Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bruce Lipton's The Honeymoon Effect

This book was such a great read - I zipped through it, hungry for more when I was finished. Lipton blends spirituality, biochemistry, quantum physics, and personal experience to explain the joy experienced at the honeymoon phase of a relationship and how we can achieve that bliss throughout our lives. 

Lipton explains that coupling among humans is fundamentally about bonding, not reproduction. Bonding is the powerful innate drive that propels us into relationships with others. Because we are driven to bond easily, we must become conscious (not simply hormone-ruled or blindly lustful) as we bond so that we can attract people who meet our needs into our lives. Lipton says we can use the power of good vibrations and switch our thoughts to create a happily ever after life. He reminds us that love is all about potions – our own neurochemicals cause everything from the anxiety to the euphoria and the infatuation to the post-breakup depression. He differentiates between our conscious and unconscious minds and provides a quantum physics analogy for how to achieve both amazing relationships and world peace.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. The discussion of neurochemicals was fascinating. Moreover, how Lipton relates what occurs on the cellular level, to the interpersonal level, to the macro of world peace is brilliant. On all levels, this book is fantastic!

Note: Hay House gave us a copy of this book to review. We're grateful for The Looneyspoons Collection and Hay House! And, no, getting the book for free didn't sway the opinions expressed herein. (Pardon the legalese, it's my native tongue.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Carrot Muffins (Adapted from Bob's Red Mill Bran Flax Muffins)

I kicked off October Unprocessed 2013 with a breakfast favorite. In fact, it is one of the first "healthy" recipes I learned. These muffins are packed with healthy ingredients (carrots, apple, flax, oat bran), and yet still are tasty enough for the kids to nosh. Watch out, they're addictive!

I adapted this recipe from Bob's Red Mill, substituting a few ingredients to make the recipe less processed. We hope you enjoy this recipe. It is a sneaky (and delicious!) way to get the kids to eat veggies. Plus, the mini size of the muffins is so snackable. Just watch that the adults in your household don't eat too many.

3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. spelt flour
3/4 c. oat bran
3/4 c. flaxseed meal
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. finely shredded carrots
2 peeled, cored, shredded apples
2 beaten eggs
3/4 c. honey
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine wheat flour, spelt flour, oat bran, flaxseed meal, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix.
3. Add shredded carrots and apple.
4. Combine beaten eggs, honey, milk, and vanilla in a bowl.
5. Add these liquid ingredients to the large bowl and mix all ingredients together.
6. Fill mini-muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.
7. Bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unprocessed Energy Balls

We're live on the October Unprocessed website! So excited to be the first post with our Energy Ball recipe. Click HERE to check it one of our absolute favorite recipes! Also, you can even see a sample of my cheesy poetry. Yep, I went there!

We had tons of fun working on the post, and Finn even helped making the treats. Enjoy, enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

October Unprocessed 2013

October Unprocessed 2013

Last year we participated in this month-long journey to better health and more conscious eating. This year, we are honored to contribute our thoughts (and a recipe!) to this project. We hope that you'll join us in taking this challenge! Head here: October Unprocessed 2013 to take the pledge. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The 1-2-3-4 of Getting Healthier (and our plan to baby step our boys there)

In the last post we announced that we planned to take baby steps to improve our boys' nutrition. Then, we sent them for a Dunkin' Donuts fueled week with their grandfather! They are back home now, we're recovering from the sugar shock of Easter, and we're now ready to baby step towards big changes here.

To help us take those next baby steps, we've been formulating a working definition (geek alert!) of what it means to eat healthier. In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin says, "to be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth." After giving it ample (read: too much) thought, we think we could substitute "healthier" for "happier" and use Rubin's formula to guide us in enhancing our children's nutrition.

To eat healthier, think about feasting on the good, avoiding the bad, and consuming what's right, in an atmosphere of growth. 

This four-part definition is initially overwhelming, but breaking it down gives provides a fantastic map for us to baby step towards healthy eating.

