Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Morning Breakfast: Banana Nut Muffins

I hate wasting food, but I and my family are not big fans of eating brown bananas. The obvious thing to do with them was to make banana nut muffins, and they were delicious. Luckily I had a package of biscuit mix on hand (I just have to remember to replace it), and I always keep walnuts in the pantry. This recipe is super easy and adapted from my trusty Betty Crocker Cook Book:

Preheat oven to 400° F

2 large or 3 medium smashed bananas (you should have a cup to cup and a half)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg (have you noticed that "large" eggs are not nearly as large as they used to be?)
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups biscuit mix (I use a package of Weisenbergers biscuit mix, produced in Midway, KY.)
chopped walnuts or pecans (optional - but I use at least 3/4 cup of walnuts)

Mix well and place a couple Tbsp of batter in a 12-muffin pan (medium sized). Either grease the bottom of the cups with butter, spray, or oil, or use paper liners.

Cook about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Check to see that they are cooked through by stabbing a large one with a toothpick. I shared this trick with my daughter this morning.

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes.

Enjoy with milk and fresh fruit.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The worst things I ever did to my diet

Before I get started, I’d like you to know there are a few points of very personal information in this post. If you are not interested in my digestive system, then you may want to hit the little “x” in the top right corner. But ever since Oprah, Dr. Oz, and other personalities have gotten real about health, and poop, and everything else icky that goes on in our bodies, I feel the need to be real as well. Also, if you would like the skip all the history and details, go straight to the bottom for my conclusion.

A few posts ago, I shared how I had gained some weight back over the past two years because I let my old habits creep back into my life (Time for a Wake-up Call).  While not happy, that’s life. I know my triggers when it comes to overeating and not wanting to move beyond my office chair.

But this time last summer, my stress levels were out of control. I was away from home a lot because of work and all the kids’ activities, and I wore myself down. It made me sick. Very sick. Sick enough for several trips to an ER and an infectious disease specialist. I was treated for Lyme disease with a ghastly antibiotic, and I am convinced it did me more harm than good. After 3 1/2 weeks on the couch and in bed, I finally started to feel better. While Lyme disease was never confirmed and there was never an official diagnosis, I suspect I had the recently named Heartland Virus.

Why is this important? For one, I gained 8 pounds over the course of that sickness. Lucky me. The constant fevers wreaked havoc on my metabolism, and I started feeling a bit depressed and wanted to do something about it.

Unfortunately, I did not think that doing what has always worked for me in the past was good enough this time – eating less processed and fast foods, and working 20-30 minutes of exercise into my daily schedule. I started watching infomercials and reading about the latest gimmicks, and let a company convince me that I was not to blame, it was my aging body. Going against everything I believe, I bought some dumb supplement that supposedly convinces your body not to process carbs into stored fat.

I took these pills, full of cinnamon bark and other herbs, before every meal. After a month, I found that they did not deliver any results and my belly started to ache. I quit taking the supplement, and my gut continued to ache, nearly every day. Some days, the pain was not so bad, and on others, it was excruciating. I wasn't sure what was to blame. Was it the supplement? Was it from being sick and taking the antibiotic and eating ibuprofen and acetaminophen like it was candy? Was it stress? Was all of this causing me to get an ulcer?

During this entire time, and even now, I never once decided to take myself to a doctor. That was probably mistake number one. But the whole scenario reminded me of a conversation I had with John Moody, a local/whole food advocate who once shared a stage with me to debate GMOs. He told me that he had developed a very painful duodenal ulcer, and it healed once he removed processed foods. Great. Remind yourself that I work for corn and wheat farmers, which is in most everything that is processed. I was starting to let the “all processed food is bad” Kool-Aid work its way into my head.

