Monthly Archives: May 2012

Calories vs. Nutrition

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Calories.  We all know that I don’t talk about calories often, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t matter.

I do not count calories.  I used to, but I became so overwhelmed and so distraught when I didn’t reach my calorie goals, that I had to find a better way.  Calorie counting knocked me off track more often than any other method of weight-loss I have tried.

Why?

Because with calorie counting, I thought I could eat all the food I have always eaten, in smaller portions, and lose weight.  The problem with that is the food I have always eaten is highly addictive.  Bread, sugar, processed foods…my body wouldn’t take no for an answer.  It wanted all of the calories I could take until my brain FINALLY communicated that I was full.  By the way, I was usually sick by that point.

I have found a better way.

If you eat good, whole, real foods with plenty of water and slowly with intent, you don’t have to count calories. Calories do play a part in weight-loss, I’m not saying they don’t.  My point is, when you eat the food your body needs with the amount of water your body needs, and at a healthy pace, you will most likely end up in your target calorie range.  Calorie counting was an important part in my journey, because now I can recognize what the proper amounts of food are.  If you are in control of your food, instead of the other way around, you will be successful with this school of thought.

The most important thing you can remember about calories is that a high calorie food does not necessarily mean it is unhealthy, Just as a low calorie food does not mean that something is healthy.  Calories are not commentary on the nutrition of the food. They have everything to do with energy.

We all slip up, trust me, even though I eat good food, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Examples: I have a really hard time not eating too much almond butter and chicken. Well…not together, but you get me, right?

How do I control my almond butter obsession? I don’t allow myself to eat it by the spoonful.  Oh it is so painful to let that one go, but I have to control my food.  Darn deliciosness. I core an apple, slice it in half, put almond butter in the valleys of both halves, and sprinkle the apple flesh with cinnamon. Seriously the best snack ever and I exercise an annoying thing called portion control.

Chicken.  I really love chicken and all meat, really.   This is something I’m really struggling with.  When I started my no grain, no processed food, no legumes, no dairy, no sugar life; it was really important to me that I would replace those things with vegetables and fruits, not more meat.

Meat can be a really scary thing.  The way animals are raised and treated makes me very weary of what you can get in a grocery store, regardless of what the packaging says.  I try to make the best decisions when it comes to purchasing meat, but really, you don’t actually know what you are getting.

Another reason I don’t want to eat too much meat is because your body has to have balance.

Do you remember Highschool chemistry? Think back…remember acid, alkalines, and homeostasis?  Well that might be some biology too…I don’t know, I wasn’t the best student.

This is critical to the way your body works! Certain foods are considered acids and others are considered alkalines.  We have to have both and we have to balance them.  What happens when we don’t balance our diet? Your body has to do it itself.  This isn’t pretty, because your body will deplete nutrients and minerals to keep itself balanced.

Examples of acidic foods: meat, grains, sugar

Examples of alkalizing foods: most fruits and vegetables.

Here is a great list further explaining acidic and alkaline foods.

This makes sense doesn’t it? As you might guess, the SAD (Standard American Diet) is highly acidic.  With all the bread, meat, cheese, and potatoes we eat, our bodies don’t stand a chance at being balanced.  So when our diet is too high in acid, the body seeks out alkalines and that is often found in the minerals our body needs.  No wonder people get sick and fat.

Calorie counting may work for you, but don’t forget about nutrition.  Always consider what your body needs to function versus what you want to eat.  When you become educated about how food functions in your body, it really is easier to make better decisions.

Knowledge = No Excuses

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Comfort Food, The Better Way

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My oh my what a week it has been. I know, it’s probably been quite a week for you too, so I won’t even start to complain.  I’ve been a bit disheartened as of late, because the scale has really slowed down.  I went from losing about 2 pounds a week to about .5 pound a week.  I think I have hit a plateau of some sort, but I do feel that my body is still changing in a good way, regardless of what the scale says.  This is possibly due to a higher intensity workout….well, hopefully.  Atleast i know I’ve been making excellent choices for my body, nothing bad can come from that.

