Tag Archives: healthful

Real School Food

Standard

School is back in session. All the parents are sighing with relief; the kids are excited to see their friends. All is well….or is it?

If you agree keeping a close eye on your child’s nutrition and health, you know that is easiest done when they are eating at home. When they leave the house and go to a friends or with grandma & grandpa, you can only hope what you’ve taught them will carry them through all the temptations. I guess that goes for everything, not just food.

My parents see nothing wrong with happy meals or even ice cream for dinner. Lets just say, this is them in grandparents mode because as a child I’d have to sit at the table until my meal was eaten. Blah! Some of my son’s friends are the same way. Pizza, burgers, treats. All that is fine once in a while. However, I would kind of like to enjoy these treats with my son (yes, selfish) and I’d like a bit more control over what he eats and when. So, school is tough.

With over thirty kids in his class and less than thirty weeks in a school year, you can imagine just how often a birthday is celebrated in class. Add in teacher given treats and holiday parties and you have junk food galore. All this is not taking in account school lunches because my son takes a packed lunch. I just don’t trust the quality of school lunches, plus he is picky.

The average kid is taking that good ole average lunch. A sandwich, piece of fruit, a baggie of carbs and probably a juice box. Every once in a while, or everyday, you also throw in a little treat. This can be a decent well-balanced meal. I say “can be” because let’s be real, a slice of lunch meat on white bread, bag of Doritos, some fruities and a Capri Sun and maybe an Oreo, won’t win any healthy lunch awards. I’m not even going to go into my thoughts on Lunchables. But, you can pack healthy.

20130917-110851.jpg

Compared to the average school lunch, your average brown bag will be healthier. Plus, you can control the quantity and quality of foods you pack. Even with the new formulated school lunch, kids are still given highly processed food-stuff. Yes, they might have a salad bar, but when I have visited during lunchtime, I have yet to see a kid fill their plate with veggies. Not to mention, at our school, they “helpfully” add ranch dressing to all the lettuce beforehand, making your choice there limited. Again, bonus points for the salad, but by adding a jug of ranch they sort of kill that one.

20130917-111031.jpg

With the new school lunch menus, the average calorie intake is between 550-850 or more. Just for lunch. On this new plan, many kids are complaining they are still hungry so schools are now opting out of the Obama lunch program and are reverting back to larger, more filling lunches at over 1200 calories per meal! The newer lunches are bringing the nutrition closer to the prison meal, sad sad sad, where the older lunches were severely behind JAIL food!! What?

20130917-111111.jpg

The new program does have its positive notes. Some of the offered foods are locally sourced. Kids are “suppose to” take at least one fruit or veggie. Sadly, this has been translated into far more waste than ever before.

20130917-111157.jpg

When all the treats start rolling into the classroom, it’s tough to monitor. You don’t want to tell your child not to take one. Poor kid didn’t do anything wrong. However, the average cupcake has — grams of sugar. Now, with everything being store bought, that’s a difference from when we were able to bring homemade.

Treats might not be so bad if portions were considered. However, everything is oversized, extra sweet and pure junk. The average cupcake has about 20 grams of sugar. I’ve yet to see a kid bring fruit in as their birthday treat. My son included. It’s not like there is abundance of “healthy” bakeries out there making homemade like treats. They are out there, but it can be expensive when trying to feed about 40 little mouths.

20130917-110820.jpg

Then there is the treats shared on the bus, after-school munchies and finally at night, dessert. When you think you are about to treat your child to something yummy, chances are they’ve already had their fill. Getting to go out for a treat is just more sugar in their tummy.

Some families do watch what they serve. However, sometimes that means they will bring in fat-free, or sugar-free items which means now your child may be getting chemicals and preservatives that perhaps you don’t really love your kiddo eating.

It’s important that as parents we continue to watch what our kids eat, even when outside the home. It has a way of adding up and we don’t want our kids super-sized!

Good luck to another school year!

Summertime Fun

Standard

Well, it’s been a long time since I blogged. I have been busy with summertime fun, dealing with my crohn’s and researching a vegan topic that has me reaching.

