Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Melissa!! (+ favorite recipe)

In honor of my sister's birthday today I decided to share what has been our favorite family recipe for about 3 years now.  It was my first healthy recipe to ever receive and we still absolutely love it!

When I asked my sister the other day what she was hoping to receive for her birthday, the only thing she said was "your peanut butter bars" so guess what...I'm about to head into the kitchen and whip some up!  She's going to get a little more than just the bars but that is to remain a surprise for now :-)

As for my sister, she is literally the best sister a girl could ever ask for.  I remember in high school being so annoyed with her and someone telling me the wisest words: Someday she'll be your best friend.  I sure scoffed at them then but their words proved true...she is my best friend!  I am blessed to live near my sister where our kids can grow up together and hopefully be best friends too (our 2nd sons were born only 1 day apart!).  My sister is the most loving, patient friend and mom.  She sacrifices more for her family than most people will ever know.  And she sacrifices much for me and my family as well.

This is a tribute to her and I hope she doesn't mind my sharing our last photo taken together:

Happy Birthday Melissa!!!



Peanut Butter Granola Bars


In a large bowl combine the following:
½ cup honey
Just over 1 c peanut butter (chunky or creamy – if creamy you can add some chopped pecans)
1 cup oats (I use ¼ c steel cut oats, ¾ c rolled oats – you can use all of one or whatever combo of both to get the consistency you like.  If you use quick cooking oats you might want to cut back cooking time a little)
¾ c granola
You can add anything you like – butterscotch chips, cc chips, chopped m&m (after cooking), etc…
Microwave for 2 min, mix ingredients
Microwave for an additional 2 min, mix ingredients
Cover baking sheet with wax paper or tin foil, spread mix over paper and let sit for a few hours.  (I actually cover over the top too and then use a rolling pin to roll them flat and even.  Then I refrigerate them.)
Cut into bars – enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chocolate Chip Bread Bites...or are they cookies??

Today was a special day for us.  My little guy turned 6!  I made these wonderful from-a-box cupcakes that were dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, sugar-free.  (Believe it or not, they really are good!!)  At the party this one little cutie says "no thankyou" to the cupcakes.  I said, "Really? Are you sure?" and he said, "I've already had two donuts today.  I can't have any more sugar."  (Cheers to his mom!)  I was so impressed!  So I said, "Well, guess what!  These don't have any sugar in them!" and with that three kids at the table pushed them away and said, "Ew!  I don't want to eat these!"  Oh well...  You win some (1) and lose some (3).

I changed up my Recipe page and won't be posting any recipes on there from this point on but will be catching up on all the past recipes and re-posting them.  They will now be accessible to everyone.  Today I'm transferring over the recipe that has been on that page (for the past 6 months...oops it's July... so 7 months!) to this post. 

And I have a favor to ask.  If you look to the right ------------> where the "email" button is, would you please enter your email to receive subscriptions straight to your inbox when I publish new posts?  Once you enter it you will receive a confirmation email.  Just open the email and click to confirm.  I'd love to get my numbers up a little bit and would appreciate the help!  Thank you!!

Here's the Recipe.  It's a favorite!  I made it for our recent trip to California.  It traveled well and gave us energy for both Legoland and Sea World.  I hope you love it as much as we do!

Re-posted from January 2012:  I found this recipe last week and immediately had to hop off my bed and run to make it.  It only has a few ingredients and is super quick to whip up, making them a truly perfect recipe.  BUT while they were called cookies in her blog (Chocolate Covered Katie), and they look like cookies, they do NOT taste like cookies.  Once I got over the non-cookie-tasting cookies, I loved them. 

I have adjusted a few ingredients and renamed the recipe to be Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bread Bites.  Because they really are like eating little oatmeal bread bites...or Chippers as Paradise Bakery might call them.  They're great for a solid snack, easy to grab for on-the-go, great breakfast for kids before school (and they're sweet!).  They are gluten-free AND sugar free!  My kids didn't like them at first but, as with all of my clean-eating snacks, they are adjusting and just gobbled up a few of the ones that came out of the oven moments ago.  So here you are...have fun trying variations of this recipe and enjoy!


Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Bread Bites

Ingredients
· 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
· 1 cup applesauce (or a little less)
· 1/2 cup organic or all-natural peanut butter (try with almond butter too!)
· 1-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
· 1 tsp vanilla
· 1/2 tsp cinnamon
· 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (depends on how salty you like it)
· Chocolate chips (I didn't measure, just poured in until I was satisfied)
Directions
· Preheat oven to 350 degrees
· Mix all ingredients together in one bowl.  This is a moist dough.  I kept adding more oatmeal to make it a little stiffer until I got to the amount I listed above.
· Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet
· Bake for 30 - 35 min  (less if you like moister cookies, more if you want a more crisp top)
· yields 2 dozen
Isn't that the easiest recipe ever!  You can do raisins/craisins instead of chocolate chips.  Add in some chopped nuts.  Change out 2 over-ripe mashed bananas for the applesauce for more of a banana bread taste.  So many options!  This is super healthy.  Add in 1 T ground flax-seed for more of a health kick (ooh - why am I just thinking of that now?  I'm definitely doing that next time!)  Take out the maple syrup if you want it less sweet.

I hope you love these as much as I do!

With clean-eating recipes, food doesn't expand as it bakes.  Feel free to pack them on the tray!  They'll come out exactly the same size that you plopped them on at. (pre-baking pic)

Post-baking picture.  They look pretty much the same. 
Bake 5 min longer if you want them a little more browned on top.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crunchies Recipe (i.e. homemade Clean granola)

I haven't made my "regular" recipes for a few months now...since I did my juice fast.  My clean-eating granola, cookies, brownies, muffins, etc...  I've stayed pretty much raw as far as food prepared in-home.  But this week for some reason I find myself needing something snacky and reaching for sugar again.  Seriously...what IS it with me and sugar?!?  Once an addict...always an addict. 

So tonight I decided it was time to get back to my recipes and make something that will satisfy my snack-need but still be healthy.  I tend to use my blog as my own personal recipe book (which I guess it is!) but when I looked up my Crunchies (i.e. granola) recipe, it wasn't here!  This is the #1 recipe I've recommended to people over the past year + and I'm embarrassed to see it's missing from my blog.  Time to correct that!

I had originally posted it in the Recipes section and then was rotating the recipes out every 2 weeks.  If you take a look in there you can see that hasn't happened in awhile.  So I'm going to update the Recipe section a little and just put the links to the recipes that are posted throughout the blog, and then make sure the recipes I've already posted are all here again and accessible. 

Amy's Crunchies



I originally posted this recipe on 9/10/11 and this is what I wrote:

This granola recipe has become the #1 breakfast and snack food in my house.  We eat it in a bowl with milk, sprinkled over Greek Yogurt or in baggies as a snack.  The kids love it in their lunches at school.  I love it when I need something sweet in the middle of the day. 

I did, however, find this recipe on Tosca Reno's Eat-Clean Diet website, posted by one of her followers.  Boy am I grateful she did post it!  The original name for it was "Chocolate/PB Eat-Clean Granola" (who wouldn't love that!).  We changed the name to "Crunchies" because my kids won't eat things with certain names.  Granola is one of their forbidden words ...they won't touch it if it's granola. (I know - they're weird.  They also won't eat a sandwich if you call it a sandwich.  Call it peanut butter bread and they're all over it.)  So one day I called these Crunchies and they downed the entire tray!


Ingredients 
·   2 cups of Oats
·   4 Tablespoons crushed raw walnuts (or other nut of choice)
·   a few Tablespoons flax seeds
·   1 tsp chia seeds
·   2 Tablespoons all natural nut butter (any kind you like)
·   1 tsp pure vanilla
·   3 Tablespoons raw honey
·   3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
·   1/2 c chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher)
 Instructions
1.      Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
2.      Mix the oats, walnuts, flax seed and chia seeds in a mixing bowl.
3.      In a separate bowl add the nut butter, coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Heat in microwave in 20 second intervals until melted. Stir until nice and creamy.
4.      Slowly add the wet mixture to the oats and fold gently until all oats are covered and a bit moist. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate (or dark chocolate chips).
5.      Place a sheet of parchment paper or tin foil on a cookie sheet. Spread the oatmeal mixture on the parchment paper nice and flat. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip and move the oat mixture around, then cook for another 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
Makes approx 3 1/2 cups of granola.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

*My side notes: my family prefers when I make this with peanut butter and I usually add a little more than the recipe calls for.  My sister's family prefers it with almond butter.  Almond butter will make the granola come out darker.  Both taste great!  I double the recipe but pack it all onto one baking sheet so that it hardens into larger clumps, which make great snacks that are easy to hold. 

