Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Real Food Challenge– What Do I Eat?

As you know if you’ve been reading this week, Auntie Em has taken on The 7-Day Real Food Challenge presented by Mary’s Kitchen. As I said in my “What Do You Mean, Real Food Challenge?” post, that may mean different things to different people. A very strict Real Food diet would include ONLY fresh, whole food in its original form. That’s more restrictive than fits my lifestyle, so rather than toss it out completely, I’m doing a modified one. (You can read my guidelines on the “What Do You Mean?” post.)

(Obviously) Eat Fresh or Frozen Fruits and Veggies.

Limit your fruits if you are trying to lose weight or keep your sugar down, as they are higher in natural sugars. Real butter is a real food– flavor with that or with olive oil. Don’t use margarine or “lite” stuff. This kind of cooking/eating is time consuming, so be smart about it: Cook larger quantities and then just reheat them for subsequent meals. Here are just a few Auntie Em recipes:

Auntie Em’s Country Squash

Tropical Fruit Salad

“Complicated” Fruit Salad (It’s really effortless!)

Garden Fresh Broccoli

Broccoli Salad

Green Beans

For several months I’ve been starting my day with a packet of oatmeal. *bangs head on table* Compare the ingredients in the first picture (pre-packaged) and the canister (1-minute rolled oats).

I don't know what these are. Do you?  ingredients only rolled oats

These still wouldn’t pass muster on a strict Real Food diet, but they are a lot closer than the boxed, packaged stuff. Rule of thumb: The more steps between original food and your mouth, the less “real” it is. Mr. Quaker Oats had to do something to make those oats cook in 1 minute. (For a simple explanation of the journey from oats from the field to steel cut oats, to rolled oats, to quick oats, check here.)   I made up a “2-serving” batch (1 cup of oats, 2 cups water) and added a chipped-up apple, a tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 TBS maple syrup. Good! 2/3 cup was plenty. I added a TBS of vanilla almond milk for a little extra and it was quite tasty. A little more trouble up front, but now for several days I will be able to just microwave it like the little package.

From packaged oatmeal to quick oats: Progress!

I used to take 4 packets of Splenda in my large mug of coffee. (Don’t judge) Now, I pour my half and half and sip. Not terrible. Then I add ONE Splenda and it tastes quite sweet enough!

4 Splenda packets to 1: Progress!

I’ve used spaghetti squash in place of pasta– a lot of trouble but okay taste and texture. Today I julienned zucchini and sautéed it, then topped with spaghetti sauce. Just as good, and much less trouble!

Pasta to vegetable: Progress!

Main dishes

A salad is great! Add chicken or any other meat you grilled last night. Be wary of croutons and salad dressing. Those are often very processed. Make your own salad dressing- cheaper, healthier, and you get exactly what you want. Soups and stews are another great way to eat clean. Add homemade broth and fresh or frozen veggies to meat and you’ve got it.

Desserts

I made this paleo strawberry shortcake that was pretty good. I used real whipped cream, not Cool Whip.

{Guiltless} Paleo Strawberry Shortcake | Fitcupcaker

I haven’t fixed many desserts– if anything, we are mostly eating fruit — because we are trying to cut calories too. And as my wise son said, “If it’s superfluous, why eat it?”

I hope I’ve given you a bit to “chew on” in your Real Food journey!

Mary's Kitchen: Real Food Challenge day 3

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Bubbling Over with Hope

I’ve discovered More to Be’s Transformed Tuesday. Along with a linkup, Elissa gives a verse for next week, so you can ponder and soak in it all week. I like having “an assignment” and I really love this week’s verse! Come visit if you can.

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NASB)

I read it in several translations, and as usual, different things jumped out at me.

The HCSB said “… as you believe in Him…” Not only is God the God of hope, WE must take and active role.

The GNT stressed, “… may God, the source of hope… hope will continue to grow…” Where do we get our hope? From God. “Abound” is not a word we use too much anymore, but I “continue to grow” makes perfect sense.

And the Amplified added “… joy and peace in believing [through the experiences of your faith]… abound in hope [bubbling over]…”

So the Auntie Em translation, piecing together all of these and adding my own insight, goes something like this:

Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace, believing Him not only because of what you read in the Scriptures and observe in others, but from remembering your very own personal experiences. This deep, heartfelt belief will cause your hope to be steadfast and continue to grow, until it overflows and spills on to those around you.

I wrote a post called “Got Hope?” back in October that goes along with this theme– go check it out if you missed it!

bubbling over with hope

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Real Food Challenge- Here’s Help

When I start something new, especially if it’s very far outside my “box,” I need a lot of information and encouragement! Fortunately for me, there are many sources available.

