Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fools Meals


Most people look forward to Christmas. I look forward to April Fools. Last year we had cupcakes for dinner, made out of mashed potatoes and turkey meatloaf. After the initial disappointment that they weren't really cup cakes wore off the kids loved them. They loved the idea so much that they asked for it again and again the following nights. I'm not sure what I am going to do tomorrow, I think fak'in eggs from family fun magazine but we will see. Any ideas. This day they don't have to be clean just mildly healthy but mostly fun!


My cousin did a MUCH better job at the cupcakes than I did. A picture of hers is at the top. Thanks Marcie!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why I LOVE Livestrong.com


Livestrong.com has one of the best calorie counters out there under it's "myplate" section. Since individuals can add foods to the database it is probably the largest database of foods that I know of. I have waited for YEARS for something like this and no they are not paying me for all the advertising I am giving them :) I am just grateful they exist and for free!

I remember when the best way to count calories was to pull out an encyclopedia size book, that didn't have your specific item in it anyway, or go to a local University and use a system that cost money.

Livestrong has a system where you can easily see your calorie consumption and macro-nutrient intake with pie charts and graphs. It also calculates your calories burned through exercise so if you did running, scuba diving or zumba it also has a large database of those exercises and their calorie counts and it calculates it all for you. Also you can create meals and instead of logging in each item for your meal over and over you log it in once under meals and then use that meal (for example Tacos) every time after.

Some studies suggest that food journals can double your weight loss and I have even heard higher numbers than that.

If you are not good at counting calories...try it again. It isn't a perfect process, Even if you fail at it miserably you will see that your eating is better for just trying to keep a food journal. Realize that even when you only log in half your calories you are still making better choices at the very thought of logging them in.

Unless you are on a strict diet or in your active weight loss process you don't need to count calories every day. Just until you have a shocking awareness of how much is in everything and adjust meals accordingly. I would have people keep their food journals for at least a week straight without enforcing any adjustments on them. Not one client ended the week without significant changes in place already.

To be honest I can easily, EASILY consume 3000 calories in a day without any extra effort and that is a conservative estimate. Most Americans according to different sources consume between 2600-3700 calories a day. That is over double what most of us need and it makes sense why 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight.

So if you can't keep a food journal, try, try, try again. You don't fail until you stop trying. It is not a perfect process. It isn't about how well you keep track on paper or in a database it is about making changes in your heart and in your mind. Unite with a friend to keep a food journal. In the beginning make no goals at all except to keep a journal and you will see the start of great changes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Running- A Rant


I am a runner. Not just in my body but in my heart. Sounds cheesy I know but true.

I love it. I run because of the way it makes me feel inside. It clears my head and brings my soul closer to heaven. It resets my mood. It is my old friend that I cry to. When I am sad I run, it cheers me up. It solves my problems. There is nothing like the sound of my own feet on a paved road. It helps me think and rethink.

It is my preschool. As I run with my two youngest kids in the stroller we count, we laugh and play games, I tell stories, they listen, they learn not only by what I am saying but what I am doing.

It is my personal trainer and tells me when I am out of shape.

It is my addiction.

It is my TV time. I love to watch biggest loser as I am running on the treadmill. It is the only show I watch. I run 9 to 10 miles in one episode and I am disappointed when it is over.

It is my girl time. I love to run with friends. I love chatting about nothing and everything for a entire hour or more.

It is my competition. I love to race. I just completed my first half marathon since my last baby. 500 plus runners. I came in 3rd overall in women (3rd seems to be my number :). It was a fight, but a wonderful challenge. I struggled the last 7 miles trying to stay a head of another women, who actually took 2nd, we started as strangers and ended as good friends. Neither of us felt threatened, just glad the other was there to push us along and give a good fight.

It is my doctor. Migraines, headaches, fatigue and soreness. It seems to make me feel better. I am sure that I have added several years to my life by running. Whenever I am at a doctors office the nurse will look up from the blood pressure cuff and 9 times out of 10 say "You are a runner aren't you.".

