Saturday, September 29, 2012

Things To Do

If you are like me, you have multiple things on your mind at all times.  People like us want to accomplish both daily tasks and life goals and we have many projects started or good intentions to start them, but we just don't ever get around to getting them completed.  Consider keeping a small tablet or text file that lists all of your priority and long term tasks/goals.  View this list daily and make an attempt to start, work on or complete your tasks/goals each day.  For many of us, there always seems to be uncompleted tasks that are hanging over our heads.  Having this list and viewing it daily keeps us from putting off things until a later time.  When you able to mark off task/goals that you have completed you will feel a sense of accomplishment that you will be proud of.  You will be amazed at how quickly you will be able to check off items on your list when you are committing 20-30 minutes per day to tend to these tasks.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stress Relievers

What are your stress relievers?  Do you relieve stress with healthy or unhealthy things?  When you are stressed, do you go for a walk or grab a bowl of potato chips? Do you perform breathing exercises or go have a cigarette?  Do you turn on some calming music or consume a 6 pack of beer/soda?  Do you find your favorite chair and read two chapters of a book or waste two hours in front of the television? The problem many of us face is that we resort to unhealthy options to relieve stress that usually cause even more stress on our bodies in the short and long run.  If that isn't a vicious downward cycle, I don't know what is.

For instance, if we look to food whenever we are stressed, we typically gravitate towards unhealthy snacks or meals that only give us short term pleasure benefits and we consume this food even if we aren't hungry.  Shoveling in that food racks up unnecessary calories and does absolutely nothing for you because most comfort food is high in sugar and fat and low in nutrition.   Food should not be there to comfort you every time you are stressed.  If you handle stress by eating food, obesity will follow. 

Reflect on how you currently handle stress and determine what healthy and proactive alternatives to manage stress you can utilize.  Everyone handles stress differently, but there are many things you can do to better manage all that life has to throw at you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


A little humor each day can help get your mind off some the stresses in your life.  Here are a few pictures to help you get through your day:




Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Big Deception.

In the past, I was duped into believing that just eating a healthier version of "this" rather than "that" when going out to eat was good enough to maintain or lose weight.  I tried to avoid food establishments that were obviously not serving healthy meals, but I realized that my healthier choices were not that much healthier, if at all.  For years, I allowed myself to believe that if I ordered a sandwich instead of a burger, a pizza without pepperoni, a diet soda rather than a regular one or if I ordered a meal without fries that I was making a "healthy" choice. Although my choices may have been a relatively better option, maintaining this philosophy still kept me from attaining my health and weight loss goals for years.

I used to limit my fast food experience mostly to sandwich shops like Jimmy Johns and Subway. They don't fry anything so all is good right.....well, not so fast. One day, I went on JJ's website and looked at the nutritional information of my two favorite sandwiches: 

#14 Bootlegger: Calories 684, Fat 24g, Cholesterol 77 mg and Sodium 1668mg
#6   Vegetarian: Calories 578, Fat 30g, Cholesterol 49mg and Sodium 873mg. 

When I first saw those numbers, I felt confused and frustrated. I had no idea a sandwich could be so unhealthy.  Little did I know that the sandwich I thought was a pretty good choice from JJ's was not healthy in the least. I went to the Burger King website to see how a Whopper compared to these sandwiches (similar numbers except the Whopper has 40g of fat). I thought about how many times I ordered two sandwiches at JJ (because one just wasn't filling enough) with a soda and mentally calculated those totals. I quickly realized that one sandwich equalled about 40 minutes on the elliptical machine to burn those calories, so that one entire meal would mean hours of working out. It made sense to me why companies are reluctant to disclose their nutritional information.  One look at these numbers and I decided I was no longer going to eat that junk. No wonder I wasn't losing any weight.

I had been deceived.  I realized my healthy ordering logic was no longer going to work for the new me.  I realized that no matter how healthy food may appear or if someone else is making or cooking it, I cannot assume that it is truly healthy for my body. The only way I would know for sure is if I purchased the ingredients and made the meal myself. I drew the line in the sand and vowed to no longer eat drive thru food and to avoid/limit my consumption of food eaten at restaurants, even if it appeared or was advertised as healthy. 

I can make a veggie burger at home with 1/5th the fat, 1/5th the sodium and 1/5th the calories than the Jimmy Johns Vegetarian sandwich.  Oh, and for 1/5th of the cost.

