Simplify Food Choices: The End or the Beginning?

I had multiple people ask me why I gave myself a clean eating challenge. My main goal was and is this: for my health, and for my family’s health. I didn’t do it to lose weight or fit in a certain dress size. I didn’t do it with hopes to fit back in my pre-kids jeans (those days are long gone. A 30 year old who has had 4 kids does not need to be in a size 0 blue jeans). I did this for my health, and from there flowed different objectives I wanted to accomplish.

I wanted to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth. Many times I felt like a hypocrite (as I should) because I would deny my kids ice cream, but then bust out a pint when they went to bed. I noticed there were times I just drifted towards the pantry, not even because I was hungry, but just to see if something caught my eye… almost like I was treating food like entertainment. I realized I wanted to change my mindset about food: I want food to be enjoyable, but I also want it to serve a purpose. I want food to fuel and heal my body.

I wanted to create better habits. I mentioned in the beginning, so much of what goes in my mouth does so out of habit. What I also realized was so much of what I make is also habit. I’d like to think of myself as a pretty healthy person, but I have to admit I got a little lazy when it comes to preparing lunches. Most days when I pack my kids’ lunch it’s a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit. Not terrible, but not amazing. I realized I need to work on lunch, and plan on buying a few containers that would be conducive for them to take veggies and hummus to school instead of relying on breads to fill them up. Please help! What are some of your favorite containers for your kid’s lunch box?

So, the results… Do I feel better? Sure, but I can’t say I notice a drastic difference. Now, this could be because I ate healthy about 70% of the time, or maybe I need to do this for 90 days or longer to notice a huge shift. But, I do feel better. It’s easier for me to wake up in the mornings (mostly) when my alarm goes off at 5:00AM (another habit I’m starting). I’m also pooping more. I go about twice a day without any effort, so that’s nice. I did lose about 4 pounds, also nice. I’m convinced I’m still addicted to sugar and bread because I still think about both often. Although, I don’t miss dairy… which is kind of funny because I used to tell myself I think I could easily go vegan if I didn’t have to give up cheese.  

What’s next for me in my food journey? I honestly am not sure. I’m doing more research, which mainly means watching a ton of YouTube videos (my favorites right now are Kris Carr and Dr. Axe which is kinda funny because they have 2 different views) and Netflix documentaries (Hungry for Change and Food Matters will rock your world) while I’m washing dishes and doing laundry. I do think I’ll be vegan one day. I’ve already made small steps in that direction, and I think that’s how it will happen: one small step after another instead of stopping all animal products cold turkey (I had to add that pun in there!).

Ok, I need some feedback while I’m still on the fence about where to go from here. What’s your food philosophy? Why did you choose your path?

Warm Kale and Mushroom Salad

It was just there. Staring at me. In all its mac and cheese gloriousness. It was saying Eat me. Eat the mac and cheese. I’m cheesy, I’m gooey, I’m somehow organic even though I came out of a box… I’d been having this argument with myself all morning. I fought with the flour tortillas that I used to wrap my sons’ tacos in, I stared longingly at my husband’s toast that was soaking up the yolk of his egg, and I argued with Annie’s Organic Cheddar shells and cheese. And I won, y’all. I thought for sure I’d be defeated, but I wasn’t, and I came up with a yummy warm salad to combat my hunger after defeating the mac and cheese.

I looked in the fridge, but I didn’t want your typical cold salad. I instantly came up with this simple, but delicious warm salad. The best part? It only took 10 minutes from start to finish. You need to try it, because it will change your life, or at least your vegan lunches.

kale-and-mushroom-salad

Ingredients

1/4 cup of sliced red onions

6 sliced mushrooms, your choice

2 heaping handfuls of chopped kale

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Directions

1. Slice and chopped the veggies while heating up the coconut oil

2. Place the sliced onions in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Once the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms.

4. Once the mushrooms are softened, add the kale.

4. Sprinkle with garlic powder while the kale is softening, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

5. Enjoy your masterpiece and give yourself a pat on the back for turning down the mac and cheese.

Notes:

1. This recipe serves 1 person. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

2. Use this as a base for your warm kale salad. Get creative with your add ins!

3. Consider adding other seasonings like red pepper flakes or smoked paprika.

4. If you’re not a vegan, top with crumbled gorgonzola cheese.

5. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, cook chopped bacon with the onions.

Try it out, and let me know what ya think! And help me out, what’s your favorite vegan lunch?

Gerber’s Go To Green Juice

So, I’ve kind of started a new ritual in my morning. Instead of going straight for coffee in the morning, I do a couple of other things first. First, I’ll drink a glass of water with doTERRA Grapefruit essential oil. Why grapefruit, you say? Mostly because it’s my favorite citrus oil in water, but it does have many benefits! Grapefruit helps support a healthy metabolism, aids to naturally cleanse your body, and can even help curb sugar cravings. I beg of you, don’t go to your local health store and drink those essential oils. Most the essential oils in a grocery store are even labeled, “Not for internal use.” Find a good quality therapeutic grade essential oil brand that is safe for ingestion. Obviously, my brand of choice is doTERRA, but don’t just take my word for it. Do your research and decide for yourself. I’ll be blogging soon on essential oil quality!

Moving on. The second thing I like to do after finishing my water (or many times I am drinking my water while making this) is make a green juice or smoothie. I do have a green smoothie recipe already posted, so today I’m going to give you our go to green juice recipe. Yum! I like to drink a green juice before eating breakfast or drinking coffee for a couple of reasons. I think it’s beneficial to provide your body with nutrients right away. Also, our bodies can quickly absorb and digest fresh juice. The vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can easily be absorbed and then our body can use this goodness to take charge of our day full of natural energy.

Ok, without further ado, here is the Gerber’s Go-To-Green Juice recipe.