In month 5 of my belly dilemma, I traveled to South Africa with my leadership class. I got to experience some wonderful food, and I had absolutely no belly aches the entire trip. So I began asking myself, “What did I not eat in South Africa that I regularly eat at home?” I had wonderful vegetables and meats, but even processed GMO corn in the form of “pap” was on my plate every day.  While there was not as much bread, I ate pizza and pancakes, and still no pain. What was missing was milk. I was not eating my regular breakfast cereal with cold milk as I do most every day of my life. Was milk the culprit?

Soon after my return to the US, the belly pains returned, and I decided that maybe milk was not helping my situation, and I could possibly be eating too much gluten (everyone is jumping on that bandwagon these days, so why not check it out). So I took a few no dairy or wheat days. I was shocked at how flat my stomach was within those days. No gas, no bloating. I even lost a few pounds. The pain was less intense, but my bowels were not moving. I was getting plenty of fiber from fruits, veggies and oatmeal, and drinking a half gallon of water or more each day. I had to resort to over the counter medication, and it did not help much. Once I started eating bread and fiber cereal again – with soy or almond milk – it was smooth sailing. New realization: wheat is still my friend.

My focus was back on milk. Maybe I had become lactose intolerant. Or maybe it was whey intolerance, or casein protein intolerance. I read about so many food intolerances over the course of a couple of weeks my head was spinning. And if you have ever read the symptoms of gluten intolerance, anyone and everyone have experienced one of those symptoms probably over the course of a week. No wonder everyone wants to cut it out of their diet (before those with Celiac disease jump all over me, I do realize that is a real problem).
I tried Lactaid milk, and found it absolutely disgusting and very expensive. It spoils very quickly as well, making it even more expensive. I called the local dairy group to see if any research had been done or if they had any resources about dairy intolerances. I did not like replacing my regular milk with soy or almond milk because of all the added sugar.

My belly pain once again started to diminish. One morning I felt pretty good, so I thought I would experiment and have a glass of milk. I was in so much pain that day – all day. Yup, it’s milk. Or was it the four chocolate covered donuts I ate throughout the day? Hmm?

I then resorted to keeping a food journal. That was about 3 weeks ago. I found that it was actually my healthier meals that were giving me the most trouble. After doing this for two weeks, I was able to narrow it down to one thing: cinnamon. And going back to when my troubles started… I was taking those super concentrated cinnamon supplement pills. Even when I stopped taking them, I still ate a lot of cinnamon because it is supposed to be good for you – cinnamon every morning in my oatmeal and on at least 2 sweet potatoes a week. I can't believe I had missed something so obvious. 

I finally decided to bring a small amount of milk and dairy back into my diet. My belly is not as flat for obvious reasons, but my bowels are the happiest they've been in a long time. I've decide the good outweighs the bad.


I have not eaten any cinnamon in the past week, and have not had one bit of belly pain. Now I’m going to dig out those supplement pills from the back of the pantry and ask for a refund. What I’m not going to do is tell everyone to get rid of cinnamon in their diet. Everyone is unique. I am surprised, however, at how quickly I was to blame so many other things and rushed to eliminate entire food groups out of my diet because of something I read. We are told regularly that quick and drastic diet changes are not good for our pets, so they are probably not so good for us either.

Based on my experience, here is my advice:
  1. If you are experiencing any type of digestive issue, a trip to the doctor should be at the top of your list. I have yet to do that, but it has taken me 8 months to figure out and address my problem.
  2. Keep a food journal, writing down everything you eat and when your pain/annoyance is the greatest. But keep it simple. If you are eating a lot of processed foods with many ingredients, it will be very difficult to narrow down the culprit.
  3. Ditch the gimmicks. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I let a fancy sales pitch play to my emotions – I was feeling bad about myself and wanted to be convinced it was nothing I was doing on my own. Just write “fool” across my forehead!
  4. Get rid of the stress in your life! You are the best to figure out how to do that, but stress doesn't do anyone a bit of good. Letting stress take over my life paved the way to a number of problems.
Thanks for reading, and may peace be with you.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's National Chili Day - My Favorite Recipe

I have always loved chili, especially during the colder months. In honor of National Chili Day, here is my favorite recipe, developed over time with inspiration from my Pop, mama and husband (he introduced me to Rotel). I have been using venison steak only for the past few years, as I just think it makes it more rustic and more Kentucky!

