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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Finding my new groove

After much anticipation (insert sly, satirical face) and delay due to you-know-what, I had my well-person check-up with labs. The results are in…. too many lipids, not enough Vitamin D. Shocker!!! I’m old enough to not care about my age, my dad always says “age is just a number, it’s how you feel that counts!”, he’s always the optimist in my family. As a 12-year-old with a very dry sense of humor, I told my dad “40 isn’t that old if you’re a tree” and that man has the memory of an elephant because guess what birthday wishes were sent to me? Same line I gave him all those years ago…

Ok. So now I’m searching for “low-cholesterol, low-fat diet” recipes, per doc’s orders. I’ve done this before. I can do it again. Right?!? This is going to be an uphill challenge with two picky teens and the hubby working nights.

I’ll be reading fellow AFBA Blogs to get their take on eating healthy and scope out new recipes to try out:

  • The Fit Habit: Weight Loss Over 40
  • andthenmakesoup
  • Her Modern Kitchen: Healthy recipes
  • veggiebytes

Do you focus on healthy, low-fat recipes? I’d love to check out your blog, please leave a comment with a link ūüôā

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My daughter is captivated by the numerous ladybugs hanging out at our house.  I made her a ladybug house out of a recycled salsa jar.

ladybug house jar

While I was cutting up vegetables for my dinner, another ladybug appeared on the window.  I caught it and gently tossed it in the jar.  Now she has two critters to gawk at.  I wonder how long this phase will last, or will she want to be an entomologist when she grows up?  Either way, there will be no scorpions or spiders in this house.

Dinner was a colorful collection of crunchy vegetables.

veggie bowl

A friend of mine suggested I watch Michael Mosley’s new series on PBS, particularly this one.¬† I realized that I’m already fairly close to the¬† regime he discusses on the show.¬† That is, for a few days you eat a regular diet (feeding), then hardly any calories (fasting).

The key nugget I took away was that a body running on very low calories and protein will use the available energy for restoration of cells instead of multiplication or “go-go” mode.¬† In terms of disease and cancer, the body works to restore deterioration brought on by these aliments.¬† Very interesting stuff.¬† My cousin recently discovered a cancerous tumor and is undergoing treatment.¬† Anything that peers into the biomechanics of humans, especially in relation to food, is intriguing to me.

I remember my grandmother, who lived into her 90’s eating very little each day and drinking hot tea.¬† Was there a direct correlation of diet and longevity?¬† This is the question Mosley poses.

A reminder of my habits (good and bad) came in the form of¬†a blood test, cholesterol specifically.¬† My total was 184.¬† According to my doctor, you want to keep it under 200.¬† I didn’t get the break down of the HDL and LDL but the number still jarred me, especially after watching the show.

This year is the beginning of an introspective look at my own health.  No time like today, right?

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Pumpkin pie is a reminder of fall. It’s a delicious, traditional treat, and it would be hard to imagine Thanksgiving festivities without one or two pumpkin pies to finish off the meal. No matter how stuffed people are from a large holiday dinner, they always will find room for at least one slice. Pumpkin pie is a good choice for reasons other than its tradition and popularity. It’s a lower-cost dessert to bake, and uses healthy ingredients, making it one of the better dessert choices. Replace sugar with agave nectar for an even lower sugar dessert! Check out the following three reasons why making pumpkin pie is a healthier, low-cost option.

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is a frugal choice

Around the holidays there are always pre-made pies available in your grocery store’s bakery section. At other times of the year you can often find them amongst the frozen foods and desserts. This may make you wonder why you should bother making your own. The answer is that making your own allows you to control what goes into the pie. This is always beneficial to the healthfulness of the recipe and the frugality of the dessert. Purchasing your own ingredients means you can opt for the cheapest choices, and take advantage of deals at the grocery store. An added bonus is that once you have the basic ingredients on hand, you can continue making more pies without additional cost. In the long run, you’ll be amazed by the amount you can save if you avoid the pre-made pie. Next time you’re craving pumpkin pie, skip the bakery section and instead try this low-calorie pumpkin pie recipe, it only costs around one dollar to make!

Using less ingredients means spending less money, and saving on empty calories

There are many different types of pumpkin pies. These days you can find recipes that include layers of cream cheese, or caramel and pecan toppings. These will certainly add variety to your table; however, the traditional pumpkin pie uses fewer ingredients. BetterBudgeting.com suggests that the less-traditional recipes are much sweeter than the original. You’ll save some money, and some calories, if you stick to the tried-and-true version of the recipe.

Starting with fresh pumpkin is a healthy choice

Store-bought pumpkin pie filling usually has added sugar, and other things, like preservatives. If you start with the whole pumpkin, you’ll know that everything going into your pie is high-quality and fresh. When picking out your pumpkins you should choose smaller ones, as they pack a lot more flavor then the larger pumpkins.  Bonus points if you are growing your own pumpkins!

