Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Less is More

This post is revelatory for me for a few reasons. A: It has been a long time since I have posted something because too often I think I need a lot of complex information to share with you and 2. The phrase "Less is More" is applicable in SO many aspects of our lives, but I have not thought about it as an important part of our health and diet, until now.

Just recently my husband Sam finished his residency fellowship and now spends everyday working very hard to take the next steps in his career. Just before his fellowship ended, I started to really concentrate on our food supply, and simplifying our meals so they were healthy, but simple. It is still a process, but it was an eye opener to me just how complicated and complex I have been making our meals, thinking that the more I offer, the better it will be. Well, I am now changing my tune and jumping on the KISS bandwagon: Keep it Simple, Seriously. :-)

I don't know if you are asking yourselves how, when you struggle to add vegetables and fruits in the first place, but the key is to simplify. It is a challenge for me, in a lot of things, to simplify my life- cutting down on playdates and trips to the grocery store, activities for the kids, or projects that I decide to take on- sometimes, honestly, we end up doing too much for others, and not enough for our families, and ourselves. Seriously, think about it. How many times do you schedule something and realize you don't have any time in between to EAT, let alone sit and enjoy your meal, or a book, or a run or time with your kids? That is something that has really affected my health, and I now intend to give myself more time to accomplish those important, and enjoyable things you NEED to do, that will in turn help you to better take care of those you love. It's like what interior decorators do; they don't usually add to a busy room to make it beautiful- they simplify it, and bring out the strengths it already possesses.
So, this is what I suggest, because this is what I am noticing: Prices of healthy foods are increasing, saving money seems more and more difficult, and we are all guilty of buying the chips and the crackers or the cereal OR THE CANDY or the hamburger helper because it's cheaper than it's healthy counterparts (yes, guilty is the correct term- there is nothing redeeming about this just because it's cheap!)
Take a look at the food in your pantry. How much money do you think you could actually save if you SIMPLY scratched the cookies from your shopping list, and replaced it with a pound of apples, or bananas? This isn't the only simplifying I have discovered. How many dishes do you make for dinner? I have a hard time with this one, since I KNOW that too often my children, and especially my husband, do not get much in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables during the day, so I feel like I need to make up for it at dinner. What if I made some simple changes and offered more of those things during the day, and cut out so much complication at dinner so we can all enjoy EVERYTHING? What if we actually ENJOYED the preparation AND the meal? I am loving this thrilling call to bring us closer to a WHOLE FOOD, PLANT-BASED diet, on a very humble budget. We have returned to BLT's for dinner, with hummus and carrots, or apples and almonds as a snack. We love slow-cooked salsa chicken for dinner as tacos or taco salads. And the fresh vegetables are SO CHEAP when I take the time to go to the farmer's market!
I think you know what I am getting at. And if you don't, just ask. You KNOW I am happy to talk about these things. Besides, I also KNOW I can learn from you- so would you please share with me the things you do to serve healthy and simple meals?
Knowing what you know- can you go back? What are you going to do to simplify your life, and enjoy eating less because you are eating more-more natural, more whole. Ahh, it feels good to be back.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Whole Grain Truth: Barley

So, after a few weeks of being completely thrown out of the habits of exercising and blogging just to name a few, I am ready to begin again. Having to turn my concerns to my childrens' health, I feel more conscientious of our health and the impact our diet has on our physical challenges and maladies. So, here's to your health, and the health of your family; try this wholesome, chewy, and very versatile grain this week!

Barley: Also a member of the grass family, and has been cultivated for thousands of years (a staple often mentioned in the bible). It is widely used as animal feed, and also as a malt for beer, and a substitute for coffee (seriously! Ever had Postum?). Hulled, or naked barley is the whole grain, however we most commonly find barley as "pearled" barley, which has had the bran removed. Still considered a whole grain, Pearled barley is still a highly nutritional cereal grain, with eight essential amino acids, is high in fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. Barley helps to regulate your digestive system, lower your cholesterol (and raise your "good" cholesterol) and helps regulate your blood sugar. This is important for anyone- especially those with diabetes.

If your interested, check out the recipe from Fitness magazine posted on the recipes blog- a hearty, healthy salad; a great salad that requires little cooking! Please feel free if you have any barley recipes to share, to post them on the recipe blog.
Happy (and healthy) Eating!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Whole Grain Truth- Quinoa

So, I'm going about this all wrong. I thought, "the more information I can share, the better!", right? WRONG! I am sorry- I didn't realize how overwhelming all of the information would be (it was for me- that should have been a sign!). So, I'm taking another route- and I hope this one ends better than the former one.