Summer is in full force with high temps and blazing sun. I use Kinesys sunscreen that I buy online. I actually first tried it in Hawaii at the Ironman comp, and loved it! It’s amazing because I am allergic to everything and burn within minutes, but with this, I spray it on and stay nice and white….day glow white. Ok, I wish I could tan. Even knowing that it isn’t healthy, blah blah blah. I am seriously Casper the ghost white. See my blue veins white. People put on sunglasses to look at me white. Oh well. Grab your sunscreen here: http://kinesys.com/

Now, the heat is proving to be a challenge for my Crohn’s. I have heard some people say it will cause them a flare up, but I hadn’t really experienced that in the past. Most summers, I spend my days inside, curled up in the AC. This year, I’m outside more. Hitting the public pool, going to the county fair, picking berries at the farm. Incredible summer so far! However, being in the heat has proven to be a real gut wrencher for me. I’ll be laying there, glowing, and all of a sudden it feels like I’m in an oven and my guts are freaking out. I’ll get all pukey feeling, gag a few times as I rush to the toilet….really bites. It’s happened enough that I know it isn’t something I am eating, it’s the heat. So, remember to drink lots of cool water, well, as much as your gut allows. Then drink it often. Grab some shade before you get sick. For me, that’s after about 30 minutes. Then I guess the only thing you can do is be excited that you are enjoying the sun for any chunk of time you can because even running off to the bathroom in public clutching your mouth and gut, is in many ways better than being in bed, or ick ick in the hospital.

Last, I’ve been reading and reading and pondering. I’m going to blog about all this research once I can wrap my head around it better. My husband has lost over 90 pounds after going plant-based (vegan). He is back doing triathlons and other fun things. I have lost over 50 pounds with a combo of Crohnie Crash and better eating. Despite the flares, I’m sticking to fresh fruits and veg as often as possible and staying away from processed food. So, lots of people have been asking us what we are doing. Usually I say they can skip a huge amount of time by just taking their food and flushing it down the toilet, but then they look at me funny because not everyone gets Crohn’s humor. My husband, Mr Vegan is pretty quiet about all the changes he made. Mostly he says he is eating better but then everyone wants examples to see if they can duplicate your hard work. As soon as he says plant-based, most ask “vegan!?!” Yes, vegan. Oh man, insert every common question, concern, debate, whatever right here. I thought Mr Vegan was quiet because he didn’t want to push his views onto others. Holy cow, I think he doesn’t want to have to spend time defending why he no longer eats crap fast food and yes, he is getting enough protein and yes, his doctor knows what he is doing and no, it’s not that radical. So, my research is going.

How do you explain your eating viewpoint without being preachy, yet kindly deflect their concerns, answer their questions and get out of the debate quickly without one side flipping over a table? That’s my homework. I’m reading The China Study. I’ve done some reading on proteins, essential amino acids, calcium, casein and so on. I’m hoping to gather up enough to basically write a somewhat short reply that would answer some of the questions my husband gets slapped with.

Ever feel like when people ask you exactly what you eat and how…..it’s almost like asking a woman exactly how did she get pregnant. I already get asked all sorts of things for my Crohn’s. My favorite would be the “have you tried…?” ones where sometimes they really do have advice I haven’t heard but usually it’s asking me if I have tried not eating gluten, or dairy, or whatever. I understand, I mean, people (like me!) are really curious. And not always in that nice way. I mean, sure ask what we have been doing, but then be supportive or go google your highest concerns. Don’t try to convert someone into going back to eating crap. I can guarantee we eat better now than before. I especially love people that will hound Mr Vegan only to then say that they don’t like vegans because they preach too much. Oy! Seriously? So…..off my high horse, stepping down so I can get out to that gorgeous sun, but I will be back. I’ll try to get a simple clean answer that will satisfy those that ask, are you sure that’s healthy?

Have a real good day!

Can I be a Real Vegan?

Standard

I’ll be the first to admit my food choices usually suck. I’ve done some research and know how important eating healthy is. I’m the pickiest eater ever and I also have Crohn’s. Not every food choice I make, I can tolerate. What to do?!

My husband is vegan. My son is as picky as I am. We’ve watched enough documentaries and read enough books that I feel bad when I eat poorly and feel guilty when I feed my child poorly. We have improved a little. At least we don’t eat any fast food anymore!

20130618-135327.jpg

Here is a glimpse at our weekly groceries.
Our old  batch would have been full of name brand junk food!

My Crohn’s started its most recent flare about 9 months ago and has only improved by baby steps. I’ve lost a bunch of weight and after living a life determined to lose weight, I’m actually insanely now trying to hold on to the weight I’m at.

Losing weight is real difficult. I’m finding maintaining a weight is just as hard, especially when the weight came off fast and due to illness.