(1) The good on which to feast includes fruits, veggies, probiotics, and so many more wonderful, nutritious ingredients.

(2) The bad to avoid includes processed and artificial foods.

(3) Consuming what's right means thinking about local foods, humanely raised animals, and the avoidance of harmful pesticides that destroy the environment.

(4) Lastly, growing our knowledge of health, wellness, food, nutrition, and cooking techniques will help us maintain our health and enhance our well-being.

There you go: our 1-2-3-4 part definition of eating healthier!

As we apply this definition to our children's nutrition, our aim is to progress towards a plant-based, unprocessed lifestyle by:

(1) ensuring that the boys feast on a good daily dose of fruits and vegetables,

(2) avoid bad ingredients and processed foods 80% of the time,

(3) consume what's right with local and small organic products,  and

(4) by growing the boys knowledge about healthy food and nutrition.

The grand effect is that we'll still indulge in occasional treats, but our daily lifestyle won't include many of the foods they currently eat and will include lots of fruits and vegetables. Our plan is to implement the dietary changes in phases:

  • Phase I: Operation Unprocessed Kiddos! We'll achieve part two of the definition of healthier (avoiding the bad) by cutting processed foods one meal at a time. 
  • Phase II: Operation Eat Your Fruits and Veggies! In this phase we'll be moving full force to get the kids to embrace, enjoy, and simply eat a plant-based diet by focusing on part one of the definition of healthier (feasting on the good). 
  • During both phases we'll be increasing our usage of local, small organic products and educating the boys about healthy food to accomplish parts three and four of the definition of healthier (eating what's right and growing our knowledge). 

In Phase I our first baby step will be tackling breakfast. No more frozen breakfasts, unless they were made at home and qualify as unprocessed. We'll also be attempting to turn their frowns upside down when it comes to eggs. Stay tuned for our initial results. We look forward to sharing our journey with you!

They love each other!
But can they love healthy food?
PS:  Send us your comments! What's worked for you in terms of getting your precious kiddos to munch on healthy food? What's been a total flop on this front? What are your favorite healthy kid breakfasts? Any tips and tricks are appreciated!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Starting with the Children, from Where We Are Now

The Roches - Where We Are Now

Jeff and I are in a mild state of shock! We can't believe we've reached a point in our health where friends and family actually seek our advice. It was only two years ago when we regularly feasted on hot dogs and processed American cheese slices wrapped in tubed crescent rolls! Now, it's spinach salad and spaghetti squash on the menu. We are astounded by our transformation and so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to help others with the wisdom of our experience. (Service rocks...and so does a fresh green smoothie!)

However, a big chunk of us feels like we've failed. While we would gladly publish all we eat in a week, we're not similarly confident about what we're feeding our children. We've lovingly detoxed our own bodies, and  yet we feed our kids food containing all kinds of additives and preservatives. There remains a sense of shame and embarrassment in terms of what the kids eat, which lets us know its the perfect time to make changes.

As for changes, we've already made a ton of them as a family. Jeff and I ditched soda over a decade ago and began the slow switch to organic starting with milk. Once we became parents, we made the shift from regular restaurant-goers to mainly home cooks. Two years ago, we set our path for a real food diet, gradually implementing more changes along the way. We never had a sudden epiphany about eating, but all the changes were baby steps towards health.

To really demonstrate how much we've grown as a family, here is a sample day from two years ago:

Breakfast: Eggo Waffle and Apple Juice 
Snack: Fruit Roll Up and Apple Juice
Lunch: PB&J (Jiff PB and Smuckers Jelly) on Honey Wheat Bread, Cheese Stick, and Apple Juice
Snack: Cheez-its and Apple Juice
Dinner: Hot Dog on a Potato Roll and Kraft Mac and Cheese with Organic Milk
Dessert: Two-Bite Brownies

Here is a current sample day:

Breakfast: Vitatop and Organic OJ
Snack: Organic Apple and Organic Mara Natha Peanut Butter with Water
Lunch: PB&J (Organic Mara Natha PB and Bonne Maman Jelly) on Organic Whole Wheat, Pirate Booty, and Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk
Snack: Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunnies with Water
Dinner: Organic Chicken Wrap with Seaside Cheddar on a Whole Wheat Tortilla, Organic Applesauce, and Local Organic Milk
Dessert: Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie

About where we are now, there's been progress, but there is still room to grow!