One of the keys to me losing the weight that I no longer eat fast food, even if it appears to be healthy.  I am no longer tempted to eat the junk I used to because I was deceived once and I will not allow it to happen twice. 
If you are interested (and you should be), here are some links for the nutritional information of popular eating places:
Click HERE to view Burger King's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view McDonald's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Subway's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Taco Bell's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Jimmy John's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Arby's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Chick-fil-A's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Sonic's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Chipotle's nutritional information.
Click HERE to view Applebee's nutritional information.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grocery List

What is on your grocery list?  Does it include fruits and vegetables?  Would you be able to walk past the candy/junk food/potato chip/soda aisle without making a purchase? 
When you go to the store, have a grocery list of the things that you NEED and only buy the items on your list.  Don't make an impulse purchase unless it is in the produce section. 
Know your grocery store layout.  Most of the soda, chips, candy and junk food are in their own aisles, so just avoid walking down them.     Start your grocery store experience in the produce section, acquire most of your groceries there and then move on to the other areas of the store that have the rest of the items on your list.  Also, never buy anything at the checkout area.
Don't be intimidated by the produce area.  What you should be intimidated by is the list of unrecognizable and unpronounceable ingredients in most of the junk food out there.  Learn how to read food labels and make it a habit to look at the food label before you make a purchase.  There are many items out there that advertise how healthy the product is or it is assumed that the item is healthy, but in reality the sugar, salt and fat content makes it quite unhealthy.   Don't be deceived by what is on the front of the box of the item you are considering buying.
Make your food choices by what is on the side/back of the box (ingredient list and nutritional list) and not what the front of the box advertises.  If your food item doesn't have an ingredient list, that usually is a good thing, because that means you are buying something that isn't in a box and it is it's own ingredient, like a banana, spinach or kiwi.  Compare that to a bag of potato chips, a box of cookies or a cereal box.  Look at those labels and ask yourself if you really want all those unknown ingredients in your body. 
Check the labels on the items you have at home and all your potential purchases in the store.  Not only will you become a wiser consumer, but you will cut your sodium, sugar and fat intake by a great amount once you started realizing what is in the food......that you are no longer going to be eating.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I never understood why people make a big deal about women staying home to raise their children.   I've had more than one stay-at-home mother describe to me how negatively they are perceived by other working parents.   With my parent's generation, the disapproval aimed towards the working mother.  There are plenty of pros and cons of having a mother work or stay home with the kids, I just don't have issues with either choice.  Mothers and families have a reason for which option they choose. 

Many stay-at-home mothers have degrees and could easily participate in the work force, but they choose to sacrifice in other areas so they can be home with their children as they are growing up. 

Every one's situation is different.  As parents we attempt to make decisions that are in the best interest of our families.  Sometimes that means the mother needs to work to provide extra income or a source of benefits, like health insurance.

If you are a stay-at-home mother, make sure you are taking time out for yourself.  When you are home all day, it is easy for you to expend all of your energy taking care of others that you tend to neglect taking time out for yourself.  Children are a load of work, they make us inefficient at performing simple tasks and they tend to leave us with big messes to clean up.  Your time is consumed being a referee, cleaner and chauffeur.  Being a stay-at-home mother is really like having two jobs,  you have no clock out time and you are always on call.

Be aware that being a stay-at-home mother, you are at a high risk of depression so make sure you are aware of the classic symptoms associated with this condition so you can recognize the early warning signs.  If you suspect you are becoming depressed, make sure you seek professional guidance to assist you in treating this condition.   Click HERE to learn more about depression in women.

If you are a working mother, make sure you are taking time out for yourself, too.  You are juggling the stresses of work as well as the stresses at home.  You have messes to clean up in two places, you have to deal with coworkers that act worse than children at times and you may have management that isn't flexible with your schedule so you can tend to family matters.  You feel guilty you miss many of your children's activities and you feel like you are choosing work over family.  Don't feel guilty about having a job, as that is a source of income/benefits for your family and sometimes it is your only get away from home and the kids.  You need and deserve to get away.  Since you are away at work, you just need to maximize your time with your children when you are at home.  Make sure you take time to relax on work breaks and your drive home so you can be 100% mother when you do arrive home.   
Whether you are a working or a stay-at-home mother, be proud of what you do and make sure you are taking time out for yourself.  People that judge you don't know your situation and they have not right to criticize you.  Don't get sleep deprived, go out with your friends periodically, eat healthy, exercise and do some of the things that YOU enjoy doing.  Take advantage of friends and family who can help out with the kids or help with tasks that need to be completed at home. 

For all the dads reading this, appreciate all that your wives do for you and your children.  Tell them and show them often how much you appreciate all that they do.   Don't forget to help out as much as possible and don't think that just because you are the bread winner means you have no other responsibilities with the children or with upkeep of the house.  Help with laundry, meals, getting groceries, taking/picking up the kids, vacuuming and cleaning.  Tape the game/show and watch it after the kids have gone to bed and after you have had a chance to spend some quiet time with your wife.  Give your wife a chance to go out with friends, to go exercise or have some quality time by herself.  There are numerous things you can do, even without being asked, that can lighten her load.   I am sure if you ask what you can help with and you do it, it will be very much appreciated.

Remember, happy moms raise happy children.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Stop and think about what you are ordering, cooking and eating.  You have to look past that rush of great taste and imagine what the food you are consuming is doing to your body.   For all that you expect your body to do each day, don't you owe it to yourself to feed your body only the most nutritious of foods?  How can you function, heal and grow at your greatest ability when all you are eating is, well, junk? Do you really think that fried food, fast food and everything junk food is what is allowing your body to function at it's best capacity?  If you think healthy food doesn't taste good or that it won't fill you up, then think again.  I used to have a fear of not filling up during a meal if I ate health.  Not only do I feel full when I eat healthy, but I acquire that full feeling with less calories.

Here are some of my favorite foods that are the bare minimum requirements I incorporate into my meals everyday.  We then add other fruits and vegetables to the mix to provide a variety to our meal plan.  The first grouping is part of my morning smoothie, I take the next grouping to work, I am making a strong attempt to add more water and hot tea and then almost all of our evening meals attract some or all of the last ingredients.  



Green or Black Tea

Black Beans
Garbanzo Beans

Make a change and have a plan for every meal to improve your health.  Stop eating the junk food and fast food.  Make your own meals so you know exactly what is going into your meal and your stomach.

I love this!:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Decrease Morning Stress

One of the most stressful times of the day can be in the morning as you are getting the family up, ready and out the door on time.  One of the best ways to curb the morning stress is to spend 10-15 minutes the night before and prep for the next morning.  You can get the kids' clothes picked out and ready, clothes ironed, school/work lunches prepared, as much of the breakfast meal decided on and ready to go and all items that need to travel with the family in a common place so they can be easy to grab in the morning.   Every minute you save preparing the night before will relieve you of a tremendous amount of morning stress, allow you to depart at your planned time and get you to your morning destinations on time, if not early.  It is sooooo worth preparing the time the night before to have a less stressful morning.  Just make it part of your routine and it will allow your mornings to be much more bearable. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homemade Hummus

*Casie Here*
I wanted to share my homemade hummus with you. 
 The KEY secret to the whole thing is this: You HAVE to roast your garlic in the oven before you make it. It makes all the difference in the recipe.
                                                                    Here is what I do: 
       2-3 whole bulbs garlic (you could just do one, but I love 3) very top part sliced off put in foil, drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil. Close up the foil tight, place on a baking sheet. Some oil can leak out I have found, so use the sheet ~ 350 for about 30-35 mins. You want it to be soft.
Take it out of the oven and let it cool to the touch, because you have to be able to squeeze it out and it can't be burning hot to do that.
                                                          In a Food Processor throw in: 
                                                        1 can chic peas INCLUDING the liquid
                                                       1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
You could do two cans of the Garbanzo (Chic Peas), I switch off between the two kinds to change it up a bit from week to week. Either are delicious!!!

2 tbs. Tahini paste  
                                                                   1 whole lime juiced 

                                                    Lots of cumin, 1 tbs. (I love cumin!)
                                                                      Salt & Pepper
                               Little Olive Oil streamed in to make smooth and come together.

                                             Add the garlic cloves (squeezed out of their skin)
6 Kalamata Olives, pitted (this is optional, I don't use these very often, but they are good in it)
I usually put in a few sun dried tomatoes (LOVE these).
  I always have it on hand. ALWAYS. I always make sure to have my ingredients on hand. It is a quick, healthy snack or can make a fast meal. I just make batch after batch and constantly have some in the fridge when one runs out. 
 Here is a fast lunch or dinner idea. Take a tortilla, spread on some hummus, throw on some chopped veggies (whatever you have in the house). On this is cabbage, celery, zucchini, carrot, tomatoes, cucumber & olives)
Add some avocado and roll it up. Done! Super yummy and quick. 
I have sent this to school for lunch with Sophie and she loves it! 
Hope you enjoy!

School (or Work) Lunch Ideas

*Casie Here*
In a lunch rut? Here are some ideas to help you out. We have to be pretty creative around here since we are Vegan AND they ban all nuts and nut products at our daughters school. 
You can't see it, but it's a tortilla with re-fried beans either traditional or black bean kind spread on with a little salsa and a little veggie cheese. I like to add black olives, tomatoes and I put little carrot shreds on too! You can add some more leftover chopped veggies and corn in there if you want or you can just leave it with just those ingredients. 
Naan bread and veggies cut up and homemade hummus to dip. Here is my all-time favorite Hummus Recipe!
Egg Salad sandwich bites. Made with Veganaise, celery, onion, dill pickle relish, carrots, mustard, s & p.
(This was before we went egg free too. I would now make this with tofu instead of the egg) 

I think this was egg salad on a different day.
 Asian salad
 She LOVED taking this lunch. Sushi and dried seaweed.

 I also gave her miso soup and some little lemon sesame cookies.

Asian salad. This time homemade (not from Sams), cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus
Taboule Salad

We tried Banana Rollups.
I would have done it with peanut butter, but Sophie's school is nut free, so I did a mix of Sunflower Butter and Pumpkin Butter and then a little Jelly or Honey. *Update* I just found Soy Butter. Sophie loves it WAY better than Sunflower Butter, so that is what I use now. Rolled up a banana and sliced it.

Sophie love salad! She is going to be getting a lot more of it!!! :)
Spinach Quesadillas, frozen mixed berries and a Cutie for my cutie!
Whole wheat tortilla, my homemade hummus spread over it and some pasta sauce spread over that. Add some slices of carrot
Some baby spinach and sprinkle some Veggie Shreds over the top before you put the other tortilla on top.
Heat on both sides until crispy.
 Cut with pizza cutter.
 Sophie and the boys LOVE it!
Hope this gets you or your kids out of your lunch rut!
This is "egg" salad sandwiches with some Romaine on it too, wheat things, broccoli and a plum.
The mock 'egg salad' on baby Romaine leaves, I plopped some guacamole on the top of these too. They were great!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Simple and healthy eating.

This post is for the person that is intimidated by cooking (healthier) or has individuals in the family that resist eating vegetables.  

I want you to start thinking about not only new meal options but also how you can incorporate more vegetables into meals that you already make for yourself and your family.  I don't care if you have to "hide" the vegetables as long as they are included in the meal.  A blender provides an excellent means of "hiding" your veggies into your meal creations.

How often do you make pasta at home?  We make a pasta creation like this a couple times per month.   Eating healthier is as simple as combining a large handful of raw organic spinach with any warmed up pasta sauce (soon I will give you my homemade recipe for pasta sauce) and mixing the two together in a blender.  Serve with whole wheat pasta instead of traditional pasta. 

Look at the nutrition labels on the various pasta sauces.  Pay attention to calories, fat content, sodium and sugar.   Avoid cream sauces.   Keep your portion size small and enjoy.

Be creative with this meal.  Add peas, steamed cauliflower, mushrooms or steamed squash to the mixture in the blender. 

These are the ways you make a difference in how you eat.  It's not difficult or expensive.  It takes a bit more prep time but is worth the nutritional benefits you are providing.    Keep the blender on your counter, you are going to be using it for many of our recipes. 

Don't be surprised if you get requests for you to make this meal again soon.   Enjoy!!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Walking Trails

Walking provides a number of physical benefits and can also can give you mental and emotional boosts as well.   Walking is not my only form of exercise, but rather a compliment to the other cardiovascular activities I participate in. For me, walking is also a form of meditation, reflection and a way for me to tap into thoughts and ideas that otherwise would not present themselves when my mind is otherwise preoccupied.   
Walking in your neighborhood is convenient, but you have to deal with traffic and you can easily talk yourself into returning home prematurely. 
If you are tired of walking the same route every time or you are looking for a more scenic experience, click HERE to find trails in your area with details about the trail you select.  When you are walking on a scenic route, the distractions of nature can make you forget how far you are walking so I have found that I walk many more steps when I am on a trail versus just walking in my neighborhood.
I use this link to find not only trails in our area but also when I am traveling I like to know what trails are nearby in case I get a opportunity for a walk.
When you go for your walk, don't forget to bring your favorite music (but enjoy the silence and sounds of nature, too), plenty of water, a good friend or a camera.  The main goal is to get some exercise and to allow your mind to escape from the stresses of daily life.   I promise you your mood will improve if you incorporate walks into your daily life.