A Bowl of WTH: We are Food Container Hoarders

A Bowl of WTH: We are Food Container Hoarders

Also known as meal prep. And we get pretty excited about it and like to take pictures. Look what I did! It takes a fair amount of effort in meal prepping. It doesn’t need to be difficult or extremely time consuming. However. Hard truth. You will pay for it one way or another. It is your choice and not my place to judge it. I make the choice to put my efforts before hand which is less costly than paying afterwards. It’s easier to get organized and create healthier options when meals are planned and prepped before hand. It makes your life easier to be well and there are hacks. It has little to do with salads. I love salads but it can get old, quick.

Foremost is understanding your ingredients and materials. Prepared foods and boxed foods can help or hurt you. Lots use terms to catch your attention in hopes you never become aware of what is actually in it. Watch sugar and salt content. Avoid chemicals as much as possible. Organic and natural is best. It’s not just a health nut lifestyle choice. Those chemicals GMOs impact your health in every possible way, physical and mental. Reduce or eliminate when possible.

Please be environmentally friendly. Avoid small packaging when you can. I get it. Prepackaged makes it easier to grab and go. Opt for recycle-able or reusable containers. Small changes make a difference!

Meal prep Hacks

Bulk it and repeat it. This is where we reduce costs in this house and it’s much less work. You need variety but it can be every other week or by season. Rice and soups can be frozen. If you need more variety. Create your own frozen meals. Just eat within a month or two (soups hold longer). Canning, if you’re in to that, is another great way to maximize your meal planning efforts. Vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper in cost. Intentionally creating left overs when you cook dinner is an excellent way to simplify meal prep.

Go raw. This isn’t recommended for everyone. For digestive issues, it may be safer to lightly cook your food for it to absorb better. However, creating raw meals cuts out cooking time. Salads, sandwiches on multigrain, or wraps in lettuce or multigrain tortillas work. Sushi grade fish with some rice and veggies works. Lunch meat wrapped with veggies works. Veggies and dip. Fruit and yogurt. It all works.

Semi done prep or prepared is allowed. I do it all the time. Buying some salt free or flavored nuts then mixing and putting in small containers is a stable in this house. I buy string cheese or spreadable cheese wedges to go with veggies and fruits work. Precooked meat with veggies, sweet potato, or pre cooked rice is done. I will buy chicken or turkey meatballs or beans to create meals. It truly is about checking the labels for sugar, salt, and chemical content.

The Snack Station in the Riley House

Stay seasonal. Many vegetables and fruits are out of season where we live. I love pea protein and buying them frozen in bulk to go with carrots, brown rice pasta (watch portions), and olive oil plus herbs. In the fall I was all about sweet potatoes, brussels. In the summer, it’s wraps and salads. Don’t think you absolutely must eat something right now that is expensive. Watch produce and a quick search about your area will let you know what is in season when.

Eat what you like within reason. If you don’t like salads, don’t eat them. If you are quesadillas like we do, there are a variety of ways to make them. It’s always beneficial to try new things. But don’t continue to eat something you know you just cannot stand.

Think Herbs, not salt. When creating flavor, stock up on herbs and spices. A link is included for the basics with expansion soon. I love my herbs! They do so much for your body. https://notjusthealthnuts.com/2018/04/17/no-salt-added-spice-up-your-food-life/

Watch fillers. That means chips. Veggie chips or home made veggie (not potato) chips or parmesan crisps are okay. I love doritos but it is in the rare occasion box. For good reason. It’s a filler food and horrible one at that.

Quick Meal and Meal Prep Ideas:

  • Baked chicken and salad
  • Pizza (limit) and salad
  • Turkey lettuce burgers and sweet potato fries
  • Some groceries offer griller veggie options
  • Breakfast
  • Quesadillas: chicken or choice meat, just veggies, avocados, and/or beans. Watch cheese portions and often I will reduce cheese amounts by mixing in a reduced fat cream cheese.
  • Burrito or taco bowls with brown rice or whole grain rice
  • Asian bowls: choice lean meat, chick peas, veggies with jasmine or basamati rice. For flavor, I love Asian sauces but go sparingly as they tend to be high in salt.

Meal planning is often cost effective and allows more healthier opportunities. The most important benefit is investing in yourself. You need well and to create your well being.