The Pros: As a family we eat largely organic including fruit, meats, and dairy. We've even started to flow away from big organic towards local, small organic. We make a lot of things at home rather than opting for store bought, like my chocolate chip cookies and Jeff's marinara. We're definitely on our way to an unprocessed lifestyle - an amazing feeling that resonates in our souls. The boys never drink soda and candy is a rare treat in our household.

The Cons: We still feed the children frozen prepackaged breakfasts that are loaded with sugar. With their PB&J lunches the kids get processed organic snack mixes. Throw in a side of organic chocolate milk box containing carrageenan, too! Noticeably absent from their diets are fruit (for Brice) and vegetables (for both). And, we mean NO vegetables. They don't even really like the sauce on pizza! As for fruit, while Finn is a regular fruitarian from before birth, my recent successes include getting Brice to eat apple slices (minus the peel) and applesauce. That's it! We have a loooong way to go in the fruit and veggie department. 

So, that's where we're starting now. Check back shortly as we reveal our plan for implementing some amazing changes in the boys' eating habits. We're ready to take our next baby steps!

PS: We welcome your feedback and guidance! How have you transformed your picky eaters into veggie lovers? What healthy and nutritious foods do your your children gobble without complaint? Where do you still struggle? Let us know what's worked and what hasn't in your house. We'd love to hear your stories!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grab Yourself a Heaping (Looney)Spoonful!

Jeff and I picked up the Looneyspoons Collection recently and haven't put it down. It's...simply...that good. It's funny, easy to read, accessible in cooking techniques, loaded with nutrition fun facts, and brimming with recipes. Yes, there are 325 recipes - almost all of which we actually want to make!

So far, in the month we've had the book we've poured through more than a dozen - all with rave reviews. Aunt Chilada's Stuffed Tortillas were a great weeknight treat as was the Bye Bye Burgie portabella burger and the Rice is Right fried rice dish. The Eggplanet Hollywood was so delish we sent a batch to a friend caring for a sick child. The Piled High Veggie Pot Pie was warmly comforting on a cold winter Sunday. The Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice muffins were a hit with the kids. And, the Batter-Be-Good-To-Me Pancakes are my favorite pancakes...ever! (And, yes, all the recipes have corny titles like these. Hands down to the women creative enough to concoct 325 unique, corny recipe names!)

If you are new to the kitchen, expanding your go-to recipes, or interested in learning more about healthy eating, this collection is fantastic. We wholeheartedly recommend it! In the nutritional nuggets, recipe tips, trivial tidbits, and other fun facts you'll learn about everything from the health benefits of ingredients and cooking tips to the evils of diet soda and factory farming. It's all here in the nearly 400 pages of yummy goodness!

With a caveat, this book is a great resource for real foodies, too. Consumers of unprocessed foods will have to make some substitutions because some of the ingredients in this "healthy" cookbook are anything but clean. For example: light dairy products, Knorr soup mix, white flour, white sugar, ranch-flavored cream cheese, and (my personal anti-favorite) reduced-fat canned crescent rolls. Use your favorite substitutions (spelt flour for white flour, honey for sugar, coconut derivatives for you paleo folks), and you'll be great!

Overall, this book is a great addition to our library and yours! In fact, with the dozens of cookbooks in our home, this is the book we've got out as we prepare for a weekend visit from my mother-in-law. Is there any better endorsement than that? Enough said!

Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice Mini Muffins
LOVED these!

Batter-Be-Good-To-Me Pancakes
St. Paddy's Day Edition

Piled High Veggie Pot Pie
The picture doesn't do the deliciousness justice!

