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

Chocolaty Good Banana-Cranberry Cereal

Have I mentioned just how much I love these healthy cereals I’ve been posting. I probably have…

They are so simple to make using different types of ingredients. This is a easy one that I made using cranberries to celebrate the autumn season. Oh, and I was also having a chocolate craving.

Ingredients

1 small banana, sliced

slivered almonds

dried cranberries

unsweetened coconut flakes

chocolate almond milk

  1. Place the banana slices into a bowl.
  2. Add a few slivered almonds and small handful of dried cranberries.
  3. Sprinkle unsweetened coconut over the top.
  4. Pour milk over everything.

Tips

  • Try different types of nuts, according to what is on sale.
  • Use coupons or wait for sales on the almond milk.

Serving Suggestion

  • Serve with bacon or sausage.

Warmest wishes!

Shannon

Banana-Pear Smoothie

For this smoothie, I used the leftover pear and banana from the Pear and Blueberry Cereal I shared with you yesterday. Smoothies are a great, healthy way, when done right, to add essential nutrients to your diet. I love coming up with new combinations of ingredients for these drinks.

I finally broke down and bought this wonderful blender. I love it because the whole set-up sits nicely to one end of my my shelf. Remember: at this point I am renting a room, so things that take up as little space as possible are what I’m looking for.

This personal blender comes with two serving size cups and two half-size cups, so I can easily blend up just what I need of whatever foods I’m working with. The larger cups are perfect for smoothies.

Ingredients

1 egg

1/2 banana, sliced

1/2 pear, chunked

a handful of still frozen spinach from the freezer

almond milk

  1. Pour a little milk into the cup. Maybe 1/8 blender cup or so.
  2. Crack the egg into the cup.
  3. Add the fruit.
  4. Add the spinach.
  5. Pour a little almond milk in, no further than the fill line, depending on how thick you want the smoothie.
  6. Cover and invert, placing the cup into the blender.
  7. Turn and blend a few seconds at a time, until well blended.
  8. Remove from the motor.
  9. Turn right-side up, remove the cover, and enjoy.

Tips

  • Try different types of milk.
  • Use fresh kale or chard instead of the spinach.

Serving Suggestions

  • This will pack a wallop of a nutritional punch when served with a one-pan meal or stuffed squash.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Pear and Blueberry Cereal

I had so much fun experimenting with these healthy cereals throughout the spring and summer months. It’s hard to express just how refreshing these are after a long winter of heavy meals. And they are so tasty with the various flavors of the different ingredients. I love how I can switch things up according to what I have on hand at any given time.

Blueberries are one of my favorite foods, and I’ve come to appreciate pears over the last few years as an alternative to apples on occasion. The trail mix can be just about any type you can think up.

Ingredients

1/2 of a pear, chunked

1/2 of a banana, sliced

a handful of blueberries

2 tablespoons of trail mix

vanilla almond milk

  1. Place the pear chunks and banana slices in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries over the top.
  3. Add the trail mix.
  4. Pour the vanilla almond milk over the top.

Tips

  • Switch things up a bit by using a different variety of pear each time you make this cereal.
  • Buy fruits when in season.
  • Try different types of trail mix.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a slice of Paleo bread spread with homemade apple or pumpkin butter.

Enjoy your breakfast!

Shannon

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries, and a Smoothie

I admit it. I love chocolate. I don’t know too many women who don’t. However, I’m trying to eat healthier foods. Traditional chocolate desserts are a no-no, and I comply with that most of the time. When I really want chocolate and am at home, chocolate pudding is a dessert I enjoy. Because there is only one of me, I don’t eat the whole thing, but I do take half and make a smoothie for the next day. Both recipes are below.

Just let me say that I had never had an avocado, so I had no idea what this might taste like starting out. I was pleasantly surprised when I made the pudding and the smoothie. I still have never had just an avocado, but I do know I like it mixed in with other foods.

Avocado is not necessarily cheap, mind you, which means I don’t make this often. One costs me about .98. I can get more kiwi or bananas for the price, which is what I often do with a portion of my fruit money. But for only a once in a while treat, this is perfect.

