Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Moderation, why it doesn't work for me

Why doesn't moderation work for me?  Because I have no self-control. End of post. Have a good day!

Just kidding.  Let's explore it a little more.  Moderation is a popular term in eating, but usually only when trying to justify an unhealthy food.  It sounds good doesn't it?  It sounds reasonable too: eat healthy most of the time, but if you want a cookie enjoy your cookie.

The problem with me is that I don't eat just the cookie, I'll eat the box.  True story, I tried to just eat a couple of Girl Scout cookies, I turned around and I had eaten the whole box.  If I'm eating chips keep your hands away, fingers could become a casualty. It's not even so much that I really love junk food, I think it's because it seems to now be forbidden foods.  In my mind if I have one piece I may as well eat it all because I've already eaten something I shouldn't have eaten.

When I started eating better, I tried to eat special treats in moderation, but I struggled with the moderation part.  Then, I felt guilty about overeating on junk food.  It was an unpleasant cycle.  At the same time, I wasn't comfortable swearing off junk food and I didn't know what else to do.  I thought if I stopped eating junk food altogether  I would be some kind of weirdo.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago, I was standing in the lobby of my work and a guest was politely refusing the candy on the receptionist's desk, explaining she "didn't do" moderation.  What?!?!  I thought this was how we all cheated on healthy eating and didn't feel guilty about it.  She went on to explain she didn't have a lot of self-control and to avoid eating the whole jar of candy, she didn't eat any candy.  At first, I felt sorry for her...never eating candy?  What an unpleasant life.  Then, I realized I had the same problem.  I have no self-restraint.  My "special treats" were no longer special, I was eating whatever was offered to me whenever it was offered.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Smoothies made easier

My smoothies have a new BFF in the form of a canning jar.

Recently, I saw this "hack" of attaching a blender base to a canning jar. This works for most blenders, but not all of them.  (Side note:  I absolutely hate when I see "life hacks" on Facebook.  I do not want any part of my life hacked, it sounds awful.  And don't get me started on the videos of "You've been doing ____ wrong".  No I haven't been doing it wrong.  I've successfully cut cake and watermelon up to this point in my life, it's not wrong!)

Rant over.  Back to my smoothies.  As silly as this sounds, sometimes I don't want to make them in the mornings because of extra dishes.  If the sink is really full, a bowl of oatmeal will only dirty one dish, whereas a smoothie will dirty two:  the cup I drink out of and the blender.  The oatmeal wins.

I needed a new gasket anyhow for my blender after I didn't put it back on correctly and it shredded into pieces, so I got a new one in a pack with a whole new blender base.  Now I have two blender bases--woo hoo!  It's much easier to clean just the base and the jar instead of the whole blender and my cup, and I'm all about less dishes.

My immersion blender in a canning jar also works well and I've started using that some too.  It worked really well and still left me with less dishes than a regular blender.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sweet treat

Hey there friends!  I've got a super-fast, no bake, delicious treat for you today.  I made this last night to go with some red wine and it was soooo good!
There were more, but we ate them :)
8 Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips*
Shredded coconut for sprinkling on top

Pit the dates and mash up well with a fork in a bowl.  Add in the almonds and stir as best as you can.  Continue combining with your hands.  Roll into 12-14 balls.  Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave (stir every 30 seconds until melted).  Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Dip the balls in the chocolate with a fork, shaking off the excess, and place on the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with the shredded coconut.  

I place mine in the freezer so the chocolate will set faster and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

*I used dairy-free 63% cacao chips.  A higher percentage equals a darker chocolate, with a lower sugar content. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentines for the non-crafty mama

I am not a crafty mama.  God made me more of a Pinterest fail mama, but this week I made a fairly decent valentine.  I'm sharing it because it's super easy, and provides a healthy snack for kids instead of a bunch of sweet treats.  

My kids are still so little valentines cards just aren't even on my radar.  However, we were invited to a really fun Valentine's party play date at a park with other little ones and their mamas.  The night before I was reviewing the invitation to remind myself of the details, and I realized I should have something for my boys to pass out to other kids.  Dang it! Yes, I know it wasn't required, but I wanted my toddler to get the experience of giving to others.

