What would you do?

I saw the picture below and the following post in a Facebook group that I am a member of and thought that it was perfect for what I wanted to write about today. Here it is:

A very dirty fish tank showing unhealthy fish. It asks the question: What makes the most sense?

“This is a dirty fish tank. [A really dirty fish tank.] These fish are sick. What would be your first suggestion to help them get better?

Here are two theories…..
Theory 1: Medicate the fish
Theory 2: Clean the tank and put the fish in fresh water.

When most people look at this scenario they quickly determine theory 2 OBVIOUSLY makes the most sense. So, why don’t we apply this logic to our own lives?

We have health issues and go to a doctor and get medications. Then we get additional medications to help with the side effects of the first medications. Most of us are just living our lives addressing the symptoms of an illness and not the cause. We don’t go to a doctor to find the root cause and heal our bodies. Why is that?

Whether you struggle with eczema, acne, UTIs, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, reproductive issues, cysts, chronic pain… You need to clean out your tank and add fresh water.

From the foods we eat to the products we use. Clean it up. 
[Author Unknown]

On Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment to discuss some recent blood tests. She pointed out my Thyroid Peroxidase levels. They were at 114 when the normal range was listed as somewhere between 0 and 34. She said the high levels indicated inflammation and what was called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My doctor did tell me that it could be treated through medication, but she actually recommended a gluten-free diet, which should reduce the levels and the inflammation. Yay for a good doctor.

What did I do? I went home and ate some Bagel Bites. Crazy huh? I guess I was thinking that if I was going to have to give up so many things I liked to eat soon, that I’d just go ahead and splurge on something that I knew was bad for me. I am quite sure I have a lot of things in my pantry right now that are full of gluten, but the truth is, I don’t even know enough about it yet to determine what I should and shouldn’t be eating. All I can think of is no carbs. 😦

This is the list my doctor gave me of carbohydrates and refined sugars to avoid: breads, pastas, flour tortillas, cakes, cookies, pies, cereals, and crackers. Of course, I love all these things. There goes my everything bagel most mornings, my sandwich at lunch, my homemade banana bread, crackers and cheese, and pasta! Oh man! I do know that there are a lot of alternatives out there these days; I’ve just never had to study ingredient labels so closely or figure out my options before. Looks like I have a lot of research to do.

Of course, I realize that this is an opportunity for me to make some wise choices and clean my tank before things get too bad for me health-wise. I take ibuprofen or Aleve almost every day for neck and back pain, and I’m quite sure the pain and stiffness I experience all the time is due to inflammation, so why wouldn’t I give this dietary solution a try? It’s a natural approach, which might alleviate my need for the medications I currently take.

As soon as I told him about it, my husband was asking me about what had gluten and what did not. He wanted to help me. I really couldn’t answer him yet. But we did specifically look for a restaurant to go to that night with gluten-free options. We found a poke bowl place that specifically listed on their menu only four things they had that did contain gluten. Everything else was “on my diet.” It turns out that sushi rice is gluten free so I didn’t have to give that up. Yay! I was able to build a bowl that I enjoyed without feeling like I was missing out on anything.

And, of course, I know I’m not alone. There are a lot of people who have to eat gluten-free or who have soy, wheat, cinnamon, fruit, or peanut allergies. I actually have a friend who told me a few years ago that she had Hashimoto’s, so I texted her right away asking for info, suggestions, recipes, anything to help me get started down the right path.

No matter your situation you are not walking alone.

So, I wanted to put a reminder out there at this point for anyone reading this, that whatever you are currently going through in your life, whether it is food or health related or something completely different, you are not alone. Just as there is no way I could jump fully into this new mindset without the help and guidance of others who have already walked the same path, you don’t have to go it alone either. Thankfully, with the Internet, we have access to so much information and to related communities all over the world. And, of course, God’s got your back as well. He has likely placed people along your path who can provide the support and encouragement you need to face your issues.

It’s time for me to practice some self-care and treat my body right. While I may crave processed foods that are bad for me at times, I know (with some help and in time) I can find healthy alternatives that nourish me and allow me to feel my best and be my best self. If anyone has some good links, recipes, suggestions, advice on my thyroid issue and eating gluten-free, I welcome them in the comments below. Thank you, and remember whatever you do, and wherever you go, be kind to yourself as well as to others.

Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.