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries

Ingredients

1 chocolate-banana pudding recipe (I use this Paleo one from Paleotable.com)

2 large strawberries, the green cut off

a few blueberries

  1. Make the banana pudding recipe according to the directions on Paleotable.com.
  2. Mix with a blender and taste. If it’s not chocolatey enough for you, and another tablespoon of the cocoa powder.
  3. Chill for an hour or so, then split half the pudding between two small cups or bowls.
  4. Top with diced strawberries, and a few blueberries.
  5. Refrigerate the other half, covered.

Chocolate-Banana-berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 of the chocolate-banana pudding recipe above

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk that has been refrigerated over night

a few strawberries, greens cut off

a handful of blueberries

  1. Place everything into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until combined.

Tips

  • Buy coconut milk on sale, preferably with a coupon, to save a little money.
  • Try adding strawberries or other berries to the smoothie.
  • Top the pudding with apple slices for dipping.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the pudding over a Paleo brownie, or with fruit slices for dipping.
  • Serve the smoothie for breakfast, with eggs on a bed of spinach.

Have a great day!

Shannon

Cheeseburger with Vegetables, and a Chocolatey-Good Smoothie

When the weather starts to warm, I like to be outside more and my food choices change. Now I want more fresh vegetables and less heavier foods. Fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of my meals, especially during the spring and summer months, and healthy smoothies are made almost daily.

My lunch today included a burger (minus the bun!), a smoothie, and corn on the cob. Then all the vegetables came in to play. A few notes:

  • I don’t usually eat corn. Once a year, in the spring, I buy four ears of corn and that’s it for the year. Corn is such a huge GMO crop, and I’m pretty sure the corn sold where I shop is not organic.
  • Notice the lack of bun. I’m going back to limiting grain intake substantially, because I always seem to gain weight back so quickly when I eat pastas and breads.
  • The vegetables on the cheeseburger plate are all organic, and oh-so tasty!
  • The cheese is all-natural. I don’t eat cheese often, either. I feel like it is also a contributing factor when I gain weight, so I’m back to limiting it.
  • The ketchup I use is organic.
  • The parsley is organic, and I dried it at home and keep it in a canning jar.
  • I’m using coconut butter more often than not, rather than regular butter. I find it brings out the natural flavors of different foods, and is far healthier.

Cheeseburger and Vegetables

1 quarter pound ground beef

1 slice of mozzarella cheese

coconut oil

sea salt

pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

dried parsley

4 homemade bread and butter pickles

3 slices of cucumber

3 baby carrots

6 each snow peas and sugar peas

fresh broccoli

raw spinach

organic ketchup

  1. Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Form 1/4th pound of ground beef into a patty, and place it in the hot skillet. While this is cooking, I flip it four times.
  3. After I’ve flipped it three times, I grind a little salt and pepper over the patty, then add a little of each powder.
  4. Place the fresh spinach at the center of a plate and top with the cucumber slices and pickles.
  5. Chop the carrots, and place those and the remaining vegetables around the plate.
  6. After flipping the patties for the last time, I repeat step 3, then sprinkle the dried parsley over the top.
  7. Turn the burner off, and place the cheese over the patty.
  8. Make the smoothie. (see recipe below)
  9. When the cheese is melted, place the cheeseburger on the spinach, cucumber slices, and pickles.
  10. Add ketchup to the burger.

Corn

1 ear of corn

water

coconut butter

  1. Fill a small pot half way with water.
  2. Place the pot on the stove over high heat. (I did this when I started melting the oil for the beef patty.)
  3. Break the corn in two, and place in the pot.
  4. When the burger is done, the corn should be hot enough to eat.
  5. Place the corn on a plate, and spread a little coconut oil over each half.

Chocolatey-Good Smoothie

(I use a one-serving blender, so this recipe is catered to that.)

almond milk

about 7 or 8 baby spinach leaves

1 small banana, sliced small

frozen fruit mix (today I used apple slices, cherries, grapes, strawberries, and blueberries.)

  1. Pour a little almond milk in the bottom of the cup.
  2. Place the spinach in the cup.
  3. Add the banana slices.
  4. Add the mixed frozen fruit up to the fill line.
  5. Fill the cup to the fill line with more almond milk.
  6. Cover and blend about 10 seconds.
  7. Let sit a few seconds and blend another 10 seconds.
  8. Let sit again, then blend again until well mixed. 10 to 20 seconds, usually.

