(Purely Delicious) Cauliflower Dirty Rice with Red Beans & Sausage

This is a  healthy, low-carb (lower if you omit the beans), gluten- and grain-free side dish or main course and I just had to share.

I made this recipe last night mostly because I was trying to use up a few ingredients I had at home. I knew I had riced cauliflower and smoked sausage… but what could I do with them? Well, you gotta love Pinterest because it totally inspired this recipe that I pieced together. And it was SO GOOD, if I do say so myself.

Note: It was a little on the spicy side so if you’re not in to that I’d say reduce or eliminate the Cayenne. It was too spicy for the kiddos, but husband and I both went back for seconds (mouths on fire).

This was the finished product… See below for all the instructions!
Here, I am sautéing the bell pepper, garlic, onion, and celery. Then I added the sausage, red beans and seasoning mixture in to the skillet.
I then added the chicken bone broth to the skillet, plus a whole bay leaf, to simmer.
Meanwhile, I had my riced cauliflower in a pot with a bit of olive oil. I cooked it until it was the texture I wanted.
Once the veggies, beans and sausage had simmered for 10-12 minutes and the ‘rice’ was just right, I combined them all in the skillet. Plus, I added the chopped parsley at this point.

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Cauliflower Dirty Rice with Red Beans and Sausage

A healthy, low-carb (lower if you omit the beans), gluten- and grain-free side dish or main course.

Prep time:    10-min
Cook time:    35-min
Total time:    45-min
Servings:       4-6

Ingredients

  • 1-head of cauliflower, core removed, chopped into florets (or use pre-riced cauliflower in the frozen section)
  • 1/2 Spanish onion (aka: yellow onion), diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced (or your favorite sausage)
  • 1 can of red beans, drained (omit if adhering to a super low carb diet)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups organic bone broth, chicken (or use vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. If making from fresh cauliflower, place 1/3 of the cauliflower florets in food processor with blade attached, and pulse until florets are finely ground about the size of rice. Pour ground cauliflower into large bowl, and repeat with rest of cauliflower in batches. If making from frozen, pre-riced cauliflower, thaw and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion. Sauté until translucent, then add the garlic, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté for about 5-minutes.
  3. Add the sliced sausage and red beans and continue to cook for about 10-minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the sausage is browned.
  4. Stir in all of the seasoning and the broth – and add the bay leaf. Reduce heat to med/low, and let simmer 10-minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about ¾.
  5. While the vegetables simmer, heat the rest of the oil over high heat in a  pot/sauce pan and add the cauliflower. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until it is cooked, but still a little firm (you do not want mushy cauliflower).
  6. Transfer cooked cauliflower in to the vegetable/bean/sausage mixture (be sure to remove and discard the bay leaf).
  7. Mix well to coat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

 

Chickpea Chia Cookie Dough

I have always been a sucker for cookie dough.  Growing up my mom told me not to eat it because of the raw eggs and whatnot.  As an adult I generally rebelled against that notion and took my chances #worthit. While obviously telling my kids not to eat it because of the raw eggs and whatnot. Duh, more for me. Hmmm… mom, we need to talk.

Nowadays I do my best to eat a much healthier diet and indulge in far less (or no) cookie dough. Believe me, it’s a good thing. However, I still love the thought of taking a big ole bite outta some cookie dough!

Cue this recipe. It ticks all the cookie dough boxes for me and is made out of (shhhhh) chickpeas. I guess you could even call it cookie dough hummus if that name tickles your fancy.

Let’s get started. This takes maybe 8 minutes to make.

Gather all of your ingredients up – plus Chia Seeds (not seen in this picture)

I had these Chia Seeds on hand but I needed them to be ground up, so…

I had this little shirtless helper spin them around in my magic bullet blender for a few. They turned in to a powdery form which is want I wanted.

Then, I made her put her soccer jersey back on (story of my life) and she started to put it all together. First, the chickpeas! Drained and rinsed. If some of the shells come off while you are rinsing, go ahead and pick those out.

Then she added everything  (except the chocolate chips – wait on those) in to the food processor.

After you blend it all really well (we had to spoon it down several times), dump it all in a bowl and fold in your chips.

Just look at that little pile of amazingness!

The full recipe is below.

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Chickpea Chia Cookie Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used organic peanut butter) – cashew butter would be really good with its mild flavor, too
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chips – they are gluten/soy/dairy free)

Instructions

  1. First – I only had whole chia seeds so I ground them up on my magic bullet blender. It only took about a minute until they were a powder substance.
  2. Now – place chickpeas, ground chia seeds, nut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Place the dough in a bowl and fold in chocolate chips.