Now for an awkward segue….

My dad’s favorite meal is Spaghetti and Meatballs.  I’ve never really been a fan of this dish, mainly because my mom is not a little Italian grandmother (sorry Mom), and it always seems to lack something.

Being the good daughter I am, I decided to cook his favorite dish in a way that everyone in the family could eat, guilt free.  Now I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but my dad is a picky eater.  He wants everything prepared the same way his mom made it, and well that just doesn’t fit in with a healthy lifestyle.  So he can go ahead and grumble and groan when I replace spaghetti with zucchini, but come on man, we have to get your health under control.

That sounded a bit rant-ish, didn’t mean for it to happen that way.

I made a lasagna a few months ago using zucchini as the noodle and it was absolutely delicious, however, dairy is a thing of the past for me and I refuse to do a lasagna without cheese.  Zucchini is not exactly the easiest pasta replacement; you have to deal with all of the water that comes along with the vegetable.  I would say the secret to the deliciousness of this recipe is the homemade marinara.

This was seriously good, I wouldn’t post anything that wasn’t.  I did not miss a real noodle at all.  It was satiating and most importantly, comforting.

Enjoy!

Yes, it really is as good as it looks.

Zucchini Spaghetti and Meatballs

For the Marinara:

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 8oz pkg of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 oz of quality sausage (that means fresh, real, no preservatives, at the very least make sure it doesn’t have nitrates or nitrites)
  • 1 32 oz can of tomatoes, doesn’t have to be exact and can be whole, crushed, or diced. Just make sure that you look at the ingredient list (all natural ingredients) and San Marzano tomatoes are really the best!
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (may omit if you don’t like any kind of spicy)
  • 2 Tbs minced basil
  • Olive oil

To make the marinara:

1.  Heat 2 Tbs of Olive oil in a pan (should be atleast a 3 quart pan, I used a 5 quart and it was perfect) to medium high heat. Add The mushrooms and cook until browned. Add onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the veggies are limp.

2.  Add sausage and red pepper flakes, cook until sausage in brown.  Add the chicken broth and scrape the brown bits off of the bottom. Add the tomatoes, italian seasoning, and a bay leaf.  break up the tomatoes as much as possible and bring to a slight boil.  Turn down to a simmer and let it simmer away for an hour.

3.  Remove the bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, and serve over pasta!

For the noodles:

  • About 1 zucchini per person, for the amount of sauce listed above, 5 zucchinis were perfect

1.  Using a vegetable peeler, remove most of the dark outer skin.  With the peeler, make thin strips of zucchini.  Be sure to avoid the seedy centers.

2.  Put the zucchini strips into a colander and salt.  Make sure to mix it together so that all of the zucchini is evenly coated.  Let stand for 30 minutes, and then rinse the salt off. (This helps the zucchini shed some of its water)

3.  Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.  Add zucchini and boil for 1 minute, remove and drain.

To put the dish together!:

On a platter, spread the zucchini noodles out, but not too thin.  Top with sauce and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Top the sauce with your favorite meatballs! I would have included a meatball recipe, but it’s not a particularly special meatball.  I figured we all have our favorite meatball recipe, just make sure you use quality meat!!!! And if you’re paleo: no milk, cheese, or grain in your meatball!

Lemon Mint Ginger Bars

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Oh man do I have a treat for you.  Have you ever had a Larabar? Me neither, can’t afford them or even find them anywhere local.  I’ve really wanted to try one and then I ran across this recipe. Sweet, sweet success.  Now this is delicious and what makes them sweet? Dates.

Oh man, dates should not even be considered a fruit.  Weighing in at a whopping 26g of sugar for a serving (about 5 dates), it should be considered a sweet treat instead of a serving of fruit. I know, I spoiled all of the fun.

I officially endorse this as the best thing ever.  I know, I know, you people have to have my approval to try something.  I should calm it down with the sarcasm.

I love that this is sweetened with fruit instead of having to add honey.  I consider it a treat, but I think you can have this one a little more often than my normal suggested treat distribution. Perfect for post workout, because we all know that our bodies handle sugar better after a workout (something to do with insulin…I should research this further) and it gives a decent dose of protein.

