Saturday, December 8, 2012

And the b(eat) goes on.

I am happy to say I am still eating well. Even though I haven't been blogging as regularly. (Sorry about that.) I am also happy to see that finding good food is getting easier. It turns out unsweetened ice tea can be found in individual drinks in store coolers now. That is certainly helpful. Sometimes I want something with flavor instead of plain water. Or I might need a little caffeine. 

I got to eat at Primo again last night. It was our clinics annual holiday team dinner. It is always a pleasure. Their food is not only cooked beautifully but much of it is raised right there. I get the duck as often as I can. This is a washed out photo (too much flash) but it was amazing. 

I also always try new foods when I am there. If I had a better memory I could tell you what I ate but sadly I don't. Heck I can't even remember what came with the duck and the photo is right there! It was all amazing though and that is what counts. It is also very clean eating because it is all cooked right there using fresh real food. Which also counts.

A new trick I have is putting pistachios in a bowl on the counter for snacking. This way if I get a craving for something crunchy, instead of reaching for the potato chips I grab a few of them instead. (keep a small bowl there for the shells) Again, real food that is good for you. 

My husband got us a family membership to the YMCA this year. Both of my kids do athletics and are exercising more so it was a good investment for us. I am excited to put it to good use as well. My favorite exercise is swimming. A few years ago I took a synchronized swimming class with my daughter. I loved the challenge of it. Don't think that is a real sport? Try doing some of their moves! You will change your mind. (It is a great workout for the abs!)

On the exercise front I am also looking forward to doing some snowshoeing this winter. Of course this means we need some snow. It shouldn't be a problem in Maine but some winters are better than others when it comes to that. I like exercise that doesn't feel like exercise. Hiking in the woods, walking the dogs, playing games on the wii, and other stuff like that. Unfortunately I need to add some strength training to my routine since I have hit that age bracket. Gotta keep those bones strong!

On a similar note I have stopped drinking skim milk. I did a little research in the subject and what I found didn't seem right to me. Did you know after they take the fat out of the milk it is a grey color so they add powdered milk back into it? It changes the way our bodies process it among other things. So as an experiment I am going back to whole milk instead. Not only that I have also started buying raw milk at my local co-op as well. I tried some at my sisters house at Thanksgiving from White's Orchard Farm and it was excellent. Very creamy. My kids liked it too! Always a good sign. So to supplement I am getting a half a gallon of raw a week as well. I personally think foods should be eaten in their natural state as much as possible. That means no GMO's as much as possible too. (which I just found out means Cheerios are now off my ok to eat list. ) We'll see if it makes a difference on the weight front.

As always, eat well! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's the gigantic things that get ya!

This morning we were out of milk. My go to breakfast is typically cheerios or life cereal with blueberries on top. (with skim milk) I couldn't chose toast because I have this weird thing about which food goes with which drink. Most of my breakfast choices need at least a mug of milk to wash it down. I never got into the coffee habit. (which I now count my blessings for) So because McD's is kind of on my way to work I went there instead. I got the oatmeal with fruit. I'm sure it is chock full of preservatives but it was a pick my battle kind of choice. I ate all of the fruit and maybe half of the oatmeal. I have to admit it was pretty good.
Not that I am advocating that sort of thing BUT I think sometimes you just have to make the better choice out of a few bad choices. I also got some unsweetened ice tea. Now here is where I have a bit of a gripe. It comes in one size. Gigantor. Seriously, who can drink that much of anything? I brought my plastic reuse-able cup with the straw (we have to have lids on our cups at work) and poured enough in to fill it up. I left the rest in my car. It is no wonder our society has an issue with obesity. If you figure the amount of sugar in the sweetened version of that size cup I'm sure we would all be appalled. When I went to lunch I poured the rest in my cup just to see how much I had. (the car was cold so it still had ice) It filled it again completely. So while some would think, "Cool, 2 drinks for the price of one." I'm thinking, wow that is ridiculous. Because let's face it, what percentage of people are getting it unsweetened like me? Just a thought.

(Tip: I find the unsweetened tea ant McD's FAR superior to the unsweetened tea at Dunkin Donuts for what it's worth. Though the size of the cup at DD is much more normal.) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eating on vacation & supporting your local farmer

So I just got back from a weeks vacation. I admit I was worried about falling off the eating well wagon. Thankfully that didn't happen. Sure I ate a few more things than I might have if I were at home but ultimately I did well. First of all there was good food choices everywhere! I was shocked that even in the airport I could find fruit and healthy snacks. I would say society must be changing because I don't remember that being the case in the past.
One of the things I did was bring these along:

I am kind of addicted to blueberries. I eat them on my cereal almost every morning. Berries are great for the antioxidants. I prefer fresh but use frozen (thawed) frequently when I need to. These were a great option that my husband found for me.
While there I did see a disturbing report on food that is being transported to restaurants not being properly cooled. I couldn't find the link but found this similar story instead. This is long (6 minutes) but worth watching. Yet another reason to support your local farmers.
So after a week of vacation eating I am pleased to report than I didn't gain a single ounce. I still need to find the motivation to begin working out to get in better shape. Tho I think I can safely say I have the food part down pretty well now.
Eat well!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I have a challenge for you....

