Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Morning Breakfast

I read and loved the Beauty Detox Diet by Kimberly Snyder recently and really loved most of her food theories.  My favorite was the green smoothie idea.  It helps you get more vegetables into your diet, as well as some of the harder to get down nutrient powders I love taking daily.  These include spirulina and flax oil/seeds.  Here is the recipe for my favorite green breakfast smoothie.  It really helps me get my fiber intake in, as well as keep me regular, if you know what I mean.  You can add and subtract whatever else you want to make this work for you.

Jen's Green Breakfast Smoothie
1/2 cup kale (I just grab a handful)
1/2 spinach (I just grab a handful)
1 cup coconut milk (you can also use almond milk) - I would suggest staying away from dairy, which I will get into in a future post
2 tsp flax seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds (these are fiber packed and nutrient rich)
1 tbsp flax oil
1 tsp spirulina
1 Banana
4 Large Strawberries/Handful of frozen berries

I just guest the portion sizes of most of the items and put it in. I purchase kale and spinach in bulk from Costco and just freeze it.  Sometimes I use more greens and add lemon and ginger root for detox and take out the banana.

Enjoy your breakfast smoothie tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why are you Vegan now?

I have slowly began converting to veganism in the past year, and call myself a flexitarian every once in a while when I eat chicken or meat from local farms that sustainably and organically treat their animals with respect. I will also eat organic eggs once in a while from the Shultz Family farm by our house (their chickens roam free on their property and they welcome visitors) and enjoy some goats cheese from time to time.  I don't look down on those that feel otherwise, but one movie changed my whole way of thinking - Food Inc.  Once I saw how animals are treated for our food system, I realized I didn't want to be a part of the problem, but wanted to be one of the solution.  I started shopping differently, and slowly changing the way I eat. My heart hurt after watching some of the Peta videos of our factory farms.  I do not in any way support Peta and some of the things they do, but those videos were made to bring to light the sad truth of things that take place. These things happen even if you do not want to believe it.

I am also an active supporter of non-GMO products and feel strongly about passing laws to label GMO foods. GMO stands for genetically modified foods, which is when science alters a food to make it better in some way. A good example is them taking wheat, pulling all of the fiber out of the wheat, then processing it to add new genetically-modified fiber back in and adding it to products such as cereal.  In no way is the fiber the same that you might find in an apple, but they can add lots of fiber on the front so you buy it. So when a cereal says some number of fiber on the box, it is processed fiber.  There are several studies that show cancer growth in rats that have been fed genetically modified organisms, but since large companies are able to make a lot of money off these products, the government will keep letting them add it to our food. What is good for the pocketbooks is good for our people. One statistic that shocked me is currently, up to 85 percent of US corn is genetically engineered and more than 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton.  Take the next day or two to do a study on your own much of the food that you eat in one day includes at least one of the following ingredients - high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, cottonseed oil, corn starch, dextrin, corn sugar or dextrose, saccharin,  soybeans of any kind.  It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves from soda to soup, crackers to condiments, contain genetically engineered ingredients.

You will not be able to avoid it completely but you can try to eat more plant based whole foods and less of things that do not go bad or are found in a box.

Five Easy Ways to Help You Change the Way You Eat
1. Try not to buy anything with more than five ingredients.
2. Green smoothies for breakfast are amazing (I will be posting my favorite green smoothie recipe this week)
3. Make the majority of your meals at home. Then you know what is in the food you are eating.
4. Eliminate fast food from your diet.  Your health will thank you.
5. Try to eat at least five vegetables/fruits a day.  It will be a challenge but eliminate all the empty calories from things with virtually no nutritional value.

This is why most of the recipes I will be posting in the future might contain random ingredients and no meat.  I often still use eggs in baking, but I am trying to find substitutions that align with the way I now eat.  Hopefully most of you will enjoy this, but I am sorry to those of you that might leave.  I urge you to at least do some research about the food you put in your body as the rate of cancer if rising so rapidly in our nation.  Don't be the one to wait until you are having health problems as I did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Challenge for This Week

I LOVE meeting new people.  For those of you that know me, I am social and would be lost without interaction. I know being social is harder for some people. They get nervous talking to strangers or hate the feeling of butterflies when they are going on a blind date or lunch meeting with someone they have never met.  I challenge you to do something new this week -

buy coffee for someone you do not know that well or have never met this week.

Maybe this is someone you have been emailing at work and have never met face to face. This could be a homeless person that is holding a sign on the corner. Or an acquaintance that is going through a tough time and might need a shoulder to lean on.  Just do it. Don't over think it.  You never know when it will change your life.  Oh, and tell us about your experience.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Art of the Goal

I used to make a to do list every morning. If I didn't finish everything on the list that day, I would just move it to the next day. Slowly, the list got longer and longer until I would dread looking at it. I knew something had to change. 2012 and turning 30 brought so many feelings of urgency to accomplish things or change certain things in my life. Those lists included small tasks I had to go, but lacked things like learn to sew, try new foods, travel to those places that make my heart skip a beat and make my marriage stronger. Those were some of the things that should have been on that list but the list was so long there was no room for the things that really mattered.

