Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rewards That Don't Involve Food

As I've thought about my own struggle with weight it's become clear that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. One could reasonably say an addiction to junk food. This shouldn't be too surprising, it's well known now that food companies use flavors to hit the pleasure center of our brain, filling us with empty calories and leaving us a craving more. Our broken food system is only part of the problem for me and many others though.

For me, and I'm sure some of you and others you know as well, our unhealthy relationship with food also started in childhood when junk food was used as rewards or for special occasions. Our parents, rightly, didn't let us have these foods often, but when they did it was always a treat. We got to go out for dinner on the last day of school. We got candy for holidays. We'd get a gumball at the grocery store if we behaved well. We got cake or cupcakes for our birthdays. We got soda at big family events, like the Fourth of July picnic, or on those rare special occasions when we went out to eat. The circumstances of our treats added extra ties to the pleasure centers in our brains, above and beyond what was being created by the junk food alone. For me at least, later on in life, as I was able to make more and more of my own food choices, when I was (am) stressed out I crave those "good feeling" foods like cupcakes, cookies, brownies, chips, fast food and soda, all the more because I've treated them my whole life as a reward. So if I've had a really rough day I've "earned" that cupcake, or two.

In addition to serving "real food" to ourselves and our children, avoiding processed grains, sugars and industrial fats, I propose that we also need to re-think the mentality of junk food as a "special" treat. It is okay to have such things as a once in a rare while food - but I have come to believe that tying it to the idea of a "treat" may be as unhealthy for us as the food itself.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Foodie Fridays - Paleo Pollo Asado

Marinade Ingredients
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil (I recommend olive or avocado)
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp. salt

Retain the limes and lemon after squeezing out the juice and cover the chicken with them if using a dish to marinate, or throw them in the bag with the chicken if using a bag. (I prefer to use a casserole dish because the acid in the citrus juice can cause chemicals to leech from plastic bags that I'd just prefer to avoid - plus a glass dish is reusable). This marinade will cover about half a chicken or 5-6 pieces of dark meat chicken. (I recommend using just dark meat, personally. Definitely use bone in and skin on cuts regardless though). Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably over night.

Pollo asdo technically means grilled chicken, so if you have a grill or grill pan - cook them that way, if not then baking or cooking in a skillet will work just as well. Remove them from the marinade, but do not pat dry or otherwise try to remove any marinade that sticks to the chicken. Cook until cooked through and the citrus juices left on the skin form a crispy caramelized crust.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Foods for Fertility

As a single woman that just just turned 30 and who dreams of being a wife and mother, one thing is abundantly clear - I must protect my fertility now. If I want to be able to, God willing, naturally conceive, carry, birth and nurse my own children in my 30s, I have to be guarding my fertility. Appropriate exercise is helpful, but a nutritious diet is probably more key than anything else. So, being an librarian, of course I read a lot on the subject of fertility diets, especially the books mentioned at the end of this post. Here is what I've learned, so far.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Simple Steps to Real Food

Simple steps? Yes, truly simple. Moving towards more real food has some hurdles, but I assure you most of them are psychological. Making the switch to real foods can be intimidating. Real food tends to be a little more expensive ("But I only have one income to feed a family of 4"), it may mean cooking more from scratch ("But I burn water"), and it may mean avoiding some foods you consider staples ("But I love ramen noodles and cheese puffs"). But it really needn't be as frightening as all that. You don't have to be perfect, just move in a positive direction, one simple step at a time. Taking just little steps towards real food is worth the effort!

If you're ready to take steps to improve you and your family's health - then you're ready to take some simple steps toward real food! And yes, I'm preaching this as much to myself as to any blog readers. I'm by no means an expert or perfect adherent to this crunchy lifestyle, but I'm working on it!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Foodie Fridays - Balsamic Berry Parfait

If you're a friend on Facebook you know that one of my favorite weekend activities is watching cooking shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Recently I saw an episode of Giada at Home where she made raspberry balsamic parfaits topped with caramel crunch. They sounded delicious, but what sounded even better to me was candied bacon instead of the caramel crunch. So this is my spin on the balsamic berry parfait, sending out summer with a bang, using the last of the season's berries in my balsamic berry bacon parfait.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Whole 30 - Days 0-3

Day 0 - I am glad I committed to this! I am already feeling better just from keeping gluten free the last few days, I know this will help me feel spectacular. I can do this! I went shopping today at Natural Grocers and some other errands with a couple girl friends. While out I mentioned that I was planning to do a Whole 30 during the month of August and one of the girls said she would love to join me! The other offered to help me with food prep if I wanted, we could just hang out and cook. I was not expecting local support, I figured I would be looking mostly for support online. Now I have both!

After hitting up the grocery store I came home and got straight to work on prepping food. I caramelized onions to go in casseroles, with browned ground beef and in meat balls. I baked a spaghetti squash for my egg casseroles and to have with meat for a quick meal. I sauteed zucchini. I got meat out to thaw. I chopped mushrooms. I made two egg casseroles. One savory: with onion, leek, bacon, spinach, potato and spaghetti squash. One sweet: with apples, walnuts, cinnamon and spaghetti squash.

I didn't get done until almost 10 at night, when I crashed in my bed. Overheated in my un-air conditioned house. Phew!