Note: Hay House gave us a copy of this book to review. We're grateful for The Looneyspoons Collection and Hay House! And, no, getting the book for free didn't sway the opinions expressed herein. (Pardon the legalese, it's my native tongue.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are You Frosting Kidding Me: Taking Valentine's Treats to Heart (Recipe Included)

Valentines Day 2013: my husband blew me away! Greeted early by this lovely display, I couldn’t help but swoon all day thinking of how much I love him. Yet, it was the magic Jeff performed in the kitchen the night before that really melted my heart.

A week prior, Brice's teacher requested “three cans of frosting” for class festivities. This simple task didn’t cause pause until it was time to read the label. That bit of supermarket literature takes you deep into the aisles of science fiction - far, far from the preschool nursery rhymes we should be reading our four-year-old. For your reading pleasure, we present a literary sample:

Now, definitions of healthy eating vary widely. You may be vegetarian, vegan, paleo, a clean eater, a locavore, a health nut, on a recent health kick, or simply someone who doesn’t want to kill themselves with food. No matter what kind of eater you are, knowing the truth about the contents of this frosting will greatly decrease your appetite and reduce your purchase impulse.

(Pardon in advance for the undercurrent of anger below, but it's hard not to be angry when you learn what companies will put in products to enhance their shelf lives and increase profit margins at the expense of our population, in this case our youngest child.)

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil: This is a trans fat. The same kind of trans fat that is banned in  Iceland, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and New York City restaurants. While trans fats increase the span of a processed product's life, they decrease the span of human life. Largely, trans fats negatively impact heart health. Arteries harden and clog after trans fat intake. Trans fats also cause insulin resistance and contribute to type 2 diabetes. The web is flooded with information as the impact of trans fats have been widely studied. Here's the link to one source that compiles information in an effort to promote trans fat bans.

High Maltose Corn Syrup and Corn Starch: Canned frosting is a highly-processed food. (Read: it contains a lot of corn.) The dangers of corn run broader than our bodies. It's our entire ecology. Michael Pollan writes extensively on the impact of cheap corn sweeteners on the rising obesity epidemic as well as the similarly catastrophic impacts to our environment. Check out his articles or, if you're really curious, read The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Color (Yellow 5 & 6): Just what preschoolers need this Valentine's Day - an added dose of ingredients linked to ADHD. The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding Yellow 5 & 6 as a preventative measure against the increasing the effects of the disorder. The impacts of artificial food coloring run broader than hyperactivity, too. As reported on Livestrong, Yellow 5 has been associated with allergic reactions, asthma, and is even banned in some countries.

Cellulose Gel and Cellulose Gum: While I'm not aware of any studies linking cellulose byproducts to disease, you should know what it is before you feed it to your children. It's wood. Actually, it is a highly processed form of wood that the industry uses to add fiber, replace fat, alter texture, and generally produce products for less money. You can find out more in this WSJ article.

Polysorbate 80: This delightful addition to the canned frosting concoction has been linked to reproductive issues and anaphylactic shock, according to Dr. Mercola.

Natural and Artifical Flavor: This is a surprise party of potentially harmful guests. Sometimes, it can mean MSG, a chemical widely known to cause brain damage. Giving my kid MSG on Valentine's Day doesn't do much for my heart!

In short, a can of frosting contains ingredients that are known to contribute to heart disease, ADHD, diabetes, asthma, reproductive issues, anaphylactic shock, and brain damage.

Faced with a busy night of dinner, homework, Valentines prep, and packing for a long weekend trip, Jeff stood in the market and made the conscious choice that buying canned frosting is the wrong choice for our family. It would have been much simpler to pay for a product off the shelf, but it didn't sit well with his heart. Instead, he purchased a few simple ingredients to make his own frosting. He did it without complaint and with a heart full of love for his children (and his wife who embarrassingly couldn't stop licking the bowl!).