I began to analyze why I wasn't making changes or feeling fulfilled, and moving to Minnesota gave me more time to think about this. I wanted to help people, to learn new things and to experience life...really experience it. I decided to pick a new goal every month. My to do list would include at least one small thing a day or every other day to get me closer to that goal. Each goal includes a specific thing that is measurable (not to lose weight but to have a specific, measurable goal like join a new workout class or take something bad out of my diet), has a deadline, and is completely realistic and obtainable. If your goal is huge, break it down into a little chunk. If you want to lose 50 pounds, start with a smaller goal such as going to the gym twice a week.  Then add diet changes and walking the dog twice a week.  See, breaking it down makes it way easier to get there.

My first goal was to learn to sew. I decided the best way to do this to just join a quilting class, forcing me to learn to sew quickly and learn something challenging in the process. My first class was hilarious as the teacher showed me how to turn the machine on and thread a bobbin. By class four, I was actually sewing in a straight line and by the final class, I had a small baby sized quilt and a new sewing machine. When I would go home, I would rewrite out the instructions. Each day, I collected sewing projects to do on pinterest. Another to do was to actually purchase the sewing machine. Do you see what I mean by breaking each goal into miniature steps to help you accomplish what you want?  It works.

I realized that when I had a goal written out and paced somewhere where I would see it everyday, it was more likely to get accomplished. I now make one big goal a month and smaller goals per week.  the larger goals may span over the course of several months, but I work really hard at adding activities to my to do list that help me accomplish my goals.  Another thing that changed was I was only able to add five things to my list everyday.  Most of the time, I can definitely accomplish five things.  Any more and I just cannot keep up.  But five things is doable.  I realized lately that life is flowing my smoothly and I have time for many of the things that really matter. I think my goals are the secret.

I use this post it note goal sheet to be able to change them weekly, and the larger goal is always top left.  Good luck accomplishing your goals!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beef Roast with Parsley Tomato Sauce

Giada is my hero - gorgeous, and boy can she cook.  I bought a beef roast at a local market by our house and stared at it when I got home.  I had never cooked a beef roast, and didn't even know where to start in making this meat into something the hubby would eat.  I knew where to turn when Giada popped into my head.  I came across this Beef Roast with Parsley Tomato Sauce recipe, and I gave it a go.  I also had potatos and carrots in the fridge, so i used those as a side.  I saw Jamie Oliver (is everyone that cooks adorable?) teaching how to roast the perfect potato, so I used his tricks and they turned out divine.  He boils the potatoes and carrots for 10 minutes, removes the carrots, and then fluffs the potatoes in the colander prior to roasting.  You then get a slightly crispy outside of the potato.  So good!!

Beef Roast with Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce
1 (2 to 2 1/2 pound) sirloin tip or chuck roast
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 roma tomatoes, hlaved lengthwise
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence (I didnt' have this so I just threw a couple other herbs on there)
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy roasting pan or dutch oven over high heat.  Sear the beef on all sides until browned.  Place the seasoned tomatoes around the seared beef and place the pan in the oven.

3. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees for medium, which is about 30 to 40 minutes.  Tent the roast loosely with foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  The internal temperature of the meat will rise 5 degrees F more and the juices will redistribute into the roast.
4. While the meat rests, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped.  Add the red pepper flakes, salt, red wine vinegar, and the roasted tomatoes and process until pureed.  With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.  To serve, slice the roast and arrange on a serving platter.  Drizzle a little sauce over the meat.  Serve the remaining sauce in a bowl alongside.

That dinner was fabulous!!!  And I even made some amazing peanut butter cookies for dessert!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grasshoppers Galore

When I was watching Bug's Life when I was little, I always wondered about some of the bugs.  Back in Vegas and California, we didn't encounter very many bugs.  If you did, they were your run of the mill spiders or cockroaches.  Until I moved to Minnesota, I didn't understand why people complained about bugs.  Normally if you were clean and sprayed your house a couple times during the year, you didn't get very many bugs in your house.  Well, once we moved to Minnesota my bug tolerance was thrown out the window.  There are a lot of bugs here.  I was eaten alive by mosquitoes when we first got here until I made my own bug repellent, and couldn't believe the amount of spider webs around our house.  We cleaned them, then the next day they were all there again.  Those spiders work overtime in the Midwest to make sure you are stuck admiring their webs day in and day out.  We have gotten the spider webs under control, but I am continually amazed at all of the new bugs I get to see for the first time.

Our younger golden retriever, Lola, was staring at the same bush for at least 10 minutes and I couldn't wait to check out her new obsession.  I smiled when I saw this large bug lifting itself onto the top of this flower as our golden nudged it with her noise to make sure it kept moving.  I saw my first grasshopper!   They are huge, and they jump and scare the crap out of you every time you walk in the grass.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Minnesota Colors of Fall

It is so amazingly beautiful here in Fall.  Autumn brings out colors I have never seen before, and I cannot believe how warm the weather has been this year.  I guess it is rare out here to be 80 in October, so I am sucking up all of the sun and warm weather I can get.  I took a walk through Haas Lake Park with Lola today and captured some of these awesome pics of the leaves changing on the trees behind our house.  My photos will never do the colors justice, but you can get the idea.