[Just to clarify, for those who know my husband has fish tanks, that really dirty tank in this post is not ours. The one in the featured photo is though.]

NOTE: I have another post that I have been working on for the past month that I hope to share with you soon. The topic is “letting go.” I have so many different sources that I am pulling information from and lots of ideas still brewing; I just haven’t had a chance to put it all together. But I promise it is coming soon. 🙂

Recipe for Successful Meals

We all need to eat. And I know lots of people who, as soon as they finish one meal, start thinking about the next one. Yet, I am constantly amazed by the number of people who don’t cook. How can people seriously enjoy eating out all the time? Especially when it’s fast food! Don’t get me wrong … I do enjoy going out to eat now and then, especially when it’s for sushi or crab legs or to celebrate something special. But I can’t imagine having to pick something up at the grocery store deli or at a drive-through window every day. I like my food with a little less salt and grease and fat. Now, I can’t say I cook healthy all the time, because I don’t. But when I make our meals, I can control the amounts of those substances that go in my food. I like that.

Plus, I guess some part of me enjoys cooking and baking. It’s my way of sharing a bit of myself and nourishing my family and sometimes my friends. I know some people really don’t like cooking at all; others simply don’t think they have the time. But with a little planning and all the cookbooks, blogs, and recipe sites out there, it is actually quite easy to come up with a few quick meals for really rushed days as well as some more substantial meals you can prep ahead of time and throw in the crockpot or oven.

RECIPES While my husband, Bart, would happily eat the same things over and over again (he’s fairly easy to please), I am always on the lookout for new recipes. I currently subscribe to a couple family and recipe-based magazines. Sometimes, I get behind on reading and they begin to pile up. But I keep them near the couch for when we are watching (non-recorded) TV so that when the commercials come on, I can pick up a magazine and quickly flip through the pages.

I look for recipes that sound yummy, but then I scan through the ingredients and preparation info. If it contains way too many ingredients, things I’ve never heard of, or too many steps or too much time to prepare, I skip it. If it looks like something I might actually make, I tear the page out and put it in my coupon drawer in the kitchen.*

I also subscribe to a couple weekly e-mails from different companies (see my suggested links at the end of this blog post). I look at the main page and if something catches my eye, I’ll go to the site and check it out further (or keep it in my in box to review later). If I get too busy, I just delete the e-mail as I know there will be more recipes to consider the following week. When I find a good recipe online, I print it out and add it to that same kitchen drawer or sometimes they even make it directly into what I would call my “working cookbook.”

OTHER OPTIONS When I attend a gathering and someone makes a dish I enjoy, I ask for the recipe. Accumulating good recipes from friends and family members is another way to build up your collection of meal or snack ideas to try. And, of course, these days there is Pinterest. I don’t know how many recipes and recipe bloggers I have found from pinning yummy-sounding or tasty-looking photos to my own boards.

Then, there’s the old standby—the thousands and thousands of printed recipe books out there. If you have some cookbooks that you haven’t looked at in years, try to get them out during commercial breaks or maybe even take them with you to look through when you’re in the car pool lane. Bring some sticky notes with you and flag any interesting ideas you come across that you’d like to try.

I recommend three different options for keeping track of these cookbook recipes that you’d like to try. 1) You can write down the name of the recipe, the name of the cookbook, and the page it appears on in your working cookbook so you’ll know where to find it again. 2) You can make a copy of the page and add it to your working cookbook. 3) Or (and I know some people will shudder at this) you can actually tear the page out of the book. If it is not a special book that you’d like to keep intact, and you know you aren’t likely to keep pulling that cookbook out for one or two rarely used recipes, make things easier on yourself. Then donate the book or pass it on to a friend who may appreciate some of the other recipes. (I also suggest donating or giving away cookbooks, or any other books, that are just accumulating dust on your shelves, even if they were gifts.)

Recipes also come directly on product packaging and on index cards at your local grocery store. There is no end to what you can find if you look around. Just don’t go crazy collecting recipes you will never use. It’s a good idea to occasionally go through your collection and get rid of recipes that either didn’t turn out that well or that you still haven’t made after many months (or years).

Have fun collecting good recipes, but remember, the goal isn’t to see who can collect the most recipes. The point is to actually use the recipes to provide a variety of meals for you and your family. One hint though—if you already cook, don’t go crazy and make a new dish every night. Most people don’t like that much change. Continue to use your standby family favorites, but once or twice a week, try something new. It will either become another favorite or a flop. Believe me, you’ll know whether it’s a keeper or not.

