The Simple Way to Make Veggies Actually Taste Good

Some of us don’t need to be convinced that veggies actually taste good. We already know. We love and crave many delicious veggies and can’t figure out what’s wrong with all the people who turn up their noses at green, orange, and red food that grows out of the ground.

Fruits and Veggies On the Go 2

For many of us, liking vegetables has come with age as our tastes change. It also helps when we actually try a new vegetable every once in a while. (I’m talking to all of you who say, “I don’t like that” before you’ve even actually tried it. You know who you are.)

Even with changing taste buds and willingness to try new veggies once in a while, I don’t know one person who likes every single vegetable on the planet. I love many different kinds, but I still really struggle with artichokes and beets. You?

But here’s what I’ve found to make a big difference in the world of vegetables. It’s the trick that can make a person turn around and actually like a vegetable he or she may not have liked before. It’s this:

Add a delicious, healthy fat to your veggie.

Not only does fat add flavor to the veggie and bring out its natural goodness, it adds necessary nutrients to fuel our bodies for energy and to feed our brains. I find it to be so very lovely when my brain actually works. You?

My favorite ways to add fat to veggies to create amazing flavor:

1. Butter

When I steam peas, broccoli, or carrots, I love to stir in some butter and sea salt. Oh my happy, happy veggies.

tuna_casserole

2. Bacon Grease

You guys. Cook your bacon, eat your bacon, then keep the grease it created and put it in a jar in your fridge. Stir a couple teaspoons into your steamed green beans along with some sea salt and see if your family doesn’t go back for seconds. Get over thinking that “bacon grease will give you a heart attack.” It’s good, natural fat. Don’t want a heart attack? Stop eating cookies and drinking pop. Love ya.

green-beans

3. Stir Fry them in Olive Oil

Last week we had a few college students over for a meal. I stir fried yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and broccoli to go with our Hawaiian Chicken and Rice. Upon cleaning her plate, one of the college girls stood up and said, “I’m getting more veggies. Those were really good. Hmm. I’ve never said that before.

It made my day and it proves my point. Add good fat to the veggies. Enjoy them with non-processed sea salt (full of needed minerals).

stir_fry

And what about raw veggies?

Well, eat them plain if you enjoy them that way. But if dipping them in something delicious helps you get them down, go for it with healthy dips like Homemade Ranch Dip or this Easy Veggie Dip.

Easy Veggie Dip 1

Tell me how you cook your veggies! What are your favorite fats to add? Have you found that healthy fats make veggies taste awesome?

the-simple-way-to-make-veggies-actually-taste-good

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Be on the look-out! Our Simple Meals program is about to launch and you’re going to love it! In the meantime, here are our latest new Simple Recipes that go with the Simple Veggies talked about above:

Want to Eat Healthy? Then Stay Away From This…

Let me guess. You assume I’m going to say something about margarine. Maybe high fructose corn syrup. Crisco, perhaps?

Aww, you know me well. You know I yell about avoiding those harmful ingredients. But that’s not actually what I want to talk about today.

want-to-eat-healthy-stay-away-from-this

Today I’m not going to give you a list of do’s and don’ts about eating. Today’s advice is much simpler. It’s this:

If you want to consistently eat healthy meals and snacks, stay away from complicated recipes.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Every once in a while I meet someone who truly thrives on challenging recipes with multiple steps. But mostly I find that complicated recipes make people frustrated and overwhelmed, then they quickly give up on healthy eating and fall back into patterns of eating out and grabbing cheap, empty, convenience food.

I don’t even blame them. When I see a recipe with a long list of ingredients and a bunch of detailed instructions, my brain explodes. This, from someone who loves to cook.

Here’s a little example of what I’m talking about: Do not tell me to separate my egg whites from their yolks, whip them until they are frothy, then gently fold them into my waffle batter. No. I will not. The people need their waffles! There is life waiting for us just on the other side of breakfast and taking time to froth my egg whites is something I only do at Thanksgiving when there is meringue for a cream pie involved. Instead, I always quickly whisk my waffle ingredients together all at once – whites and yolks and all – and would you believe it? The mixture still turns out amazing waffles.

belgiun_waffles

If the kitchen is intimidating to you, if you have a busy schedule, and if you want to eat consistently healthy, day after day…

Relax and make your meals as simple as possible.

If I hadn’t figured out how to make healthy meals simple, I would have given up long ago. There really is too much to do outside the kitchen. Through the years, I’ve pared down and reshaped my cooking style so that most often our healthy meal is on the table within just 15-20 minutes. But it’s amazing how much variety we get and how nourishing our meals are.