Before sharing the recipe, we offer that this still isn't a recipe we'd classify as "healthy". It has the major advantages that there are no preservatives or artificial (i.e. unpronounceable) ingredients. It is quick and easy; it took Jeff less than five minutes to make a batch. It is also kid-approved, thumbs up across the board! The cons of this recipe are that it is still a "treat", meaning it includes a lot of sugar. We definitely don't advocate making this (or any) frosting part of your daily diet. Also, there's dairy so it isn't right for those with an intolerance. However, with how quick and delicious this recipe is, we'll never buy canned frosting again! A few minutes of prep on our end is well worth avoiding all the harmful additives the manufacturer includes on its end.

Mere moments in the kitchen can keep your loved ones' hearts happy and healthy. What a heart-loving message to take away from this Valentine's Day!

(Oh-So-Much-Better-For-You-Than-Canned!) Butter Cream Frosting
Adapted from Domino

3 3/4 cups (1 lb box) confectioners sugar
3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, softened
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for approximately 2 minutes until desired consistency is reached.

Voila! In just a few minutes you've rescued your loved ones from loads of potential heart harm. As always, using high-quality ingredients improves taste and enhances health. Jeff used organic dairy from grass-fed cows as well as organic vanilla.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Detox Debrief

After a December noshing on home baked cookies and carboloading at celebrations with the family, our bods needed some fine tuning. Thankfully, it was January so who really notices those holiday pounds, right? Very true, except for a weekend jaunt to Puerto Rico where I became keenly, horribly, and embarrassingly aware of the physical effects of my nutritionally dismal December. My skin was in rough shape; my hair wouldn't cooperate with my desire not to look like the frumpy mother image I desperately resist; I felt like the lazy version of a sloth; and my glowy, shiny, radiant self decided not to join us on vacation. (I missed her dearly.) To remedy that Christmas cheer (the same cheer that left me with lingering dismay), we chose to cleanse.

I've been following Annapolis nutritionist Lisa Consiglio Ryan, of Whole Health Designs, since we moved here. Lisa offers ten day detox plans, private consults, juices, and cleaning eating meal plans. Her programs are popular, generating participants nationwide. To accomplish our cleansing, we chose Lisa's Winter Renewal 10 Day Detox.

The plan: ten days without meat, dairy, sugar, processed foods, gluten, soy, and alcohol. The verdict: we loved it!

Here's a recap of our experience: 

Day Zero: My husband is my hero!

Twas the day before detox and all through the house,
Stomped a stress-crazed wife and her supportive spouse.

On this day, I crumbled. Big time! The stress of changing my eating patterns always gets to me. Today was no exception. I hit Whole Foods during pre-Sunday supper rush hour. It was a mob scene that fried my brain! I missed ingredients leaving us without the ability to prepare Monday's planned recipes. Oops! With Jeff's help we cobbled together a plan for the next day, but I was a bundle of nerves about the whole thing.

Day One: Phew....we've begun. After the stress of yesterday, today felt much better. We were officially on the detox. After having weaned off caffeine a few days before, the morning went well, and I enjoyed the Start Your Day Oatmeal recipe. I wasn't sure that a vegetarian dinner would sate me, but Lisa's Spicy Lentil Bowl was lovely and filling.

Day Two: I feel like doo! Hooray for the detox headache that means this is working, is what I would have said if I was speaking in full sentences. Day two was my toughest day, but I kept reminding myself that the temporary bad feeling would soon fade way to a longer-lasting good one. Crossing my fingers that I feel better tomorrow, is what I would have done if I could have paused from massaging my temples long enough to manage that maneuver.

Day Three: Headache recedes, giving way to a healthier me. Thank you lord baby Jesus and every other deity anyone's ever prayed to that I don't feel like yesterday! Another bonus today: the scale was down two pounds. Yes, I know, I know, it's a detox not a diet, but come on, losing a few pounds is good news. In other good news, I ate a delicious kale salad for lunch. That seems like the true calling card of a healthy eater: using delicious and kale in the same breath. Lisa's creamy avocado dressing made kale work for me.   

