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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Mayday! Challenge – The Results

I’ve found, over the last 6 weeks, that getting my health in check has had a bit of an anchoring effect on my life.  In the midst of all the chaos, this is constant, this makes sense.

It was hard at first, I won’t lie.  I was miserable for the first two weeks, at least, and had plenty of days where I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

But as I replaced my bad habits with good ones, and as I built up my endurance, I discovered that I really feel great when I eat well and exercise.  It’s not anything I didn’t know – I was in great shape and ate incredibly well for a decade.  But once I got out of that routine and developed bad habits, it was hard to remember what healthy felt like.

Through this 6 week journey, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my weight is about simple math.  I gained 20 pounds.  Each pound is 3500 calories.  That means I consumed 70,000 more calories than I burned, which in turn means I need to burn those 70,000 calories in order to get back to where I started.  That is a whole lot of freaking calories!  Change can’t happen over night because it’s not mathematically possible.

Accepting that it’s not personal, it’s math, has helped me tremendously to look at my fitness goals with logic rather than emotion.

Letting go of that emotional baggage?  HUGE.

My friend Kelly pointed me toward a fabulous website called Fitday.com and I will freely admit that I’ve become a wee bit obsessed with it.  If you have any desire to lose weight, get in shape, or just see where you are, health and nutrition wise, I suggest that you check it out!  It’s completely free (unless you upgrade to premium, but in my opinion, what they offer for free is awesome) and it helps you to break your goals down into basic math.

Basically, you give it your stats: age, weight, height, lifestyle (sedentary, active, or somewhere in between) and it tells you how many calories you burn in a day, just living.  You can break down your day into as many increments as you want to get it exactly right, or you can just let it estimate.

Then you set your goals, and it tells you, in black and white, what you need to do to reach them.  It helps you keep track of your food intake and your activities, and lets you know where you’re at each day, week, month, etc.  Seriously, check it out!  Whatcha waiting for?  Did I mention it’s FREE ?

So.  After six weeks and a few days of making healthy choices, I feel better than I’ve felt in a very, very long time.

After (see, I took your suggestion, Kellee !):

— Don’t mind the smudgy mirror —

And?  And!!!  This morning I put on my favorite Citizens of Humanity Jeans , the ones that wouldn’t even come up past my knees six weeks ago.

Behold:

I did it!

Overall, I lost 10 pounds and 3% of my body fat, which was my goal.  I come away from my Mayday Challenge knowing that I can splurge occasionally as long as I keep my math in check, but for the most part?  I will continue to exercise and make healthy choices because it makes me feel good.

 

And?  Because I am worth the effort.

 

Damn.  Straight.

Decadent Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake

After my last post about real food vs what passes for food sometimes, I thought I’d post a recipe of one of our favorite indulgences.  Because, yes, I do think it’s good for my kids to be exposed to sweets so they won’t go nuts for them when they’re older, but it’s going to be on my terms for as long as possible!

I’m of the opinion that even treats can be good for you – or if not necessarily good, at least better than what is standard in our fine, fine country these days.  My kids love the healthier versions of “junk” food that I serve them as a treat, and I think you will too!

I first started experimenting with recipes for “wacky cake ” (cake made without egg or dairy) about 2 years ago, right after we learned of Blythe’s corn and egg allergies .  I’ve finally come up with a recipe we all love, which happens to be free of egg, corn, soy and dairy – and it’s even whole grain, to boot – while still managing to be utterly delicious.

I made this cake and frosting (which isn’t dairy-free, fyi) for my husband’s birthday yesterday, and it was a huge hit at our table.  Try it!  I think you’ll be surprised at how good healthy can taste!   

On a side note: ignore all product specifics if you don’t need to make the cake safe for the food allergic, any old stuff will do – other than the whole wheat flour and cholesterol-free oil, that is!  And, as always, if you are food allergic – double check the product labels in case of changes.

Dre’s Decadent Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake (or Cupcakes):
*Corn – Egg – Soy & Dairy – Free*

Ingredients:

*  1 1/2 cups Wheat Montana Prairie Gold 100% Whole Wheat Flour (trust me – there is a huge difference between using this particular whole wheat flour and others I have tried. Use it.)