Oven Free Summertime Meal

I credit this to the fact that I’ve restructured most of our meals to look like this:

  1. Simple main dish (often made ahead of time; sometimes quickly thrown into the crock pot earlier in the day)
  2. Tossed salad, straight from the container
  3. A steamed veggie, which at most, took five minutes of  prep work
  4. Fresh fruit, washed and if necessary, sliced

enchilada meal

See how pretty? See how simple? Not to mention all I’ve done is set out the food (still in their pans) and salad fixin’s and everyone fills their own plate. We work together to cook it, we work together to clean it up.

This is what Simple Meals are made of. They are delicious and stress-free. They are balanced. They aren’t messy. They do not require you to froth your egg whites.

If you’re into healthy eating and want to do this consistently, stick with me here. I’m constantly working to simplify my recipes and menus to save all of us time (and money, which is a lovely bonus). Find all of the hundreds of recipes I’ve shared so far here. And…

Guess what?

Oh, you’ll never guess. ;) But I did decide to let you, my friends and faithful readers, in on a secret. It’s kind of a big deal, and not only will it help families like yours and mine eat simple healthy food consistently and gain back important family time each day…

You can earn some money with this project.

All of you. For real.

I’m talking actual money that you can use to buy groceries. Or pay a bill. Or buy Christmas gifts.

That’s the icing on the cake that is completely packed full of wonderfulness.

Really, I don’t mean to tease. It’s just that the details of this project are best left to be shared once it is complete, and I’m pushing for mid-October for the big reveal. Sooooo….

Be watching for all the details to unfold within the next few weeks. In the meantime, you should do two things:

  • Enjoy all the new Simple Recipes I’ll be sharing here. I’m talking delicious, real food recipes that only require five or ten minutes of prep work.
  • Start thinking about and making a list people you know who would enjoy learning more about how to simplify life while consistently putting healthy meals on the table. People that would love more family time and less time in the kitchen. (Me! Me! I’m raising my hand!)

Family times comes first, and I’m excited to make it even easier for all of us to make this a reality!

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P.S. Here’s a little preview of a hand-painted graphic for our Simple Meals project. Would you look at that? I asked my designer to include butter.

Why You Should Eat Fat Bombs (and a Recipe!)

A few weeks ago while researching how I could add more fat into my diet, I came across this recipe for Fat Bombs.

fat-bombs-easy-and-delicious

That, my friends, is a Fat Bomb. They look like something terribly naughty. But instead, they are full of so much good nourishment! Your day just took a turn for the better. You have no idea how happy I am to share these with you!

Have you ever even heard of Fat Bombs? I sure hadn’t. But the biggest question is: why would I try to see how I could add more fat to my diet?

Well, I’ve been reading and studying more about regulating my hormones and blood sugar and keeping my adrenals functioning well – you know. Just a little light reading. Everything keeps pointing me back to “eat a lot of protein” and “eat a lot of good fats.” Hey, you don’t have to tell me twice.

Now, protein is an easy one for me. I love and crave meat most of the time. But I have been realizing that getting plenty of fat is a little bit more difficult (beyond what is naturally in the meat I’m being forced to eat). I’ve tried eating spoonfuls of coconut oil, but it’s just weird and I don’t love it.

diary3

See here’s the funny thing: I find that I mostly use butter and coconut oil in baked goods. But I’m no longer eating many baked goods. I can stir some butter into my veggies, but that’s still not very much fat. Cream in my coffee? Sure, but I’m trying to cut back on caffeine too (prayers welcome).

I’d be mad at my hormones and blood sugar and adrenals about all of this, but my quest to find wellness for all of these led me to find out about these Fat Bombs. So ALL IS FORGIVEN.

fat-bombs-rock

Everyone else can have their sugary cakes and cookies and I don’t even care because I get to eat Fat Bombs. They are kind of a cross between a Peanut Butter Cup and a Huge Piece of Fudge. No one feels sorry for me now. Everyone is jealous. But not to worry. I am here to share the recipe so that you, too, can make Fat Bombs.

Now, first, a warning: If you are expecting these to taste super sweet like a piece of Christmas fudge or an actual peanut butter cup, you will be disappointed. But if you appreciate the need to cut back on sugar and you prepare yourself for a lightly sweetened peanut butter chocolate treat, you will bite in and be so happy that you get to eat many bites before it’s gone. Yes, you will be so, so happy.

You will offer them to your family, saying something like, “These are so amazing!!!! You won’t like them, though.

