Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live

I've decided to re-commit to health in 2012!  This means finding the healthiest way to eat and following through with it.  I've always believed in eating whole, unprocessed food.  But, I want to really go all the way this year and go to the next level.

So, this led me to a book I'd read in the past called Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  He espouses a diet of lots and lots of vegetables with fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds. You can read more about his way of eating it his book, on his site (DrFuhrman.com), and on his blog (diseaseproof.com).

Eat To Live book cover

So, for me, I'm following his guidelines to the best of my ability.  I'll update the blog on my progress.  Wish me luck!

Exercise - My Four Letter Word

Ah, exercise. It is on almost every to-do list that I make and every New Year's resolution (NYR) to exercise more. I am finally having a little success in that department and thought I'd share what I've been learning.

This year, I decided I needed to start my NYRs a little early so I began in December. I did all the things they tell you to do - I carved out specific parts of my day, blocked it off, and made specific goals (e.g., walk 1 hour, swim laps 45 min, etc.). Now, I have done all of these things before but after a few weeks, something seems to happen, whether it is a family emergency, crazy work week, or getting sick, that seems to stall my progress. This time was no different. About three weeks into my regime, several events collided and killed my workout week. I went from working out 4 times a week to once that week. I was so disappointed. I felt like it was the same old, same old and my streak was over.

This time I did something a little bit differently, however. This time, when my new week rolled around, I started again. Now to those of you who are good at follow through, this seems like an obvious statement. And in other areas of my life, I have learned to start again when I get off track but I am rarely good at doing that with exercise. But I started again and because the week before's craziness was still bleeding into my new week, I only got to the gym 2x that week - but that was 2x more than I would have. And now I am back on track. My goal is to work out 5x times this week and with this morning's workout under my belt, I am 2/5ths the way there.

Another lesson I have learned is that I need to find ways to make working out fun so I vary my workouts (walking, weights, swimming, outdoor walking, etc.), downloaded good music, workout in my favorite part of my gym, and discovered Nike Boom. If you haven't checked it out, you need to. According to itunes, "Nike BOOM syncs your music to your dynamic training workouts, with the world’s most elite athletes and coaches motivating you along the way. Choose your type of workout, length of training, best workout music and favorite Nike athletes—then get to work." It's awesome to have athletes with accents cheering me along. ;) Don't worry, it's also an android app and is free!

These things seem to be helping. Last night, I read in my FranklinCovey planner a quote that said something to the effect of if you don't think of yourself as what you want to be, you'll never do what is necessary to become it. I really liked that idea so I wrote myself a mantra about being a strong athlete. I may not be there now but I am more on my way than I was in November. 

I'll check back in a few weeks and let you know how it's going...right now, it's going great!

Oh, and today I rewarded myself with a yummy smoothie for breakfast. Win Win Win!

(My reward this morning - smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries,
 pineapple, banana, orange, and a little water. Delish!) 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kindle Fire GIVEAWAY!

We've teamed up with a bunch of great bloggers to bring you a fantastic giveaway! We're giving you the opportunity to win a BRAND NEW KINDLE FIRE! 1 lucky fan will receive this device absolutely free! Since all fo the bloggers helped to pay for this giveaway, you must like ALL of their facebook pages in order to win. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Only two entries are permitted per U.S. household. A household is defined as an IP address. Winners will be notified via email (using the email provided during entry) and will have 48 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond to said email in the allotted time, a replacement winner will be chosen.
Please be patient while the form loads. It may take up to 1 minute. Good luck!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Giveaway Announcement!

You've been waiting for it, here is a great giveaway- a KINDLE FIRE!  We've teamed up with a great group of bloggers and will be giving away a Kindle Fire.  The giveaway entry time period will begin in just two days, so check back in to see what you need to do to win!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On a Walmart Budget

I love coupons.  I hate Walmart.  Recently I was told that if I went to the place that I hate with the things that I love, I'd get some crazy deals.  I went, I saw, and I was impressed by how much organic stuff Walmart offers now.  Although less than Target and Kroger, still a larger selection than they had about a year ago, which was the last time I had been to Walmart.  Here are some things I saw!

