Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Started

I've received a few emails from people lately asking me great questions.  So I've decided to take the next few posts to answer those questions.  Things like "If I eat clean, what does that look like on a daily basis?" "How have your kids adjusted to this?" "What do you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks...etc...?" "Where do you shop?" "How do you begin?"  Whew!  As you can see that's way too much to attempt to answer in just one post.  The questions overwhelm me when someone comes up to me and starts asking them in person.  Hence the blog and all the answers in one tidy spot.

So for today I'll start with:
  • How do you begin?
  • Where do you shop?
  • What does a day of eating clean look like?
Most of my answers will come from The Eat Clean Diet Recharged! by Tosca Reno.

I just love that book and have recommended it to so many people!  Reading this is the perfect way to start because it will teach you WHY you want to Eat Clean! And then it will give you steps to follow that are simple but encouraging.  You do not have to go Clean overnight.  Just cut out one bad thing from your diet this week.  Add in something healthy this week.  Do it again next week.  Go through your cupboards and pack up all the processed foods and deliver it to a local food bank.  With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the need for that will be huge!  So you're serving your community AND getting healthy!  For me, I did 2 trips.  The first time with all the stuff I didn't mind getting rid of.  The 2nd trip was a month later with the stuff I'd clung to "just in case" and finally was willing to clean out.

The other first step I'd recommend is to add 1-2 daily Raw Green Smoothies to your diet.  I don't recommend either going 100% Clean or 100% Raw overnight.  I did that and hardly lived to tell the story of detox.  I've already posted about Raw Green Smoothies...if you haven't had a chance to read that yet, click here.

Where do I shop?

I shop in 4 main locations, currently.  This will, of course, change based on where you live in the US (or out of the US). 
  1. Locally we have a small market called Fresh & Easy.  They are a little pricier than the regular grocery but they have foods that do not contain added preservatives, food dyes, corn syrups, etc... and you can understand every ingredient they use.  I buy cereals for the kids, yogurt, milk, etc... here.  Also cookies (for the kids' splurge) and sprouted whole-wheat bread.
  2. Sprouts...I buy a lot of my fresh produce here.  I also buy coconut oil, kefir, seeds (like chia, hemp, flax), chocolate chips and foods that I can get in bulk out of the bins like wheat germ, steel cut oats, etc... 
  3. Whole Foods...I've never actually been to Whole Foods as it's quite far away.  But my sister goes monthly so I just tack my order onto hers.  I buy things here that I can't find anywhere else like coconut butter, fresh ground almond butter, coconut flour, cocoa butter, cacao powder and cacao nibs.  And someday I'll remember to buy Sucanat.
  4. Costco...Costco has a great selection of healthy snacks for kids.  I'll talk more about those when I do my post on snacks.  I buy a lot of my nuts here.  Walnuts, pecans, almonds.  They come in huge bags and this is pretty much the lowest price you'll find them for.  I also get my oatmeal, maple syrup, coconut water and some of my fruits here.
What does a day of eating clean look like?

A day of eating clean starts out by drinking 2-3 glasses of water before eating any food.  That's tough to do!  I keep a 22 oz Tervis cup next to my bed at night so first thing I do when I wake up is drink it down with a straw.  I also drink an 8 oz glass of 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon and 1-2 tsp maple syrup and water + ice each morning.  This is great for a morning cleanse and to helps with alkalizing your blood. (no, I have no idea...yet...what that means, although my sister is on the phone with me right now trying to explain it!) 

According to the "Rules of Clean-Eating" you should eat within an hour of waking up.  Breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day!  Since I am also doing Raw with my clean-eating, I drink a Raw Green Smoothie for my breakfast most mornings.  More on that when I do my breakfast post! (If you drink 2 smoothies a day, it does count as two mini-meals as shown below.)