As requested- and I LOVE Quinoa too!- the first post is all about Quinoa. Feel free to add your comments (and recipes!) if I miss something!

A little background information:
Quinoa is closely related to beets and spinach- in species AND nutritional value. It has been an important food in South America for over 6,000 years, and was considered "the gold of the Incas". Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein by itself (this means this is especially good for you vegetarians). It is a good source of fiber (5 grams per 1 cup serving), and protein, as well as vitaimins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and iron, and is gluten free for those sensitive to the xantham gum, or gluten, in wheat.

So, this is our beginning. Try some quinoa this week- Malissa Arnold posted some great quinoa recipes, and I have one I'll post tonight. You may like it- you may not. But either way, it's a great big step in the right direction to your and your family's health.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fat does not equal fat!

In the world of math, this equation may be a little confusing, but this time, the numbers lie. This is something I could rant on about for hours- Fat free is NOT better for you than their fatty counterparts. Contrary to popular belief, consuming FAT does NOT make you FAT.
So, without further adieu, here is my unprofessional and seriously overzealous opinion for necessary fats in your diet (And I mean, daily eating habits, NOT "so I can lose weight temporary starvation plan!):

Eggs: Not just egg whites, the yolk may contain the cholesterol AND the fat, but my defense is two parts; whole eggs are a complete protein- with all eight essential amino acids only found in the yolk. Part two, this is a natural source of fat; it is not chemically engineered, altered, or crafted, it simply is. Now, don't overdo it, but enjoy them. They are good for you.

Oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil, for example.
The olive oil is a must have for dressings, and the coconut oil for sauteeing and baking. Coconuts get a bad rap because technically, they are just fat (and saturated fat at that!), but as we dig deeper, we are finding that not all fats are created equal. Poly-unsaturated fats are good for you, Mono-unsaturated fats are better, and Saturated fats are bad for you- or are they? Well, yes, those saturated fats that come from animal products and processed foods (boxed, or prepared/frozen meals) are bad for you. They raise your bad cholesterol, lower your good cholesterol, elevate your blood pressure, and definitely contribute to heart disease (the #1 killer of women, by the way), and are SO difficult for your body to digest and discard, that they do make us fat, BUT- studies now show that just like unsaturated fats, there are also good Saturated fats. I could go on and on about this subject- so if you are more interested, here's a link for information I cannot take credit for sharing with you : http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/features/cocgood.html  

More fats, include Avocados, olives, butter (though in small quantities- it's a natural source of fat, but provides little else for you nutritionally), and nuts, and seeds! Nuts like walnuts, almonds provide fiber AND protein as well as fat (the omega-3 fats too- those are the same ones found in fish that are so good for you!), and peanuts, sunflower and sesame seeds provide a great source of omega-6 fatty acids. These two types of fatty acids are the only two types that our bodies cannot produce on its own- making them essential to our health.  
So, there we are. I think what I am trying to say is- the natural, unprocessed fats are good and necessary for us. They are something that, in small quantities, pack a powerful punch to our health, even improve it- including smoothing and clearing our skin, improves auto-immune diseases, and can actually help us lose weight. So, enjoy those candied walnuts! :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Benefits of Buttermilk

Until recently I have had to avoid dairy products- except yogurt, buttermilk and cheese in small portions. I have been curious as to why, and I have just recently learned why along with some other wonderful facts about buttermilk, and why it's not as bad as we think it is.
Buttermilk gets its name because it is the milk left over after the fat is removed to make butter. Buttermilk is lower in fat than milk (in comparison to whole milk, and reduced-fat milk, as long as you check the labels), and helps to reduce body heat which makes it a popular drink during summer months. It is high in calcium, potassium (which helps regulate blood pressure), phosphorus, and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the formation of blood, functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the metabolism of every cell in the body. Pretty important, huh?
For those who are lactose intolerant, buttermilk is now your best friend. It is more tolerable for you, and more easily digestible for all of us because it contains more lactic acid, and less lactose. However, for those worried about its comparison with regular milk, it still has the same amount of protein, and is often prescribed for weight loss, and to regulate and improve digestion with the cultures and active bacteria it contains.
Buttermilk is a fantastic substitute for cream, including heavy cream and sour cream, and is also a healthy agent for soaking nuts (the soaking process increases the nutritional value of the nuts because they also become more easily digestible- but that's another post)! Try some buttermilk today- as a drink, a substitute, or in your baking- look for the Buttermilk pancake recipe. Enjoy the benefits of buttermilk!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Whole Grain Truth- Part 1