I was thinking about the small things people can do to begin changing their eating habits to become healthier. I think starting slow was the key for me, and can be for others as well. So my challenge for the week to my readers who DO want to make the change is this: Cut out all soda for a week. Go for two weeks if you can. 

Weigh yourself before the challenge begins, and then at the end of the week(s) and see if you notice a change. (Tip: Weigh yourself in the morning before eating breakfast when your body is empty.) If you can't cut out all soda, then try at least cutting your consumption down. Replace when you would have soda with water or unsweetened ice tea. If you add a slice of lemon it sweetens our drink naturally AND gives you some benefit of the citrus. If you can't do unsweetened ice tea try ordering unsweetened and adding sugar packets. Add no more than 5 packets. (there are 10 packets per 1 can of soda. Source:

This will do 2 things for you. It will cut your sugar intake in half AND you will be adding the flavonoids of the tea to your diet which is healthy for your body. Both black tea and green tea is good for you. If you buy an ice tea, check the grams of sugar in it. (some are sugar free) 4o grams of sugar are what is in a typical can of soda. So the goal is to cut down on the sugar, while increasing the health benefits of what you are putting in your body. I make my tea by heating water and brewing 1 cup of decaffeinated tea and 1 cup of caffeinated tea and pouring them together to cool in the fridge. I add ice and lemon before drinking. Thankfully most fast food places do offer an unsweetened ice tea. (I had some at Wendy's yesterday.) When ordering unsweetened tea in restaurants be aware not all will taste good. Default to water if this happens to you. And keep trying! As we all know, some restaurants are better at some things than others. 

I haven't had a soda in months and I really don't miss it any more. Whenever I got tempted in the past I would just think about what little nutritional value it had for me, (none other than being a liquid) and I would make another choice. FMI about the health benefits of tea check this article out:  Cutting back on soda or phasing it out completely is just one way you can eat healthier. Then once you get the ball rolling the rest will come too.

My scale said 108.4 this morning. I swear on my whole families life I am not even trying to lose weight at this point! I am just as surprised as you are. And before anyone freaks at that number I am only 5'1". I am also still eating a LOT of food! (including the occasional fast food meal and cookies) I do still have a bit of the "Mummy Tummy" from birthing 2 kids. It is finally going away! I never thought I would see that happen. Eating healthy just works. Trust me, if I can do it anyone can!!!

Eat well!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm still eating!!

Yes I am still here. Sorry about the lag between posts. Life has just been so busy! Add that to battling some allergies and my "spare time" (ha ha) where I feel like doing more than just reading has just been very rare. Check out my new "look". When I can, I wear the mask because it cuts down on the coughing drastically. I can't get in to see the pulmonary specialist until the end of the month. Until then I am on a cough medicine that works but works best if I can take a dose that prevents me from being able to drive. Yeah, not helpful.

My husband and I went to a local well known restaurant in the area a few weeks ago. It is FABULOUS! It is called Primo and they specialize in home grown herbs, vegetables, eggs and they even raise their own pigs and ducks for the dinner table. They are a great example of healthy eating done well AND being as green as possible. I am convinced that you can NOT have a bad meal there! Here is their website:  Here are a few photos of just part of our fabulous meal. I had the duck and it came with a side of beets. Add beets to new foods tried for me list. Interestingly it tasted familiar and I did like them. The duck was perfection.

Because I know the co-owner Price (as a client of the vet hospital I work at)
he was kind enough to send out an extra course of a linguine dyed with squid ink. It also had cuttle fish and squid pieces along with chik peas and assorted vegetables. It was amazing! A very spicy dish for me as I am not used to eating much spicy foods. I am super proud of myself for eating it since once upon a time I wouldn't have even tried a dish like that.

This is one of the desserts we tried. It is a rhubarb crostata. Also amazing. Everything we had was wonderful. We sat near a window and it was incredible watching the chefs gather herbs and then take them back to the kitchen to use. You can't get fresher than that!

We also had a going away dinner for one of my co-workers since I last posted. I tried Fiddlehead pizza and it was fabulous.

I love this time of year because of all the fresh berries. I try to eat blueberries every day but I am making exceptions for strawberries when I can.

Can't get fresh berries where you are? A great second choice is homemade berry Jams. I am spoiled by a grandmother that makes her own and shares with the family.

It looks like my new maintained weight is still changing. The scale this morning said 110.2lbs. I admit I was surprised. With the cough I haven't been able to walk or exercise at all so I am happy that the eating well has continued to work. I do find I cheat a little more during "the week of the beast". I am ok with that. I still try to make healthier choices, homemade cookies vs store bought for instance. Check out the blog by a girl in the UK about her school lunches.  I love it. My son and I watched the documentary "Supersize Me" recently. I'm glad my kids are picking up on our message that healthy eating is important. I really wish I had learned the lesson earlier and could have been doing better by them when they were younger. It really is true, when you know better you do better. Happy eating!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pancakes and hard boiled eggs 101