 I took this picture because if you make your own baby food, something like this (or a Magic Bullet) is a must.  $30 is a great deal.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homemade Pasta Sauce

So, I am not the chef of the family, but I am trying to do a better job. I had an idea the other day of making marinara sauce from scratch with roasted veggies, so here's what I did: I roasted tomatoes in the oven while sauteing onions and red and green peppers. I added some cruelty-free meat and spices (garlic, oregano, sea salt, pepper). While it cooked, I pulled the tomatoes from the oven, let them cool, and blended them. Once the meat was fully cooked, I added the pureed tomatoes and mixed it all around. A little more spicing and reduction and YUMMY! To do it again, I'd roast the peppers as well and combine then with the tomatoes for pureeing but this was tasty. I mixed it with whole wheat tortellini and it was very tasty.

(It's not the greatest picture but it was some tasty stuff!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm Broken..... Sometimes We Falter

Forgiving ourselves is perhaps, the single hardest thing a lot of people encounter.  When we make a mistake, whether it be with failing to be as active as we should, or eating something we know isn't good for us, or having feelings of tension with a family member- it's hard to forgive ourselves and move on.  I know for me, I tend to hold my failures over my head and they become a reminder of why I'm not good enough.  It's almost like I'm telling myself I'm not good enough and each failure proves I'm right.  Funnily enough, my successes are never registered in my brain and are quickly dismissed as flukes or just plain forgotten.

This past week I went to Whole Foods with my sister, my mom, and my son.  The week leading up to the trip to Whole Foods was dreadful.  Things just weren't going right.  My son had been sick and was super clingy, wasn't sleeping well (when he was sleeping at all), the house was a mess and I just couldn't seem to keep up, I didn't feel like I had time to make homemade and fresh meals, so we ate out a lot, we ordered a dishwasher and it came in the wrong color, the kitchen sink started to leak, and we have a fairly new dog that was super active (sick child= no walks with doggie= cabin fever for everyone). 

So- back to Whole Foods.  My son wanted to be held and as I was holding him he reached for a glass bottle of macadamia nut oil (who buys macadamia nut oil anyway?  Am I just ignorant to the benefits?) and he throws it to the floor.  I screamed, "No no no!!!!" as I saw it tumble to the ground.  I mean, my scream was loud.  I really try hard not to raise my voice, especially around my son.  I find yelling rarely gets the kind of reaction people usually are wanting and therefore it's useless.  I try to save my louder voices for when he's running into a street or going to hurt the dog or himself.  I usually try to keep calm when things like macadamia nut oil goes crashing down.  It certainly doesn't deserve a yell, but it got one.  Luckily, the bottle didn't break.

I put my son on the ground and I said (there's only so much a 2 year old can understand, but I felt the need to explain anyway) "we don't throw things on the ground, that's not good, no throw."  And then I hugged him.  And then I cried.  Yes, in the middle of the aisle of Whole Foods- because the week had just come to a literal crash and I realized I was broken.  I couldn't hold the tears in any longer.  So I hugged him and I cried.  And in that moment I realized that while I may not be a perfect mother, or a perfect cook, or perfect at eating the right things or exercising the right way, or perfect at anything really- I had the good sense to know that while this moment may suck, the next moment is an opportunity to try again.  So I picked my son up and we shopped some more.  I danced in the aisles with him, I tickled his chin.  He played with his aunt, and touched everything on the shelves he could manage to get to.

That night I snuggled with him in the recliner while he fell asleep.  I asked him to forgive mommy for not being as patient as she should.  And then I told myself that I needed to forgive myself.  Tomorrow was another day, filled with many more moments to show what kind of a mommy I will be.  I can choose to be short tempered and frustrated, or I can choose to look beyond the immediate events and see the divine nature we have in all of us.  Here's to a new week and new moments.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blue Mesa

Alright blogging world...I need to introduce you a restaurant that serves the most succulent chicken you have ever tasted. Meat that is grilled and so delicious. Veggies that are fresh and local and a commitment to doing fresh and local. If you need a place to go out with friends, especially those not wanting organic, vegan food, this is the place to go. Yummy on your taste buds and easy on your conscience. 

Blue Mesa Grill:
Ambiance: Great modern-Mexican setting. Fun and light.
Service: We had a great waiter who had knowledge of the menu and treated us well.
Food: I cannot say enough about the food (as you'll see below). Tasty, whole, fresh, local....it was SO good!