Tips

  • Buy organic when possible, but don’t feel guilty when you can’t. My meat, corn, and fruit was not organic. It is too expensive for me to eat all organic foods, so I simply do the best I can. You’re still going to be eating better than when you buy mostly processed foods. I have a very limited budget for groceries, but I make the best choices I can.
  • Mix up the vegetables. Use whatever is affordable when you shop for this meal.
  • Change the frozen fruit mix once-in-a-while.

This was a delicious meal, and I’m planning to have it for lunch tomorrow as well.

Shannon

 

 

Cookbook Review: No Excuses Diet by Megan Gilmore

I love cookbooks, and used to have a nice collection of them before I moved and had to downsize. I loved those old cookbooks, but they didn’t necessarily include many recipes that I would now consider healthy. I love that I was able to add the No Excuses Detox: 100 Recipes to Help You Eat Healthy Every Day by Megan Gilmore (author of Everyday Detox) to my newly started cookbook collection. I want cookbooks that fall in line with my desire to eat healthier, and this book does just that.

We are all so busy these days, and it is often difficult to find the time for meal planning, shopping, and preparing foods for a healthy lifestyle. Megan shows how you can accomplish this by including shopping lists, meal plans, recipes, and even make-ahead tips.

One of my favorite things about this book, besides the recipes, is that it tells you how to prepare healthy meals in a less toxic way. We’re all aware of the pesticides in so many food items and the BPA-lined cans, and how these things are not good for us. I want to get away from that kind of thing as much as possible, and Megan helps us with this by discussing how to avoid things like preservatives, toxic packaging, and chemical dyes.

This is not detox in the sense that you do it for 30 or 60 days and then you’re finished. What Megan hopes is that we will follow her lead and eat whole foods year round. Organic, fresh foods have wonderful flavor, and are so good for you. By reducing your consumption of processed and refined foods, you’ll really be doing good things for your body and your mind. This book is about making changes that will last a lifetime. It is imperative that we feed our bodies in a healthy way regularly, not only for a month or two at a time.

The recipes in Megan’s book take into consideration a number of factors, including price, speed, and convenience, that will help to make meal prep easy. No Excuses Detox guides you through the process of beginning this healthy lifestyle by discussing concerns such as time, expense, picky eaters, and cravings.

I love that she covers eating on-the-go! Even on my days off from work, I’m gone part of the day. It’s far easier to eat healthy if I’m prepared for each day as it comes.

Another feature I like is the discussion of freezer planning. Having foods prepared and frozen is a good way to save money. Simply take something out of the freezer the night before if you know you’ll have a busy day. That way, you wont have to order out. This book also mentions freezing in single-serve portions, which is great for me because I live alone.

Megan’s No Excuses Meal Plans are wonderful. Choose the speedy plan, the beginner’s plan, or the one for the budget-minded (my favorite!). Use them for menu planning and shopping. Each plan tells which recipes can be made ahead for easier meal prep.

She even provides useful information at the end of the book. That is where you’ll find nutritional information for each recipe, handy conversion charts, and a list of other resources to help you along the way.

I tried four of the recipes in this book to prepare for writing this review. I wanted to be able to say that the foods could be made with minimal effort and time, and that the finished recipes are tasty. Also, I needed to be able to do it on a budget. My treat for this venture? Almond butter. The first time I’ve had it. It is good, but a little outside my budget. $6.99 a jar, and I needed two. I’m hoping to find other sources that don’t cost as much. I did, however, find two coupons for a dollar off, so I paid $5.99 per jar.

I’ve wanted to learn how to make refrigerator pickles for some time, so I took this opportunity to make the Quick Bread and Butter Pickles. I love bread and butter pickles. I don’t know what I was thinking all the years. I guess I thought it would be too time-consuming to make them. But it really wasn’t, and the finished product is delicious. They sat in my refrigerator a couple of days before I tried them, and then I brought them to work to test out on a coworker. She also loved them. I made two quarts, and the recipe says they’ll last a month.

Then I wanted snacks for work. I decided to make the Nut-Free Gingerbread Granola next. The prep for this takes no time at all, but the bake time is a little long. I was able to do other things while waiting, as I was preparing meals for my weekend at work. The granola is very good. I used it top my banana cereal, and I put some in a container to have for snacks at work.