First, it is weeks later and I am still holding at 115.2lbs. It looks like I have finally leveled off. That works for me! Now that doesn't mean I am changing what or how I eat. If I backslide I am positive I will gain it all back. Not to mention I will be eating unhealthy foods again. This is a lifestyle, not a diet remember.
Check out the pancakes I made the other day. For anyone worried that the taste is different I can assure you they tasted great. I added blueberries to one, and raspberries to the other. Add some homemade maple syrup from a friend and it was fabulous. Homemade syrup is less sweet than the sugar filled store bought so the berries make it a perfect balance. (I only ate about half of each pancake) A tip: make up all the batter into smaller pancakes and you can freeze them to warm up in the toaster at a later date.
Because I eat a lot of hard boiled eggs I needed to find a good recipe for them. Sadly it was because I kept over boiling them when left to my own cooking devices. Here is what worked for me: For easy peeling you want to use eggs that are older, 2 weeks are ideal. Use a heavy bottomed pan and make sure the eggs aren't crowded so they don't crack when the water comes to a boil. Put the eggs in the pan with at least an inch of cold water covering them. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover for 17 minutes. Then remove from the water and put into cold water again and let set for 15 minutes. You will have a hard boiled egg that is easy to peel and NOT overcooked.
Healthy eating!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I hit my goal!! and some helpful tips for others

New foods tried this week: Crabmeat quesadilla with the tomatoes and chilli's included! My previous version of a quesadilla was just chicken and cheese. It turns out I love tomatoes! I also tried a bite of my husbands enchillada (liked it) and some salsa. (too spicy) I only ate 3 of those slices. Thankfully it was light on the cheese. (From my local Mexican restaurant The Sunfire Grill in Rockland Maine which ROCKS!)

So I finally hit my goal weight of 115 lbs. I won't lie, I am excited about that. I do have to share something that happened though as a caution. I actually gained a pound during the time I was counting calories. I think I know why. I fell into the trap of only worrying about the calories and not paying as much attention to what I was actually eating. Oh a Hershey's kiss is only 21 calories? Well according to my numbers for the day I can eat 5. Cool. Forget about the fact it isn't a real food. (by real I mean something that has any nutritional value) It turns out it isn't always going to be super accurate. They give you a few choices for raw banana for instance that all differ in the count. Knowing which one you can use is a guessing game you can get wrong. So I went back to not keeping track and doing what works better for me. Trying to eat as much real food as possible and eating frequently. 3 meals and 2 snacks minimum.
I do also exercise a little. I walk as much as I can. Now for me this means a minimum of 30 minutes at a time of at least a moderate speed. I usually have a dog or 2 with me. (which varies my time and speed) If I am trying to burn more calories I shoot for 45 minutes at a faster pace. I read that for heart health you want to shoot for 30 minutes a day. I am lucky if I get 3 times a week. Because I am not a morning person I walk after work and on weekends. I don't keep track of my walking days, I just go whenever the weather is nice and I can eek out the time. If you can't do 30 minutes start with less. Work up. Any added exercise will benefit you. If you try to start strong and hurt yourself it won't do you any good. Look at it as just moving more than you did before. I am still hoping to add some strength training and yoga soon. (My husband is putting me to shame by running at least three 5K's a week now. That's ok! I am focused on me and my goals and supporting him and his. Don't worry about what others are doing, it isn't a competition.)
Getting healthy is also not a speed race, it is a long distance event. Portion control is important. Don't try to eat so little that you are hungry. This will also work against you as your body goes into starvation mode and you won't lose any weight. (if that is your intention) Or you will have a break down and pig out in response when you can't take it anymore. Start with just eating a little less in your portions. This will help shrink your stomach over time back to the normal size it should be. If you eat out very often you will notice most restaurants serve portions that are NOT a normal serving size. I am an adult and I eat a happy meal because that is a more normal size of a meal for me. If I go to The Olive Garden and get the Fettuccine Alfredo, I take half home to become another meal. I eat a small bowl of the salad and 1 breadstick. (a half would be better but once started it is hard to resist) It is ok to take the rest home! It is also ok to leave food on your plate and walk away. Yes you paid for the food but that shouldn't justify you eating all of it. Think ahead to potential doctor visits or medications needed for diabetes. Or just realize you paid for the food to be your fuel. It costs the same if you stop eating when you are full or if you eat it all. You aren't really "out" anything if you walk away. Super sizing is not a better value if it is super sizing you and your arteries!
Things I try to eat daily or at least very often: Blueberries for the antioxidents. (or other berries) I usually get these at breakfast or sometimes at lunch. Either by using thawed frozen (Maine) berries on my waffle, in my yogurt or on my cereal. (cheerios) If I miss them at breakfast I might have it in my grandmothers homemade jam at lunch. The next thing I eat daily is nuts. They are for heart health. My go to is almonds. I have some in a container I take to work. (no more than an ounce a day) Or I eat almond butter in a sandwich along with the jam. If I don't get it that way I add sunflower seeds to a salad. At the end of the day if I haven't had any nuts I might also have a handful of walnuts instead. Another thing I eat daily is wheat bread. Also for heart health. If you get store bought make sure it has 3 grams of dietary fiber to be a healthy source of fiber. (that 3 gram rule applies to other foods as well) Carbs get a bad name with people who diet. It isn't about cutting out all carbs, it is about eating good carbs. Simple carbs like donuts, cookies, pastas and such can be bad for you because of how they create sugar in your body. Complex carbs are good for you because they convert differently and keep your blood sugar regulated. (again, I am not a nutritionist but this is my understanding of the process) I do still eat cookies, just not as often and I now buy the ones with no trans-fats or I make my own. Eggs for vitamin D. I usually get 1 hard boiled egg at breakfast. If not I might do egg salad at lunchtime. (with reduced fat mayo made with olive oil) Fruit. Because I want to prevent scurvy! LOL No I just eat more fruits and veggies whenever I can because it is a natural food. I do sometimes eat half a grapefruit at breakfast. I also eat bananas frequently at least once a day.
What you drink matters too. Drink more water if possible. Again start slow if you need to. Replace 1 soda a day with water or ice tea instead. Tea is great for heart health and cholesterol health. It helps good cholesterol and blocks bad cholesterol. I brew my own unsweetened ice tea now. I started with a sweetened green tea and graduated to unsweetened. I buy lipton and try to have at least one glass a day. I brew it ahead and store it in the fridge. I add a piece of lemon for sweetener and for the citric acid. I haven't had a soda in months now and can honestly say I don't miss it at all. When I would still get cravings I would just think about what's in it. Syrup, sugar and carbonation. What's nutritious about that? I am also excited to report my teen daughter has also quit drinking soda. (aside from the occasional one at a friends house) This is big news because she was very much into her Dr. Pepper! (When I go to the movies I get a kids pack and ask for a tap water as my drink.)
Read your labels. If you can't pronounce half the stuff on the label it probably isn't good for you. Think of it this way, home made from scratch has things in it you know like flour, sugar, butter. Those are real foods. Processed foods have preservatives in them so they don't go bad on the store shelves. Some of those ingredients are chemical in nature. Those chemicals don't always act like real food in your body. When in doubt go with homemade if possible. If it isn't possible check out your health food aisle. Those labels are far less scary and usually have less or no trans-fats.
So that has what has worked well for me. I plan on continuing of course because it was never just about taking weight off. It is about a healthier lifestyle. I am still learning as I go of course. I also hope to post some recipes here that I find helpful.
Now the bad news: Eating better can cost more money I've found. Organic foods cost more than foods with chemicals because crappy foods are cheaper to produce. (because they are half chemical!) It can also mean more prep time and thinking ahead time. If you get hungry and only have junk food around guess what you will eat? That's right, the junk. (it happens to me too) So be prepared. Have healthy choices around. It doesn't mean you can never eat out or have some potato chips again either. Heck I have Ben and Jerry's ice creme in my freezer I sometimes eat! (beside my frozen yogurt) The secret is moderation. I don't sit down and eat the whole container. Unless you live on a farm and make all your own food you will eat some processed foods. It is reality. So yes eating healthier might cost more and yes it might mean more work on your part, but ask yourself this question? Aren't you worth it?