I found the original recipe here and I fell in love! I have never been so excited about a fruit and nut bar that is so packed with wonderful nutrients.  I have tweaked the recipe a bit, because I just need more of the lemon flavor and I wanted to add an herb to freshen it up!

Enjoy!

Lemon Mint Ginger Bars

  • 1 cup of sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  •  1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups of pitted dates
  • The zest of 2 lemons and the juice of only one of the lemons
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger
  • 5 mint leaves, torn

1.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor

2. Process until the mixture forms a ball

3.  Line a 9x 9 baking pan with parchment and press mixture into pan

4. Refrigerate a couple of hours and cut into bars of whatever size you desire

Tip: They taste wonderful right out of the food processor, but let them sit over night and the flavors really come out!

A House Divided

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Cooking dinner at home has become an interesting experiment and I’ll tell you why:

My dad wants everything fried, my mom is allergic to wheat, pork, strawberries, carrots, all nuts, and all citrus. Also, refuses to eat anything that is slightly spicy.  I of course do not eat grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods, or sugar.  Talk about a conflict of interest.

It’s worse than living with a bunch of picky 3 year olds.

So what ends up happening? Luckily, the person with the strictest dietary needs does all of the cooking (that would be me!).  I refuse to be a short order cook, but I do have to modify my meals from time to time.  Here are our most popular meals and how I modify them:

Stuffed Bell Peppers: There is rice in the hamburger mixture so I just leave the rice out of mine. It’s not too big of a deal.

Fish: My Dad refuses to eat fish if it isn’t fried….which is highly irritating, but I need to keep him somewhat happy.  I usually end up oven frying the fish and leaving the breading off of the fish for my mom and myself…so basically he eats fried fish and we eat baked fish.

Fajita night: I saute onions, mushrooms, garlic, and bell peppers with whatever meat I have (steak strips or boneless skinless chicken thighs) add some cumin and it is absolutely delicious.  I reduce some black beans in chicken broth with some cumin and garlic powder ( I used to love these and I miss them dearly). I put this out with flour and corn tortillas, rice, and all of the fixin’s.  So I just end up eating the meat with the sauteed veggies, tomatoes, and lettuce, but both of my parents can eat everything I put on the table.

A Roasted Chicken: We can all eat this and it is absolutely delicious.

My general rule is that I serve a meat with two vegetables and always have fresh fruit on the table.  It used to be a requirement that we have some sort of potato or bread with every meal and every now and then I will still serve it to them as a special treat.  It is extremely important to me that everyone who sits at the table can eat a balanced meal from the selections at the table, and yes, that means more time spent in thought and preparation.

That Roasted Asparagus I have at the top of the post? I have to serve the lemon zest on the side, because of my mom’s citrus allergy.  Where there is a will, there is a way!

Children.  I have a 3 year old niece and I watch her often, so I also have to consider what she likes to eat.  This is actually easy.  If she helps me cook dinner, she is proud and will eat whatever is on the table.  She also knows that Aunt KK (that’s what she calls me) will not let her eat junk and has accepted this fact.  She is very conditioned to eat what we eat and does not make a fuss.  Maybe I got lucky, or maybe I did something right, either way I have no issues with her being picky.  It takes A LOT of patience to cook with a 3 year old, I’m sure a lot of you know this, but you have to find a task that they can complete; it is excellent for their self esteem.  A child with a great self esteem, makes a happy adult.

Once you get the hang of it, your thought process becomes automatic when cooking.  Your mind will automatically eliminate foods that your family can not eat and preparing dinner will become as easy as it ever was.

Food allergies and gluten intolerances have really become prevalent in the past few years and you may find yourself frustrated when a family member has a special food need.  Don’t let this discourage you! When one door closes another door opens.  You will go out into the world and find delicious foods that you may not have found otherwise!