I can't explain it to someone who sees running as something very uncomfortable. It is something that needs to be experienced. The initial discomfort wears off at some point and the pleasure takes its place. It is hard to pinpoint when that happens.

I have tried to put my heart into other sports but this is where I am meant to be. It is like I become hypnotized, I forget sometimes that I am running.

I want to be an old runner, that is the end goal. I admire the older women and men at the back of the starting line crowd. The seasoned runners, not going for time. Just to finish. I admire them more than any of the others.

Running is a long journey of joy I hope to do it as long as I can and share it with as many other people as I can.


***(My sweet friend is going to kill me for posting this picture of us a couple of years ago after a marathon. We became dear friends in that training. Love ya tons girl!)

4 minute bread


It has been over two months now and I have been making bread everyday. Before you think I am super mom (which I am definitely not) I think I should make it clear that I use a bread maker and it only takes me a total of 4 minutes. From start to clean up. I time myself.

At first it was a very bad idea. We started eating too much bread it just smelled so yummy coming out. Now we have learned a little more self control.

Although I would not call this a "clean bread" it is inexpensive and the calorie count is not too bad but the original recipe does contain a minimum amount of sugar and butter. My main objective is to use food storage right now and too eat as healthy as we can and as inexpensive as we can. We have a lot of wheat stored so I have been grinding that, which is an extremely easy process. There is nothing that compares to eating freshly baked whole wheat bread made out of freshly ground wheat.

I think the main purpose of this post is to pat myself on the back. I never thought I would make bread everyday. That just seemed like such a mythical thing to do. The biggest change that I have seen is the fact that now it costs me 15 cents to make a loaf of bread instead of $2.00. Also instead of running to the store to pick up a loaf of bread and getting a bunch of other items that I don't need I now make it in 4 minutes and put it on my fast setting and it is done in an hour.

Here is the bread maker recipe. I got it out of a Betty Crocker cook book Follow the instructions of your bread maker but mine says to put this in by this order.

1 cup 2 Tbs warm water
2 Tbs butter
1 cup white flour
2 cups wheat flour (I use white wheat it has a lighter appearance)
3 Tbs powder milk
2 Tbs sugar (or honey replacement)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

12 slices 90 calories a slice

On the longer, 3 hour cook setting this used to turn out like cotton it was so soft, on the fast setting it looks much more like a heavier homemade bread but the quick cooking time is worth it for me. My kids are used to it and prefer it and so do I.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal


My kids usually don't like oatmeal I have to work hard to get them to eat it.

This morning we tried Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal. They LOVED it! Yay!

1/2 cup cooked oats (we all know steel cut is the best nutritionally but I used regular)
1 TBs Pb2 powder peanut butter
1/4 diced banana
1/4 cup skim milk (optional)

Nutrition: Calories 227, Fat 4.61, Chol 1.25, Sodium 76, Carbs 39, Fiber 4.8, Protein 9.38, Sugars 8.63

While it was still warm I let them sprinkle their own PB2 powder and put in the 1/4 chopped bananas. My boys loved it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blood Glucose Levels Effect Decision Making


There are times where my resolve is firm. I am going to eat healthy no matter what. No obstacle can stand in my way. The decision is set. Then within the next few days there comes a time when I start to go hungry. I skip a meal on accident or my intake is delayed. My blood sugar is low and my mind begins to play tricks on me. I start to think of all the reasons that I need something unhealthy and quick. I go into rationalization mode. Once with such a firm resolve and now with a weak will.

The difference for me is blood sugar. It plays with my mind, and actually affects my thoughts and my decisions. I am sure of this.

There was a recent study that took two groups of people and offered them either a small sum of money immediately or a larger sum of money at a later date. The study found that those who chose the immediate, less reward had lower blood sugar levels. The scientists theorized that it may be because people who experience lower blood sugar levels are in a state of need and chose immediately available choices. Although the study focused on money rewards there was much cross over in the information and how it related to poor immediate food choices.