A healthier snack: Banana slices with dark chocolate melted on the top and frozen. Recipe from Clean Eating magazine. Next time I will try this with dehydrated banana chips. I found the banana to mushy when thawed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dieter beware

First I have to make a correction. The application is called "My Fitness Pal" and not My Fit Pal. Also you can use the website at: With the phone ap you can scan bar codes of the foods you eat which means it can also keeps track of other information like fat content, protein and trans fats. Pretty handy!

These are two Quiche I made recently with asparagus and left over pork shoulder bits. Clearly I am a fan of asparagus! One went to my co-workers and the other became my breakfast for about a week.
I am noticing a disturbing trend in "diets". People seem to be focusing on just losing weight quickly to look good, not changing their overall health. That would be fine if it wasn't sometimes dangerous. Seriously, what good is it to be thin and have a certain "look" if a week later you suffer some health problem or worse die. I was looking into one of the diets someone mentioned to a friend and it turns out the high protein, low carb diet can cause kidney stones or even kidney failure. Yikes!! Does the diet work? Yes, you will lose weight quickly. The body goes into Ketosis where it burns it's own fat. Unfortunately that has serious side effects if done long term. But hey, you will look good before you die. This is just one reason you should be very wary of fad "diets". Sure many of them might work in the short term but are they sustainable? Can you really eat that way for the rest of your life or is it to restrictive? And are they healthy for you? Yes simple carbs are not healthy, but complex carbs are good for heart health and for their fiber content.
One diet says you should eat like the caveman did. Well this is slightly flawed in my view. For one reason cavemen lived in many different areas so their diets would have varied. Quite a lot actually. Another is, if there were cavemen doesn't that mean we evolved? If we evolved wouldn't that mean our bodies adapted to the foods in that area as well? Seems suspect to me. We are not cavemen.
Look it's really not rocket science. If you eat fewer calories and move more you will lose weight. You can even not move more if you eat less. However you need to eat enough or you will put your body into starvation mode and it won't burn off calories at all. (If you watch "The Biggest Loser" you'll see that sometimes those contestants run into that problem.) Keeping track of calories works but remember what I said, it isn't just about the calories but where the calories come from. Eat real foods and your body will be able to process that food more efficiently without side effects. There really is no (safe) quick fix. Unless you are just naturally thin or muscular, you have to work at weight loss. Keep in mind tho, that just because a person is thin it doesn't automatically mean they are healthy. If they eat badly their body will also suffer from it. You just might not be able to see the damage.
It took me a long time to be concerned about my health enough to change my eating habits. Everyone will come to it in their own time. I just want people to be aware that some diets can be a risk to their health. Not to mention you need to consider what will be realistic long term. Simple changes will work more than denying yourself foods that are good for you. (Good carbs are not the bad guy!)
My brave moment of the week came when I ate some of my husbands Moose meat chili. It was the first time I have ever eaten chili. Yeah I know. It wasn't super spicy which is why I was brave. I'm not good with spicy. It was excellent and only 195 calories per cup. This also brings up you need to look at serving sizes when you read the labels. The calories listed go by servings and most labels will tell you have many servings are in a bag/box.