Serving suggestion: mix finished granola with other nuts, seeds, dried fruits and pretzels (if you're not going 100% clean) and make a trail mix.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some Interesting Things

I've come across a few interesting things lately so I thought I'd share them with you.  I'm a big fan of Raw for Thirty Days (how to be healed from diabetes in 30 days...amazing!!).  Alex Ortner and his brother and sister (Nick and Jessica) have done some amazing research on the human body and I've found it fascinating how God has designed us with such incredible thought and detail. 

They sent out some info this week by Jon Gabriel called "The 9 Primitive Fat Triggers In Your Life".  If you had the opportunity to view Hungry For Change that came out earlier this year, Jon Gabriel was featured in that film.  (If not, you can watch the first 20 min at the link I included.  Please do...it's worth it!!)  There is a 3-minute test at this link to find out your top fat triggers (why your body wants to hold on to fat).  Take it here:  http://www.gabrielcode.com/online/what-are-your-fat-triggers-1  There's a short video with it where John shares a little of his story about being 400+ lbs...you've got to see him now!  What a story!  (My #1 fat trigger is Toxicity, #2 is Lifestyle Stresses...feel free to share yours in the comments.)

Something else I discovered this week that I found interesting is the following:


One of the most common things I'm told is "I could never eat like you because it's just too expensive!"  I'd like to challenge you to keep track of how much money you're spending on food for one month.  I'm not talking JUST grocery store...track every trip to McDonald's, Chick Fil A, icecream etc... ANY food you eat, keep track of it in a notebook.  When I first started on my journey to health, I did this and found I was spending approx $300/mo in the grocery but over $400/mo on fast food.  It was crazy ridiculous!!!  At that point I was eating fast food 2-3x a day.  Even if I am spending the same amount on groceries now as before (I don't know, I haven't tracked it), I know for sure I'm saving at least $400 a month because eating as I now do (Clean and plant-based) keeps me away from fast food!  Give it a try and then PLEASE don't tell me anymore how expensive eating healthy it!

Lastly...here's a fun little nutritional quiz I heard today and want to pass on to you.  What food do we eat like a vegetable, call a vegetable but actually is NOT a vegetable?  It's a grain!  Click this link: Chocolate Covered Katie for the answer.  I was surprised...are you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Amazing Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

I've tried dozens of pancake recipes over the past year, trying to come up with just the perfect one for my family.  I've found some decent ones but ususally there's something wrong... a strange smell... they're too heavy...or they just plain taste wierd.

I'd been using this recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie for awhile but the kids hated it and it had a strange smell.  I'm honestly not sure why but I think it might have been the whole wheat flour that I was using.  A few weeks ago I took this recipe and changed it a teeny tiny bit but what a HUGE difference it made.  I made them again this morning and the kids were RAVING... "Mom, you're the BEST COOK!" "These are the best pancakes EVER." etc...  I had to agree...they really were fabulous!  It only took a year to come up with something that would get as good of reviews as Aunt Jemima.  I feel like I can finally sit back and say "Job Done!"

Here it is...my edited version of Katie's blueberry pancakes.

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup + 2 T oat flour (just put the oats in a blender/grinder and blend into powder)
  • 2 overflowing tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • rind of one lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • several handfuls of blueberries
Directions:

I tossed all the ingredients except the blueberries into my blender and blended until it was a smooth mixture, but you can also mix by hand.  Gently add blueberries.  Coat the frying pan/griddle with coconut oil and cook.  Because of the lemon and the spelt flour, these come out light and fluffy.  If you don't like lemon, replace lemon with 2 tsp cinnamon.

Enjoy!

**Note: Spelt Flour is not gluten-free


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Have I Fallen Off the Face of Earth? (+ new recipe)

I think the honest and real answer to my title is "yes".  Or maybe it's YES!!!  Some unexpected and difficult things have happened in my life the past few months to derail not just my blogging but pretty much everything I find enjoyable in life.  Nevertheless, while I may have disappeared as a blogger for awhile, I've continued to stay strong with my healthy eating lifestyle.  In fact, I've actually progressed to a whole new level!

I do want to (and will) eventually blog the details as so many people are asking me about it.  In short, I've learned about juicing, enjoyed a 21 day Juice Fast and as a result lost 10 lbs (gained back 4 for a grand total of -6!) and haven't eaten meat in nearly 2 months.  I'm loving my plant-based life!  (i.e. Vegetarian)

I have a few new resources to share that I've gained the past two months. 

