My family’s Whataburger days are OVER!

Well, my work is done. In the last four days, my mother and I navigated through the grocery store, cooked a few healthy meals together and purged the pantry of  all foods equivalent to a science experiment. I think tonight I will sleep a little better.

I have been trying to get my family to eat better and off the Whataburger diet for about a year now. Now that it has finally happened I am very relieved!

I think the whole experience was far less painful than we all thought it would be. My family was delighted at how great “health” food was and I was surprised that I didn’t hear too many complaints, especially from my  mother,on our four mile trek through the woods. Can you believe my mother  jogged? Even if it was only for a brief moment, it still counts! Mom definitely gets an “A” for effort!

Today, as I was leaving, my mom told me she felt great and had more energy. She even lost 2 lbs in the four days I was there.  Contrary to popular belief, I did NOT starve her! Ha!

Monday

Mom and I  went to the grocery store (H.E.B) and bought ingredients for our meals for the week which included pasta, turkey burgers, grilled steak tacos, and pizza.   We looked at ingredients and learned where everything was located so my mom would have no excuses in the future!

 Since my mother and I are big tea drinkers, we sipped on green tea  with orange slices throughout the day. I love the taste of  green tea ( I will ramble on about it in a future blog) and swear by its metabolism boosting benefits! The orange slices make it extra refreshing and sweet enough that there’s really  no need to add sugar. I was inspired by this idea in the May issue of Health magazine. This works great in regular water too! Not much to it, here’s the recipe.

Fat-Flushing Cooler:

2 quarts brewed green tea (8 cups)

slices of orange, lemon & lime

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and enjoy hot or cold.

Here’s where I won’t comment on my mother’s knife skills or lack there of. For dinner we made Chicken Pasta Primavera, this recipe is from Health magazine July/August issue. This recipe is part of the Carb Lovers diet, it is full of RS (resistant starch), which fills you up longer and promotes fat burning. It is quick and delicious and has become a favorite around my house.  You can go to  www.health.com for the recipe, it is the second recipe that pops up if you search “Chicken Pasta Primavera”.  Health magazine also has an  iPhone app called The Carb Lovers Diet that has great recipes and snack ideas that focus on RS foods, like this one.

Tuesday

We spent most of the day lounging around and spent most of the evening playing  The Micheal Jackson Experience for Wii. If you haven’t played, you should, this game is a blast. Hands down, BEST workout ever! The first time I played this game I swear that I woke up 5 lbs thinner. I recently read an article about a woman who plays this game 2-3 times a week and has lost weight. I can’t remember where I read this article though, sorry!
To fuel our Micheal Jackson Experience extravaganza we made  Grilled Steak Tacos for dinner. You can find this  recipe in  the Cook This, Not That cookbook, 350 – calorie meal addition. Flank steak marinades in an orange juice & chipotle mixture that makes it tender and flavorful. Quite delicious served on a white corn tortilla  with a little salsa, avocado and cheese!  I use the La Tortilla Factory white corn tortillas, they are only 90 calories each! For more info visit www.cookthis.menshealth.com.

Wednesday

I whipped up the best hamburger buns for our turkey burgers! I found this recipe on Food.com, these buns were amazing and the bread machine did most of the work for me! It is definitely time for a picture in this post, so here are the hamburger buns!
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Home made hamburger buns (Bread Machine):

1/4 cup sugar ( I used cane sugar)
3/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups bread flour (King Author)
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Dump all ingredients into bread machine pan according to manufacturer’s directions.

Select dough setting

When dough is done separate into 6 equal balls on a well floured surface

Allow to rise for 1 hour

1 1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed
1 beaten egg
2 Tbsp butter

Bake at 350 degrees for about 9 minutes

* When I was pouring the flour in the bread pan I lost track of my cup count ( brilliant I know!) thus I was only able to get 6 buns, the recipe states 12 servings, something to keep in mind.

The turkey burger recipe is also from Health magazine, I listed ingredients/directions in my previous post, “Nourishing The Body: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.” I top mine with a few thin slices of Jack cheese, avocado, jalapeno and salad greens. Amazing!

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Thursday
Fearing my mother would not clean our the pantry herself and being that it was my last day at home, I took  the initiative. We spent a good hour purging pantry items that were poor excuses for food! Out went foods with additives, preservatives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils  and (gasp!) aspartame. I guess there isn’t an oatmeal brand that is safe from added aspartame, geez! It felt great getting rid of these chemical nightmares! Very liberating. Below are pictures of what we tossed!