I got on the scale yesterday and was down 2 more lbs. I'm starting to wonder when I will level off. I know I weighed 112lbs before I got pregnant. My lowest was 97lbs back when I was in the military. However I KNOW I wasn't healthy then. I had an ulcer that made me feel nauseous all the time. Because I barely ate my stomach shrunk so when I did eat I couldn't eat very much. It also made me very weak and I would have to lie on my bathroom floor after a shower so I didn't pass out. Yeah fun times. I do still have the mummy tummy that I really want to get rid of tho it is smaller now. I'm starting to wonder if that will ever really go away. Time will tell I guess.
I also have to say, so that people will know I DO eat junk food on occasion that I had the most AMAZING piece of wedding cake this weekend. It was a strawberry shortcake vanilla deal that even had real strawberry pieces. I consider homemade cake ok because I can name all of the ingredients that it is made with. Of course I wouldn't eat it every day but it isn't a food that is off limits to me. Processed foods like twinkies? Yeah those are a no-go from now on. Homemade wedding cake? Sign me up.
Eat well!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mindful eating

Things are going well. I've realized what it comes down to is mindful eating. You have to think ahead for meals because if you get too hungry you can set yourself up to make bad choices. Have some snacks ready that are good for you. Don't beat yourself up for indulging once in a while. Just take it into account, adjust and move on. I have been walking more for exercise. I do feel I need to add more strength training to the mix soon. Maybe some yoga too.
I got back on the scale today and was amazed to see I am now 118.2lbs. Seriously I am not even trying that hard. Just added basic exercise (mainly power walking) and eating real foods as much as possible. I do think not weighing yourself to often is a good idea. Because even if you lose 1 lb a week, which is ideal, it doesn't feel like enough to keep some people on track. If you wait and do it once a month those lbs add up and you see it more. According to  medical body mass index charts my weight should be between 18.5 to 24.9 lbs. I'm pretty sure this means I should level out anytime now. However if I start doing some weight training my weight will go up because muscle weighs more than fat. (well not exactly but you know what I mean)
I just recently got a new application for my phone called My Fit Pal. It calculates everything you eat and the exercise you do. It and takes your height and weight goals into account it does a countdown and helps you keep track of your daily calorie intake. This helps because if you don't eat enough when trying to lose weight you can put your body into starvation mode and NOT lose weight. This is where many dieters go off track. However, it only keeps track of the calories as numbers, it doesn't tell you what food is better nor rate the quality of the calories you are taking in. This is a VERY important distinction! I should be getting 1200 calories a day, but if they are from crappy processed foods than I may lose weight but my body isn't going to be as healthy as if I ate foods that are good for me. Remember, this isn't about weight per say, it is about health. (tho we women have a hard time separating the two methinks) When in doubt always chose the real food with more calories over processed crap that might have fewer. It just means you need to read the labels closely. If you can't pronounce it that might be a red flag. Food = Fuel. Our bodies are really amazing at how much punishment they can take before they start breaking down. But make no mistake, put crappy fuel in long enough and it will break down.
Now the bad news. It seems the Naked juice company isn't all it appears to be:  I really hate it when that happens. Thankfully I heard the rumor and checked into it. Being a fan of truth in advertising I think I will remove the links to products on this blog so this doesn't happen again. I may mention food brand/juices I like but it is buyer beware. Sadly companies change hands and their products may not stay the same over time. Another good argument for making your own food at home I guess!
And yes that is a Christmas plate in the photo of my breakfast. I got it in England as a Boxing Day gift.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Because I do love a good cookie

Today I made my new favorite cookie recipe for the second time. Now cookies do have sugar in them so they don't really count as a healthy food. However these ones have flax seed and oatmeal in them so I consider them a less-bad-for-you version. Plus being homemade they certainly have less preservatives. Next time I am going to try to substitute the regular flour with a whole wheat flour and see if it works. Baking is like chemistry so sometimes you can't change a recipe the way you want and still have it turn out ok.

Oatmeal-Flax Chocolate Chip Cookies (a.k.a. Hidden Agenda per the Food Network Magazine)

1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup flaxseed, finely ground in a spice grinder, or pre-ground (I use flax meal)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar with this batch because I didn't have dark. They tasted fine.)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or I'm sure you could use raisins, cranberries or m&m's)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) Whisk the flour, oats, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
3) Beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a separate bowl with a mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4) Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. (This makes HUGE cookies. I had better luck with one rounded normal size spoonful no more than 9 cookies to a sheet.) Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

My tips: USE the parchment paper! The first time I made them I didn't and they stick like crazy to the cookie sheets. Also bake one pan at a time. That way you can load the next one after the cookies get transferred to the cooling rack. I got 54 cookies in the batch, enough to feed me, the youngins and take some to work to share with my friends.

Cookies are one of those snacks I will never get away from, especially during my "feed the beast" week. (I'm sure the the ladies know of which beast I refer.) So it is nice to have one I don't feel bad eating. Tho the Back to Nature brand also makes a fabulous chocolate chunk cookie that is guilt free too.