As my guts start to settle down and accept food, I’m being careful what I introduce. I’d love to go vegan and get quite a chuckle out of myself when I say that. I wouldn’t miss the cheese but ice cream, I’ve tried coconut “ice cream” and it’s nothing like real creamy good ole ice cream. Although, I do like sorbet….

I somewhat enjoy meat. I say somewhat because if I stop to think at all about it, especially when it’s still raw, my stomach turns and I really don’t want to eat it. Once it’s all cooked, it’s hard to resist. Somewhat.

I adore the Hungry for Change (www.hungryforchange.tv) advice of adding more and more “good” foods to replace all the “bad” choices. I’ve been trying that. As I add something like kale to my salad (has to be in teeny tiny pieces) then that’s replacing just plain green leaf or romaine. However, I don’t think that line of thinking is going to get me to my goal of being a vegan.

I highly doubt I will ever add so many veggie meals that one day I decide not to make my great grandpa’s beef stew. I’m going to have to give up animal products. Then, as I pathetically try to find foods I like, I’m bound to try and like something I can add. I hope.

What I afraid of? I love to blame my disease for my pickiness. Oh, my guts don’t like that. That definitely wouldn’t settle well. Ahhhh, but most things I have never even tried. My fear of food isn’t limited to healthy foods. I don’t like (read: I’ve never tried) any dipping sauce besides ketchup. No ranch, no sour cream. I don’t like (never tried) any toppings for burgers, or salad dressing besides 1000 Island. In fact, I have only ever eaten apple, strawberry or coconut cream pie. I’m too scared to try cherry, probably because I’ve never eaten cherries. I don’t like trying new ice cream flavors, candy bars, drinks. So the likelihood of me trying a vegetable has always been slim. I haven’t even tried hiding anything green into my fruit smoothie.

20130618-135257.jpg

I’m going to jump in, give up meat. That way I’m part way there. If I reduce my animal products like cheese and butter, then I’m even closer to my goal. My husband has asked me why I can’t do as he did and just jump straight into being a vegan. I’m scared. When I look for advice on picky-eaters, I get advice I can’t use on myself. I don’t want to make an avocado a face with cauliflower hair. I don’t see how I could sneak food into my own meal, what cover my eyes as I put in something slimy? I did read you shouldn’t bribe a kid with money, although a few weeks ago my husband paid me $10 to try asparagus and that worked, kinda. I tried to so I could claim my ten bucks and even sorta liked it. Not enough, I’ve eaten it again. Maybe, I should pay myself but that might also be an easy out, I mean, it’s still my money whether I eat it or not…..ohhhh, why was my mom picky and let me get away with eating Mac n Cheese all my life?

I’m part of a generation that’s been told what nutrition you need and how to look for that on the side of the box. Only lately, is it that I’m looking at things I don’t want included or better yet, buying items without a barcode. Being brought up with this mindset, I’ve been convinced, even though my research shows otherwise, that I won’t get enough nutrients if I give up meat.

I’m well aware that by eating a well-rounded vegan diet, a person will easily get all the necessary vitamins and minerals, protein, calcium, all that besides B12. However, that is what makes me fear being vegan: well-rounded. Well-rounded? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean a salad of green leaf with a couple of hidden pieces of kale and a carrot.

As long as I eat meat and animal products, I’m going to have this internal battle at every meal. I look at my husband’s colorful plate then look at my plate full of different white and beige and pout. I really want to eat what he is eating.

My son is just like me. He’s declared himself a vegan just about five times a week. Only, he’s afraid to try new foods too. He eats what I eat.  I have so many reasons (read: excuses) why I just don’t like (read: won’t try) certain foods.  They are lame ones, but I got a ton of them.

20130618-135345.jpg

I make a bunch of different veggie burgers for Mr Vegan,
Sir Picky and I don’t eat them (yet)

I also know there is a bunch of hypocrisy when I say I want to be vegan but then also feel better about eating only locally grown, grass-fed meats. The local cows don’t like that. I’m also aware that by saying I’ll eat vegan most of the time isn’t right. I mean, is it ok for a heroin junkie to just relapse once a week? OK, meat isn’t heroin but some would argue it’s a darn good comparison.

I also worry that by being vegan, I’ll need not only to try new foods but try things like faux meat, vegan cheese and things that are mimicking a non-vegan food. That sort of grosses me out. I mean, if I have trouble understanding mixing peanut butter with jelly, you can imagine my not being keen on tofu.

