Veggies as the Main Meal Component

Now that the holidays are over and our new year goals have been set, I bet I’m not the only one eating better than I was during the holiday season. One thing I’ve been considering is the amount of meat I eat during a meal. I can easily load half of my plate with meat, but I’m not sure that’s what we should be doing.

Not that meat is bad. I love beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. However, I think we are seriously lacking the nutrients we need from fresh fruits and vegetables. I want to be eating more fresh produce and less meat, so I’m going to be switching things up a bit.

My goal is going to get in more fruits and vegetables each day. To accomplish this, I’m going to make the sides the main part of my meal, and have less meat at each.

Protein is an important part of every meal, and I don’t want to skip on that, but I think I’ll get enough if I use vegetables that have the nutrient alongside a little meat. Broccoli, green peas, asparagus, cauliflower, black beans, and broccoli raab are just a few of the vegetables that contain protein. I figure, if I can pair a protein-rich vegetable with the little bit of meat cooked in a healthy fat, and then add more veggies to the plate, I’ll be doing good. What do you think?

Shannon

 

New Year Goal: Be Healthy

Oh the things we lose track of, like our fitness goals. I’m so disappointed in me. 😦 But, rather than dwell on the negativeness of this, I’m going to put my energies into staying positive and getting myself back on track.

What does this mean?

Through a combination of fitness, positive thinking and attitude, and getting back into eating healthy, I am going to get myself back on track. Not that I’ve gone back to all of my old, unhealthy behaviors, but some of them have seeped back into my life.

It’s time to rethink how I want to feel, and how I am going to get there and stay there.

Nutrition is a big part of this plan I have formulating in my head. So I want to expand my menu choices in order to give myself more options.

The basics of protein, a few fruits/vegetables, and healthy fat is great most of the time, but I think I need more of a variety so as not to get too bored. And I need to do something about what I’m doing with cravings. Rather than blow the healthy eating habits all together, I can lessen the impact by making healthier choices.

So, what do you say? Are you with me?

Let’s be healthier this year!

Shannon

Trying New Foods, Harmless Harvest, and Earth Day

During my journey into eating healthier, I’ve been trying new foods. It’s important to do this, to make sure we’re getting all the nutrients we need. One of the ultimate goals to healthy eating is to get almost all of your nutrients through food, minimizing the supplements we need to take. Another ultimate goal is to learn how to prepare these foods in healthy ways, to stay on track with our nutrition goals. Many people also want to eat in a more sustainable way.

Try new foods!

By trying new foods, we can meet at least the first two goals. I’m not saying we’re going to like everything we test out, but it is important to at least try. There will be hits and misses, and that’s fine. When something is a miss, rather than ruling it out completely, we might try it another way.

When I started this journey, sweet potato was something I knew I wanted to try. I didn’t really like it, so I decided to try it again, differently. The second time, I had only half a serving with a half serving of white potato. I mashed the two together, and it tasted just fine. Over the course of my experiment, I slowly added a bit more sweet potato and took away a bit more white potato each time. Eventually, I came to like sweet potato without the white. Later, I used the same process with squash and am able to eat that without potato now.

Unfortunately, this experiment did not work with carrots. I need to be able to mash them up with white or sweet potato, or even squash, or I can’t eat them cooked. However, I do love them raw!

I’ve tried mango a few times and can’t stand it, unless it is in smoothie form with other tropical fruits. Yum!

Other things I’ve been able to add without mixing, such as raw spinach and kale (who knew they would be so good!). I can’t eat them cooked, yet. I love almond and cashew milks, even though I’ve never been able to stand almonds and cashews. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can add sliced almonds to some things. Now that is progress!

Considering I’d only ever had sweetened coconut flakes, I was surprised to find I love the organic, unsweetened flakes, as well as all other coconut products I’ve tried. I almost solely use coconut oil, I like coconut cream with cocoa powder or pure extracts, and coconut milk is delicious. I even use coconut water in my smoothies sometimes.

