Roasted Chili Lime Nuts w/ Coconut Oil

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack…
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….DSC07659
Ahhh nuts.  I love nuts, especially roasted, salty, flavorful nuts.

Unfortunately, the lovely flavor coated nuts that leave wonderfully yummy powder on your fingers almost always include MSG, tons of salt, and many DUBIOUS ingredients.  Dubious, difficult to pronounce, and even detrimental*.  What’s a girl who used to lick her finger and get the extra powder from the bottom of the Cheetos bag, the pretzel bag and the Blue Diamond smokehouse almond container to do?  You know what I’m going to say already, don’t you? Continue reading

Go Back Jack – Baby Steps Check In

You go back Jack, do it again.

So says Steely Dan.  And so says the Baby Steps approach to healthy eating.

How are you coming along?  Successes?  Failures?

Build on the successes & Learn from the failures, and most importantly, do it again.

Make that choice again.

Making changes can be much easier with a buddy.  Do you have a friend or relative (or maybe you’re lucky and have both in one like my Little Sis) who would like to eat healthier and look and feel better?  Why not share the Baby Steps with him or her.  Tell your Buddy what you are doing and invite them to come along.  You can even post our Baby Steps button on your blog and invite friends that way.  (The link is on the sidebar).  The more the merrier and the more people eating healthier, the cheaper and more plentiful healthy food will become… in restaurants & schools, at events & practices and in the grocery store.  But it has to start with us, in our homes, in our pantries and in our refrigerators.

And now is a great time to re-check Baby Steps #1 & #2

Baby Step #1 -The ol’ Switcheroo.  What did you switch?  I switched apple butter for maple syrup on breakfast foods.  I’ve had some successes and a couple of failures… but the apple butter is in the fridge and I’ll have more chances to make the switcheroo.  Time for another switcheroo?  Did you find something in your pantry that you know you should live without?  We found too many chips.  We get the ‘healthier’ versions when they’re on sale (by this I mean natural ingredients, good oils, low calorie doesn’t mean healthy, i.e. read the labels), but we’ve begun mixing in more triscuits when making a snack of chips and also substituting popcorn.

Baby Step #2 – Be Fearless, Be Honest

Be conscious of what you are eating and why you are eating it.  Is it for comfort?  Is it for convenience?  Is it for cost?  What can you switch or eat less often on the list of things you know you’d be better off without.  And again, it’s often time to go back to Baby Step #1.  Switching, not losing.  Replacing, by type of food and by function (comfort, convenience, cost).

If you haven’t checked on your pantry yet… give it a go.  Here’s a refresher for Baby Step #3.  Below I’ll give you some links to recipes Little Sis and I use with our standard pantry items.

Brown rice: Sweet potatoes and brown rice for breakfast?  Yes!

Brown rice and lentil casserole dirt cheap and kid friendly
Stir fry using rice
Lentil and oat ‘neatloaves’
quinoa main dish called kichadi – lots of room for variety!
another quinoa main dish with whatever veggies you’ve got : When time runs out on dinner
My personal favorite sweet substitute – Brownie Bites and
an awesome sauce Little Sis came up with that will dress up whatever you’ve got!  Pasta, grains, meat, veggies.  Fabu Asian Peanut sauce

Please feel free to search our site, send us questions, ask us for encouragement.  We’d love to keep your toes pointed in the right direction while you take those Baby Steps towards healthier eating.  You might be behind us, or you might be in front of us but we’re all on the road together so make sure to wave and smile.

In Repose

It’s astonishing what can happen on vacation.  Two days ago I found myself asking what day it was – on Monday of a weeklong trip that started on Saturday.  This is unprecedented.  Typically, my uncertainty about the day is a sure sign that I have “vacated;” I have become untethered from my everyday life enough to truly rest in some way.  It’s interesting that this trip is the one that has made me fell so rested so quickly.  We are a large group.  We are a noisy group.  We are a diverse group in terms of our vacation wants and wishes.  We accommodate one another, to be sure, but I don’t think that’s what is doing it.

I think part of my relaxation stems from being with a group of people who will NOT ask me why I won’t let my kids have cupcakes for lunch every day, or how I could possibly give up fast food, or why I would bother to cook from scratch when there’s so much good food already made in the stores.  I am in my home food community.  I am not subjected to TV ads, radio ads, bulletin boards for stuff I shouldn’t, and don’t particularly want, to eat.  The beach that I’m visiting has no boardwalk, and therefore no french fries (for which I admit an overwhelming weakness), cotton candy (which I find repulsive), or any of hundreds of non-food items for sale just steps away from your towel.  For our merry band, beach snacking is not about a tasty treat you can only get at the beach, but about grabbing a bite between dipping your feet in the ocean, playing a quick game of football, and digging for sand puppies and shells.

