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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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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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

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Auntie Em’s Tropical Fruit Salad

tropical fruit saladFor a girlie salad luncheon there is nothing more fitting than a fruit salad– it’s sweet (yay sweets!) but relatively healthy, with no added sugar, gluten, or processed foods. (Yay for those of us who are “trying to avoid cookies!”)

I just cut up lots of fresh fruits: watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, and pineapple. Try to cut them all in similar size chunks. Mix together and you have a beautiful, sweet, healthy dish!

Shake it up with a dressing of some kind, or whipped cream– or add nuts or coconut. We like it plain, though!

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