I don’t always have the extra money to try some of the new organic, non-gmo, Paleo-friendly, items that I want to try but, during months when I have a few extra dollars, this is exactly what I choose to use the extra money for. If I like something, I try to budget for it every so often.

And once in a while, a company will contact me to try and review a product. I don’t review it unless I like it and know I’ll use it again at some point. You may have read my piece on Leap Organic Smoothie Bowl Powders. I’m trying protein powders in my smoothies as well. These were free for me to try, and they help me to decide if something is worth buying.

What new foods will I be trying next? I have a list, and am trying them as I can. The list includes items such as cashews, papaya, raw Brussels sprouts (don’t like them steamed!), sunflower butter, and coconut probiotics.

Harmless Harvest

Harmless Harvest has a coconut probiotic I’ll be trying soon, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it. It’s made with pure coconut water (yum!), and I like what I’ve read about the company so far. They are an ecosystem based business that considers sustainability of the utmost importance. This Earth Day, Saturday the 22nd, the Harmless Harvest staff will be volunteering to show their support. They are a fair-for-life company, and their coconut waters are environmentally conscious. Their goal is for a zero-waste ingredient model, and they are working toward that goal by not only using the water from the coconut in their coconut probiotic, but also the meat.

Why are probiotics important?

Probiotics are important because they stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms. These microorganisms are important for proper gut health, which is important to the overall health of the body.

I’ve been a bit worried about gut health since taking on a mainly Paleo diet. I’m not eating milk-based yogurt any more, so I’m wondering what I can replace that with that will be Paleo-friendly. I’m looking into coconut yogurt, and Harmless Harvest Coconut Probiotic was recently brought to my attention. Can’t wait to try it!

Celebrating Earth Day Year Round

I don’t celebrate Earth Day once a year. To me, it a year-round thing. There are so many things we can all do to lessen our negative impact on the Earth, that we can incorporate things throughout the year. Here are some things I do/use:

  • Reusable lunch sack for work meals.
  • Reusable containers for work meals.
  • Reusable water bottle while at work and when walking.
  • Leftover water from cooking to water plants.
  • Use canning jars to store food in the refrigerator. Since I don’t process foods in the jars, I can reuse the lids as well.
  • Use wool dryer balls.
  • Use fabric (not paper) towels.
  • Try to buy products in glass jars that I can reuse for other purposes. I don’t buy items in jars often.
  • Pick up trash from the ground when I’m out and about.
  • Eat less meat than I used to.
  • Buy organic/non-gmo/sustainable when possible.
  • Use less paper and plastic products.

Am I perfect? Nope. But, then, who is? But every single thing I’m doing makes an impact and makes a statement.

How are you celebrating Earth Day? How are you eating healthier these days? What products do you adore to help you meet these things?

Shannon

A Healthier Year

I recently talked about two of my new year goals, Organize and Getting Back to Eating Healthy. If I’m more organized in the way I do things and store things, it will make eating healthy that much easier. So I’m organizing what bit of space I have in my ‘kitchen’. (Remember, I rent a room.) A few of the things I want to do this year:

  1. Bring in a drawer/cupboard unit, three high. This will take up only about the same space lengthwise and depth-wise as the old two-tier shelf that I’m using, will provide two long drawers for plates, bowls, utensils, etc., and two cupboards for the slow cookers, personal blender, and hand mixer. The toaster oven will still fit on top, and I’ll gain overall space for these items. ADDED BONUS: Everything will be hidden from view, making the area look better.
  2. Bring in a cabinet for food storage. I wanted to have the pantry in the closet, but it isn’t really going to work for me. I need the closet for storage, at least for a while. After I’m done going through and organizing the rest of the things I need to bring to my room, I’ll maybe be able to make the closet pantry work. This cabinet can not be very deep, because of where it needs to stand, but it should work just fine.
  3. Buy a new dorm size fridge; one that has the freezer door separate from the refrigerator door. The freezer in the existing ancient dorm fridge does not work well, and is too small. With a new, slightly bigger freezer, I’ll be able to do more, batch cooking of healthy foods (in small increments), freeze smoothie packs, and/or buy meats and other things on sale and freeze for later. It’s not as much space as I’d like, but will work better for me than the current one.

