Friday, September 23, 2011

The Motivation to Change

It takes an event or a moving story to usually motivate people to do something big. We usually just don't do something because we know we should. There's most often an underlying motivator that makes us change. For me, it was meeting people who had made a complete lifestyle change and took control of their health, made themselves better and reversed disease in its tracks. Even though I had majored in Physical Education and Health and I knew what I needed to do and what I should be doing for my health, I wasn't. We all know we should eat better, drink more water, and exercise daily, but why don't we? We make excuses, we say we don't have enough time, and we put our health low on the priority list. When actually, our health should be number one on the list.
I'm so glad that I made good health my number one priority. I'm now 25 pounds lighter, I don't suffer from daily headaches, I'm not taking prescription drugs anymore, I feel better, I have tons of energy and I think, I look better! (vain much?!) I've still got another 15-20 pounds to lose, but I know it will happen because I've made exercise and eating properly a priority for myself and my family. I'm 42 and I want to be as healthy and active as possible as my children get older. They are 4 and 6 now and I've got no guarantees that I'll live to 100, but I'm darn sure gonna try and be as healthy as possible along the journey.
It takes something inside you to click and say, I don't want to be this way anymore or I don't want to be overweight or have health problems or have a heart attack like  ____ (insert family member's name here). All you need is that motivator. I hope I can be that person for you. It wasn't that long ago that I was eating cereal, pop-tarts, sandwiches with low-fat mayo (containing HFCS), having occasional sweets, popping a frozen meal in the microwave, not getting any exercise and thinking that I was eating healthy because it said low-fat!  I used to say, there's no way I can give up my favorites, I love cereal, I love sweets. But I've found that by taking a step-by-step slow approach, you can eventually eliminate these things from your diet and you won't miss them. Really! Your taste buds change!
In the coming weeks, I will be unveiling a program to get you on a clean eating path. We'll start slow, eliminate the yuckiness from your pantry and then I'll teach you how to shop for the right foods.
It be be tough for some of you  - after all it was tough on my husband and kids. It took me a while to get him on board, but once he sees you in a skimpy dress on vacation and you feel amazing because you also look amazing - believe me, he will be ON BOARD! My husband realizes the benefit of eating this way, he also sees a negative effect on his health when he travels and eats poorly. He comes home feeling like crap.

Your kids will also take some getting used to the new way of eating. But, if you get them on board right from the beginning, and involve them - ask them to help with meal preparation or growing something in the garden. They will feel a sense of ownership and that you aren't forcing them to eat a freaking vegetable!!  My kids used to eat frozen chicken nuggets, fish sticks, juice, and cookies with HFCS and now they don't eat any of that and we are juice-free! My parents think I'm depriving them of a fun childhood by not giving them treats, but believe me, they get enough sweets at school functions, birthday parties, rewards from reading books, etc...Why is it that kids are rewarded with sweets, candy and junk food? Why can't a birthday party goodie bag just have a toy or bubbles, or a coloring book? No one should ever be rewarded with food. That sends a wrong message. Anyway, I digress...
So, get ready - find your happy place - we've got some work to do. I'm going to help you along this journey. If you make up your mind, that this is IT, we can accomplish this goal together!
Until next time,
Eat Real Food...Cindy
P.S. I've put up an Amazon store link on my blog. The store contains a list of some of my favorite things I purchase from Amazon. If you join Amazon Mom, shipping is free! But most of the time, shipping is free on orders of $25 or more. I get a lot of my essentials here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are supposed to be made with high quality, natural ingredients. However, when you purchase a processed product, you get tons of added sugar, partially hydrogenated fats, extra sodium and possibly a dash of high fructose corn syrup. You can find a decent Organic granola bar, but you will pay a premium. I found a great recipe for homemade granola bars and tweaked it just a bit. Plus, it's easy enough to get the kids involved for a fun afternoon of cooking. These bars have more fiber, less sugar, no trans fats, and fewer calories. My four year old had a blast making these simple, tasty bars! Bonus: Takes only 10 min to prepare!

Homemade Granola Bars
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup roasted peanuts, almonds and/or cashews (I did a mix)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup Organic raisins, dried cranberries &/or golden raisins, soaked in water to soften, I used a mix of all 3
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Put the oats, nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together with the salt and vanilla, then add to the oats in the food processor, and pulse until the mixture becomes a coarse, chunky paste. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and spread evenly, gently pressing down to flatten. Bake for 35 minutes or until firm and golden.
Cool and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container. They will keep for a week in the refrigerator and a month in the freezer.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Press into a 9x9 pan.

The yummy bars ready to be eaten!