Ready, set… eat!

These would be great rolled in to easy to grab balls, flattened our and cut in to squares or rolled in to a ‘log’ similar to the slice and back cookies you buy. Just sayin’ – placebo effect

 

Purely Pot Roast – is healthy comfort food a thing?

Every.Single.Sunday. Every.Single.Sunday. Growing up we ate roast on Sundays. I was not a huge fan then but as an adult it’s a comfort food and a treat! I love the tender roast and the veggies that accompany this dish. But mostly I love the ease of any crock-pot meal! I threw this one together at 7:15 this morning, before leaving for work.

Traditional roast, many times, could include ingredients such as canola oil, corn starch, a cream-of-something soup, red wine, red wine vinegar, white flour, onion soup mix, etc. It just depends on the recipe you use.

This particular recipe is squeaky clean and you even get gravy! Bonus.

NOTE: I included white baby potatoes for my family, but I roasted a sweet potato for myself as I try to stay away from starchy potatoes as much as possible.

This was when I threw it all in the crock pot this morning
When I got home and opened the lid… hello yum.
Roast with gravy, carrots, tomatoes and roasted sweet potato

Purely Pot Roast

(Whole 30 – Paleo – Arbonne 30, with omitted potatoes)

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 2.5 lb chuck roast, beef
  • 1 Vidalia onion, cut in to large chunks
  • 1 bag of organic baby carrots
  • Small bag of baby potatoes (optional), cut in half
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of low sodium organic beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbl fresh parsley, chopped

 

Instructions:

  1. First cut all of the potatoes and onions into large chunks. Using large chunks (about 2 inches square) makes sure they don’t turn to mush in the crock pot.
  2. First add the roast to the crock pot, then the potatoes (if used) and onions and carrots. (Note: I used a 5 quart but you can use a smaller crock-pot if you cut the roast into two pieces to fit – you may have to add more liquid to cover it).
  3. Then add the seasonings over top.
  4. Next add the low sodium beef broth. The roast should be covered in liquid so add water until it is covered.
  5. Depending on your crock pot and how fast it cooks will depend on the time. I was at work all day so I turned it on low and it ended up cooking for 9 hours. If you put it on high, you shouldn’t need any more than 5 hours.
  6. You will know it is done when you put a fork in the roast and it just falls apart.
  7. Once it is done remove the roast, potatoes, onions, and carrots from the crock pot and enjoy.
  8. You can use the juice over your roast or you can make a gravy by putting it on the stove and bringing the juice to a boil while whisking in a flour of your choice to the desired texture (I used You could use brown rice flour, almond flour or any flour of your choosing).
  9. Serve garnished with fresh parsley. I paired mine with roasted sweet potatoes. Would be great over cauliflower puree as well!

 

I used this flour for the gravy

Gravy made from the crock pot juice and the flour below

Go ahead, eat that traditional comfort food!

Top 10 NON-candy valentines – you can do today! Free printables too.

Okay momma’s it’s T-minus 2.5 days until Valentine’s Day and you’ve already received the notes from school telling you about the festivities that your kid’s class is going to have  and all the classmates that you need to send a Valentine card to. Yes, you certainly COULD go buy the little package of Valentine’s cards and be done. No shame in that game, I’ve done it. BUT, when I can I like to pull something a little more creative together with the help of Pinterest inspiration.

But y’all, the candy – I can’t even! This is another one of those sugar overdose holidays much like Halloween and Easter. Why oh why? I refuse to add to the candy count and you can avoid it too!

While I was getting my chick’s Valentine’s supplies together (I kept it SO simple) I decided to round-up a top 10 list of non-candy valentine ideas for you too. You can do these TODAY! They all include a FREE printable for the label. All you need is a way to print a few sheets of thicker paper (card stock) and a dollar store and/or a grocery store, depending on which one you choose. For my girls I went with Valentines that include Cuties (preschooler) and mini key chain flashlights (for the second grader). I got the Cuties at grocery store, obvi, and the flashlights on Amazon with free two-day shipping, I ordered them Friday and they came to my door today. SO easy!  Have I mentioned I love easy? They were $0.60 apiece.  Winning at V-day!

Enjoy my top 10 list!

ONE: You’re a Cutie

Here is an adorable Cutie tag!