This is not real food…

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… this is not real food…

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… this is NOT real food or drink for that matter. I did have to have a conversation with my sister about this tea. I thought as a family we had gotten past this, apparently I was quite wrong! My sister agreed it could go after we concluded that the added honey is why she likes the taste. She promised to make it herself and use real honey, sans Splenda! Gold star for you sister!

For dinner I made pizza. Veggie pizza that is minus the guilt!  With all the flavor that this pizza packs you really don’t notice the missing pepperoni. For the pizza crust I also used the “dough” setting of my bread machine. You can find the recipe at www.Food.com.



Veggie Pizza 20110520-104557.jpg:

1 garlic clove diced

fresh tomatoes diced

fresh red bell pepper sliced

fresh spinach 

artichoke hearts

sliced red onion

organic mozzarella cheese shredded (Organic Valley)

Pizza sauce: 

1 can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil

oregano , salt and pepper to taste

Top crust with ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I’m sure there are tons of variations for this pizza. I usually make it as mentioned above and add black Kalamata olives. I have also made it using left over zucchini and it was wonderful. My dad said that this pizza  didn’t look like anything special at first,  but after tasting it, he found out that I can  “make a mean pizza.” So, I guess I will take that as a compliment!

The past four days have been great, I am so proud of my family! I know that they are now on the road to eating better and ultimately that means better health. It’s hilarious to watch people’s reactions sometimes when I talk about eating “healthier” and avoiding additives and chemicals. It’s as if they automatically flash to visions of eating granola and drinking water. I may be part hippie, but I promise you that my diet is far from being limited to eating granola and drinking water. There  definitely can be a happy medium where food is flavorful yet healthy.


Nourishing the body: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Now that we have taken about 25 steps forward in my last blog, I thought we’d take about 15 back! A friend of mine wanted a sample menu plan of how I eat, I hesitated at first, because what I like, and what works for me, might not work for everyone else. This is what a typical day for me would be like, I focus on ingredients that are going to provide me with  energy and taste great. I think the recipes alone are delicious and worth sharing, so here they are.

Breakfast: In the summer I usually have the Blackberry – Banana Slim Down Smoothie or the Strawberry Waffles that I blogged about previously, but sometimes I like to switch it up!

Personal Spinach Frittatas

8 eggs

1 cup 1% low-fat milk (Organic milk is very important here and usually don’t do the whole low-fat thing, I’m sure soy milk would work here too)

2 ounces sharp cheddar

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 cup medium red onion

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400

Coat 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, whisking well. Add milk and cheese, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan. Add onions, chopped; cook until softened (5 minutes). Add spinach; cook until wilted (2 minutes). Drain water from pan; cool.

Add spinach mixture, salt & pepper to egg mixture. Pour  mixture into prepared muffin pan; bake until tops are puffed and golden (30 minutes)

I wish I had taken a picture of these when I made them, they are quite cute! These are also super easy to make and will stay good in the refrigerator for a day or two. The last time I made these I had two, with a Food For Life 7 Sprouted Grain English Muffin with a little organic grape jelly, some watermelon and a cup of coconut milk. This recipe is from Health magazine www.health.com May 2011 issue. I should also add, that I usually cut this recipe in half when I make it, it yields about 6 Frittatas ( or 12 for the full recipe).

Green Smoothie

20110512-110217.jpgWhen I’m feeling a little sluggish, I will have a green smoothie for breakfast, it’s packed with antioxidants that will help you lose weight and give you a nice glow. I have to say, it took me a long time to build up to the idea of spinach in my smoothie, but you really don’t taste it.  A variety of fruits could be used here, but this is my favorite combination!

1 bananas

1/4 cup frozen peaches

1/4 cup frozen mango

1 cup of spinach

1 cup of coconut water

ice

Lunch: Lunch varies for me, it really depends on what I have going on and what’s in the fridge. This past Winter I ate the Antioxidant Salad almost every day, it’s unbelievably  satisfying and packed with antioxidants. I think it helped me to not get sick!

Antioxidant Salad

3 ounces baby mixed greens ( I have used spinach many times)

2 ounces grapes

1 ounce celery, thinly sliced

2 ounces  of walnuts

1 ounce dried cranberries

1 ounce blue cheese ( I have used Gouda, sometimes I prefer it)

4 mint leaves

1/2 ounce red onion, thinly sliced

2 ounces cucumber, diced

1/4 cup strawberry, diced

1/4 cup blueberries

2 ounces bottled pomegranate vinaigrette

kosher salt & pepper to taste

* variations: In the Winter when I cannot find strawberries, I use pomegranate and do without the grapes. You can also make your own dressing; 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar infused with either acai or pomegranate.