Then you'll want to eat 5-6 small meals a day.  Time-wise, this reminds me a lot of when I was nursing my babies.  Here's a sample timeline:

  7 a.m.    meal #1   or   breakfast
10 a.m.    meal #2   or   mid morning snack
  1 p.m.    meal #3   or   lunch
  4 p.m.    meal #4   or   mid afternoon snack
  7 p.m.    meal #5   or   dinner
10 p.m.    meal #6   or   evening snack

Of course you'll adjust the times to work for your schedule.  At first I was having to watch the clock a lot but now I just naturally am ready to eat something around those times.  And I NEED to eat!  My body tells me...get food NOW.  This timeline might vary depending on how active you are too...i.e. eat every 2 1/2 hrs instead of 3.

And...What should you be eating during each of those light meals/snacks?

  • 6 servings of lean protein a day (this includes tofu, chia seeds, quinoa, hemp seeds in addition to meats and dairy.  I love Greek Yogurt and Kefir for the protein too.  With the raw diet, I get most of my protein from these sources.)
  • 2-4 servings of complex carbs (this includes whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, wheat germ, lentils, bananas, carrots, chickpeas, beans, sweet potatoes, yams and SO much more!  A complex carb is NOT a simple card so unfortunately donuts and cupcakes don't count.)
  • 4-6 servings of fresh produce (if you do the raw smoothies this will be no problem!)
  • 2-3 servings of healthy fats (i.e. fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, oils such as olive, coconut, flax)
  • 10 cups or 2-3 liters of water a day
My list is very minimal and mostly covers the items in my own personal diet but hopefully it'll give you a good idea of what is considered clean and healthy.

And finally, a good day of Clean-Eating should also include exercise!  I try to go to the gym 4-5 times a week (although with school starting and our new life schedule having recently changed, that's been hard to work into my life...I'm getting there!)

According to Tosca, to have a beautiful healthy body the equation is:

80% nutrition + 10% training (exercise) + 10% genetics

So...hopefully that breaks it down for you a little bit and you have some good places to get started.  Any more questions related to getting started that I didn't answer?  Feel free to leave them in the comments section!

And as always...thank you so much for reading.  I'm humbled that you chose to visit my blog.  Here's to a Clean-Eating week!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Music to Get Ya Movin' ~ or Runnin'

I'm one of those average people.  I've never been really good, or really bad for that matter, at anything (well, except for piano playing...I was pretty bad at that!).  For the most part I've accepted my mediocre lot in life.  But occasionally I wonder, if I believed in reincarnation, what would I want to come back to earth and be REALLY good at?  Like a professional singer, dancer, musician, sportsman, published author...  I'm not talking about high school team good...I'm talking Olympics kind of good.  Do you ever wonder that?

About 6 months ago I was in one of my funky moods, thinking about all of this and bemoaning the fact that none of that will ever be in this lifetime.  I started to think, what is one thing I've always wanted to do and always said I couldn't do...something that I can strive for NOW.  Singing was an obvious no - I sing totally off-key, much to my worship-leader husband's chagrin.  Then running came to mind.  I always said it hurt too much, my knees hurt, it was hard to breathe...I had a million reasons to hate running.  But I secretly envied runners and wished I could be one.  After reading one particular book, I realized that some pain is good.  Pain can be an indicator of growth.  I'd always been one to think of pain as bad but this was a revolutionary concept for me.  If I was going to become a was going to hurt!  But I decided that this was one dream I could accomplish in this life, no matter how hard it was.

While I don't exactly look like this...

...yet!  I look a little more like this....

...for now!  But I'm working my way to the first picture!  I'm up to running 1.75 miles/22 min (straight - no breaks!) on a treadmill and I'm working up the courage to do my first 5K.  I'm getting there!

One of the most important things I've discovered for my running is the importance of having the right music.  So I've spent the last 6 months searching for just the right songs to enjoy/motivate and that will have the right beat to match my steps to.  My running/walking time is also partially worship time so it was important to me to find solid Christian music.  I don't really know how to describe the music I like...happy and bouncy?  I save this music only for exercise and it's a great motivator.  I want to listen so I want to run.  I'm going to list the music I've come to love to exercise to in case this will narrow down the search for anyone else.  And if you have a favorite song - please share!  I'm always looking to add to my repertoire.

(Group listed first - Names of songs listed under.  Someday I'll figure out how to get them on the site so you can listen while you read.)

  • California
  • For a Rainy Day
  • Unshaken
  • Alive
Big Daddy Weave
  • Fields of Grace
  • Happy Day
  • Watching Over Me
Heather Williams
  • God is Still God
Hillsongs United
  • Freedom is Here
Lincoln Brewster
  • Reaching For You
  • Best Days
  • Today is the Day
  • My Deliverer
  • Stronger
  • Good Morning
  • Waiting for Tomorrow
Matt Maher
  • Turn Around
Peter Furler
  • Reach
Scott Krippayne
  • I'm Not Cool
Sidewalk Prophets
  • Just Might Change Your Life
  • You Love Me Anyway
  • You Will Never Leave Me
AHHH ~ I'm ready to go running again right now!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If you are what you eat...what am I?

Everyone in the health world seems to define themselves by how they eat.  It's very common to hear "I am Raw."  "I am Vegan." "I am Vegetarian." "I am Gluten Free." This seemed quite odd to me because I am used to defining myself by "I am a teacher.  I am a mom.  I am a child of God." etc...   When I was asked:  "Amy!  Are you going Raw?"   I had NO idea what that meant!  And honestly, it kind of freaked me out.  Once I began learning about eating healthy, I spent quite a few weeks learning this entirely new vocabulary and determining how it could/would apply to my life.  What new "I am" would I become?

All I knew at that time was that I wanted to eat healthier than I already was.  I dove into this strange new world like this:  Initially I was doing Weight Watchers.  I began to find it curious that foods I knew were extremely healthy (i.e. avocados and sunflower seeds) were the highest point values and therefore foods to avoid eating.  That didn't make sense to me.  One day I remembered my sister talking about eating right for your blood type so I Swagbucksed it and found Eat Right 4 Your Type by Dr Peter J. D'Adamo.  Another click and I learned that, for my A+ blood-type, I should be eating a vegetarian-type diet. (I highly recommend checking this link and reading about your blood-type.  You'll learn a lot more than just what foods to eat/not eat.  I began to understand a lot about what makes me me through this site.)  The very next day my neighbor asked me to "like" a FB page so that she could win a free un-cookbook and so began my interest in eating Raw.  Because, I rationalized, raw foods must be vegetables, I needed to learn about this to feed my blood-type.  Then I learned that just about all raw foods are also vegan foods.  And finally I read The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno and began to learn about eating clean.  At that point I figured I was going to become all of the above!

As I settled into Clean Eating (with about 60% of that being raw foods), I began to realize that certain recipes that were vegan weren't clean.  And some vegetarian recipes weren't clean either.  Suddenly I was confused again.  Weren't they all the same?  Vegan was vegetarian, vegetarian was raw and all of it was clean?  NO it was not to be!  And so more research ensued.  Here is a summary (extremely simplified) of what I learned.

What is Vegetarian?  A person who chooses to eat plant-based foods (i.e. fruits/vegetables) and who does not eat meat (i.e. red meat, poultry or seafood).  They may or may not eat animal by-products such as dairy and eggs.

What is Vegan?  A person who is vegan is an extreme vegetarian (my choice of words).  All the above rules apply PLUS all animal by-products such as dairy, eggs and honey.

What is Raw?  Eating a raw food diet is a lifestyle choice that includes whole foods that are as close to nature as possible.  These foods are uncooked, unprocessed, and preferably organic.  By not heating foods above 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 47 degrees Celsius), the inherent enzymes and nutrients are preserved enabling for optimal nutrition. (info taken from here.)  You will almost always hear Raw-Vegan used together.

What is Clean Eating?  To understand what it means to Eat Clean, click here.  Or just click on the "Clean Eating" page above.  Clean Eating was the most appealing to me because it included eating whole foods and cutting out all processed foods and sugars from my diet.  I could easily combine Raw with Clean Eating.  One simple rule to Clean Eating is: if you can't read it, don't eat it.  All those crazy big words on labels...they're basically poisons to our bodies and we need to stay away from them. The process of transition for me was not easy!  It's taken me months to accomplish this and even now there are a few things that keep catching me by surprise...or temptations that pop up that are too hard to pass by. 

What I began to discover, though, was that some vegan and vegetarian recipes would contain sugar or other ingredients that were not allowed in Clean Eating.  So I've learned that I need to read recipes and ingredient labels carefully.  And that I am not a vegetarian (I still eat chicken & pork 1-2 times a week) and I'm not vegan (I cook with eggs, and go through a TON of honey!) and I'm not Raw (I eat cooked foods).  So I determined that I am going to be a Clean Eater and this lifestyle change will incorporate some vegetarian and vegan recipes that follow the rules of clean eating.  Fortunately all Raw recipes are also clean.  So I currently eat about 95% Clean with 60% of that being Raw.  I guesstimate 5% of the time I fail in all of the above.

I will emphasize a lot in my blog that the use of the word "diet" with these styles of eating does not mean "way to lose weight" but instead it means "lifestyle of eating".  If you are considering incorporating a Clean Eating diet plan...don't do it unless you're willing to do it for the rest of your life.  It should be a lifestyle change, not a 2-week crash course to weight-loss.  But I do hope you will join me and discover how fantastic the health benefits are!

And now I'm off to my first Farmer's Market.  So much more for me to learn...and fun to be had!  (I'm sure I'll be sharing about that soon :-)

Share: What are you?  Are you a sugaraholic and processed food junkie still?  What do you hope to be and why?

*I was surprised to read that Vegans do not eat honey.  I'm not positive on that info being accurate as I know my Raw friends who are also Vegan eat honey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raw Green Smoothies

Raw green smoothies have been the #1 subject that has been discussed between myself and my friends and on facebook over the past 4 months.  It's amazing when I post "I had an xyz smoothie today - what was in yours?", the number of responses that come back astounds me.  I had no idea so many of my friends were already doing what I have just learned!  On the flip side, I've had people tell me: "Green smoothies are nothing new.  They've been around since the 60's and were a total fad of the hippies."  Well, my response to that is 1) They were totally new to ME and 2) This mama ain't no hippie! (excuse the improper grammar)  Whether it's a fad or not is completely up to each individual and whether we make a choice for the short-term (because everyone's doing it) or we make a lifestyle change because it's what's right for our bodies and will take us one step farther on the road to optimal health.

Believe it or not, just because something is new doesn't mean it's healthy.  And oppositely, just because something was a fad in the 60's (whether 19 or 18 or even father back!) doesn't mean it wasn't a completely wonderful and viable health option, both then and now.  So for me, I've chosen to incorporate raw green smoothies into my lifestyle.  In fact, this was the first step I took when I decided to learn more about eating Raw.

I'm going to give 100% of the credit for what I've learned about Raw Smoothies to Living Raw by Grace's Haley Turney.  Everything I've learned has either been from one of her classes or from her website (click her name above to go directly to her site's info on green smoothies).  In fact, I'm providing the link so that I don't have to re-write everything she said!  Please, visit her site and learn directly from the master!  I have learned from her the health benefits to eating raw (I'll share later in a separate blog post) and how important one simple food addition and/or replacement of smoothies into your diet can significantly change your health for the better.  For me it has aided in my weight loss, in cutting sugars from my diet and has helped reduce the asthma-related issues I'd been having for about 6 months before starting to drink raw smoothies.

My Smoothie Steps:

Everyone wants to know my recipe and you will all be sorely disappointed to find out that I don't have a recipe!  What I do, though, is fill the blender about 1/3 full of ice and then cover that either with water or coconut water.  (I used to use juice until I discovered that's the same as drinking pure sugar.  No nutritional value at all!  So other than flavor, there really is no point in adding juice.)  Then I add whatever fruits and greens I'm going to use, my seeds of choice and protein powder...and blend!

In every smoothie I make there are the following ingredients:
  • ice
  • water or coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 green
  • 3-4 other fruits
  • protein powder (I prefer vanilla or wild berry to add flavor)
  • a seed (usually chia, hemp or flax...I rotate which ones I use)

The greens I love the most are: spinach, collard, red chard, kale and cabbage.  I go for a more mild taste to my greens.  If you want some spice, try mustard greens.  I used that once and was literally breathing fire for the next 10 minutes!  (Definitely clears the sinuses.)  There is a full list of possible greens on Haley's site, in order from mild to WOW.

For fruits, go with seasonal for the cheapest.  I've never made one smoothie exactly the same twice in a row.  It's all dependant on what's in the fridge at the time.  Right now I'm using a lot of peaches since they're in season.  Last month it was strawberries and mangoes.  Before that raspberries and blackberries.   My base fruit for sweetness and texture is the banana.  My sister's is an apple.  Use what you will enjoy drinking.

I've learned that a nutrient in cabbage fights belly fat, so if you're trying to decrease the belly, use cabbage ~ red or white/green, doesn't matter.  It does have a strong taste so you might want to go light at first.  With the greens, you need to rotate them weekly at the very least.  Greens have natural toxins in them designed Naturally (i.e. by God) to keep pests away.  When blended at the high speeds, we are metabolizing them much more effectively than if we simply chew them.  Too much of the same green in a row could cause stomach aches or other issues (learned the hard way by me with spinach!).

To use chia seeds, I keep a container in the fridge at all times.  The ratio is 2 cups water to 1/3 cup chia seeds.  It'll last about 3 weeks in the fridge (but by that time it's usually all used up).  It takes on a jellyish/tapioca consistency.  Then I pour about 2 tbsp into my shakes pre-blending.  Chia seeds are great to have pre-workout to increase endurance.

I usually have 2 smoothies a day.  With Clean Eating, you eat 5-6 mini-meals a day.  So my smoothies account for 2 of those meals.  I tend to cheat on just about anything so I have one for breakfast but I'll usually split it in 1/2 and drink them an hour apart to trick my mind in to thinking I've had 2 meals instead of just one.  (It keeps me from snacking on other things.)  If I'm going out - which I am every morning - then I pack one of them in a cooler with a few ice cubes added and drink while out.  Then I'll have one either for lunch (if I'm home) or mid-afternoon snack.  Each smoothie I make is about 4 cups.  My last tip is to drink lots of water...because with all that fiber, you're going to want to flush it (if you know what I mean).

Enjoy your smoothies today!  The one pictured was my snack this afternoon and includes: water, 1 banana, 1 kale leaf, 1 peach, 1 pear and a handful of blueberries.  And let me tell was GOOD!!!!  I'm off to make some Kale Crisps (the recipe of the week for next week!)

Share: What is your favorite ingredient for your smoothies?  AND how regularly do you enjoy raw green smoothies?

Monday, September 12, 2011


I am a spontaneous planner, so while this post was not the next one I had intended to write, I guess it fits with my nature to go a little off course and slot this in here.  Overwhelmed.  Kind of an ironic title considering my blog two-times ago was titled "Progress".  As I'm going along this journey, there is just so much to learn.  

I get asked a lot if I've watched this or that documentary/TV show.  People are always surprised to hear that no, I actually have not watched anything!  (other than Extreme Makeover: Weight-loss that show!)  I get suggestions all the time.  "Watch this." or "You just have to see this..."  And I'm always coming up with excuses as to why I have not taken the time to watch these documentaries.  My sister can attest to that!  (She's the main one I make excuses to.)  I think a big part of it is that I just hate anything non-fiction.  I'm not a big documentary person.  I watch or read to relax and learning is not my idea of relaxation.  I am easily overwhelmed with new info and it takes me awhile to process it.

So I've been pondering lately, why don't I watch these?  I've boiled it down to this: increased awareness = increased responsibility.  And that takes time.  And effort.  Am I willing to put that into my journey to find optimal health?  I tend to learn in big chunks but then take awhile to chew, swallow, digest...  And I'm not willing to bite off another chunk for quite awhile.  Well, I've been in that digestion section for too long and, despite feeling like I'm not ready to learn more...It's being thrust at me whether I like it or not.

So the afore mentioned documentaries people keep asking me if I've watched...they are:
  • Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
  • Food, Inc.
  • Food Matters
  • The Future of Food
  • Earthlings
I will be watching soon and you can probably expect a blog of my thoughts at some point.

                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The great thing about friends is that they all have such great advice and so many tips.  One friend asked if I'd read Never Be Sick Again: Health is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It by Raymond Francis and Kester Cotton.  I hadn't but immediately logged onto Amazon and had it on my Kindle within a few seconds.  I started reading it yesterday and by the end of page 1 I knew I was now biting off another chunk, even though I hadn't intended to do that.

Basically the book says there is only one disease.  That disease is malfunctioning cells.  It doesn't matter what forms diseases manifest in (i.e. cancer, lupus, cold/flu, etc...), it all goes back to one problem.  Cells aren't functioning properly.  So instead of treating the symptoms (which is what modern medicine does), the cells themselves need to be taken care of.  There are two causes of cellular malfunction: Deficiency (not feeding the right foods to the cells) and Toxicity (feeding the wrong things to the cells).  And there are six pathways to achieve Optimal Health: nutrition, toxin, psychological, physical, genetic, medical.  All six are required for Optimal Health to be achieved.  Now here is where I get Overwhelmed.  I've been focusing on nutrition and physical (exercise) thinking that was all that was necessary to obtain Optimal Health.  Now suddenly instead of just 2 I have 6!  Oh my goodness....

I have a lot more reading and learning to do from this book.  I'm sure you'll hear more in the future.  I'm only 2 chapters in but already I beg each of you to please please get a copy and read it!

Simultaneously, today I took the kids out to a farm about 1/2 hr away in the middle of the Arizona desert.  It was called Tonopah Rob's Vegetable Farm "All Natural is Better Than Organic".  It was going to be just a fun outing with the kids to see a farm, buy some fresh produce and meet a turkey (or 10!).  This tour turned out to be more educational for me than anything!  I had not gone with the intention to learn, but Rob just filled my head with so many facts...both fascinating and terrifying...that I feel about to explode with information!  I plan on going back, hopefully with a group of friends, taking pictures, writing notes and doing a proper blog about Tonopah Rob.  But for now, here is a summary of what I learned.  (Oh - I have to mention, Rob had read my blog!)
  • Because of eating all-naturally, Rob has not been sick for 15 years!  He recommends making soup out of one of his chickens as the best cure for a cold...better in 2 days!
  • He has some of the purest soil and water around.
  • He uses no pesticides but through trial/error has discovered which plants grow well together (i.e. carrots and tomatoes), which plants will drive off bad bugs requiring no use of any pesticides, and which bugs are necessary for plants to thrive (more than just bees!).
  • Most of the fruit in America that we find in our grocery stores was picked 1-2 years ago!  It's stored in cement buildings where the oxygen has been sucked out and chemicals pumped in to keep the un-ripened fruit in it's present condition until farmers are ready to sell it at market.  SCARY!!
  • Most soy and corn products in America are genetically modified.
  • We are sending our genetically modified food to Africa and those eating it have seen an increase in birth defects.  It used to be 1 in 12 and now it's 1 in 3!  According to new research, by the time my grandchildren are born, there will only be a 50% chance of a child being born healthy.  And why?  It's all about what we eat.
I know this has been a lot.  See why I'm overwhelmed?  I want to provide the safest and healthiest possible future for my children and, if Christ hasn't returned yet, my grandchildren.  I also want to keep my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, a place worthy of His dwelling.  And so I press on and keep learning more and figuring out how to apply it into my life.

If anyone is interested in visiting Tonopah Rob with me soon...let me know!  We'll schedule a trip out.  I definitely recommend going.  He does tours on Saturdays only and they're free!

Share: Where are you in your journey to Optimal Health and what is making you feel overwhelmed?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guess the Hidden Ingredient

The other evening I was preparing a Clean-Eating dinner for my family.  Now, please understand, I don't cook dinner very often.  My husband is Korean and prefers to eat his own food and the kids and I tend to eat smaller for dinner.  But once a week I do try and pull together an actual, hot (IF I can get everyone sitting down together quick enough) meal.  Here is a picture of what I served:

And here is the ingredient list:

  • pork tenderloin (sliced thin and browned in frying pan...could also grill)
  • baby potatoes (cut into chunks and boiled)
  • agave (drizzled over the potatoes)
  • corn (on the cob!! ~ love this season of veggies!!)
  • Lawry's Garlic Salt (sprinkled over the boiled corn and potatoes)
  • sesame oil and sea salt (to dip the pork in...Korean style!)
SO.... given that limited ingredient list, can you guess the hidden ingredient?

You know that old saying, pride comes before a fall?  Well I was pretty darn proud of my little meal.  As I was finishing it up and was putting it onto the serving dishes my thoughts went something like this:  "Remember back as a kid when I hated corn on the cob?  I had to put so much butter an salt onto it just to eat it.  Look at me now!  I'm doing so great.  All I'm putting on my potatoes and corn is garlic salt.  I sure do love garlic salt.  It's such a perfect seasoning for all veggies.  That's all you don't even need butter on veggies for them to taste fabulous with garlic salt.  If anyone ever told me this wasn't clean I think I'd...I'd...this IS clean, isn't it?  This better be clean.  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!   There's SUGAR as a main ingredient in Lawry's Garlic Salt?  Stink.  No wonder I love it so much!"

Yes, all that was going on inside my head as I headed back into the battle with sugar.  Is it any wonder this nation is addicted to sugar?  Everything is processed and pretty much everything processed contains sugar.  (Lawry's Garlic Salt does have other items in it to make it un-clean as well, much to my disappointment.)  So I'll be finding another version of garlic salt that is sugar-free and taking one more step towards victory in this battle over unexpected (in a not-good-way) sweet surprises.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today was a day of progress for me.  So as this blog is about my journey, I thought I'd do some progress posts every once-in-awhile.  It's quite possible no one will ever read them and that's OK, since they'll probably be more embarrassing than not.  Nevertheless they'll be a point of accountability for me.

Today marks an important day for me in my journey to optimal health.  My journey started at 199 lbs (I would NOT let myself see the big 200!).  My original goal was simply to lose weight.  That goal has not only been attained BUT I learned that weight loss shouldn't be the primary goal.  Instead it should be a strong and healthy body (here's to optimal health!!).  So today I officially reached 40 lbs lost.  It took 8 months to get here.  I've been saying I lost 40 lbs for over a month now.  But really I was off by 1-3 lbs, depending on what time of day and whether I'd eaten ice cream or not!  I can't tell you how frustrating it has been to be 1 lb from your target for over 1 month and just not able to hit it.

On this journey I've spent a lot of time praying.  When I get stuck or frustrated, or just can't give up a certain type of food...I take it to the Lord.  It seems like every time I've laid it out before Him, He's been faithful to get me past and onto my next goal.  So this past week I again went to the Lord and shared my frustrations.  Through that time with Him I began to re-evaluate what I've been doing differently.  And I also came to realize I have been victorious this past month in maintaining one weight (depending on the time of day and...yep, the whole ice cream thing again!) and that when I eat 100% clean I will maintain a steady weight.  No more yo-yos!  That really was huge for me.

This past month I also lost my craving for ice cream.  (WHAT!)  I know - I'm pretty shocked myself.  My tastes continue to evolve and I find I'm no longer desiring things that I previously couldn't live without.  The "secret sugars" I was still inviting into my diet.  Those would include Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream (made with all whole foods) and Fresh & Easy vanilla Greek yogurt.

This week I officially:
  • reached 40 lbs weight loss
  • stopped eating ice cream (I'm sure I'll still enjoy on occasion)
  • made the leap from Greek yogurt with sugar to Greek yogurt without sugar!!!
  • began eating a lot more raw snacks AND find them satisfying!
I also evaluated the things that I had changed the past month and added these back in, resulting in finally reaching my target:
  • drinking 66 oz of water a day (3 of my big Tervis tumblers!), one as soon as I wake up in the morning
  • drinking 1 glass of 1/2 squeezed lemon and 1 tbsp maple syrup then filling the rest of the glass up with ice water, also first thing in the morning
  • drinking 2 raw green smoothies a day, 22 oz each  (I had cut back to 1 and then was sharing that one with the kids.  It's amazing what a difference the smoothie makes!)
  • at the gym I'd cut out all core exercises (not sure why...other than I have been sick the past two weeks and before that...laziness??).  So I added two main ones back into my daily routine.
The great thing about meeting a goal is getting to set a new one. I love new beginnings and fresh starts! So here's to the next 10 lbs and the lessons I'm going to learn in getting there!

Have you reached a health goal that you're dying to "shout out" to the world?  Go ahead and share and let us cheer you on!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Muffin Cookies (for Breakfast or ANY time of day!)

I have a brand-new recipe to share that I had originally called "Muffin Top" Cookies because these look a lot like tops of muffins (which we can all agree are the favorite part!).  However, when I mentioned it on FB someone thought they were cookies that would give you a "muffin top" belly!  So the name had to get changed.  These will definitely NOT give you a muffin top (belly) unless you eat the whole batch at once, which is a temptation.  Check out the super-foods in the ingredient line-up to see what I'm talking about!  No sugar or butter to be found!

So the history of these cookies...  A few weeks back a friend sent me a healthy recipe for breakfast cookies.  I was really excited until I looked over the recipe, and then I knew it wasn't clean at all.  "Healthy"...sort of.  But it had sugar and butter and sugar...and you get the picture.  (click here to view the original recipe)  I knew it could be altered to become clean, I just wasn't too sure how to do it so I called on a new friend/mentor, Tiffany, at The Gracious Pantry for help.  She sent me back her suggestions and then I made more changes and finally tried it out.  I LOVED the results!  In fact I loved them SO much I decided to share the recipe here!  I can (sort-of) call it my own :-)

                                                            Amy's Clean Muffin Cookies
1-1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (+ an extra shake if you like things saltier)

1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp. unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp. molasses
1/3 cup agave or honey
1 egg
1/4 cup  cooked pumpkin puree (or carrots as original recipe calls for)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran cereal flakes – (I finally found clean high-fiber flakes at Sprouts but they weren’t bran)
1/3 cup craisins
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (I chop in a mini food processor/grinder)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, flax and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
3. Combine oil, molasses, applesauce and honey/agave in a separate bowl.  Microwave 15 sec and continue whisking until completely combined (may need to do an additional 15 sec in microwave).  Add egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds or until well combined.
4. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Add oats, flakes, craisins and pecans and mix just until incorporated.  Dough will be sticky, more like a cake batter than cookie dough.
5. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place tablespoon sized scoops of batter on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.   They aren’t like traditional cookies…more like muffin tops!  Super moist yet solid and easy to eat on-the-go!

*Note: they freeze very well and make for a great grab-and-go breakfast for on the way to school or for in kids' backpacks for lunch or snack.  Flavors intensify by day 2.  Try switching out the Craisins with dark chocolate chips or dried cherries for a variation!  (Craisins do contain do most dried cranberries.)