When it gets closer to the holiday season, you may find yourself thinking of pumpkin pie. And why not? It’s an excellent dessert option. Remember, to be frugal and healthy, stick to fresh and fewer ingredients, and make your own from scratch.

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Time for another food related rant.  Stick around to the end for my suggested solution (see I’m not just spouting off problems everyone should already be aware of… I can tell y’all how to fix it!)

What’s in soda pop?

(Regular) High fructose corn syrup.  Effects of high fructose corn syrup are fairly simple and devious… it blocks the chemicals in your brain that signal that you are full, medically speaking: “it inhibits leptin secretion and it never shuts off gherin.” says Dr. Oz.  Since your brain is convinced there is room for more, you keep drinking.  If you are not careful, there will be more unnoticed calories entering than you keep track of, which leads to over eating/drinking.  It’s a cheap sugar substitute to keep those Dr. Peppers flowing into your glass on a warm summer day.

(Diet) Artificial sweeteners replace natural sugars with modified substances that resemble sugar in their taste but the molecules are different.  And they are different enough that the digestive system cannot break them down to burn like sugar (this is why diabetics can consume them without adverse affects to blood sugar levels).  Some studies have indicated aspartame, one of the most common soda sweeteners, has caused increased migraines, depression in patience with mood disorders, increased hunger is a possibility but further research is needed.  The new player on this team is sucralose, aka Splenda, nearly zero calories and is not fully absorbed by the digestive system.  This is not a cousin of sugar (sucrose) as many believe, this was a precipitate found while developing an insecticide.  It’s pure chemical, not pure sugar.  Did you know chlorine is found in sucralose?  One cup of Splenda contains 96 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates, this is due to the other artificial sweeteners added to sucralose to make Splenda.  Sucralose is not free from side-effects either, there are reports of digestive problems, skin irritation, mood swings, chest pains and anxiety.  No wonder I feel wired after a can of Coke Zero.

Fizzy phosphorus carries away calcium.  Less calcium means weaker bones and possibly osteoporosis later on in life.

The acidity eats away on your tooth enamel, causing cavities.

What to do if you are hooked on soda?

I won’t tell you to drop it, you will have to steadily decrease your consumption.  This is especially important if you like caffeinated pop.  Your system will go into caffeine withdrawal and you will most likely end up with a migraine.  While I’m not a health professional, I’ve learned from experience.  I was drinking Pepsi daily at work before I got pregnant with Big Brother.  As soon as I found out I was expecting, I stopped eating all the bad things (at least I thought were bad, not like wine or beer – caffeine!).  I had such terrible head aches!  Instead of a full stop I weaned myself and drank plenty of water.  Surprisingly, water makes you feel full faster than soda.  Well, duh it doesn’t have HFC in it! The sad thing is, soda remains dirt cheap. Not only in the supermarkets but on menus too. And most restaurants refill soda for free.  Water from the tap is free, but might not taste a fresh as say the Columbia Icefield run-off.  You don’t need to buy bottles of water either, keep reading.

Help a pop-crazy friend with a cool gift!

Water is the best thing for your body, we’re made up of a lot of it.  Stay fresh and hydrated with a cool earth-friendly water.org bottle.  I already have a Brita water bottle with filter like this one.

I bought it for Big Brother who started school in the nasty hot weather we had this summer.  In Texas, the water can quickly take on “earthy” properties that are not appealing to my nordic taste buds.  This bottle solved that problem and I knew my little one had clean water while away at school.

And just because Matt Damon is awesome, here is a video:

Matt Damon as Clause for a Cause

Sources:  Medicinenet.com   Cleaner Plate Club  Health Regeneration

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Birthday Brekkie

Thirty.¬† It’s here now and doesn’t want to leave.¬† No matter what sort of trade or bribe is offered.¬† Nope.¬† Thirty is here to stay.

Leading up to my birthday I turn to myself and ask to reflect upon the trials and triumphs of the last year or so.¬† The last year just happened to fast, I had Little Sister and now she’s one.¬† Big Brother has started to really show his personality, he loves everybody and repeatedly will tell you so.¬† My biggest accomplishment was starting this blog.¬† Meeting Alton Brown and Claire Robinson was the highlight of the year, the first famous people I’ve met in person!¬† This year alone¬†the number of cookbooks in the kitchen has tripled.

Normally for my birthday I would have gone out to get a fancy new haircut to feel better about getting older.¬† Instead I’ve taken it upon myself to feel better as I get older.¬†¬† There are a few thoughts behind this to help.¬†

No more fast food.¬† Fight back against fat at the source.¬† No more Wendy’s¬ģ spicy chicken sandwich, McD¬†breakfasts, or (this one is more difficult) KFC bucket of chicken.¬† I’ve convinced hubby to join me on this point, assuring that we will feel so much better without it than after eating it.

