I am not even sure how to begin this blog post.  I am so angry, frustrated and overwhelmed at the same time.  I am also trying to be careful about how I phrase things so that I do not offend anyone unintentionally.  So I will come out and say this:  I want this post to be supportive to all who read it (with the exception of those who bully others) and to be informative.  I do not want my words to be seen as critical, judgmental, unsympathetic, harsh, etc.  

I recently viewed the video in which a news anchor openly chastised a viewer for calling her fat and that she was an unacceptable role model.  I am sure many of you have also viewed this video but if you haven't you should take a couple minutes and watch it.  

After watching the video I was appalled that someone could be so harsh to another human as to judge them based on what they see on a newscast.  I was proud that Ms. Livingston stood up to her bully on air and called out this type of behavior.  However, I was appalled by the number of people who stood up for the bully on Ms. Livingston's husband's Facebook page.  Bullying takes many forms and Mr. Krause chose an email belittling Ms. Livingston on her weight as his preferred method of bullying.  

Life, as you know if you regularly read this blog, is about being healthy NOT what size clothes you wear!  Ms. Livingston is like many moms in America who work and strive to be the best mom they can be for their children.  As woman we gain weight when we have our children and, unlike most celebrities, our pregnancy weight doesn't fall off with the help of personal trainers and chefs making our prescribed meals to drop the weight.  No, we focus on the new life we brought into the world and making sure they have what they need.  Often, that results in less time to take care of ourselves and fall into a routine of self care that we maybe had previously.  

People recently featured Ms. Livingston in an article as a result of this bullying incident.  It points out  many facts about Ms. Livingston that show her as a role model for her daughters and girls who see her on TV who are maybe starving themselves to fit in and be perfect, who now have a role model of a different size to look up to instead.  Ms. Livingston is making even more changes in her lifestyle and eating choices that are helping her be successful at reaching her goal of under 200 pounds and she is doing it in the right ways and slowly!  Ms. Livingston said it best, "I'm trying to raise good, kind girls who have confidence in themselves."  And that is what it is all about, being a role model no matter what your size!  

What this story shows us, besides that Mr. Krause is a bully and NOT a good role model for boys (or girls), is that losing weight takes time and effort no matter if you are a news anchor, a teacher, a stay at home mom, or a student.  Just keep trying, find a support buddy or inspiration that will help you through those times when you want to give up or slip back into old habits.  Mike Thompson, Ms. Livingston's husband, sums it up perfectly, "Jennifer shows that you can be beautiful-no matter what size you are."  


Have a HEALTHY day!!!




Rachel
 
 
I was so excited when I ventured down the new Gluten Free section at my local store.  I often experiment with rice pasta and other gluten free options in my recipes because my sister is gluten free and I want her to be able to eat my tasty dishes.  And while I am not gluten free I am nut free and was so excited when I noticed a granola that was nut free! 

I love granola with fruit on my yogurt or on my ice cream.  However, finding a product that is truly nut-free is a problem, especially in my small town.  Naturally I was very excited, to the point of almost doing a happy dance right in aisle 7, to see Udi's Gluten Free Foods had a nut-free granola!  Now, I must mention, before other mom's start doing a happy dance while reading this post, that the granola is still baked in a facility that uses tree nuts.  So, for those people how are severely allergic to tree nuts this still may not work for you.  

Here is the best part about this Udi's product, and several of their other products, it is dairy, soy, egg, and gluten free!  This is great news for people who have multiple food allergies, making their food choices even more limited. 

The drawback to this product, besides that it is still manufactured in a facility that uses tree nuts, is that it is pricey!  I paid $7.00 for my 12 ounce bag.  Prompting a sharpie note in big letters to ward off the boys in my house, as seen below:

I think that Udi's has a great website with recipes, product overviews, a community section and more!  If you are gluten-free, have a special diet and/or just want to poke around check it out here!  You can  also sign-up for an Udi's coupon and for email updates while on the website, which I am hoping have more coupons and deals that appear in my inbox soon.  


And now, I am off to enjoy my Udi's granola over some vanilla greek yogurt!


