10 simple things you can eat right now to help clean up your diet

Ok, so I usually don’t write about this.  I previously had a blog about clean eating and then writing there fell off the escalator of priorities in my life.  But recently I had a “well woman” exam, a.k.a.- a papsmear, mammogram and fasting blood work.  At 43, five feet eleven inches tall and in the 160 lb range, I’m a tall woman who most people would say is “thin”.  So when my doctor called to tell me the results of my blood work I was surprised to hear that I fall into the “pre-diabetic” levels on one of my tests (Hemaglobin A1C).   As a RN I see everyday the casualties of the diabetes epidemic in America.  My test results woke me up to the reality that I could end up being one of the patients I care for everyday if I don’t take my health more seriously.

I grew up not knowing a thing about healthy eating, and not caring to be honest.  I lived for a Reece’s peanut butter cup or a Whatchamakalit bar.  I was a tall, lanky figure and didn’t have a problem with weight gain so I ate whatever I wanted.  When I met and married my husband at 19 I was introduced for the first time to the fitness, weight-lifting, healthy-diet world.  Since then I’ve mostly been a fairly health-conscious girl.  Not being overly concerned about my weight, I have rotated in and out of consistent exercise and healthy eating.  Two child-births and 24 years later, my body has started packing on the inches around my waist and arms.  Still, being tall, I can get away with looking “thin” but in my own skin I’ve started feeling uncomfortable with this extra padding.  More importantly I’ve begun feeling tired of feeling tired.  But when that phone call came from my doctor’s office the other day I drew a line in the sand.  No more of a month or two of “clean” eating followed by months of pizza, Chic-Fil-A and donuts.

In years past I have cleaned up my eating habits strictly for a month or two so I could feel better, so I’m familiar with all the fad diets out there and the healthier options like the Paleo diet, or the Whole30, etc.  I’ve also seen the benefits of supplements like Advocare and juicing.  But this time I wanted to throw out the mentality that I am going to do 30 days of clean eating so I can feel better.  As soon as I hung up that phone with my doctor I wanted to do something from that moment on that I could live with, without any special recipes or supplements.   And so I’d like to share ten simple things I started doing right away, and you too can do to help you start eating healthy from now on!

1. Eat cold chicken breast.  I’m serious.  It’s actually really good and chances are you might have some frozen chicken breasts in your fridge right now.  If you don’t, a quick stop at the store will fix that.  Chicken is the least expensive meat you can buy and it actually tastes good cold.  Just pop some breasts (or tenders) on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cook them for 10 minutes at 400 degrees in your oven or until they’re cooked through.  Let ’em cool, put them in a freezer bag and store in your fridge.  Now when you’re hungry and it’s not lunch time and it’s not dinner time or you have to run, grab a cold piece of chicken and eat it.  Tastes good dipped in hummus too!

2. Eat hard boiled eggs.  Boil 10 eggs and store in the fridge.  Grab one for a quick breakfast on the go with an apple.  Grab one for a quick lunch on the go with a piece of fruit.  Grab one for a snack between meals.  Simple. Cheap.  And it really does taste good.  If you’re used to mayo and dressings and such, at first you may find it odd to eat anything without a dressing.  But pretty soon you’ll actually start tasting the food, not the dressing, and it’ll taste good.

3. Eat lots of apples.  Apples are full of fiber and their sweet.  Pick your favorite apple and buy a basketful.  If you’re hungry.  Eat one.  Slowly.

4. Drink a kombucha as a treat.  Have you had one of these?  They’re all over the place now.  I know people make it from scratch and stuff, but we’re looking for simple, easy access here.  Kombucha is a natural fermented drink that has live probiotic cultures which are great for gut health. A particular favorite of mine is Kevita- Sparkling Probiotic Pinapple Coconut.  No added sugar (look for that, cause some of these do have cane sugar.  And just because it says cane sugar on a brown label doesn’t make it healthy.  Sugar is sugar).  There’s not a lot of calories in these treats.  Just 30 calories for a 450 ml bottle.  I’m not a big soda drinker, but for soda drinkers, this is good replacement.  It has fizz.  And it’s sweet.

5. Eat more fish.  Make a simple baked cod at least once a week.  You can buy a big bag of frozen cod at the bulk stores, and in smaller bags at any regular grocery store.  It’s very simple to make.  Just place it frozen in a casserole dish with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake it at 400 for about 30 minutes or until flakes when poked.  Wala, you’ve got a very healthy main dish.