We see it every day we go to the grocery store, on crackers and cereal, even chips: "Made with Whole Grain". And we buy it, because it's healthier- hey, I'm part of the same crowd! I buy the cereal, and the crackers because I figure, if it's made with whole grain, it's healthier. It's brilliant marketing- and it helps us feel good about the things we are buying to keep our families (and ourselves) healthy.
But, unfortunately, they are not as healthy as they profess to be. Some crackers and cereals (most, generally) undergo complex processes to complete the final, tasty product. Some even contain ingredients like "partially hydrogenated oil", which totally cancels out any nutritional value it had going for itself in the first place! So, the next time you buy something made with whole grain consider this:
The definition of a whole grain is any cereal grain which contains bran and germ, as well as endosperm. Refined grains contain only the endosperm. All grains start out as a whole grain- a grain in its natural state, and remains a whole grain when, after milling, retains all 3 components of the grain. So, if the FIRST ingredient on the package of your crackers is "whole grain ____", you've made a healthy step in the right direction!

Now that we know the definition of whole grain, what are whole grains, you might ask?
When Sam and I were first married, our meals included some sort of meat, and rice or pasta, and a vegetable on the side. It was pretty habitual... for a while.
I don't know how or when it began, but slowly I began to experiment with grains. There are some grains I have yet to taste, but my palate, and enjoyment of food has increased much thanks to the wide variety of whole grains we have readily available to us now- most of us just don't know it. Here's a list of whole grains- see how many you have eaten, or might know of:
Amaranth
Barley
Buckwheat
Bulgur
Corn
Farro
Grano
Kamut
Millet
Oats
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa)
Rice
Sorghum/ Milo
Spelt
Teff
Triticale
Wheat
Wild Rice
How did you do? I would say, if you are familiar with or have tried at least half of the grains on this list, you are doing well! Now, if you want to know more about each of these grains, here's a summary of each grain listed. There are also some recipes posted under the recipes link (thank you Malissa!). Enjoy discovering a new grain this week!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Be Thankful

Because we are just as much a spiritual being as we are a physical being, our spiritual health is just as important (and even connected)! So here are my spiritual thoughts on health today.

Yesterday morning I spent some time enjoying yoga outside in the yard. It was nice weather, but the most enjoyable thing was the sounds of the wind rustling the leaves, and the sounds of the birds and animals in the trees. After a while, I realized that there was more to enjoy than just what I saw with my eyes, and what I taste with my mouth. Too often I get caught up in what I'm GOING to do in the next moments, not what's happening in THIS moment. I almost lost that feeling when I came back in and found myself drifting mindlessly toward the pantry, but I caught myself, and enjoyed time with my family that didn't only involve food.

This is something I'm working on, something I struggle with, but I'm getting better. "Arouse your faculties"; a statement made by Alma in the Book of Mormon. Pay attention to everything around you, and just be thankful. Think about why you are doing what you are doing, and be thankful for everything you eat, everything you smell, see and feel- and maybe we'll begin to be content with what we have rather than thinking we need more, and then food won't be an obsession; it will be a gift.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You, Me, We

There are so many things I want to share, and so many of you that I want to share my passion with, and so it begins.

This is all about health! Your health, you family's health, and the things we can do to help the country improve its health: spiritual, mental, and physical!
But here's my Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor am I certified in nutrition, I simply love sharing what I know.

On Thursday night I made a presentation about portion sizes, healthy substitutes, and reading food labels, but there was so much information I wanted to share, that I thought this would be the best way to do it. Enjoy reading- and if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to let me know! I would love to discuss more of it with you! You'll find the information from Thursday on the pages "Recipes from Stephanie Henderson", and "Helpful tips for healthy habits".

Last thing- this blog is "healthy me, healthy we", because your health (and your family's health) begins with you; begins with us. So, we make individual choices, take responsibility for who we want to become, and then we find each other, and help one another along the way. So, thank you- because I know inevitably that you will help me as much as I hope to help you.
Here's to a wonderful new week!

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One Step at a Time

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but the power to do has increased." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson