  check it out here).  I don't think these lions are going away...soooo...i guess I am going to need some friends to help me chase them...who's with me?

Where do we start?  Well, first of all, if you haven't already, don't take my word for it.  Read a book, watch a movie, research on Google, read labels, demand nutrition facts at restaurants and if you can't get em - don't eat there!  Then, tell people what you learn.  You can go to sites like: http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution/petition or http://www.takepart.com/foodinc for more info and to sign petitions to help make school lunches more healthy for our kids.  Here are some other tips from the movie:

1.  Drink fewer sodas and other sweetened beverages.  Fact: If you replace one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water) you could lose 25 pounds in a year.

2.  Eat at home instead of eating out.  Fact: Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food made outside the home.

3.  Support the passage of state and local laws to require chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards.  Fact: Half of the large chain restaurants do not provide any nutrition information to their customers.

4.  Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.  Fact: Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

5.  Meatless Mondays...Go without meat one day a week.  Fact: An estimated 70% of all antibiotics in the United States are given to farm animals.

6.  Buy organic or sustainable foods with little or no pesticide use.  Fact: According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

7.  Protect family farms, visit your local farmer's market.  Fact: Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

8.  Make a point to know where your food comes from - READ LABELS.  Fact: The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

9.  Tell congress that food safety is important to you.  Fact:  Each year, contaminated food causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths in the United States.

10.  Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.  Fact: Poverty among farmworkers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.