I mentioned Mark’s Daily Apple and Balanced Bites in my Paleo 101 post.

For Real Food/clean eating, I like Mary’s Kitchen (the 7-Day Challenge host) and Just Eat Real Food.  (I sometimes have trouble accessing her site, but I can get to her Facebook  and Pinterest pages.)

For the whole fitness thing, including exercise, my IRL friend Aimee has a wonderful FB page called Aimee’s Corner. You will find tons of encouragement, along with humor and grace here.

Cover Photo

Another is Scooby’s Workshop. My son started on a healthy journey in January and has lost *80* pounds! He says he’s learned everything from Scooby.

Scooby's Workshop

I have to share before and after pictures. Handsome, huh?

Before After

He took shirtless pics too, that really show the dramatic change. You can see the before and after if you want. (I didn’t want to shock anyone with pictures of a shirtless man!) He has completely changed his eating– mostly fish, brown rice or quinoa, and a green veg; and only water to drink. He’s also become an athlete! He began by walking, then intervals of running/walking, and now is running 2 or more miles at a time, plus bicycling. He uses an app called Runtastic to track his miles.

There are a world of websites and apps to help you in your journey to good health. Just be careful that you don’t get stuck in researching them to death, trying to make the PERFECT decision, and neglect to actually DO anything! (I’m preaching to myself lol!)

7 day real food challenge Mary's healthy meals

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Real Food Challenge/Paleo 101

I’m taking the 7-Day Real Food Challenge with Mary’s Kitchen. (If you’d like to catch up, start here.) To tell the truth, I had overhauled my eating already, beginning around mid-June, and some posts had been floating around in my head; I thought the Challenge was the perfect time to pin me down! I’ve found some good resources that have helped.

PALEO DIET

A strict paleo diet doesn’t include any dairy or grains, and though I’m not quite willing to go that far, I am using a modified paleo diet. (I love my rice and beans and half-and-half in my coffee!) With my wheat allergy, their no-grain philosophy has given me some good alternatives, and I’ve learned a lot about nutrition by reading up on this diet. The resources I’ve used have talked at length about the connection between what they’ve termed the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and many, many of the health problems that plague our country: obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, lupus, ADD, etc. I understood enough to see that most nutrition absorption occurs in our small intestine, and when we try to process foods that we were not designed to process, (especially all the added chemicals!) inflammation results– and that inflammation affects our immune system and wreaks havoc. Paleo also stresses blood sugar regulation and the dangers of huge spikes resulting from processed carbs and sugars.
Practical Paleo

by Diane Sanfilippo

This book was recommended by my friend who has lost a lot of weight by changing what she was eating. Like me, she does more of a Real Food diet than strict paleo. What I liked about the book was that the author took all her scientific knowledge and put it in easy-to-follow, practical applications. She has a good website, too, called Balanced Bites. In addition to teaching about how paleo diets work in your body, she has 30-day menu plans designed to address particular health needs like high blood pressure and cholesterol, autoimmune diseases, cancer recovery, and others.

Mark’s Daily Apple website Blackboard grok2

Read his “Primal Blueprint” in a nutshell on his website. To put it in an even smaller shell, it’s this:

  • Diet–Eat things that occur in nature and avoid poisons.
  • Exercise– Move around a lot at a slow pace (Think hunter-gatherer); run really fast once in a while (Think being chased by lions); and lift heavy things.
  • Lifestyle– Play, get plenty of sleep, get sunshine every day, avoid trauma, and use your mind.

After bingeing a couple of days reading everything I could find about Paleo diets, I found this TED talk on “Debunking the paleo myth!” Dr. Warinner, an archeological scientist, basically says that they are not based on science. However, she says there are a lot of good things about the diet: (If you can’t watch the whole video, please at least watch the 3-point wrap up beginning at 17:00.)

  • Dietary diversity: Vary your food types as much as possible– the SAD is headed toward fewer, not more foods: wheat, corn, and soy.
  • Fresh, natural foods: We don’t really know the effect chemical additives and preservatives on our bodies, but we are inundating them with chemicals that we were not designed to ingest.
  • Whole foods: Consume foods in as close to their natural state as possible, including “their fiber and roughage, and everything.” When we eat processed foods, we get far too many calories in a very compact form, and miss the other important parts that tell us we’re full, slow down the absorption of nutrients in our gut, and regulate our blood sugar. This contributes to obesity and other health problems.

