The Veggie Secret

Hey there good lookin!

Today’s weight loss tip is one that I love and that I live by! It’s a portion control tip that’s sure to not disappoint. You’ll leave the table satisfied, satiated and full. You’ll feel great and have a rush of lasting energy that will help get you through your day. What is the mystical tip that can possibly do all this?

It’s simple. Fill 1/2 your plate with low carb veggies (sorry potatoes). Steamed, raw, sautéed, baked, stir fried, marinated, grilled…you name it, you can have it.

Veggies are oh-so-amazing for a variety of reasons. They:

1. Are chalk full of fiber (helps us feel full so we don’t overeat)

2. Are loaded with vitamins and minerals and other nutrients which our bodies can’t live without.

3. Are low in calories and fat (we can eat lots of them and not feel guilty)

4. Reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.

5. Increase our energy

6. Help us have healthy skin and hair

Talk about nutrition powerhouses! These little beauties are packed full of these and about a million other healthy benefits.

So, really, there’s just no excuse not to eat your veggies!

What are some of your favorite ways to eat your veggies?

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I’m Baaaaaacccckkkkkkk!!!

I’ve been on a little bit of a hiatus since my last post. Things have been just a little cray cray and we’ve had more than a few life changes goin on. But I’m here and I’m super excited to be back! (I’ll write a post in the about me section to give you a look at what’s been happening in my world later).

Let’s dive right back into it shall we?

Weight Loss Tip Tuesday (oh how I have missed you!)

Cook more. Yup, you heard me. Get in that kitchen and cook! It’s as simple as that!

When you do the cooking, you have way more control over what goes in your food. A gallon of oil on my veggies? Umm…no thanks! I’ll just steam them with water. A  truck load of salt on my food? I’ll stick with a pinch instead.

You can decide if you want organic, hormone free, low salt, no oil, gluten free and/or unprocessed food. Plus, you get to decide how you want to cook it! Some restaurants use microwaves for a lot of their food. This is a big no no! If I’m going out and spending the money to pay ppl to make my food, they better make it! Not just nuke it!

And here’s a bonus, cooking is fun! I used to think that I had to follow a recipe EXACTLY as it was written. I wouldn’t deviate at all. Like never.

Now I realize how boring that is! I look at recipes all the time and tweak them like crazy. Before you know it, they’re unrecognizable from the original recipe. And no one dies. The world doesn’t stop turning and most of the time I end up loving my creative revisions.

So, get in that kitchen and cook!

You didn’t think I’d tell you to cook and then leave you hanging did you? Here’s a simple, delicious recipe for ya:

Pears with Balsamic

1 pear – thinly sliced

1/2-1 tsp balsamic vinegar (any kind)

-Arrange the pears on a plate and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over them. Enjoy at room temp or put in the fridge to make them cold.

Feel free to add things to this recipe. Maybe add some fresh basil chopped and sprinkled on top, or a pinch of red pepper flakes to spice things up. Like honestly, anything goes!

Let your inner creativity out to play, you just may like what you find!

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P.S. Here’s a selfie just for you! It has been a while after all 😉

Weight Loss Tip Tuesday – The Big “O” #2

Hey friends!

I hope ya’ll had a fabulous Thanksgiving! We sure did! The hubs and I tried our hand at karaoke…I was kind of a hot mess, but we still rocked it! Is there anything better than hanging out with the family during holidays? Not for me 🙂

Can you feel Christmas in the air?! The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is here and it’s in full swing! Everyone is so busy, malls are crowded and parties are raging!

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This weight loss tip goes hand in hand with the one I gave ya’ll last time. Welcome to part 2 of 3!

This week, it’s all about dairy (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, butter, cream cheese, yogurt, even greek yogurt…you get the idea). We’re going to talk about why it’s so important to get organic dairy. What’s the big deal? Is it really necessary or is it just a waste of money? Does it have more nutrients than regular dairy? And more…

Let’s paint a picture of the factory farmed dairy industry. In general, a factory farm is “a large industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food”. The cows are crowded into a building where they spend pretty much their entire lives. Here, their poor udders are harnessed to a machine several times a day where they are milked. They are given hormones to amp up their milk production (about 100 pounds/day), and antibiotics when they get infections from being milked all the dang time. You try having your nipples hooked up to a machine that’s constantly sucking several times a day and see how long it takes you to hurt. Just sayin. -3

Do you realize that in order for a cow to produce milk, it has to be pregnant? These poor factory farmed cows are forced to get pregnant, over and over and over. Their calves are repeatedly ripped away from them, and the torture continues. When they can no longer produce milk, or they collapse from exhaustion, they are killed and sold as meat that people eat. All this, and most of them are barely 5 years old! If the calf is female, they are thrown into this cycle. If they are male they will never produce milk and are sold for meat. Bet you didn’t know that’s where veal comes from. -2

I have to remind you. I’m not talking about all conventional dairy here, only the factory farmed variety. There are many dairy farms that have good standards, but unless you know the farm your dairy comes from, I would choose the safe route and buy organic.

Now let’s talk about how different organic dairy is. The conditions are drastically different. They are actually humane. The cows are able to go outside, walk around and graze, as regular cows do in nature.

Remember when we talked about those pesky pesticides, herbicides and fungicides last post? Well, you are what you eat, and you are what your food eats too.

In order to be termed “organic” dairy cows are free from hormones and antibiotics. They can’t eat any food that has a lick of pesticides (or other “cides”) on them and they can’t be given anything with GMOs. -1

Not to mention, organic dairy actually has more anti-oxidants, omega 3s and other nutrients than conventional milk does. -1

Let’s not forget that milk is the perfect food for baby cows. Baby cows have to grow at an alarming rate compared to humans. There are hormones that naturally occur in cow’s milk to help their babies grow quickly. If it helps cows gain weight rapidly, imagine what it could do to you! So, if you want to avoid gaining weight, slow your roll with the dairy. And when you do consume it, make sure you get it from happy cows.

So, back to the questions above, yes! It’s a HUGE deal! It’s totally worth it!!!

I didn’t want to talk about all this dairy and leave ya hangin! So, here’s a recipe that’s fast, easy and delish. Best of all, it’s dairy-free but no one will know it. It’s creamy and smoky, it’s fantastic on vegetables, sandwiches, oh heck, I slather it on just about anything. It’s Better Than Cheddar Sauce, and it’s amazing!

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Sources:

1- Organic Valley Farms

2- Dairy Cows

3- Factory Farms and Cows on Factory Farms

Weight Loss Tip Tuesday – The Big “O” #1

Ok peeps, let’s get real. This is a major issue that’s important to talk about.

You may realize that this post in on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. I was so excited to post yesterday, but the topic I chose was WAY too big for one post. So, I decided to give you bite-sized nuggets in a three part series vs one ginormous post.

Part 1: Fruits and Veggies

I’m sure that somewhere along the line, you’ve heard the term “organic”. But, what does that really mean? And is it even that important? Is it simply a marketing ploy? Is it worth spending the extra money? Does it help you lose weight? Let’s find out.

Definition: Organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms [GMOs], or ionizing radiation…[It] is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. -1

There’s a branch of the government called the USDA (I’m sure you’ve heard of them) and they have a National Organic Program (NOP). They send out certified inspectors to ensure the farmers meet the national requirements of the organic label. Processed goods also undergo a rigorous process to ensure quality.

Do you hear that? This is awesome news! I LOVE that there are strict, rigorous guidelines in place that make sure that the food we’re eating is actually clean and good for us.

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It’s the conventional (aka non-organic) stuff that bothers me. You know, the stuff filled with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, chemicals, etc. Well, what’s the big deal? How harmful can this stuff be?

The answer is simple, it’s a HUGE deal! These things are all toxins. That means they are poisonous (like, as-in-poison!) and VERY harmful to humans.

The United States uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides per year, but only .01 percent of that actually reaches it’s intended target – the bugs. The rest winds up polluting our food, air and water.

Pesticide exposure can lead to skin, eye and lung irritation, brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, blood and nerve disorders, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, Autism, hormone disruption, reproduction effects and even birth defects. -2

Some fruits and veggies have a ridiculous amount of pesticides sprayed on them. For example, hot peppers top the charts with a whopping 97 different pesticides sprayed on them to keep the bugs away. Apparently, some bugs really do like it hot! Cucumbers are high on the list at 68 and leafy greens are a close third at 66. -3

Think you or your child are allergic to a certain fruit or vegetable? Does your mouth get itchy and tingly? You could actually have an allergy to the pesticides on that apple vs the apple itself.

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Washing your fruits and veggies doesn’t work all the time. Even after a good washing, pesticides were still there on 63% of samples (according to the Environmental Working Group or EWG for short).

There are some fruits and veggies that have more exposure than others. The EWG tests samples of produce each year to determine their rating. The fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen Plus list include produce that you should try your hardest to get organic no matter what. They have above average pesticide exposure. The produce on the Clean Fifteen List include fruits and veggies that you can get away with. Get them organic if you can, but if it isn’t available, you can still get conventional and be ok.

Dirty Dozen (Plus):

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines – Imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas – Imported
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot Peppers
  14. Kale/ Collard Greens

Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas – Frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet Potatoes

There’s no way I would be able to memorize all these, especially since they change every year. Thankfully, the EWG came out with a free app called “Dirty Dozen”. So, next time you’re in the grocery store and can’t remember, don’t despair! There’s an app for that.

If you can, always opt for organic. Keep in mind that this list doesn’t take GMOs into consideration. If it’s conventional it may have GMOs present. Eating organic eliminates this risk all together.

Plus, because organic foods are more pure, they taste better. When things taste good, you want to eat them. When you want to eat healthy foods because they taste good, you’ll lose weight, feel amazing and love your life!  How is this a bad plan?

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Let’s talk cost. Organic food is a little more pricey. But, look at it this way. Pay your organic farmer now, or pay your doctor later.

Every time you buy something, you’re voting with your dollars. You are either supporting pesticides or helping the organic movement.

But don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Find this stuff out for yourself. It makes it so much easier to eat clean (which helps you drop those unwanted pounds) when you truly understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Sources:

1- organic.org

2-The Problem With Pesticide

3-Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce

Weight Loss Tip Tuesday – Anti-inflammatories!

Are y’all staying warm? I know some places have had the first blanket of snow grace their presence and others have significantly dropped in temperature. In my neck of the woods it’s super-duper windy! I feel like a little piggy hiding inside my house while the big bad wolf tries to blow my house down! It’s insane! Winter has arrived folks!

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This weight loss tip is excellent for weight loss (duh) and it will help keep you warm. I thought it was fitting for this time of year. I know I need a little extra help staying warm!

Let’s talk about inflammation for a sec. It is a necessary function that our body performs to keep us going. Inflammation creates a healing response – to help fight infection (think of how your skin swells up after a mosquito bite or after a paper cut). The problem that most of us face is that our body is too inflamed and our immune system is a little overwhelmed because of stress, environmental factors, diet and poor lifestyle choices. The bells are constantly going off and alerting your immune system that there’s a problem. This can lead to a variety of illnesses including obesity, cardiovascular issues and possibly even cancer!

Clearly we need to be proactive in our response to inflammation. We can do this by limiting inflammatory foods (like sugar, processed foods, and saturated fat), limiting our stress and eating more anti-inflammatory foods.

These include: omega 3s (found in wild salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, etc), whole grains (like brown rice, amaranth, oats, quinoa), fruits and vegetables (beets, dark leafy greens, broccoli, turmeric) – basically eat the rainbow and you’ll be well on your way.

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Now, this is the cool part. Remember last week we talked about eating seasonally? There are different fruits and veggies in season at different times and there’s a purpose for this. There are some anti-inflammatories that will warm you up when you eat them. These are things we mostly eat in the winter. Like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg…remind you of something? This combo always brings up memories of happy holidays for me.

To stay warm this season and fight inflammation (double bonus) stock up on root veggies, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and garlic.

You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging without a new delicious, warming, smoky, sweet recipe did you?!

I have basically been obsessed with these babies…just thinking about them is making me drool!

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Smokey Sweet Potato Fries with a Killer Sauce

1 medium sweet potato
1 tsp chipotle olive oil*
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Killer Sauce:
2 Tbs veganaise
6 drops chipotle tobasco sauce
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

– Slice the sweet potato into fry size pieces. Put in a bowl
– Add the oil. Toss to evenly coat all the fries.
– Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.
– Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Flip the fries. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious.
– Mix all the sauce ingredients together and dig in!

*If you don’t have chipotle olive oil, don’t fret…regular olive oil can be substituted.

Enjoy!

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Weight Loss Tip Tuesday – The Distractor Factor

Hey there beautiful! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

One of the most crucial parts of weight loss is what I like to call the distractor factor. Have you heard of this before?

Cravings generally only last for 3 minutes (although they can last up to 10). This is great news! This gives us the power to understand that they won’t be there forever and that we can overcome them!

This means that reducing cravings is simple…we need to distract ourselves. We need to get out of our heads so the thought of the temptation doesn’t consume our minds.

Next time you get a craving, try drinking a glass of water, going for a walk, calling a friend, going for a drive, reading a book, watching a fascinating show, listening to your favorite tune, dancing to it, going to the gym…basically, anything to get your mind busy with something other than food.

So, next time you get a hankering for junk, consider which distractor factor you’ll choose.

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Weight Loss Tip Tuesday – Smile!

Have you tried and tried to lose weight and just can’t seem to drop any of those extra pesky pounds? Your attitude may have something to do with it!

That’s right! Having a positive attitude is CRITICAL when it comes to weight loss!

Most of the time when we look in the mirror and decide it’s time to lose a few pounds, we are filled with negative thoughts and emotions. “I have to go on a diet.” “I’m fat.” “I’m disgusting.” “I hate the way I look.” and the thoughts go on and on and on. Sound familiar?

We automatically assume that the joy will be sucked out of our lives if we choose to change. We feel like we’ll be deprived of what we want and it feels like it’s an uphill battle. Well, stop right there sweetheart! This couldn’t be further from the truth! Turn that frown upside down and stop that bad, negative attitude in it’s tracks!

Focus on the why. Why do you want to lose weight? What is the main reason behind this goal?

Is it so that you’ll have more energy to run around with your kids? Is it to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight so that you can feel lighter and fit into your favorite outfits? Is it to have more confidence so that you can accomplish your dreams? Is it to get rid of your aches and pains? Is it so that you’ll live to see your grand babies?

Establishing this nitty gritty reason is imperative. Sure, wanting to lose weight just to lose weight is ok, but you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals when you have a solid reason behind what’s fueling your fire.

Positive thoughts can increase your motivation and your energy levels. They are empowering. They raise you up. Negative thoughts are self deprecating and really drag you down. These thoughts can lead to shame and guilt – this doesn’t make anyone feel good! Getting down on yourself and beating yourself up isn’t our goal. We need to love ourselves up. We need to tell ourselves positive things while looking at ourselves in the mirror. Our bodies are amazing things, no matter how big or small they are!

When we love ourselves, we believe that we deserve the best. We stop trying to sabotage our success, we stop eating chemically laden foods that we know are bad for us, we stop beating ourselves up. We are able to triumph, we are able to raise up and do good, we are able to think more clearly, we have more energy, we’re able to sleep better and handle stressful situations more gracefully.

Pay attention to what you think. Your actions are inspired by your thoughts. Focus on what you think. The average person has between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. That equals around 35-48 thoughts per minute! When you notice a negative thought creep in, change it to a positive one.

For example: Let’s say you have the thought, “I am fat” pop into that brain of yours. What can you change it to? Try, “I am strong.” “I am fun.” “I am lovable.” Anything positive and uplifting.

Before you know it, you’ll be a glass half full kind of person!

Now, to announce our contest winner! Congratulations to Sarah Longhurst! She submitted this gorgeous photo!

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Thanks to everyone who participated! There were so many lovely pictures, it was difficult to choose one winner. So, we’ll do another giveaway contest soon. Stay tuned!