Healthy Eatings, 




Rachel
 
 
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About a month ago I was contacted by Michigan based company, Zeeland Farm Services, Inc.  Specifically, their Zeeland Food Services, Inc. division to be a product reviewer for their Zoye Premium Vegetable Oil.  Naturally, I said yes and anxiously awaited my bottle to arrive on my doorstep and started dreaming about all the things I was going to create with this 100% soybean oil.  Can't you just seeing me waiting on the steps everyday for my package to arrive?  I did have work to get done so it didn't quite get to that point, but I did check the mailbox, the front door AND the back door compulsively until it arrived.  

Once I received the bottle my decision became clear, I am going to use it in everything and in a variety of different scenarios.  I really wanted to see how this oil would stand up to everyday cooking, baking and life.  

First, I used the Zoye Oil in baking some cookies instead of my usual safflower oil.  I used a recipe that I make often because that would be the true test to see if anyone could taste the difference.  

Verdict: PASSED!  Cookies baked the same, looked the same and tasted the same.  The taste, as you can imagine in a house of boys is the most important thing!   

As many of you know I have a small obsession...okay, you are right, it is a BIG obsession with balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  So, my next test for the Zoye oil was substituting it for olive oil in my balsamic viniagrette dressing.  As luck would have it I was also doubling this dressing for a salad that I was bringing to a family dinner.  Being a brave soul, I forged ahead with the substitution and doubling.  

Verdict: PASSED!  The dressing mixed together well, tasted great an stored well.  In fact, due to the low saturated fat content the Zoye Oil had very little coagulation when I refrigerated the unused dressing.  This bonus is the reason I will turn to Zoye Oil again in the future to create my dressings simply because I don't have to bring it to room temperature before using it.  

I was on a roll now, and the Zoye Oil was in for more "tests", even ones I did not plan for in advance.  Yes, it was a product review pop quiz!   I was sauteing some vegetables in butter and realized I was going to be short.  So, I added some Zoye Oil to the pan just to see how it would mix with the butter and if my sauteing would still be the same.  I was a little nervous because when you mix two things together for the first time, especially when their are hungry boys just "dying" because they are "so hungry for dinner".  

Verdict: PASSED!  I was so surprised, and relieved I didn't have anyone pass out from hunger because dinner was not going as planned, because the butter and Zoye Oil mixed well.  The vegetables and shrimp turned out great and you couldn't really taste the difference!  

In my house, for the boys at least, pancakes are the gold standard.  If the pancakes aren't good then I might as well head back to bed and start over the next day!  This test was all about keeping the pancakes from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  

Verdict: PASSED!  I thought the oil held up well in the pan and the pancakes came out perfect!  I did have to add some more to the pan after about 8 pancakes.  But, this is really nothing out of the ordinary as I usually find myself adding my non-stick spray to the pan at about the same interval. 
 
So, if you are keeping track I have used the Zoye Oil in baking, a salad dressing, as an emergency substitution for sauteing and on the griddle.  Since it is summer I decided to literally turn up the heat, charcoal style!  I wondered how the Zoye Oil would handle the grill!  Again pulling out my brave and maybe a little crazy badge, I included the Zoye Oil in a recipe I was entering in a recipe contest plus on the grill for the first time.  I knew that if the Zoye Oil didn't pass the grilling test I could always make the recipe again at another time in order to enter.  But if the grill were to catch on fire and disaster struck**, dinner would not be happening as planning.  In order to throw myself a grilling life vest I decided to use a grilling basket and foil, just in case.  

Verdict: PASSED!  As you can imagine the Sunflower Seed Salmon with Cherries and Peaches, turned out beautifully and tasted delicious.  The oil performed well on the grill and there were no fires either**! 

                       **These jabs are not intended for the oil but at my occasional spotty skills controlling my charcoal grill. 

I think I could go on and on about how much I like this oil and the fact that I have not yet found a use that it is not suited for use.  But, I won't because I am hungry from writing all the ways I used Zoye Oil in the past month!  I want to thank Zeeland Faood Services, Inc for asking me to review their Zoye Oil on my blog, it truly was my pleasure!  I love being able to utilize quality products in my cooking adventures, especially when the come from Michigan!  


Healthy Eatings, 




Rachel





 
 
I just read an article about 462 pound woman in the UK who wants taxpayers to pay for her weight loss surgery.  Now, before you judge my opinions below, I encourage you to read the entire article HERE.  