Eating healthy is so important, and I’m trying to learn the most frugal ways to pull this off to share with you. I feel so much better and have far more energy when I’m eating healthy. It’s well worth a little extra expense; I just can’t go overboard with those expenses.

I was recently inspired by Leesa mattress to share my tips on being healthy in this new year. I’ve never used one of their mattresses, but they do look comfortable. They are challenging everyone to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle outside the gym and kitchen this year. I thought about it and decided I’d love to do that for you.

There is more to being healthy than preparing and eating healthy foods.

Nutrition is only part of being healthy. I want myself and my readers to be healthy in a more well-rounded way, so I thought this article and graphic would be great for the blog. Are you a morning person?

https://www.leesa.com/

I’m extending my healthy behaviors to encompass all the parts of my life.

(Keep in mind that I work mainly evenings, and one double per week starting early morning and ending late night. These routines are done on the evenings/mornings/days I’m actually at home and not at work. All we can do is our best.)

Evening Routine:

  • I’ll be making a short to-do-list for the following day, so I can make sure I’m getting the most important things done. (This will be new for me.)
  • I’ll be having a Mini At-Home Spa Moment. (While I’ve done this on occasion, I’ll be making it a habit this year.)
  • I already enjoy a cup of chamomile tea while relaxing with a movie or a book in the evening.
  • Go to bed when I’m tired. If I try to go to bed any earlier, my mind goes into overdrive and I’m up most of the night thinking. Am I the only one?

Morning Routine:

  • I wake up naturally; and this has helped a great deal with how I feel throughout the day.
  • I make sure to drink a glass of room temperature, filtered water, with a squeeze of real lemon.
  • I do a routine of yoga, meditation, and stretching.
  • I journal, then flip through a magazine or do a little reading.
  • I will also be concentrating on the spiritual aspect of my life. (This will be new for me.)

Daily:

Throughout the Week:

  • I walk. At least three times a week this time of year, but almost daily during good weather.
  • Right now I’m doing a plank/squat/hand weight challenge. I’ll maybe find another challenge when I’m done with this one.

Throughout the Year:

  • I’m trying really hard to allow myself to take breaks. A few minutes here, a day there. A weekend once in a while. A personal retreat does wonders, and it is so important to get out and do things. I call these mental health days.
  • I try to get at least two partial vacations in a year. I visit my daughters, one per vacation. My favorite times are with my daughters and my grandson. As a matter-of-fact, I’ll be visiting with Skye in Fort Kent next month. I’m taking six days off from work. In a row. I am so proud of myself!

As you can see, I’m incorporating a lot of healthy habits into my routine, and keeping many old ones. Nutritional, physical, and mental health are all so important, and they work together to keep a person healthy and motivated.

What healthy routines do you have?

Shannon

Making Changes to the Blog

You may have noticed I changed the way the blog posts are listed on the home page, and tweaked the sidebar so I only have one. Once I got rid of some unneeded things there, two sidebars were no longer necessary. I’m still working on cutting the topics list down, and I’ve reworked the footer (please check it out!).

I’ve drafted many of the articles and recipes, meaning they’re still here but are hidden, and trashed anything unnecessary. The drafted posts will be updated and re-posted, trashed, or used in other projects at a later date, depending on how important they are and whether or not they fit in with how I want this blog to be perceived.

Don’t be surprised when you find much-loved posts disappearing. I’m trying to decide what to do with them. They may end up back here, if changed a little, or they may end up elsewhere.

This blog is taking on a healthier image, as I’m sure you’ve noticed over the past year. As I learn new things about health, and try/create new recipes, I’m posting them here. Some of the old favorites, though they may not be the healthiest, are staying, at least for now. These are the ones that evoke warm memories of time with family and friends. The recipes I still use for important family gatherings.

While I’m trying to eat healthier, the blog is still based on frugality. I can’t even afford all that health food, but I’m learning to spend wisely and I want to show you how. I’m hoping you’ll join me in my adventure.

