July 30, 2013

Weekly Menu THM-Style


Once again, I have fallen off the menu planning wagon.  My intentions are usually so good, but I hate being locked into having a plan.
But I am trying (hate that word) to keep to a budget, and be more prepared.
So here's my menu for the week.  It will probably change before it is all done, but if I post it, at least I'll know where to find it?

I will also add that this is pretty close to how we always eat.  I've only got 2-5 pounds left to lose depending on where my head is on any given day, so I'm looking to lose a bit, but not aggressively as I was in the past.  Also, with very few exceptions, this is the menu for my entire family.  I'm not that busy, but this isn't the IHOP and I'm not taking order, you know?  Some things are negotiable, especially sides.  My kids need to gain weight and I round their meals out with potatoes, bread and rice along with real sweeteners, like honey or even sugar.
And as per my norm, I'm not giving a shopping list or nutritional info.  I find ingredients subjective and I don't count carbs, calories or fat as a rule.  I prefer to just use the lists in the THM book to guide what I eat.
I generally cook enough for left-overs, but they are usually what my husband takes for his work meals.  I will also add that my husband works second, or swing, shift.  Our main meal each day is lunch with dinner just me and the kids.

Lunch:  Dreamfield's pasta alfredo with clams and veggies, side salad (S)
(this is lite alfredo sauce with broccoli, cauliflower and canned chopped clams added)
Snack:  Strawberry sorbet with some cottage cheese on the side for protein (FP)
Dinner:  Egg salad on low-carb pita with squash chips on the side (S)

Breakfast:  Coco-banana (sounds like Copacabana) Muffin (same recipe as one on monday, but without berries and almond, but with banana extract) (S)
Lunch:  Low-carb wrap with lean cold cuts and low-fat cheese with a green smoothie (FP)
Snack:  1/2 apple with homemade almond butter (S-helper)
Dinner:  Poblano Soup with low carb pita (S)



 Breakfast:  Chocolate-almond berry Muffin (S)
Lunch:  Salmon patties with cauliflower mash and salad (S)
Snack:  1/2 apple with homemade almond butter (S-helper)
Dinner:  Chicken Thai Soup and salad (S)

Breakfast: Oatmeal (E)
Lunch:  Quick and Easy Chili with low-carb pita (E)
Dinner:  Low carb wrap with lean cold cuts and low-fat cheese and salad on the side (FP)

Breakfast:  Eggs and turkey bacon (S)
Lunch:  Pizza on Fooled Ya crust (S) 
Snack:  Cheesecake berry crunch (S), pg 373


 Breakfast:  Coco-banana Muffin (S)
Lunch:  Pasta Salad (S)
Snack: Choco Pudding (FP) pg 366
Dinner:  Spaghetti Squash with butter and parmesan with a side salad (S)

 Breakfast:  Cottage Berry Whip (FP) pg 379
Lunch:  Baked Chicken, cauliflower mash, broccoli with cheese, flax muffins (S)
Snack:  1/2 apple with homemade almond butter (S-helper)
Dinner:  Taco salad, with meat and a low carb wrap (S)

  This post is shared with the link up at Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents for Trim, Healthy Tuesday.


July 29, 2013

Chocolate Almond Berry Flax Muffins- Quick and Savory/S

I recently shared my version of a savory, quick muffin, but everyone knows that sweet is also a good thing?
I'll admit that Trim, Heathy Mama has helped to alter my tastes and I don't really care as much for sweet, but it is nice to start the day feeling like you've splurged.
The tastes here are truly decadent!
Rich chocolate with almond and berries.
But you know I'm looking at a cheap and easy as well.

This all flax muffin is quick, even when grinding your own flax, and it cuts the costs AND calories compared to adding in nut flours (we're staying gluten-free and THM-style, and not even considering wheat).

This is our breakfast of choice, not just for me, but for my kids too.  They love feeling like they are eating cake for breakfast.  I don't make it overly sweet, but feel free to swing the ingredients in a way that makes you happy.
The batter is mixed before adding berries!

In my mug:
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp coconut oil
4 Tbsp ground flax (fresh is best!)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp stevia based sweetener (I use a store brand truvia-knockoff)

Add all of these together and mix.  And I mean really, really mix.  You don't want clumps of egg or baking powder.

Now you can add some frozen berries.  I actually prefer just raspberries, but had a raspberry/blueberry blend and was feeling too lazy to pick through them.
Do NOT add the berries with just the liquid ingredients thinking that you can do just one mixing.  It seems like a good idea (I speak from experience), but the berries will cause the coconut oil to solidify and this isn't pretty or what you are really going for).

Stir the berries into the already well-blended batter.
Microwave for 1 minute in your mug and turn out onto a plate.
I've never baked one but I'd say 350 for 15 -18 minutes would be great.

I cut mine in half so I have 2 muffins (and isn't getting 2 better than 1?)
I top with a bit of whipped cream and some chocolate sauce.  You could use skinny chocolate or a sugar-free version from the store.
To be perfectly S on THM watch your whipped cream serving (unless you are whipping your own and adding stevia) and chocolate sauce.
Enjoy!
This post is a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday at Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents.

July 26, 2013

The Lighter Side of Chili-E

My husband likes chili.  It's pretty much up there with pizza and nachos in his book, and it was a staple in our house before Trim, Healthy Mama (THM) showed up.
The thing with THM is that you have a choice:  luscious with fats, or lighter and carb focused.
So which should chili be?  For me it comes down to beans or not.
Now I like beans.
They are tasty and cheap, and I already have a bunch canned and ready to use that were soaked and sprouted even.
So save the meaty stew for cold weather and lets bring on the veggies and the beans for this one.

This chili will have some meat, in the form of lean turkey, and some beans, black beans today but pinto or even a white bean are also appropriate, and some veggies that are on hand.  I find chili as a good place to stash all those peppers that tend to come from the garden all at one time.

But I have a secret.
This is really, really bad.
This is slacker chili.
This chili only takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish, and I'm not chopping, cutting or doing any prep.  This is a busy day chili and I'm either taking everything from a jar or from the freezer.
I'm not a snob about food.  I believe you should look at what your needs are, what your resources are, and see how things fit your life.  I refuse to feel like this is an inferior food because it is quick and easy

I start with 2 pounds of lean, ground turkey and brown it in my dutch oven.  I actually got this on clearance and had coupons so this was an especially good deal.  Feel free to use any lean meat though.

Browned turkey with peppers and onions (you can see
the Fajita Mix bag in the background).
Veggies.  I try to sneak them in where I can, and now is the time of year to get the best products.  But today is kind of a busy day.  I don't have time to sit and chop onions and peppers.  And you know what?  I don't have time to hit the farmer's markets, and bell peppers are expensive at my local grocery store.
So I found Fajita Mix in the frozen section.  It is pre-cut frozen bell peppers and onions.
It is cheaper per pound than buying peppers and is equivalent to the price of onions.  I stock up when the put the store brand of this mix on sale.
You can also feel free to add squash or other veggies.  Just cut it small and your kids probably won't be know.
And feel free to get an onion and a bunch of bell peppers and slice and dice.  .
I should probably defrost first, but I'm in a hurry, so I add the whole bag, frozen to the browned meat and put the lid on the pot.

After about 10 minutes, the veggies are defrosted and cooking.  You can add a bit of beef stock at this time, but it isn't necessary.  It will just give a better flavor.
I also add in seasonings at this point.  Again, I'm going to keep it simple and get out my 1 tsp spoon.
I add 1 tsp of ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.  I add about 1/4 tsp of ground red pepper.  Feel free to add more or less of any of these spices depending upon your tastes.

Next comes a can of diced tomatoes with green chili.  You might know this as Rotel, but I buy the store brand (of course) and save 50% over the name brand price.  Again, feel free to get tomatoes from the garden and chop them or use some you have frozen or canned.

I then add in a quart of black beans.  These were dried beans that I sprouted and then canned.  Feel free to open up some cans of store ones if that is what you have or soak and sprout and pre-cook some; it doesn't matter.

After everything is added to the pot, stir it all together, put the lid on and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so for flavors to blend.
Then enjoy.

You can have up to one and a half (1.5) cups of beans and that would be a fairly massive serving of this.
I like to enjoy with a warmed low-carb pita.
It's not exactly a purists version of chili, and I'd imagine that quite a few people out there would find the name chili to be somewhat dubious, but I just call it good and tasty and filling, and my family calls it dinner (and that is really all I care about).

This post is linked with Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents for Trim, Healthy Tuesday.


July 25, 2013

Baby Books

I've posted before that we are a family that loves to read.
My husband is one who generally has at least one book tucked somewhere nearby just in case he has a few minutes to spare, and both of my older kids are avid readers as well.
It's only natural that baby Chase would also love to read.
We have many of the board books that our first child received 15 years ago and many more from 11 years ago when Jett was a baby.

You want to teach a toddler to take care of his books, but training is an ongoing thing and you still want them to be able to have access to books and learn to love them on their own.

So while I have read the Foot Book and Lost and Found Squirrel more times than I care to think about, I really like to see and hear Chase sitting on his own and pretending to read and enjoy the books too.

The problem is that Chase is a toddler.  A little boy in the making, even.  He treats his books pretty well, but he is still rough on books that have been well used by a couple of kids already.
Chase isn't drawn to stuffed animals, but he does have his favorite books that he loves to carry around with him, and they are showing signs of wear and tear.

I can't stand the thought of throwing them out, and also balk at buying a replacement.  So my choice becomes to repair or maintain them.

I've used clear tape in the past, but it isn't quite strong enough for the impact of a toddler.
What is stronger, is clear contact paper.  It's also cheap and pretty accessible and easy to adhere.
If I were someone who was all neat, precise and tidy, I'd have out an exact-o knife and a ruler, but I'm me, so I get the scissors and cut, peel and stick quickly
It's quick and easy, and gets a little more life from the books.

I'll also add that after 3 or 4 days, I realized my paperback copy of Trim, Healthy Mama was going to be getting a lot of use, and as a precaution, I wrapped it up as well.

July 23, 2013

Poblano Tomato Soup-S


I love soup.
In the winter I like a hearty, chunky stew, but summer makes me crave smooth and silky blends.

I don't have a large garden, and some years I think about not planting anything, but I find it next to impossible to not have at least a few tomato and pepper plants.  This time of year, even with just a few plants, you can get quite a few tomatoes and peppers.
I like to try different varieties as well.  This way I can sample without being overloaded by produce.
With school starting  for my bigs, and a toddler too, I'm not really in the mood to spend days canning this year.  I needed a year off.
So I planted just 4 little pepper plants with my heirloom tomatoes, including one Poblano chili plant.  These peppers are a bit pricey at my local store, and I figured it would be nice to try them out.

I've always seen the Poblano peppers roasted over a fire or stove top.  It was kind of intimidating, but hey, it didn't catch on fire right away, so I figured it was all good.  I didn't let the skin get completely black, but it blistered a bit and I let them cool and then removed the blackened skin.
They smelled amazing, just to let you know.

Meanwhile, I was sweating some onion and garlic over a lower heat.  I didn't want them to brown, but to cook slowly, to sweat, and become translucent.
After removing the stem of the pepper and cutting it into medium pieces (size doesn't matter, you'll soon see why), I added them to the pan and cooked over low for about 5 more minutes.
The next addition is a couple of tomatoes, chopped coarsely.  Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.  I don't want the taste of raw tomatoes in my soup, so I cook them for a bit.  Adding some tomato paste would be a good thing at this point too,but I was out.
Season with salt and pepper.



Now for the magic.
I carefully pour all the ingredients into your blender.
I'm using my new, lovely Blendtec.

Now I add 1/2 cup of half and half, 1 cup of homemade beef stock, and 1 cup of water.
My blender has a "soup" setting, so I press it and in 90 seconds it is perfectly smooth.
Feel free to use whatever setting you can to get it silky.

Now return it to a saucepan and heat thru for another 5-10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now enjoy it with a beautiful summer salad and a crusty piece of "S" approved bread (I used a Joseph's pita).




This recipe is a part of the link for Trim, Healthy Tuesdays sponsored by Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents.  Check their sites for more recipes THM-style!

July 22, 2013

10

10 what?
10 years.  Of homeschool even.
Today we started our 10th grade with my oldest and are doing what we call 6th grade with another.  I'm letting the baby slack off a bit longer though I'm pretty sure he'd be fine with me reading Mr Brown Can Moo or the Foot Book for 3-8 hours a day.
The "Pack" getting ready for school


And I only have another 16 to go.

July 18, 2013

Flax.... With a Savory Quick Bread Recipe-S

Flax.
Grains.

It's such an easy thing to over-think sometimes, I think.
Should we grind our own grain, or should we just buy it?  Aren't whole grains better?  Isn't it cheaper? 

Like I said a while back, we often tend to make food into something more than it should sometimes be, but in the end, I generally want to keep it simple, and this means getting my biggest nutritional bang for my buck.
Yes, I have a grain mill, and yes, I have more grain in my basement than a family of 5 probably needs, but I find that as far as convenience and cost, it works for us.
But that doesn't mean that I don't buy a bag of white flour occasionally.  I guess, I don't want to feel like my life is dictated by a list of culinary guidelines or standards.  I want to be thoughtful in what I do and use with my family's needs considered in my choices.
Since starting to eat the Trim, Healthy Mama way, I've kind of abandoned most all wheat and all of its buddies too.  I've learned more about using flax meal and various nut flours.
The nut flours, like almond meal, are pricey, so I try to use flax as often as possible as it is more affordable.

I find that making my own flax meal gives me the best price and product, and you do NOT need a grain mill.  In fact, if you put them in your grain mill, chances are, you would no longer have one that was in good functioning order.

Flax.
I love the stuff.  It's got a nutty taste that goes so well with things that are sweet and salty.  It makes moist, tasty muffins as well as a crunchy, crisp cracker.  It's a very versatile ingredient and really deserves a try in your kitchen.
I buy the seeds whole and use Golden Flax Seeds.  This is my personal preference, but the dark brown ones are acceptable as well.
I would encourage you to buy them whole as well.   As with all whole grains, after grinding, the oils quickly become rancid and are not so good for you anymore.  Flax is especially sensitive to heat and oxygen,  and because it contains so much more oil than normal grains, the seeds go rancid almost immediately when ground.  This is even more true of flax seed oil.   Rancid or rotten is never good when it comes to oils as this leads to the production of free-radicals within your body.
 I've seen some sources that say buying small bags of pre-ground flax meal with a valid expiration date then keeping it frozen is alright, but I'm ticky about getting what I've paid for, and with flax you might never know.
So I opt on the side of caution and buy whole seeds.

And the cost per pound of the whole seeds is about 1/3 of what the ground meal costs.  So not only do you get a better, fresher product, but you save quite a bit of cash.
But you do not want to eat the whole seeds unless you just want to have them move thru your system intact.

 I keep my whole flax in glass jars or plastic food storage bins in a cool room,out of direct sunlight or heat.  I don't believe that freezing it necessary, but I would be careful about keeping them in a very warm area.  Like most grains, keep it in a cool, dark area, well-sealed to avoid bugs or molds.

You must grind them for the omega oils to be released and activated.  
This is so simple.  Go to walmart and buy a coffee bean grinder for about $10-15.  These are perfect for grinding flax and other small seeds and spices too.
You might have to spend some on the grinder, but it is a great use in most kitchens and will pay for itself after a few batches of flax.

To grind, simply put a little over half of what your recipe says in seeds into the grinder.  If it calls for 4 Tablespoons, then use 2 heaping Tablespoons of seeds.  Then grind and use.  It can be that easy.

So for crackers, muffins, or bread, grind your own fresh flax for a spectacular taste and health benefit.

To make a quick flax bread like the one
pictured:

  • beat 1 egg in a microwave safe mug
  • add 4 TBSP freshly ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of RealSalt Organic Garlic Salt
  • cut 1/2 wedge of Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese into pieces
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
Add all the ingredients together and mix well.  Microwave for 60 seconds, or feel free to bake for about 8-10 minutes at 350.  Top with the remaining Laughing Cow wedge if desired!

This recipe is easy to customize as as sweet or savory.  Feel free to play around with it by omitting the salt and cheese.

This recipe is shared through Trim, Healthy Tuesday.  Please check out the other links at Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents!


July 17, 2013

Elderberry Elixer

There are few areas where you find experts in a field, that you don't also find larger than life egos.  One place I that I think that is the exception is the herbal community.
There are people who are so knowledgeable, yet they don't have pretenses that they know it all or that their way is the only one.  They seem to have a respect for different points of view that modern medicine is seriously lacking.

I almost went off on the growing divide between the medical establishment and the herbal community, but there's no real need.  As someone who was in medicine, I actually prefer the view from the herbal side at this point in my life.   
  
What I love the most about the herbal community is the fact that so many practicing herbalists are giving and have a real desire to see health and healing.  But they are open to the definition of what healing can be.

Herbalists offer an alternative approach that often puts the burden of discovery partially upon the person seeking healing.  
I love the fact that in her book,  New Menopausal Years : The Wise Woman Way, Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90 , Susun Weed has a potential first step of action is to do nothing, if that is your choice.  She gets that just because things aren't perfect, doesn't mean it requires repair.  I think that doctors feel pressure to 'do something' when you go to them, and I know that many patients feel cheated if they don't get a pill or a MRI with each visit.
But to do nothing is sometimes good.

I also feel respected as a person by most herbalists.  I don't feel talked down to or belittled for my point of view or lack of skills.  I feel encouraged and empowered by them.  I might not be given the simple answer, but I will be directed so that I can learn and grow.  They often see life more as a process, not as just the black or white, that there aren't limited choices.

What I often find the most surprising is that most herbalist are so open to sharing what they have learned.  There's not a lot of secrecy regarding remedies and even if they have items for sale that they have written, very often they will put it online for you to freely use.  I have a lot of respect for people who are just wanting to help, educate and heal.
Elderberries combined with elder flowers and honey 

That is also why I do try to buy as many books and publications that I can from those herbalists who I've learned so much from.  I think that what you put into the world is very important, and it's important to remember to be giving.

So today I'm wanting to share a wonderful site that has a ton of articles to stimulate your mind.

With all of our rain in Georgia, my elderberries are ripe and ready to pick.  I got almost a quart of them yesterday and decided to try Kiva Rose's recipe for Elder Mother Immune Elixer.
She has a great site and also offers a subscription to Plant Healer Magazine with a free trial issue also available for download.

Sitting in a cool, shady place to steep.
I've used her recipe for my elderberries.  You can see the elder flowers I harvested a few months ago floating in there as well.  I used some local, raw honey to top and a clear rum in place of brandy.
Now I just have to wait a month or so to use.

Please check out Kiva Rose's website for the specifics, and enjoy looking through the wealth of knowledge and information that she has to share.


July 16, 2013

Not Quite Potato Chips- S

Since starting Trim, Healthy Mama, I've realized that I'm not addicted to sweet.  I don't miss desserts, I never really ate them and THM has so many, but I do miss chips.  As in kettlechips.  I miss light and crunchy and there are a few things that fill that void, but not so many.

Today I saw a recipe for baked squash chips with a seasoning salt that I thought sounded tasty.  I actually am not growing any yellow squash this year, so I excitedly went to the grocery store and gathered all of my ingredients and then sat down to read the recipe.  I was thinking that squash chips baked and healthy sounding intriguing.
Then I saw 2 hours to bake?!?!
I do not have 2 hours to dry chips in the oven, let alone that it would increase the temperature in my already warm house.  I wanted them now!  And yes, I should've read through the whole recipe first, but I didn't and that's just the way it goes.

I had grown up eating yellow squash that had been dredged in cornmeal and then fried to a crisp.  But that isn't the taste I'm craving.  I'm thinking of thinly sliced potatoes fried at home.  That's what I'm missing.

So why not just fry the squash chips instead of baking them?
I'm eating the Trim, Healthy Mama way now.  Low-fat might be the trend elsewhere, but as long as I don't bread the squash, frying it should be fine!


I started by getting out my handy V-slicer.  If you don't have a V-slicer then I'd encourage you to make the investment.  They are not very pricey and you can slice perfectly and thin every time.  Mine has a thick and thin slicer and a julienne slicer in both thick and thin.
Wash your squash and then cut off the tip of the blossom end, which is the wider end.
Gently slice (you should use the hand guard) your squash.
I did some thick and thin slices of the squash.  The thicker  pieces were 1/4 inch thick and the thin pieces were 1/16 inch thick.

I then got my fry pan of oil quite hot.
I added a few of the pieces of squash and watched them carefully as they were so thin, they were cooking quickly.  I flipped them over some and when they were browned to my liking, I let them drain on some paper towel and sprinkled them with Real Salt.
I had tried a bit of another seasoning that was meant to taste like a popular chip brand, but quite frankly, it didn't have the taste I remember and Real Salt is perfect.


I'll admit that I liked the thinner ones better.  They were light and crispy and hit the spot.
Yes, maybe next time I'll get my act together, be prepared, and bake them, but sometimes you just need the real, fried deal.
So these are my new tasty alternative to fried potatoes.  They are definitely a treat, but will fill a spot where there had been a big void.

This post is shared with Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents as part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday.

July 15, 2013

What to Eat?

Do I keep a food journal?
Honestly?
No, I don't.
I love not having to count calories, or fat grams, or carbs,or fiber grams......
That is the appeal that Trim, Healthy Mama (THM) had for me.  I've lived where instead of keeping my little notes of what to do for the day, I kept a weekly log of every bite that I ate with a nutritional breakdown and water tally.
I can't go back to that.

But in the last few days I have looked back at weight loss.  You see, I do still monitor my weight and measurements.  I think seeing where you've been can be helpful, and I do keep old menus around for a while so I know what some of the main things were that I was eating, just not tracking every, single bite.

I started THM the day after Thanksgiving 2012.  I lost the first 30 pounds in 5 months.
It then took 3 months to get the next 5 pounds off, with the last 2 in the last few weeks.

I still have 5 pounds I'd like to lose so I felt that looking at the daily specifics might be helpful.
What was I doing differently at first?  What caused the stall?  What was the reason for losing in the last few weeks?

I might be off on most of this, but my feelings are that getting my metabolism back on track with the initial diet changes got me down to a certain point.  The 155-160 pounds range was where I was for most of high school actually.  It's where my body stays when not pushed.  But I know that I need to get a bit lower to have a healthier level of body fat.
I am also nursing, and wonder if my body wants to hold onto a few extra pounds for that reason?
I've been exercising throughout this whole time, but not always regularly.  The last 2 weeks I've been exercising with more focus (Focus T25, to be exact) and more consistency.
I've been making sure I eat every 3-4 hours and have snacks if needed.
I'm watching some of the high fat, high calorie foods.  Just because I can have them, and there are no limits on some foods, doesn't mean I need to over-do it.
The Cheesecake Berry Crunch is yummy, but I have to ask myself, do I really need that much to eat, or would a green smoothie or some low fat cottage cheese with berries be just as filling?

I try to cut back and really listen to what my body says it needs for fuel.  I feed it lean protein, usually via a green smoothie, after exercise.
When I have a muffin in a mug, I use all flax to cut back on fat and calories (I also use this as rationale to have it most mornings)..
I tend to fall into the rut of eating the same things daily.  This goes against the THM philosophy of 'food confusion'; I plan to mix it up and change out meal types so that my body doesn't learn to expect that yummy muffin every morning.

So, what does a normal day look like for me?
On an S day, I usually start with a muffin in a mug.  I change out the flavors here and there, but it is quick and easy and tasty with a cup of coffee with half and half.
I usually exercise in the morning and follow this with a green smoothie.  This is technically a FP.
Lunch lately has been a low carb wrap with lean cold cuts and low fat cheese and some lettuce and non-starchy veggies..  This is also a FP meal.
Snack is usually half an apple with either homemade peanut or almond butter (40 seconds in the Blendtec and it is perfect).  This is an S-helper.  I figure after the FP, it's all good.
Dinner is usually a meat with some veggies.  Maybe salmon patties (I use oat flour as a binder with a few eggs), some cauliflower mash, and some green peas.  I'm honestly not sure what the peas are, and I really don't care?  I like peas, they are green, and seem not so starchy.  So I eat it and call it all S.
If I need a further snack at night, it will probably be a wasa light rye cracker with some light cheese spread.

I honestly prefer to have a day be all S or almost all E.  I find that it just works better for me, and I don't have to think about how long it's been since I last ate to avoid mixing fuels.  I try to have a FP to balance out the S-helper snack.
There might be some areas of improvement with what I'm eating, but I feel like I'm not overthinking it, not overworked and am enjoying what I'm eating.  I'm not going hungry and I'm able to do what needs doing as my body feels fed and not starved.
These last 5 pounds will probably come off more slowly than I'd like, but I feel that as long as I'm developing and encouraging good habits that will stay with me for years to come, then I'm cool with it.

July 12, 2013

What You Need to Make Is Time


I enjoy exercise.
I know many people don't, but I like to push and challenge myself physically at this point in my life.  I enjoy knowing that I can do things now, that I would have flat out refused to do in my teens, and wasn't capable of in my 20s.

But you see, I never exercised as a kid.  I was the girl who got doctor excuses to skip PE all during school and was intimidated because I felt like a klutz.  I wasn't 5'2 and 100 pounds with a dance or gymnastics background.  I towered over my peers at over 5'7" and always felt awkward and bigger.
When I had my first child, I got some exercise tapes so that I could lose some weight (I say tapes because we didn't have dvd's back then).  I enjoyed them so much and started to build my confidence that I joined a gym.
The community I discovered there was full of acceptance, no matter what your size or skills.  I was nurtured and encouraged to push myself.  It was because of this that I started running about 14 years ago.  Mainly because I was always waiting on classes at the gym, but also because I always thought I was too big to run.  Girls with a big chest shouldn't run, right?  Well, I just made sure I had a great sports bra and set off.
I was surprised at first, but then it just became second nature and still is.  Even heavy and even pregnant at 43, I still ran.  It made me feel good, and still does today.

We started homeschooling when our oldest was 6.   I used to always say that homeschooling made me fat.  But, actually, it wasn't the schooling, but the fact that my 2 hours spent each morning at the gym were suddenly gone and replaced by a lot of sitting and eating more calorie dense foods.
It's no wonder I gained a few pounds.


And then we moved, and that was stress.
And then I worked full-time over night, and that weird schedule forced me to eat badly.
And then I had a baby.
And then....  And then..... And then.....

You see, it isn't about excuses.  You can always make excuses.
What you need to make is time.

The cool thing is that the latest in research shows that it might be better to exercise harder for shorter periods of time than to do  longer sessions of moderate intensity.

Short workouts.  I can do that.
I can always find 25 minutes that I'm going to devote to myself, right?
My health (and sanity) is worth 25 minutes a day.  Keeping my body strong, and my heart and lungs in good form should be priorities as we grow older.

I love my Bob Harper Inside Out dvds.  They offer a shorter workout of about 15-30 minutes paired with a longer one, but I've been doing these for a good 2 years.  And the Jillian Michaels ones are good, but not what was working for me.
I enjoy the SPEW workout in Trim, Healthy Mama, but I really love having the interaction of a class if I'm not running, and the calisthenics alone were not something I wanted to do daily.  I like the rhythm of a class setting to be honest though SPEW is a kick butt workout.

Then Focus T25 was released last week.  I bought it the first day it was available, and received it on July 3.
I was thinking this might just be the workout of my dreams!  Hard enough to challenge me, fun because Shaun T is fun, and short, quick and 25 minutes.

I was so looking forward to the release of this workout, and then I got it, popped it in the dvd and did it that first day,  and then I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I remember thinking before I did the first one  that I was in pretty good shape, how hard could it be?
That was really a stupid thought.  It was harder than I could keep pace, but a lower impact example is continuously shown through the workout, and I dropped down and did lower impact as needed.  My only satisfaction came from the fact that my husband and daughter couldn't keep up with me even and he's a runner and she's a fit 15 year old.
You see, if you are only going to exercise for 25 minute then every second counts.  Focus T25 is like an all out sprint the entire time.
But in a good way.


With the Alpha and Beta set you get 11 workouts.  I'm still in Alpha and working up to the Beta level, but after just a week I am seeing major changes, and today the workout that killed me last week actually felt good, and I almost kept up with the crazy, fast pace the whole 25 minutes.
The price is high, but when you look at 11 dvds and resistance bands along with diet and dvd schedule, it's a pretty good deal when you break it down.
I think it was a great investment and something that our entire family will use for years to come.

So no more excuses.


The included workouts include:
  1. Cardio - 25 minutes of calorie-burning, sweat-drenching cardio.
  2. Speed 1.0 - Ignite your quickness. Burn the fat. Fast-paced for fast results.
  3. Total Body Circuit - Focus on strength and resistance-without lifting a single weight.
  4. Ab Intervals - Cardio and ab intervals that shred the fat from your midsection.
  5. Lower Focus - Focus on your lower-body muscles-the key to burning fat and kicking up your metabolism.
  6. Core Cardio - Get your sweat on. This progressive cardio-core workout is about you getting shredded fast.
  7. Speed 2.0 - Rev it up with Shaun's calorie-scorching, core-focused speed drills.
  8. Rip't Circuit - Cardio...upper body...legs...abs...repeat. This is how you get ripped in 25 minutes.
  9. Dynamic Core - You'll go from vertical to horizontal and back again in this dynamic, crazy core routine.
  10. Upper Focus - Shaun will help you develop the upper body of your dreams. All you have to do is FOCUS.
  11. Stretch - After 5 days of hard work, stretch it out-and enjoy this one. You deserve it.


I will also add that I do not have a diastasis, and do not know if any of these workout are appropriate for a person who does.  If you feel that you do have an abdominal split, usually related to pregnancy, you can do a self-evaluation and exercises to heal at Fit 2 Be.
The Focus T25 workout is not a beginner workout and you should read the disclaimers by the producers of the dvd before using.

July 11, 2013

Evaluation

I have honestly been somewhat down lately about my progress and losing weight.  I've lost 35 pounds, but it is going slowly lately and seems to have been going on for so long.
I've been eating the Trim, Healthy Mama way for almost 8 months, and some days I just want to binge on donuts and chips.  I don't, but I want to, and I feel like I just haven't had enough of a change in how I look.

You see, it's hard when the voice in your head keeps telling you that you are fat.  It's hard when you look at your arms and see the flab over the muscles you know are there.
So I decided to not just look at the numbers on the scale.  Not just look at my percentage of body fat.
I wanted to see if I could see a difference.

I've been blogging off and on for about 5 or 6 years.  One recurrent theme is the fact that I always needed to lose 20 pounds.
You see, I've never been morbidly obese, just overweight.  I've still been active and exercised.  I ate whole grains, was vegan for a while even, and had tried most every plan, and failed, until the Trim, Healthy Mama plan came into my life.

This is me 3 years ago at 172 pounds running a 5K. My body fat was around 32% at this point.
You can find how to calculate your percentage of body fat here.
It wasn't pretty, but I'd resolved that at 41 years old, I just couldn't lose weight and needed to learn to live with it and get over it.



Then I went on a low-fat, vegan diet.  I felt I had some hormonal issues that needed repairing and I looked to the Engine 2 diet and Forks Over Knives.  I'd been a vegan in my 20s so it wasn't a massive change in habits.  I dropped a few pounds, but fought for every one of them.  As mentioned in THM, veganism and raw foods are a great way to heal your body.  Well, it appears I got those hormonal issues straightened out because this was me April 2012....
I quit looking at the scale after it hit 200.  I was pregnant after all, and it didn't really count, right?

 So baby is born.  I'm down in the 170s, but then I keep gaining.  Isn't nursing supposed to help you lose pregnancy weight?  But then, due to my age, I was now 43, and time between kids, 10 years, I was having trouble in that department.
I ended up peaking on Thanksgiving day of 2012 at 186 pounds on my 5' 7.5" frame.  My body fat was somewhere around 35%, but it was too depressing to really measure and see.  But my body fat monitor that told me I was in that ballpark.

I had heard of THM earlier that month and was dubious.  The book was pricey at $35 just to starve and lose nothing.  But I read what little there was about it online about it at that time, and took a chance.

The first week I was down 6.5 pounds.  I was amazed!
I hadn't lost weight like that since my early 30s and had my second child. Then I even started making even more milk to feed my baby.  I wasn't able to get him completely off formula, but I was able to nurse him through the winter (cold/flu season) and I don't think I'd have made it otherwise.  He is just shy of 15 months now and we are just starting to really wean.
I also wasn't starving.  I was eating 3 solid meals and 1 or 2 snacks a day.  I was eating normal food, not so weird packaged stuff or some menu like most diet books read (you know salmon with steamed veggies, or a frou-frou piece of dry chicken with expensive sides).  I am still making salmon patties, discovered I can make cauliflower taste a whole lot like mashed potatoes, and learned that desserts could be my friend.
I got off of bread, but discovered that flax makes some tasty crackers and muffins that will help me to lose weight.
I'm still running some, but working out heavier than I have in years.

So now, I'm 35 pounds lighter.  I weigh 151 pounds at 44 years old.  I would still like to lose 5 more pounds as my body fat  is now 27% and I've said I'll just keep losing till I see at least 25% body fat.
I'm looking back at those older shots, and I wonder how I could run, but then I remember the stress incontinence I used to have that is now gone.  (and yes, I just admitted to that)
I remember how physically tired I was in pregnancy, but now I can carry a 30 pound toddler without aches and pains.
I'm not a slave to food or to exercise and can enjoy life with my family and am not limited or embarrassed by my size.
I'm no longer in a tight 12-14 clothing size and needing buy bigger things, but wearing a 6 or 8.

So sometimes it's good to evaluate, to see where you are and where you've been.
Yeah, this is a frivolous vanity post, but sometimes you need those, I think, because it never hurts to remember that life is good, and God is good, so you need to take time to not get hung up on the details, but see the overall picture and enjoy all the blessings you have been given.


July 10, 2013

How to Make a Salve

Yes, this is a repost, but it's that time of year.  Herbs are growing and available to pick and turn into healing potions.  Our weather has even been so nuts that I have elderberries ready to harvest even.  So nuts!
So despite being a repeat, I still thought it good reminder as to how easy it is to make a salve.


Here's a link to my favorite salve, feel free to use and alter as you feel led.  I love comfrey for things like cuts and it works great on sunburn as well.  This is a good, all-purpose herbal blend that I like to call an herbal Neosporin.

You can gather your own, or check out what Mountain Rose Herbs has to offer as far as dried herbs.
A salve is basically nothing more than an oil mixed with a wax. I tend to use olive oil with bees' wax. Before combining these items I infuse the oil with the desired herbs. The whole process takes about 3-4 hours, and you can walk away from it during this time.



I used some dried and some fresh herbs. Generally dried herbs are more potent than fresh so take that into consideration when putting this together; you will need about half of a dried to a part of fresh (if this makes sense). It is also considered a good idea to use either all fresh or all dried as you want to control moisture content in your salve, but I threw caution to the wind and used both. I have yarrow growing well and used some fresh leaves along with the lavender that is now growing. I chopped them up into smaller pieces so that more surface area increased. Increasing the surface area allows more of the herb to contact the oil.





I added all of the herbs into the top of a double boiler. I rig up a pyrex bowl over a pot of simmering water. I like using glass as it is non-reactive. The temps don't get too high and works well.


Cover the herbs with olive oil and allow them to steep for 3 hours or so in the double boiler... the herbs will look dark and crunchy when they are done. I did check the temp of the oil a few times and it generally stayed around 150 degrees. Be careful to not let your water run dry in the bottom of the boiler.

After the herbs are used up looking you need to strain them from your oil. They will have a definite 'used' look to them and be dark and crunchy in appearance. I use a small hand-held strainer and pour the oil thru. I mush it with a spoon to make sure that I get all of the oil I can out of the herbs.


I wipe out the original bowl and put the oil back in it over the simmering water. Now is time to add the beeswax to your infused oil, and stir it until it is melted.



***comfrey will make your oil green with your salve also being green***

It is hard to gauge the texture of a salve initially as you have a liquid. One way to determine the texture of the salve is to dip a metal spoon into the liquid and put it in the freezer. In a few seconds it will have hardened and should be close to what you will end up with. I generally will put in a modest amount (about a 4:1 ratio with the oil) and add if it seems too soft.

Next I assemble my jars. You can get cosmetic jars or use tupperware or mason jars.... it really doesn't matter. Before pouring the salve into the jars I add my scents and preservatives. For BooBoo Salve I tend to use Tea Tree Oil or Lavender essential oil, but not together.  Studies have shown that they have a synergistic, hormonal effect that isn't great for men and boys. Rosemary and pepperment are also good options, but you can use what you want. Tea tree oil is useful in healing as it has antiseptic properties though so I do recommend it.

I add the drops of these items into the bottom of the salve jars and then gently pour the hot liquid salve into them and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile for clean-up... I recommend using the simmering water for cleanup. You have a bowl that you just melted wax in and if it gets cooled the wax will harden in your bowl. I usually pour the simmering water into the empty salve bowl and wash it quickly making sure that I get all of the wax out before rinsing with normal water.

That's pretty much it.... Now you have your own homemade salve....


July 9, 2013

Drink Pink!!!!- E

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of E, or Energizing meals, in the Trim, Healthy Mama way of eating.  I naturally seem to to avoid carbs and enjoy the higher fat, S/Satisfying meals more.
Even though I know that an apple or brown rice isn't nutritionally comparable to cheetos and skittles, I still have a hard time incorporating them sometimes.  This is something that I work on and have to plan.
One easy way that I've found to turn a meal from a Fuel Pull, or protein dominant with minimal carbs or fat, into an E meal is to add some good veggies and fruits.  I'm not talking massive amounts as you want to keep your carbs within limits and lower on the glycemic scale.  This is also why there are no bananas in this smoothie, and to be honest, I'm not really missing them.
A smoothie is my preferred way to get my fruits and veggies.  I stick mainly with those that are on the Fuel Pull list and then add some extra E ones.  This way I get plenty of vitamins, minerals and the all important fiber!
I will also add that smoothies are good for you.  Vegetables and fruits are good for you.  Eating the exact same ones everyday for an extended period, well, not so much?  I will admit that I was in a smoothie rut at one point and ate raw spinach daily for several weeks without adverse effects, but it is still better to mix it up and try new things.

A view from the top
Pink Smoothie- E
makes 2 servings

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of coconut water, mine are frozen cubes from young Thai coconuts**.  If you don't have any,or can't find it, it is fine.  Just omit.
  • 1/2 beet, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 whole apple, peel, core and all.  I quarter it to make blending easier
  • 1 scoop of protein powder


Add the fruits and veggies into the blender and process.  After blending, add the protein powder and pulse to mix through.
**I buy several young Thai coconuts from an International market at a time, open them and get the water and then freeze it in an ice cube tray.

This post is shared with Gwen's Nest and Stacy Makes Cents as a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday.  Check out their sites for more THM links!