For those interested in juicing, I'd recommend picking up anything by Jason Vale, otherwise known as The Juice Master.  Also I encourage everyone to watch Fat Sick and Nearly Dead (available on Netflix) or click the link to head directly to the website.  This will be the best hour and 1/2 investment you could put into your health!  And you'll fully understand why I chose to do a juice fast.  Finally I'd recommend Forks Over Knives (also on Netflix) for a deeper understanding of why I've chosen a plant-based diet.

All three of these resources have had a life-changing impact on me the past few months that have helped me more fully understand the WHY behind my choice to eat healthy and strive to obtain optimal health.

I've also changed gyms and hired a trainer.  I did my full-body test and came out as still being clinically obese, or as my trainer calls me "skinny fat".  And my age equivalency came out to be the same as a 59 year old woman (not to offend any of my beautiful 59 year old friends...but I am only in my 30's!).  So while I thought I was doing great, it turns out I have a looong way to go to obtain optimal health.  That whole pride coming before a fall has really hit me hard this month.  On the plus side, I am on the right track!

So, on to the recipe.  I was in California last week and fell in love with all the healthy vegetarian options everywhere I went (i.e. Legoland, Sea World, the beach!).  I discovered a fast food restaurant that served vegetarian and vegan food options!  Man I wish I could clone it here in Arizona.  It was called CBW (Crazy Bowls and Wraps) and it was listed as a "green" food fast chain.  Click the link to check them out and see if there's one by you. We went through the drive-thru each day and I love love loved one particular item on their menu.  Here's my version!

Indonesian Peanut Stir-Fry

1 grain (choose either quinoa, brown rice or white rice)
chop and lightly stir-fry your choice of veggies in coconut oil (8 or more for a nice variety)
Indonesian peanut-sauce (see below)

*optional - add black beans or tofu for an additional protein punch.  CBW grilled the tofu, cut it into chunks and added it.  Fabulous!!

Sauce: Whisk the following ingredients in a bowl until creamy (takes a few minutes)

1/4 cup peanut butter
3 T low-sodium soy sauce  (tamari or coconut amino's will work too)
2 T red wine vinegar (or 1 T cooking wine and 1 T your choice of vinegar)
2 T water (or a little more if the sauce tastes too strong for you)
2 tsp sesame oil
optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions: Put 1/2 cup of your grain in a bowl and top with a generous helping of your stir-fried veggies, beans and/or tofu.  Put a dollop of the peanut-sauce on top and enjoy!

Some veggie suggestions: kale, broccoli, carrots, onion, bell-pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, egg plant, garlic...  Whatever is in your fridge!  This is a great recipe for cleaning out the veggie drawer and not letting anything go to waste.  This would taste great with pineapple chunks mixed in too.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A TON of Oatmeal Recipes!

I have always hated cooked oatmeal so I find it kind of ironic that I'm writing about oatmeal today.  Or that oatmeal has become such a HUGE part of my diet at all!  I had no idea it was possible to eat raw oatmeal until a few months ago, when my sister introduced me to their raw oatmeal that they eat every morning.  It turns out that while I hate cooked oatmeal, oats in general I absolutely love!  It's a good thing too because they're rich in iron, which is something I seem to be really needing these days.

Oats are not only high in iron, they also provide a solid amount of protein and fiber.  They can be ground into flour or used whole.  You can find them in quick cooking versions (these have lower nutritional value as they are more processed), long cooking (these are what we eat/use.  I think they taste better) or steel-cut oats, which are harder to chew but pack a real nutritional punch!  Oats help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and are incredibly healthy for the heart.  Seriously, what's not to love about oatmeal? 

Except...when cooked, I seriously hate the texture.  It's either slimy or so thick I'd need a glass of milk for every spoonful.  And they're sooo bland.  The only way I could eat oatmeal was in the instant flavored packets.  But once I started learning about eating healthy, I discovered how unhealthy those packets were.  In fact, the sugar and salt levels in them completely negated all health benefits of the oats!  (And the "diet" versions are actually much worse that the regular.)  I can't tell you how glad I am to discover that raw oats not only taste great but are even healthier than the cooked version.  (Any food cooked over 104 degrees loses nutritional value.)

Is it any surprise that I have a TON of recipes to share?  Some I'll give you links, some I'll type below for you.  Sorry I don't have many pictures.  (There are some things I just have to let slide these days and photos of food is one of them.)

