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

What Healthy Food is for Me

In a post I made last week, I explained what I used to think healthy eating was. But I’ve learned how wrong I was.

Everyone is different. Each person’s body reacts to foods in its own way. Mine seemingly does not like for me to consume certain things, at least not all the time. So I’ve cut out certain things, for the most part, including cow’s milk and yogurt, grains, and a slew of other things.

Now, I’m not perfect, and I do have these things on occasion. Unfortunately, I’m unable to afford to eat the way I should all the time, but I do the best I can. During a good week, I’ll eat a 90% Paleo diet, which works well for me. When I can afford to do this regularly:

  • I lose weight.
  • My skin looks great.
  • My hair is softer and seems fuller.
  • My gut is healthier.
  • My asthma is just about non-existent.
  • My gums are healthier.
  • And a number of other great benefits.

As a matter-of-fact, by the time I was almost done with the Whole 30 plan, I could sleep through the night. I hadn’t done that anywhere near consistently in so many years, and I’m still sleeping great. What a relief!

So, what does healthy eating look like for me?

  • Breakfast is pretty much like any other meal.
  • Each meal includes a protein, with a variety of vegetables and/fruit, and a healthy fat.
  • Snacks, though smaller than meals, ideally include a small amount of protein, a healthy fat, and a fruit or vegetable as well. I don’t eat snacks every day.
  • The beverages I drink are mainly plain water, fruit water, teas with nothing added, the occasional Paleo chai tea or hot chocolate, and almond, coconut, and cashew milks. I do make my own Paleo smoothies as well.
  • For treats, I like to melt chocolate chips and stir in any combination of unsweetened organic coconut flakes, almond slivers, dried berries or other fruit, and/or sunflower seeds.
  • I do, sometimes, bake Paleo breads, tortillas, and other items, but I don’t have these times of things every day or week.
  • I also try to buy what I can organic, but cannot afford a completely organic diet.

I simply do the best I can.

What is healthy for you? Given that each person is different, not all diets or healthy eating lifestyles will work for all people. What have you learned about your body and what it needs? Please share with us in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always reply.

 

Shannon

What I Thought Healthy Food Was

When my daughters were growing up healthy meant something different from what it does today, at least for me. The belief was that as long as you had the basics – meat, fruits or vegetables, dairy, and a grain – you had a well-balanced meal. For some people this might work, but not for everyone. Too many processed foods, sugars, white breads and pastas; even the wheat breads and pastas, are not the healthiest options available. Not to mention the GMO’s in the foods.

A lot of this stuff I even made homemade, because that was supposed to be better for you. And let’s not forget all the low-fat and nonfat items. And the diet colas.

  • I thought because I served cheese meatloaf, mashed potato with milk and butter, corn, and bread and butter, with a glass of milk, we were eating well.
  • I believed if I served pasta with a meat-tomato sauce, bread and butter, and milk, that it would pass for healthy.
  • All the homemade breads were considered healthier than store-bought, and the fruit desserts were supposed to be better for you than the others – even though they were still sugar laden.

And that wasn’t even all. I had such a little amount of money to feed everyone on. I did the best I could at the time, with the information I had and the amount of money available. And the food tasted so good! Still does sometimes, when I need comfort food.

This way of eating, however, contributed to weight problems as well as other health concerns. As it turned out, for me this was not a healthy way of eating. I had a moderate case of asthma, and felt ill most of the time. After only a few hours of activity each day, I felt worn out. It was not good.

I know plenty of people who eat like this and seem healthy enough. I envy them. They aren’t over weight, and have plenty of energy. In all honesty, I’m so happy for them. They get to eat my favorite foods without feeling guilty, or ill. I wish the same were true for me.

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

Cooking for 1: Pre-Roasted Chicken

You know those already roasted chickens you buy at the grocery store? I picked one up last week for $4.99. These chickens are not large, but you can do a lot with them. This is what I did with mine:

Day 1

I also bought a pre-made salad that day, because I was on my way to work. Dinner was why I was at the store. I would need something for my break at work. That something turned out to be the salad, with a couple of slices of chicken breast from the roaster.