Milestone moment of the week: I had put aside a pair of jeans that were given to me by my sister in law because they were to small. I thought, well if I lose weight maybe I can fit into them later. Cut to a couple days ago and I decided to give them a try. They fit!! Not only do they fit but I wore them today and needed a belt with them! So many times I have done this in the past and given up and gotten rid of the clothes after awhile. It was nice to "win one" for a change.

New company I am adding to the bloglist: Odwalla juices. I haven't tried one yet but their labels look good to me. Lots of healthy choices and juice can be a great meal replacement when you are on the go or can't decide what you feel like eating. (or are to tired to prep a regular meal) I'll be sure to report on what flavors I like best.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I can't eat all that!

I finished the "SuperFoods" book today. Well the parts about each food that is. The rest is full of recipes that you can use all the foods in. I will be checking into that since I am cooking more these days. Check out my first batch of Quinoa:

It is a sidekick for oats per the book. (sidekicks explained below) It came out fabulous! It was also easy to make which helps.

I wanted to put the list up of recommended daily amounts of each super food because I noticed something.

Beans: 4 half cup servings a week.

Blueberries: 1 to 2 cups daily.

Broccoli: 1/2 to 1 cup daily

Oats: 5 to 7 servings a day.

Oranges: 1 serving daily

Pumpkin: 1/2 cup most days.

Wild Salmon: Fish should be eaten 2 to 4 times a week.

Soy: 15 grams of soy protein per day divided into 2 separate meals or snacks.

Spinach: 1 cup steamed or 2 cups raw most days.

Tea: 1 or more cups daily.

Tomatoes: 1 serving of processed per day and multiple servings per week of fresh.

Turkey: (skinless breast) 3 to 4 servings per week of 3 to 4 ounces per serving.

Walnuts: 1 ounce 5 times a week.

Yogurt: 2 cups daily.

Does anyone see a problem? First, I would need to spend a lot of time figuring out how to fit all that into a days worth of eating. (Or over the course of a week, who has that kind of time?) Second, That is a LOT of food! But have no fear. I have decided that we need not stress about it. This is just their recommendation for getting all sorts of vitamins and minerals naturally into your diet. It is the perfect diet per say. No one has a perfect diet. NO ONE! So I am sticking with my plan to just eat better overall. Will I be incorporating these foods into my eating? Damn straight. There was some great info on why we should in the book. Here are just a few tidbits that I liked or found interesting:

"Did you know that by checking the nutrition label on a loaf of bread and making sure it has at least 3 grams of fiber, you could turn an ordinary sandwich into a SuperFoods Rx sandwich?"

"Most respectable scientists in the world today agree that at least 30 percent of all cancers are directly related to nutrition. Some would argue that the figure is as high as 70 percent."

"About half of all cardiovascular disease and a significant percentage of hypertension cases can be traced to diet as well."

"The prostate gland does most of its growing between the ages of 13 and 20. If a boy eats lots of saturated fat during those years (the major fast food span for most Americans), it may increase his chances of developing prostrate cancer later in life. This is a strong argument for making pizza (double the sauce, halve the pepperoni, and sneak in some veggies) the fast food choice for your kids, particularly your sons."  (My  note: It turns out that pizza sauce is a great way to get some tomato into you.)

"Whole grains lower your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, diverticulosis, hypertension, certain cancers, and osteoporosis. Despite what you may hear, they do not make you fat (unless you eat way to much of them - which is hard to do!). The reason carbs have the reputation for promoting weight gain is that the vast majority of those eaten by Americans are refined carbs like cookies, doughnuts, breads, and cakes that are loaded with sugar and fat and often trans fats as well. Yes, they are carbohydrates, but they are a world away from the complex carbohydrates that are whole grains. Many people don't realize what a difference there is between whole and refined grains. While whole grains are actually health-promoting, refined grains (such as pasta, white flour, white bread and white rice) have been associated with a variety of negative health effects, such as an increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and stomach cancers."

Oh and some foods are better for you cooked than raw. (i.e.carrots)

Seriously, everyone with an interest in nutrition needs to read this book. If some of the foods on the list son't suit you they do all have several "sidekicks" which are foods that are similar in their nutrient value. (i.e. Walnuts = almonds, sunflower seeds, etc Broccoli = brussel sprouts, kale, etc)

Things are still going well. I feel like I am making better choices every day. My husband and I went out to dinner to a semi fancy restaurant in the area. (photo at the top of page) I ordered the fish (because fish is good for you and I love it) and tried my first brussel sprout. It was pretty good but my whole dish tasted like they used a stick of butter in the recipe. Not that I was complaining exactly. (tho that much butter isn't the best thing for your arteries) It was a haddock and crab citron and it was delicious. I've also tried a few more of the naked drinks:

Each bottle is 2 servings. So far the Green Machine might be my favorite, tho this was a close second. The best part is that my son also likes the Green Machine drink. Nice! Teens can be hard to convince to eat anything healthy.

Here is one of my new favorite recipes I made up myself. It is egg salad.

Ingredients:  2 free range hard boiled eggs (I get mine from a friend) hellmans olive oil reduced fat mayo (just enough to hold it all together) 10 spinach leaves chopped, 1 spoonful sunflower seeds, and 1 spoon of flax meal. Serve on whole grain bread. I usually have green ice tea to drink with it. It is very filling and everything is good for me!