And the Chewy Vegan Ginger Cookies are simply wonderful. I’ll be making these at the holidays. I tried them out on a coworker as well, and she loved them as much as I do.

I then made the 5-Minute Freezer Fudge, and it is so rich and chocolatey. I’m planning to make it again at the holidays so I can try it out on my family. My mother and I were discussing the need for healthier alternatives to all the sweets we usually have at the get-together. This might be a winner!

I’d like to share a few recipes from the cookbook with you, so you can try them out before buying No Excuses Detox. I know you’ll be pleased.

deep-dish chocolate chip cookie

No Excuses Detox https://www.amazon.com/No-Excuses-Detox-Recipes-Healthy/dp/0399579028SERVES 12 | $0.64 PER SLICE

If I were asked what my “last supper” would be, this deep-dish chocolate chip cookie would make the cut. It’s warm and gooey right out of the oven and tastes unbelievably decadent when topped with a scoop of Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream (page 178). No one will believe this delight is made without white flour or sugar!

Coconut oil, for greasing

1 tablespoon ground chia seeds

3 tablespoons water

1 cup creamy cashew butter (see Note)

¾ cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

¾ cup dark chocolate chips

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with coconut oil.

2 In a large bowl, combine the ground chia seeds and water and stir well to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes to thicken.

3 At this point, stir any separated oil back into your store-bought cashew butter. Add the cashew butter, coconut sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt to the chia mixture and stir well to form a thick and sticky dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

4 Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared skillet. Wet your hands with water (to prevent them from sticking to the dough) and press the dough evenly into the bottom of the skillet.

5 Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cookie rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. The hotter the cookie, the more soft and difficult it is to cut, although either way, it’s delicious. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

NOTE: For this recipe, I always use store-bought roasted cashew butter rather than my usual raw homemade version. Since this cookie is baked in a hot oven anyway, I think it’s a waste of money to use expensive raw cashew butter, when the roasted variety is cheaper and more readily available. The store-bought option usually contains a bit of added oil and salt, so this recipe accounts for that. If you happen to find a brand with no added salt, increase the salt in this recipe to ½ teaspoon.

Credit: Reprinted with permission from No Excuses Detox, copyright © 2017 by Megan Gilmore, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photography copyright © 2017 by Erin Scott

easy party mix

No Excuses Detox https://www.amazon.com/No-Excuses-Detox-Recipes-Healthy/dp/039957902815-MINUTE PREP

KID-FRIENDLY

MAKES 2 CUPS | $0.44 PER SERVING

If you tend to crave that popular party mix, you are going to love this grain-free version. It tastes surprisingly similar to the kind made with rice cereal and is incredibly easy to prepare using any nuts or seeds you have on hand. Because this crispy mix can be stored at room temperature, it also makes a great snack on the go! Feel free to double the recipe because it will go fast.

½ cup raw almonds

½ cup raw pecans

1 cup hulled sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, maple syrup, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet in a flat, single layer without too many clumps.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, then cool completely (the nuts will be crunchy once completely cool). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Cut Your Cancer Risk

The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers acrylamide to be a “probable human carcinogen,” since it has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. This chemical is not added to food but is created naturally when certain foods are roasted, fried, or baked, particularly fries, potato chips, coffee, almonds, crackers, and bread. It is nearly impossible to avoid this chemical altogether, since it occurs naturally in a wide range of plant foods and animal products, but you can limit your exposure by using safer cooking methods, such as steaming and boiling, cooking susceptible foods at lower temperatures, and avoiding meats, vegetables, and starches that are darkly browned or charred. You’ll notice that all of the recipes in this book that call for heating raw nuts are kept to temperatures of 250°F or lower to avoid browning and to reduce the potential formation of acrylamide.

Credit: Reprinted with permission from No Excuses Detox, copyright © 2017 by Megan Gilmore, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photography copyright © 2017 by Erin Scott

creamy herb dressing

30-MINUTE RECIPE

15-MINUTE PREP

MAKES A GENEROUS 1 CUP | $0.39 PER SERVING

This oil-free dressing is a great alternative to traditional creamy dressings because it’s allergy-friendly and loaded with calcium, thanks to the use of raw tahini, a paste made from raw sesame seeds. It’s hard to beat the flavor of fresh herbs in this recipe, but feel free to replace them with dried herbs if they are easier to find. When using dried herbs, be sure to reduce the amount you use by two-thirds, as their flavor is much more concentrated than the fresh variety. In general, 1 teaspoon of dried herbs is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. You can taste as you go. Keep this creamy dressing on hand all week long for an easy ranchlike salad or quick veggie dip.

