Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Chopped Salads… 

I try my very hardest to eat healthy and cleanly as much as I can, of course it’s more difficult when you are out or busy but on the whole we eat a good healthy diet… this is a difficult thing to do when you have a large family of picky eaters.  Getting my two youngest children to eat well is a challenge, I believe in never forcing them to eat, but I do try and encourage them to try something, sometimes they love it, like Florrie with fresh peas at the farm when we were picking them,  she took one taste and loved them, but when I was spiralizing the carrots she asked to taste them and hated them straight away, the face she pulled was quite funny.  I have discovered recently that their best meal of the day is breakfast, they love fresh eggs fried with coconut oil every morning, and now we get freshly laid eggs from our neighbor next door, they are delicious, they love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon, they love smoothies and homemade pancakes, Jamie Oliver’s one cup recipe, so simple and quick, they will eat these until the cows come home, they are also delicious when you swap the flour out for a gluten free flour too. I try most days to make breakfast their most important meal of the day as they eat really well, then I feel there  is not so much pressure for the rest of the day as I know they have eaten one good meal that day.


Lunch is another meal I kind of miss with,  it’s usually just me I’m making lunch for, my babies are happy to graze after a large breakfast, I kind of always fail for myself.  I make fresh salads for Paul and Mabel, but I always forget myself… I’ve come up with a new plan, Salad lunch prep for the week, I will make enough basic salad for a week, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and scallions,  a tip I have just learnt is to line your containers with kitchen roll paper to absorb the moisture, then daily using leftovers from dinner change each salad up daily, today we will be having a lemon rosemary roasted chicken, I’m having shrimp, with a kale Cesar salad and tortilla wraps, so I’ll shred some chicken, or add shrimp and add it to the salad and bake a couple of wraps to crisp them up to add to the salad… I’m hoping this will keep me on track instead of snacking with my children.  

I have recently discovered I absolutely love chopped salad, we have had it before a few years ago, recipes from Jamie Oliver again, but I really hadn’t thought about chopping every salad we have until I visited a new salad place that has just opened in a local town, in Chopt you pick your salad then they ask if you want it chopped up, Kale Cesar salad with tofu totally chopped up and it was totally delicious.  I thought I’d try it out on my family… huge success, they prefer their salad ingredients chopped up, but as you can imagine chopping 8 salads is very time consuming, each person likes certain things in their salads, so I’ve been tossing salad ingredients into separate bowls then emptying the bowls onto a board and finely chopping them… until last night when I came up with the genius idea of the food processor, you can start with the harder veggies like carrot and broccoli, pulse them a couple of times then add the rest of the salad ingredients, it worked perfectly, and it was a lot quicker, you just have to clean up the food processor bowl and blade, but not too bad.  So my chopped salads have been a huge success, my family are enjoying them so much they are saying they do not need the carbs along with their protein just the salad it’s so filling… My only problem now is how much Salad veggies I am getting through, but at least everyone is eating their greens, well except for one extremely picky eater, who likes everything as plain as it can be.


I’ll leave you on a sweet note… I was visiting friends for lunch yesterday, I usually take desert with us, but I’ve been in search for healthier sweet treats, some I’ve made have been ok, but just not quite right, yesterday I came across this recipe for Lemon coconut muffins, they were healthier because the sugar was very low, and could easily be swapped out for honey, or some other healthy substitute, they contained coconut oil and yogurt, I think they would even be good with gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour… they were a huge success both at lunch and at home, but be warned if you try these at home, the batter is extremely thick, she does say that on the recipe, but I was surprised at just how thick it was, I added a little more coconut milk just to loosen it a little… but despite that they will definitely be something I will be making again and again.


Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

This, that and everything else.

IMG_3486I have always been a person that hates waste, I am known as queen of the leftovers in our house, I am constantly checking dates on food in the pantry, fridge and freezer and trying to use up all the food we have before I restock, well now I am even worse than I was before, I have reorganized my pantry and have itemized each category so that I know each time I use it I need to replace my staple items, pasta sauces, jars of tomatoes, pastas, rices and any grains are just a few items that have made my itinerary.  Another way I have reduced waste in my kitchen is by making bone broth once a week, I have a bag in my freezer for all my veggie scraps, onions, celery, carrots, ginger, anything really that I can throw in that pot of simmering bone broth, I also now try to shop for meat with bones and save any bones from any meat that I buy and cook up.

Friday is the day I throw all my scraps in the slow cooker covered with water and leave to simmer for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, the reason I chose Friday was because Friday night is always pizza night in our house, so that means my crock pot is always free, as each person comes home in the evening they smell the broth cooking and go over to the pot to see whats for dinner, they lift the lid and pull a face as they look at a pot of scraps of food… its quite funny to watch.