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If I am in a hurry or don’t feel like a salad, I usually have either a few slices of turkey, Gouda and avocado on a Food for Life English Muffin (they are full of fiber and protein) or I will have what I think is called an express plate;  an apple, ounce of cheddar cheese, rye crackers and either a few slices of turkey or a boiled egg. The express plate is full of resistant starches, carbohydrates that convert quickly to energy and keep you full longer.

Dinner: Dinner is usually something a lot less hippie and natural looking since , I have to feed a  hungry man, who eats for 3 people, and loves Pasta and meat. To compromise I usually make something along the lines of whole wheat pasta, turkey burgers, pizza or grilled steak tacos. My favorite right now are turkey burgers, Travis ate 2 of them last night, so I guess they’re good! This recipe is also from Health magazine, developed by my favorite person ever, natural foods chef, Bethenny Frankel . I put these burgers on a whole wheat hamburger bun, with a little mayo, jack cheese and avocado.  Personally I think they are better than regular burgers!

Turkey Burgers

1 lb extra-lean ground turkey breast

1/2 red or yellow pepper, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

A dash of Tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce

*I add red onions and pickled jalapenos

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Make 4 patties; put them in the broiler on a foil-lined pan coated with cooking spray. Broil patties until done (5-6 minutes on each side)

Each one is 126 calories – 59 calories fewer than a regular turkey burger and 132 calories fewer than a regular hamburger. – Bethenny Frankel

Majority of recipes I get are from either Health magazine or the Whole Foods website. Other cook books I really like include:

  1. Cook This, Not That  by David Zinczenko & Matt Goulding. Full of pizza, pasta & burger recipes under 500 calories, I switch out ingredients for organic ones. The latest version has great recipes under 350 calories. We cook out of these books, so much there are splatter marks on all the pages.
  2. Anna Getty’s; Easy Green Organic. I was lucky to find this half price when Border’s was going out of business here. I love the recipes in this cookbook!
  3. Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels – Jillian tells the benefits of the ingredients in each  tasty recipe.
  4. Robin to the Rescue by Robin Miller. I also picked up this cook book at Borders, it has really great recipes that max take about 30 minutes.
  5. www.Bethenny.com – LOVE Bethenny’s recipes!
  6. www.WholeFoods.com. You can search by breakfast, lunch, dinner or type of dish (i.e muffins, drinks)  Most of the recipes make will make your mouth water just reading them. Whole Foods also has a great iPhone app, that allows you to enter ingredients you have on hand and will show recipes to make.

If anyone read my previous blog and felt overwhelmed by all the things you should avoid, I hope today you feel the opposite. The easiest way to avoid unwanted additives and preservatives is to follow the advice of  writer and activist, Michael Pollan:

Rule No. 12: shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. – Michael Pollan

Aspartame, Petrochemicals, GMOs …. OH MY!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_HjvjB4G5s]

www.naturalnewstv.com

The video I posted above is a prime example of what is wrong with our food supply and why I try to  avoid processed foods and foods with additives and preservatives . My neighbor, Randy, was shocked after seeing this video.  As we discussed it, he grabbed a muffin from a batch he had made that afternoon from a pre-mix box. “LOOK!” he said, breaking up the muffin, “there aren’t any blueberries, its just coloring!” I nodded my head in agreement and Randy shook his in disappointment. “My kids deserve better.” he proclaimed. A few hours later, after our discussion, I received a picture text from Randy and it was of a container of organic blueberries. “I’m going to make my own.” was under-neath it.

When it comes to muffins and breakfast breads I tend to make them myself. It really takes little time to whip up the batter and pour them in a muffin tin, not to mention the antioxidants found in REAL blueberries have anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits. Here is a recipe I adore, it is from The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook by Jillian Micheals. As you probably all know, Jillian Micheals is famous for The Biggest Loser, but I really love her because she believes that foods that contain chemicals and additives interfere with your bodies ability to maintain a healthy metabolism and optimum health.I have to agree!

Blueberry Banana Muffins

olive oil spray for the muffin tin ( I usually use coconut oil)

3/4 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2)

3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt ( I use Fage Greek 0%)

1/2 cup honey (I use local, it helps with allegies and the taste is usually superior)

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups white whole- wheat flour (King Author makes a great organic)

2 tsp aluminum- free baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 generous cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted ( I usually don’t toast them for some reason, but if you want to just heat them in a pan on the stove top for a few seconds)

In a large bowl, Place bananas , yogurt, honey, olive oil and vanilla. Stir together until mixed well

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in blueberries and the nuts, if using.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Place the tin in the oven and reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake 35-40 minutes.

calories 216.0 fat: 6.8 g carbs. 37.1g sodium 234.5 mg

These muffins are great in the morning for a quick breakfast or snack! I also like the fact that I know what is in them and the calories, since muffins can be obnoxious, calorically speaking.