BTW check out this link that explains what happens to your body after drinking a soda.  I haven't had a soda in I don't know how long and I can honestly say I don't miss it. I am still drinking a sweetened tea but not always. I figure even sweetened it has to be a better option than soda which isn't a real food per say. Remember, it is all about substituting a healthier choice than what you would normally chose, and moderation. That's it. Start there and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm a liar

I thought my pants felt hot.

So one post in and I realize I am a liar. In talking with my co-workers I remember what actually started me eating more fruits.... I thought I had scurvy. Yeah you read that right. The disease pirates were known to get. (Hmmm 2 posts where I mention pirates. That isn't odd at all.) I am a bit paranoid about my teeth so I check them frequently when I brush. Hey we all have our quirks, no judging. I saw a weird looking spot on my gums so immediately I thought, "Oh crap I have scurvy". Because that's what any reasonable person would think right? So that was one of the reasons I knew I needed more fruit in my diet. Because scurvy is scary.

I also realized I don't eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. I do try to eat 3 meals now. I used to skip breakfast quite often. It turns out not eating enough puts your body into starvation mode so it won't burn off calories. This means eating enough is important if you want to regulate your body properly, or if you are looking to lose weight. So 3 meals, check. Now the 3 snacks, that is debatable. I do eat one in between breakfast and lunch. I also know I eat one between lunch and dinner. At least on work days. When I am bored at work I tend to look for things to munch on. I have had to curb that a little but usually I just try to replace the crap I was eating with real food instead. Reduced fat triscuits have become a staple for that. Lots of whole grain and only 3 ingredients in them. (Whole wheat, salt and something else that I forget) If I crave something sweet I eat some raisins. Raisins and almonds are my fall back snacks. I also try to bring various fruits (bananas and apples) to keep from getting bored with my choices.

The snack after dinner I do not always get. Mainly because I have been trying not to snack at night. This is my weak spot. Sitting on the couch and sucking down food without thinking is a problem I have battled in the past. If I am going to have a snack I make sure it is at least 2 hours before I am going to bed. This is supposed to be better for you. I have also replaced ice creme with frozen yogurt. I found one that tastes just like the ice creme but has less sugar and fat. Remember is it less a "diet" and more about making changes to  my diet. I am eating things I like because who wants to live longer if eating isn't enjoyable? Screw that.

I wasn't trying to lie. I just forgot. I forget things often. My neurologist diagnosed me a few years ago with "white migraines". Those are when you have a migraine without the excruciating pain. The no pain part is good, however it makes other things happen. Like you forget things. Sometimes it is just a word, sometimes you can't talk or form a sentence. (That gets fun at work sometimes.) Sometimes you lose vision in one eye or write gibberish when taking notes. Or maybe you get twitches in parts of your body. The list is long and varied. I had to go through many tests for him to come to this conclusion after a few scary incidents. I thought I was having strokes. My favorite test was when they put needles into my muscles and gave me electric shocks to see if I had nerve damage. Yeah that was a lot of fun. (Well I didn't before the test, how are my nerves now??) Of course it didn't help when I asked the doctor if it would hurt and he said yes. Yes??!! I told him to practice this sentence, "It may cause discomfort for some people". He said he didn't like to lie. Gee thanks. But I digress.

Check out the awesome book a friend found for me.

It has a lot of great info in it. Like this gem: "Did you know that eating a handful of nuts a few times a week can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by at least 15% and perhaps as much as 51%? Even if you smoke, are overweight, and never exercise. That's how powerful some foods are."

I love that kind of info. Nuts, who knew?! The fourteen foods on the superfood list are:
Tea ~ Green or Black

If you don't like some of those they do offer some close substitutions. So far I have gotten through the bean section and just started on the blueberry. (FYI did you know peas are considered a bean?) I can't wait to read more.

Another thing I can credit a co-worker/friend for is turning me onto this company:  They are a little pricey but are worth it for what is in their juices. I had their "Green Machine" formula for dinner. I wasn't planning on it but I over extended myself with a movie and a meeting and didn't have time to grab anything else that could be healthy. The dinner my husband had in the oven wouldn't be out in time so I grabbed one of the 3 Naked juices I picked up at the store today. (In Hannaford they are in the cut up fresh fruit section of the cooler.) This one has a very apple taste. I also grabbed Berry Blast and Blue Machine to try. I'll be sure to report on how they taste once I do.

I went to a movie today with my brother and dad. I grabbed myself a kids pack (small popcorn, and small package of M&M's) and got water instead of soda to drink. I've always gotten the kids pack because it is the right amount of food for me. Now I just substitute water because I am no longer drinking soda. To be honest I have passed the hump where I miss it. I only wish they had iced tea as an option. (maybe they do in other theaters)

I did get on the scale today because I was curious as to the average amount of weight I am losing per week. I was down another half a pound. I think that is great! Losing weight needs to be gradual if you want to keep it off. Also I haven't been able to exercise since my back is messed up. I can't imagine what it would say if I could exercise. I also expect to level out at some point which could be soon. Plus with using weights (arms) I have to remember that muscle weighs more than fat so I can't always rely on the scale. Not that I'm going for an Arnold Schwarzenegger look. (How much do I love spell check!) I'm not planning on getting on the scale for at least another month now.