My first thought was, "I'll just print something, cut it out, and it's just the best we can do right now."  But, I couldn't let the idea of doing something slightly better go.  Quickly, I scanned my brain for valentines ideas to include some kind of non-candy treat, knowing my little one will be getting enough sugar over the next couple of days.  Then my eyes fell on my popcorn kernels.

Previously, I had heard of making popcorn in a brown paper bag, but hadn't actually tried it myself.  So, I gave it a go and it was super easy. The idea of a basic popcorn for the kids I really liked because it's sugar free, and allergy-free.  I had the popcorn kernels, and I had my husband stop on the way home to get enough brown lunch bags (thanks honey!)
This bottle was enough to fill bags for 16 kids.  You could cut the amount of kernels in half and get 32 bags. 
I made a very basic print out to cut and tape to the bags, wishing the boys' friends "a poppin' Valentine's Day."  I don't know what a "poppin' Valentine's Day" would consist of, but I believe it's a good thing.
My computer decided to be crazy when I pressed print.  This was not the font I chose, but I wasn't messing with it anymore. 
The next morning, the toddler helped me fill the bags with 1/4 cup of popcorn. This amount fills approximately 3/4 of a brown paper bag when the popcorn is popped.
Simple, quick printout with instructions
Here are the instructions for brown lunch bag popcorn:

  1. Fill the bag with 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels
  2. Fold down the top of the bag
  3. Shake the bag a little so the kernels are spread out and put the bag flat in the microwave
  4. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (keep an eye on the bag, times may vary, and your popcorn could burn)
  5. Season however you like
  6. Enjoy!

Fresh popcorn, with no additional ingredients
Since we got home from the party, my child has asked me for three bags of popcorn.  I cut the amount of popcorn in each bag in half, down to 2 tablespoons of kernels and only microwave it for 1 1/2 minutes, it's a better serving size.

Indoor activities for littles...guest post

I wrote a guest piece over at New Crunchy Mom about indoor activities for little ones that don't involve technology or spending money.  Go see!

Of course, I include some activities in the kitchen ;)

Confusing food terms (part 2)

Alright, let's pick up from yesterday where I talked about about confusing food terms and what they really mean:  healthy, natural, fat-free, and organic.  If you didn't see it, pop on over here to catch up.

Today, I want to look at three more terms, and how you can make the best decisions when buying food.

A calorie is a unit of energy; energy we burn throughout our day.  Counting calories, and calorie restriction, is a popular way to lose weight.  In this weight loss plan, you want the calories in to be less than calories out (calories--energy--you burn through the day) and you'll lose weight.  There are two main points I want to make about calories.

1.  Eat enough calories!  Yes, this is the opposite of what your brain may think you need to do to lose weight.  However, too much of a calorie deficit will make your body think you're trying to starve yourself and it will go into survival mode and hold onto the excess weight.   If you are trying to lose weight, you might need to work with a professional trained in dietary needs.

When I had to give up dairy and eggs because of breastfeeding, I saw a dietitian to make sure I was eating the right foods.  The week before I saw her I tracked everything I ate and then brought the food journal to the appointment.  My expectation going into the appointment was that we would talk about the correct foods to eat. Instead, the first thing she said was that I wasn't taking in enough calories, I was floored (and excited because I got to eat more!)  After the appointment, I continued tracking my foods and I'm now at a point where I'm comfortable enough with what I'm eating that I no longer need to track.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Confusing food terms (part 1)

Low calorie=Healthy?
Whole foods=Organic?
GMO=Going Mad Over unclear food terms?

There are so many terms used by food companies, and marketers when they want to send a message "YOU SHOULD EAT (insert food name) TO BE HEALTHY!" What does it really all mean though?

So, let's start with the term healthy.  Go ahead, what does it mean to you?  The Food and Drug Administration actually has a definition of the word healthy, but it can be misleading.  For example, choose the option below the FDA defines as healthy:
  1. Salmon and avocados
  2. Raisin Bran and Campbell's soup
If you choose number 1 you're wrong.  The FDA says these items have too much fat (even if it's good fat) and cannot labeled as healthy.  However, Raisin Bran loaded with sugar does meet the requirement. 

Just remember the healthy label can be a good food decision, but it may not be completely black and white.  I would prefer to include salmon, avocado, and almonds in my family's diet over sugary cereals, and sodium-laden soup with unclear ingredients.