Last night, I did more research and made some tough decisions and without even thinking, sat down with a bowl of ice cream to think it over. That was one guilty snack. Guilty because if you do care about weight loss, then a midnight snack isn’t healthy. But more so because I was literally online researching vegan choices while I ate!

I’ve got to make the jump. The guilt will only get stronger.
Wish me luck!

Yo-Yo Dieting – Real Weight Loss

Standard

Being a healthy weight isn’t the easiest thing for most people. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, half of which fall into the obese category. That means only one-third of Americans are of a healthy weight. Why?

Well, a lot can be said about food choices. The sad Standard American Diet at work. There are thousands of new food-like products being offered every year. Our society looks toward processed foods to nurture ourselves and our families. As if the packaged food that is enriched with vitamins is going to be better for us than the real deal.

What comes from this situation is a dieting frenzy. A new diet hits the market every time you turn around. TV doctors are promoting this way of eating, these exercises, that lifestyle. Meanwhile, most people will lose and gain the same chunk of weight over and over again. Yo-yo dieting is not only common, it’s practically expected. Some people will even say it is dangerous for your health, others say it’s better to yo-yo than to not. Excuses all around. But it is nearly impossible to lose weight and keep it off if you are eating today’s highly processed foods.

20130615-212417.jpg

My husband has been a big yo-yo dieter most all his adult life. His weight has gone down, stayed average, ballooned up, drifted around, soared up, slid down for years now. He had run marathons, done half Ironman competitions, had transformed himself many times. At the end of 2012, he had decided once more that the Pizza & Beer diet wasn’t working. He was tired all the time. His back hurt, his feet hurt, actually, everything hurt. His health was hurting. He was hooked up to a CPAP machine while he slept. He was depressed and felt so overwhelmed when he thought of trying another diet. He also feared not trying one. His father had died of a heart attack when he was just 51, and this year he was turning 40.

The last straw was going into an IHOP for breakfast. Most booths at restaurants are comfortable, the table moves and adjusts for who needs more space. This table didn’t. It was in a fixed position and when he tried to slide in, he couldn’t. Instead of asking for another table, one he could fit into, he opted to stay there and uncomfortably order and eat his meal. That was difficult.

Meanwhile, my crohn’s was flaring away and had been for months. Stress was a huge factor in the home. I was in bed or in the bathroom more than anywhere else. My husband was falling asleep on the couch in middle of the afternoons. Our son, Sir Picky, was deciding which drive-up we should grab our dinner from. Heck, I didn’t care. It wasn’t like the food was going to stay down. He didn’t care, because really, what is just one more? Our son, he didn’t complain. It tasted great.

20130615-234005.jpg

Finally, the time came. My husband signed up to do the Biggest Loser challenge at his work. He pulled what he knew from different plans he had done in the past. He changed his eating to a “more healthy” diet. Anything was healthier than how the family had been eating but as he changed, Sir Picky and I really didn’t change much. Instead of red meat, my husband ate ground turkey or leaner slices. Instead of denying himself, he had a cheat day once a week where he, in theory, could gorge himself full of junk. Starting with McDonalds for breakfast and ending with a bellyache at night. To give him credit, with the Biggest Loser competition (and $500) on the line, instead of cheat days, he only ate cheat meals here and there and stopped all fast food.

A few weeks into the year, he started watching lots of food related documentaries. The one that told us a story flat out, in basic language, was Hungry For Change (www.hungryforchange.tv). I’m always supportive of anything my husband dreams up. So, I was watching the shows, researching meals, reading up on whatever he mentioned. Hungry For Change impacted the whole family. All three of us needed and wanted to change after watching it.

My weight had already been dropping. At that point I had gone from my pre-flare weight of about 165 down to about 130. Enough, that people started feeling comfortable to ask me what I had been “doing”. For me, life would have been so much simpler if I could have just grabbed my food, rushed into the bathroom and promptly flushed it. My crohn’s wasn’t tolerating anything. Not a great way to lose weight. In recent years, my weight had gone from a prednisone high of nearly 200 and a flare low of 135 and everything in between, twice. 130 was light.

As a family, we decided to start adding healthful foods – real foods – fresh foods. Then, started reading books. Anything that had been mentioned on the HfC film. We read books that those books mentioned. We consumed books. We finally learned. The more we learned, the more we realized that we had been looking too much at our food, and yet, also not enough.