TWO: You Make the World a Brighter PlaceHere is where I got the free printable for the flashlight tags

THREE: Erase-sistableHow super simple and practical are the eraser cards?   Would be super cute with animal erasers like these.

FOUR: Whoopee
Okay, maybe this is a recipe for disaster – giving a classroom full of kids Whoopie Cushions… but I couldn’t help myself from including these in the top 10. I think they are so funny. 

FIVE: You Make My Heart Glow 
Talk about CHEAP! You can buy glow sticks by the dozens for a couple bucks, Check out the free printable for this one. 

 

SIX: I Hope You Have a BallAgain, another next to free idea and would be great for boys and girls of most ages.

SEVEN: Apples and OrangesYay for edible yet still non-candy treats. And so cute!

 

EIGHT: You’re My Main SqueezeAnother edible treat that my 4.5 year old still loves.

 

NINE: Lucky DuckSweet little ducks like this can be found a pretty much any dollar store.

TEN: Ex-Straw SpecialAnd last, I mean, how simple, inexpensive and cute is this idea? These straw are easily found at most stores.

Now, hop-up and get you kid’s Valentine’s together asap! You can do this! I hope you have a happy love day.

 

 

 

 

It’s day 30! A summary of what I learned and my personal outcomes

I made it! I did it! I crossed the finish line of the 30-day clean eating challenge! Woo hoo! I celebrated with mac n cheese! It is kind of an impostor but I’ll take it!

I really want to recap how this month has gone down. FIRST AND FOREMOST – please know, I’m a normal person. I don’t seek out opportunities to give-up things I enjoy, for giggles. I like carbs and sugar, but I knew that at this point in my life, I needed a change. Like so many of you I was tired, many times sluggish and just feeling generally not great about myself. Enter the Arbonne 30-day clean eating challenge (aka: Arbonne detox, aka: 30-days to healthy living)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve done this system before and was able to genuinely shift my focus and mindset around food and well-being. But, as a human I fall back in to old routines and ruts and I had done that for sure in 2017 – all the while maintaining the knowledge I had gained previously – so, I knew better. Ya know, sometimes ignorance is bliss. Any who…

Back to the 30-day system; there are definitely pros and cons to any eating plan, but after researching a few out there, I found this one to work the best with my lifestyle (because I am a normal person, like I mentioned before). At first it seems hard because it’s restrictive but I felt motivated to get back on track in a BIG way, so I was ready.

I’d like to point out that I’m not a healthy eating professional and this is my experience with the Arbonne detox and should not be considered health advice.

What is the Arbonne 30-day Clean Eating Challenge (aka: detox)?

The Arbonne detox is a 30-day program to eliminate harmful toxins, and promote better health through clean eating. It focuses on eliminating dairy, soy, sugar, gluten, caffeine and alcohol to help you reset your system. By eliminating those things, you are able to eat healthy, whole and wholesome foods, and at the end of the 30-days as you re-introduce those foods back into your diet, you can see if they agree with your body or have in-fact been the issue all along.

There is a package to be ordered and it includes the products to get you through the 30-days. It’s multiple nutrition products (explained here) to help with everything from boosting your protein and fiber intake to using B vitamins to help your energy level when you cut the caffeine.

Included:

What CAN you eat?

  • Lean, organic, unprocessed meats – chicken, turkey, fish, venison and red meat – but red meat only once per week
  • Fruits: Lemons, limes, green apples and all berries (other fruits are higher on the glycemic index and not advised for 30-days to avoid spiked blood sugar)
  • Vegetables: All veggies besides starchy ones (potatoes, corn) Plus, most corn crops are GMO
  • Nuts: All nuts (except peanuts) are allowed in moderation; raw nut butters as well (no peanut butter either)
  • Legumes: All kinds of beans and chickpeas, etc.

How does it work?

Like I said before, you get protein powder (I got both the vanilla and chocolate) and you basically have a protein shake every morning for breakfast. The protein is delicious! I looked forward to it every day believe it or not. I add berries, or almond butter, sometimes cinnamon, and I loved adding pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. There are a ton of recipe ideas when you start the program. The shakes really simplified my day to day and it has been great that I just need to make sure we were well-stocked with coconut and/or almond milk.

For lunch, you can make another shake (which I did most days because it’s so easy and good) or you can have a healthy lunch.

For dinners, I’ve relied on healthy meal planning to get us through. When you start the group you get a ton of recipes and shopping lists that you can follow if you choose to. It makes it a no-brainer (love that). It does take a little prepping on the weekend but it really saves us time during the week and makes for easy weeknight meals. I have shared a few recipes on the blog.