For us, snacking on the beach looks merely like a more portable version of snacking at home.  It’s not a bag of chips (although I admit that I do love chips); it’s not a bunch of juice boxes and a package of cookies.  It’s a handful of items (some a little salty, some a little sweet) that might actually stand a chance of nourishing the weary sandcastle builder.   A box of Triscuits (Big Sis and I giggled to discover we had both brought MANY Triscuits with us for just this purpose), a mess of almonds, and a container of pecans and raisins.  To drink?  Cold water.  Yes, we are on vacation.  Yes, that means it should be special.  To me, this has come to mean that I should not have to end the day feeling sick from eating everything I’ve ever craved or move toward bedtime resenting my children for having their 10th meltdown of the day when their sugar induced highs come to an abrupt end.  Sitting with this group and watching our children snack on this pristine beach, I’ve been thinking a lot about snacking and how snacks, perhaps more than any other category of foods seem to have left the purpose of nourishment behind altogether.

Our snacks are supposed to be tasty, a treat, delicious, creamy, gooey, colorful, salty-fatty good; if they are for kids, they are also supposed to be fun, silly, packaged individually, strewn with characters from movies and television shows, and downright entertaining to eat.  Good grief.  What if a snack was just a snack?  What if a snack was simply a small amount of food that kept you reasonably satisfied until the next meal?  What if we began to think of our snacks as nourishment rather than seeing them as entertainment?

On our beach outing, my daughter expressed an objection to the snacks I had available (shocker); I pointed out to her that we were not at home and that my beach bag is not a restaurant.  This is what I have; these are your options (only a slight variation from my usual snack time response to picky eater grief).  “Choose one so you can finish up and we can look for shells.”  And she did.  A handful of almonds, two crackers and a couple of glugs of water later, we returned to our oceanside fun.  Nourished, refreshed, and ready for plenty more family beach business, which really is the point, isn’t it?

Not-So-Sweets for the Sweeties

I have a confession.  I love cake and chocolate and ice cream and whipped cream and and and and….  While there are people who have more insatiable sweet cravings than I, I really can do a great job in the dessert eating department.  And truth to tell, there have been moments of pure joy in my life that included something like a pain au chocolat with friends in Montreal or red velvet cake with my husband, the first taste of cream cheese icing with my stepmom.  I would not trade those moments; I do not wish to stop having them.   They are SPECIAL times, and that’s part of the point, isn’t it?  They are special times, with foods we don’t have all the time.  At least, this is the sad reality I have come to understand… this is an understanding my husband and I reluctantly came to after he took the pastry class at a pretty swank cooking school. While my cravings have diminished since we cut back on sugar and processed foods, I can still respond to that siren call as evidenced by some VERY fine chocolate covered pretzels the Easter bunny brought (Thanks, Mom).

The thing about sugar is that it tastes good.  It tastes REALLY good.  These are flavors that are supposed to taste good to us, and if you are accustomed to a lot of it on a regular basis, you may find it very difficult to suddenly cut back considerably.  You might also simply find such a choice a little, well, draconian and no fun.  I have found that keeping our house on a low sugar path depends to some degree on my ability and willingness to occasionally provide something that is sweet enough, that is yummy and feels a little like something you don’t get to eat all the time.  Fruit, while we serve it often as snack or desert or whatever, does not always cut it in this department, particularly for my two young children who live in a world with other young children who get to have Ho-Ho’s at snack time.  We are constantly on the lookout for the middle ground on sweet snacks.  A treat sort of taste with much less sugar and none of the additives (food colorings, stabilizers, solvents that are present in those crinkly little packages of waxy chocolate covered pillow stuffing).   After a great deal of experimentation based on the Lemon-Kissed Cashew Hemp Bars, my children and I met in the middle with these lovely bits…

Pre-Freezer, Pre-Cut, Still Delish!

AWESOME OATIE BARS

  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/2 c almonds
  • 1 c dried dates
  • 1/3 c pumpkin seeds
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1 c raw oatmeal (approximately to taste)
  • 2 T chocolate chips (just enough to make it a treat)

Put nuts in food processor and run until fine.  Add pumpkin seeds, dates, lemon juice and peanut butter.  Process until dough forms a large sticky ball (if ball isn’t forming, add another splash of lemon or a tiny bit more nut butter).

Ball of Yummy

Remove ball and place in large bowl.  Add oats a little at a time (I did 1/3 c scoops) and mix into dough.  I found bare hands to be the easiest (albeit messiest) way to do this.  I used a cup of oats, but you may prefer a little more for less stickiness or less for more fruitiness.  Mix in chocolate chips.   Place plastic wrap in the bottom of a small baking dish (mine was square) and pat down until evenly distributed.  Place in freezer for at least 1/2 hour.  Cut into squares or bars depending on the size of snack you prefer to have available.  We cut our square baking pan full into 16 pieces.  Not too big for the kids, small enough to be negligible for the adults.  The name of the dish comes from my son.  “What do you think we should call them, buddy?”  “Awesome Bars.”  I added the “oatie” to be marginally descriptive.  Delish!

Pssst….. if you missed it earlier today, be sure to pop by our earlier post to read about our Sunshine Award. :-)