Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Veggies - Yum?

Can vegetables taste good?

I am finding out the answer is: Yes!

Recently, with the Spring air and cheaper produce prices, we have been buying more veggies. Two weeks now, when we are at the grocery store in the produce section, I have paused to look around and ask, "What other veggies can I buy?" Wow, what a question!

We chose baby carrots, green cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, orange peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, lettuce, etc. I also chose a healthy veggie dip/dressing. The cauliflower and broccoli will be used for broccoli and cheese soup later this week. The lettuce will be combined with other veggies in a delicious salad. And the onion will be used for sauteing and other cooking. But most of the fresh veggies were chosen for munching on raw, fresh veggies.

We got home and unloaded groceries. I then began slicing and cleaning veggies to be placed into Ziploc bags. So handy to grab and go or snack on throughout the day. They are cleaned, portioned and ready to eat. Fresh and delicious!

I also prepare fruit bags. This week I prepped grapes and apples. The grapes were taken off the stems and washed, them put in bags. The apples were washed and sliced, then put in bags along with a lemon slice (to keep the slices fresh and not brown). Surprisingly, my kids loved the idea of eating these food from a bag rather than having a whole apple or a bunch of grapes. So, YAY! again.

The produce tastes fresh, clean, and vibrant, with a natural combination of sweet and sour. I am surprised, but I am actually liking it all. The mix of colors and flavors, look good and taste gourmet. Plus the health is high and the calories are low. The produce is satisfying and doesn't cause a sour or stuffed stomach feeling. Amazingly, I love it.

The test will be, can I eat this way for a long period of time without getting tired of the flavors? Can our budget continue to afford these items? What will change as the seasons change? Etc.

I'll keep you posted. But for right now, this seems to be a Great!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is it Possible?

Today, I watched an episode of the Biggest Loser and they were talking about pushing limits, breaking barriers, and doing what you think is impossible. They also talked about weight loss being a huge mental battle, that even if the weight comes off, a person who is not healed mentally and emotionally will just put the weight back on. And they talked about putting yourself first.

So I am debating:
  • Is it selfish to make time to exercise?
  • Is it selfish to make sure to eat the right things?
  • What caused my unhealthy lifestyle? And can I fix it?
  • What are my limits? Do I have what it takes to break them and push myself?

I am realizing:
  • It effects my whole family that I am unhealthy. It will help the whole family if I can make the right changes to improve. That is not selfish.
  • I am an example. Will I be a good example of healthy eating and fitness? Or a bad example of poor choices? I know what I want.
  • So what is keeping me from taking action?
What keeps you from taking action?
  • Is it fear? Fear of failure. Fear of others and what they may say. Fear of not fitting in with the crowd. Fear of being proven wrong and admitting past mistakes.
  • Is it shame? Shame for all the poor choices. Shame for not wanting the situation to get this bad. Shame that it is such a struggle to fight temptation and force yourself to work hard.
  • Is it lack of self-worth? Belief that maybe you and I shouldn't have good health. Belief that healthy people are speaking lies or deluding themselves. Belief that since all this other bad stuff has happened, life can't be changed.
  • Is it laziness? Giving in to temptation. Giving into the ease of sitting around doing very little. It is hard. It hurts. Expecting life to improve on it's own without your effort or involvement.
  • Is it excuses? Maybe God planned my life to be this way. Maybe I'm supposed to be unhealthy for some divine purpose. It is my parent's fault for teaching me bad habits and not motivating me. It must be my husband and kids, if they did like I asked, then my life wouldn't be so stressful. If life worked the way it was supposed to, then I wouldn't be this way.
  • Or maybe it is something else.
I continue to struggle. I struggle with food cravings. I struggle with motivation and overcoming obstacles. I struggle with people (what they might think, what food they put in front of me, and what they say that is hurtful.) Life is hard and this doesn't seem like the right time for this journey. But, I can't put it off any longer. I need to fix my life, improve it, and share what I've learned.