We never really bought into the organic movement, now we do. More importantly, we now look for location. Is that grown nearby? Was it grown organically by farmers we agree with and want to support? Is it in season? We use to look at nutrition facts on labels, not at the ingredients. We looked at foods that would help us, live up to their claims but would still taste good. We weren’t looking for basic regular whole foods. How could an apple be healthier than this food created by scientists that did everything an apple could do, plus more!? Wow, we had a lot to learn.

In our research and reading, I began reading more about the food industry. (I highly recommend any book by Michael Pollan, I especially love his food rules. Another great is Fat, Sugar, Salt book by Michael Moss). Meanwhile, Mr Extreme became Mr Vegan. He watched the Engine 2 film, Forks Over Knives, and read their books. He read all about the China Study and started in on books by athletes that were plant powered (Rich Roll, Scott Jurek and tons more). He learned our bodies could not only survive, but thrive on a full plant based diet. He went vegan. (Yes, the V-word)

Many months later, here we are. He has not eaten any meat or animal products in several months and is loving life. Yes, he constantly gets those questions and advice, because everyone has something to say when they learn this little fact.

But we need meat, how are you going to get protein?
We are built to eat meat, see our teeth.
You need your milk otherwise you’ll get osteoporosis.
How will you get calcium?
Won’t you miss (fill in the blank)

I don’t remember ever having anyone approach my husband when he was eating pizza to tell him not to eat that. Or tell him to eat more of something. If anything, people were there offering him another beer, another burger, some chips. Cake to celebrate.

Now, I’m a bit more use to people commenting on my life. I have crohn’s so everyone has something to tell me.

My mailman has crohns and he is fine!
I had the flu once so I totally know what you feel like!
Are you sure you should eat that?

I am also picky. (OK, beyond picky) I recently heard the word neophobia and totally related. I am afraid to try new food. So people love to offer advice on that too. (I would like to say, I would totally know it if I tried to hide something I didn’t like in my noodles. Because, I made it! It’s not like I could later forget, space off and accidentally eat something gross. Ugh!) I will admit, my pickiest is embarrassing (who else keeps a PB sandwich in their purse during a dinner out?) and it unfortunately rubbed off on my son, Sir Picky. However, we are now trying.

Our lives are better and I believe the string on the yo-yo has been cut. I would love to keep adding foods until one day, I like enough variety that I could be a full-time vegan. For now, I season my meals with meat, sometimes. We try to eat plant heavy. Anything I bake, I make sure it’s completely vegan so we can all enjoy it. We research our foods and get to know where they come from and how they were grown. I planted herbs. I know the difference between chai and chia. We are still learning but standing strong, as a family. A real family that wants to make a real change.

Currently, I’m weighing in at 112 (5’3) and my husband is back to running races and training for a triathlon. He has gone from 265 to 193, consistently losing weight each week and can now see his goal weight (165) approaching (he’s 5’9). Our son is healthy, happy, fit and is also learning. Like me, he looks forward to the day our whole family is vegan plant powered.

Thanks for reading our story. Please follow me on twitter (@ShellJacobson) and my husband (@jake946) and be sure to share this blog with others. I hope to share with you my adventures on this journey as I explore and learn more about healthful living.

Have a great day and Happy Father’s Day.

20130615-233602.jpg

Michelle & Neal – June 2013

Planting herbs in containers

Standard

As I do my reading, I’ve been trying to be really aware of where my food is coming from. I shop as local as possible, hit the farmers market, head out to the nearby farms, and buy from companies that are close. I try to get foods that are in season and fresh, organic is a bonus. While my husband is a vegan (yes, that dreaded v-word again), my son and I still eat meat. I feel (mostly) OK about that, because all the meat Sir Picky and I eat is from a local meat market that butchers meat fresh from a local family farm. I really am trying. So…..what about my spices?

I’ve decided to see if I can pull off growing my own herbs in some backyard containers. I looked on the Internet for local sources of good soil and starter plants. Luckily, I found some that were grown just a few miles from my home. I picked up some containers on sale. Grabbed some soil and compost and got it all ready to replant.

Now, I’m far from a gardener. In fact, looking at my thumb right now and it’s not even slightly green. But I have been growing mint for several months, which made me optimistic until I found out they grow like weeds. (Tastes great in lemonade or mojitos though)

I chose a small selection of herbs, trying to select ones we would actually use. I got basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. I also grabbed some more lavender for my backyard (great to add to the dryer cycle). I also bought a larger variety of rosemary for maybe toasting on the grill. Then, my son picked out a grape vine (eek) and a pink blueberry bush (?). Both are super anti-oxidants and I have hope that maybe my son and I will like blueberries better if they are pink. It could happen. Hopefully, all this has a better ending than my poor pathetic apple tree my son talked me into a few summers ago.

20130613-113152.jpg

I picked out these herbs with their health benefits in mind, but also how likely it was I would cook with them. OK, mostly based on which ones I had heard of and would cook with….but the health benefits actually rock!

ROSEMARY

Rosemary has many health benefits besides smelling great and making you happy. It’s tagged for helping people with their memory, migraines, pain (especially joint pain), is an anti-inflammatory and boosts your immune system (great for crohnies). It also has anti-bacterial qualities as well as help balance out your digestive system (yea). It helps with colds and congestion and has anti-aging qualities. All in all, great enough, I bought two!

THYME

Some consider thyme essential for good health. Besides preventing cancers and promoting good health, it is packed, and I mean PACKED with minerals and vitamins. Plus, lots of recipes team thyme up with rosemary.

OREGANO

Oregano has lots of bacteria fighting elements as well as loaded with vitamin K, Iron, and full of fiber. It’s a powerful anti-oxidant that also has lots of Omega 3.

BASIL

This is another herb that works as an anti-inflammatory. It stops some icky bacteria, promotes healthy bacteria we all need, all while packing in vitamin A, magnesium and increasing your blood flow. Without basil and oregano, your spaghetti sauce would just be plain ole tomato sauce (whoa, look at me all spicing up my foods).

PARSLEY

This little green sprig is actually rich in vitamins. Remember that old dude in the restaurant who would chew on it after dinner? Maybe you called him grandpa. Well, he had the right idea except maybe hide it into your salad for a fresh taste. It’s not only an anti-inflammatory herb, it boosts your immune system, helps even out your nervous system, reducing stress and joint pain while preventing some cancers. Full of vitamins and minerals, it’s powerful stuff. One of the vitamins it has a lot of is vitamin B12, hello vegans!

Now, I know what you are thinking. Ok, these little herbs are great, but how much do you think I’m going to eat? Does it matter how healthful these are or aren’t? Yes! I know you are only going to sprinkle some here, add a dash there, but wouldn’t you rather get some awesome benefits from these herbs than not get any at all? Heck, yea! I personally want to add things onto my plate that will help me, no matter how trivial it may seem. It all adds up!

I’m pretty excited and can’t wait to start cooking with my new treasures. They look cute and smell great, in fact, I’d love to roll around in the rosemary for awhile! (Don’t worry, I didn’t) Now I have real plants, real herbs and I will really know where and how they grew when I eat them.

Have a healthful day!

First Real Day of Summer

Standard

School got out yesterday before lunch, which makes today the first real day of summer. Sir Picky is now a fifth-grader! To prepare for an awesome summer, we made a wish list of all the things we want to do. On the list were things like; make salsa, pick berries, learn to store food (like bears). There is also things like; go to the beach, to OMSI, run a race, play frisbee in the park. All in all, about 25 things. Today, we will not be doing any of those things because let’s face it, it’s just the first day. Since I am an at-home mom to an older child, summertime is really when my job becomes full-time.

So today we did some fun things. We started the day with some Wii Fit and called that a workout. Yesterday we had a water fight, but today the weather turned a little cooler so we opted to stay dry. We jumped on our large trampoline. My son had a friend over to “hang out”. We also hit the grocery store. I try to buy organic, as local as possible and healthful but again, 2 out of 3 of us are picky and still eat a small amount of processed junk.

20130611-141416.jpg

I know we can improve but here’s the groceries for this week. Not pictured is one small watermelon my son generously dropped onto the kitchen floor or the items I got at the local farm, Thistledown.

Here is a great recipe for black beans. It has a lot of flavor and is perfect with rice or in burritos. I’ve had a hard time getting enough spices in to really get a flavor. So, this recipe calls for quite a bit of spices because I have found you need a healthy amount to get them perfect.