½ cup raw tahini (see Note)

½ cup water

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. (Depending on the thickness of your tahini, you may want to add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons water to help make the dressing more pourable.) Taste and adjust any seasoning. Serve immediately, or allow the dressing to chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will thicken a bit when chilled, making a thick dressing or veggie dip, but you can easily thin it out with additional water or lemon juice, as desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

NOTE: Be sure to use raw tahini for this recipe, if possible. Raw tahini is very light in color and mild in flavor, unlike roasted tahini, which is runny and very bitter. If you can’t find the raw version with no added oil in your local store, you can order it online or make your own by grinding hulled raw sesame seeds in a food processor until smooth. (I buy my hulled raw seeds on Amazon—make sure they are hulled, though, or you’ll wind up with inedible results.)

Credit: Reprinted with permission from No Excuses Detox, copyright © 2017 by Megan Gilmore, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photography copyright © 2017 by Erin Scott

enjoy the recipes, and No Excuses Detox!

I sure did. Megan has a nice writing style, and provides useful information. I know I’ll be trying more of the recipes. I’m happy I got to check the book out and provide a review. Visit Megan’s site at Detoxinista.com.

Have you read this book yet? Feel free to share links to your reviews, or tell us what you thought of the book or a recipe.

Shannon

Note: The links in this article are not affiliate ones.

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

Do You Drink Milk? What Kind?

Rarely do I ever drink cows milk. I’d be more apt to if I could get raw, organic milk, but I cannot. So I bet I drink about a gallon a year… mostly because I like the occasional milkshake. I do drink other organic milks, and am planning to learn to make Paleo ‘milk’ shakes at some point.

Expensive? Yes. Well, sort of. Years ago, when I used to buy cows milk at the store, I’d drink some at each meal and sometimes with snacks. I’d bake with it, and cook with it.

I don’t use any kind of milk that much any more. I don’t even drink a whole cup every day. If I did, it would be far too expensive at almost $3.00 per half-gallon.

How do I Use Milk Alternatives?

  • A few times a week I might have a cup with a meal.
  • I use it in smoothies, but not every day.
  • I use it when baking, which I do not do often.

What kinds of milk do I use?

  1. Almond
  2. Soy (when no others are available) (not often)
  3. Coconut
  4. Rice

I want to try other types as well.

What kinds of milk do you use? And how do you use them?

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

Shannon

 

New Year Goal: Getting Back to Eating Healthy

I must have gained 15 pounds this month, and I feel crappy to boot. I can’t claim to eat healthy 100% of the time, but usually I eat far healthier than I have in the past couple of months.

The holidays are rough, that’s for sure. All the delicious foods are so hard to say no to.

What is healthier for me? A mostly Paleo diet. Mainly vegetables, protein, and healthy fat, with a little fruit thrown into the mix. This is not a diet as many people use the term, but a lifestyle. Remember, a diet isn’t something you go on. It is how you eat daily.

Now, a Paleo lifestyle is not cheap, but I am trying and learning new things to help me save money when possible. Usually my hours are cut back during the winter months, meaning my food budget is next to nothing, but this year my boss tells me I’ll be working 40 hours each week. If this is true, I’ll have more money for groceries. Thank goodness! More money for experimenting with recipes. More money for regular meals. More money for healthy food, and not having to eat all the grains, sugars, and other stuff that causes me to gain weight.

My parents gave me $100.00 for Christmas, and I intend to put that money toward stock-ups for healthy eating this winter. After all, we all like pancakes and muffins sometimes. It’s just a matter of what ingredients are used when making them. So I want to stock up on things like:

  • almond flour
  • coconut flour
  • cocoa bliss
  • coconut oil
  • canned tomatoes
  • tomato paste
  • bakers cocoa
  • canned full-fat coconut milk
  • canned coconut cream
  • unsweetened coconut flakes

I lose weight and feel so much better when I’m following a Paleo lifestyle more closely.

What is healthy for you and your family? That depends on your health concerns and other things. Your doctor or a nutritionist should be able to help you figure it out. You owe it to yourself and your family to figure out what healthy is for you, and to change your recipes and menus up accordingly.

