Diet, Not A Diet or Dieting

Often when I’m at work and there is some sort of buffet of goodies in the break room a coworker is trying to coax me to eat I make the comment “that’s not part of my diet.”  I then feel the need to explain that NO, I am not ON a diet, my diet consists of the food I eat and that happens to be in a category of food I don’t eat.

If you look up Diet in the dictionary there is an array of definitions.  The Diet I talk about is a noun.  Diet- a particular selection of food, especially as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease*.  The definition most people think about in connection to Diet is a verb. . . Diet- to select or limit the food one eats to improve one’s physical condition or to lose weight.*

As a society, we need to start getting away from using the word diet as a verb and start thinking about it more like as a noun.  Having a healthy diet is important to your overall health and well-being.  I try to eat healthfully and feed my family healthy meals.  In my house we eat a lot of whole foods, real foods, you know the kind you have to actually put a little thought into before you serve because it doesn’t come out of a package already prepared for you.  I’ll tell you, it’s not always easy or fun, but I feel like it’s important and so I suck it up and prepare a wholesome dinner from scratch almost every night. (Yes, I am a little crazy, yes it often sucks, and yes learning about food prep is on my to-do list)

I’ve had a lot of friends going on the Whole30 diet the past couple of years and while I am pretty familiar with what it is I didn’t know all the actual rules so I thought I’d break down and get the book to see what it was really about.  My thought process being that even if I didn’t decide to take the plunge, it does have recipes in it and you can never have enough recipes.  I consulted my nutritionist about her thoughts on Whole30 .  She told me that if you are going to use it as a basis of changing how you eat for good, it is a great plan, but that many people use it as a 30 day fast, and then go back to their old habits of eating, which is not so good.

I have a few problems with the Whole30 plan. While a lot of the advice is so good I feel like they categorize some foods as “bad” that should never be eaten. I don’t share that belief.  I am more of an”everything in moderation” kind of gal.  I do believe that every person is different and that some foods get a bad rap, like butter. If you do a little research Grass Fed Butter is actually good for you and raw cow milk or goat’s milk can also be beneficial to lots of people. The topic is controversial but I believe you are smart enough to decide for yourself if having those foods in your diet is what’s right for you.

The one food I do think is the candy coated devil is sugar.  Sugar is addictive and can breed all sorts of unwanted diseases.  If you don’t believe me do a little googling and then look at the labels of the things in your pantry to  see what has sugar in it.  You will be shocked and appalled at home many things we think of as healthy are laced with sugar.

The second issue I have with this “diet” is that I’ve watched numerous friends who go on this diet for themselves and then watch how they continue to feed their children processed food because they think their children won’t eat healthfully.  I am somewhat aghast when I see this.  How can you believe that changing your own diet is important and then fail to apply the same principles to your children? If you want some tips about how to get your children to eat well check out one of my previous posts on the subject Getting Your Child to Eat Well

My nutritionist also reminded me that total health is not just what you eat.  There are 6 main components to our Health.  What we eat, what we drink, how we sleep,  how we breathe, our exercise and our mood.  If one component it majorly unbalanced it can affect our overall health, so we need to spread our concentration to all areas, not just one.

I’m glad I had that chat with her.  I kind of want to do the Whole30 diet, but I just quit sugar in my coffee.  I went from 2 teaspoons a day to 0.  I currently lace my coffee with Raw Milk and Cinnamon. This was not easy for me and I am not ready to give up my raw milk. One step at a time here. . . but if you’ve been thinking about changing your views about food, checking out the program out won’t hurt you.  This is an example of a typical dinner in my household.  It’s not fancy, but it is real food. . .

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Food Revolution Day 2016

Today is food revolution day!  If you don’t know about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution you can check out all sorts of info on his webpage Here.  Food Revolution is about each and every one of us taking a stand when it comes to food by making small changes that push for more positive changes in our current food industry.

Food Revolutionaries encourage people to cook with your kids, buy better products that support a more fair system, and read up on current food issues.  I think the most important aspect of the Food Revolution is getting back to cooking with real food and ingredients.  Health issues are running rampant in our country and many of the health issues people face can be contributed to food choices.  So, I challenge you, even if it’s just for today to only eat real food.  Take one small step in changing your habits, your children’s habits, and the direction of the food industry and only eat whole unprocessed food, just for today.  I promise it’s not that hard,  and if you need a little help Jamie Oliver has some delicious recipes you can check out Here .

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Food Revolution Day

It seems lately that Food has been a topic that has come up everywhere.  I think about food choices daily as I run around in this chaotic place trying to live and balance life.  I hear my friends struggle about making food choices.  I hear in my groups, people wanting to learn more about food, food choices and nutrition.

So, with all this food on my mind, I thought it was time to remind everyone about:

Food Revolution Day.food-rev-day

What is Food Revolution Day about?

“Access to good, fresh, nutritious food is every child’s human right, but currently we’re failing our children. Millions of kids are eating too much of the wrong food, while millions more don’t get enough of the good stuff to let them grow and thrive. We need to unite as one strong, single voice to force governments and businesses to create a healthier, happier world for the future.”  Sign up now and join the revolution!

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It is up to US as individuals to teach each other about food, to help each other make good food choices and to start demanding that the world feed our children good healthy foods.  Learn more about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Jamie Olivers Food Foundation and check Out his 10 Easy Tips to Live By to take a step towards a healthier you.

Food Glorious Food- Cheddar Baked Chicken

It’s been too long since I’ve shared a recipe (Because you know I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with my kitchen and all). One of the first Pinterest delights that I tried was a recipe my friend Cathy had pinned called Cheddar Baked Chicken. It is an absolutely amazing dish and always a hit at our house.  It might not be the most healthy because of the Ritz crackers and the sauce, but it sure does taste delicious and there are plenty of substitutes out there: check out this list for some great substitutions. While writing this, I decided I might just try a healthy alternative version of this next time I make this dish just for kicks and giggles.

Ingredients:
4 Large Chicken Breasts
1/2-1 whole block Cheddar Cheese
1 Sleeve Ritz Cracker (or substitute)
1/2 cup milk
1 Egg
Salt
Pepper
Parsley
Any Spices you might like

For the Sauce:
1 Can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1 TBS SC
1 TBS butter
Parsley

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400°
Squish up your Ritz Crackers in the cracker sleeve and then dump the crackers crumbs into a bowl. (If you prefer to use a food processor have at it, I just view it as one more thing to clean up so I skip it.) Add salt, pepper and whatever spices you like to the crackers.
Shred your Block of cheese into another bowl.
Mix your milk and egg into a third bowl.
Grease a large glass baking pan.
Cut up your chicken breasts into about 3-4 pieces per breast.
Dip your pieces of chicken in the milk mixture, then the bowl of cheddar cheese. Press the cheese into the chicken, then dip into the crackers.  Lay the breaded chicken in the pan.  Repeat for all the chicken pieces.  Sprinkle any leftover cheese and crumbs on top of the chicken in the pan.
Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until chicken is golden brown.

For the sauce:
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Pour over chicken (or in the case of little persons put on the side so they can dip.)

Pair with some veggies or a salad and you have a delicious meal you will be taking requests for in the future.

Alternatives to Candy for Halloween

As another holiday approaches that focuses on pumping our children full of sugary treats I challenge you to try to avoid the pitfall of feeding our children junk, and have something to offer kids who might not be allowed to have candy because of dietary restrictions, or allergies. . .

Have you heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project? No!  I hadn’t either. . .A mom in one of my online mom’s groups brought it to our attention. . . Food Allergy Research and Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project™ promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, and keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!

Here are some ideas for non-eatable treats you can hand out. .

Stickers
Washable Tattoo’s
PlayDough
Super Bouncy Balls
Bubbles
Glow sticks, necklaces or bracelets
Card Games/Mini card games (memory, old maid, uno, etc)
Mini-Comic books
Small Figurines (dinosaurs, animals, army men)
Halloween Rubber ducks
Mini Slinkies
Matchbox Cars
Mini squirt guns
Books/Mini Books (check out thrift stores and garage sales)
DIY crafts in a bag

And if you want some food ideas for party treats. . .here are some healthier alternatives to sugar treats that children will still find fun

Brothers All Natural Fruit Crisps
Veggie Chips
Granola Bars/Breakfast Bars/ Kind Bars
Fruit Leathers or Simply Balanced Fruit Snacks
Granola Energy Balls
(Check out Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bites from Amy’s Healthy Baking)
Mini Packs of Raisins, yogurt raisins or Cranberries

If you still want to hand out candy, GREAT!  Us parents are looking for some treats to eat when the kiddo’s are in bed. But, please consider also keeping some non-candy treats on hand for the kids who still want to go trick or treating but can’t eat the candy.

Sometimes Water Just Doesn’t Cut It. . .

simple rehydration

Sometimes when you are trying to rehydrate, water just doesn’t cut it so, on the home front, we have been looking into some homemade alternatives to store bought sports drinks (which contain all sorts of things you don’t want to put in your body) to help with rehydration.  I found the following recipe from Mother Nature Network.  It is called The Super Simple Electrolyte Drink , and since I’m all about simple I thought I’d give it a go.

The Super Simple Electrolyte Drink
(see the original post Here )

1/2 Cup Orange Juice (I used store bought 100% juice)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice (I squeezed my own and let me tell you when you squeeze a few lemons you find all sorts of little cuts and scrapes on your hands you didn’t even know you had. Ouch.  And be careful you don’t get seeds in your drink)
2 Cups of filtered Water
2 TBSP of RAW Honey
1/8 TSP Unrefined Salt (I used sea salt)

I made a double batch on Friday and it was gone by late Sunday afternoon.  The babe loved it and went looking for it Sunday evening only to open the fridge and find the bottle missing.  He looked up at me with a very disappointed little face and said “Juice All Gone? Go store?” I will be making another batch this evening and we will stick with this recipe until the orange juice runs out, then we will try and share a new recipe.  Happy Hydrating! (And feel free to share your hydrating recipes)

Snack, Snack, Snackity Snack

When you are trying to eat more “real food” and less “processed” foods you get asked frequently about snacks for the kiddo’s.  This is what kind of snacks we have in our house for adults and kiddos alike:

Fresh fruit (and frozen fruit for smoothies and popsicles)
Dehydrated Fruit (We love Brothers All Natural)
Dried Fruit
Fruit Snacks (We like Simply Balanced )
Raisins
Yogurt covered raisins/blueberries
Chocolate covered cherries
Pretzels
Annie’s bunnies or Crackers (we keep these to a minimum)
Popcorn
Trail mix of assorted varieties
Nuts or Seeds (Pumpkin and Squash Seeds are delicious)
Granola bars (we love Kind Bars)
Hummus and Pita Chips
Olives (for the babe) Yes you read that correctly OLIVES!
Cheese
Pepperoni or deli fresh lunch meat
Broccoli and an assortment of Raw Veggies
Hard Boiled Eggs
Cold Kidney Beans

When I do buy processed foods as snacks, like granola bars, I READ the ingredients, the trick is being able to identify all the ingredients.  If there are long words you don’t understand, you probably don’t want to eat whatever it is. On occasion we do break down and have chips or some type of crackers, maybe some homemade sweetness like pumpkin or banana bread or homemade cookies. For the most part we try to eat more whole foods or we make it ourselves. A challenge in itself, (especially for us full time working people) but so incredibly worth it for yourself and your family.

Things We Need to Teach our Children – Good Eating Habits

Good Eating Habits

I am always slightly appalled when I see people feeding small children McDonalds. We really should do better for our children.  I have a child that has survived more than two years now, never having tasted a McDonald’s anything.  I won’t lie and say my child has never eaten any sort of fast food.  There have been several occasions where he has eaten chicken strips or tenders from ChickFila or Sonic, but these events are few and far between.  I want my child to grow up liking to eat healthy foods and so I try my hardest to provide him with healthy food and to show him that I eat healthy in hopes that he will follow suit.

One thing about being a parent is that we try to model behaviors that we want our children to have.  When you want your children to eat healthy that means you end up eating healthier too! Our children learn about food mostly from us, so we need to take advantage of this and TEACH them about food.  Show them that you eat healthy food and they will follow suit!

To aid in teaching our children to eat healthier, we need to teach our children where their food comes from. Food doesn’t just magically appear in stores or in restaurants and children should be aware of this.   We need to teach them about where the plants and animals they eat come from.  If you have a green thumb or if you’ve always wanted to try. . . planting an edible garden, an herb garden or just a few tomato plants in a pot is an excellent way to teach them about where their food comes from.  If you children pick out and grow their own vegetables they are usually more willing to try new ones as they helped in the creation of them.  (Also, buying a bag full of ladybugs and releasing them into your garden is incredible fun.)  If you’re not so great at keeping plants alive or you can’t imagine adding one more daily activity to your already hectic schedule try driving your kids to the local farmers market, or to the actual farm once a month.  There are lots of farms where you can pick certain fruits and vegetables straight from the source during certain seasons.

After your kids know where their food comes from they need to learn how to prepare their food to eat.  We should teach our children to cook and eat whole foods and explain to them the difference between fresh meals and processed ones! If you don’t think you’re a good cook, it’s never too late to learn!  I learned how to really cook a few years shy of turning 30 and now I actually enjoy cooking (it’s the cleaning part I figured out I don’t like).   Start with simple recipes.  I have found that the best meals are always made from simple ingredients and a short list of ingredients at that.  There are so many great recipes out there.  Just pick a few and get started!  Baking  is another great way to get kids involved.  Baking with kids is always fun.  My little’s favorite thing to do in the kitchen is “mix, mix, mix, mix” and it is a great way to get really young kids involved in the kitchen!

If we teach our children about food from a young age and involve them in preparing and cooking their own food we are setting them up for a healthier way of life for the long haul.  We all want what’s best for our children, so help set them up for success and give them the food education they deserve.  You never know, you may just learn something in the process.

018 hummus

Three Ingredient Chicken Taco’s

Everyone loves an easy meal.  One of my favorite’s is 3 ingredient chicken taco’s in the crock pot.  It’s easy, doesn’t require much in the amount of prep time, delicious and you can have enough for 2 simple dinners.

3 Ingredient Chicken Taco’s
4 chicken breasts
1/2 a jar of your favorite salsa (at least a cup)
1 package of taco seasoning (or 1 batch of homemade taco seasoning)

Cook on low for 8 hours (or all day while you’re gone at work).  By the time it’s done cooking, the chicken is so tender it shreds as you mix it up.  Heat up some rice and beans, and add your favorite toppings for yummy chicken taco’s.

Night Two, I made quesadilla’s with the leftover chicken and black beans.  I food processed the leftover black beans to make refried black beans, shredded cheese and added leftover chicken to tortilla’s, heated them in a skillet and had a second simple, delicious and easy meal in just a few minutes.

quesadilla's

Summer Salad’s- 3 Bean Salad

I’ve been itching to try another summer salad.  My grocery budget money quickly thinned with the many trips I took to the store over the past week and I didn’t want to stop yet again for one or two ingredients, so I do what I do best and I looked at a few 3 Bean Salad recipes and I improvised with what I had on hand!

This is what I came up with:

1 Can of Garbanzo Beans (aka Chickpeas)
1 Can Kidney Beans
1 Can of Green Beans
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
Dressing
1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil
4-5 TBSP Sugar
1 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp garlic powder (although if I had a garlic clove you bet your butt I would have used it instead.)
(Really if I make this again though I would 1/2 the dressing recipe as I seemed to have quite a bit in access)

Rinse the heck out of all your canned beans.
Mix the beans and onion in a bowl.
Mix the dressing ingredients, whisk until blended.
Pour dressing on beans and chill in the fridge.

Have I mentioned HOW EASY all these salads are?

3 Bean