Why even mess with all this?

For me, I knew that I needed a change. I was stuck in an overindulgence rut and I was also eating too much sugar. It made me feel bad but I wasn’t 100% sure how to just stop the madness and get level again.

What are the benefits?

I think the best benefit is that greater understanding of how your body actually works. Do you feel bloated after eating gluten? Do you have a problem with dairy? With the process I’ve never felt less bloated and after two babies, it’s encouraging for my body to feel stronger and leaner. As I have stated before, this is not the number one reason I did the 30-days, but I did lose about 6 pounds in the process as well and several inches. When I am on track like this I am always even more motivated to be more active. It’s a great side effect.

Are there negatives?

It costs money. On the bright side, it covers a lot of your meals (up to 2 meals every day) for the month. You have to think before you eat during the month. Okay, let’s be honest… that’s NOT a negative, just takes a little more brainpower. You may have to look online at a restaurant menu before you go so you’re not caught off gaurd and know what you want to order, before you get there. And last, you may need to do more meal planning, which can also spin as a positive if you ask me.

What does my day 31st day and beyond look like?

I will still eat and feed my family 85% (or more) clean. I will still be doing the shakes in the morning and there will be a big majority of lunches where I will do a shake too because it’s just so helpful during the work day! And I love the taste. I will reintegrate coffee because I love the tastes and routine. I will drink my coffee with almond or coconut milk as the ‘creamer’ and if needed will use coconut sugar for a slight bit of sweetness.  I did purchase an organic coffee and I am in the market to try out some alkaline coffee, as well, to see how I like it. I plan to stay strong with the routine Monday through Friday and then somewhat less restrictive on the weekends (not full out overindulgence, but less restrictive). I have no plans of walking away from how amazing I feel right now. It just keeps getting better.

To sum it up, I am SO glad I went through this process again. Mostly, because I know that I can do it and maybe it’s a ‘prove it to myself’ kind of thing… If this plan it workable for ME, anyone could do this. I have more motivation than ever to stay on course and I LOVE the path that it’s taken my whole family down with our nutrition. We are all feeling the benefits.

Hooray for day 30!

If you are interested in jumping in to the 30-day challenge, or finding out more, let me know! pursuitofpure@gmail.com.

Other start dates in 2018:

  • March 5, 2018
  • April 2, 2018
  • May 7, 2018
  • June 4, 2018
  • July 2, 2018
  • August 6, 2018
  • September 3, 2018
  • October 1, 2018
  • November 5, 2018
  • December 3, 2018

*start dates can be at any time during any month according to personal preference. The above dates are simply the most common start times as they are the first Monday of the month.

In this post, I mentioned the products that I used for my plan and that I am still using, through this 30-day challenge. I am not paid to mention or promote these products. However, if you click on a link for the products and make a purchase there, I may be compensated. I am not promoting this process and these products for that reason. I am passionate about and genuinely love these plant-based vegan (pure and safe) products. That’s why I use them for myself and my family and that’s why I can talk passionately about them. Products of any kind do not make my life (or your life) pure, but rather, they serve to aide and enhance the efforts.  

Focusing more and on fewer things – plus, three ingredient sweet potato flatbread

Less is more! I love simplicity and ease. I know I over complicate my life (all self-inflicted) by over committing or overdoing or over-pressuring myself. But when I get through those whirlwind times I always come back to the realization that LESS really and truly is MORE. More freedom, more sweet moments, more easy laughter and more fun. I want to be able to do less ‘things’ and have a whole lot of focus on those things that I do. Does that makes sense?

I am trying my best to focus on doing one thing at a time, which makes life so much more fun. This IS a work in progress as I pursue pure (everyday).

I also want to apply this concept to recipes that I try, make up, and/or share. I am a HUGE fan of easy when it comes to cooking.  But nourishing and healthy at the same time. So, I’m not talking hamburger helper easy here, people. I am talking pure, healthy and delicious food… But easy. Impossible you say? Nah. Today’s recipe is a PERFECT example of easy peezy lemon squeezy.

I have been off of bread for nearly a month and while I don’t feel deprived, I do still have a hankering for something fluffy and soft to spread something creamy on to… I just do!

I really like flatbread and this one can be thrown together lickety split. I hope this hits the mark with you too!