Ingredients

  • Large kale (about 1/4 of a bunch)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cucumbers
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 lime
  • Handful of parsley
  • I inch of ginger
  • Pineapple (to taste)

Directions

  • Throughly wash your produce.
  • Cut the fruit and veggies as needed to fit in your juicer.
  • Juice the goodness.
  • Stir and pour in fancy glasses for you and yours.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • This is a rough base. However, there are some ingredients we have found to be a “must have” for our home: cucumber, pineapple, and lime. The rest you can cater to your taste, or what you have in the fridge that day.
  • I try not to use a ton of fruit, as vegetables are healthier and have less fructose. If you find you need more fruit when you first start juicing, then just slowly decrease the amount of fruit overtime so the juice is majority vegetable juice.
  • Unless you really like lime, just stick to 1 lime. I tried 2 limes this morning and it was TART. Isaac loved it, but he could eat lemons and limes as a snack if I let him.
  • Have fun and experiment! We’ve also juiced carrots, beets, apples, broccoli, and much more. Find what works for you and your family.

There you have it, my friends! Enjoy the Gerber’s Go-To Green Juice to start your day.

What’s are some of your favorite juice combinations? Share in the comments below!

Granola Balls: Healthy and Toddler Approved!

As a mom of hungry boys, I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks that actually taste good. Then I stumbled across this gloriousness (not sure if that is a real word, but it should be) through my friend (thanks, Lindsey!) who had found this recipe on a blog smashedpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com. I think the term that they used for the snack was “energy bite,” but my son Noah renamed them “granola balls,” so that’s what we call them in my house. You can just call them “awesome.”

granballnoah

I knew this recipe was a winner when my son said it tasted like a cookie, AND I was happy with all the ingredients in the recipe. Not only that, but your kids can totally help you make this recipe. Let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t like being in the kitchen? Let’s get right down to it, because you don’t want to waste another minute without this recipe. Be sure to read all the way down to the notes for modifications for the healthiest snack possible!

granball1

Ingredients:
• 1 cup of oats
• 1 cup coconut flakes
• ½ cup of chia seeds
• ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
• ½ cup peanut butter
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until they are all evenly distributed. I start with a spoon and end up working with my hands. Your hands will get messy, just embrace it.
2. Place the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
3. Once chilled, roll into 1 inch balls (makes about 20-25 balls). Again with the messy hands, but you can lick your fingers after!
4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, but they won’t last that long!

Notes:
• Instant oats are heavily processed, which means less nutrition. Use old fashioned oats!
• As far as the coconut flakes go, use UNSWEETENED coconut flakes. There is no need to add more sugar to the recipe, and you still get a great texture and flavor from the unsweetened flakes.  You can usually find these at any whole/health foods store.
• The original recipe calls for flax seed, which I actually always have, but I used chia seeds a few months ago and prefer the texture more in this particular recipe. You can totally use chia or flax or a combination if you wish!
• If you want to omit the chocolate chips, you can substitute any dried fruit in its place, but I gotta tell ya I almost always use the chocolate chips. The mini chocolate chips work the best, and it becomes more of a treat for me and the boys. 🙂
• You can use any nut butter in place of the peanut butter. Again, try and find one without any add sugar or junk (look on the back of your jar). I’ve used unsweetened/unsalted almond butter and it worked just as well.
• Honey has great health benefits, so I don’t substitute anything there.  If you can snag some local honey, use that for assistance in allergy relief!

You will soon find that this will be a staple in your arsenal of healthy snack. These are so much fun to make with the kids, and I’ve gotten opportunities to explain the ingredients going in the snack and why they are so great for our bodies.

Do you think your family will enjoy this recipe? Try it out and leave your reviews in the comments!

Cold Oatmeal: Sounds gross, Tastes good!

Cold oatmeal: It sounds gross, doesn’t it? When I first read about cold oatmeal it did not sound appealing. I think it’s because I think of the cold oatmeal I am usually eating: you know, the oatmeal that gets left at the bottom of the pot after my kids are all done eating… That kinda cold oatmeal. BUT this is not just someone’s lifeless leftover oatmeal. It’s a whole new way to eat oatmeal and it tastes so stinkin’ good. The best part is that you make it the night before so when you’re ready to eat breakfast the next morning, it’s all done! Did I mention you can totally make this dairy free if you wish? I got a recipe from theyummylife.com and just catered it to my preferences. So, here’s my first cold oatmeal recipe that I tried and adore! Let’s get started.

oatmeal

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup old fashion oats (stay away from instant, it’s way processed)
• ¼ cup vanilla yogurt
• ¼ cup milk
• ¼ cup berries
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• Dash of nutmeg

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a glass 8 oz. jar with a lid.
2. Secure tightly with a lid and place in the refrigerator to let it sit overnight.
3. In the morning, top with fresh berries and one more dash of cinnamon. (Optional).
4. Eat and enjoy your healthy, ready-to-go breakfast. Share with your toddlers, which really means you should triple the recipe because everyone loves it!

Notes:
• To make this dairy free, simply substitute the milk and yogurt for a quality soy, almond, or coconut option. I used organic soy milk and it turned out great.
• You can use whatever yogurt you have on hand. If you want to avoid the added sugars of the vanilla yogurt, just use plain yogurt and you can add a splash of vanilla extract and honey to taste.
• When you mix all the ingredients together, it will be a thinner mixture and thicken overnight.
• This recipe makes one serving, so if you’re wanting to make it for your family just double or triple the recipe and place in separate jars so there’s no fighting over it in the morning.
• Get creative with the flavors and add-ins: try it with chia seeds or sliced almonds, bananas or peaches would be yummy too!

Have you tried cold oatmeal before?  What are your favorite add-ins?