Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Avoiding Hidden Sugars: 12 "Real Food" Solutions

When my friend, Melissa, asked me to take this information (which she easily whipped out in 10 minutes) and throw it into a document in one of my challenge groups, I was like... WAIT!  Hold on a sec!  LOL  

This information is too great to throw in a document that might just get read once or twice.  So I got her permission to add this as a guest blog :)

The original article and pictures that Melissa refers to can be found at:  

Avoiding Hidden Sugars:  12 "Real Food" Solutions

Melissa is a mom of two and is passionate about clean eating and exercise.  A few years ago, she decided to take the plunge and try 100 days of real food... and when she noticed behavior differences in her kiddos and more energy for herself, and her hubs lost some weight from that change alone, they decided to make clean eating part of their family lifestyle.

1.  Drink your WATER!  Avoid excessive quantities of any fruit juice; 100% fruit juice or not.

2.  Choose to bake your own desserts with natural sugars (maple syrup, dates, agave, raw sugar).  Here is a great recipe for chocolate beet cupcakes that is to die for:

3.  Consume plain, whole milk yogurt sweetened with one of the natural sugars (above) and add your own fresh fruit!  Or make this super easy and yummy sauce to stir in:

4.  Tomato soup is one of the easiest things to make from scratch.  All you need are some fresh, ripe tomatoes, and I bet that you have all of the other ingredients in your pantry at home already.  See below for a great recipe that I make almost weekly (my kids LOVE it!)

Note: You can substitute another pound of roma tomatoes for the canned tomatoes in the recipe above, and if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can add the soup to your regular blender in batches, to puree

5.  I would encourage everyone to make their OWN granola.  You only need a few simple ingredients for a pretty large batch, and you will know everything that you have put in it!  I am always looking for new recipes, but here are a few tried and true, that I love:

6.  EAT FRESH FRUIT.  Simple as that.  Fresh fruit is sweet already and does NOT need to be soaked in syrup to make it sweeter.  

If you are in the mood for a fruit salad and are craving the juiciness that comes along with macerating berries in sugar… try fresh orange juice and zest instead.  Just squeeze the juice from one orange into a bowl of fresh berries, along with the zest, and there you go!

7.  DON’T DO IT.  Check out some reasons here: and here, but just pass on it and choose another drink instead.  If you are missing the carbonation, try sparkling water! 

8.  So, sugary cereals… I feel like most of us, as kids, LOVED these.  It is no wonder why our Moms wouldn’t let us have them though.  They are LOADED with sugar!  Check out the links, above, for granola and have your kids try that instead.  My daughter LOVES the granola with milk in the morning before school, and it keeps her full until lunchtime. also has lots of recipes for other breakfast staples like oatmeal, and EVEN some healthy breakfast cookies!

9.  We all love Starbucks, ok?  But, there are better choices to be made besides that Caramel Frappuccino.  I am not sure if any of you follow Food Babe, but she just posted this on her blog not too long ago, and I am planning to try it out!  It looks yummy, is organic, and should satisfy that Frappuccino craving… if you have one J

10.  Like tomato soup, above, tomato sauce is also SUPER-easy to do at home, on your own.  I am including a recipe below, but if you do like the convenience of the store-bought sauce, just READ the labels!  There are many out there with no added sugars and that are organic.  I beg you; choose those instead!  And here is a recipe, if you would like to try making your own:

Note: I do not peel my tomatoes (or seed them) when I make this.  I puree the ENTIRE tomato in a high powered blender and add it to the sauce that way.  Makes it MUCH easier.  J

11.  So, dressing… fat free dressing is gross, first of all. And, have you ever read the ingredient list on some of those bottles, ick!  So, I would encourage you to try making your own.  It really is so simple.  You can make everything from vinaigrette to blue cheese at home, and I promise you, it will taste better!  Here are some links to my favorites:

12.  I have to say, I grew up in the south and I LOVE sweet tea.  There is no reason (in my opinion) that you cannot still have sweet tea, but there is a better way to get it… If you make it on your own, you can control the amount of sugar that goes into it, and I have found that sweetening tea with Organic Raw Agave is actually pretty yummy.  