Bottom line—you’ll find that you are spending less money, probably eating better, and maybe, just maybe, even learning to like cooking.

  • *Later, when I have time, all recipes will be reviewed again for feasibility (will I actually ever make this?); those that remain keepers get put in my working cookbook.
  • My working cookbook is an ever-changing 3-ring binder full of page protectors. It usually stays on my kitchen counter and it sometimes contains a number of other useful pages, like lists of what’s in the freezer, what’s in the pantry, and what’s for dinner (menus for one to two weeks at a time), which I’ll talk about in another post.

Here are some of my favorite sources—in no particular order. Check them out!

www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish/ (Easy. Elegant. Everyday.)

www.SavingDinner.com (menus, recipes, and shopping lists to get your family back to the dinner table)

http://www.bettycrocker.com  (recipes from Betty Crocker—sign up for their Dinner Made Easy newsletters)

www.bhg.com/recipes/ (recipes from Better Homes and Gardens)

www.TasteofHome.com (recipes from Taste of Home)

www.SuperKidsNutrition.com (saving the world one healthy food at a time)

www.EatBetterAmerica.com (part of Live Better America—healthy recipes/healthy living)

www.SixBurnerSue.com (cooking fresh and eating green with Susie Middleton)

www.UrbanPoser.Blogspot.com  (yoga & vibrant gluten free living)

www.BrokeAssGourmet.com  (recipes to keep your taste buds happy and your wallets thick)

www.Picky-Palate.com (original family style recipes for even your pickiest eaters)

www.EatWholly.com (tasty tips, yummy kitchen tricks, and entertaining videos from Wholly Guacamole)

Food for Thought

I decided to make today’s post food-focused because most of us are often thinking about food in one way or another: like what we can have, what we can’t have, what we crave, what we’re thinking about making, what we hope someone will make for us, etc.

I’ve heard/read several people, most recently my nephew Kevin, complaining about how expensive it is to eat healthy, especially when you’ve got several family members to consider. He’s right. It’s hard, but not impossible. I just came across this article from Care2.com on 18 Easy Food Swaps to Save Money that I think would be a great read if you are tempted to fill your cart with less healthy, cheaper foods. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

Also, I just have to promote this new “Lunchables” alternative that I found at Target — from GoPicnic. Really, they are great for kids or adults, but I compare them to the lunch/snack option that I know some people buy for their kids, because even though it is labeled as a ready-to-eat meal, for most adults, I think it would be more like a great afternoon snack. I’ve only tried one so far–the one with hummus–and it was pretty darn tasty. In fact, I’m looking for a box of those baked crackers now; I really liked them.

Anyway, they say GoPicnic meals contain no trans fats, no high fructose corn syrup, and no MSG. Three of the four boxes I picked up are also gluten free. You can learn more about them online at GoPicnic.com, but they sell them on their site for $5, and I got them at Target for $3.51. Try them out and let me know what you think.

Besides looking for a good price on healthy foods, I know many of us are also looking for ways to save time with meal prep. In the February issues of Real Simple magazine, I found this article on “hearty and healthy slow-cooker recipes you’ll use (and love) forever.”  (I’m still getting caught up on some of my magazines.) I think there are a few recipes shown online that weren’t in the print version of the magazine, and vice versa, but check out this slideshow to see if anything catches your eye. If you find something you like, look to the right and below the description of the dish, there is a link to “Get the Recipe.”

And speaking of recipes, I have purchased menu mailers from Leanne Ely of Saving Dinner in the past; they help you quickly and easily make meal plans each week, and they come in a variety of categories (low carb, low fat, meals for two, etc.). Leanne has just paired up with Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, to introduce the Paleo Bundle to share the critical link between the foods we eat or do not eat and the health we have or do not have. The bundle includes five audio lectures from Dr. Wahls; a Paleo Primer, to introduce you to what the paleo way of eating is all about and give you some basic guidelines to get your pantry stocked; and a one-year subscription to Menu-Mailer’s Paleo plan, which provides you with various recipes and helps you customize your meal plan and shopping list. Pretty cool stuff.