I am a firm believer that we are what we eat, I may not have always practiced this, but as I grow older I want to keep my body in the best possible condition and that includes diet and exercise.  I have never really been one for intense exercise, I had a regular routine of step aerobics before I moved to the US, I had also dabbled in some yoga, and when I established myself here in the US I used to walk a lot around the town I lived in.  Since moving to our house we live in now 7 years ago and having had my two babies I have struggled to get into any routine of exercise, I am the type of person who puts a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect, I have had to learn to let this go, as I strive for perfection I create an image that is hard to maintain so I fail before I even try, and that is so often the case.  I want to be healthy, live in a nice environment and just be happy… but today I have learnt to just be happy with everything I am, and every day is a new learning day, and that is why when I am learning yoga I am not putting any pressure on myself I just do what I can, when I can, I am the same way about most things these days, homeschooling is the same, we do all the things we love to do, when we want to do them, Florence has taken a real interest in mermaids so this week we will look at under the ocean, and if the weather is kind to us we will go visit the zoo again and look in more details at the sea lions and other aquatic creatures that they have there.

I realize in life we need balance in all things, our health, our minds, our bodies and our spiritual well being, so I have decided to look more deeply into Holistic healing… I want to be balanced and it seems that together with learning yoga, holistic health could help balance not only me but make me a better person for each person in my family.  IMG_0635

 

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A thirst for knowledge…

Being a new Mom again in my forties, makes me realize how much I’ve grown as a person, I realize how much more knowledge I have about myself, my body and my mind! When I first began breastfeeding 14 years ago I was totally green, I didn’t realize the things I did and ate could affect my newborn child… I blindly learnt to nourish my now teenage boy, did it do him any harm? I would say not, but as a newborn maybe he suffered the pain of gas in his newly developing tummy… This is something we will never know!

Now in this age of the internet, where our thirst for knowledge is answered almost immediately, we can learn about all sorts of things… Our bodies, the way we look after them and the best foods to eat to protect them! Sleep deprivation can be one of those things that drive us to question our diets and what we can do to prevent our tiny babies and their tender tummies from aching!

With all this in mind, I am setting out to try to reduce my gluten and dairy intake. The gluten is a personal thing, due to flare ups of irritable bowel syndrome, I don’t want to be completely obsessed with cutting out gluten, just try to reduce my intake where I can! I honestly believe my huge intake of dairy is affecting my baby boy, I didn’t realize how many things I consume contain dairy… My beloved Starbucks coffees, the cream cheese bagel I ate for lunch, the list goes on… So here is what I’ve done so far, I have replaced the non fat milk in my Starbucks drinks to soy milk, not actually as bad as I thought, at home I bought lactaid milk and low lactose cheese, I have even treated myself to a dairy free chocolate ice cream… Actually I was surprised how good this was and not too badly priced either! So far so good, I actually got a whole 3 hours sleep last night, which I haven’t had for a while and the red spots on my baby boys face seem to be fading a little bit… Of course all of this could be coincidence, but it’s worth trying!

As for the gluten, that is a work in progress, I’ve been researching making my own gluten free flour to replace all purpose flour in recipes, I have also been looking at where I can buy cheaper flours online to reduce the cost! I was surprised in the grocery store when I actually looked for gluten free items, how many of our day to day purchases were now gluten free and also a good price, a lot were on weekly special prices, making a diet change not only a lot easier than I thought but a lot cheaper too!

It’s hard in a large family to concentrate on a full diet change, so I’m aiming to just reduce my gluten intake, go dairy free for about a week and see if it helps my little boy… But of course we are what we eat so healthy eating continues with lots of salads, fruit and all things healthy and delicious… Not sure my older children love it… But that’s just how I roll these days!

Just incase anyone wants to try a gluten free diet I found a couple of links to help you get started…
Olive Garden style garlic breadsticks – gluten free
Gluten free all purpose flour blend
Classic gluten free waffles
Lemon, blueberry waffles – gluten free

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Gestational diabetes? Maybe…

I have to say this pregnancy has not been one of my best, I don’t think it’s my age because when I had Farrel at 27, I remember feeling the same… I blame those boys, I seemed to sail through both of my girls pregnancies! I have been waiting patiently for my pregnancy bloom, but it just hasn’t happened, so at 30 weeks I am resigned to 9 more weeks (c section at 39 weeks) of just making the best of how I feel!

Last week after taking the glucose test I was urgently called into my doctors office… Low iron and a high sugar in my blood… Alarm bells… Gestational diabetes… That explains exactly how I have been feeling and looking! Thankfully my OB wanted me to try the diet route first, I was happy about that… High protein, low sugar, low carbs… Basically limited whole wheat carbs or gluten free, lots of protein and very little sugar, fruit included! Now I thought this would be easy, but the first few days were tough… It is surprising how many things we buy and eat that are bad carbs and very sugary, but thankfully we have the internet and Pinterest these days… Life on a special diet does not have to boring, the recipes are endless, and as I am making everyone in my house eat these foods, for ease of planning and cooking, I am getting into full swing… Tonight we have a delicious egg and baked tomato with pesto with a spinach salad and quinoa mix… Lots of protein and iron rich spinach!

After a lot of research over the weekend I have bought blue agave as a sweetener, tofu, I love tofu, very low sugar nut bars for a snack, blue corn chips are meant to be good for blood sugar levels as long as they are not fried, but baked… It has been very interesting to understand how the body works… Protein seems to be a key ingredient along with lots of veggies in most special diets, so this is my thoughts on planning my diet over the coming weeks!

Breakfast seems to be the most difficult to plan and eat well, as I am usually rushing out somewhere, so with this in my mind I have researched one of my favorites baked oatmeal, I can place all the ingredients for a pumpkin baked oatmeal into the Ninja and just switch it on in the morning! Pumpkin is meant to be a super food for diabetics, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, of course we all know that oatmeal is a very slow release complex carb that is good for all diets, making this a perfect breakfast, full of energy and nutrition, it can be made dairy free by using coconut or almond milk and by simply using gluten free oats it becomes gluten free!

Pumpkin pie oatmeal in the slow cooker
My changes to this recipe are… instead of the brown sugar I will add only 1/4 cup of blue agave sweetener, and to replace the pumpkin pie spices I will add cinnamon and nutmeg. Also an addition of a tablespoon of non fat Greek yoghurt adds much needed protein to your nutritious breakfast too!

The moral of this story is when you are feeling very sorry for yourself, as I was last week and finding it difficult to cope with diet changes… Positive thinking and lots of research can make you feel much better, after not eating well on Saturday and feeling dreadful and ending up in bed early on Saturday evening, I am determined to get my blood sugars reduced by just diet alone, I hate taking medication and feel it should definitely be used after trying natural methods for most things… On the plus side we are eating really well now, lots of raw vegetables and complex carbs, paired with lean proteins… Delicious!

On a quick side note… If you are trying to live your life more healthier, or have been diagnosed with a disease that requires a special diet… Go grocery shopping in Costco, over the past few months they have introduced so many new organic healthy choices, all at good competitive prices. Over the past few weeks the new items I have bought are, freekah, a healthy grain like quinoa, very low sugar snacking nut bites, ancient grain spelt flour pretzels, a quinoa and healthy rice mix… Everything has been organic too, which is a big plus in my book! My other faves are their baby kale mixed salad, their own fat free Greek yoghurt, full of protein and now they actually have a very reasonably priced large bottle of avocado oil! There is so much more organic choices to choose from… It’s well worth a visit!

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Recipes to try…
Black and wild rice salad with roasted squash
Olive rosemary bread

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Boosting our immune systems to get through the winter months…

Back in my twenties I would run to the doctors office at any sign of a cough or sniffles for either my children or myself, these days I am a firm believer in trying natural remedies and you are what you put into your body! I do believe there is a time and a place for medicines, but I also believe in the power of human nature and we are all too quick to pop pills for an instant magic cure! My Dad is. very good example of this, for years and years now he pops magic pills to help his high blood pressure, and maybe at the end of the day that is the answer for him, but on closer inspection there are many many things he could try to help himself more naturally, but he is a stubborn man, well that is an understatement and thinks he knows better, but just a simple de-stressing could help, he is one of the most stressed people I know, the way he speaks is so stressed, he never looks happy, if he could just learn to chill out , I’m sure it would help! Another thing that would definitely help is drinking water, back to the stubbornness, he drinks barely two cups of coffee a day, that is his only hydration, now we all know that water is the key to life, it leads to a lot of medical problems, problems in your urinary tract, blood issues, headaches, digestive problems, the list is endless, as I said water is the key to life, and I firmly believe this! He also chooses bad food choices, high blood pressure can be helped with diet, like adding a rich nutrient food like spinach to your plain chicken sandwich, an easy fix to helping yourself… I often use my Dad as an example of what not to do, to my children when I want to encourage them into a healthy diet!

So with that said I have been in full research mode, each morning I am waking up with a sore throat and ear ache, in the next two months of bitterly cold weather I want to boost our immune systems by adding foods that will help with that… So far so good, everything I have read seems simple enough to add into our meals… Honey is a natural antibiotic, easy to add to breakfast oatmeal, casseroles, warm drinks… Something we can all be deficient in according to my research is zinc, this is a powerful booster for our immune system, pumpkin seeds are rich in this and again are easy to incorporate into meals, casseroles, breakfast, warm winter salads or just as a snack! Turmeric, ginger and garlic are all powerful immune boosters and extremely easily incorporated into warm comforting winter meals! Vitamin c is a major factor to helping us fight those winter germs, but what I did not know was, that just one kiwi fruit a day gives us our daily allowance and help keep those bugs at bay! These things were all added to my shopping list and menu for this week!

Another thing I have to take into account with diet is my flare ups of IBS, anyone suffering from any Gastro tract disease will know how painful flare ups can be, so I am much more aware and careful of my diet than I used to be! I am a huge fan of baked oatmeal for breakfast these days and for people with Gastro tract disease oatmeal is the perfect carb, slow releasing and the easiest of carbs to digest… According to my research it can be a good food for people suffering from IBS, colitis, crohns and much more… (But of course each individual is different and can tolerate different food items). Here is today’s breakfast recipe of pear and cranberry baked oatmeal, easy and made in 20 minutes in my new Ninja cooker!

1 cup of steel cut oatmeal
4 cups of any milk you would like (I used non fat organic and water, but coconut or almond milk would work fine too)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
A sprinkling of grated nutmeg
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries (mine were organic left over from Christmas)
1 fresh pear, cubed
3-4 tablespoons of honey (my husband moaned it wasn’t sweet enough, so feel free to add more honey, after all it is good as a boost for your immune system)

Add all the ingredients into your Ninja, stir, turn to stove top medium setting, place the lid on and cook for 20 minutes… Mix in thoroughly and serve… Healthy and nutritious!

Alternatively add all the ingredients into a pan, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally, cook until oats and fruit are softened!

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A very quick side note, Costco is becoming the ultimate place for healthy organic ingredients, today was a bitterly cold after the snow storm day and perfect to go shopping in day, the roads were clear and Costco was unusually quiet… Perfect for browsing and discovering new items… Here is one I discovered today

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This product is organic, high in fibre, protein and iron… It was a huge success with my fussy family, some said it tasted like rice others likened it to cous cous or quinoa, but it was definitely a success I even managed to get ultra fussy Blu to eat it, in my book that makes it a good buy! It would also be good to add to the baked oatmeal too!

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Changes…

Wow… It’s only taken me 45 years to realize how important our diet really is to our well being, after being an anorexic teenager and suffering from IBS on and off for many years, I am finally understanding binge eating chocolate and chips, then starving yourself is so bad for you… Duh! With recent events in our household the stress levels meant I did not eat for over a week, this has triggered the horrible symptoms of IBS to rear its ugly head again… So it’s time to squash this thing once and for all… I am very good at preaching a healthy diet to others, but to actually practice it for myself is another thing… Every morning I make an ultra healthy salad for Paul’s lunch, but then when it comes to lunch time I binge snack on all the bad things I can find because I cannot be bothered to throw a simple healthy lunch together for myself… Well it’s time to change the bad habits of a lifetime!

One of my thoughts in rehabilitating myself is to buy a juicer, it’s a thought at the moment, but maybe I will find it easier to drink lots of fruit instead of just looking at it in the bottom of my fridge … Thoughts from everyone would be appreciated here… Good, bad or just a complete waste of money? When I’m hungry and in need of a snack, I automatically reach for something unhealthy, whatever is easiest really, I don’t think oh that apple looks yummy, I will eat that!

One of the things recommended to Jordan recently by his Gastro doctor for good digestive health was Activia, probiotic yogurts, I often look at them in stop and shop, but this week I actually bought them, I am trying to have one for breakfast every day, this is my second day and I do have to say yesterday I did feel less bloated, but that may have just been my imagination because I want them to help… I will continue to have them for breakfast and see if it does help and make me feel better!

My grocery shopping has changed over recent years, we went to Trader Joes last weekend and I noted that almost half of my bill was actually organic fruit and vegetables, also my dry goods were mainly brown organic rice products or fully gluten free, our snacks were more healthy granola bars… In years past the refined processed products would have filled my cart… Much to my older children’s frustration our pantry and refrigerator is now 80% healthy organic produce and grains… Now I need to really start eating this stuff myself, not just giving it to my family, then binge eating all day on the cheese that sits in the fridge door!

I am also trying hard to reduce my stress levels… Difficult in our house, believe me… My Mum’s brother has always said ‘don’t worry about things that may never happen’, well this is my new motto in life, I have spent my whole life worrying about anything and everything, so now I am trying to live one day at a time, deal with that day and then move on… Easier said than done, but I am trying!

Have a great day… Look for the positives and not the negatives around you… And just be happy!

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