I’ll tell you another tale about my life and preservatives. Sometime this past December (2010), I got fed up with buying bread off the shelf of the grocery store. At the grocery store that I frequently shop at you can not  find bread that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup to save your life! In the frozen section, if you are lucky you can find Ezekiel bread which is fantastic, however the boyfriend doesn’t care for it much. I was looking for a french bread to make a pizza with, so I opted for bakery bread thinking it would be fresher and although it did not contain HFCS it did contain something called TBHQ. Seeing the letters T, B and H sent a red flag off in my mind because I already knew of the dangers of  BHT, another substance commonly found in, well, EVERYTHING!!

Here’s what I found: TBHQ, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, is used as a preservative often in conjunction with BHT and BHA which are both a by-product of butane! TBHQ can cause a whole hosts of problems including nausea,delirium, ringing in the ears, collapse and of course, cancer. Here’s the real shocker, consuming 5 grams of TBHQ can even be fatal! I really wish I made this stuff up!

I have been aware of the dangers of BHT and BHA for a while now. The natural dog food company that I work for prides themselves in not using BHT or BHA as a preservative. I cannot tell you how crazy it is for me to see BHT and BHA in soo many foods in the grocery store. If it is not good for my dog, and not in his food, WHY is it in ours?!

Here’s a list of additives and preservatives I try and avoid… like the plague!

1. BHT,Butylated hydroxytoluene, and BHA,Butylated hydroxyanisole,   used in cosmetics, jet fuels, embalming fluid and of course frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers , cereals , gum, shaving cream and pet foods. Often added to help preserve fats to prevent them from going rancid. In some studies both BHT and BHA have been show to cause cancer and behavioral problems. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

2. Artificial sweeteners:  Aspartame & High Frutose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Aspartame has been linked to many side affects. The following are from mercola.com, a site headed by Dr. Joseph Mercola, whom I feel is a top authority on Aspartame. Dr. Mercola has also written the book Sweet Misery, detailing the true evils of this artificial chemical nightmare.

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
  • Sleep problems
  • Vision problems
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Depression
  • Asthma/chest tightness

Aspartame has also been linked to many illnesses including brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Ever turn over a Pepsi Zero? Ever seen the warning for phenylalanine? Phenylalanine is an amino acid that makes up 50 % of aspartame. Phenylalanine is actually a amino acid found in the brain, however certain persons cannot metabolize it, which leads to a build up in the brain.

My problem with aspartame, the component  in Splenda and Equal is not only the above symptoms and side affects that I have listed but the fact that it in the long run it makes you crave more sugar and GAIN weight!  When you drink artificial sweeteners they taste sweet, but your brain does not get the calories that it thinks it should be getting thus, it needs more sugar.  Not to mention that aspartame breaks down  in your body into asparic acid and wood alcohol (formic acid), code name for formaldehyde , which is a neurotoxin. Dangerous and gross!

Quickly I will add, that it is impossibly to buy gum at most grocery stores and  gas stations that doesn’t contain  BHT/BHA and aspartame, a real life nightmare for me! On my first encounter with my message therapist I complained of constant shoulder pain and was enlightened that gum could be to blame. There are great gums on the market that are xylitol based and can improve oral health.

As for high fructose corn syrup, I feel that there is a definite correlation between when it was released on the market in the late 70’s early 80’s and our nations obesity epidemic, which has skyrocketed. High fructose corn syrup is greatly shown to cause insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes. A few years ago, I lost my grandmother to severe diabetes and pancreatic cancer. She was always drinking sodas,  I think I saw her drink water once?!  What I would  give to know then what I know now, but I digress.

3. Propylene glycol and Ethylene glycol

A form of mineral oil, like BHT and BHA it is also in a wide variety of products and is common in, anti-freeze, body lotions and salad dressings.  This petrochemical can have damaging affects to the Central Nervous System including the heart and liver.

4. Food dyes

Linked to some cancers and behavioral problems in kids and adults. You cannot find a jar of pickles at the grocery store without yellow #1! Since pickles were about the only thing left that I was still buying that contained food dyes I have since started making my own. It is not hard, literally takes about 10 minutes. There is a great recipe at www.wholefoods.com, called “Quick Pickles”. Yummy!