So, brew your own, and leave the sugar out… that way, everyone can add what they like.  Just my two cents.  ;)

Another great article to read, if you have time:

Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Ways to ROCK Your Next Party GUILT-FREE

Party-time!  Time to follow the plan.
Parties.  They're SOOO much fun, and yet so quick to throw us COMPLETELY off track.  Full of tasty appetizers, yummy drinks (not to mention those high-calorie alcoholic ones that are often available), and great conversation in which we tend to get lost while munching away.

From the moment we walk into a party, our paths are lined with temptation and yes... even... DIET-SABATOGERS.  You know... those people who actually encourage you to let it all go and to just have fun.  OH MY!

So what do you do?  Just how DO you avoid these diet-sabotaging traps which cause you to fall completely off the wagon and yet still allow yourself to really have a little fun?  (Cuz, C'mon!  What's life without having some fun!  And yes... even allowing ourselves some treats?)

You avoid falling COMPLETELY off the wagon by making a party plan, of course!

Here are 10 ways to ROCK your next party... GUILT-FREE!

1.  Eat a good healthy meal or snack before the party so you're not going into the party with a lot of temptation on an empty stomach

2.  Choose your 10's.  By that, I simply mean, rate the available appetizers from 1 to 10.  With ONE being the least appetizing, and TEN being something you simply can NOT resist.  Then only allow yourself to eat your 10's (In moderation... of course!).

3.  Set a number for how many plates of food or appetizers that you will allow yourself.  If the plates are small, you might decide to go back a second time... just stop and think about it before you do.

4.  Set a number for how many alcoholic drinks you will allow yourself.  (Remember... those calories add up fast.)

5.  Ask your date, spouse or friend to help you to stay on track.  Let them know your plan and seek intervention if necessary.  (Come up with a code word that means INTERVENTION!  So if they hear you shout STRAWBERRY - if that's your word - they'll recognize the code and come running to remove the chips from your hands ASAP!  LOL)

6.  If it's a party with a lot of alcohol, make sure to drink a full glass of water between each alcoholic drink.  Better yet, offer to be the designated driver.  This will not only help with the number of calories you consume, but it will also help you to maintain sobriety :)

7.  Bring a healthy appetizer or two so you know you have a healthy go-to snack.  A good suggestion here would be to bring one salty and one sweet, like veggies & hummus and fruit & yogurt dip.

8.  When someone offers you something that is NOT in your plan, graciously decline, and if you feel like it, share your why.  You never know... it might change their life.  If you do this, though, make sure to being extra healthy food to share with all the lives that will be changing ;)

9.  Bring a healthy drink alternative such as Vinyasa (lime, seltzer & agave) so you have something other than water to fill those social cravings.

10.  Beware of diet-sabotagers and make a point to hang with people who will support you on your healthy journey.

If the above tips still won't help, you can always try these ;)
DISCLAIMER:  These are a JOKE.  Don't really do this! 

1.  Wear really tight pants.  If you squeeze into tight pants, you won't have room for a ton of extra snacks and drinks.

2.  Self-induced major allergic reaction.  Suggestion... sniff some dust or a cat, so your nose is stuffy and you can't smell.  (Thank you Trent Hillaert!)

3.  Scald your tongue before you go.  A cup of REALLY hot coffee oughta do it!

4.  Sneeze on the diet-sabotaging treats and then no one can have any, so you won't feel alone.

5.  Schedule a root canal the morning of the party, so you can't chew or drink anyway.

6.  Bring an enforcer who will smack your hand every time you try to touch a diet-sabotaging treat.

7.  Use super glue in place of lipgloss.  (Thank you Mary Chenery for this addition!)

8.  Have mittens duct-tapped to your hands before you go in to the party.  (Thanks Eric Triplett for this one!)

9.  Fall off a horse, break your jaw and have it wired shut before the party.  (This actually happened to my friend's sister... thank you Christine Ortiz for this awesome piece of advice!  LOL)

10.  Wear one of those dog cones around your neck.  (Thanks, cousin Tom Weber.  Is that what Julie does to you when you go to parties?  LOL)

11.  Wear a straight jacket and tell everyone you thought it was a costume party.  (Trent Hillaert... how do you know about straight jackets?  LOL  Thanks for the contribution! ;)

12.  Tell everyone that at the last party, you hurt yourself masticating, so you are staying away from the food table from now on.  (Good one!  Thanks Kimmie Scott!)

13.  If all else fails... you can always put duct tape over your MOUTH.  My personal go-to fav ;)  (Thank you Mark Clay... you must have had experience with this one!)