I want:
  • to become a health nut (even though I have been internally judged them. I need to become like them.)
  • to overcome obstacles. I need to prove it to myself. I can succeed.
  • to be a good example and live life to the best of my ability.
  • to be proud of myself and my accomplishments.
  • to make my dreams come true.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Healthy Popcorn

I have been told for years that popcorn is healthy. Of course the butter and salt people put on popcorn is not so healthy. And healthy microwave popcorn is not cheap. So what should a person do?

Well, I thought about getting an air popper for popcorn. But I decided it wasn't worth the money because we don't make enough popcorn regularly enough to make the investment worth the cost. Plus, I have no place to store it.

Instead, I did an online search of my favorite recipe sites and discovered something "Cool!" Did you know, you can make regular popcorn (air popper popcorn seeds) in the microwave, without all the chemicals the company adds? Yep, it is great!

Take a lunch bag. One of those brown paper bags that are super cheap. Put about 1/4 cup of popcorn seeds into the bag. Fold the bag's top edge a couple of times to keep it closed. Place it in the microwave (standing upright, not on its side). Set the timer for 3-5 minutes. Wait, listen, smell the fresh popcorn, and open the door when the popping stops. (just like making prepackaged microwave popcorn.) No grease or oil needed.

Once the popcorn is popped, you may season it as you prefer. There are many popcorn seasonings on the market, but they add fat along with flavor. Some people like spicy popcorn with Greek seasoning or Lawry's seasoning salt. If there is a butter/margarine that you trust, you can melt some and add for "buttery" flavor. When the popcorn is plain, it is a blank flavor canvas, you can add whatever you prefer. (the optional additions will decide the fat content)

Popcorn is gluten free. Filling and easy. It is also very cheap when you just buy the kernels.

One of the recipes my family REALLY like is Peanut Butter Popcorn:

1/2 cup peanut butter (we use the chunky kind)
1/4 cup sugar (you could substitute honey)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Optional: To thin the mixture and have it cover more popcorn, I add 1/2 cup safflower oil.

Heat in a saucepan until well mixed and melted thoroughly, then pour over the popped popcorn. Stir the popcorn to get an even coating on all the pieces. And serve, preferably a bit warm.

Viola, yummy peanut butter popcorn, made fresh at home! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cost versus Health

For years, I have believed the lie that to eat healthy costs more money. And in some cases that is true. However, certain healthy items are extremely inexpensive. So what is the excuse? Then we say, "Oh, that tastes gross" Well, it might if we don't know how to prepare it.

Recently, I have been trying to buy healthy foods for little cost, the ideal shopping experience. Here are some meals I have been able to make healthy and cheap:

  • Tacos
  • Chili
  • Pizza or Stromboli
  • Japanese Curry and Rice
  • Chinese Stir Fry
  • Peppers and Eggs
  • Poor Man's Meal
  • etc. The list is growing more all the time.
Recently, I have also been focusing on healthy snacks that are cheap. Here are some of our favorites:

  • apples
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • baby carrots
  • bananas
  • peanuts
  • popcorn (whole kernel not pre-bagged)
  • yogurt
  • fruit smoothies
  • sorbet
  • sliced cucumbers
  • sliced green peppers
  • etc.
I have found that when I shop the circle around the grocery store (produce, meat dept., dairy dept, fresh bakery dept.) and a few select aisles (beans, rice, frozen veggies, etc.) I can find whole, fresh foods, that are healthy and cheap.

A few things I am learning:
  • break apart the favorite recipes and substitute whole foods (i.e. instead of refried beans from a can, I use whole pinto or whole black beans, ideally from a bag of dried beans.)
  • Plan ahead: if I shop the sales and them plan out my meal options, I know what to look forward to making and how much to make.
  • Make the most of freezer space: If I soak beans for tacos, I can make 5 taco meals in one day. Package the taco mix and freeze it.
  • Whole foods not only taste better (more gourmet) but they also stay fresh longer and are more filling (I used to go up for seconds at every meal, with whole foods I am shocked how full I am after one plate)
  • Rice and beans are extremely cheap and very healthy, add veggies and "voila", a balanced menu
So I am learning that cost is a variable that we must consider, but sometimes we don't have to sacrifice the health. (As far as tasting good, I hope to post some recipes that will help overcome that fear.)