This is how things normally work with my family now. My husband is totally digging my sugarless, stevia-sweetened or otherwise very low sugar treats. Our boys are more skeptical. I’ve cut down the sugar drastically in our household, and they’ve barely noticed and are just fine with muffins, cookies, and cakes with the sugar cut down. But the stevia-only treats? They are not fans.

But as for me, I’m loving the Fat Bombs. So far I’ve only made a Chocolate Peanut Butter variety but a little Pinterest searching told me there are other kinds that I should try. Okay then. If you’re going to twist my arm.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat BombsYum

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut oil (I use expeller pressed so the coconut flavor didn't overpower.)
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • Liquid stevia to taste (I use 1½ droppers full of NuNaturals Brand.)
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat and stir together coconut oil, cocoa powder, butter, and peanut butter.
  2. Once melted and mixed, remove from heat and stir in stevia.
  3. Pour into 12 muffin lined muffin tins.
  4. Freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Store in fridge and eat as needed.

chocolate-peanut-butter-fat-bombs

Isn’t it happy irony that these also have protein in them? It’s like I’m getting a two for one on needed nutrients here.

Note: These do not taste as yummy when they are room temp. Keep them cold and eat them directly out of the fridge. Take it from me.

Fun Fat Fact: It’s hard to over-eat these. After two bites I always think that I will finish one and enjoy a second because I’m loving it so much. But by the time I finish the one, I am full and satisfied, ready to stop eating. Then I stay full for a couple of hours, which is great because I typically need to eat little bits all day long.

I love this about good fats. They satisfy. (As opposed to empty carbs or bad fats that tell your body that you need more in order to be satisfied, so we tend to over eat them.)

Why Good Fat is Good

  • It gives us energy. (So don’t eat fat if you prefer to be lethargic.)
  • It builds healthy cells.
  • It helps our bodies use Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • It helps us have healthy skin, as well as helps our other organs to be protected. (Skin is an organ. I always forget this, but I think it’s so cool.)

So there you go. We all need to be eating good fats. These Fat Bombs make eating good fats extremely fun and happy, and they only take a few minutes to stir together.

Oh how I hope you like the Fat Bombs as much as I do. Best treat ever. (So says the girl who hasn’t had a cookie for a very long time.)

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Simple Meals is where it’s at, my friends! You will love this!!

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The Thing That Makes Me Mad About Food

My grandma was famous for her angel food cakes. Also her coconut cream pies. And her chocolate chip cookies. She wasn’t allowed to show up to community or church potlucks without one of her signature desserts. You want to see the preacher get mad? Let Grandma come to a potluck without the angel food cake. She may as well have worn a pantsuit. Scandalous.

(Hey. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a pantsuit to church. Yeah, tell that to Grandma.)

Holiday round cake

Food during the time I was growing up was just…food. Sure, much of it was made with white flour and Crisco. Maybe my favorite song was the Oscar Mayer B-O-L-O-G-N-A song. Kool-aid was most certainly a regular part of our meals. But food wasn’t a thing like it is now. Now everywhere we turn we can find a person with severe, even life threatening, food allergies.

I am so mad and sad about this.

Food is such a great big issue now. I believe that through the past few decades we’ve destroyed what were once stable sources for food, added too many pesticides, tried too much genetic modification, gotten too used to opening boxes at dinnertime, and bought into lies that margarine and vegetable shortening are better than real butter and real lard. We were told to make bread the biggest part of our food pyramid and urged to drink skim instead of whole. Making money became more important than nourishment, so we began creating ingredients in factories (high fructose corn syrup, anyone?) as a way to cut costs.

Not only that, antibiotics have been given out like candy. Many of us have mercury fillings. The list goes on.

And now? Our guts are a great big mess.

Most of our digestive systems are so wacky, we can’t begin to digest food the way we were designed to, and it’s causing major problems for many of us. Maybe the problem for you and your family isn’t showing up in food allergies. Maybe instead it looks like ADD or other learning struggles. Maybe it looks like eczema. Maybe it looks like arthritis. Maybe it’s migraines. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe your hormones are out of whack. Maybe it’s an autoimmune disease.

Maybe so many things.

Now, before I get too mad and sad and verbal about it, I should resign myself to recognizing that yep, we live in a fallen world. Nothing will be perfect this side of heaven and that’s the truth.

But maybe I’m just sad that we can’t all go to a potluck and eat whatever yummy things we want off the potluck table.

I’ve been feeling all these feelings for years, but going grain free this summer really pushed me over to the sad and mad side of the mess we’ve made of our food. That’s the first I really had to experience depriving myself of some of the basics of life – like bread – and it suddenly made me want my grandma’s angel food cake. (This only makes sense if you can eat neither bread nor cake.)

Never before have I wanted to go back to when food was just food and we all ate and enjoyed and didn’t have to look up recipes on Pinterest that would tell us how to make a muffin without eggs, wheat, milk, bowl, spoon, air, or muffin tin.

So what do we do?

Well, being sad and mad sure hasn’t been helpful. Neither has feeling sorry for myself for not getting to eat a hot biscuit dripping with butter.

Is there anything we can even do? Does it even matter? Is this just life this side of heaven?

what-can-we-do-to-be-well-and-feel-well

Hope for Wellness and Healing

I actually think there are some things we can do to help ourselves heal. I not only think so, I’ve experienced it. Healing can happen! No, it isn’t a fast fix. How can it be when it took us several decades to get here? But there really is hope for healing. After all, we don’t want to simply feel well. We want to be well.

1. Stop feeling guilty.

There are so many things I would like to go back and do differently in how I took care of myself during my younger years. I can’t tell you the emotional strife I’ve felt over my inability to take away my kids’ ailments, particularly when our youngest was suffering from chronic eczema for 7 very long years. During that time, I felt horrendous guilt over the fact that surely his sickness was my fault because of how I’d eaten poorly and taken antibiotics when I’d been pregnant with him. (Those alone are not the reason he had a chronic condition, by the way, but it sure was easy to blame myself while I watched my child suffer.)

I still sometimes feel the guilt when I see my oldest deal with environmental allergies. I feel it when I watch any of my kids struggle with lack of focus. When any of their weak spots rear their ugly heads. The guilt. It can overpower.

You guys, guilt helps nothing and only makes us sicker (more sick, whatever). Lay down any guilt you might feel over your imperfections, let God be God, and choose peace. I believe that’s one of the first steps toward both physical and emotional healing.

2. Stop being mad and sad.

Like guilt, anger and sadness over what can’t be changed helps nothing. Sure, we feel what we feel and we certainly don’t want to stuff our feelings. But taking a nice long soak in a bath of sadness certainly doesn’t find us in a place of being cleansed and whole. Choose to move forward with a positive attitude. Do all of this with prayer.

3. Drink water.

Prayer, water – they are practically on the same level of amazingness.

Just kidding, but not. Every time I’m struggling physically or emotionally my tangible go-to is to drink water. It’s amazing the help it offers, and I believe it’s because our bodies need water so much for good health. So…are ya struggling? Drink some sips of water – all day long. Breathe a prayer for healing while you drink. This simple practice can make a huge difference in our overall health.

4. Eat well.

If we don’t put nourishing foods in our bodies we can not even begin to help ourselves find healing. Don’t eat just to satisfy your hunger. Eat food that will offer your body something to work with – food filled with the nutrients you need so you can thrive. (Bologna doesn’t fit the nourishing criteria. Sorry, Oscar.)

5. Seek answers for overall healing.

I think steps 1-4 come first, because we need to focus on positive emotional health, hydrate ourselves, and give our bodies nourishment. But there’s so much more, beyond the surface, that we absolutely can do to achieve better health.

I’ve been learning so much during the past four years as I’ve been visiting my natural doctor and letting her help me detox my entire body, and as I’ve been researching all I can about wellness. Some of this detox journey hasn’t been fun. I’ve shared with you that I feel crummy sometimes as my body pulls out and flushes heavy metals and bad bacteria.

But do you know what I think? I think these temporary months of discomfort are a small price to pay (along with the kinda steep, albeit reasonable, monetary price) compared to the other more severe or life threatening health issues I might have faced down the road. I shouldn’t be amazed (seeing as God has created everything we need for wellness), but I truly am floored at the healing I’ve encountered through these years. My gut health is much, much better now. My lungs, my nervous system – everything has been showing huge strides of improvement.

So back to my feelings about food…

Well, the truth is that food is just more complicated than it used to be. This is where we are now. Thankfully, we know more than we used to about the dangers of Crisco and sugar. We know to make real food a priority instead. But beyond that, if we really want to be healthy and help our families to be healthy, we’re going to have to make some changes and get to work.

I’ve been living this for the past few years and truly, the work is worth it. I just heard this truth while listening to the Healing Your Gut summit and I love it: “We’re not trying to tell people to refrain from eating good foods. We’re trying to help people heal so that they can eat good food.”

Yes, yes, and so much yes!

We can all find healing and become healthy again so that we can all just eat. Food won’t have to be a thing. Food can just be…food.

Not that we should over-indulge in Grandma’s bread or angel food cake. This is a given.

Veggie-n-Egg Scramble ~ A Great Last Minute Meal Idea

I think this Veggie-n-Egg Scramble might become one of my favorite and most relied upon go-to meals.

Veggie and Egg Scramble

I used to make something like this years ago, but kind of forgot about it. Weird how that happens.

A few weeks ago, I needed a quick meal before we headed out to a soccer game. I didn’t have time to cook meat, but I did have a fridge full of veggies and a few dozen eggs. I called the boys into the kitchen and started throwing vegetables and knives at them. Hold on. That didn’t come out right. I didn’t throw knives at them. (Peppers maybe, but not knives.) I’m just saying I started handing out jobs and we all worked together to make this quick and nourishing meal.

Everyone started chopping until my big electric skillet looked like this:

Veggies for veggie scramble
All the veggies are good in this Veggie-n-Egg Scramble, but I will suggest that onions are a key player. Onions give this dish such amazing flavor! Sweet peppers are a close second. Broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, and spinach come next. The beauty is that you can use whatever veggies you like and whatever you have on hand.

Saute the veggies in olive oil or butter until tender. Scramble in some eggs with salt. Toss in a little cheese for extra amazingness. So much deliciousness. Very little work. Extra wonderful nourishment.

Veggie-n-Egg Scramble ~ A Great Last Minute Meal Idea
 
Author:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chopped veggies (onions, sweet peppers, zucchini, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, or any others you like in any combination)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • sea salt to taste
  • shredded cheese to taste
Instructions
  1. Saute vegetables in oil or butter until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, crack eggs into a bowl and whip with milk.
  3. Pour egg mixture over cooked veggies and salt as you like.
  4. Scramble the eggs with the veggies until they are cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top to melt.
  6. Serve

I at least double this for my family of 6 big eaters. Plus we serve it with fresh fruit. Buttered toast also helps fill them up. Seriously. We really do eat and keep eating at our house.

TIP: If you happen to have leftover ham or bacon – even chicken or beef – hanging out in your fridge, those would be a wonderful addition to this dish.

This meal has become one of the easiest ways to get my family to eat a big variety of veggies in one meal. It ranks right up there with Easy Noodle Stir-Fry.

Easy Veggie and Egg Scramble

Do you ever make a meal like this at your house? What veggies would you or do you include? 

It’s meals like this that make “teaching our kids about nutrition” quite natural.

P.S. It is worth noting that this dish makes it possible to feed my family very well for about $1.00 per plate. (We won’t talk about how many plates we go through during a meal…)

Fat vs. Sugar. Which is the True Enemy?

Today let’s talk Fat vs. Sugar.


I was a little girl when I began to hear people say things like…

  • “Low fat is the way to go. We should only eat #?# fat grams per day.” (I can’t remember the exact number. I just remember faithfully counting my fat grams daily as a teen.)
  • “A bacon cheeseburger? That’s a heart attack on a plate.”
  • “Butter?! Butter is terrible for you! We only eat margarine.”
  • “No beef. Just chicken. White meat. Skinless.”

I remember vividly when my mom started following a low-fat diet. I joined her because I was a teenage girl who most certainly didn’t want to get fat by eating fat. I remember hating my fat free turkey breast on low fat bread with fat free mayonnaise. But I ate those sandwiches faithfully for lunches because I was convinced that was the “healthy” way to go.

Oh my gag-ness. I can still imagine the taste of fat free mayo and it makes me turn green. What was in that stuff?

It’s funny (not funny) to me that I actually thought I needed to sacrifice good tasting food in order to be healthy. What a sad mis-conception.

I remember snacking on baked, fat free chips (aka salted cardboard).
I didn’t even like them, but seeing as I was into eating healthy…I made the sacrifice.

That was over three decades ago. I’d like to think we are making progress toward getting away from these untruths about what is actually healthy or unhealthy about our food.

I’m grateful to see that at least the coconut oil trend has caught on. But I still frequently hear people talk about fat as if it is the enemy. I’m determined to educate people about this.

A New Generation of Fat Eaters? Maybe?

Justus, my 16-year old, doesn’t get why people get freaked out about fat. He’s been eating the “real food” way since he was 6 – so fat isn’t scary to him. He knows what it means to eat food our bodies recognize, and he definitely knows that the real food at our house tastes great (atta boy). Recently he was talking about a conversation with friends. He had been telling them about his “mom’s homemade french fries” and they were like, “What? You eat french fries? At your house? I thought you only ate healthy food!” And he was like, “Ummm. Yeahhh???”

