Don’t Diet. Eat Real Food. Let Us Help.

At the end of 2012, we had a few things to say about the annual dietary revolution that so many people attempt in honor of the new year. We revisit those thoughts now, when yet another year is approaching at a breakneck pace…

So here we go.  The New Year approaches and the diet chatter is increasing.  Everybody’s choosing plans, making resolutions and getting ready to start measuring their bits and counting their stuff.  If you are one of these folks, I’m going to ask you to reconsider.  I’m going to ask you to do something completely radical. I’m going to ask you NOT to go on a diet.

When we decide to go on a diet, we are committing to a temporary state of restriction, usually in an attempt to achieve some sort of numerical change – a smaller waistline, a lower reading on the scale, a smaller clothing size.  When we commit to a temporary state of restriction, we are admitting to the foregone conclusion that the results of that restriction – the number drop – will also be a temporary phenomenon.

You cannot return to the way you normally eat and maintain those lower numbers.  It doesn’t work.  If you’ve made this particular resolution in the past, you already know this is true.  Simply restricting what you eat also doesn’t guarantee that the food that you DO eat will actually nourish you.

BSNewYearWhen we decide to change the way that we eat, we are committing to a higher level of consciousness about what we eat in an attempt to eat food that is more healthful, that provides our bodies with more of what they require; a body that is getting what it needs is far less likely to torment us with the cravings that often drive us to eat unhealthy foods.

When we decide to change the way we eat, we are committing to caring for our bodies and our health, and are therefore also committing to caring for those around us who love us and cherish us.  When we decide to change the way that we eat, we open ourselves to the joy of living healthfully and the adventure of eating new and abundant real foods.  And so I ask you, on this auspicious occasion, NOT to diet, but to change the way you eat.  Eat Food, Real Food.

Big Sis and I have spent a lot of time this year talking about Baby Steps to Better Health.  Maybe you missed it; maybe you weren’t ready; maybe you already think you eat well and weren’t interested in making a change.  But now it’s coming – that resolution moment – that moment when so many of us get a little honest about our habits and find a little motivation to make some change.  If that’s you, and you’re ready, we’d like to invite you to join us taking Baby Steps to Better Health.

We’ll do a recap of the steps we’ve already covered.  We’ll get you started.  We’ll help you figure out what to eat and show you how to make it super yum.  If you’re ready, we’ll help you take those steps that will get you eating and feeling great in a way that works for YOU, with changes that YOU choose according to YOUR timeframe.

This is YOUR plan; it’s YOUR body.  YOU should be the one to decide what to put in it, thoughtfully and consciously, using ingredients that aren’t invented in a lab.  And you will find that the food you put in that body can be both succulent and healthful, both sublime and invigorating, both yummy and nourishing.  Because real food is delish and it does your body good.  Don’t diet; Eat Food, Real Food.

If this sounds like the way you’d like to start 2015, rather than kicking off the year with a glass full of nutrasweet and a package of freeze dried low cal low fat air filled nothing, maybe this is your year. We’ve put all our baby steps in a book for you, Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals, so you can work your way through them with a little encouragement from us. Let 2015 be your year, the year that you do it different and things actually change. Let us help.

Advertisements

Zucchini Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (DF)

The garden continues to produce green squash at a startling rate. What a lovely problem to have. If the plants keep up like this I will surely shred and freeze a good bit of it for use in zucchini bread and mac and cheez in the colder months, but it’s nice to have some to use right now, today, when our thoughts are turning toward books, notebooks, pencils (I love the smell of new pencils) and  LUNCHBOXES. It is time for Momma to get busy making some reasonable goodies for those lunch boxes.

 photo IMG_0658.jpgWhile I was thinking about the need to start baking for school and noticing the abundant zucchini, the internet happened and mashed them together for me. I was inspired and responded with my usual “Ooooh, that looks good. What ingredients should I change?” The result got a straight yummy thumbs up from 3 of the 4 of us and even earned a “pretty good” from Ms. Picky Pants. That is a good cooking day in my house. Because of the lower fat content, these cookies are a little more biscuity than most, but ring all the necessary cookie bells to satisfy treat eaters who are willing to overlook the little flecks of green, which I think are beautiful, BTW. And so, without further ado, I give you… Continue reading

Pumpkin GF Brownies? You Bet!

We were lucky last week and had a visit from Bigg Sis and her crew.  They were headed north, so we crammed as much fun and visiting as we could into 36 hours and it was absolutely splendid!  So fun to be together, to cook together, and to celebrate our mother’s birthday together.  We all met at a lake nearby for a day of fun in the mostly sun.

The question of celebrating a birthday in a state park presents a quandary for the cook.  Mom is not a huge dessert fan, truth be told, and the tippiness of a cake while carting around beach gear and picnic lunches, towels and goggles for two developing swimmers was a little more than I could imagine carrying off well.  So I turned to the natural picnic choice for dessert (at least for my family), brownies.