Enjoy Health!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Do you find salads boring?

Perhaps it is because I grew up in the Small Town Midwest, but for my growing up years I HATED salads. Every gathering needed food and each lunch or supper needed salad. The problem was, it was never salad. It was a bowl of lettuce and bottles of dressing on the side. Yep, usually iceberg lettuce and rich ranch dressing. (Or blue cheese, 1000 Island, French, Catalina, etc.) That is not a SALAD.

For me a real salad includes:
  • Fresh Green Lettuce
  • Chopped Tomatoes
  • Diced Green Pepper
  • Grated Carrots
  • Grated Cabbage
  • Chopped Green Cucumber
  • Black Olives
  • Perhaps Red Peppers, Orange Peppers, Yellow Peppers, etc.
  • Maybe diced hard boiled eggs or diced ham and turkey
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Etc.
My idea of a salad include fresh veggies in various colors, where the flavors blend so well you don't even need salad dressing.

Oh, and since I am venting about how wrong salads can be, I should also add: I do not include potato salad, egg salad, noodle salad, etc. with my veggie salad. So for all those Salad Bar places that include: lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, potato salad, pasta salad, fake bacon bits, fat filled crouton crumbles, sliced peaches, watery cottage cheese and 5 fat filled dressings. These salad bars are not satisfactory. They are filled with "Yuck!"

I much prefer salad bars filled with lots of fresh colorful veggies that are cut properly, so you can actually mix a nice salad and have nutritious flavor in every bite.

Anybody agree?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Facebook Group

Hello, Friends,

I am writing this post to invite you to join a new Facebook group dedicated to saying "NO!" 2 Unhealthy. I have found it hard to work towards my health goals with all of the "life" going on around me. I know one person said her most important tool was accountability, and for that I need a team of friends willing to help each other succeed.

I happen to be a fan of "The Biggest Loser" TV show. I have found myself drawn to this show for many reasons, but that could be another post entirely. The reason I bring the show up now is that I have noticed one of the strategies of the show is the team element. True, they still compete team versus team. But when the contestants are truly struggling in those first weeks, the element of teamwork and support are key to success.

So, I am asking for your help and offering my own. We can help keep each other accountable, we can post success stories, we can talk about challenges, and cheer each other towards our goals. The group is private, so no one can join without permission and no one outside our group will see what we post. I am hoping for great success in our group.

I hope to see you there. (FYI- the group will not replace this blog, only augment what I am posting here.)

Best wishes,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Peppers and Eggs

I have decided to start posting some Healthy Recipes. If you have some recipes that you find to be delicious and healthy, please share them with me.

Today's Recipes is: Peppers and Eggs

It is quite simple to make and surprisingly delicious.

You will need:
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1/2 onion
1 clove fresh garlic
9 eggs or egg white equivalent (free range eggs tend to be healthier)
Olive Oil

Optional Items:
bread (as a side dish)
cubed ham or other precooked meat
salt and pepper
additional spices (I usually add Italian Spices)

Start by dicing the peppers and onion. The smaller the pieces the faster they cook and the softer they get. You may mince the garlic or use a garlic press, and add the fresh garlic to the onion and peppers.

In a separate container whip the eggs and spices together. Once all the ingredients are prepared, the cooking may begin.

In a large skillet, (or if need be a sauce pan) saute the peppers, onion and garlic, in olive oil. This works best if you cover the pan and cook on medium heat stirring often. If the pan does not have a cover, you may use aluminum foil. (If you desire to add meat, now it the time. Please make sure the meat is precooked)

Once the vegetables are the softness you desire, then add the eggs and spices. (I prefer to have my vegetables a bit firm; they seem more fresh/healthy that way.) The egg mixture will cook much like scrambled eggs. Move the spoon or spatula over the base of the pan often to keep the egg mixture from burning. Once the eggs are thoroughly cooked, you may remove the pan from the heat.(Now would be the time to add cheese, if you so choose.)Cover until ready to serve.

This recipe feeds my family of 5. So you may scale the recipe smaller or larger based on the group you are serving.

I hope you enjoy this fresh, fun food!