For me the game changer from this whole video was the information about sugar and how our bodies are designed to absorb it. To get the equivalent amount of sugar in a 32 ounce soda, can you guess how much sugar cane you’d have to eat? Anyone? EIGHT AND A HALF FEET! As Dr. Warinner says, there is no possible way you could eat that much sugar cane– even if you really, really wanted to! And now we can get the equivalent amount of sugar in about 20 minutes.

If you want to improve your diet, but all this real food/paleo diet information is overwhelming, simply make a few simple changes.

  • Begin reading labels and if there are more than 5 ingredients, don’t buy it.
  • If you don’t know what some of the ingredients are, don’t buy it. (They are probably highly processed additives to cheaply add or enhance flavor, or else preservatives.) Instead of buying frozen veggies in sauce, buy plain frozen veggies and make your own. Or eat them plain, with some natural, full-fat butter!
  • Avoid foods that are no-fat or “lite.” These usually have other things added to make up for what’s taken out, and they are worse for you than the real stuff. If you are limiting calories, just skip them altogether or limit them.

7 day real food challenge Mary's healthy meals

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What Do You Mean, Real Food Challenge?

I’ve decided to join Mary’s Kitchen’s 7-Day Real Food Challenge beginning today. In her Details and Recipes post, Mary asks the question, What IS Real Food? She explains that it might mean different things to different people.

You know me, and know I believe in the “Every little helps” philosophy. So I’m not going to set forth a long list of strict rules for myself. Here  are the guiding principles of my particular Real Food Diet:

  1. If God made it, it’s okay. If man made it, be careful.
  2. If it has more than 5 ingredients, be careful.
  3. If it has added sugar, MSG, or unpronounceable chemicals, be careful.
  4. Get organic or the closest to organic possible.
  5. Avoid or at least limit food allergens.

“Be careful” means knowing that it might not be best for me but I might eat it anyway. For example, I have seriously reduced the Splenda in my coffee– from 4 packets to 1. But I just can’t quite lose that last one!

Fortunately, Mr X has always liked what he calls “farm food” — plain vegetables and meat without sauces or being mixed together, and they are the perfect Real Food, especially if you can get organic.

My diet is further complicated by food allergies. I’m mildly allergic to milk, corn, yeast, and eggs. I’m ALMOST allergic to wheat, soy, and coconut. Have you ever tried to plan meals without using wheat, milk, corn, or eggs? Complicated! These allergies affect my sinuses, mostly in my ear area, and are cumulative, so a little doesn’t really hurt, but the more I eat the worse it gets. If it’s spring or fall, when my grass/tree/mold/dust allergies are on overload, I have to be especially careful!

And a further complication is that besides getting healthy nutrition, I’m striving to reach a healthy weight. I’m using the “Lose It” app and when I say I’d like to lose 1 1/2 pounds a week, it says I should eat 1,055 calories, then screams a warning that nobody should eat less than 1200. So I have to choose foods that will give me the most nutrition for the calories I eat.

Real Food Diet Goals:

  1. Overall good health via nutrition
  2. Avoidance of added chemicals
  3. Weight loss
  4. Lowered cholesterol

What changes do you need to make in your diet? What are some EASY baby steps you can start with today? Join me the rest of the week and let’s figure this out together!

Mary's Kitchen

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A Merry Heart– “As We Age…”

I’m the youngest among my husband’s brother, sister, and in-laws; and we have all passed the 50-mark, so a popular conversation is “as we age…” We bemoan the challenges and gripe about doctors that begin sentences with that dreaded phrase!

I just found Mary Maxwell and I believe she might be a new favorite. She is reading the opening prayer at a home health agency’s banquet. But be sure to keep listening– the first minute and a half sound like a regular prayer, then she gets very funny.

She has a blog, Laughing with Mary Maxwell, on a larger blog about long-term caregivers. If you are in that season of life, I would imagine she would have some great insight!

In the meantime, enjoy… and if you aren’t quite there yet, wait just a while. It’ll get here quicker than you can imagine!

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7-Day Real Food Challenge

Events have been conspiring to make me more and more aware of my health, including my diet, weight, and exercise. I need to lose at least 20 lbs and have been “trying” to lose 5 for about 5 years.

I saw a good friend for the first time in several months and she had lost a significant amount of weight– she looked great! Of course I asked what she had changed, and she said she was eating a combination of paleo and real food. Was she exercising? Not really. She said as she eliminated bad food and allergens from her diet, she felt better and just naturally moved more, but she had not been doing a cardio routine or anything like that. She recommended a book called Practical Paleo.