You may have noticed some older posts showing up as new posts. This is because I’ve already tweaked those recipes and articles, and they are ready to share with you again. They are the ones I wanted to be sure everyone saw again, because they are so helpful.

Others have been tweaked but not re-posted. They are where they always have been, where everyone knows where to find them.

Please stick with me through the changes, and I think you’ll be pleased.

Thank you!

Shannon

Freebie: Frugal Ways to Save Money In the Kitchen + Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious

I wanted to let you all know about a Mini eBook I just published called Frugal Ways to Save Money In the Kitchen + Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious.

“Unfortunately, it is cheaper to drink soda than almond and coconut milk. And it is less expensive to eat white potatoes, rice, and pasta than it is to eat healthy salads all the time. It is cheaper to eat meat from drugged up animals than to buy grass-fed. And pesticide ridden produce than organic. It is just cheaper to eat unhealthy than it is to eat healthy.”

“However, it is important to find ways to cut costs in the kitchen in order to eat as healthy as possible. This Mini eBook helps you along this journey.”

This Mini eBook is free to anyone who can use the information to help them along their path to a frugal existence. I hope it helps many people. This is being offered in ePub format through the link above at lulu.com.

PDF Version: Frugal Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen plus Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious

ePub is new to me, so I’m hoping my readers will let me know if it is a good format for them. If not, what type of format do you prefer? Maybe you like PDF’s or something else? Please, let me know in the comments below so I can better serve you all. I will see what I can do. Or, email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Enjoy!

Shannon

What do You use Instead of Grains?

If I don’t use grains, what do I use?

I don’t have an all-the-time substitute. I simply don’t make the same types of foods I used to. However, I do have a few things on hand about 1/3 of the year. Usually for a few month period after the tax returns show up in my account. They are:

  • almond flour/meal
  • coconut flour
  • tapioca flour

These items aid me in trying new recipes. Paleo versions of pancakes, waffles, muffins, crepes, and desserts. I don’t eat such items often, but they are a real treat when I do.

Why?

Because these flours are expensive. And, even these paleofied versions would not be the healthiest choices if you were to eat them all the time.

What grain substitutes do you use, if any? In what ways do you use them?

Share in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all emails.

Shannon

Why not Grains?

I followed the Whole30 program, then switched to a Paleo lifestyle. This aided me in eliminating specific foods from my diet for a several months. And I have spent time attempting to reintroduce items. Not always successfully.

Why did I do this?

This is how I’m learning what I can and cannot eat for ultimate health. Mainly, I want to lose more weight. And, I want to be healthy.

My biggest lesson has been about grains. My body does not seem to like them. 😦 It is a sad reality. Especially since I love pasta, oatmeal, rice, pancakes, waffles, cakes, brownies, popcorn, etc.

I have to keep them out of my diet if I want to lose weight, but these foods are the most affordable to make. And, I’m on a limited budget.

So, while I do not eat grains every day, week, or even month, I do eat them on occasion. Also, when I do have the opportunity to go out to eat, I will order the occasional burger at Five Guys, or a meal from Oriental Jade or Happy China Buffet that includes rice and chicken fingers – battered. And I have been craving Denny’s lately, but I blame this on my sister for mentioning it.

Once in a while, grains do enter my body. But I try to keep it at a minimum so I can continue to take weight off.

Because I’m trying to limit grains, you have likely noticed a difference in the many of the recipes I have added to the blog.

Do you eat grains? If so, which ones and in what capacity?

Share with us in the comments blow, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I reply to all emails.

NOTE: None of the restaurants mentioned here have paid me to talk about them. They are simply places I enjoy when I go out.

Shannon

What Type of Chocolate do You Use?

The second in a continuing series of posts asking readers’ questions, this one deals with one of my favorite foods. Chocolate!

Yes, I do love chocolate. And I do eat it sometimes. Otherwise, I would feel deprived and would not stick to any healthy eating plan at all. I know this is true, because I know myself. However, I do not eat chocolate every day, or even every week.