When my mom was diagnosed with all of her food allergies, she thought she had to live a life of eating chicken, potatoes, and rice.  It’s not true! Don’t be depressed by a food allergy, get adventerous and find new foods that you love that you can add to your diet.  The world is full of foods to try, don’t get stuck in a rut!

Now, you will fail.  Your family will hate some meals you cook, but that just comes with experimentation.  What if Edison had given up after his first failure? There is an amazing world past the failure, that you have to explore.  Don’t be afraid to try.

Health and Happiness,

K

30 Day Challenge Announcement!

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I have discovered the joy of dates (the delicious fruit, not awkward, forced conversation at some dumb chain restaurant), nothing good can come from this.

Oh wait, that’s not what this post is about.  

Oh yes, the 30 Day Challenge, I’ve been talking your ear off about (or typing your eye off about?) it for the past month.

I have decided to relax the rules a bit and give you until May 15th to send me your before/after pictures! No worries I will not show these to anybody.  However, if you had mind blowing results, I will definitely ask you if I can share it on my blog! You most certainly may refuse, of course.

You’re welcome for the extension…maybe you need a few more days to catch up on a few you missed.  I’ not judging. 

Don’t forget to do this! Remember, if you send me your results, I will enter you in a drawing for the grand prize! 54 oz of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Wow, what a prize.

So please email me your pictures by May 15th to:

allthat1der@gmail.com

Jealousy

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Jealousy.

We’re all pretty level headed people, but we can’t help but compare ourselves to others from time to time.  It happens, but as long as it’s a fleeting thought, we can manage a healthy mental life.  Although we hate to admit it, jealousy can be a huge proponent to derailing your weight-loss efforts.

For some people losing weight can be unbelievably difficult.  I of course am one of those people and am certainly not immune to jealousy.  In all honesty (that’s what we do here, talk about the stuff we would rather not), I feel the pangs of jealousy every time I have a friend talk about how they lost 15 pounds on their first month of weight watchers.  I get jealous when I hear of someone who lost a hundred pounds by walking everyday. I get really jealous when I hear of someone who lost an incredible amount of weight by just giving up soda.

I put it out there, don’t judge me.

The truth is jealousy is an incredibly useless emotion.  It is counter-productive in every way.  The only way to change your body and to love your body, is to constantly feed it positive vibes.  Your perception of yourself has an incredible impact of the health of your mind and the results you gain.  Example? Okay, if you insist. This weekend the scale read 213 pounds (which if you go and look at my weight-loss stats, you will see this is a good thing), but when I looked in the mirror, I swear I thought I looked like I gained back all of my weight.  Why? because I was letting negative images into my brain.  I compared myself to others and what happened? I saw myself as a failure, and my mental image of  failure is being 239 lbs again.

Does that happen to you? Does your opinion of yourself affect your eyes? Does it affect what you see in the mirror?

I’m certain I’m not the only one and even though I view myself as having a positive self esteem, little monsters still like to creep up from time to time.  To be successful in this game, you have to approach it positively, if you approach it with negativity, you will not get anywhere.  Why would your body respond to hate? Nothing good can come from it.

When I’m really upset, I always write down what I am feeling.  I fold up the piece of paper, put it in a safe place, and revisit it in a few days. I highly suggest this to anyone who wants to figure out what they are really feeling.  When I go back and read what I wrote, 90% of the time I laugh about how ridiculous I was being.  The other 10 % of the time, I am able to analyze why I’m feeling that way and how it is affecting my life.

Think first, act second; it’s the only way to stay level headed and make good decisions.

So when you feel jealous towards that friend who eats fast food daily and still weighs 120 pounds, analyze your feelings.  Take a moment and think about what you have gained by being healthy.

It’s easy to say “just forget it, it’s not worth it. I would rather eat that cheeseburger than have to work my tail off.”  Health is more than calories and weight…it is about giving your body the best.  It is about treating yourself with respect and building a strong body.  Success and health are not always measured by weighing 120 pounds.

Also you have to remember that things are not always as they seem.  Jealous of someone’s quick and easy weight-loss? hope the best for your friend, but remember, slow, steady, and healthy really does win the race.

Health and Happiness,

K