Ok...now lets get down to business.  I know that some of you will judge my opinions and I may lose a few followers, but I need to express my opinion on this topic.  

First, lets talk about the drinking while pregnant!  Unless lager is another name for soda in the UK, and the article even notes that it was Heineken, this is crazy!  Who thinks that 12 "small" cans of lager is safe or healthy during pregnancy.  Now, some may say, 'she did not know it wasn't safe'.  So I did a little research.  Apparently this may be the case, it seems that in the UK women are not as educated about the effects of drinking on their unborn as women in the US.  According to an article by the BBC, "Government guidance is for pregnant women to avoid drinking alcohol, but if they do to drink only one to two units, once or twice a week".  Even with this information, 12 a day is far more than the guidance.  

Next, lets talk about the weight issue.  This woman started out at approximately 210 pounds before her first pregnancy, which is more than the target range of 147-183 pounds for a 6 foot tall woman.  This still not horrible and could be reversed at this point with proper diet and exercise.  Every women gains weight while pregnant and, I know this may be breaking news, not everyone loses it after having their child(ren) within 3-6 months like celebrities, some don't ever lose that "baby fat".  I know it took me a full year after having each of my children to lose the 50 pounds I gain with each of my pregnancies.  So, I could see how after 6 children she could gain a few extra pounds that she couldn't lose, no matter how hard she tried.

I also know that pregnancy can give you the oddest of cravings, with my first pregnancy I ate Taco Bell  some times 2 or 3 times a day, and I ate it at least 3-4 days a week.  I even ate Taco Bell while I was in labor!  Trust me pregnancy was not a high point in my nutritional journey.  I will also sympathize with this woman that I literally ate for 2 because my doctor told me I could based on my pre-pregnancy weight.  I used eating for two and my cravings as the crutch for those 50 pounds, but I was still determined and able to get back on track after delivery.  I know it is tough to gain weight while pregnant and then to lose it, especially when you want to spend all your time admiring, loving and nurturing your new bundle of joy.  Especially when society celebrates celebrities who lose their pregnancy weight in just months.  But, part of being a good parent is taking time to take care of yourself; knowing when you need a "time out", a few minutes to just take a walk around the block, catch up with a friend, get your hands dirty in the garden, or watch your favorite TV show.  

Another important part of being a parent is setting a good example for your children.  Parents are their childs first and best teacher and they learn their habits from those around them.  Many of the habits, connections and relationships a child has are formed by the time they reach the door on the first day of Kindergarten.  So, I wonder what have these children learned?  I can make assumptions that they have learned that is is just easier to pick up the phone and call for take out (totaling $320 dollars a week) instead of preparing meals, that it is normal and acceptable to drink beer while pregnant, and that your health is less important than going on a vacation.

Furthermore, I don't have a problem with asking for help.  I think that our system (and I am assuming the UK system) should be available for those who need help, that is what is how it was designed.  But, it is not designed for abuse and requests that are not seen as THE last option.  We have become a society that is lazy and blames others for our problems and when you don't want to work hard for something you can just ask taxpayers for it or give up.  I make sacrifices everyday to provide better for my children, for example not going on a big trips or having a new car.  This year the economy, lack of winter in the Midwest and gas prices do not allow our family to take a big trip for spring break.   I use this opportunity to explain this to my children and have them reflect, in ways that 7 and 9 year old boys can, on what God has provided and how we can share with others and grow in our lives.

Towards the end of the story it mentions that this lady has tried to encourage her family to eat healthier and that she can't afford a trainer and has numerous health problems.  But I have to wonder, if you did not eat out all week and used the money you saved to hire some one (on a temporary basis) to help you change your habits, could she do it?  Is it possible to change years of bad habits and excuses?  Naturally I would say YES, but I am just one person and I have never been in her shoes.  It can be done and if she truly wanted to make the changes she would find a way to financially support it and would power through the pain while exercising.  I found this week a local man with a great blog, Walk Two Hours, that chronicles one mans journey to health and discovery through walking!  He too had health problems and had pain when first starting on his new journey, but was focused on succeeding and making the change!  

Making changes towards a healthier you does not have to include a trainer, traditional diets, or a major overhaul in one fail swoop!  How does the saying go...oh yes, Rome wasn't built in a day.  In fact Rome is still building today, in the same way that our journeys to health are always changing and building and growing with baby steps and one day at a time.  What it takes is a desire to change and the determination to make a difference in your life! 


So I end with these questions for you:
+What will your changes be for the day?  
+What will it be for tomorrow or next week?  
+How will you gauge if you are on the right track?
+How will you know you are successful?  What will it feel like?  What will it look like?
+Who will support, encourage and grow with you?



Healthy Eatings...AND LIVING!!

Rachel




 
 
So I decided to try something new in my house and I call it "Make it up Monday" or MUM for short.  The concept is simple...I take an ingredient or multiple ingredients and make up a new recipe with them.  Sometimes this works out great or at least good.  But this week, well...this week was a failure!  My choices of ingredients, wheat berries and tempeh, are good ingredients and very tasty when done right just not on this particular MUM!  

I am just fine with not meeting my expectations on a MUM night, or with any recipe for that matter, it actually makes me more determined to find/create a recipe using those same ingredients that tastes wonderful!  I love that my kids watched and were apart of this recipe flop.  Not because I "failed" but of how I am teaching them to handle situations where they may not succeed the first time.  Picture if I had burst into tears and tossed the entire meal in the trash and grabbed the phone to order a pizza.  What would that have taught them?  My guess, is that it would have encouraged them that it is acceptable to throw a fit and give up.  Instead, I took a minute to think about what I could do or what I could add to make the dinner at least edible for that night.  What did that teach them?  Well, I like to think it taught them how to improvise, accept that mistakes happen, to try again after a little more research, since they saw me online after dinner researching the ingredients for next time.

The same thing can be true in a multitude of situations.  My boys have taken up this fascination with triathlons and running but, I recently learned that my knees cannot handle running anymore.  I was sad about it because I like to "run out my frustrations" and "pound my bad day into the pavement", and running together was fun.  Instead of dwelling on the fact that I could not run, so this was not an option for them, I have decided to have them run on the track by our house and I will walk. 

The point I am trying to make is that it is all about choices and how we handle the situation that determines how others, whether it is our kids, co-workers, friends, or spouses, adapt to the situation at hand.  So, my challenge to you is to let your kids, and others, see you "miss the mark" on something and use it for personal growth and as a teachable moment.  


Rachel
 
 
So I have been a big slacker lately!  I have been so busy with my full time job, I have had a hard time trying to keep up on my postings of recipes and health tips.  This has caused me some anxiety because I just don't have enough time in my day and I want to be able to keep up on something that I believe so strongly about and my commitments.   This has lead me to think about those of you that are trying to make the effort to lead a more healthy lifestyle.  It is hard to make the changes, it is hard to be really intentional about the food you are making and eating or introducing to your palate.  Sometimes you will do really well and live healthy everyday, other times you will find yourself slipping back to what is "normal" or comfortable and that is okay.  

What is important is recognizing what triggers you to slide backwards, so that you can avoid the situation or the temptation next time.  I think it is important to keep a calendar or journal of what is going on in your life, what you are eating, and what your activity level is during those times.  Having something to track your patterns and habits allows visual learners to make the connections needed to stay on the healthy path next time those busy weeks, hormone levels, and other items come up because, as creatures of habit those issues will pop back up again and again.  

Remember to cut yourself some slack and keep trying!


Rachel
 
 
We all need to eat 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables in our diet daily, depending on your daily caloric intake.  This can get tricky sometimes because we are busy people, but it can be done and it does not need to be hard.  In fact, adding more vegetables and fruits in your diet can be as simple as just making a few changes.

If you are looking for a quick and easy to add more vegetables to your diet, this recipe is a great way!  This vegetable mix is so versatile!  I use it on my bagel for breakfast with cream cheese,  as a "salsa" with tortilla chips or multi-grain crackers, mixed in with scrambled eggs, as a wrap with hummus for a quick healthy lunch, just to name a few.  While I am not a fan of canned vegetables, I think that adding any additional vegetables into your diet is better than nothing at all.  Plus, when summer comes around and fresh vegetables are again available for lower cost in Michigan you can always switch to fresh :)

Below are a couple of site links, that you can visit for other ways to add more fruits and vegetables in your day, the reasons your need more fruits and vegetables in your day.  