Days Four through Seven: Eating and cooking veg feels like heaven! At this point we noticed we were spending LOTS of time in the kitchen together. The work of preparing meals for the detox was not overly complex, but it was work. Thankfully, we enjoyed sharing the toils together. Chopping, cutting, dicing, slicing, juicing, sauteing, roasting, and otherwise preparing vegetables was a nightly ritual for us. It was mindful - this process of feeding one another. The plan clicked along, and we worked it for all it was worth. We felt the shift from how are we going to eat like this to why would we not eat like this. Ah, the magic of transformation!

Day Eight: Feeling great! On Day eight, I bounded with energy. While we'd done yoga during the earlier part of the detox, today I hit the stairs for a cardio workout. I was raring to go! My mood was also bolstered by the fact that today included some of my favorite meals - leftovers of the veggie chili made for the Superbowl the night prior and a dinner of brown rice, butternut squash and toasted pecans that will continue to be a favorite of ours post-detox.

Day Nine: A little less fine. I'm not sure if my workout yesterday caused my system to flush out some more toxins, but on this day I felt less than wonderful. In fact, I felt a big ugh-ly! But, the end was so near I could taste it...in all its veggie goodness.

Day Ten: When can we start again? Two delicious banana oat muffins kicked off this last day of detox. I couldn't believe the ten days was already over! I thought it would be an agonizing day, that the anticipation of eating whatever I wanted tomorrow would gnaw at me. But, it was just a normal day filled with healthy eating. Easy, breezy, and b-e-a-utiful!

Detox Plus One: Vegan fun! I woke up on the day after the conclusion of detox and stared at the contents of my kitchen for a long time before deciding what to eat for breakfast. I thought I would revert to eggs and toast, but I wasn't ready. My body told me "no" unequivocally. I continued  with the detox plan all day, in fact. We ate dinner at a vegan restaurant with some new friends, shared our experience on the detox, and talked healthy eating long into the night. A perfect way to cap the experience! Plus, Jeff notes this dinner marks our entry into the healthy eating club: conversing with the waiter about the undermassaged kale in my salad. (Yes, you can just imagine the dirty jokes that followed.)

Overall, the detox was a wonderful thing – I can still hear our bodies chanting "thank you"! We each lost more pounds than I thought possible in only ten days (I know, I know, it's not a diet, it's a detox!). We've implemented some of the changes permanently; we're now completely off caffeine. We've also reduced our meat consumption to a few times a week instead of every day. We owe a big THANKS to Lisa for the wonderful plan. You can check out her programs at Whole Health Designs or follow Whole Health Designs on Facebook.

UPDATE:  We're back in for another round. Spring Renewal starts April 22nd! Feel like trying it yourself? Get in on the detox goodness here!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crazy Sexy Kitchen Review

Kris Carr's latest, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, is a hit for us, less for the recipes and more for the inspiring introductory information. She's a wellness warrior, straight up! You can feel the energy pulsing off her fingertips as she promotes the virtues of produce through her powerful prose. Kris's insights into alkalinity, the dangers of dairy, and the amazing benefits of an anti-inflammatory, plant-based diet have changed our lives, for sure and for better!

As for the recipes, many are well-suited to serve to vegetarian company gracing your table on a weekend. For example, the Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Burger was uber-delicious, but took hours to prepare. It doesn't suite our busy, working family weeknight grind, but we would certainly pull out this book when healthy company comes calling! While some of the recipes are gourmet (read: lengthy), others are handy plant-based basics like nut milk, hummus, kale chips, and avocado toast that will appeal to newbie healthy eaters and busy parents. (If you are a soy-free eater like we are, be warned that this book is not soy averse.)

If you are interested in the benefits of plant-based living, this beautiful book is definitely worth the read. Kris is energetic and engaging, and her message is important and powerful. Enjoy with an open heart and an empty belly, waiting to be filled with healthy treats that reduce inflammation and promote wellness!

Note: Hay House gave us a copy of this book to review. We're grateful for it and Hay House! And, no, getting the book for free didn't sway the opinions expressed herein. (Pardon the legalese, it's my native tongue.)