Brown cubed venison or beef (venison will not need to be drained of fat)
Add a cup of chopped onion during browning
1 can of Rotel tomatoes with chiles (original)
1 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
1 regular can of tomato sauce (I fill can with water and add to chile - I like a thinner consistency)
2 can dark red kidney beans
Season with your favorite chili powder mix (I like McCormick's)
Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, then reduce to low for another 10.

My family insists on me adding spaghetti noodles. I will add about one serving size, al dente, just a few minutes before serving, sometimes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. A dollop of sour cream if you wish.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time for a Wake-up Call

Thank goodness for time to reflect. Last week I was feeling pretty lousy. Worthless, actually.

My daughter needed a few immunizations to be up to date with school. While at the doctor, they performed the various battery of tests for her 11-year checkup. I was thrilled that her weight was well within the “normal” range for her height, despite her genetic obstacles from both sides.

However, we were told she had glucose in her urine, which prompted a blood sugar test. It was higher than it should be. I was told that since this was not a fasting test, that we should not be too alarmed, but something to be careful about. A myriad of excuses went through my head: they fed her a bad lunch at school, she wasn't drinking enough water, and maybe she is just intolerant of refined carbs. Of course not one of these was based on any medical expertise, but I just could not muster that it was anything I had any control over.

The doctor then said that if any of the other tests were concerning, they would call and let us know.

I got a call the next day. Her cholesterol level was just a few points shy of being “high.”

My heart sank. I felt like a worthless parent. It had to be me. I got lax. I slowly started to let too much fast, fatty, highly-processed food back into our diet because we are just too busy. I wasn't encouraging play time and exercise as much as I should, because I was not making time for myself. I was doing exactly what I write about not doing. What a fraud I had become.

Now I guess anyone can see why this blog has taken a back seat for the last year. My heart just was not in it. I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. And it shows. I worked very hard to lose 35 pounds by just eating better and exercising more over the course of 18 months. Fifteen of those pounds have crept back on the past 12 to 18 months. And I am weak. I could easily do 25 push-ups (real ones) and run three miles. I can no longer get through my favorite Jillian Michaels video taking periodic breaks. She would be screaming in my face.

But this is not about me. Who cares if there was no way in Hades I was going to take a bathing suit to my trip to South Africa earlier this year. This is about my children. They are so important to me. To feel I have contributed to their bad health make me feel as if I am the worst mother in the world.

While I really wanted to crawl in a hole, I have instead pulled on the muck boots to make a plan. Or, I guess, revisit the old plan (Reinventing Our Plate) . There was absolutely nothing wrong with what we were doing before. I just let too many other not-as-important things move their way to the top of the list.

So here’s to a rebirth and unfailing commitment. My daughter seems to be all for it. She’s not fighting the healthier dinners, and we have a plan for one cheat meal a week, as long as we keep portions under control. The little one is happy no matter what food I put in front of him.

Last night we had turkey burgers sans bun, baked sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli. I will need to be creative tonight, as we have Karate practice (something new for son, but daughter said she also enjoyed the trial class), a small window for dinner, followed by a 4-H meeting. But I’m up for the challenge, again. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This Mom is Thankful for Frankenfood

Yes, I work for farmers who choose to grow genetically modified corn and soybeans. I am able to read research defending the benefits of modified crops to farmers, the environment, and ultimately the growing human population. I also have friends who work for Monsanto, as well as other seed companies, who sell and market genetically modified hybrids. I smiled when I saw that environmental activist Mark Lynas changed his position from condemning genetically modified foods to celebrating them. But in the end, I am NOT defending GMOs or “Frankenfoods” for these reasons. I have a better one.

I have witnessed a huge shift for the better in our food system in the past few years. I see more people interested in food and wanting to know how it is produced. I see more people wanting to purchase food from small, local or organic farmers, and this shift is providing a wonderful opportunity for those willing to provide these foods.  Others want to produce their own food, which is also a step in the right direction to foster future food security.

