In our quest to improve our lives with a simple change every week this year, this week's challenge is to eat less processed food. Last week we talked about cooking from scratch. As you try more yummy recipes that you make yourself from fresh, healthy ingredients, you will find that you have less and less need and desire for processed foods. I'm not suggesting that you never eat another processed food in your life; that's not practical. What I am suggesting is that you can cut way down on them and in the process improve your health greatly!
While you can get away with knowing nothing more than how to turn on the microwave, if you don't know how to cook from scratch, you are missing out! I reserve making cake, pie, and cookies on special occasions now, but when I do, they are always made from scratch.
We're not going to try to eliminate all sugar in one day (although you can if you want to!); rather we are going to start gradually removing as much sugar from our diet as possible. As delicious and addictive as sugar is, it's about as good for you as straight up poison. It's also a very difficult habit to change! However, by approaching it incrementally, you can beat the sugar monster, and take back your good health!
This week, we're going to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, and they help prevent heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, and protect against vision loss. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to add more of these to your diet!
"How do you feed eleven kids?!?!?!" is one of the questions I get asked the most, so I thought I would share some of our favorite family recipes and show you what I do. My life is complicated enough, so I have learned to simplify through necessity. I don't do seven course meals except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. For everyday living, it's either a one pot meal or a simple meat and vegetable offering, or maybe some pasta (we are Italian-American, after all).
While only the youngest six of our children are currently living with us, the other five often join us for a family breakfast or dinner. Recently we had everyone over for a Sunday brunch, where I served scrambled eggs (both plain and with veggies), bacon, chocolate chip pancakes, and fruit salad.
Pancakes on the left, egg prep and fruit salad on the right
Veggie scramble with onions, peppers, and asparagus. Bowl of fruit salad in the background
Higher protein chocolate chip pancakes using this tasty mix with milk and eggs
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
How's your temple? Are you running like a finely tuned machine? Are you eating healthy? Are your mind, spirit, and emotions fit as a fiddle (whatever that means)? Here are some tips to help you get your temple in tip top shape!
1. Clean Up Your Diet
Are you having donuts for breakfast, a burger and fries for lunch, and pizza for dinner and washing it all down with a 42oz soda? You might want to rethink that and move toward eating more whole foods, less processed foods, less sugar and drinking more water.
Admittedly, it's almost impossible to change everything at once and make those changes last, so start with the easiest things. Order a smaller soda, and start drinking more water. Move toward making that smaller soda a once a week thing, then a once a month thing, and then just a rare thing. I drink water all day long, and I take a...
"I know you're set to leave for your month-long European tour with the band tomorrow, but we've just discovered there's a problem with your passport."
What?!?!?! Not exactly what I wanted to hear 24 hours before I was supposed to board a plane for New York and then another one to Dublin.
"Your passport expires ten days after you return, but the last country on your tour is Belgium, and they require your passport to be valid for at least three months after your date of departure."
Omg! How would I know that? I thought "expired" meant "expired", but apparently not. My mind was racing, and I'm sure my blood pressure and heart rate were off the charts. A new passport takes weeks to get, and I had 24 hours to get one...
"If you can get to Atlanta (which is 4 hours away!!) and they have any appointments available today or tomorrow, maybe you could get them to give you one over the counter. They don't do that very often, and the appointments are usually w...
I love smoothies! Smoothies make the world go round. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but they're pretty awesome. Most commercial smoothies, however, have way too much sugar in them. This recipe is super tasty without killing you with sugar. The secret is in the fruit and the flavoring of the various ingredients. It's also got protein and healthy fats, making it a wonderful post-workout treat.
My favorite smoothie!
Here's the recipe:
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
1/2 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla whey powder
1-2 Tbsp MCT Oil
1 cup Organic frozen berries
I use berries not only because I love them, but because their glycemic index number is so much lower than other fruits, meaning they are low sugar fruits. Once you add pineapple or a banana, the sugar content skyrockets. Not to say you can't add them, just use them more sparingly, and be aware of the large amount of extra sugar they have if you are watching your total carbs for the day.
As they say (whoever "they" are), you are what you eat. And it's amazing how what you eat can affect your mind, your mood, your energy levels, your immune system, and basically every system in your body.
As more and more research comes in, it looks like sugar is Public Enemy #1, which is unfortunate for those of us who have been addicted to it for 50 years. Yikes! Sugar causes insulin spikes and inflammation, which in turn cause diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and arthritis, but also things like exhaustion, cloudy thinking, depression, getting sick all the time, and even early signs of aging like wrinkling! Arrrggghhh! Not fair! And not only is it sugar that does this, but all those other wonderful goodies that turn straight to sugar in the body, like bread and white rice. What's a girl to do?
For me personally, I grew up with the habits of milk and cereal for breakfast, a sandwich on white bread for lunch, and meat and potatoes, sometimes with bread or rolls, plus a veggie for...