Moving & Eating Healthy

As I am mentioned in some post we have moved. I despise moving and I hated it even more so this time.  Anyone ever notice how hard it is to eat healthy when you move? You don’t have food in the house yet, the dishes are pack, or you are just tired. The first night we had Sonic and I was not pleased. How can I lose weight eating like this? I knew the next day was busy but I was going to have something healthy for dinner. I had cold food in the house but not much more. I also had hardly any cooking utensils no scale or measuring cups. Hmmmmmm!

The crock pot became my best friend! I have 2 crock pots and decided I would put them to good use. In the first I put pork chops and in the other chicken. I was unsure what I was going to do with them as because the only food I had was some of my seasoning stuff. The answer was Italian Pock Chops and Chicken Tacos.

Chicken tacos was easy and didn’t take much guess-work. I mixed 3 packets of taco seasoning with some water. I just guessed how much, figuring if I started with only a little I could add more later. After I made the mix I put chicken breast in the crock pot, added the mix, and set on low for 8 hours. I did have to run to the store for beans, tortillas, and taco toppings but that was all at the local Dollar Store.  Throughout the cooking time I would stir and start to shred the chicken. After 8 hours I had moist shredded chicken ready for tacos.

Italian Pork chops was a little more tricky. I had a marinade mix in the cabinet and decided if it was good enough to marinade in then it was good enough to cook in. The best part was that it was low calories! As I looked at the packet I noticed a problem, I had no white vinegar or oil. Oh well! Again i just guessed on the water and hoped that just water would do ok to cook it in. It did great! It was so good in fact that I will be trying many more of these marinade mixes to cook with in the crock pot. Place the crock pot on high for 4 hours and we had a yummy lunch. I personally think it was much better than burgers and fries.

Moving and eating healthy can be a chore but it can be done. I would recommend looking at crock pot recipes that have 5 or less ingredient or using mixes like I did. You can pack your crock pot in a box with the stuff you will need (minus the meat) so it is easy to get to. Another solution is getting crock pot kits. I know Wal-Mart and Kroger sell a roast kit. It has a roast, veggies, and seasoning package that you can dump all of in the crock pot and have a yummy healthy meal. It takes planning but moving and staying healthy is possible.

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I’m A Grazer!

It hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday; I am a grazer! Yesterday morning as I was making my girls breakfast I tossed a piece of cereal in my mouth and licked the yogurt spoon clean. Harmless right? NO!

After I realized what I did I decided that I wanted to track just how much I nibble in one day. I found I am at my worst when I make my kids their food. Often I have to cut it up, especially since G is only 14 months old. As I cut or rip it apart I grab a small piece here or there. Also, after they get done eating if there is only a bite or two left and I will eat it up. So yesterday every time I wanted to put something in my bottomless pit of a stomach I put aside. By the end of the day I had an interesting collection: cereal, cut up chicken, peas, corn, popcorn, pretzels, cut up pork, half a banana, and that’s not counting wanting to lick the spoon clean of yogurt, mashed potatoes, and pudding. Before you ask, no I did not put the spoons to the side. I figured out about how much was on them and wrote it down. By the end of the night grazing would have added 674 extra calories to my day! That is more than half my calories allowed in one day. WOW! I  know my grazing is worse when it’s not a day at home. I have the habit of eating that last chicken nugget or the few lonely fries.

I am betting if you are a grazer you do it without thinking just like I do. Make a point to think about every piece of food you put in your mouth. Do what I did and see how many calories you are saving yourself.

Family Dinners = Healthier Family

Family dinners is one of the best way to get your family healthier. Search the internet and you will find study after study about family dinners. Most of the studies talk about how it keeps kids out trouble and leads to a close family. That is true but my focus today is on how it helps your family get healthier.

  • Eat Less – It has been proven that when you eat on the go, in front of the tv/computer, or even alone you eat up to 3 times more food. You space out and you eat so fast you don’t give your body time tell you its hungry. Sit down with your family and you will actually eat less and eat slower. You will take the time to chat with your husband and kids and give your body time to signal you that you are full.
  • Eat Better – Most of the time you sit down with your family you will be eating healthier than if you all ate on the run. Nine times out of ten it wont be a frozen meal or fast food. You are more likely to healthier, lower calorie, food.
  • Can Lead To Exercise – Eat dinner together and go on a walk afterwards. If you all eat at separate times this is not an option.
  • Eat More Diverse Foods – Eating together means more of a chance your kids will try new foods. Have a theme night once a week and make sure everything that night is new or maybe even an ethnic dish. Also, studies show then when exposed to a food 8-10 times you will most likely learn to like it. This means keep exposing your kids to veggies and they will start to eat them.
  • Saves Money- I know saving money is not getting you healthier but overall in my blog I want you to learn about eating healthy, having fun, and it not costing you a fortune.

Add those points to the other facts about family dinners reducing drug use, making kids smarter, and more and you have the perfect reason for family dinners. So whats for dinner tonight?