Day 2

For lunch, I decided to make a one-pan meal, using some of the chicken meat, vegetables, and seasoning.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.Chicken and Potato One-Pan Meal

Day 3

This is the day I put the roaster chicken into the slow cooker. Covering it with water. I let this cook down, meat, skin, and bones, all day on low, then I spooned some of the liquid and meat into a bowl for a tasty, simple soup. I took the rest of the meat and put it into a saucepan, covering it with liquid from the crock, covered the pot and placed it into the refrigerator. And I poured some of the liquid into small canning jars to use later. A couple of these went into the freezer, a couple more in the fridge to use throughout the week.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.Simple Chicken Soup

Day 4

I added some vegetables to the saucepan of chicken, and simmered until hot.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.Simple Chicken Soup + Vegetables

***

I was able to get 4 meals out of that chicken, as well as 4 small canning jars of broth. Not bad, and the other ingredients were leftovers from other meals, or leftover ingredients that were not needed when making the other meals. This saved me money on meals for the week.

Not bad.

What can you do with a roaster chicken? How do you stretch it out?

Let us know 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

Chicken and Potato One-Pan Meal

I love one-pan meals. Only one pan is dirtied, and all the flavors from the different foods come together for a great-tasting meal. I usually make these during the winter months, but feel free to make them any time. The sheer number of vegetable, protein, and seasoning combinations is remarkable.

These meals are a great way to use up leftovers as well.

Mine is ready when some of the white potatoes are a bit crispy, while others are more on the mushy side. Make yours the way you like.

Ingredients

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 small white potato

1 small sweet potato

1/4 to 1/2 cup precooked chicken

seasonings to taste: sea salt, pepper, and cilantro

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet.
  2. Wash the vegetables and pat dry with a towel.
  3. Chop the white potato, adding it to the pan.
  4. Peel and chop the sweet potato, adding them to the pan when the white potato chunks are about half done.
  5. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until everything is just about done cooking, stirring every so often.
  6. Add the seasonings to the pan. Cook for another minute and the meal is done.

Tips

  • Use a variety of different foods, experimenting each time you make this dish.
  • Use leftovers from other meals to save money.
  • Grow your own herbs to save even more money.

Serving Suggestions

(While this can be served as an all-in-one meal, you can also add other elements.)

  • Try serving this with a smoothie for a fruit serving.
  • Or with a side salad of greens, sliced cucumber, and grape tomatoes.

Toaster Oven Pizza

I love homemade pizza, but I’m trying to eat healthier. My old way of making this delicious treat just wasn’t going to cut it. I had to come up with something different, not using white or wheat flour. Also, I no longer have an oven, because I rent this room, so I had to come up with something for a toaster oven I still don’t always use with great success. I was pleased with how this came out, though I think I need to play with the dough a little to get it just right.

(Update January 2017: I finally bought a new toaster oven and ditched the small ancient one, as well as the microwave. Don’t need those any more. This new one came with an owner’s manual, and I’m pretty darn good at the baking in a toaster oven thing now. Yay! Now, this pizza is even easier to make.)

I started with this dough from Ditch the Wheat, using just two pinches of the sea salt as well as 1/4 cup of parsley.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015After covering the toaster oven pan with aluminum foil, (I know! Please don’t judge!) I used a little EVOO to just cover the foil then pressed the dough into the pan to form a thin crust because the sides of my pan are not very high. Then I added my toppings.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014Stew beef is what I had on hand, left over from the previous days cooking. Use whatever meat you want, or different toppings all together. Experiment. See what you like best.

Ingredients

Almond flour pizza crust dough

EVOO

coconut oil, organic

stew beef, about 1/2 to 3/4 pound

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

garlic powder, to taste

1/2 can of crushed pineapple, drained

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

4 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese

  1. Melt a little coconut oil in a pan.
  2. Add the stew beef, as well as the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  3. Heat until almost cooked through.
  4. Spread a little EVOO over the pan.
  5. Smoosh the dough around until it covers the bottom of the pan, then bake for 10 minutes at 350*.
  6. Sprinkle the cheeses on the crust dough.
  7. Once the pineapple is drained, add it to the pizza covering the cheese.
  8. Spread the seasoned stew beef over the crushed pineapple.
  9. In my very old toaster oven, I baked this on medium dark and 300* for 30 minutes. This may be different for your toaster/regular oven, so watch the pizza. You want the cheese to melt, and the crust to cook through.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Notes:

  • I think I should have waited a bit to remove the pizza from the pan. The first piece came out more crumbly than I would have liked, but the ones I removed after I was done eating (to place on a plate and into the refrigerator) came out nicely.
  • Pour the pineapple juice into a bowl, along with the other 1/2 can of crushed pineapple. Cover and freeze to use in a smoothie another day.
  • Use leftover ingredients from other meals as toppings to save money.
  • Almond flour is expensive, but I don’t use it every week or even every month. It is for a treat item, like pizza or muffins, not for every day use.
  • Save money on cheese, herbs, and spices by using coupons.
  • Try coupling coupons with sales for even more savings.
  • I don’t actually eat cheese often. It is also considered a treat. I am just too stubborn to give it up completely.

Serving Suggestions

  • I had mine with a side of raw carrots, celery, broccoli, and peas.
  • Serve with a side salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices.
  • If using vegetables on the pizza, and not fruit, then serve with a fruit salad.
  • Serve with raw broccoli and cherry tomatoes.

Enjoy!

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

Don’t Like Vegetables?

Vegetables are such an important part of a healthy diet. They are essential and provide the body with, among other things, vitamins and provitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy carbohydrates.

I used to think I only liked a few: Corn, peas, white potatoes. Raw carrots, celery, and cauliflower. For the most part, that was what I ate for vegetables. Let’s face it, not all of it was truly even healthy.

Truth?

I just don’t like a lot of things cooked.

Yup. I prefer most of my vegetables raw. I kept trying all these cooked vegetables, and was not impressed. Cooking changes the taste too much for me. It took me years to realize that I just prefer to consume a lot of things without them being cooked.

For instance?

Carrots, broccoli, pickled beets.

There are others.

How did I find this out?

In an effort to eat healthier, I decided I must start trying new foods. This took place about five or six years back and, each year, I try a few new things. It’s not always easy, but it’s working well for me.

I have learned:

  • I do not like many things cooked, but will eat them raw.
  • If you mix half white potato and half sweet potato you will get used to the latter two more easily. Then start using 1/3 white to 2/3 sweet. Eventually, that sweet potato will taste fine on its own. I do eat them cooked, and will also eat white potatoes raw. I do not, however, indulge in white potatoes all that often any more. Mainly when I’m very strapped for cash.
  • I don’t liked cooked carrots, unless I make a mash of them with white or sweet potato, or squash. The tactic above has not brought me any closer to liking cooked carrots on their own.
  • Raw baby spinach tastes wonderful. I despise canned spinach, and have not tried fresh cooked (yet).
  • I love tomatoes, cooked or raw, but they do not love me. Sadly, I can only consume a little each week, or I end up with horrible heartburn. Cooked, they mess with my stomach.
  • Raw peas and green beans in pods are delicious!
  • I like salad mixes. The kind that include chard and kale, even. If I don’t care for a green or two, I know I can add it to a healthy smoothie to derive nutritional value from it. Interestingly enough, if I don’t pack in too much, I will not notice the greens in a smoothie at all.
  • Beans are good, and not just the navy ones! However, I only really eat these once in a great while. Maybe two or three times a year. They are a bit of a no-no.
  • I used to only eat iceberg lettuce, but now I eat a variety of different types. They are delicious!
  • Sometimes it will take a few, or a few more, tries of something to realize you do really like it. If you aren’t sure how you feel about it, try it another way. I have to do this with Brussels sprouts. I have had them once. Steamed, I think, with butter. They did not work for me, but were not horrible tasting. Just not real pleasing. I’ll be trying them another way.
  • I love cabbage raw. Hate it cooked. This is why I don’t like boiled dinners.
  • I do like zucchini and yellow squash, raw.
  • I love celery raw.
  • Cucumbers are delicious, and I like them pickled.

So, I have learned a lot. And there are still vegetables I have yet to try.

What about you? How do you like your vegetables?

Shannon