Friends of Asa, our oldest son, watched as he salted his food liberally in the college cafeteria. We chuckled when we heard his friends’ conclusion that, “He’s probably doing that because he’s used to eating bland, healthy food at his house.” Hahahaha! Please pass the sea salt and slather on the butter and watch me eat the crispy, flavorful skin of a chicken. Real food tastes so amazing I don’t even know where to begin.

I suppose I could begin by comparing it to that Fat-Free Mayo. Gag me.

Well anyway.

So not everyone is there yet. There is still a lot of confusion as to what actually is good and healthy. Since we have believed (and taught our children) for several decades that fat is bad, I believe it will take a few more decades to undo the damage and re-educate people about whole foods and nourishment.

coconut_oil

Good Fat is Good

I’ve done extensive research on the subject of fat. I didn’t jump aboard the “fat is good” train just because I heard someone say it once or because I “read an article somewhere.” After all, I was riding the “fat is bad” train for many years, so getting on a different train was a little bit hard for me. Real butter? Are you sure I should it eat?? Beef? I don’t know. Bacon? Well now you’re pushing it. I really don’t want to get fat. I’m not sure I can eat this stuff.

So I read and I researched and I found sources and I asked questions. (Some of my favorite sources include Weston Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola. Note that this article I found in my research quotes 73 different sources. These people are thorough!)

I looked in depth into the history of food trends and the health problems that came with them. The results of my research tell a story that is almost completely upside-down compared to what I had heard about fat. (Ironically, I’d never researched the low-fat thing when I started eating a low-fat diet. I just went with what I heard and stuck with it for years. Not smart.)

The truth is that the instances of heart disease and obesity did not rise until after the low-fat trend began. Alternatively, as people started cutting the fat, many started consuming much larger quantities of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Fast food replaced home-cooked meals. Fruits and vegetables took a back seat (or didn’t even get a seat at all). Donuts and poptarts and sugary cereal became a morning standard. White bread and chips filled the lunch boxes.

Ultimately, we forgot to give our bodies nourishment.

Occurrences of destructive health conditions soared. We blamed the fat.

jelly-beans_fyb6Xwtu

I actually thought jelly beans were healthy because they were fat free.
Avocados, though. I stayed away from those high-fat things. What???
Let us all rejoice that I actually started reading the facts and using logic. 

So fat vs. sugar?

Refined sugar doesn’t nourish. It’s fun and it’s tasty but what does it offer the body so that it will thrive? On the contrary, when we eat it, our bodies have to work very hard to find something to do with it. When it finds little to no useful nutrients, it calls in the reserves, depleting us and killing our immune system. Then often, whatever can’t be used gets tucked away in storage (aka, it turns to fat).

Some would tell you to never eat refined sugar. I say: be informed and use wisdom. Treats are fun. But keep ’em treats. ;)

butter

Shall we go crazy with the fat then?

Our bodies are smart. If we listen, they tell us what we need, what to eat, and when to stop. Your body doesn’t want you to eat an entire stick of butter in one sitting just because it’s good for you. But your body probably won’t mind if you eat a nice thick pat of it on your veggies knowing that it adds great nutrients and amazing flavor.

It’s important to remember that we need to eat food in balance. I don’t think we need to go overboard – keeping track of what we eat when and how much and what time and with what. When I say “eat food in balance” I mean that when we eat a variety of wholesome foods, we will naturally be eating the right blend of nutrients and getting the right amount of naturally occurring fats, sugars, proteins, vitamins, etc.

All food comes perfectly packaged with a lovely blend of nutrients. Some food is naturally fat free and high in natural sugar. (Have you met my friend the strawberry?) Some food is naturally high in fat and tastes amazing with a strawberry. (Cream, meet Strawberry. Be my BFF.)

We eat a lot of fat in our house, but it’s all balanced with many other high-nutrient foods that work together to nourish.

Fats to Avoid

There are certainly fats I stay far away from. Some fats are manufactured and our bodies cannot use them for nourishment. When considering which fats to focus on and which to avoid – remember that we’re going for nourishment, helping our bodies thrive on food that offers cells something to work with, not fight against.

This article on fats says it all much better than I can, so do go read it. In summary:

  • Hydrogenated Oils cannot be digested and utilized in our bodies.
  • Soybean oil, canola oil, and most vegetable oils aren’t great for many reasons. What most resonates with me is that they go rancid very, very quickly and can turn into trans fats when heated.
  • Margarine didn’t even make this list of fats, so I’m going to take that to mean it doesn’t count as food, the end.