Serving Size:  1/3 cup = 1 serving of oatmeal.  If you're focusing on weight control, be sure you keep a measuring cup with your oats.  I used to just dump from the container the amount that looked good to me until I discovered it was more like 2 servings worth.

Recipe 1: Melissa's Raw Breakfast Oatmeal

I name this for my sister who shared the recipe with me.  I can't remember if she created it herself or found it somewhere.  What I'm sharing below is how I make it, which is a little different than she does.  Same great results though!

1/3 cup whole long-cooking oats
pinch of salt
couple shakes of cinnamon
approx 1 tsp pure maple syrup
handful of raisins or craisins
non-dairy milk (we use almond milk...also rice or soy are good options)

Mix ingredients and add as much milk as you desire.  Let sit for 5 min.  The longer they sit the softer the oats will be.  Remember this oatmeal will be cold!  It's a different experience and one I was hesitant to try, but once I did...absolutely loved it!!

Recipe 2: Tosca Reno's Oatmeal-on-the-Go

This recipe is from The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno.  She keeps the following ingredients in baggies and carries them with her.  If she's out and clean food isn't an option, she simply asks for a bowl, spoon and hot water, whips out her oatmeal, adds water and has a full meal.  My kids eat this several days a week.  2 of the 3 love it (pretty good stats for my family).

1/3 cup whole oats + a little of each of the following (no worries if you're missing one or two):
wheat germ
ground flax seed
cinnamon
sea salt
protein powder
bee pollen
raisins or craisins (although they do have sugar)
*peanut butter
*maple syrup or honey

The * foods are ones we add in addition to Tosca's recipe.  Add boiling water and wait 3-4 minutes before enjoying.


Recipe 3: "Crunchies" (aka Clean-Eating Granola)


Ingredients
·   2 cups of Oats
·   4 Tablespoons crushed raw walnuts (or other nut of choice)
·   2 Tablespoons all natural nut butter (any kind you like)
·   1 tsp pure vanilla
·   3 Tablespoons raw honey
·   3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
·   1/2 c dark chocolate chips
·   a few Tablespoons flax seeds
·   1 tsp chia seeds
Instructions
1.      Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
2.      Mix the oats, walnuts, flax seed and chia seeds in a mixing bowl.
3.      In a separate bowl add the nut butter, coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Heat in microwave in 20 second intervals until melted. Stir until nice and creamy.
4.      Slowly add the wet mixture to the oats and fold gently until all oats are covered and a bit moist. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
5.      Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spread the oatmeal mixture on the parchment paper nice and flat. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip and move the oat mixture around, then cook for another 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
Makes approx 3 1/2 cups of granola.

Recipe 4: Tosca's Oatmeal Pancakes



This is our favorite pancake recipe, although I'll add one more at the bottom via link that is also fabulous.  The base recipe is Tosca's however I've changed a few things so if you find hers on-line, it looks similar but isn't exact.

Ingredients
• 2 1/2 cups dry rolled oats
• 4 whole eggs (or 6 egg whites)
• 1 cup milk of your choice
• 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
• 1 Tbsp Coconut oil
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• Coconut oil for cooking the pancakes
**Our favorite way to eat these is to leave out the cinnamon.  Add juice of 1 lemon + the grated rind of the lemon.  Add about a cup of blueberries.  YUM!!
Preparation
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor (except blueberries if you're using those...add those at the end whole). Blend the mixture for 20 seconds. The resulting mixture should be smooth. Melt or pour 1 tbsp coconut oil into your frying pan. Heat over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake mixture on the hot surface. Cook until the pancakes are dry and bubbly on the edges. Bubbles should appear on top, as well. Turn and brown the other side. (These take longer than normal pancakes to cook.)
  2. Always use pure maple syrup, never the cheap fake versions.  This is always your best option for both flavor and health.

Blueberry Pie Pancakes (and a whole lot of other choices): 
http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/chocolate-covered-recipes/pancake-pandemonium/

Energy Bites (my kids call them chocolate balls): http://naturallysweetsurprises.blogspot.com/2012/03/pinterest-or-pin-uninterest.html

Clean-Eating Muffin Cookies:
http://naturallysweetsurprises.blogspot.com/2011/09/muffin-cookies-for-breakfast-or-any.html

Alrighty...there are actually SO many oatmeal recipes I keep coming across that I'll have to do another blog with more of them.  Here's my most recent one and a current favorite.  It was so good when I made one batch (and ate straight from the bowl) that I had to make a 2nd batch while the ingredients were still out.  It uses oatmeal flour.  I just put raw oats into a mini food processor and a few seconds later have flour!  I do sift it before adding to the bowl.