Play.  I get so wrapped up in work, laundry, and all the lovely chores every mom completes without complaining.  I want to make more time to play.  Play games with the kids, go outside with Pepper, play in the kitchen inventing recipes or remixing them.  What better way to stay young?

Watch for burnout.¬† Get some rest, read a book, take a nap.¬† Eat well.¬† Maybe I’ll start yoga again.

All of these thoughts whiz around my birthday breakfast table as I sit and enjoy my homemade bread with my homemade strawberry-mango jam, tea,  and a turkey omelet.  I watch Pepper and Little Sister play tug-o-war while sipping the warm sweet English tea.  Hubby even bought me a new kitchen toy, a mandolin!

Thirty is off to a good start.

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Getting older I guess means getting wiser.¬†¬† After having two beautiful babies in my 20’s, being part of the cause for my putting on an extra 15 pounds,¬†the big¬†3-0 is now only a few weeks away.¬† I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my girlish figure, there’s been a couple of additions here (thighs) and there (a new muffin top).¬† Winding down from the full-out¬†pigfest of pregnancy and breastfeeding took some time and self-regulation, it all comes down to making healthier¬†choices.¬†

Choosing proper foods does get easier with preparation, practise, and perseverance.¬† The three P’s towards a healthier lifestyle.¬†

Preparation

Knowledge is always the best way to prepare yourself.¬† Here’s some examples of calorie counts to get you thinking about what you have been eating:

  • McD’s Big Mac… 590 calories 34 grams of fat (1)
  • McD’s¬†Chicken sandwich… 450 calories 18 grams of fat (1)
  • BK Whopper¬ģ … 680 calories 39 grams of fat (1)
  • Arby’s¬ģ Turkey Club Salad… 350 calories 21 grams of fat (1)
  • Pizza Hut¬ģ Veggie pizza, 1 slice… 220 calories 8 grams of fat (1)
  • Taco Bell¬ģ Taco Salad… 850 calories 52 grams of fat (1)
  • KFC¬ģ Original Chicken Sandwich… 400 calories 24 grams of fat (1)

Surprised?  You should be. 

If you are trying to lose weight, or maintain your current jean size the formula is simple.  Consume fewer calories than you burn in a day, drink plenty of water, and eat smaller frequent meals (no longer than 3 hours between meals). 

My problem is the burning of the calories.  I hardly have any time to devote to actual exercise.  It would take 3 hours of walking (2) just to burn off that 850 calorie Taco Salad!   Also keep in mind 1,500 milligrams of sodium is the maximum daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association, many fast foods, packaged goods, and resturant meals contain elevated levels of sodium.

Make a list of fruits and vegetables you already like to eat, have your list ready for grocery shopping.¬† It’s rare that I buy cookies from a store, home-made treats taste better and I know what’s in them – no preservatives or excess salt.¬† My kids love my cookies and I wouldn’t want it any different.

Practise

Here is the hard part, putting your plans into action. 

Go buy those fruits and veggies, if you can, at your nearest farmer’s market or CSA.¬† If your part of the planet doesn’t have a market, seek out organic produce at the super market.¬†¬†¬†Take a moment to read the labels of foods.¬† Each time you run out of a staple item, look at the different options presented at the store, compare the labels and read those ingredients!¬† I just bought some light margarine spread and read the ingredients after it was already home (this was to support my argument of why butter is natural and better than the tub of margarine).¬† There must have been 15 or more ingredients printed on the plastic tub, while butter contains milk, that’s it.¬† Just milk.¬†

Stop using your zombie brain to make choices for you, there are alternatives if you pause¬†while frantically shopping with two screaming children strapped to the shopping cart.¬† (Yes, I’m the one with the loud 5-year-old¬†at the end of the aisle.)

Perseverance

Habits are hard to avoid and will tend to creep back into your routine while you’re not looking.¬†

I’ve tried to give up one of my worst vices from pregnancy: ice cream.¬† I will admit there is a pint container of Java Chip in my freezer at this very moment, and that half of it disappeared last night.¬† Don’t fret over a small lapse in health consciousness.¬† I plan to have a crisp romaine salad for dinner tonight to offset that bowl of vice cream.¬†

You won’t change all of your eating mannerisms overnight, but you have to start somewhere.¬† Be mindful of the foods presented to you and keep that monster in your belly at bay with a few¬†healthy snacks (an apple, a papaya smoothie, green tea, handful of nuts or dried fruit).¬†¬†Boost your calorie usage by¬†parking at the far end of every parking lot you use.¬†¬†Walk to the store if it’s within a reasonable distance of your home, and you are comfortable with the amount of walking it will take to get there and back.¬† Bring a backpack to store your purchased goods – you will think lighter¬†when you have to carry it all home and will tend to only buy what you need.

(1) Referenced from Atkins¬ģ Comprehensive carb counter booklet – free when you join the website.

(2) Calorie Calculator at freedieting.com

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