I remembered a recipe from my pal Sarah, a brownie recipe that delighted my crew and made my tummy happy, happy, happy.  I knew it wouldn’t do for the gluten free members of our extended family, though, so it came time to tweak and do the usual “what I’ve actually got in my pantry” tango with the recipe. And here’s the final fabulous results.  We liked them so well we’ve made a second batch today.

Super Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies (GF,V) adapted from Sarah’s awesome Sweet Potato Fudgy Brownies

  • 1/4 c coconut oil, meltedIMG_9607
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 c rolled oats, blitzed in food processor or blender until flour-like
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 c coconut sugar (or more if you are used to sweeter treats)
  • 2/3 c canned pumpkin (Sarah used sweet potato puree and it’s stellar – I just wanted to try with what I had)
  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbs flax meal with 3 T water) or whatever kind of egg works for your tribe
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • a couple of handfuls of pecans and chocolate chips (because really, shouldn’t you?)

IMG_9588Set oven to 350.  Oil a square pan. Combine coconut oil and cocoa in large bowl. If you live where I live, you needn’t melt the coconut oil.  Northerly climes or those in winter, melt first. Stir until smooth.  Combine dry ingredients (except sugar) in small bowl. In yet another bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, flax egg, and vanilla and whisk until the sugar is not so granular. Add chocolate/oil combo.  Stir to combine. Add dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Add nuts/chips/whatever floats your brownie boat.  Give one last stir and transfer (you will not be pouring) into waiting pan.

IMG_9598Bake for 25 minutes (or so), until the top is dry, maybe even has a crack or two and it feels firm to the touch.  If you like em drier, leave em in longer. Let cool in the pan for a bit, sneak some crispy edges while nobody’s looking.  Delish. Super chocolate.  Super yum.

Amazing Apple Sauce

This is so easy, and so amazingly better than what you get in the store that I can hardly believe it.  I have always thought I should make my own apple sauce and apple butter as with apples in particular, I prefer organic and it’s HUGELY expensive.  Commercial applesauce also doesn’t taste all that great in my opinion.

It was a staple on my plate as a child and I was very adept at spreading it out enough that it looked as though I’d actually eaten a good portion of it.  Blecch.  To be honest, it made me gag.  But, homemade is another story.  So when I found an Oh She Glows recipe for apple butter in the crock pot, and too many apples after both my husband and I bought apples on the same day, I thought I’d try apple butter.  I ended up with amazing applesauce.

apple in corer
For this recipe I got to whip out the old apple corer.  Gear enhances the experience, don’t you think? 😉

After roughing up a mixture of the apples I had on hand (just Fuji and Gala – all getting a little old).  Note the peels are still on.  I hate extra work that reduces the nutritional value of the end product.  (Great excuse, huh?)

evidence of slaughter

I filled the crock pot with a splash of apple juice at the bottom to prevent sticking.  I think water would be fine.  Angela Liddon recommends apple juice and I had some, so that’s what I did, and left them to cook for about 6 hours.  I turned my old crock pot from high to low and back several times, but it is a pre-historic crock pot.  You might have a more medium temp that will cook without burning.

mashing

Once your apples are very tender.  Smush, bash, mash, pulverize and otherwise maul your nice complacent, soft apples into something resembling chunky apple sauce.  Here is where the departure takes place.  You can thin your mixture by letting it continue to cook for awhile with the lid off, or you can just go with this stage, which is what I did.  It will depend on what kind of apples you used and how juicy they were.  At this point, also add some spices.  I added cinnamon.  No sugar, no salt, just a little cinnamon and a pinch of cloves.  Probably about 1 tsp of cinnamon.  You could add a touch of ginger or nutmeg or allspice if you like.  Just start low and add if you need more.  Again, the line between apple sauce and apple butter may be one of sweetness for you, or of consistency, but either way, you are in the drivers seat of this baby, so just make it how you like it Sister!

Once you’ve mashed and are pleased with the consistency, you can whiz it up in the blender.  (Depending on the thickness you could probably do it in a food processor as well – but I haven’t tried that yet.

applesauce in vita mix

I just love the cosmic Vita Mix shots.  Looks like a geothermal pool of bubbling calcium salts, or a galaxy spinning off into the Vita-Verse…  Or like really smooth and creamy apple sauce.

Place this delicious concoction in a mason jar and it’s worthy of the county fair!

in jar

Kudos to those of you who thought of this a long time ago.  It was an AHA, followed by DUH! moment for me to give this a whirl.  And I am so glad I did.  Just the kind of simple, yet special preparation to dress up a holiday feast or a regular meal!

This post was featured on…
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

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. 🙂