Prep on and Namaste

A Bowl of WTH: Why Health Professionals Say & Do Those Weird Things. Why We Need to Adopt Those Habits

A Bowl of WTH: Why Health Professionals Say & Do Those Weird Things. Why We Need to Adopt Those Habits

Part of my new year goal resets was to take my own advice and … reset. Everyone needs to take a moment to step back and check in to your healing. I bundle-blanket-binged on some random shows then spent this past week invested in the study of myself and my passions. I am a health nut. Sort of. I just made a homemade peanut butter and (dark) chocolate cup for a snack. I put protein power in it, so it’s okay. I am passionate about “wellness” and a healthy lifestyle as the Aha moments roll in on how I am finally maintaining a healthy weight, conquering long term mental health issues, and addressing health issues that had a “good luck” diagnosis. I am learning to accept my whole self in progress and enjoy where I am. I am not super skinny, or even “skinny,” nor ever will be. I am 165 ish pounds, size 8-12 (depending on how much a sadist the designer is), love chocolate, not a gym fan, yoga addict, and completely okay with doritos on an occasional basis. I may or may not have eaten a whole bag this weekend. It’s been months, so health nuts- chill. I also kept up my egg whites with herbs, greens, low carb yogurt, and oatmeal. I love the more I am learning the more I expand in being able to help others.

However, the more I find myself in the health and wellness world, I am finding myself saying WTH a lot. A. Lot. Most health-nut habits have real world applications that you may be missing out on or it could be the life altering change you have been needing for years. In getting this wheel spinning again I want to produce a transparent series on “A Bowl of WTH” looking at why health nuts suggestions can be an Aha moment for you and how to be practical with it. The title inspiration comes from countless photo stalking of health nuts in what they eat. It is (1) always in a bowl and (2) most of the time I’m “WTH,” either it’s unrecognizable or unappetizing. TBH. However, much of the photos shared is extremely useful to us and we need to take note. I am not going to offer a “one and done” deal or you can only do this, don’t do that. While there are common threads, we are individuals. The common threads will be pointed out so you can’t miss them. Yet, I will share what works for me and why. What works for others in order for you to have options that work for you. Beyond the what, is the why. Why you need to consider doing what health nuts are doing. We are made to thrive and those health nuts hold some of those keys.

The first of the issues I want to address is a weighty one. It’s our weight and our relationship with the weight scale. Nothing will hold you accountable with dread then stepping on a scale. As far as weight goes. You can’t deny the number. You and, yes even I, need to remember that the scale is a thing. If it actually taunts you, then you or the scale needs to be check out. Otherwise, its a thing. A tool. As far as what you should weigh comes between BMI, a trusted doctor, and a trusted health professional. BMI by weight and height only is a guideline and not everything. Your frame size, muscle density, and other factors needs to be considered in what you should weigh. A trusted doctor and health professional can measure around your body for inches of fat, take in other weight issues.

Do. NOT. Stand on a scale to get skinny.

Use a scale to get in a healthy weight range.

J.Riley

Weight can also fluctuate due to hormones and water weight by a few pounds. Most of the time it evens out but may be an indicator to watch your salt levels or address hormone problems. For me it was salt and managing stress, which impacts everything down to hormones. Squirrel trail, those with menstrual cycles, you can be so stressed out you miss a cycle. I had no idea until my early twenties and final exams. Stress affects us in powerful ways.

Back to scales and weight. Muscle weighs more than fat. If you take up strengthening, then you may put pounds back on. I lost 90 pounds and gained 10 back while my measurements changed for the better. Muscle is a positive weight outcome on the scale. This is why measurements are important. Other things that may change your weight: different time of day scaling, scaling wet opposed to dry, scaling in different locations, or your children/dog/cat decide to join you. I can have a range of 35 pounds to 90 pounds attached to my side. Every once and a while I remember to lock the door. So what do you do if you change your lifestyle for the better and nothing changes? See a health professional. It may be an adjustment needed, health issue, or you’re just lovely the weigh you are.

Using a weight scale to check in is a tool for weight loss, maintenance, and accountability. It is not the final judge of your healthy lifestyle. Please keep it once a week habit and no more. Purely, it’s a step to keep the food relationship and active relationship from serious denial.

I am ready to take on more! From this jumping off point, in no particular order, we will hit…

  • food relationship fads: what you truly should consider
  • diet idols
  • what workout for who
  • the deal with shakes and vitamins
  • what is detox, cleanse
  • the body/mind connection
  • why health nuts are addicted to leggings
  • the stress factor
  • why a water bottle should be your third arm
  • recipes and food ideas
  • More!

Look for “A Bowl of WTH” with the topic listed after. Easier is to click “YES” to get it directly to you. No spam promise.

Namaste and See You Soon!

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health- ScienceDaily

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health- ScienceDaily

This is something to take into consideration. Not all carbs are equal and lot are essential to your total body function. I am not promoting at diet or radical changes. Simply, not to take on extreme diets and cut out carbs completely. Oats ,rice, and veggies are a beautiful thing. 🌾🥕🥦🍆🍚

Excerpt and link-

A new study has found that diets both low and high in carbohydrates were linked with an increase in mortality, while moderate consumers of carbohydrates had the lowest risk of mortality. The study also found that low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources were associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.
— Read on www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180817093812.htm

Image

Exchange of the Cookies: Vegan and Allergy Friendly (GF, DF, Peanut Free)

Ever get ahead of yourself? This morning I did. Lofty Monday goals to finish this post and life did not agree, so I panicked at my alarm when an unfinished post went out. Much like making five dozen cookies to bake this weekend, I set goals and got in over my head. This is the final product of vegan cookies that my whole family can eat. That is a victory. The allergy count as of now? No gluten, eggs, dairy, peanuts, most tree nuts (coconut is okay), most fruits with digestive issues. So what’s left? Uh not a lot. In my experimentation, I have come to love oat flour and brown rice flour. They are easier flours to digest but not the only ones. All purpose is great for most things but I find making cookies with g free all purpose flour tends to be chalky. Ack. Oats expand and hold it all together which is great when eggs are not invited. There are egg substitutes but less is more for me. Especially in the nuances of baking. I was completely confident in my abilities to make purchases in a bakery years ago. But when vegan is the best option for allergies… it’s expensive. The years of baking frustrations followed but it’s paying off. Now, I am a straight forward and un-sophisticated baker, who has cookies for “Santa.”

My kids know Santa isn’t real. Mom and dad take credit for the presents and these cookies.

Iced Sugar Cookies

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cup Brown rice flour plus 1/4-1/2 cup extra 
  • 1/2 cup Oat flour*
  • 1/2 cup Vegan butter, soften to room temp plus 1 Tbsp set aside
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (for sweeter 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla 
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp of Salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp of coconut milk**
  • Clean space to roll out dough
  • Cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Basting or pastry brush
  • Optional: food coloring

*You can opt to ground plain quick oats to a fine powder.  ** Coconut milk is best, but any milk or plant-based milk can be used to accommodate allergies or lifestyle. Rice milk is nut free and dairy free but thin. Half the amount of milk the recipe calls for.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp Coconut milk or milk*
  • 2 cups Powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp Vegan Butter

Making and Baking Cookies

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  
  2. Mix sugar and butter. 
  3. Add in Vanilla Extract and 2 Tbsp of coconutmilk
  4. Dry ingredients: In a separate bowl combine brown rice flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix.
  5. Combine dry ingredients with sugar, butter, extract, and milk. Add in food coloring here.  
  6. Mix with hands or use a baking spatula.  The consistency should be that of play dough- firm but easy to shape.  Additional Tbsp of milk may need to be added- add in on Tbsp at a time.
  7. Spread 1/4 cup of brown rice flour over clean surface for dough 
  8. Place dough on flour covered surface and roll out dough to around 1/4 of an inch in thickness.  
  9. Use cookie cutters to create cookie shapes and place on parchment paper and cookie sheets.  
  10. Unused dough can be mixed and rolled out again to create more cookies.
  11. Melt 1 Tbsp of Vegan butter in a separate bowl.  Then use a basting or pastry brush to place a thin coat of butter on each cookie.  In a pinch, use clean hands to spread butter on each cookie.  Let’s be real, having basting brush was coincidental but I am not chefy enough to have a pastry brush.  Real cookies for real people. 
  12. Place in oven for 10-12 minutes.  It should be firm on the cookie surface but slightly soft.  As they cool they will harden.

Mixing the Icing

  1. This is fairly straight forward. Whisk powdered sugar, butter, and 1 tbsp of milk of choice.
  2. If it’s too thick, that extra tbsp of milk held back can be used. You can add food coloring while whisking or just leave it plain.

Now I will be honest. Straight foward right? I am crazy sensitive to sugar and knock it down a lot, especially considering the use of icing to add in sweetness. If you have a crazy sweet tooth, add in extra sugar at your own risk. Also, the texture is going to be… well not Loft cookies, those super soft ones. It’s is supposed to be a firm outside, soft in the inside and middle. (After it cools) If your conscious, food relationship, or loved ones with either are in need of a holiday treat. This is it.
I’m heading back to the kitchen for more cookies and ideas to share. Look for more soon or hit the “yes” but to the right for it to come to you.

Extra love points. Mark your boxes of what is and isn’t there.
Extremely helpful for those with dietary needs.

Namaste. Love your light in this holiday season.

Health Foodie: Iron Deficiency Myths

Health Foodie: Iron Deficiency Myths

About a year ago I finally dragged myself to the doctor.  I was blacking out, having heart palpitations, concerning exhaustion, and muscle cramps like you wouldn’t believe.  After a few vials drawn and a few days later, I got a call everything was normal, just my iron was low.  Let me tell you, there was nothing normal about what I was experiencing.  I was given a three month prescription of iron and miralax.  Then I was sent on my way.  Since I absolutely cannot stand miralax and it’s dangerous chemicals,  I dove into various studies, organizations, and more for more options.  I found a supplement to match the dosage.  Then I became violently ill from that. Scratch that.   I also don’t eat very much meat, which was the best dietary option given to boost iron.  That’s a problem.  

There had to be other options.  I was horrified at what I found as I kept digging.  I wasn’t going to be monitored as I should, unless I forced the issue myself with the doctor but I didn’t know at the time.  It takes months to level out our iron levels, as somewhere around six months mark.  That is if supplements and diet work. It doesn’t for everyone.   For some, this is all you need.  This sudden arrival of winter and constant need of all things fleece, I am reminded of this personal wellness issue.  When you aren’t well,  it infiltrates you more than body, your mental state and soul take a hit too.   It’s important when you aren’t well  investigate (with caution) and get answers. In all of it, follow your instinct, inner voice, gut.  

I am not a doctor and information shared is intended for informative purposes only. 

JRiley

Myth One: It’s a Simple Disease

No.  Iron deficiency/ Anemia ranges from headaches and fatigue to fainting, black outs, constantly cold, muscle spasms, nerve damage, difficulty breathing, severe fatigue, and more.  Testing may be simple but dealing with it is anything but.  Testing is important as the symptoms over lap with many other diseases and conditions.  If you suspect, before treatments or supplements, seek professional diagnosis. 

Myth Two: One solution works for everyone

My deficiency is different than yours.  There are so many reasons as to why your iron or red blood cells (anemia) are low.  It fluctuates.  Stress, sickness, menstruation, cancer, pregnancy, digestion issues are among many reasons it happens. Changing diet, reducing stress levels, or taking supplements may be all your need. It may not.  Find out where you are in your levels.   More testing, specialist, and treatments may be needed. The changes I made in my lifestyle and diet were based on the levels I had and maintained over time with success in those changes.  Some adjustments, like more rest and increasing certain foods may temporarily be needed.  However, without that success, I would be pursuing different professionals for more answers.  

Myth Three: Eat More Chicken. Beef. Liver. 

 If you are a vegan or vegetarian- you aren’t screwed.  This is where I get warm fuzzies as I personally love food as medicine and food chemistry.   You can change your food relationship to help with iron without ever eating chicken, beef, liver, or any meat.  These are the top iron rich Vegetarian/Vegan friendly foods: 

  • chard
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • lentils and beans
  • Pumpkin seeds, pepita seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds
  • Almonds
  • Figs
  • Dried apricots
  • Brussel Sprouts

But then iron isn’t the only part to this equation….

Myth Four: When Changing Diet- iron, iron, iron, iron

Nope.  And yes.  Yes you need to add in iron but some parts of your food relationship may be blocking iron and others may boost absorption.  Beets, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, rhubarb, strawberries, and spinach release oxalates, which can reduce iron absorption. Calcium rich foods inhibit your bodies ability to take in iron.  Black teas and coffee release tannins which may block iron absorption as well.  Walnuts, apples, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries release tannins.  So does cocoa, chocolate.  As a matter of fact cocoa/chocolate releases three different chemicals that can impair iron absorption.  All of these foods are needed and great for you, especially some dark chocolate.  The lesson is: love your iron and chocolate separately.  About two hours apart from iron rich/iron boosting foods and those known to inhibit.   You may be able to eat some of not so iron absorbing friendly foods in small doses in a meal when you are eating for iron and red cell boost if your levels are in the normal range.  

Iron with vitamin c is a great food connection.  It increases your absoprtion significantly. Iron also needs beta carotene (Vitamin A) and magnesium.  There is two for one deal often in the iron/magnesium/Vitamin A food list: swiss chard, kale, avocado, figs, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and bananas.  Beta Carotene (vitamin A) can be found in iron rich foods too: dried apricots, peas, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.   Its important to understand how your food relationship pairings work.  Everyone plays a role.

The Final Myth: All Supplements are Safe

Oh hell no.  Especially Iron and Vitamin A.  If you are aiming for Vitamin A.  Just eat it.  I meant it, don’t supplement.  Eat it.  Vitamin A is stored in your liver and doesn’t dissolve easily.  This makes it easy to over dose and make it a toxin. A.K.A. poison.  Iron in too small doses is detrimental; doses too high are toxic .  This is why getting testing for iron levels is crucial.  Make sure your levels are known and monitored if you have anemia or difficulty maintaining iron levels.  What I started with my supplements to get my levels up to speed is much higher than what I need now. 

I love experiencing how food can heal.  However, it isn’t the end-all-be-all.  Bodymind health tampers with everything.  Stress, prolonged or frequent,  messes with your body chemicals and blood flow ability.  The best investment we can make is mental health practices: prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, rest, and mindfulness.  Check out last weeks post “Hit. The. Breaks” for more ideas.  Stay warm.  Be kind to your body.  Care for your mind.  

Namaste and Keep Your Warm Fuzzies

Health Foodie: Messing with a Classic Side dish

Health Foodie: Messing with a Classic Side dish

And just like that Thanksgiving was here. We are incredibly fortunate as my husband and I’s may be far from our families, they are close to each other.  This made our long awaited ten day, Southern Thanksgiving tour much easier.  Less care time and more face time. It still left room for lots of traveling stories (one captured at the end of this post).  

As we created new memories on old traditions, new dishes came to the table.  No one messes with the green bean casserole.  We love it just the way it is.  My mom made these delicious avocado deviled egg with an egg bar.  Avocado + Bacon = Love   .   I couldn’t leave the mac and cheese alone this year.  Since gluten free is the name of our game, it would seem a simple pasta switch out is all one needs.  Not really.  I do have my fav ancient grain gluten free pasta; however, I wasn’t taking chances with crunchy or sticky.  Yes it happens alot with the g free pasta. Ew.  I opted with a caulimac that is creamy and more bacon.  This “side dish” started out as a main dish with some veggies.  Then I was in love.  It made its Thanksgiving debut.  The best part of this relationship- easy.  Put it together.  Bake or crock.  Stir and done.    

Notjusthealthnut among other nuts
#archieR and #cobycoby waiting for the drop.  Messy food love.  

Gouda and Bacon Caulimac

⚠️ Warning ⚠️ Addictive

Serves 6-8 as a main dish

Ingredients and Prep

36 oz of frozen cauliflower

2 8 oz of Neufchâtel cream cheese, cut into cubes

3 8 oz of Gouda cheese, cubed

1 16 oz package of bacon (cooked and cut)

Cooking

Oven

1. Take one baking dish (size) throw in frozen cauliflower

2. Throw in cubed cream cheese and Gouda

3. Bake on 375 for 15-20 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir. Add bacon on top

5. Cook for 15-20 minutes until melted and bubbling. Stir again

Crock pot

1. Dumped it all together in 7 quart slow cooker or crock pot

2. Cook on high for 2-3 hours and stir half way between

You know it’s done when all the cheeses are melted together and a bubbly personality.  

Make your food relationship deliciously easy with out skipping out on the nutrition you need.  

Namaste #notjusthealthnut

One of many adventures in my parent hood. Follow me @realaparentyogi on instagram for more
Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

As my love affair with all things spicy cools off, I have to find ways to live in between.  I am between my love of food relationship exploration and the need for it not to kill my stomach.  Creole food is one of those perplexing situations for me. About a year ago on a pinning spree I took on gumbo and LOVE it.  I love the earthy and fiery flavors with the simple base.  Recently, a more palatable version found my bowl as tweaking to remove shellfish allergy and reduce reflux triggers.  This reworking of a Creole icon reduces the spice, lowers fat content, and switches to a low acid tomato.   Make your shopping list, grab your pots, and find the zydeco music.  It’s time to channel that not so spicy but spiced up food encounter.

Gumbo/Stew

Ingredients and Prep

Roux

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour

Gumbo

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 tsp of Creole Seasoning (cayenne will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried parsley can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and diced
  •  oz of smoked turkey sausage (if you can handle the spicy go for chicken andouille sausage)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 9 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Optional add ins: crawfish or shellfish

Cooking

  1. Roux: this mystical beast is the wonderment base.  The key is to never leave it alone and constantly stir.
    • Heat skillet to medium heat then add in oil.  Gentle stir in flour with a whisk and keep stirring.  The goal is a medium to medium dark brown.  Once you reach the desired color, give your arm a break and head to step 2.
  2. Add in: garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, meat, and spices
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour

How you address or dress this dish when it’s done is up to you.  The classic is with rice.  We went for corn polenta (pictured), but it’s up to you and any idea you dream of.  Classics like this have staying power as it carries tradition, memories, and iconic flavors.  It doesn’t mean you can’t mess around a little in your food relationship.

Namaste

Check out part two next week!