From Blue Mesa's website:
"We seek out local farms and producers for our products. We are doing this for several reasons:

  • To use the freshest ingredients harvested at their peak of flavor; keeping us connected to the seasons.
  • To support the local economy.
  • It is consistent with our philosophy of building business through building a long term relationship with the community - putting a “face” behind the foods we consume.
  • Buying produce from local growers reduces the environmental impact of transporting products.
Here are some examples of how we are achieving these goals:
  • We have found several local farms that supply us with seasonal vegetables. Each season we will feature different fruits and vegetables from these farms. We make our fresh fruit margaritas from locally sourced seasonal fruits.
  • The chicken in our Slow Roasted Natural Chicken is from Buddy’s Natural Chicken in Gonzales. It is a local farm that feeds the chickens natural grains and uses no antibiotics or other chemicals. The flavor of these chickens is fantastic – you can really taste the difference.
  • The cheese in our Goat Cheese Enchiladas is from Mozzarella Company, a cheese manufacturer. These enchiladas have become a very popular item.
  • Our coffee and tea (for our Passion Fruit Iced Tea, too) is produced here in Dallas, Texas.
  • You will see more and more local products on our menu. The sweet potatoes for our chips are purchased from local growers when available. These products tend to cost more money so it is something we are doing selectively. We want to maintain our overall prices and value to our guests."

This is a bad picture of a great dish. I truly never knew the meaning of juicy, succulent 
chicken until this. It was the most tasty chicken I have ever had in my life. Also, if you get the chance to have the adobe pie, DO IT! It's fresh and made with sweet corn...so good!
Slow roasted natural chicken with caramelized honey glaze.
"Texas raised chickens fed natural grain, slow roasted with a signature blend of 15 herbs and spices. 
Served with a black bean Adobe Pie and local seasonal vegetables." (from the website)

Smoothie Goodnes

Hello delicious smoothie!! So I have been smoothit-ing it up lately and loving it! I have been a fan of smoothies since childhood - Lisa makes the BEST smoothies known to mankind. She seriously has a gift. If Jamba Juice were smart, they would hire Lisa as a consultant and pay her millions of dollars.

Anyway, so I have started introducing greens into my smoothie. As you can see from the pic below, I've been putting in a lot of greens. My goal is to find a balance of greens that can be added without being tasted. :) It's not that greens aren't tasty, but I like the pineapple, orange, strawberry goodness. So this mixture was pretty good, though the greens were a little stronger than I would like. (Oh, and here's a smoothie tip I learned - you should layer greens beneath the frozen fruit, not on top. Makes it easier to mix.)

What do you put in your smoothie?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Natural Hand Soap From a Bar!

There are multiple recipes for homemade soap floating around Pinterest... all of them call for water, a bar of soap, and glycerin.  In doing some research on glycerin, I noticed that many higher end natural soaps advertised that they didn't use glycerin.  Apparentely there is some debate as to whether or not this ingredient is safe and healthy and/or vegan/vegetarian friendly.  So I opted to make a soap without using glycerin.  Instead, I used my newest favorite kitchen ingredient- coconut oil.

You'll need one bar of soap, a gallon of water and 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.

Shred your bar of soap.  I would use a good quality natural soap.  This hand soap will last a long time, so you could probably spare the expense of a nicer quality soap.  I happened to have a nice bar of soap in my stockpile, so that's what I used.  But during my next Whole Foods trip I plan on browsing the aisles to find a nicer fragrance.

 Doesn't this look snowy?  I really loved how neat this looked once it was shredded!
 Combine soap and water into large pot.  Heat and dissolve soap into the water.  Add coconut oil.
 Mix, stir and combine all the ingredients.  Then set the pot away from everything and let it sit for 12 hours.  (I did this in the evening so I could see the results in the morning without being tempted to touch it.)  The morning will bring a thick paste of soap.  Mix it up with a spoon, or use a hand mixer and blend.  I loved using the hand mixer because it gave it some air bubbles and smoothed the whole product out.
Pour into jars and use as needed!  I've been saving all the glass jars I use, so this was a perfect time to use them up and have a purpose.  Now I have a gallon of great hand soap under my sink and ready to go.  This will take me awhile to use up, I'm sure!  Perfect for a gift as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hard Shell for Ice Cream

I go through phases of love for ice cream.  Normally, I can have it sit in my freezer for extended amounts of times and have none of it.  But every once in awhile, I can't resist it's creamy and delicious goodness.  So when I was walking through the aisles of Sprout's and saw this little number, well- something beckoned me to put it in my cart.

 Now, normally, I enjoy a good mint chocolate chip, or perhaps a cookie dough.  It used to be my favorite kind of ice cream was cookies and cream, but even since I discovered the recipe I'm about to show you, my favorite ice cream has been vanilla.  You'll see why and you'll love me for it.