Three-Ingredient Sweet Potato Flatbread

8-10 flatbreads

Preheat oven to 400

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (about 1/2 sweet potato)
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free oat flour (could use almond flour too)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix well the mashed sweet potato with the egg.
  2. Add your flour, salt and baking powder and mix it all well.
  3. The dough can be a little stick so flour or wet your hands if needed.
  4. Scoop 10 balls and place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
  5. With the help of a little more flour or water on your hands flatten the dough into thin rounds.
  6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they appear slightly golden brown.
  7. Serve while warm and enjoy!

Note:

* You can make oat flour by grinding gluten-free rolled oats (aka: oatmeal) into fine flour in a food processor. It’s good to make a batch of it so it’s super easy to use in all kind of gluten-free baking.

*these are great topped with nut butter and sliced fruit, or humus and tomato, or even with a fried egg on top. Use your flatbread loving imagination and enjoy!  Oooh, avocado! That would be great too.

Here’s to one more day of pursuing pure!

 

Get a Grip… On Your Kid’s Health

Let’s all get on this struggle bus together, shall we? Choo choo.

Whether you are well-versed in what it means to have a healthy lifestyle or you are a total beginner, that’s okay! I consider myself a beginner to intermediate. I know quite a bit about nutrition but I don’t always practice what I know. Guess why… it’s not easy! When I need a straight forward, cut-to-the-chase, down-and-dirty reminder of what to do and what not to do with nutrition for myself and my family… I go to several respected sources like the Mayo Clinic website, Choose My Plate (dot gov) and the Healthy Active Arkansas Initiative book. They are simple and not sugar coated (haha). I like that.

Below I have listed the guidelines for you. No gimmick, just straight forward guidelines that are IMPORTANT enough to make the short list among these respected entities.

Diet and Activity Guidelines for Kids:

Breastfeeding


Studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding from birth to age 6 months may be associated with a decreased risk of obesity later in life.
Did you realize this? Wow! I knew it was good for their brain function and other cognitive enhancements… but a reduction in obesity risk? Wow.

Milk

Consumption of cow’s milk should begin at age one (before this they should be on breast milk or formula, but as we see above breast milk is recommended).
o Whole milk is typically recommended until two.
o 2% milk (instead of whole) is recommended at age one for children who have risk factors for obesity (meaning they have a body mass index >85th percentile – calculate that here) or a family history of obesity.
o Skim or 1% milk is recommended for all children two and older. Or as I stated in this post, do they even really need dairy milk at all past infancy?

Fruits and vegetables

o At least 5 fruits and vegetables are recommended, every single day. This means we need to be including this in breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s a lot to get in each day but worth the effort.

Sugar-sweetened beverages

(YIKES, this topic is a hot one)
o Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages should be strictly limited or avoided entirely. Did you get that? “Avoided entirely.” Can you imagine a world without Gatorade, juice boxes, cool-aide, apple juice, any fruit juice for that matter unless it’s the raw, cold-pressed kind with nothing added? But stop and think about ALLLL of this sugar children take-in simply through their drink of choice! Make the choice for them, momma. This is a hard battle at my house too and on occasion the sweet drink happens. But my philosophy is, if we can do well a LARGE majority of the time, we are doing well! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I am not an all-or-nothing kind of girl… but I am aware and know what’s best and what is better to simply pass up.

Meal Structure

o Breakfast is recommended (this fuels their little brains for the day)! The breakfast needs to include protein and fiber when at all possible! A sugary, carby breakfast not only doesn’t stick with them, but it loads them with empty calories that certainly don’t enhance brain power. Get some turkey bacon, or eggs and fruit in front of those kiddos. Also, whole grain/sprouted grain toast is a great addition to breakfast. Spread a little coconut oil and sliced fruit on top, or almond butter/all natural PB with the sliced fruit on top and you’ve done something. There is a place for muffins and cereals (and even – gasp – donuts), but there are also lower sugar options in these categories too. You got this. Go you!

Sometime cereal happens!

 

o Families should eat meals together at the table as often as possible (due to an association between family meals and a higher-quality diet). Isn’t it something that families eating together at a table made the short list for healthy eating habits?! I find that interesting and incredibly profound…
o The television and other electronic devices should be turned off at mealtimes. Wow, just wow! I am all about no electronic distractions, but let’s face it, this happens in every home. I have self-proclaimed ‘noise pollution issues’ anyway so when I am whipping dinner together, making little plates, half-way cleaning up as I go, throwing in a load of laundry AND the TV is on… My head is all buzzy and swirly. Strange but true… noise pollution, it’s a thing!

Portion Control

o Portion sizes should be age-appropriate. Don’t fill your kid’s plate up like you would an adult’s plate. They have WAY different nutritional and caloric needs. Check out the United States Department of Agriculture and their recommendations for portion sizing.

Self-Regulate

o Children should be encouraged to try new and varied foods but should be allowed to self-regulate portion sizes. I love this… when they are satisfied or full, let them be done.
o Bribes for a “clean plate” should not be used. Again, I couldn’t agree more. Why do we want our children to overeat and make a clean plate? Granted, YOU know your kids best! If they under eat but want snacks before bedtime, use your judgment in making them eat more of their dinner even after they want to be done. I have to do this with my youngest at times because she’s notorious for ‘being full’ at mealtime then wanting a dozen snacks before bed. You-do-you and make that judgement call as needed. My oldest, on the other hand, is a great eater and she stops because she’s full. She also doesn’t ask for snacks later. I have a meal eater vs. a grazer on my hands and I deal with that how I feel is best at the time.
o Food intake should not be coerced or excessively restricted. We don’t want to make our kids DIET, like ever. I feed my family good, wholesome food that is healthy. This is not by any means a diet. It’s just how we choose to eat. I am hoping that they will grow up with a love for natural, from the earth, colorful food. I grew up like 99% of Americans with Little Debbie’s, candy bars, chips and sodas as a regular part of my food intake. We loved cheesy casseroles, dinner rolls and dessert with every meal. I turned out FINE (besides a few quirks like the noise pollution issues…) But, that’s not always the case and I have had to retrain my brain in order to desire healthy food over junk food or low-value food. Like, really retrain my brain. I’d prefer that it be a little more effortless for my chicks. Do they have birthday cake at parties? YES. Do they get the juice boxes at said party, too? YES. It’s okay and I know that. There has got to be a healthy balance and if they don’t get that balance at home, where will they get it?
o Evidence suggests that when children are allowed to serve themselves, they give themselves less food than when a plate is prepared for them. Isn’t this interesting? As a country we overload our kids on food. If given the chance they would get much less and be satisfied! Instead, we over serve them and then tell them they better make a happy plate. What?!

Activity

o 1 hour of physical activity a day is recommended. Since they only get 20-30 minutes on the playground at school (if you have school-aged kids) it’s up to us to be sure they somehow someway burn off that extra 30-40-minutes. Its super hard in the winter, believe me I know. What can be done? I throw a gymnastics mat out in the living room and have them practice cartwheels, rolls, etc.… I ask them to have a jumping jack competition… I turn on music and have them dance their little hearts out. This can all be done while I am cooking dinner. The struggle is REAL trying to keep them from the tablet or TV and getting them moving, but oh momma, it’s worth it – I promise you. In the summer it’s more natural to be outdoors moving, or swimming, or riding a bike. Thankfully!
o Beginning at age two, television and computer or electronic device time should be limited to LESS THAN two-hours a day (with no television or computer or electronic device time before age two). Whoa… this struggle is so so very apparent. We can do the BEST that we can do on this front. But, remember, this recommendation is important enough to make the short list with some extremely renowned organization and initiatives. That means it’s THAT important.

5-2-1-0

5-2-1-0

5-2-1-0 is a reminder of healthy habits that children and their families can use to improve overall health and to prevent or decrease a high body mass index (BMI):

• 5: 5 fruits and vegetables a day
• 2: <2 hours of television and computer or electronic device  time a day
• 1: 1 hour of physical activity each day
• 0: No sugar-sweetened beverages

 

Isn’t it crazy how fundamentally simple all of the above steps are? If we work together and really encourage one another I know we can Get a Grip on Our Kid’s Health!

You Are What You Eat… Be Pure.

Y’all!  I LOVE FOOD!  When I finish a meal I think about my next meal… To me, food is an experience, an event, a reason to gather and not to mention a necessary part of life! Amiright? So, if you came here today to read about how to eat less (or barely eat) to be healthier, g‘bye.