No Bake Peanut-Butter Pretzel Bars  (leave pretzels out to make them GF)
http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/04/09/no-bake-peanut-butter-pretzel-bars/

You can probably tell from these recipes that I also love peanut butter! 

All of this reminds me that I have to bring a casserole for my MOPS group this next Wed.  Guess what I'm bringing...OATMEAL CASSEROLE!  (A recipe all the moms love, and one I'll have to share next time because I actually have to locate the recipe :-).

Enjoy and please share your feedback: which you tried and what you thought.


**Note on oats...they are gluten free naturally however Quaker Oats are processed in a plant where other wheat products are processed.  There is a high chance there will be cross-contamination.  Try Bob's Red Mill for truly GF oats.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

ReVisiting my WHY

April is officially upon us and with April come Allergies.  Everyone around me is so miserable.  Usually I'm right there with you all!  I've had allergies my entire life and this time of year I'm usually sick sick sick.  Realizing that, for the first time, I'm not suffering with the masses, I've started to reflect upon April 2011 and how I was feeling... and what has changed.

Miserable!  Last April I couldn't breathe.  I went to my family doctor who sent me to an Asthma specialist, who then sent me to an Allergy specialist.  I visited them all 2-3x.  Everyone had to do their own testing and blood work.  I was being tested for Lupus, among other diseases.  I was given a pneumonia shot that you can only receive 2x in your lifetime, so they could check my immunities.  I had Atopic Dermatitis and my skin was always itchy.  I felt miserable, I hated sitting hours in each of the offices only to leave with no help or hope. I hated being poked and prodded. And the final conclusion... Out of all the specialists I visited, not one could figure out what was wrong with me.  The only thing of value I left with was this advice: "Try losing weight and eating healthier."

At this point I'd already been doing Weight Watchers for 2 months so I thought I was on the right track.  But I stumbled upon Clean Eating and Raw/Vegan eating and the combo of these has literally changed my life!  My skin cleared up.  I've been able to stop using the special expensive lotion and use a good but less expensive brand.  I could stop with the inhalers and asthma meds (which I was using even though they said I didn't have asthma).  I lost 40 lbs, started exercising/running and felt great about myself for the first time in a looong time.  I've not been back to the doctor in a year and it feels so fabulous! 

What has made this difference?  Cutting out all processed foods, fried foods, fast foods and drinks other than coffee, tea & water.  Cutting out sugar.  Decreasing my dairy intake.  Eating a lot of raw foods and whole foods.  Adding Grapefruit Seed Extract and Bee Pollen to my diet.  And drinking water...a lot of water!  (Check out Tosca Reno's book The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged)

I'm glad to be reviewing my life a year ago because it's easy to grow complacent, to forget my WHY, to slip back into old ways of eating and to think it doesn't matter anymore.  But it does matter.  I need to stay diligent so I can stay healthy.  After all, my WHY is optimal health...to not get any of the diseases that I see my friends falling to around me.

So this is a "happy anniversary" of health to me.  I still need to lose those final pesky 10 lbs.  BUT I'm happy that I've stayed consistent weight-wise instead of the usual roller-coaster.  It's also exciting that I've not been sick with allergies at all this year.  I do take Zyrtec every morning and Benadryl every afternoon because of the atopic dermatitis (I'm afraid to stop!), and I know that helps with the allergies too.  (Last year those meds didn't even touch the allergy problems I was having.) Taking bee pollen most days has really helped with the allergies this year. 

In my last post a few weeks ago I included a recipe that I wasn't sure how to name.  After making 4 batches of it and going through it all in 1-2 days each, I've concluded that "Energy Bites" really are the best title.  Those little nutritious balls really pack a punch!  They keep you feeling full and give more energy than a cup of coffee.  And they taste great!  The other day my husband was asking my kids what they had for breakfast.  I heard my 5 year old say, "We had chocolate balls, Dad.  With some healthy stuff in them too."  With what other way of eating could I feed my kids "chocolate balls" for breakfast and not have to feel guilty?  In case you missed that post, here's the link to it and the recipe:  click here.