Make your own hard chocolate shell at home with just 2 ingredients.  Yes, just 2.  And most of you probably have the ingredients on hand, and if you don't, they're easy to obtain.  Buckle your seat belts readers- here comes my favorite recipe posting of all time.

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate, the milk and semi sweet made the shell a little too sweet and besides, if I used dark chocolate I could convince myself it was healthy)
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Place the two ingredients into a microwave safe bowl, microwave for 1 minute.  Take it out and stir.  Repeat until all chips are melted.  Ta da, you're done.  Now put it over a bowl of delicious ice cream, wait a minute, and the magic of hard shell will occur!

You'll notice the pictures are with chocolate ice cream.  Well, that's because when I made it the first time I couldn't resist the deliciousness and ate it before I took a picture.  Then the second time I made it, I accidentally deleted the pictures off my camera, so sadly (or really miraculously) I had to make it a third time and poured it over my husband's frozen yogurt- which was good, but not as awesome as my vanilla bean ice cream combo.

Place the remaining portion in a container and keep for later!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I was walking through the deli counter at my local Target the other day and discovered this packaged meat by Applegate Naturals.

The meat is natural, organic, anti-antibiotics, and made with no added hormones! How great is is to be able to get this meat in a regular grocery store.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bountiful Baskets

For the past couple months I have been purchasing a good portion of my produce from Bountiful Baskets.  Basically they are a food co op, and they have numerous site locations here in Texas!  You order a basket online, and then go pick up on Saturday morning- bringing your own reusable bags, by the way!  Each conventional basket is $15, organic is $25.  Each basket is filled with 50% fruit and 50% vegetable items- but the best part is you don't know what you're going to get!  You can add items (which vary by week) like bread, tortillas, oranges, pumpkin- whatever they happen to have on the menu that week.

We've ordered their organic basket and their conventional basket.  While you get a little more food with the conventional basket, the organic is completely worth the price.  Have a peek at what we got a few weeks ago in our organic basket!

 Apples, tomatoes, cranberries, spaghetti squash, bananas, potatoes, lots of greens, cilantro, pomegranate, and persimmons... which I had never used before!

The food was delicious and fresh.  That which I didn't use right away (like the potatoes- we don't eat a ton of those around here) I froze for later.  The basket was a great deal and I highly recommend looking up your local site and ordering from them.  If you don't have one nearby, there is a section on their website about how to organize one yourself. 

Look for a new recipe for Persimmon Bread, which is what I used these bad boys for!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

DFW Sites For Healthier Eating

While most of you know, one of the goals of this site is to create a directory of healthy restaurants in the DFW area. We are in the process of visiting and reviewing them so in the meantime, I wanted to make sure you had the resources you needed to find tasty food! Below are links I have found helpful and click here for the restaurants we have reviewed. Happy eating!!

Dallas Vegan

Happy Cow

Top 10

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cosmic Cafe

Lisa and I were looking for some yummy vegetarian food and decided to try something new. We went to Cosmic Cafe off Oak Lawn in Dallas (click for their website).

Ambiance: This is a stereotypical vegetarian, earthy, "cosmic"-type place. The decor was energetic and lively, lots to look at, and busy busy. We went for lunch and the place was packed.
Service: The service was quite poor. They were not welcoming and saw employees only when given the food and check. They could do much better at reflecting their atmosphere.
Food: YUMMY! I was quite impressed and surprised by the flavors. This Indian-inspired vegetarian restaurant had flavor-packed into its food. I had the Dharma Bell (stuffed bell peppers) and Lisa had the quesadillas. We split an appetizer with naan, hummus, pappadam, and a samosa.

All in all, this was a very tasty place to eat if you are in the Dallas area (though, there is nothing on the website that indicates the food is organic or the dairy is from cows not treated with hormones, etc.). They also have an outdoor seating area that looks perfect for Texas weather!

**Just a note - Cosmic Cafe is NOT handicap accessible (all entrances have stairs that are unsteady) so if you have any mobility needs, you might go elsewhere.



This is the hummus dish. SO good! The hummus was fresh and samosa was tasty!

This was the Dharma Bell dish - rice and potato cooked in peppers topped with cheese. MMMMM!
 The rice was so flavorful!

This was Lisa's quesadilla dish. She thought they tasted really good but was disappointed they used white flour tortillas.