Now I'm off to check my settings. I will un-moderate my comments for now if I can. If I get to many spammers or crazy people I will change that. Until next time, good eating!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

So what happened was.....

One day I had to put on my fat pants to go somewhere because my regular jeans were dirty. They were tight. Uncomfortably so. OK that is never good. I am 5'1" and weighed 130 lbs. Everyone has those moments where they know they need to do something. And who hasn't tried a diet and failed? We all have. That was the first thing to jar me into action. Again. I decided to maybe eat a little better. That was about the end of January. I also somehow stumbled across a book called "Eat this, not that" about better choices in the fast food world. It had some great info about food in general too. I decided to try to eat less processed foods. Enter the trans fat free cookie to my life:

Because while I want to eat better, I also know I will need to have some cookies now and then. I do not think it is realistic to stay away from foods you love. It isn't possible for the long term in my opinion. At least not in my world. I started to read labels and watch Dr. Oz. Thankfully my husband is on board as well. We had watched a documentary called Food Inc awhile ago so we had learned some of why organic food can be better for you. I suppose the seed had been planted then.

On February 19th I watched 2 documentaries that changed how I really looked at food. The first was "Sick, Fat and nearly Dead". It was about how most people don't get enough fruits and veggies in their diet. One man went on a juice fast for 30 days to see if it would help him with a some health problems he had. He also met another man who decided to try a juice fast. It was amazing and very motivating. (You can't argue with results!) The second was called "Food Matters". It was a look at nutrition and the effect of it on our health as well as a look at the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies and their motivations. Together those were a powerful pair of movies to show why good eating is important and a primer on things to consider.

I decided I needed to really look at what I was eating on a daily basis and see food as the fuel it is intended to be. There are so many foods I do not eat. My mother was a very basic cook so I wasn't exposed to much growing up. Since I have started here are a few of the new foods I have tried:

Tomato (2 kinds)
Green, Red and Orange bell pepper
Refried beans
Flax seeds
Lentil Burger

I know what you are thinking, she never had a tomato?? I have had them in things like spaghetti sauce but I always picked out the chunks. I never ate them plain or had them in a sandwich or salad. I also thought peppers were spicy which I didn't like. Who knew they were sweet instead?

I also knew I needed to move more. This is tricker since I work a lot. So when I can, I try to swim once a week or walk the dogs more. I have also started an arm workout with weights. I am starting slow because I have tried going gangbusters in the past and it didn't work for me in the long term. I am also planning on doing some spin classes. I went and did the free Ryde Demo at a local gym and once my back is better I hope to utilize that more.

I've never had a problem with portion control when I eat. Tho one could say I dipped into the candy drawer at work a few to many times in the course of a day. I also struggled with not snacking at night in front of the TV. (cookies and milk or soda and chips were a favorite) We all have our weaknesses.

It turns out simply changing the cookies and chips I ate were a big help. (Check out the company "Real food should taste good" their chips are amazing!) When I read the labels now I look for real food ingredients, not chemicals. Simple things like changing my mayo to the olive oil version cut out a lot of calories and fat too. I am now reading Clean Eating magazine for recipes and tips. They have a lot of great basic food information!

Cut to March 3rd when I put on a pirate outfit to go to a charity event. Stretchy pants were involved. Ugh the dreaded stretchy pants! I realized I looked like I might have lost some weight. I had been avoiding the scale on purpose. Getting on the scale and not seeing a number you want can be really demotivating. It isn't about weight per say anyway, I had just decided I needed to be healthier overall. My husband said I should get on the scale and check it out. So the next morning I did. I was amazed to see I was 122.5 lbs. That is almost 8lbs lost without even really trying! I just changed the kinds of food that I ate. Really!

So now I stay away from processed foods as much as possible. I drink a lot of water, I eat more fruits and vegetables and nuts. I try to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. I have replaced soda with green tea ice tea instead when I have a craving for a sweet drink. I try to move more when I can. It is pretty simple really. I admit it is a little more work overall having to think about what I am going to eat for the next meal. I have to plan more than before. It is getting easier though.

Now I want to make it clear that I am NOT a nutritionist. So whatever I say about food here is just what I have found to work for me. I typically eat at least one hard boiled egg a day (from a friends chickens), and some flax seed. Either in a salad with spinach or added to my cereal or even in my egg salad sandwich. Raw almonds and sunflower seeds are a favorite snack.

OK so why did I start this blog you ask? Well for a couple reasons. One is to keep me on track. If I think someone is reading this then I am more likely to be mindful of what I am eating if I start to fall off the wagon. Not that I am worried about that to much. I am feeling so much better I have a hard time imagining I would want to go back to before. Another is because I think it could be helpful to others. If I, a forty something mother of two, can finally figure out the connection to read food and good health then there is hope for everyone.

I also know what some others of you are thinking. 130 lbs? So freaking what! That is some peoples goal weight. I know that. What can I say, you haven't seen me naked. I have had 2 kids and have that lovely "mommy tummy" that is hard to get rid of. And like I said, I am only 5'1" tall. That is actually pretty short to carry much extra weight.

So that is my story. I hope this helps someone out there. Real food is better fuel for our bodies than all this chemically created crap that is killing us and our planet. If we want to live a better life we need to chose to change what we do on a basic level. If I can do it, someone who had never eaten a tomato before, than so can you. Small changes matter. Start with that.