Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween is coming - Oh, the HORROR!

We're approaching the downhill slope of the "eating season" - Halloween, Thanksgiving and all the holiday parties. The time of year where the pounds slowly creep on and stay put till we decide we've had enough come January and start the two-week workout binge and then stop. I'm not ready to throw away all of my hard work these past two months for some candy and stuffing. Fun size candy bars? I don't think it's fun being a size 14. So, I've come up with a few suggestions on how to ditch the candy bucket and get your kids on board too.
Try buying these candy treats instead of the usual stuff. They're not exactly healthy, but they contain less sugar, calories and fat than other options:
3 Musketeers, Fun Size
Spangler Dum Dum Pops
Tootsie Rolls
Chewing Gum
Now & Later
Reese's Bite Size Peanut Butter Cups

Remember, Halloween is a one-day event. The more candy you consume, the more addicted you'll become to junk food - that's right, it's addictive! I don't buy candy and when my kids get some from school or birthday parties, they get one piece and then the rest goes in the trash!
I'm going to allow my kids to have two treats on Halloween night, then place all their candy in a bowl by the front door. My neighbor Amy told me of this great trick: Place your candy at the front door the night of Halloween, the more candy, the bigger the gift from the Ghost of Halloween. The next morning, the kids wake up to find their candy has been replaced by a small toy, coloring book, puzzle, etc...whatever their favorite toy might be.
Now what do you do with all that candy? No, don't hide it from your kids and sneak a piece every now and then! Get it out of your house! Several dentist offices offer a candy buy-back program, offering $1 per pound of candy. You could also donate unopened, heat-resistant candy to U.S. troops stationed abroad. For details, go to  I also found this great website called I love the density rainbow using Skittles!
See you later, I'm off to buy my Dum Dums!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Immune-Boosting Foods

For the last seven days, I have been sick with the worst cold/flu-like illness. My daughter came from school with a runny nose and then woke up the next morning with a sore throat. It started that way with me too, however, two days later, she is fine and I am down for the count. Why is it we always get their tiny little colds in ten-fold fashion??
So, I decided to comb the Internet looking for immunity-boosting foods. I found a good bit of info and thought I would share it with you. I plan on eating a full diet of these items, hosing off my kids before they walk into my house and putting antibacterial lotion in every room of my home!

The Power Foods:
  • Vitamin C - Duh! In their pure forms (no OJ), citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries & pineapple
  • Vitamin E - Seeds, vegetable oils, grains
  • Omega-3 Fats - fatty fish, flax seeds, omega-3 eggs, nuts, seeds
  • Beta-Carotene - Sweet potatoes, carrots, all greens, spinach, cilantro, fresh thyme
  • Capsaicin - (the fire in chili peppers) - add some spice to your dishes
  • Garlic
  • Zinc - Oysters, lean beef, pork, turkey, lamb, lentils, garbanzo beans, yogurt
  • Tomatoes - the lycopene in them acts as an antioxident, try tomato soup, fresh sauces
  • Chamomile Tea - apparently there's something in there that boosts immunity
  • Oats - has the fiber to fill you up, McCann's Steel-Cut Oats has double the power
  • Whey Protein - That clear liquid that forms on the top of your yogurt is pure whey protein, so don't drain it off, stir it back into the yogurt. Or buy some Whey Protein Powder Isolate and mix in your favorite smoothie.
That's it. Not bad, nothing too weird. Crossing my fingers that this works!
In health,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 6 - Soup's On!

     It's Fall and time for yummy, hearty soups! I made my favorite Fall soup this past weekend and shared with some neighbors.  It's a great feeling when someone tells you that something you made was the "most delicious soup they ever had in their life."  I can't take full credit though, I only reproduced a recipe given to me by my best friend, who is a chef. The recipe for Ribollita Soup follows today's blog.
     So last week I attended a Mom's Night Out program given by a Holistic Health Counselor.  She shared with us some basic things we all should do to clean up diets. Here's a summary:
  1. Get rid of foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup. Why? Apparently, there's a compound in it that suppresses our bodies ability to realize we are full and thus, we overeat. Ever sat on the couch eating a bag of chips, cookies or sweets and couldn't stop - it probably contained gobs of HFCS!
  2. Eliminate Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils - Why? Well, that's the nasty stuff called Trans Fats. That's the stuff that'll clog your arteries! Even if your packaging says "Contains NO Trans-Fats" - there could still be .5 grams in there per serving. So, no more Pop-Tarts for our house. They have both HFCS and Trans-Fats in them. Boo!
  3. Pesticides! Our counselor gave us some data on kids today and the alarming number of them on anti-psychotic drugs, diabetes medicines, Ritalin, and a host of other meds. Scary! Plus, there's a new study that came out last week about the link between kids on ADHD drugs and pesticides on our produce. There are 12 fruits and veggies known as the Dirty Dozen. These are the worst offenders when it comes to foods that are sprayed heavily with pesticides. I grew some of my own veggies this summer and lost a bunch to grub worms and other pests. Someone told me to spray them with some chemicals and I responded with - that's exactly why I was growing my own produce - to stay away from that stuff! So, the Dirty Dozen are: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes and imported grapes.
    If possible, try to buy the organic version of these. It's really not possible to wash away all the pesticides, especially with strawberries and peaches, which have such thin skin or none at all.

Our counselor also gave us two weight loss tips: eat 15 grams of less of sugar per day and exercise at least 30 minutes every day. The first is almost impossible - a medium sized apple alone contains 14 grams of sugar! The latter is easier to do, but do I do it?  Not so much.
I am down another pound. Probably has more to do with the fact that I have a horrible cold and haven't been grazing as much. But, I'd like to add #4 to the list of things to stay away from: MSG. I've noticed a severe drop in the number of migraines and headaches I usually get since starting this journey. I have also eliminated foods containing MSG. This nasty stuff has turned up in the oddest places - like my Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage! Really? Why? So, no more of that brand.
Keep up the good work guys! We can do this! Hopefully, if we can get the word out, the food manufacturers will take heed and get rid of this crap in our food! Till next week - enjoy this soup:

Ribollita Soup
4-5 stalks organic celery - diced
1 1/2 onions - diced
2 garlic cloves - minced
Place the above in a large stock pan with the bottom covered in a good EVOO. Put a lid on it and sweat the veggies down with 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally. When those are nice and translucent, add 12 cups of water or chicken stock (be careful about adding salty stock). I add water with 1 tbsp of chicken base. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 min.
Meanwhile, slice a loaf of Ciabatta bread, drizzle the slices with EVOO. Save 1 large garlic clove to rub over the slices when the bread is done toasting.
Wash, clean and remove stems from 1 bag of Kale and 1 bag of Collard Greens (both Organic). Use about 1/2 to 3/4 of each bag. Add greens to the soup and simmer, Then add 1 can of butter beans and 1 can of Cannelini beans, and a little S&P. (You can use dried, but you'll need to soak them overnight). After the greens are completely cooked and soft when you test a bite, then add a whole Rotisserie chicken that has been shredded. Cook 10 more min. Toast your bread in the oven on broil till golden brown, then rub garlic cloves over each slice.
To serve:
Tear pieces of bread into the bottom of each large bowl. Add soup on top of bread. Then use a vegetable peeler to shave off large pieces of Pecorino Romano cheese on top. Add crushed black pepper. Enjoy!