As this is the beginning of our Easter weekend, I wish you all a wonderful holiday and I encourage you to stay away from the jelly beans, the Peeps (blech...seriously the WORST food you could ever ever ever eat!!) and all the other chocolate covered eggs and bunnies out there.  Choose healthy eating...and choose a healthy life!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pinterest or Pin-uninterest?

Are you a fan of Pinterest?  I'm guessing that 85% of you reading this are fans of this new social/creative-idea-sharing website.  I have not joined nor do I see myself joining anytime in the near future.  I know it might help grow my blog or my photo props business, but honestly I'm already on such idea overload that I'm not sure adding one more website will be beneficial to my brain.  So for now...I graciously decline all of the invites many of you keep sending me.

That said, there was a recipe from Pinterest that a friend shared on Facebook today.  The minute I saw it, I knew I had to try it.  And boy am I glad I did!  I wasn't able to access the actual recipe (it took another friend to get it for me) but for those of you who can, here's the original recipe and all of her notes so that you can go re-pin it and encourage the originator: http://pinterest.com/pin/215046950926882633/ 

For those of you in my pin-uninterest camp, the recipe is below.  These, to me, are the closest tasting to chocolate chip cookie dough I've made.  And it's almost-raw, clean and oh so healthy!  What surprised me was that 1) the kids were willing to try them right away (we've come a long way, baby! and 2) the kids...and me...couldn't stop eating them!  These are super easy and really worth making.  The kids are excited to have them in their lunches tomorrow.

The original maker calls them: No-Bake Energy Bites Recipe
I would simply call them "Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls"
Ingredients:
1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
1 cup no-sugar-added coconut flakes
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use free trade dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use Kirkland Signature natural peanut butter)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
Method:
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
I made mini dime-sized balls perfect to pop into little kids' mouths.  Towards the bottom of the bowl it was hard to make it stick together so I dumped the rest into a baggie and shaped it into a granola bar size bar and tossed it in the fridge.  I don't know how many it makes because we ate so much!  But I still have an entire Ziploc storage container full in the fridge.  Sorry I don't have a picture to add.  Maybe tomorrow...

Enjoy!

*the only change I made from the original was the coconut.  She put to use toasted coconut.  I used un-toasted no-sugar-added coconut flakes from Sprouts.  Really good!!



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UnLent...What to add??

Today is Fat Tuesday and I'm honestly sitting here feeling kind of fat because I've been very bad about following my own health proclamations from this blog.  The past 5 weeks have seen me backing off and choosing unhealth.  And to be honest, I haven't wanted to write or post on the blog because I felt like a hypocrite.  But today is Fat Tuesday which means tomorrow is Lent...is there any better time to get back on track than today? 

Having grown up in a Conservative Baptist home/church environment, I never heard of Fat Tuesday or Lent.  It wasn't something we believed in or embraced, therefore I was never exposed to it.  And honestly, if I hadn't been listening to the radio today talking about it, I wouldn't even know now that tomorrow is Lent or that Fat Tuesday even existed. 

Now I know that fasting is Biblical, and fasting for 40 days was modeled by Jesus.  But I'm not convinced that there is a Biblical precedence for Lent.  Without researching it right now, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the "church" (i.e. of Rome) created this occasion.  Not that this is a bad occasion, I'm just saying it's not something that the Bible mandates. 

All that said, I've always found it curious that people give up chocolate or coffee (those are probably the most common ones I've heard of) for 40 days.  The true reason for giving up something is to draw you closer to Christ, to shift the time, effort and energy you would normally put into that item into reflecting and meditating upon the Holy One.  For the most part I wonder if people know about the reason for Lent and really use that time to prepare for Easter.  That's a personal issue between you/them and Jesus.  But I want to throw out there that perhaps this Lent you don't give up something but you add something in.

How about UnLenting!  Here are some ideas.  Add in drinking a glass of water with lemon each morning for 40 days before Easter.  Let the bitterness of the drink remind you of the bitterness of Jesus on the cross even as the lemon and water wash toxins from your body...so Jesus washes the sin from us.  Add in 1 green smoothie every day for the next 40 days.  Add health to your life so that your life might last longer!  Add Jesus to your life...add in reading the Bible daily.  Or choosing one verse a day to meditate on through the day.  Or 5 minutes on your knees in prayer every day for the next 40 days. 

If omitting something from your life is supposed to be good for you - imagine how wonderful adding something into your life will be! 

Whatever your beliefs are, my prayer for you is that the next 40 days will lead to a healthier you...both physically and spiritually...and I pray that for myself as well.