* * * BLACK BEANS * * *

1 can Black Beans, drained and well rinsed
up to 1 can of Rotel (tomatoes with green chilies)
Cumin
Powdered onion
Powdered garlic
Oregano
Paprika
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper (optional)

First really wash and drain your black beans. The more you rinse, the easier on your gut. Then add all the juice from the can of Rotel plus as much of the tomatoes and chilies you want. Add some water until the beans are about half covered. Then mix in the spices, adjusting the amounts to your taste. Just about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each. I just shake some on, lightly covering the beans with each spice then stir to mix it up. Place on a low heat until warm throughout.

Mr Vegan really loves the Beans Extravaganza from the Engine 2 website. You can find that recipe here. We have done it just as instructed and also made my black beans from the recipe above for a bit more flavor. In fact, if we have extra beans of another variety (navy, pinto, butter, etc) we use those. You can really turn their recipe into your own and it makes enough to freeze. Next time he has this, I’ll try it. Eek!

Enjoy and have a healthful day!

Meet the real me

Standard

As I get older, I sound more and more like my mom. Realizing that it’s not a bad thing, must be what others call, maturity. I have similar worries, agendas, dreams. However, I’m raising my family very differently.
Like most of us, I was called inside to sit down at the kitchen table to eat a family dinner every night. My mom always set out bread and butter. We all drank milk, no exception. We usually had meat, veg and starch. The most adventurous meal my mom cooked was her Mexican casserole, which was Fritos and Nalley’s chili with some cheese (Velveeta).

When I was very little, I ate proudly like my dad. Trying whatever was offered. Then one day, I noticed my mom didn’t use salad dressing. I was about 5 and my baby brother had just been born, so to complicate life, I became the pickiest eater ever. Gone were the days of trying new flavors. Everything I ate was packaged, processed and plain. Potatoes became a vegetable and apples or strawberries were my only fruit. Meat had to be plain and usually nothing touched anything else. The only sauce I’d even consider was ketchup and even that I only liked certain brands. I let my diet become complicated by using my crohns as an excuse. It was the ideal excuse to hide behind because no one wanted me to be hospitalized. I found ways so I wouldn’t have to be adventurous, and so, I still ate very basic meals and snacked…a lot. Unfortunately, as I became a parent, my palate had not made many changes.

During my pregnancy, I took my diet very serious. I limited all sugary things. I didn’t have any caffeine the whole time. My crohns even took a vacation. Now, to say I watched what I ate would be pretty subjective. Compared to my per-pregnant ways of facing face first into a bag of Doritos, I was doing great. But, to compare my new foods to a truly healthy person, well, they would have laughed at my attempt. In the end, I did successfully have a healthy gorgeous baby boy.

I proudly made my son fresh organic baby food and he loved almost everything I served. That was a short-lived phase that went nicely into the processed food phase. Well, maybe era. He quickly realized that mommy and daddy ate differently. My husband will eat anything, and I won’t. My son picked up my habits and then improved upon them by finding new ways to limit his foods that I never even dreamed up. He gagged. Yep, he gagged anytime something was offered to him. This would include plastic pretend food. The goal of branching out began.

Whenever I asked my son to try something, to play fair, I’d try it as well. I’m not a very good actress, so when it was “gross”, it was really hard to talk him into trying it next. I found some foods weren’t so bad. However, I also found myself letting my son get away with being picky so I wouldn’t have to try it either. As a family, we ate the Standard American Diet, which really is sad. We knew it was bad for us but each meal can be justified. We are tired. Don’t have anything to make. Never enough time. Grabbing something is easier, faster and everyone can get what they want. We chowed through many bags of grease and constantly talked about how we were going to eat better soon. We filled our fridge full of foods that would spoil before getting used. We always had great intentions. I felt so much grief.

As a stay at home mom, dealing with a digestive disease, you’d think I’d have the time and inspiration to feed my family better than talking my husband into grabbing something on his way home. The guilt I had was compounding daily. Each food choice, I’d know was bad even as I handed it to my son, added another layer of guilt. Every time my guts rebelled, more guilt. Then my husband would go through phases that we didn’t follow. He’d be on some fad diet, usually restricting the heck out of everything, and eating foods I’d never dream of even trying. So, he’d be eating healthy and with guilt, my son and I would be eating junk.

Fast forward to now. We looked at what we had become and decided to make some changes. We have a son that loves music but would rather not play sports. My husband had worn out his excuse of having back surgery and was looking toward a new phase of going healthy, maybe. Me? Man, I’m always jumping into things only to drop it like a hot potato halfway through. You should see the half-finished ottoman I have in my bedroom.

Wish me luck.