Fruits and Veggies, More Matters

Harvard School of Public Health

Woman's Day



Healthy (fruit and veggie) Eatings!!!


Rachel
 
 
So, I was planning on doing Part 2 today about incorporating exercise, and that may come later, but I just found a GREAT article about getting kids into the kitchen and I just had to post it!

I can't even summarize my joy over this article and some of the research behind the importance of teaching our kids proper nutrition and encouraging their help in the kitchen.  The findings about how nutrition curriculum and practice can impact children's behavior in the cafeteria alone solidifies the fact that if we teach our kids about their food and why they need to make good choices, they will do it and they will ASK for it! Now, if we could just get Congress to put down their pizza and fries, or as they call them vegetables, and let kids learn and grow with proper nutrition and encourage them maybe we will become a healthier society!


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/health/09well.html


Please share your thoughts!





 
 
So many parents wonder, how do I get my kids healthier and active in the era of video games and technology?

Activity and healthy living have always been a focal point in our family because it is such a passion of mine.  But that is not the case in all families, especially when there are so many inactive options for kids between iPads, computer games, video games, television, etc.  One of the most important things we can do is to start when our kids are young setting the example of getting and staying active, teaching them about proper nutrition, what consequences food has on their bodies (both good and bad) and how they can help keep your family healthy.

Life isn't always perfect and we all make mistakes and forget that we are setting the example for our kids.  I have been guilty of picking up a pizza because of soccer practices or running through the drive-thru because I stayed late at work, but every now and then should be the exception and not the rule.  The other night my son reminded me of that when we were driving to my parents house.  He was so excited that he had received a McDonald's gift card from his prayer partner at church and wanted to buy the family McFlurries with his "debit card".  The joy on his face that he got to order and pay for the treat was so cute, I almost wished I had video taped it to go with this post!  Later in the car he said to me, "You know mama, I really should not have had this today."  His reaction surprised me, so I had to ask, "Why is that?"  His response in a wise 7 year old voice, "Because I had hot lunch and 2 birthday treats at school today, so another treat was probably not appropriate."  I was so happy that my kids were getting the point about good nutritional choices and voicing it on their own, I doing a little dance in my head.  But I know that everyday cannot always be full of perfect proper nutrition, to say otherwise would be hypocritical.  I just responded, "I am proud of you for realizing that too much junk food is not healthy for you.  But, you know, it's okay to have a free day now and then where you can enjoy special days and treats with your friends and family.  Tomorrow you will just need to remember the treats you had today and make wise choices for meals and snacks."  He finished that McFlurry with a big smile on his face.  As we celebrated Thanskgiving with my family the next day I had a big smile on my face, and doing that same little dance in my head, when he asked if we could split a piece of apple pie because he was "making good choices today".

So in my story about the pride in my son and his "ah-ha" moment, I know that not all people have the passion and the knowledge that I do around nutrition and healthy living, but that there are resources out there that can help.  I was on WebMd  yesterday looking at an article when I noticed an icon called "What's fit for Kids?" and thought I would check it out.  While there are video game type activities on this portion of the site, I really think they get kids and families thinking about the right things as far as how foods and exercise help our bodies so we can have healthier days!

I love that the site has different sections depending our your children's ages; 2-7, 8-12, and 13-18.  This allows for a tailored age appropriate messages around 4 main areas of Food, Recharge, Move and Mood.  Kids can answer quizzes, take on a challenge, learn about new foods, and more.


 
 
The holidays are right around the corner.  Which means eating lots of good food and treats with family and friends.  After the holidays, is when many start to think about losing weight and getting healthy, which explains why so many new years resolutions are to lose weight and get healthy.  When you want to lose weight you might think cutting calories is the best and fastest way.  However there is a real danger in consuming too few calories in your day.  Everyday Health covered this topic in an article on the health dangers of cutting too many calories from your day.




A rule that I try to follow is to eat all day long!  Kidding, kinda.  What I actually do is eat a few smaller meals throughout the day with healthy snacks in between those meals.  My go to snacks include: greek yogurt with honey, hummus and pretzels, fresh fruit, applesauce, hummus and veggies, veggies and guacamole, or rice chips and salsa.  To learn more about eating small meals throughout the day and calorie guidelines for that type of eating check out Boosting Metabolism with Mini Meals.







Healthy Eatings,




Rachel