Popcorn! A Great Healthy Low Calorie Snack!

You have probably read the title and thought I was crazy. I use to think of popcorn as junk food and it is if you get at the movie theatre. That being said, if you make it at home it can be a healthy snack. Even though you can buy 100 calorie popcorn bags at the grocery store your best bet it to make it from scratch at home.  Skip the oils, butters, and who knows what else they put in those bags.

There are two easy and healthy ways I like to make popcorn at home.

Hot Air Popcorn Popper– These are inexpensive machines that pops the popcorn with just hot air. No oil! It is very easy and quick. Just measure out the kernels, pour into the machine, and watch your snack pop away.

microwave Now I know you read that and thought I must be going crazy. Yes, you can make popcorn in the microwave from kernels and not in a bag full of mystery ingredients. Take a plain brown bag, add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels, fold bag down twice, put in microwave on high for 3 minutes. You can buy a bag of bulk popcorn kernels and a pack 100 brown paper sacks for less than you pay for a case of popcorn bags (which equals about the same amount of popped popcorn).

Is popcorn healthy?

There have been some recent headlines talking about movie popcorn being as bad for you as 3 or 4 Big Macs. What they don’t tell you

Hot Air Popper

is that homemade popcorn is not anywhere close to a Big Mac; maybe the bun but not the whole thing. Popcorn is very high in fiber. Fiber is essential to help have a healthy digestive tract. Most people do not get nearly enough fiber a day, so why not eat more popcorn instead of take a yucky supplement.

Are you getting your whole grains? Popcorn is a whole grain and just incase you have not heard whole grains are healthy for you. Whole grains are have been proven to reduce your risk of heart problems. Whole grains are also full of bran and vitamins.

Popcorn is also low in calories. It varies depending on your source but the common thought is 3 cups of popped popcorn is right around 100 calories. When you make it just check the bag. Wondering why they bag as an option for calories of kernels themselves before you pop them? No, they do not want or expect you to eat raw kernels. It is easier for most people to measure out raw kernels then to measure popped popcorn. This is especially true if you try the brown bag recipe above at work.

Low Calorie Popcorn Seasoning

Now you probably want to know how to you can eat your flavorful popcorn without all the oil, butter, and salt. Below are some great recipes (some I have tried and some I have not) you can try. I would love to hear in the comments which ones you try or what you do at home with your popcorn. Most of these mixes can be kept in an air tight container for about 6 months. I like to make a few batches and keep them in the cabinet so I have choices when I make my popcorn. You can also try any of these of by themself: parmesan,  garlic, cinnamon, onion powder, chilli powder, just about any powder.

  • Cinnamon Chocolate – Mix 1 packet (4 serving) of dry chocolate pudding mix with 5 teaspoons of cinnamon.
  • Parmesan Ranch- 1/4 cup shredded/grated parmesan and 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix.
  • Pizza – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp of crushed Italian seasonings.
  • Sweet Peanut butter Heat up a small amount of peanut butter and honey till runny and drizzle over popcorn.
  •  Taco – Taco seasoning and a pinch of chili powder.
  • Cinnamon Sugar – Mix 1/4 cup of cinnamon and 3 tbsp of sugar.
  • Spicy- Drizzle with a thin hot sauce.
  • Maple – Warm up 1/4 cup of maple syrup till runny and drizzle over it. (Watch the brand you buy or it will be high in calories.)
  • Lime and Chili- Mix lime juice and chili powder to taste. (this one cannot be stored

Note: Trying these mixes or others is better than using the premade mixes. Just take a look at the ingredients on those bottles and it will scare you.

Food Scale & Portion Control

Rather you are trying to lose weight or just start eating healthier the first thing you need to learn is portion control. Over the years super sizing has become so common most people cannot recognize a correct serving size. As I began to join message boards on getting healthy I realized I needed a food scale to help me learn the difference. I had been measuring portions with measuring cups/spoon but I realized that was not even close to accurate. Depending on my much you packed the measuring cup made the “portion” vary in size, sometimes doubling what it should be. Before I move onto scale I want to show you to pictures portion control.

This first picture I have seen time and time again in my kids doctor’s office but never really paid attention to it. As I look at now I realized I have been serving way to much. I know you can’t see all the words in the picture but you can see the main purpose of it.

Again, with the second picture I apologize that some of the words are not clear but the message of the picture is. Over time portions have become much larger and unhealthy. I am currently trying to train my stomach to prefer smaller meals. For example, if I do get a fast food meal I get a kid’s meal or just a small burger. Your body only things you need a mega sized combo meal because you have trained it that way.

This is where food scales come into play. You weigh your food and get accurate amounts. I am not saying you need to tote around a scale and measure every bite every time you eat. Even I as a devote scale user have not taken it into a restaurant. What I am saying is you should start measuring EVERYTHING at home when you eat.

No matter how hungry you are start with just one portion of each of the food you made for dinner. If you are still hungry twenty minutes after you get done eating then you can eat more. Scales are easy to use. No mater what type you have-digital or manual you get the weight of the container , take the weight of everything, and the subtract the weight of the container. Easy! At fist I did not measure things I could count by hand; example when it say 14 pretzels. I learned that even just counting out 14 pretzels was wrong. On some things the number they give you will weigh more than 28g serving specified and sometimes when you are lucky you get to have more than 14 for the same weight.

I even measure out liquids. Just like with solids there are variables when using measuring cups; how they are made, if they have become warped, or if you are like me you don’t want to fill them to the rim because you will spill. Instead of trying to make sure all the variables I use a cup and measure out however many ounces I need.

Worried that you may not be able to convert units? I am not good at math so I was very worried. Thankfully if you just type in what you have to what you want it to be (18 grams to ounces) in google they will convert for you.

Scales come in digital and non-digital. The main things to consider is your budget and that ease of use. Amazon has over 200 different scales starting at less than $10 and going up to $300.

Do you use a scale? Tell me about it!

The Cheese Grater Is Not Just For Cheese

You can use your cheese grater for things other than cheese and it can help you eat healthier. It allows you to have some food in moderation and other foods fresh. I love to use mine. I will tell you though, I hate traditional cheese shredders. I have a rotary cheese grater (not the one linked). The make shredding anything easy and you wont get your fingers caught. So here are some food other than cheese you can use in the cheese grater.

  • Chocolate! Yes, chocolate and healthy can go together! I take 1 square of dark chocolate and shred it over my girls yogurt as a special treat. I also shred it over my yogurt or into my smoothies when I have a craving.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic taste so much better than what you buy in the seasoning section, plus there are no preservatives or additives. Just drop in a clove (whole or cut in two) and start shredding.
  • Onions. Again fresh is so much better than dried! My family hates to see chopped onions but grated onions cook down smaller and I get the great taste.
  • Nuts. I hate to chop just about anything because sometimes I chop my fingers. If you have  a rotary grater you can use it and your nuts will come out just the same. Personally, I think it’s easier and faster.
  • Sneaky Veggies! That’s right, use your cheese grater to sneak vegetables in your family’s food. Grate carrots, broccoli, and more to hide in any sauce you can. They will be harder to notice and harder to pick out.
  • Frozen Butter. I keep extra sticks of butter in the freezer and sadly I don’t always have one thawed out when I need it. I put a stick of butter in grater and grate it into whatever I need to. This is easy and a lot of times make folding butter into something easier.
  • Apples. My 1-year-old loves apples but I am afraid she will choke. I cute pieces and grate them so she can eat apples and I have no fear of her choking.
  • Shred Chicken. Have left over chicken? Place chicken chunks in the grater ans shred it for a wrap, sandwich, or any other use.
  • Potatoes. If you want hash browns then please grate your own potatoes then getting the frozen ones. Fresh wont have lots of things added to it that you don’t need.
  • Cheese! Of course you can use a cheese grater for cheese! Not only is it cheaper but you what you grate at home wont be covered in that yucky powdered cellulose.

What other ways do you use your cheese grater?

Eating Healthy & Saving Money

I hate to admit it but some healthy food does cost more than junk food. That being said you can still save money when shopping and cooking healthy. Below are a list of tips I have tried or have recommended to be. If you have more tips than what you see below I would love for you to share them with us.

  • Boy cheese in a block and shred it your self.
  • When making instant pudding (cheap dessert) use 3 cups of milk instead of 2. It will take a bit longer set but it will set and taste great. This will give you a little more pudding.
  • Buy after the holidays. Turkey and ham go on sale sometimes up to 90% after the holidays. Freeze these items for later. Same goes for other holiday favorites (pumpkin, cranberry, ect).
  • Use your leftovers for the next days work lunch. I know this doesn’t save while cooking but it save you lunch money.
  • Make some items in bulk (sauces, chili, stew, ect) and freeze them. Crock Pot Spaghetti & Meat Sauce is cheap to make in bulk and can feed you plus have two frozen containers.
  • Buy food that is versatile and on major sale. You can always go on-line and look up a recipe for it.
  • Farmers Market! During the correct season the farmers market can be a cheap way to help local business.
  • Add extra liquid to mashed potatoes. This will make them creamier and turn 2 servings into 3 or 4.
  • Most fruits are more than one serving. Most people are just as happy with a small apple as they are with a big apple. Buying smaller apples gets you more per pound. Same with bananas, oranges, ect.
  • Make your own waffles and pancakes and freeze them instead of buying the prefrozen ones. An entire box of pancake mix is cheaper than one box of frozen pancakes.
  • Buy big packs of meat or the Buy 1 get 2 packs. My family doesn’t like the seasoning Albertson’s put on their Buy 1 get 2 chicken but I love the price so I buy it, bring it home and it rinse it. Once I rinse all the seasoning off I place it in Ziploc bags based on how much my family will use.