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Sparkling Water or Plain…Which Do You Prefer?

One of the things that I kept coming across in my search for clean eating plans was the inclusion of sparkling water. Now I understand the need to stay hydrated. Water is essential for our bodies to function correctly. Because we are told that soda is bad for us flavored waters have flooded the market. When you start reading their labels, you will find that many flavored waters contain sugar substitutes and those are to be avoided on when trying to eat clean.

The clean eating movement has embraced sparkling water and we are being inundated with flavored sparkling water in every flavor you can think of and many more that you wouldn’t have come up with if it was up to you to do so. Even the soda companies, such as Pepsi and Coke are in the sparkling water business now. One of the reasons that people are drinking it is because the bubbles make you feel full and you don’t feel hungry if you are watching your calories. Others say that it is a replacement for soda and anything that moves you away from high calorie high sugar soda is a good thing.

My son has been a fan of sparkling water for the last year. He tried a few before settling on one that is grapefruit flavored. If you were to give him and actual grapefruit, he would not eat it, but water is different. We have purchased different brands of grapefruit flavored sparkling water, but he always says that he prefers the first brand. We have also purchased a variety of sparkling water in different flavors thinking that my husband and I would try them out to see if they would be something that we could drink. We have tried the following:

Grapefruit–My son’s choice (pictured)

Coconut sparkling water—Ugh no!

Plain sparkling water—No

Berry sparkling water—No

Tangerine Pomegranate sparkling water—No

Strawberry sparkling water—No

Watermelon sparkling water—No—and why does it taste like the green rind and not the sweet melon?

Orange Vanilla sparkling water—No

Cherry Lime sparkling water—No

The one thing that I just can’t get past is the amount of carbonation in the sparkling water. My son actually asked me why I was having such an issue with the carbonation since I do drink soda once in a while. I explained that usually a can of soda is rather flat when you open it, so there isn’t a lot of carbonation. Actually, the soda industry should look into why the sparkling waters are able to retain their carbonation while their sodas don’t. My husband has declared an end to the sparkling water experiment. My son will continue with the grapefruit flavor and I will continue with my plain water.

What do you think about the sparkling water trend?

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4th of July Wishes

Have a day of good food and fun.!!! Stay safe!!!

And Happy Anniversary to JP and Guido!!!

 

Moving to Clean Eating

I wrote earlier that my husband and I were trying to eat healthier and one of the things we were looking at was clean eating. When I began searching for healthy recipes, I would read about how many of the foods we eat today are the causes behind many of the medical issues that people have been experiencing. For example, some people get red, itchy rashes after eating, but have no idea what food may have caused the rash. It can take days for your body to show a rash or another symptom because your immune system may be able to fight it off for a few days before the symptoms finally appear. So how do you know what actually caused the rash? I also read that some foods can cause inflammation and pain in your joints or cause your arthritis to become more painful. The more I read, the more I wanted to learn what I could do to find out if a food or seasoning was causing the problems I was having. Did you know that some seasonings that we cook with can actually make inflammation of your joints worse? I didn’t know that. I thought that a seasoning sprinkled on food while cooking would be harmless. This is because when we think of food we tend to think of calories and most seasonings are zero calorie, so it would be harmless.

When searching for recipes I kept coming across articles about Paleo and Whole30, which are based on the idea of clean eating. Now I am going to simplify things here. For a Paleo eating plan, the idea is to eat foods that are in season and eliminate processed food. Paleo ideology is that we should eat a diet that represents what our ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Basically this would be meat and whatever vegetables and fruits are in season. So, no chips or candy or anything processed.

Whole30 takes the idea of Paleo and expands on it. With Whole30, you are asked to eliminate foods that are known to cause issues for 30 days to see if they are foods that should be taken out of your diet forever. During the 30 days you may see that some of your symptoms have eased or gone away. Once you complete your Whole30, you will be able to reintroduce foods one at a time in order to see if your body reacts to it. If it does, that food needs to be gone for good. If you don’t have a reaction, you can choose to keep that food in your diet. Some foods, such as sugar and sugar substitutes, known to cause Leaky Gut, should be eliminated for good. Many people describe the Whole30 process as hard at first, but they say they feel better and sleep better as their body gets used to eating healthier.

During my research, I came across several websites where the person describes the severe medical issues that they were experiencing, how they saw numerous doctors, had multiple tests done and were not diagnosed correctly or the treatment plan just didn’t help at all. Two blogs that discussed how food helped them heal are The Castaway Kitchen and Whole Daily Life. Both of the bloggers discuss how they tried for years to figure out what was wrong with them, tried all types of treatment and it wasn’t until they began researching on their own to learn about healing themselves through food that they were able to manage their medical symptoms.

While I may not have the serious health issues that those women have, I can’t help but wonder if food is causing some of the issues that I do have. Is the arthritis that I have being made worse because I eat food that causes more inflammation? Is that why some days I can barely walk when I first wake up? Is that why my fingers or knees are swollen? I usually think that I must have taken in too much salt or walked too far the day before, but the reality is that food could be part of the issue.

So, I have started making changes to what I cook, usually meat, vegetables and a salad. We are trying not to purchase processed food and I am reading the labels more to look for hidden sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. Am I ready to do a Whole30? Not yet. I am not sure that I want to go for total elimination yet. I am more aware of what I eat and if I have a reaction. So far, I have discovered that chocolate may be an issue for me and I may have problems with more nuts than I first thought. Right now, I am having fun searching out recipes that I think my husband and I might like. This Egg Roll in a Bowl recipe by The Real Food Dietitians was a winner. I promise to update you as we go.

To learn more, click on the links below or do a search on your own.

Paleo

Whole30

The Castaway Kitchen

Whole Daily Life

The Real Food Dietitians

 

How Does the Garden Grow

It grows slowly…very slowly. Much slower than I originally thought it would. We have had a lot of rain since we first planted. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if it rained the whole month of May. We thought that the rain may have caused the plants to start to die off as they were beginning to turn yellow and weren’t really growing much. My husband decided to go to the home improvement store and get a different type of soil to see if that might be the problem. He also purchased a few new plants (tomato, zucchini and a raspberry bush) to plant in the new soil. While at the store, one of the workers commented that the rain might not be the problem and it could be the soil. He said when plants yellow it usually means that there is too much acid in the soil. So, the organic soil that we used might be too acidic for the plants.

We have continued to have more rain than normal for this time of year. Of the original plants the tomato plants have a couple small tomatoes, most are still green, but there is one cherry tomato that is starting to go from yellow to red. The onions are doing well and the spinach doesn’t seem to be doing anything at all. It actually seems to be shrinking. We thought the lettuce might be lost for good, but they have slowly bounced back and are starting to grow. The plants in the new soil aren’t yellow and also seem to be growing. The raspberry bush has produced about 10 raspberries, so that is good. This was to be a learning experience, so we might learn that we shouldn’t use the type of soil again. The weather is going to be heating up next week, so we will see if that helps the plants. It should help the tomatoes as they usually like it warm and steamy outside.

The one thing that does seem to be thriving in all of the rain are the flowers. They seem much brighter than usual. Here is one of the Lily that we have growing.

Photo © lenalee

 

Planning a Vegetable Garden

For years my husband and I have talked about planting a garden. We often talked about what we would plant, but we never got around to planting a garden for a lot of reasons. In the beginning, we lived in either an apartment, rented a house or lived in military housing. None of those made it easy to have a garden. When we bought our house in Kansas, we talked about clearing a section of the yard for a garden, but we never seemed to get around to it. Our current neighbors have an extensive garden that runs along the side of our fence. In the past they have shared some of their veggies with us, which were mainly the ones that happened to come over the fence onto our side. This year we have decided that we will have a garden of our own.

We are going to try our hand at container gardening. We have researched the types of vegetables that grow in our zone and when we can start planting them. Since winter has lingered way to long, we are waiting for the last frost of the season, which in this area is usually around May 1st. My husband is the one that has designed the garden and knows where everything will go and how things should be planted. My role has been helping decide what vegetables we want to plant. They currently run to those that I will actually eat. My husband is the one with the green thumb, so if he tells me when to water the plants and how much, I don’t think I will mess them up too much.

Trips to the home improvement store now include stops to see what seeds have come in and look at the gloves and pretty tools needed for gardening. Of course my husband steers me away from those, assuring me that he already has gloves for me and I really don’t need purple clippers. This past weekend we headed out early and picked up organic soil for the containers. Each one is now filled and waiting for when we can get started with the actual planting. Once we see how things go this year, we might look at expanding the garden next year and possibly clearing a space in the yard. Or, we might continue with the containers. So, wish us luck and I’ll be sure to keep you posted as to what we find in our garden.

 

Photo © Lenalee

Happy Easter!!!

 

Time Flies

I was reminded by JP that I haven’t posted in a while. Truth is, while I’ve started many posts, life seems to move by too quickly at time. My office came down with the flu bug despite everyone getting a flu shot. Truth is people began getting respiratory infections around Thanksgiving and just kept spreading them throughout the office. It took until about mid-January before it was my time. I am glad that my flu shot worked, but the severe cold wasn’t fun. I’m waiting for my time to come again as most of the original people who were sick previously are now getting sick again. It seems to be working on a 5 week cycle, so I have a feeling it is just a matter of time.

Work has also been the main cause for my disappearance. The job has continued to be an issue. The turmoil continues despite changes that at first seemed for the better, but have once again deteriorated. I am now at the point of trying to decide if I want to start taking college classes again to better my chances of moving up. My husband wants me to look at school. He asked if I wanted to work on my Master’s while he works on his. It will mean moving out of my current job and into something that is part time or PRN (as needed). I know that I would not be able to do school and work full time. I just don’t have the energy for that.

Add to that I am trying to get to eat healthier. I have been researching clean eating and reading up on different programs. (I will write more about the reasons behind this soon.) I am all for cooking with fresh ingredients as long as I can get them to taste good. I have purchased more seasonings than I have ever used in the past and so far, it hasn’t been too bad. I have made two recipes that were actually yummy and my husband thought so too. He said I can make them again, so that is a good thing.

As for now, I am convinced that the biggest struggle that I will have is not having coffee with flavored creamers. As someone who was never a coffee person, I am not sure about drinking coffee without creamers. I have tried several “healthier” creamers and so far it is a no-go as to taste. So that will go into the work in progress folder. My husband is on board with whatever I do, but he doesn’t add anything to his coffee, so he will be fine.

Thanksgiving Wishes

Wishing everyone a wonderful day spent with family and friends, great food and good health!!!

Crock Pot, Meal Prep, Sheet Pan…Oh My

So my hours at work changed and I am getting home later. This means that it is later when I put together dinner. One of the great things about cooler weather is that I am one step closer to pulling out the crock pot to cook soup and stews for dinner. It also means that I have been looking for meals that would allow me to save time cooking, but are also healthy and yummy too. One of the things I came across was a number of websites that were encouraging the idea of meal prep. The idea is that you get ingredients for several meals, usually 4-6, and cook them one day on the weekend, storing the meals into containers to be frozen to eat later or kept in the fridge to eat that week. Sounds good right? Hmmm, hold that thought.

I found a website that allowed you to sign up for a meal prep challenge. The blogger would put together meals, send out the shopping list of ingredients needed and even include how many containers and what types were needed to store each meal in. Sounds even better, right? It did until I received the email with the list of meals that were to be prepped. There was not one meal that we would eat as listed. Most contained exotic vegetables or seasonings that would be extremely hard to get in my local stores. Or they contained items that were just not something that we would eat (hello brussel sprouts). As someone who only recently discovered the yumminess of roasted sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts are not in my immediate plans.

So to prep meals in advance, I would have to substitute a lot of things, which would mean guessing at the amounts to buy. One of the nice ideas about meal prepping is that you are told how much of each item you need. To replace those meant I would now risk getting to much or too little and the prep would fail. I then came across several blogs where they discuss the idea that meal prep takes nutrients away from the food, so if you are trying to eat healthier like we are, losing nutrients would not be something that we want to do.

I then came across the idea of sheet pan meals. The concept here is that you cook the entire meal at once on a sheet pan from start to finish in 45 minutes or less. Take a protein, such as chicken, and add vegetables. Season or marinade the chicken and roast the vegetables.at the same time. There were even sheet pan ideas for breakfast and dessert. I have several recipes bookmarked and I tried my first sheet pan meal last week and it worked out great. I made Asiago chicken and roasted vegetables at the same time. We added a salad and the whole thing took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a week night meal. And of course you can make it as healthy as you want.

Now I just have to figure out what to try next? Any ideas?

Happy 4th of July

Wishing everyone a 4th filled with fun, food and friends….Stay safe!!!

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