Fats that Nourish

Obviously, not every person can tolerate every food or fat. But these are the fats that should be considered for nourishment. (Again, details here.)

  • Coconut Oil
  • Real Butter
  • Palm Oil
  • Olive Oil (at room temp)
  • Animal Fat from Meat, Eggs, and Dairy
  • Natural occurring fat in nuts, avocados, and seeds

Why We Need Good Fats

Fats carry vitamins and minerals to our cells. Fats give us energy. Fats help us fight depression. Fats help us concentrate. Fats satisfy and keep us from excessive hunger. Fats help us maintain a healthy weight. Who knew? Fat doesn’t make you fat.

Always Consider: What Nourishes?

To feel your best, focus on eating food that nourishes. Our bodies need food that feeds the cells with what they can absorb and utilize.

Obviously, there is so much more that goes with optimal health (exercise, hydrating, so much more). But when it comes to food choices – we must choose real food that nourishes.

Weigh In

I’d love to hear what you learned about fat while you were growing up. How has that effected the way you eat now? What is your current status in the fat vs. sugar debate?

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Are you in? Join many others who are making simple, healthy changes this month to take steps toward better health. Learn more here. (There’s a $100 prize involved!)

Ready to join? It’s free and refreshing to know we’ll be working on this as a team. Sign up here!

“We eat a lot of veggies because they’re cheap” – A Young Bride’s Perspective

Veggies are cheap? How’s that for a young bride’s perspective?

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She said it as she sat in our living room beside her fiance. Matt and I have been meeting with them once a week since November, offering mentor-ship and guidance before they tie the knot in March.

This particular visit, we were discussing finances. Were they on the same page about spending and saving? Did they have any questions about necessary line items in a budget? Did they plan to have joint accounts? How did they plan to communicate about spending? How might they handle potentially lean times? What challenges had they already encountered? What might offer the most financial peace in their marriage?

Somewhere in there, one of them brought up grocery shopping. They already cook many of their evening meals together, either at her apartment or his – so beyond paying for all the aspects of an upcoming wedding (oy!) they had definitely experienced times of figuring out money and spending and budgeting together in the area of food. Imagine our shock, then, when this young couple offhandedly said, “Whenever we find we’re spending too much money on food, we also recognize we’re eating less healthy, too. So we cut back by buying more vegetables since they’re so cheap. Then we’re saving money and eating better too!”

I guess she hadn’t heard (the myth) that it costs too much to eat healthy. That they needed to skimp on the grocery budget by avoiding the fresh produce. Instead, she’d already figured out the truth:

Vegetables are a great way to stretch the grocery budget and stay healthy too.

This young bride-to-be went on to share that she’s found it easy to buy several different kinds of veggies to make soups and stews and stir-fries for very little money. Certainly this is much cheaper than eating out! But they found that it was also cheaper than shopping most of the aisles in the grocery stores. When they stayed on the outskirts of the grocery store – mostly getting veggies, fruits, meat, and dairy – the savings really showed.

As far as I could tell, this couple hadn’t read this information in any article or book. They’d simply learned by experience. Eat out – spend more, feel worse. Walk the aisles and throw tempting boxes and packages into the cart – spend more, feel worse. Fill the cart with vegetables and a little meat then make homemade meals – spend less, feel better.

I’d say “out of the mouths of babes” but I believe this really is more of a case of “wise beyond their years.”

Great Ways to Save on Fresh Veggies and Fruit at the Store

Gardens, farmer’s markets, and orchards aside – here are the best ways I’ve found to save oodles of money at the store on produce.

1. Comparison shop or price-match.

Last week, a pint of blueberries was marked at $3.54 at Walmart. A store within my price-matching range had them priced at $1.69/pint. Yes, please. I bought four. Twice.

2. Buy “in season.”

When it’s strawberry season, I can get them for $1.50 or less per pound. When it isn’t strawberry season, they look terrible and cost almost $6.00!

3. Consider the staples.

Carrots, onions, cucumbers, and lettuce (different varieties) are almost always low in cost – on sale or not. We keep those on hand at all times and we go through them like crazy. While not fresh – I’ve found that it’s also financially savvy to always have a supply of frozen peas and green beans on hand. I supplement these staples with produce in season and on sale – but I know that if all else fails we have carrots and green beans.

What ways have you found to be most effective to save money on vegetables and fruit? Do you find that buying fruits and vegetables actually helps you save money?