*  1 cup  Florida Crystals Natural Cane Sugar 

*  3 Tablespoons unsweetened natural Cocoa (I use Whole Foods  or Trader Joe’s brands)

*  1 teaspoon of baking soda

*  1/2 teaspoon fine-ground sea salt

*  1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

*  1 teaspoon organic distilled white vinegar

*  5 tablespoons Capullo cholesterol-free Canola Oil

*  1 cup of cold water

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your cake pan (I use a 9″ round springform pan) with Pam Organic Olive Oil cooking spray

**If making the frosting as well, put a medium sized glass bowl and your beaters in the freezer now, too.**

In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  With a medium/large spatula, make a large hole in one third of the mixture.  Turn the spatula over, and using the stick end, make two smaller holes in each of the other thirds of the mixture.  In one small hole, pour the vanilla.  In the other small hole, pour the vinegar.  In the large whole, pour the oil.  If it looks like an odd little face staring up at you, you’re doing it right.  Pour the cold water over the top and stir until moist.

Pour your mixture into your pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched lightly.

For cupcakes, bake 15-20 minutes – mine are usually perfect at 18 minutes exactly.

When done, place cake pan on a cooling rack, remove outer springform and let cool completely before frosting.

Dre’s Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
*Corn – Egg & Soy – Free*

Ingredients:

*  1 cup Horizon Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

*  1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

*  2 1/2 tablespoons Florida Crystals Natural Cane Sugar

*  2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened natural Cocoa (again, I use Whole Foods  or Trader Joe’s  brands)

You remembered to put your medium sized glass bowl and beaters in the freezer about 20 minutes ago, right?  Go ahead and take them out now.  Pour everything into the bowl and start whipping with your mixer on a medium speed.  Beat until stiff peaks form, but be sure to stop before it gets “gummy”.  Gummy frosting still tastes good, but it’s harder to work with.

Frost your cake however you’d like and ENJOY! 

Your family won’t even realize they’re getting a full serving of whole grains with every slice.  Now that, my friends, is a tasty treat!

Food vs “Food”

Alison’s cousin came to stay over the weekend, and I found myself exasperated at the child’s refusal to eat any of the food I had to offer.

She’s always been a picky eater, and believe me, I get the whole picky thing.  As a child, and actually through to my early twenties, my hypothalamus failed to notify me when my body needed fuel.  As a result, I never felt hungry.  And if food looked funny, smelled funny, or felt funny, I didn’t eat it. 

So, yeah.  I get it.  My history of pickiness is the reason we have a household rule that the kids have to try at least one bite of everything I put on their plates, healthy or not.

However.  In my opinion, this not-quite 7-year-old’s eating habits go beyond being picky.  She will not eat anything that is not deep fried, unless it’s ramen noodles or  a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – and even then, it has to be on white bread, no crusts. 

Her visit was unexpected, and so I had nothing to feed her int he pantry.  Blythe and I had to make a quick run up to the corner market, otherwise girlfriend was going to starve the whole time she was here.  And yes, I told her that I was not happy about spending $20 on “junk” because she won’t eat a damn banana or whole wheat noodle.

The child does not consume anything with any nutritional value.  N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

I know I go above and beyond when it comes to serving whole, nutritious foods in my household, and I also understand that not everyone eats that way.  If it weren’t for Blythe’s food allergies, I’d probably even allow my kids to eat a deep fried this or that on occasion. 

My in-laws insist that Alison’s cousin’s greasy food habit is normal, and my kids’ love of fruits, veggies, and whole grains is an oddity. 

It’s hard for me to believe that in this age of information, serving kids nothing but hollow foods is standard.  But then again, childhood obesity is at an all-time high, and you can’t go to a restaurant without seeing corndogs and chicken nuggets on the children’s menu.

So help me out, my friends.  Where on the spectrum does your family fall? 

Do your kids refuse to eat anything that isn’t fried or sugar filled?  Are your kids fruit and veggie junkies?  Or do they fall somewhere in between, in a happy medium?