"Intended Eating" is the act of eating in such a way that we stay in control.

We plan, we prepare and we continue on a path that we have set. I am a believer in 5-6 small meals a day. It is funny that I will read about certain diets that frown on the idea of the six meals. They advocate three meals...but with two snacks...well whether you call it a meal or a snack it is the same. Although I use both terms I like the term "meal" better because in my mind it means there has to be certain components (protein pairing) this will control blood sugar levels longer and help us to make better decisions to stay on the plan.

How do we prevent this?
Regular frequent meals, eating every 2-3 hours, plan and prepare ahead, keep bad foods out of reach and have some healthy quick grab goodies on hand that we can eat instead.

Happy Healthy Eating!

- Susan

For my FREE clean eating meal plans please go here and enter your name and email.  You will be sent my printable pdf files with the shopping lists, bulk prep, meal plan and the recipes! 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fit on Food Storage


For the past three months I have been experimenting.

I wanted to see if it was possible to "eat clean" on food storage. Food storage has a bad reputation for being unhealthy. As part of my church we are encouraged to have a long term supply of food stored in our homes for emergencies and times of economic distress. When I started eating more healthy I swore off all whites (refined flour, white rice and sugar) and I turned my nose up at all my canned goods that I had in my pantry. These items before this had been a major part of my diet. When our family began to transition I pushed them aside and they started to collect dust. In the last few months, however, I have felt strongly that I need to try to find balance in using items that can be stored long term and my definition of healthy eating. I have not only discovered how healthy long term storage can be but how satisfying it is to create healthy, inexpensive meals.


Here are some things I have discovered while trying to eat healthy on food storage:

Fresh-
Fresh is best, frozen is next. Lets make sure that is clear. Luckily I am not in a situation yet where I have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables so they remain a staple in our diet. Although we use food storage daily to rotate it, we do not maintain an all-food-storage diet. We try to have either a fresh fruit or vegetable at every meal and I often have them ready to serve before I make dinner mostly because my kids start to swarm like sharks looking for a meal when I start to cook. I search the weekly ads for the best deals on fresh produce and buy accordingly

Legumes- I am discovering the wonderful world of legumes. I was unfamiliar with legumes, they scared me, they just seemed complicated with all the soaking and varied cooking times. But I have them in my storage. I have recently discovered that you can cook beans in the crock pot! It is so easy. And just 2 cups of dry beans can feed an army. They have to be one of the least expensive meals on the planet. They can be cooked with onions, herbs and other flavors to make a savory meal or set a side for taco salad or chili later on. Most legumes are not considered a complete protein (with the exception of soybeans). To be a complete protein they need the entire set of amino acids. Legumes need to be eaten in the same day with a seed type food or they can be sprouted to complete the amino acid chain. They can be pureed to make yummy dips for veggies. For you clean eaters hummus and black beans are already very valued clean eating foods.

Rice- We already know that brown rice is a champion food. Although high in calories (compared to other foods) it is very high in fiber. White rice is much higher in calories and has less nutritional value but stores much longer than brown rice making it more optimal for long term storage. Brown rice can store for 6 months at a time while white rice can be stored for up to 30 years if stored correctly. We have a small supply of brown rice but a large supply of white rice from before our clean eating days. For now my husband and I try to eat the brown rice or cauli-rice while our kids eat the white. I am still working with this one.

Wheat- Although they are not considered "clean" because of the sugar and oil my kids love our wheat blender pancakes they like them much more than white flour pancakes! Also I have been making bread everyday for the last 2 months, something I never imagined possible. I have timed my self it takes me 4 minutes from start to clean up. I cheat of course with a bread maker. I will have to post the recipe but it uses wheat that we have stored. I ground it in a neighbors wheat grinder. We have to watch the calories with the bread but it is a healthy whole wheat bread and I know exactly what goes in it. It doesn't last much longer than a day but with my little family it doesn't have to they eat it up.