Having options is good for both the consumer and the producers. Competition is good for business and the economy. I don’t necessarily like that it takes people screaming with fear to have this change happen, but nonetheless, we are moving in a great direction for agriculture. I will continue to share as much information that I can to help others make informed decisions.

And I am sure there are many out there who do not or will not share my glorified opinion of GMOs, and I am fine with that. If someone is looking for non GMO, I will gladly point them in the direction of an organic farmer. I want to see them prosper as well.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My 3-Year-Old Son Used the “F” Word

The word is probably not what you are thinking, but nonetheless, it appalled me. Where did he learn to use the word “fat?”

I was watching a Discovery Health show about a 600-pound mom while my son was playing in the floor. He looked up at the television and said, “Wow. She’s really big. She’s fat.” Aack. My first reaction was to tell him, “Yes, she is big, but it’s not nice to say that someone is ‘fat’. It can hurt their feelings.”

I had been so very careful when raising my older daughter to never use that word when referring to anyone, and I scolded family members who did use the word in front of her. I never wanted her to judge anyone by their appearance or worry that someone may use that word to describe her appearance. People rarely use that word to describe someone they like, so it is not a word in our vocabulary.

So have I become more lax? Do I need to reinforce my expectations with caregivers and family who are with my kids? I was not ready to have this conversation with my son, but I guess it could have been worse.

My inquisitive boy began to ask more questions. “How did she get like that?”

“She ate too much food, and food that was not healthy for her,” I replied.

Then I was able to turn it into a conversation about what is healthy food.

“What types of food are good for you?” He said he thought Craisins, milk and nuts were good for him.

“What are types of bad food?” He said pizza and candy. Then he sat there a minute and asked, “Then why do you let me eat pizza?” Great, he turned it around on me.

“Well, I don’t let you eat pizza all the time, and I don’t let you eat a lot of it.” Thank goodness that was the end of the talk, but I know it will come up again. In fact, this morning he informed me that his current cereal of choice was not healthy. I have decided not to share it because I don’t know if I want anyone to know that I purchased it.

In the end, I am still sad that he learned what the word means and felt the need to use it. The good news, however, is that this was one more opportunity for us to talk about healthy eating, and I’m proud that my preschooler is thinking about it. I praise God every day that I was blessed with good eaters and we have no food allergies in my house. I also praise God that I am able to set good examples for them and provide the food they need.

But my mission is now to find the culprit who taught him that awful 3-letter word and give them a lecture about loving others and themselves.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reducing Your Environmental Footprint and Waistline: STOP USING THE DRIVE-THRU

I do not abhor the fast food industry. In fact, I use it way more than I should because of the convenience. However, the more I sit in drive-thru lines the more I start to realize how awful this “convenience” is for our environment and our health.

How much pollution is poured into the atmosphere during idle time? How much energy are we wasting by going absolutely nowhere? How easy is it for us to mindlessly eat when all we have to do is stick our arm out of the car window and demand food? I don’t know the real answers to these questions, but I am sure it is unbelievable.

Therefore, I am making a pledge to stop using the drive-thru. If I need to use a restaurant, I will make myself park and walk in. I also pledge to not eat in the car (something I was never allowed to do in my grandparent’s car as a kid). It will make me think more about what I and my family are eating as well as improve safety conditions. How often do we choose food that is “easy to consume while driving” instead of opting for a more healthy choice? I also admit that it will keep me honest; I can’t tell you how many times I have gone through the drive-thru needing an emotional pick-me-up and have then hidden it from the husband and kids. BAD, BAD, BAD!

I also want to take this time to scold all the husbands out there who sleep out in the grocery store parking lots in idling cars. GO SHOPPING WITH YOUR WIFE! It will save you gas money, improve the air, and allow you to spend quality time with the Mrs!

So, drive-thru days for me are over. What about you?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...