You don’t have to make one big change at the beginning of the year, especially if that means you wont stick to it. Why not try something new each month, continuing throughout the year with each one. You will make each a habit to carry with you into every year from here on out. Here are some suggestions:

January: Do you really need a bunch of fruit every single day? With the Paleo lifestyle, and a need to lose weight, I’ll only be having one fruit a day. Fruit has plenty of natural sugars, and I don’t need that much sugar when I’m trying to lose weight – natural or otherwise. If you’re not trying to lose weight, then more fruit is likely fine.

February: Are you getting enough vegetables? Even if you get two vegetables at the three meals every day, adding a side salad to lunch and dinner will give you a nutritional punch. These don’t have to be huge salads, and will help to make sure you’re getting enough produce.

March: Water is so important! Try drinking a lemon water each morning. Then a water with lunch, and one in between lunch and dinner. This may enough for you. A good rule of thumb with water is that you should be able to get all your food in throughout the day. If you’re drinking a lot of water each day and not feeling hungry enough at all three of the basic meals, you are likely drinking too much water. Eight glasses of water a day is not for everyone. Keep in mind, you’ll need more water during hot months.

April: Is juice necessary? No. It’s far better to have the fruit than the juice. If you really think you need the juice, be sure it has no added sugars. One-hundred percent juice is the way to go.

May: Is dairy really your friend? Being on the Paelo diet, you eliminate a lot of foods from your diet. Then you can reintroduce some things. During this process, I learned that milk and yogurt are not my friends, but I can tolerate cheese. However, cheese is not really part of the Paleo lifestyle Let’s just say I haven’t given cheese up completely, but I limit it. I rarely ever have it.

June: Did you take milk out of your diet and want to replace it with something else? I didn’t think I would like them, but I now drink almond, coconut, and cashew milks. Try one. One serving a day is good.

July: Cut out processed sugars, for the most part. I do use organic honey, maple syrup, and molasses (on rare occasion). I don’t use sweeteners a lot by any means.

August: Corn is not a vegetable. Not really. It is a grain. Please treat it as such.

September: Rethink grains, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. And don’t be fooled by wheat products. They may not be as healthy for you as they are supposed to be. Still want pasta, breads, and brownies? Think almond and coconut flours. There are non-grain options that taste great.

October: While my favorite dessert item is not 100% Paleo/healthy, it is tasty and easy to make. If you have the money you can get healthier versions of chocolate chips, but I don’t have that kind of money. This treat keeps me from eating a whole slew of very-bad-for-me desserts, so I’m keeping it.

No-Bakes: Melt chocolate chips with a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. Chop almond slivers up a little finer, and give some dried fruit a chopping as well. Add these two ingredients along with unsweetened coconut flakes to the melted chocolate. Make sure all the goodies are coated, then drop by the tablespoon on to parchment paper and allow the no-bakes to set up. Yum! Store in a container in the fridge. I’m sorry, I don’t measure these ingredients.

November: Be sure each meal and snack has a vegetable, some protein, and a little healthy fat. A good snack might be a carrot or celery, a hard-boiled egg, and a tablespoon of cocoa bliss.

December: Make sure each get-together includes a vegetable platter or two!

Tips for saving money while eating healthier:

  • If you are cutting back on fruit intake, you’re saving a little money.
  • You’re also saving money on processed foods that can go toward healthier foods.
  • I can’t afford all organic foods, by any means, but I do buy organic when I can.
  • I rarely ever am able to afford organic meats. I don’t let it bother me. I’ll still be eating healthier than when I’m consuming all the dairy, sugar, and grains.
  • Peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes. If you are on the Paleo diet, you aren’t allowed legumes. You’ll save money by not buying peanut butter, beans, etc.
  • Figure out what healthy brands of foods are sold at the stores you frequent, then go online to look up their websites. Sign up for coupons. Use coupons only when it will save you money.
  • Combining coupons with sales saves even more money.
  • Wal-Mart has organic herbs in pots. Place them on a windowsill and use them in place of dried herbs. This will save you a lot.
  • Start an organic garden in the spring.
  • Save leftovers, even if it is only a tablespoon or two of something. Freeze what you wont use right off.

Happy New Year!

Shannon