More Than a Salad

I snarled at my husband over a wilty, soggy, left over salad.  Oh yes, I did.

This morning, as I rushed to prepare Alison’s school lunch, my eyes drifted toward the container of left over salad I was saving for my lunch.  As soon as I saw the lid lying askew, exposing the now disgusting looking salad to the air of the fridge, I abandoned my task and stomped over to my unsuspecting husband.

He had apparently been curious about the container from Strings in the fridge last night.  I’m sure he was incredibly disappointed to find salad where chicken parmesan should be.  That was no excuse, however, for just dropping the cardboard circle haphazardly over the top of the container, rather than sealing it the way he found it.

He tried blaming the salad for looking unappetizing.

So, basically, had the salad looked good to him, he would have gone ahead and eaten it?  But since he found it unappealing, he couldn’t be bothered to preserve it for me? 

Well, thanks.

Tears began to spill over my cheeks and I couldn’t let it go.  It was my salad.  That I went to the trouble of bringing home.  Maybe I like my salads to look unappetizing, it was still mine.  Had he eaten it, that would be one thing, but now it was ruined and nobody was going to eat it.

He apologized, profusely – he hadn’t meant to be careless, hadn’t meant to ruin my lunch, hadn’t meant to upset me.

Even as I accepted his apology, I felt stupid for making such a big deal about a wilty salad.  On any given day, I probably would have been happy about the excuse to eat something delicious, rather than a left over salad that, truthfully, wasn’t all that tasty the first time around.

I knew I was making a mountain out of something far more ridiculous than a molehill – an anthill, maybe.  A very tiny anthill, made by miniature ants.

There are mountains all around me – other people’s mountains, ones I want desperately to help them conquer, but I can’t.  And while those steep peaks looming in the distance help me to see my molehills for what they truly are, I find my eyes filling with tears and my face flushed with heat. 

Life is so freaking unfair sometimes.  And it’s not the salad, forget the salad, it’s the injustice of people’s mountains.  And looking at that pathetic salad, I’m reminded that there’s nothing in the world I can do about that. 

I can try to ease people’s suffering, but how I would love to throw it away like an old, wilty salad. 

Replace it with something tasty and warm, paired with a nice bottle of wine and some laughs.

What I wouldn’t give to have that power.

Super Tasty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Super Tasty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – that are, amazingly, also pretty good for you!

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

In a gallon sized ziploc bag, combine the following Dry Ingredients:

* 1 cup whole wheat flour (I use Prairie Gold by Wheat Montana when I bake, because it’s naturally sweeter than most whole wheat flours)
* 1 cup old-fashioned oats
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp sea salt
* A shake or two of cinnamon (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
* 3/4 cup nestle mini-morsels (use more or less, based on your preference)

Shake it up, set it aside.

Then get out your medium/large bowl and put in the following “Wet” Ingredients, stirring between each addition until just combined:

* 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup banana puree (one regular banana = 1/2 cup puree)
* 1/2 cup zucchini puree (one large fresh or about a cup of frozen, sliced = 1/2 cup)
* 1 large egg white*

Dump in the baggie of dry ingredients, mix until it’s all moistened.

Lightly spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray.

I use either a melon baller (for kid-sized cookies) or my Tablespoon to scoop the dough and drop it onto the cookie sheets, about a half inch apart.  I mash them down a little with the scoop, because they don’t expand much.

Bake them for 12-14 minutes.  They’ll still be soft, but slightly golden.

Pull them out of the oven and let them sit for a few minutes before moving them to a rack to cool.

Just a warning, though – around here, they last less than two hours.  Double the batch if you want them to stick around for any amount of time!  They are seriously the most delicious cookies I’ve ever eaten. 

Also, while I was breastfeeding?  They increased my milk supply. 

They are MAGIC COOKIES! *insert jazz hands here*

* When Blythe was allergic to eggs, I mixed the following in a bowl to replace the egg white:
1 1/2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp corn-free baking powder

Tastes just as good!