I am a southern girl born and raised (Arkansas to be specific; yes we are famous for President Bill Clinton and our super high obesity rates – you are welcome, world. Glad we could contribute).  Moving on; I love all of the comfort foods.  I mean, who didn’t grow up dipping their fried chicken in the mashed potatoes and then in the corn to make it all stick together? Just me? K…

But here’s the deal; what I have learned as an adult is that I cannot, in fact, dip the flippin’ fried chicken in the flippin’ taters and then the corn, every day… just can’t.  I mean, I could but I want to fit in a regular airplane seat so I shan’t.  But, guess what… I still eat like that on occasion… like when my grandmother (or anyone’s grandmother) cooks a delicious home cooked countrified (it’s a word) comfort “real food, not processed junk food” meal like that, you better believe this sister partakes… pick up, dip, dip again, eat, repeat…  I am just sayin’.

BUT, I digress! I joke about the airplane seat but that’s NOT why I started this journey… not at all. I am actually here to share what I have learned and how my body, my complexion, general outlook on life, sense of well-being and brainpower (seriously) have been TRANSFORMED.  And y’all… it’s from FOOD… YAAASSSS!  My favorite thing ever.

Everything I am going to share is my personal journey, my hunger (pun intended) for knowledge, a better state of health, purity and some old-fashioned research!  Plus, I have two little future women living in my household and I gotta teach these chicks young how to get a healthy grasp on the food sitch. I’m not a doctor, I just play one on TV (no, I don’t)… So, please know I am telling you what nutrition has done for me, myself and I… and a million other people… But, I’m not talking about them.  Just me.

Aha Moment (acid, inflammation and disease – oh my!)

The “Aha moment” for me was a few years ago when I was awakened to the fact that an acidic and inflamed body is a cozy little home for ALL sorts of diseases and plain ole’ bodily issues.  I was educated on the phrase “Anti-inflammatory” which I always thought had something to do with arthritis and other joint pain, and it does…. That’s so not the end of the anti-inflammatory story.  Not even close…  I also learned the meaning of having an “Alkaline” body… again, I was not aware of the true meaning of the importance of this.  You see, I have had Melanoma Cancer, twice in two different locations… so clearly my body was a breeding ground for cancer and other “issues”… everyone’s body is a potential breeding ground if we are being real. Then you see the 4-packs-a-day gentleman who eats from a drive through window er’day and never moves except to walk to the kitchen or the bathroom and he lives to be 103!  So, go figure.  All I know is that I want to do everything I can to be preventative, more pure and by golly feel really really good!  Like, all the time.  I am a woman on a mission.  I am on a mission for me and those chicks I mentioned (and daddy too). I am also on a mission for YOU, my friend. We are friends now, right?  I mean I told you about my chicken dipping thing so I feel like we are. Good deal.

Now that we are on the same page with our friendship status, let’s move on.

Anti-inflammatory:

First off, if you are looking for long-term health you need to lower inflammation that you probably don’t even realize exists in your body.  Inflammation can lead – or at the very least contribute – to a whole heck of a lot of illnesses.  For example, the “c” word, like I mentioned above.  Yes, cancer.  Also, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis and so many more. You can lower your chances for the aforementioned with an anti-inflammatory diet and it can also SLOW the aging process (sign me up). Your blood sugar will be more stable and your metabolism will increase (again, sign me up). This is not a weight loss plan.  But, guess what the happy side effect is?  You got it, weight loss…

The quick a dirty of an anti-inflammatory diet is consuming a lot of fiber; fruits; veggies; omega-3 fatty acids; eating fish multiple times each week; consuming green tea, and using oils with healthy fat.

And then you have to stay away from things like; saturated fats; processed foods; refined sugar (no more artificial sweeteners like aspartame and MSG, please); dairy; refined carbs like cake, pasta and cookies; gluten; and trans fats.

This may seem overwhelming… just keep reading.

BUT FIRST

8 signs of inflammation

Do YOU have symptoms of chronic inflammation? If you have one or more of the following eight symptoms, it’s very likely that your answer is a big fat YES. 

  1. Regular headaches and/or brain fog
  2. Bloating and other digestive troubles
  3. Joint pain
  4. Skin issues and irritations
  5. Fatigue/feeling tired and sluggish
  6. Weight gain
  7. Gum disease
  8. Mood swings

 

Anti-allergy

Did you know that, to a very large extent, we can control our own allergies? With (my favorite thing), FOOD. Yes! So, if we want to reduce inflammation, we also have to reduce foods that are high on the food allergy scale. I thought to bloat, have stomach issues, head colds, mucus and other daily symptoms were normal… nope, they do not have to be my norm or yours.

Avoid dairy sugar gluten and soy

Below is my list of the top four most allergenic foods:

Dairy

Sadly (to this recovering milk addict), milk does not, in fact, do a body good (clever marketing) or build strong bones.  Broccoli, broccoli builds strong bones. Replace dairy milk with almond or coconut milk, which tastes good and has high-quality protein and fat in it. In addition, replace butter with olive oil.  Avoid yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products.  Did ya know… we are the only mammals on earth that drink milk past the weaning stage of infancy and most certainly the only one that drinks another species’ milk!  Think about it… Also, dairy produces mucus and congestion, so that’s gross.  This is coming from a dairy lover! The difficulty of cutting dairy is not lost on me.

Gluten

Did ya know? Did ya? huh? We were not built to ingest gluten, much less digest it. Literally, our stomach acid cannot even break down gluten. What is gluten in anyway? Refined processed flours contain gluten (think, any baked good). Instead of gluten-filled goods choose organic quinoa, brown rice, and other gluten-free ancient grains. You still need complex carbs though, they fuel our brain. Eat carbohydrates that contain fiber like legumes (don’t act like you know what a legume is – this category includes peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils and several others), quinoa, brown rice, and oats. Fiber also keeps insulin in check. Do you remember the first thing I mentioned in the “do eat this” list under anti-inflammatory, yes that was fiber. Fiber is kind of a big deal.

Listen here and listen good… do NOT (I repeat, do not) carb load on gluten-free breads, cereals and crackers. Gluten-free does not equal calorie, fat or sugar-free… it’s just a treat lacking the gluten, remember that.  Gluten-free labeling is a marketing heyday – right up there with ‘fat-free’ and ‘milk, does a body good’ – don’t get sucked in.

Soy

Soy is highly allergenic and contributes to inflammation. You really should not consume it more than once a week (or at all). It needs to be organic, fermented and firm (soy milk does not qualify). U.S. Soy crops are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Definitely marketed as a health food, so watch out for that. Soy can affect your thyroid function. No thank you, ma’am. Say noy to soy. I tried a little too hard there.

Sugar

I love the word sugar.  It can be a term of endearment.  It is also HIGHLY addictive.  My children are the number one case study… around Halloween and Easter, they are little addicts just looking to score their next high.  It’s frightening. They’ll do anything to get their hands on the goods… But can’t we all relate?  “I just need a little bite of something sweet after dinner.” Or “cinnamon rolls are my weakness, I simply cannot turn them down.” The words ‘need’ and ‘cannot’ are pretty extreme when referencing sugar if you think about it.

Processed foods are sources of sugar. Cut processed foods and you naturally eliminate a whole lot of sugar. Sugar is a belly fat contributor. Sugar is a major contributor to creating an acidic environment. All-bad-things. But do not despair! There are God-made sugars and there are man-made sugars – fresh fruit is alkaline and good, even citrus.

God-made sugars like fruits, raw honey, raw maple syrup, and raw cane sugar, are not known to fuel cancer, common allergies or other issues. However, man-made sugars and ALL artificial sweeteners, including sucralose (diet drinks, “no sugar added” or “sugar free” snacks and gum, etc.), have been proven (proven you guys, just Google it) to be a contributing factor to cancer cells and of course weight gain because they make you crave more and more sugar. Weird but true.

Alkaline vs. Acidic

Remember when I vaguely mention a non-acidic, alkaline state in the first paragraph? I am going to expand on that because it is super important and it’s just not common knowledge or verbiage.

The thought process is that some foods like meat, wheat, refined sugar, and processed foods cause your body to produce acid, which is bad for you. Ironically lemon helps to make your body more alkaline. Lemon water is a great choice. To become more alkaline avoid refined sugars but fresh fruits are okay. The type of water you drink really does matter so drink quality water, ideally fresh spring water. Eat more plant-based foods and opt for only grass-fed, organic animal products.

The crazy thing is that an alkaline body does not stop with the foods you ingest. You should also use natural household cleaning products whenever possible; use natural bath and body product such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, lotion, skin care, and make-up. Common commercial products are riddled with chemicals that add a massive toxic load to the body and make you acidic. Did you know that harmful chemicals from your personal care products are absorbed into your skin in 26 seconds? Yikes. Did you know that European countries have banned about 1,200 chemicals that are in personal care products and the U.S. has only banned about 12? In other words, do not assume that because it’s on the store shelf that it’s all good.

Be your own advocate, read labels and be educated.  That’s the journey I am on, thank you for beginning it alongside me.  We have so much yet to learn together! After all, don’t forget about our BFF status.  Don’t tell anyone about the chicken dipping…

Diets do not work. Learn to eat well.