It is said that dark (not milk or white) chocolate is good for you. In moderation, this chocolate can be good for your heart, brain, and blood sugar levels. It has antioxidants and other nutrients. So why not take advantage every so often. Right? (Unless you have health issues. Then please talk with your doctor and nutritionist. I am neither.)

Now, they say that 60% dark chocolate and higher is what we want to go for, and I can eat 60%-70% dark and enjoy it. But, do I usually get this dark chocolate?

Not really. Generally speaking, I just use Special Dark. I know. I know. NOT the healthiest. But, my main goal is to lose weight and be healthier. I can enjoy Special Dark and accomplish both, for less than the expensive dark chocolate options. I am, after all, on a budget.

How do I use this chocolate?

  • Mainly I melt some with a little coconut oil, and use it for dipping fruit slices.
  • I might make my own no-bake cookie versions, minus the extra sugar and stuff.
  • I add them to otherwise paleofied pancakes or muffins on occasion.
  • Sometimes I add them to trail mix.

I do not go overboard with the Special Dark chocolate, though. Usually Cocoa Bliss is what I use for my cravings. It is organic, and the only ingredients are cocoa powder and coconut oil. And it is delicious. I simply eat a tablespoon or two when I am feeling hungry but it is not meal time yet. It tides me over until my next meal, and helps me not to feel nauseous. (I have this problem when I am feeling hungry.)

Unsweetened cocoa powder is another chocolate that I use in:

  • Smoothies
  • Hot cocoa
  • Baking

What types of chocolate do you use in your quest to eat healthier on a budget? How do you use the chocolate? Let us know in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all emails.

Note: I have not been paid to mention brands in this post. They are just the products that I use.

Shannon

Getting Enough Vegetables Affordably

Vegetables are one of the most important meal and snack components to consume, providing your body with necessary vitamins, protein, minerals, and other nutrients that aid in keeping a body healthy. We should be eating mostly vegetables at each meal, being sure to mix it up for full benefit.

It can be expensive to eat so many vegetables, though, so we tend to go the way of eating cheaper, more processed, less healthy foods. We shouldn’t do this, if we really want to be healthy. Use the money you would have used for processed foods to buy more vegetables.

Even I sometimes, when money is truly tight, find myself eating the non healthy foods. However, I’m trying to prevent it as much as possible.

How?

By thinking ahead, and shopping well.

These tactics do not work 100% of the time, but I do try.

What are some steps to take to be sure we are able to get as many vegetables into our diet as possible?

  1. Always know what you already have on hand.
  2. Use store coupons to buy vegetables.
  3. Go online to the food companies you generally buy from to see if you can sign up for coupons, such as Marketside.
  4. When something is on sale, buy extras.
  5. Frozen and canned foods are fine if they are truly good deals, just be sure to choose versions where the manufacturer does not use BPA in the lining. These will come in handy when you don’t have fresh vegetables.
  6. Shop the discount racks and freeze stuff.
  7. When you can’t use the fresh vegetables, and you don’t want them to go bad, create freezer mix-ups. These are easy to make.
  8. Buy the vegetables that are the most affordable that week. Choose at least five varieties, and buy enough to last until your next shopping trip.
  9. Take advantage of roadside stands during the harvest season. Often, you can get the vegetables at an incredibly low rate. If you buy a lot, they may even knock off a dollar or two.
  10. Shop Farmer’s Markets toward the end of the day, when sellers are more likely to sell for less.
  11. Know how much a serving really is for each member of your family.
  12. Remember that if you’re eating non processed foods, mainly meats and vegetables, your body will regulate itself after a while and you may not need as big servings as you used to. This happened for me after about three weeks in on the Whole30 program, and is also the case when I’m eating Paleo. This helps me to save money in the long run.
  13. Be sure you’re getting in at least one or two greens each week. Buy a big bag of spinach and some cabbage or Romaine lettuce.

When I am eating mostly vegetables, meat, and a fruit a day, I notice big differences. My weight goes down, my skin is clear and looks amazing, my asthma does not bother me at all, and I sleep very well, among other things. I love feeling that good, so I strive to do my best to eat healthy.

How do you do things so you can afford to consume more vegetables?

Shannon