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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Know What You Are Eating - Eat Real Food

I had my husband pick up some food from Chick-fil-A recently to support a favorite charity that was having a fundraising event there.  Chick-fil-A is a great community supporter and I applaud their policies like not being open on Sunday.  However, it is still fast food and I really don't like the food.  My daughter, who is alot like me and tries to make healthy food choices, picked up the honey mustard sauce that came with our meal and started reading the ingredient list.  While the list of ingredients did include honey, no where did it mention mustard unless the natural flavor is really mustard.  The list also included things like xanthan gum and oleoresin tumeric.  I was intrigued.  How can it be honey mustard without the mustard?  The point is: Know what you are eating. 

If you can't recognize the ingredients listed on a package, you really shouldn't eat it as part of your regular, everyday diet.  Look for prepared foods that have the fewest ingredients.  If all the preservatives in food preserved me as well, giving me a long shelf life and keeping me looking like I did in my twenties, I'd eat a truck load of it.  Our diet consists of food that has been picked or plucked from the garden or water and still looks like it did in the field and stream.  We do eat bread, crackers, granola bars, cereal, etc. but we try to keep that to a minimum. 

Yes, it is work to shop for and prepare food, then clean up the mess.  But isn't your family worth it?  Don't you want to safeguard your health?  You don't want to spend time in the hospital do you?  Don't forget - everyone can and should pitch in and help with meals.  One person doesn't have to do it all.  Last week, my kids made spaghetti and meatballs, all from scratch.  They had fun doing it and it was delicious.  This week, they are making pork chops with pineapple salsa and roasted carrots.  I enjoyed the break from the kitchen.  So turn the kids loose in the kitchen.  They are probably bored and looking for something to do this summer. 

Go to the local farmers market and pick out some fresh vegetables.  Don't tell me the kids (or you) don't like vegetables.  That means you've never had them cooked well.  Start with some corn on the cob.  That cooks in about 3 minutes in boiling water and everyone likes corn.  Get some cucumbers and tomatoes and put them in a salad.  Grill some chicken and you are done.  Just please put down the Pringles (which aren't real potato chips, read the label) and pass up the twinkies.  Grab some real food.         

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Wow!  Have you heard the news?  Time to celebrate.  Arkansas has moved up to number 8 on the list of most obese states.  We were number 10.  With a little more work, we can finally be number 1 at something instead of Mississippi and West Virginia, those perennial favorites for anything bad such as teen pregnancy rates, poverty or obesity rates. 

Sorry for my sarcasm and I really don't mean to step on anyone's toes.  I just want people to wake up and take responsibility for their health.  I just wish this message would reach more people and that they could lead better lives by making a few changes.  It is hard in today's society to eat healthy and be active.  There is food everywhere; too much of it and the wrong kinds of food.  I sympathize because, believe it or not, I struggle every day.  Making good food choices is hard work and it is so much easier to sweep through McDonald's than to peel, chop and cook vegetables.  It is so much easier to plop on the couch after a long day and pick up the remote than it is to go to the gym.

But, it is not easier to fix your health after it's broken and it will cost alot more too.  The worst part is, your health may not be fixable and you may die at a really young age or have chronic problems that limit the things you can do.  That's not the way I want to live, nor do I want that to happen to my children.

If you have a weight problem, I'd like you to try something for the next 30 days: give up something you know is not good for you.  Just one thing, don't try to change everything and don't try to give it up cold turkey.  If you drink too many sodas for instance, give up one a week until you have cut back to only one a day or less.  At the same time, try to do something good for yourself.  Walk one block three times a week and gradually increase the distance.  Just one block or one soda is a tiny baby step but you can do it.  Above all, start to educate yourself on nutrition, exercise and health.  The more you know, the better choices you will make.  I really hope this blog helps in making those choices and gives you encouragement.  Have a happy, healthy weekend with those you love.

By the way, I have added a gadget at the bottom of each post so you can email or add to facebook any posts you are interested in sharing with friends or family.   

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time to Review: What Are You Drinking?

In March of 2009, I wrote about beverages and how they can be part of a healthy diet or contribute to a disastrous diet.  I am writing about what we drink and how it affects your body again because of a teen I met who is seriously overweight and already has some serious health problems.

I grew up drinking the occasional soda, usually grape or orange, but it wasn't an everyday thing.  My parents served me milk, water and orange juice most of the time.  As I got older, I became addicted to caffeine and drank sodas everyday.  At some point, I grew tired of being tied to caffeine and weaned myself off sodas.  Now I rarely drink one because they are too sweet.  My husband drinks coffee and tea with Splenda.  My kids have sodas once in awhile but drink G-2, milk or water most of the time. 

What's wrong with sodas?  A 12 oz. can of soda contains around 160 calories but has no nutritional value.  All that drink has to contribute to your body is another layer around your waist.  Let's say you need 2000 calories a day to maintain a normal body weight.  (Of course, your calorie needs vary based on age, sex, activity level, etc.)  And, let's say you drink about 6 cans of soda a day.  That's 960 calories just for the soda and you haven't eaten a thing.  If you add just two slices of pepperoni pizza to your day, that's about 580 calories, leaving you with only 460 calories or one quarter pounder with cheese but no fries, to eat.  Not alot of food for one day if you are concerned about not gaining weight. 

If you drink alot of soda or other sweet drinks, you could see a big difference in your health just by switching to water, unsweetened tea or nonfat milk.  You have to remember that most everything you put into your mouth has calories in it and contributes either to your good health or to wrecking your health.  All that sugar in soda also causes problems for your body that can eventually lead to diabetes. 

I am hoping that young man can get the help he needs to understand how important better nutrition and exercise is to his health.  Otherwise, he may find in a few years that he was middle aged when he was 17, like so many who start having health problems, even heart attacks, in their 30's. 

In the meantime, try this drink as an alternative to sodas.  Fill a glass with ice, then at least 1/2 way with seltzer water.  Top it off with limeade and a tsp. of maraschino cherry juice.  It still has some carbonation and fewer calories.  Use more seltzer water for even less calories.  It's light and refreshing.      

Friday, July 16, 2010

Smack in the Middle of Summer

We are smack in the middle of summer and I'm not sure I can last to the end these days.  The heat wears me out and the mosquitos drive me crazy.  Every breathe feels like I'm drawing in syrup, not air.  I want to hole up in the air conditioning, safe from biting insects.  I guess all that mulching I did this spring was not a good idea because I've been battling back problems for at least a month now.  Sounds absolutely pitiful, doesn't it? 

So has the cardiologist's wife stopped exercising?  Are we eating out to avoid heating up the kitchen?  Am I leaving to spend the rest of summer in a cooler climate?  Not hardly.  It's hard to give up habits once they are formed, good ones or bad.  So I am doing physical therapy for my back and have stopped my usual exercise routine.  I'm still doing yoga and riding my new horse but going very easy on her.  My therapist agrees that swimming is ok so I'm going to increase my laps to make up for the other things I've stopped.  My husband and I are still going to our dance class which I love.  After all, (and here's a confession) I've got to get rid of the few pounds I put on during vacation.  Plus, I'm not one to sit on the sidelines all the time.

I hope you've been active all summer and haven't just sat in the stands at your daughter's softball game, swigging cokes and hotdogs or plopped your butt in a chaise by the pool, drinking a margarita while the kids swim.  Get in the game, get up, get going, have FUN!  Don't let life pass you by while you surf the internet or watch late night TV.  Fix the physical problems and don't let them sideline you either.  Don't wait till age 65 and suddenly wish you had done things differently concerning your health. 

As for food, and you know food is always on my mind, we are back to eating light now that vacation is over.  Gone are the desserts (and martinis).  Take advantage of summer's abundance.  Last night we had fried okra, eggplant and purple hull peas with cornbread for dinner.  We all love fried okra at our house and it can be a part of a healthy diet.  Here is my version of fried okra, without all that yucky batter on it.

Fried Okra
A large bunch of fresh whole okra, washed.  Don't buy okra that is too long - it will be tough.  Always get more okra than you think you need by the way.
canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
Trim stem ends from okra and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch rounds.  Add enough oil to barely cover the bottom of a large, nonstick skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Add okra and sprinkle with cornmeal till lightly dusted.  Saute until partly browned.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Okra should be somewhat crunchy yet soft in the middle.  Enjoy!    


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vacations: Not Just For Fun

Once again I have slipped up and left without a word.  Sorry everyone, I was on pre-vacation and vacation.  Pre-vacation is the time before the vacation where you are scrambling around getting ready to leave.  At our house, that involves arranging for the care of seven animals in our absence as well as getting everyone packed.  There is also the post vacation period where you are scrambling around washing piles of dirty clothes and wading through knee high stacks of junk mail and newspapers.  Vacations are alot of work.

This time our vacation reminded me of just how important vacations really are.  I was crabby, tired and run down before we left from our hectic and fast paced schedule.  I couldn't wait to get to Seaside, Fl., the oasis in our year long marathon.  When we get to Seaside, time slows and we do a whole lotta nothing.  Everyone is content to go the beach, rest all afternoon, eat like hogs, poke around in shops and ride bikes for miles.  We read books, nap, laugh and play games.  And of course we eat.  I wouldn't like to mention how much weight Barry and I gained.  Most importantly, we didn't stress about anything and we reconnected as a family.

That's the important part of vacationing - getting away from stress and enjoying the ones you love.  I hope everyone can find a way to leave home and go somewhere to relax.  Somewhere away from the boss, the traffic, the next T-ball game or whatever crowds your life.  Rest or vacationing is vital to our mental health and well being.  And remembering why we love the ones we're with is the best part of all.