29 Fun Treat Recipes for Valentine’s Day – With NO Red Food Dye

Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait 1

Traditionally we think of red or pink food dye squirted into white frosting to make festive Valentine’s Day cookies and cupcakes. Want to put some fun Valentine meals and treats on the table this year – but want to keep the food real and avoid food coloring?

It is a true fact that food exists that is red without any help from outside sources. There’s also this lovely thing we like to call chocolate. It’s not red, but it certainly says, “I love you,” don’t you think?

Here are 29 great recipes for you that can be turned into Valentine’s Day goodies for your family. You might be able to tell that I am desperately hoping for fresh strawberries to be in season and on sale THIS WEEK.

29 Fun Treat Recipes for Valentine's Day with NO Red Food Dye

Red and Pink Treats (No Food Dye!)

Don’t forget obvious foods that are red – like tomatoes, sweet peppers, strawberries, grapes, cherries, raspberries, and oranges. Ha. Just seeing if you were paying attention.

Chocolate Treats

Do you have foods you traditionally make and serve on Valentine’s Day?

You Know My Family Hasn’t Always Eaten Healthy, Real Food – Right?

When people read about the way I feed my family now, many assume I’ve known about healthy eating forever and that nothing about this is difficult for me.

Not true. We have not always eaten healthy.

Several years ago (when my blog was a baby) I wrote a series sharing my family’s healthy eating journey. Ugh, was it ever a journey. It still is.

All the fears and unknowns that many of you feel when you start reading about what is healthy and what isn’t – I totally get it. I’ve been there. Sometimes I’m still there. I haven’t arrived at perfect eating and never will. I’m pretty sure it’s not even possible.

So to encourage you to take some baby steps and to reassure you that you are not alone – I’d love for you to go back and read through this series of posts: Our Healthy Eating Journey. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy reading about how I  became completely convinced that I should be eating organic food and free range everything, but like a crazy lady, I still guzzled down a Pepsi to go with my meals. (I told you. I get it.)

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Our Healthy Eating Journey

If you’re interested, we have put together a simple eCourse to walk you through some steps to begin your Real Food Journey. You can tailor make this to fit your family’s needs. It’s called You Can Do This! Because truly, you can, do this. :)

What are some steps you’ve taken on your healthy eating journey?

What to Eat When You Need to Lose Weight. Or Gain Weight. Or Maintain Weight.

My appetite has been silly for about a month now, many thanks to the rounds of flu and whatever else that has hit our household this winter.  (Yes, I realize that it’s now spring, but until I can plant a garden…)

I’m not the only one with an abnormal appetite.  None of the boys felt like eating when they were sick, and a couple of them caught two different varieties of the crud.  All that to say – some of us are on the scrawny side right now.  It’s not a big deal.  We’ll be back to fighting weight in no time.  But while thinking about what foods we should focus on eating as we gain strength, this occurred to me:

When people ask me what foods they should be eating in order to lose weight – and when people ask me what foods they should be eating to gain weight – and when people ask me what foods they should be eating to maintain weightmy answer is the exact same.

What to Eat

How can this be?

This can be because I always recommend eating real food.  I always suggest that we focus on eating many fruits and vegetables.  That we focus on eating plenty of healthy fats like coconut oil and butter.  That we eat plenty of good proteins like eggs, meat, and nuts.  That we eat nourishing broth and a few whole grains.  That we avoid empty foods that don’t contain nutrients.

So those are the foods I recommend people eat when they need to lose weight.  Or gain weight.  Or maintain weight.  How about that?  When eating the right amount of the right foods, in balance, according to your body’s needs – most of us will find our healthy weight.

Now, there are other things to consider like allergies and body types and exercise and age and chronic health issues and what size shoe you wear (except not really about the shoes).  Not everyone loses or gains weight in the same way and not all of us can eat the exact same diet.  I’m not trying to write a perfect prescription for perfect weight for all.

I’m just saying that intentional nourishment is the biggest key to helping each of us find a healthy weight.  Not dieting.  Not binging.  Not depriving oneself.  Not being extreme.

So let’s all eat real food.  No matter what size you are or need to be.  Real food is tasty, satisfying, nourishing, and you can spread butter on it.  It’s a win, win, win, win.  :)

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Hey, quick reminder about this great eBook deal, which expires Monday, March 23 at midnight.

Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving ebook
with FREE Eat Your Fruits…and Veggies Too eBook

$5.00

Add to Cart

 

(When you put the Gardening eBook in the cart, it automatically comes with the Fruits and Veggies eBook too!)