Canned Goods- Foods can be preserved by adding salt and sugars. This is one reason why canned goods get a bad reputation is because the long term storage methods used to make them tend to decrease the nutritional value of food...but really canned green beans are still much better for us then french fries or other convenient foods that may take their place if not used. I had a neighbor that had a canned veggie and a fresh fruit or the other way around with every meal. I use the same method at times.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eating Clean as a Family




Here are some things to keep in mind while trying to change the family's eating habits.
  • Allow treats occasionally. Don't boo me on this one. Parents can eat strictly without overdoing it for their children. I think the word "occasionally" is the key. We can be the judge of that term for our own families. If we are eating pretty clean as a family treats will likely make our kids kind of sick when they get them. In the real world children however kids will be faced with sugar and whites daily and we need to show them that they can be eaten in moderation.
  • Don't drink calories. Try to introduce your family back to water. Save soda, punch and juice for special occasions not every day living.
  • Have fun. Talk about eating healthy as something positive and delightful, not a drag or they will see it as something they need to fight against.
  • Don't talk about "diets" Don't say "I'm on a diet." say instead "We eat healthy." Thanks sis. I overheard her telling her daughter this.
  • Stay positive. Never talk about yourself negatively in front of your children. In fact, try to say something positive about yourself in front of your children if not once a day, once a week. This will have a profound impact on their long term self worth. When we talk about our selves negatively it is like we are talking about them. They see us as an extension of themselves.
  • Small changes. We can see big changes by making small changes. Move sugary treats out of sight and out of reach (or in the garbage) while replacing them with fresh fruits and veggies. Have a refrigerator makeover where you put everything that you want kids to eat at eye level and make it attractive by putting them in an appealing bowl or dish.
  • Don't be a food snob. The only thing worse than eating with a slob is eating with a snob. Don't talk about all the calories that are in the food when you are eating with your extended family members. You are wondering how I know this. I have been a food snob and am resisting the temptation to keep being that way. It is difficult to find the balance between fighting against daily temptations and not making others feel badly.
Happy Healthy Eating!

- Susan

For my FREE clean eating meal plans please go here and enter your name and email.  You will be sent my printable pdf files with the shopping lists, bulk prep, meal plan and the recipes! 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Post Workout Nutrition



When I was running 8 miles on weekdays and much longer on the weekends I began to physically crash daily. It was a horrible feeling. About an hour or more after my workout I would start to feel flu-ish. It would put me down flat. I would lay on the couch and not move for a very long time. I discovered that I was lacking in post workout nutrition.

The muscle can store much of its own energy. Exercise causes the muscle to feed on its own glycogen stores. Those glycogen stores become depleted and muscle fibers get broken down with exercise and they need to be built back up. This is done with a postworkout meal or drink. The best time to consume a postworkout drink or meal is immediately following a workout (within 45 minutes, the sooner the better) Exercise is like an insulin shot which gives the body a small window of opportunity. Insulin makes it possible for the body to take the nutrients that are consumed and store it directly in the muscle. Once the body returns back to normal that window of opportunity is gone and the process of rebuilding glycogen stores and muscle fibers is slowed.

With those horrible crashes I learned a great lesson that very much sticks with me today about not skipping the post-workout meal. When I suggest it to others I often see the "Ya right, I'm not going to consume more calories!" expression. It is difficult to explain in that moment about how exercise is a stressor and tears down the body and we need to give it the right materials at the right time to build itself back up to not only avoid crashing but increase the longevity of the muscle.

Good Fats, although good for the body, should be avoided in the post-workout meal since they slow digestion and we need speed to hit that "window". Refined carbs which are fast absorbing along with fast absorbing protein should be used (that is why I use whey). In my opinion, a simple drink of chocolate milk is a great, inexpensive, easy post-workout meal and has the right balance of carbs and proteins for the average person.
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