6. Eat veggies with every meal.  Think about what you make yourself, or somebody else makes you, for each meal.  If you looked at it, is it all white, or brown or some shade thereof?  If so you need veggies.  My go-to veggies are spinach with my eggs at breakfast or a frittata (which are loaded with veggies and I make ahead… see number 8), carrot sticks or tomatoes with cucumbers at lunch and some steamed green veggie (broccoli, green beans, zuccini, etc) with dinner.

7.  Eat sweet potatoes.  So if I had to sum it up in two words, clean eating for me is no sugar and no bread.  Those are the two most addictive foods for me (and for most of the American population.  See Diabetes statistics.) and those are also the two foods I enjoy eating the most.  Sweet potatoes kill the bread and sugar craving for me.  To keep it simple I microwave a couple sweet potatoes every few days and keep them in the fridge.  Then if I want toast with breakfast, I cut a half potato into cubes or slices, and sautee with salt, pepper and olive oil until a little crispy.  If I don’t have time to sauté I’ll just reheat, grab a hard boiled egg and wala- breakfast with no bread.  You can do the same at lunch, dinner or for a snack if you want.

8.  Eat frittatas.  Ok, this is not complicated.  I promise.  And if you don’t cook and you think it is too complicated, just cut up a bunch of veggies (tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet onion, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, peppers, etc.) and sauté.  Scramble some eggs and throw your veggies on top.   But if you like to cook, make a frittata at least once a week.  You can store it in the fridge and eat a slice for breakfast with an apple. Or for lunch or dinner.  Be sure to put lots and lots of veggies in there and don’t add cheese.  You really won’t need it.  It’s delicious.

9. Drink hot or iced herbal tea.  There are lots of great herbal teas that have supplemental benefits, taste delicious, have no sugars and help occupy you when, like me, you like to snack while reading or writing or studying.  Sipping on a hot cup of peach tea, or chamomile and lemon helps keep me from unnecessary eating.

10.  Eat popcorn.  Last but not least keep popcorn around.  Not the movie-theatre, loaded-with-artificial-butter-flavoring stuff, but just some natural popcorn that you can salt or even sprinkle with a tablespoon of real melted butter if you want.  When everyone around you is eating cupcakes, donuts, brownies, ice cream and candy (this happened to me the other day), pop a bag of popcorn and slowly eat it until the sugar temptations around you disappear.  Even if you eat a whole bag of natural popcorn, you’re not going to even come close in eating the simple-toxic carbohydrates or sugars in all those aforementioned deserts.

I could add much more than 10 things.  Things we all know, like drink more water, don’t eat right before you go to bed and go for a walk or exercise when you’re hungry or munchie.  But those 10 things listed really help me eat a realistic, healthy diet that my body can live with.

But what about “cheat” days for pizza, donuts, ice-cream and Dutch Bros. you ask?  Yeah, I could have “cheat” days like I’ve heard many people say you should have.  For me, it’s a downward spiral.  If I “cheat” one day, I don’t feel so bad about cheating multiple days and before you know it I’m just eating like the rest of the western world, which is currently being drowned in the expenses and damage of the diabetes tsunami that has overtaken our health and healthcare system.  So for me I am choosing not to cheat.  I’m choosing to choose to eat something I like and my body can live healthily with.

Whether you’re tall and thin or obviously overweight, you can start eating these 10 simple things right now and it won’t require any special diet plan, recipe or supplement.  Just making these simple choices will be a proactive step in a healthy direction.  I hope this post is practical and helpful for you.

Butter, Whole30 Bread, Bucks and Cute Babies

I made butter today!

For about 1/3 cup of cream from my goat’s milk, and 5 minutes of effort, I got about 2 tablespoons of butter.  It was a fun experiment.

Goat milk is naturally homogenized, so the cream doesn’t separate as easily from the milk as with cow milk.  I could use a cream separator, and maybe I will at some point in the future when I’m getting more than a pound or two of milk a day.  For now a spoon, small jar and some shaking will work.

I also made Caldo de Pollo and a Whole30 allowable flatbread to dip in the soup.

The soup is one of our favorites and you don’t have to slave over a stove all day either.  Boil a whole chicken in a large stock pot.  Add your favorite veggies ( I used onions, carrots and chayote squash) and spices.  Simmer for a few hours till the meat is falling off the bone and serve topped with avocado, cilantro and a lime wedge.  Deliciso!

The flatbread was a throw together last minute idea when I was craving cornbread to dip in my soup.  It doesn’t get top scores for moistness for sure.  But, for a dip in soup it turned out pretty good.  Can’t share a recipe on this one cause I didn’t measure anything.  I threw handful of coconut flour, a handful of almond meal, a couple dashes of salt, a couple dollops of coconut oil, and four eggs in a bowl, mixed until it formed a masa-like texture, flattened a ball of it in my hand and toasted in a skillet over medium heat.

Buck goats make great entertainment when it’s not rutting season and they don’t stinketh to high heaven.  This is our buck Duke.  He’s a total crack up and I got a few funny shots of him I had to share.

When you gotta reach that awkward place to scratch that itch that just won’t quit and you’re a buck, uh, it’s a little embarrassing.  

Ryland’s a good goat herder.

Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro?

Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride:
the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any;
the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. -Proverbs 30:29-31

Babies at sunset.  Awwww.

Darla and her Daylight

Pressing on

 (A frittata I made this week)

This has been a long week.  Back to getting up at five.  That’s actually about the only thing I went back to this week.  I didn’t go back to eating the same way I’ve been eating.  I didn’t go back to not exercising consistently.  I didn’t go back to Worn.  They weren’t really new year’s resolutions.  It just happened that I got fed up with how my mind and body were feeling at about the time the 1st day of 2013 got here. 

So I’m pressing in and pressing on.

I bought three new books on my kindle.  I am about a third of the way through If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn.  Excellent.  Challenging. A Need-to-Read.   I purchased It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig and have read the first four chapters and used several recipes already.  I also purchased A Long Obedience In The Same Direction: Discipleship In An Instant Society by Eugene Peterson.  I haven’t begun that one yet, but I’d like to ask the ladies at church if they’d like to go through this book with me sometime in the near future.

I started teaching the second grade Sunday School class at church. I take it as a great privilege and responsibility teaching God’s word to children.  I intend this to be my focus as a seed-planter in God’s Kingdom for the year ahead. But I would still love to get together with the women of Pathway and I think (just by looking through it) that the book by Eugene Peterson might serve as a good way to do that.

Today was the 10th day of this Whole30 Challenge that I’ve embarked on, with hopes of feeling better and stronger… being healthier.  Basically its eat as much vegetables, meat, eggs and fruit as you want.  No grains.  No dairy.  No sugar.  No artificial anything.  Nothing in a shiny package or box (except Lara bars which I have discovered is God’s candy bar- made of dates, cashews and coconut flakes). The first three days without sugar I felt like I had a bowling ball the weight of Texas for a head, but now I feel just fine.  I mean, I wouldn’t say a miracle has occurred in 10 days or that I’m full of energy and strong as an ox, but I would say I can definitely see a good difference.  No bloated belly.  No somebody-just-unplugged-my-energy-source-and-I-have-to-lay-down-and-close-my-eyes-right-now-at-4pm.  No cravings (which surprises me).  I think it’s all the good food I have been eating that is keeping the craving for the sweets I haven’t been eating at bay.  If I was subsisting on chicken breasts and carrot sticks I’m sure I’d be massively craving. 

I’ve found some really yummy recipes and made up some pretty tasty ones of my own.  You definitely can’t eat this fresh and well without good planning, especially while working full time.  There’s no room for, “I’m in a rush I’ll swing by Chik-Fil-A.”  If I’ve craved anything, its been chocolate, cream and sugar in my coffee, and Chik-Fil-A nuggets, fries and lemonade. 

I guess the 30 days is just a time period to form a new habit and sort-of a time to “reset” your body’s diet.

I’ll post recipes and pics later. 

I went back to the gym this week because I need to.  I’m not a Crossfitter.  I’m not a competitive athlete… I’m not even an athlete.  I exercise for the same reason I brush my teeth.  And if I don’t go to the gym I’ll find something else to fill the time and before I know it I haven’t exercised in a month.  I don’t know if it’s all in my head or if this Whole30 diet is having an actual effect, but I did 6 sets of 10 repetitions of strict push ups without having to go to my knees this week.  Last month, when I did push ups last, I couldn’t do more than 5 strict push ups without going to my knees. 

But, it’s only been a week.  Now to press on for a disciplined life.  I tend to start things with gusto, with sprints, and give-up after the first mile.  Consistency is not my strength.  God has been forming long-suffering in me.  Patience.  Endurance. He seems to be calling me to press forward.  His call is not to sprint, but for a long-obedience in the same direction.