Then my son began losing weight. He’s always been big– he weighed 9 lbs when he was born; always wore 2-3 sizes larger than his age; was a head taller than most kids in his class. But his weight had gotten way too high and he was having high blood pressure issues at a very young age. (He’s 27.) High blood pressure runs in Mr X’s side of the family, but not beginning that early.

So he just decided it was time to do something about it. I’m a terrible mother and really didn’t notice until he had lost between 30-40 lbs. (In my defense, he lives a couple of hours away and we see him only every month or 2, and he would always wear baggy clothes, so it was hard to tell.)

What was his secret? Cardio and “if man made it, don’t eat it.”

And in May I’d gone for an annual checkup and my cholesterol was a bit high. The doctor said it needed to come down, so try diet and exercise, have it tested again in the summer, and if it didn’t lower I would need to take medicine. I’m determined NOT to do that!

So the past month I’ve been working toward a real food/paleo/no allergen diet, and “moving” (I like that term better than “exercising”) more than I have been before. Then, in that funny way God has of working things together for our good, I found Mary’s Kitchen’s 7 Day Real Food Challenge. I don’t even remember how I found her! But I thought participating would be good incentive for me to stick with it and also help me do it better. It officially kicks off tomorrow. I’ll be doing posts this week about what I’ve learned.

Wanna join me?

Mary's Kitchen

Here are links to some good info on Mary’s blog:

Eating Real Food is Easy

Details and Recipes: 7-Day Real Food Challenge

What About Liquids? Our 7-Day Real Food Challenge

14 Comments »

Fearless

Been in a storm lately?

Why are you afraid?Our “young ladies” Sunday school class uses LifeWay’s “MasterWork” series, using books by Christian writers and condensing them down to 4-8 week studies. This week we are starting Max Lucado’s Fearless. WOW! If the first week is any indication, it’s going to be great.

I love Max’s imagery:

Fear, it seems, has taken a 100-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversized and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and umproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.

Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.

Have you been in that prison? Are you there now?

The text for the week is the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8.

  • Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. (v 24) Matthew uses the word seismos for this storm. You recognize it in our English word seismograph– which measures earthquakes! This was not some little spring rain. It was like an earthquake on water. Of course the disciples woke Jesus up screaming for help, afraid they would be killed. Imagine how ludicrous the disciples imagined Jesus’s response to be:
  • “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” [Are you kidding me? Why are we afraid?] Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

“There is something on the x-ray.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

Your child is legally blind in that eye.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

“I’m just not happy anymore.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

“This is the principal.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

“Mom? Dad? You’d better sit down.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

After all the miracles they had seen; after all the love Jesus had demonstrated, in Mark’s account (4:35-41) their first question was “Don’t you care that we are going to drown?” Fear gives us amnesia sometimes. It corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. [Lucado] And then we begin grabbing at any straw we can in order to feel that we are in control of something– our kids, our schedule, the clutter in our homes.

Christ gives 21 “don’t fear”-type commands. (There are only 8 of the second most common command, to love God and your neighbors.) I think this is an indication of how prevalent God knew that our fear would be, and how much help He knew we would need!

In the first week’s wrap-up, Max reminds us that fear will run amok in our worlds, but we don’t have to let it fill our hearts. It will knock on our doors, but we don’t have to ask it in for dinner or to stay the night! Here are some ways to fight fear when it comes knocking.

1. Stay close to Christ by spending time in prayer and in the Word regularly. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear..

2. Keep a “box of remembrance” to forestall amnesia. Bring to mind the hard times you have seen God bring you or loved ones through. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Deuteronomy 11:19

3. Keep these “don’t fear” verses handy: (I like index cards.)

  • Matthew 10:31 “Don’t be afraid. You’re worth much more than many sparrows”
  • Matthew 9:2 “Take courage; your sins are forgiven.”
  • Matthew 14:27 “Take courage. I’m here!”
  • Matthew 6:25 “Don’t worry about everyday life…”
  • John 14:1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” (The antidote to fear is FAITH!)

How have you fought fear?

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See, the Winter is Past…

The flowers appear on the earth...

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Don’t Give Up

Do you ever get tired of doing what you believe God called you to do? Do you wonder if maybe that season is over, or perhaps you imagined the whole thing? Many times we are EXACTLY where we are supposed to be, right in the center of God’s will for our lives, doing EXACTLY what He has prepared us to do. Hang in there!

don't get weary

 

Come visit at the new linkup I found!

transfromed_tues_banner_beach

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