5. GMO

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EstllC3SzRc]

www.homesweetfarm.com

I’ve touched on Genetically Modified foods briefly in a previous blog, but it is a subject that I hold so dear to my heart, I would talk about it every day if someone would let me (Ha!). I was recently at the capital here in Austin, protesting the new legislation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa and demanding labeling on all Genetically Modified foods. Simply put GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms, genetically engineered to be resistant to pesticides and bugs. What’s scary is that the DNA taken to make the new organism can even be from a different species, remember the fish genes in the strawberries from my previous blog (Eating Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sometimes Doing Without)?   Studies indicate GMOs increase  food sensitivities and  allergies. Corn is a  top allergy in dogs often causing dogs who are sensitive to constantly itch and have hot spots, a type of rash accompanied by red bumps. Most corn is GMO, unless labeled otherwise. What are the chances of  Trooper and I both being sensitive to corn? Coincidence? I think not!

Studies have also shown that long term affects of consuming GMO foods to include sterility! It is said that if you take the date of when GMO foods were introduced into the mainstream market (late 70″s) and count two generations, that the second generation will be sterile. This resonates with me being diagnosed as a Celiac, or allergic to (wheat) gluten because those who do have gluten sensitivities are also show to have sterility problems. Once again, coincidence? The U.S  is one of the only countries that has NOT banned GMOs, Why?  Not wanting to bore you to death with minute details, I gave you the condensed version  of why I avoid GMO foods and choose organic. If  you are interested in more information please check out www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto. There will be another GMO protest this coming October (2011), we need more people to be informed and spread the word!

6. The dirty dozen

The dirty dozen is a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels.

1. celery

2. peaches

3. strawberries

4. apples

5. blueberries

6. nectarines

7. sweet bell peppers

8. spinach

9. kale/collard greens

10. cherries

11. potatoes

12. grapes (imported)

There is a great iPhone app called “Dirty Dozen” .  www.ewg.org for more information.

7.  MSG

Mono sodium Glutamate is its primary name,  but it can lurk in your cabinets as hydrolyzed yeast protein, glutamic acid , Textured protein, gelatin, yeast food, yeast nutrient  and sodium/calcium caseinateMSG is a flavor enhancer and excitotoxin, causing cell damage and even death. Other symptoms include headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing , eye damage and obesity. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. I last saw this ingredient on a bag of Cheetos, to be honest, I was a little sad inside. 

8.  Nitrates, Nitrites

Added to processed and cured  meats like bacon, hot dogs and bologna, recent studies indicate nitrates and nitrites increase risk for colon, bladder, stomach and pancreatic cancer. I have to add, that hot dogs  and bologna are pretty disgusting in general .  A lot of brands on the market are getting better  about labeling products as Nitrate/Nitrite free, so make sure to give the package the once over!


In my opinion, you have two choices: You can either pay the farmer or pay the Doctor. With the recent discussion about health care and its soaring expense, I have made a decision. I choose to pay the farmer. People always complain that organic is expensive and I agree, it can get pricy. I usually respond with something along the lines of “so is chemotherapy”. I would much rather pay for something I enjoy, such as fresh, organic blueberries rather than chemotherapy or diabetes medication any day. I also believe that you vote,  at every meal,  with your dollars as to what the standard of our food is. If we chose to buy processed, chemical laden, “franken-food” then that is what big corporation will keep shoving down our throats and making readily and cheaply available to us, the consumer. If we stand together and choose organic, fresh and non processed foods every day, three meals a day, then the message will be clear and we can really make a difference as to what is on the market and how much it costs!

Thanks to everyone that has been reading my blog thus far, it means the world to me!  Have a healthy day!

Milk and I are over.

“They aren’t sugar free” my favorite neighbor, Randy, exclaimed as he offered me a cupcake he  made for his daughter’s birthday. He knew I was on a mission to lose weight and I suppose that was his way of helping me. “Oh, … I don’t eat sugar free” I responded. Randy looked puzzled, “You confuse me girl”.  “I eat real sugar, basically just take everything the media says and do the complete opposite!” I added laughing out loud. You would be laughing  too if you knew Randy. Fat is bad. That is what we have been brainwashed to believe. We shouldn’t eat fat. We should watch our sugar and salt intake.  Correction we shouldn’t even be looking at sugar directly but instead drowning our organs and brain matter  in obscene amounts of man made artificial sweeteners! A rant for another time and another blog.  Don’t  eat avocados, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat fruit?! (I have actually heard that one!)And do not even think about eating pizza or pasta! Exhausting isn’t it? I’m exhausted just thinking and typing about it, sheesh. No wonder why we (America) struggle with our weight, we have no idea what we are supposed to eat because everything is bad! I guess I would have to add Randy to the  list of people  who the media has confused, but  at least not corrupted , since he eats  just about whatever he wants.

About the only thing my boyfriend’s, mom (Palula as we call her) uses to cook  with anymore  is pure, organic, coconut oil.  At Thanksgiving, the next morning she reheated her homemade stuffing on the stove in coconut oil. I was hooked! Now the media would have you believe that it is high in fat and least you forget that fat is BAD! They were right, coconut is very fatty,and those fats are called medium chain fatty acids or MCFAs. Take a moment to make peace in your mind with this fat, you’re body will use it for good, not evil. MCFAs  quickly convert into energy for the body to use, rather than fat storage, helping to shed belly fat. This is music to my ears, since I am Hispanic and this is where Hispanic people tend to carry their weight. I obsessively worry about this, since it is  linked to diabetes later in life and diabetes, gallop rampantly in my family on my dad’s side. Palula also told me of some clients of hers that eat a tablespoon of coconut oil every morning to help with energy levels. I have struggled with energy or lack there of since I was little. This is where I started. For a few consecutive mornings I smeared some on an English muffin and was delighted by its taste and could genuinely tell a difference in my energy levels.

After another conversation with Palula about milk and what’s in it these days, particularly rBGH, bovine growth hormone,  I was informed that Palula doesn’t use milk much either.  Palula’s brother, a former federal milk inspector, also won’t drink milk sometimes depending on what he saw on the job. rBGH  is injected into cows to increase milk production. The problem is no one is quite sure if it safe. Plus, it also increases puss production which ends up in your milk, as well as mine. I apologize if you were indeed drinking milk while reading this, but someone might as well tell you and it might as well be me. Palula suggested coconut milk and thus started my love affair with all things coconut.

Coconut oil, coconut water, coconut milk, coconut bread, even coconut  ice cream! Watch out milk! There’s a new kid in town.

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Yes! This is an actual picture from my pantry. I will also tell you a secret, I have another carton in my fridge! Love affair, remember? I started using coconut milk when I stumbled upon a smoothie recipe in Health magazine (www.health.com)  that touted its belly slimming benefits. It is quite delicious and can be thrown in a blender and made quickly. I should also quickly mention that it has a lot less sugar than milk. I have a  mainly vegetarian friend who would beg me to make it when she came over.

Black Berry- Banana Slim- Down Smoothie

2 cups frozen blackberries

1 banana 

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup yogurt (Health says use low-fat, I use Fage Greek yogurt 2%)

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp honey

1tsp lemon zest (I use organic lemons to avoid pesticides that may be on the peel)

Makes 2 servings. About 250 calories.

Coconut milk is also great in cereal and when baking too!


Around my house washing the dishes is a grand production that never seems to end. When you cook three meals a day there are always dishes! Add winter to the above and my hands began to suffer. The only thing that saved my hands was rubbing them with coconut oil before I did the dishes. It left them soft and moisturized and because  of the smell I could trick myself into thinking I was someplace tropical, or at least that it wasn’t the dead of an extremely cold winter and I wasn’t stuck inside doing the dishes.


I found this vanilla coconut body moisturize, again by Badger Balm (www.badgerbalm.com). When I was looking for this to write about, I realized I have about 5 different tins of different balms, so I guess I really like their products! I use this on my hands and lips mainly, love how soft it makes my skin and love the smell!

As far as coconut water, I find it to be hydrating, full of electrolytes and great alternative to high fructose corn syrup sports drinks. I really like  mango flavored O.N.E coconut water (www.onedrinks.com). 8 o.z is about 77 calories, a bit high in sugar so I try to drink them in moderation. These are a bit pricy too, so lately I have been buying coconuts and draining the water out of them myself.

Prepare yourself, I am about to tell you my latest find, coconut ice cream. The brand I buy  is expensive. My mother told me she did not need to buy it, because she did not need it that badly. Even at $4.99 a pint, I buy Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream. I used to be a connoisseur of Blue Bell ice cream. I have fond memories when I was little of my dad taking me to get a scoop at the mall. Maybe that’s why I loved it so. I picked up Nada Moo not long ago and dare I say its better than regular ice cream. I eat a very small amount at a time to make it last. Words cannot explain how amazing  it is if you add coconut milk and strawberries and blend it up into a coconut milk shake! If you try some let me know what you think!  www.nadamoo.com for information, I found it at HEB. Nada Moo is kosher, vegan, fair trade, gluten free  and organic!

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If you cannot tell, the picture you see above is of rolls, coconut rolls! I told you! Love affair! The boyfriend and  I have both had two a piece today. I dumped the ingredients into my bread machine and let them do their thing on the dough setting. Then I separated them  and baked them for 30 minutes. This is what I got, big, light, fluffy, delicious rolls! The coconut flavor is very delicate. They are sweeter than a normal bread roll but versatile. I had one while eating tortilla soup and another with a little grape jelly on top for breakfast. Do yourself a favor and make some! www.wholefoods.com for the recipe, they are called Pan de Coco and are a Honduran specialty.

Needless to say, my relationship with milk is probably over. Strained at least. I didn’t really consume  milk that much before, frankly it makes my stomach feel heavy and bloated. I try and be in tune with my body and how the foods I eat make me feel. Back to the beginning of my blog, I do think we should consume all things in moderation, minus chemicals. Plus, I think it’s worthless to get caught up in what is good and what is bad.  After all, I have been known to eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant  a time or two and not feel the least bit of  guilt about it. Thanks for letting me tell you about my new love! Like always, if you like what you read, please subscribe to my blog in the top right corner!

Eating Local, Organic, Seasonal & Sometimes Going Without

I crave strawberries. I crave them sliced and on top of a waffle, with creamy, thick Greek yogurt and maple syrup. So last year I went through withdrawals, as Summer was winding down  it was getting harder and harder to find organic strawberries, and by November it was impossible.  I will not buy conventional strawberries, since they are one of the most  pesticided fruits grown, not to mention, most non  organic strawberries are genetically modified to grow larger and become more resistant to disease and bugs. Strawberries plus fish genes? No thanks!  This was my first lesson in eating seasonally. Personally, this was a very hard lesson to learn, but I did learn it. I went the rest of this past Winter without them, and when they reappeared from their long hiatus in February at $6.98 per container, I held out still. The price was ridiculous.  I vented on Facebook, uploading a picture and questioning if the grocery store had lost their minds.  I managed to wait a few more weeks and organic strawberries for $3.99 were much easier to find. I was much happier.

Probably the most important take away about eating seasonally is price. Eating seasonally means you  pay less for fresher produce. Fresher produce, that hasn’t been genetically modified and pesticided until it vaguely resembles and tastes like the idea of what you think it should taste like. Eating seasonally also gives you the opportunity to support local business, since you can often shop for seasonal produce at local farmers markets or though a  CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. I will get more into that in a bit, here’s the recipe for the strawberry waffles, I don’t really have a name for the recipe, so I suppose that is what I will call them.

Strawberry Waffles with Greek Yogurt

Strawberry Waffles with Greek Yogurt:

1-2 Organic whole wheat waffle (preferably with flax and 5-6 grams of protein and fiber or)

1/2 cup of Organic Strawberries sliced

1/4-1/2 cup of Fage Greek yogurt 2% (I have tried this recipe with several different Greek yogurts and I find Fage has the highest protein and has the best consistency)

1-2 Tbs Maple syrup (It’s important to get pure maple syrup, many syrups only contain maple flavoring)

About 300 calories

It is important to me that the foods I put  in my body most of the time,  serve a purpose other than for flavoring. Both the protein in the yogurt and the fiber in the waffles help to keep me fuller longer and are sources of  long-lasting energy.  I try to eat fibrous foods at every meal, I really think it is key to losing and maintaining your weight. The flax-seed in the waffles is a great source of omega-3  fatty acid, which is great for the skin, and heart, I try to eat sources of omega-3 everyday.  I used to use agave syrup instead of maple syrup until I read  that  100% pure maple syrup can benefit your health because it contains trace minerals such as Zinc and Manganese  and in some studies has shown  to contain antioxidants that may have anti-cancer properties. The strawberries in this recipe are also great for the skin because they contain high levels of vitamin-C!

I really love this breakfast, to me it tastes like a dessert.  I’ll admit I  have eaten it for lunch, as a snack,  and I am almost certain I probably have eaten it for dinner. Simple, quick, delicious.

Ok, back to information and tools to eat seasonally. Check out the website www.sustainabletable.org , under the “Shop Sustainable” tab you will see another tab for “Eat Seasonal”. At the bottom of the page you can enter the state that you live and a season to see what is in season near you.

iTunes also has a great iPhone application called “Fresh Fruit”  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fresh-fruit/id323895540?mt=8  . This application allows you to browse fruits by month and read a brief description, nutritional facts and seasonality of each.

If your interests were piqued by joining a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture please check out www.locarharvest.org  . Once again you can search by location and find CSAs near you. All CSAs are operated a little differently but the majority of them offer sell small shares of the farm and in return you get fresh organic produce. I happened to run into the owner of a CSA here where I live, who actually sells his produce to the Whole Foods here in Austin. I can’t remember what his normal fees were but when I joined last summer for $7, I was getting a bag of organic eggs, organic peaches, several different types of organic heirloom tomatoes and other produce such as cucumbers and squash, even basil! Anyone that cooks with basil knows I was getting a steal considering a cup of fresh basil is around $5 at the grocery store! I really did love being part of a CSA, at the time we had little money (and I mean very little money) and it was a way to get organic produce cheaply. The downside for me was the amount produce I was getting. Many weeks I wasn’t able to use even half the stuff  in my CSA goodie bag and it was rotting. Guilt set in quickly as did frustration. A family of 4 I feel would be better suited for a CSA

My latest discovery to make eating organic and eating seasonally easier and better is a business called Greenling. Greenling is a service that partners with Whole Foods,  local bakeries and farmers and delivers the groceries you choose straight to your front steps. How exciting, groceries now come to me! Greenling has been a true blessing for me. Until recently I was driving into  Austin to buy groceries after getting fed up with our local HEB. This would work most weeks, however as my semester progressed my Anatomy class got increasingly harder and some weeks I would be stuck studying all week practically, leaving no time for a 30 mile round trip to the grocery store. Some nights during my week-long study sessions my poor boyfriend, Travis, would have to scrounge for dinner. Sometimes I would simply have no other choice but to go to the grocery store or face starvation. It was stressful, annoying and time-consuming.  Greenling has really eliminated that for me. Every week about a day and a half before my delivery day, I go to their website and then pick and choose what I need for our weekly meals. Greenling really has changed my life.  I also like that it makes organic, local and seasonal produce more easily available.  Did I mention there is no delivery fee, how great is that?! For now their services are only available in the Austin, San Marcos, New Braunfels and San Antonio area. Check out their website www.greenling.com and their Facebook page.

I hope you enjoy the strawberry waffle recipe as much as I do!  Be healthy! And once again, if you like what you read please subscribe to my blog in the upper right corner of this page.

A DEET-Less Summer

For most, summer is almost here again, and if you live in the South, particularly Texas, you know that summer IS  here!!! The only thing higher than gas prices is the ever elevating temperatures! Sad, but true. Besides the heat, mosquitos in Texas can ruin outdoor activities very quickly. Last summer, I began researching bug sprays and the infamous DEET or its chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, and  found that DEET is a known pesticide, and the active ingredient in most bug repellents.  If  DEET  can kill mosquitoes because it is a pesticide, then I have to wonder what it is doing to me when I cover my body in it and when it absorbs into my skin.  There is also something very disturbing to me about smelling and breathing a known pesticide.

A few ingredients I have discovered to repel mosquitos and other bugs :

Lavender

Cedar

Lemon grass

Cinnamon

Vanilla ( Extract)

Citronella

Neem

A few evenings ago, while outside, it was not long before the mosquitos began their personal attack on me. I concocted a spray of the following ingredients,  most should be easy to find in grocery stores.

1 cup  of water

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract (Yes, like the kind you bake with!) 

10 drops of lavender oil.

Vanilla Lavender Mosquito Spray

You might need to tweak the amounts of ingredients to your personal preference. I sprayed a very light mist on myself and the area around me and my mosquito problem quickly resolved. My neighbor commented on how great this spray smelled too!

Another option I found is Badger Anti-Bug Balm. This balm has a pleasant lemon smell and comes in a very convenient metal tin, that has actually been tumbling around the bottom of my purse since I bought it.

 
Badger Anti-Bug Balm

Ingredients: Castor Oil, Citronella, Rosemary, Cedar, Geranium, Olive Oil, Beeswax

Check it out at www.badgerbalm.com 

Badger Anti- Bug Balm also comes in a larger tin, a rub on stick and a spray!

I hope this helps in the mosquito/bug department of summer. I am amazed at how such simple ingredients really can work.

I look forward to any comments. As you can tell this is my first blog post and I promise to try and make my subsequent posts less amateur.  By the way, I also really like dumb  blog post titles, so please bear with me.  I will  try to post weekly. If you like what you read, please subscribe to my blog in the top right corner.