And finally, for today: Did you read my last post? In it, I mentioned a recipe for Impossibly Easy Mini Cheeseburger Pies from Betty Crocker, which I hadn’t yet tried. Well, I made them last night. They were very easy and very good. You make them in a muffin pan and then add toppings like you’d put on your burger. I put my garnishes/condiments directly on mine; Bart preferred to dip his in a mustard and hot sauce mix. (We treated the mini-pies like finger food.) You definitely need a side with these or you’ll want more than the 2-pie serving per person. (I had 2; Bart had 3.) We ate these with sweet-tasting corn on the cob. Yum!

I definitely recommend this recipe; however, I felt like it needed a bit more of the baking/Bisquick mixture. I suggest using 3/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup Bisquick mix, and 3 eggs (1-1/2 times the original recipe) to fill up the muffin pan more.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. I hope at least one of the items I posted was useful to you. Personally, although I love using the crock pot, I don’t really want so much of a “hearty” meal at this time of year. I prefer something lighter. Does anyone have any good, healthy summer-time dinner ideas? Please share.

Hope today fills you up with all good stuff.

Sharing It Forward

Several months ago, I discovered Pinterest. At first the concept sounded strange to me. I get blogging and sharing words and ideas, but what was the point of “pinning” pictures and following other peoples pins? Well, I tried it, and I liked it. A lot! [If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, click here. If you’d like to know more about how Pinterest works and what the benefits are, leave a comment below, and I’ll write about it in a future post.]

Through Pinterest, I found yummy recipes to try, great ideas for decorating and organizing, and awesome writers and photographers to follow. In fact, I discovered tons of wonderful sources of information and inspiration out there … way too many for me to keep up with them all on my own.

That’s when I started thinking about how cool it would be to gather tips and ideas from articles that I read (both in print and online) and share them with you, and then you could share some of the things you’ve discovered with me. We could pool our resources. With that in mind, here are a few links to some great sites with recipes (some healthy, some not as much), decluttering ideas, green tips, amazing photography, and a Did You Know.

Check these out

Gluten-Free/Dairy FreeThe Best Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve got some almond flour to experiment with. I’m definitely going to make these; I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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Tired of chicken? Try the Best Pork Chops You will Ever Taste. I made these, and they are pretty tasty. They come out with a nice, crisp breading but are baked, not fried.

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Quick and EasyImpossibly Easy Mini-Cheeseburger Pies: This seems like something simple to make on nights when your time is limited. I haven’t personally tried these yet, but I printed the recipe out and I plan to.

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Give your child’s lunch an extreme, and deliciously nutritious, makeover–Five Ways to Pack a Healthier Lunch
Bart and I are currently making our own trail/snack mix to take to work. We buy things like roasted peanuts, honey roasted almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, craisens, and chocolate and peanut butter chips and mix them together. It’s pretty yummy and goes a lot further than some of the pre-packaged mixes in the store.

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Don’t have the space for a regular garden? Try Container Gardening I used to grow tomatoes in a container out back. We had to keep it up off the ground away from the bunnies. Last summer was just too darn hot to grow anything. In the past, I have also grown bell peppers and jalapeños in a container. It’s easy and very rewarding, especially if you have kids and you get them involved.

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Interested in trying a little green living? Here are Five Tips for a Healthy and Green Picnic. A perfect idea for beautiful days like those we’ve been having lately.

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Is all your STUFF weighing you down? Check out Parade Magazine’s “Full House” and learn how you can lose the extra, unnecessary possessions cluttering up your home, and take back your life.

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And last, but not least, I just had to share this site. I absolutely LOVE this guy’s stunning macro photography and his inner reflections: http://beingmark.com/

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DID YOU KNOW

In last week’s post, I mentioned that I had found a place where you could recycle all the unmatched keys you had lying around your house. Keys For Kindness  is a small, family-run program where they’ll take the keys, recycle them, and give the proceeds to the Multiple Sclerosis society. The site doesn’t currently look super active though, so you might want to email them before sending anything.

Personally, I found another use for the extra keys in my house. I’m going to add them as embellishments on cards. “You Hold the [KEY] to My Heart.” “[KEY]P up the great work!” (not shown)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I continue with this blog, I think some weeks I will write more content and share specific things I am doing to declutter or “healthify” my life, and other times, I will mainly provide a list of  links to great sites or sources of information. If you want to keep up with what I find, follow me and you will receive notifications every time I post, which I hope will be every Monday.

Have a great and peace-filled week.