Using food as fuel is a choice. Adult-ing is no joke. We have so many decisions to make every day, not only for ourselves but for each person in our care. Paying bills is an option, but if you don’t you can lose necessities like cars and homes. You can survive without those things, but day-to-day life could be difficult. You can opt out of eating well, but it means sacrificing long term health as well as short term benefits like energy and quality sleep. Today after a late morning errand the kids wanted to go out for lunch. We had healthier options at home. My adult free will wanted to take them for food, so I could tackle some To Do List items. I made the best decision I could for me and my family, and as a short term benefit we will feel good this afternoon. What will you use your free will to accomplish for your health today? Pictured above: Avocado Toast with Tuna, Tomato and just enough grass-fed cheddar cheese.
The kids were at Nana and Papaw’s last night, so I made a pretty impressive dinner for my man from my new cook book purchase, Whole Grains For a New Generation. Heartstrings, Monsters, Dorks — our kids. They are the reasons we work so hard. The reasons we worry. The reasons we rejoice at the blessings God has given us, even through struggles. But sometimes alone time with my husband is my tonic for a rough week. He grounds me. He calms me. He strengthens me. More times than we want to admit in that alone time we jump off the deep end — overeating, no exercise, too much wine, etc. Last night we rewarded our hard work with an elegant, GOODTRITIOUS meal. Sweet-Spiced Roast Chicken with Barley and Apricots, and a spinach and romaine salad on the side. Man, did it hit the spot. After we ate we felt energized, fueled and confident about our smart dinner decision. Shouldn’t we feel good after we eat, instead of bloated, tired and groaning from an upset stomach? Let food be your medicine, your tonic. Reward yourself with health. You deserve it.
I tried my hand at raising herbs this past spring, and much to the surprise of this black-thumb-turned-green they have grown into beautiful, fragrant plants. Now they are so big I have been searching for recipes to use them all up and to learn how to dry my lavender, so I can tie it all up in pretty twine and pat myself on the back for not spending $10 on it at a craft store. I picked some basil yesterday for homemade pesto, which I will probably make my family sick of over the coming weeks because it turned out so delectable. I decided to also post recipes for the other pantry/fridge staples I make at home, because I have yet to find brands I am OK with feeding to my family and brands they like that don’t contain all the yummy chemicals, sodium and sugar. Spaghetti sauce is a big one in my house, and while I haven’t yet been able to grow enough of a supply of tomatoes to keep a pantry full of homemade tomato sauce I have found some acceptable canned purees that I love. BBQ sauce is also critical, because my kids will eat their weight in chicken legs and wings cooked in it. Ranch dressing and ketchup are so easy I have made them just for specific meals, and the kids kept requesting it so much I had to make bigger batches. My apologies for this post happening so late that I crossed the I- should-be-in-bed-right-now line of Tuesday morning. Enjoy.
Did you know that you don’t have to starve or deprive yourself when you make the decision to care for your health? That’s not a sarcastic question. I honestly didn’t know until recently. I spent years living on fad diets, and at family functions I would walk in angry as I smelled the counter top full of desserts, fried whatevers and other foods that please my palate but literally no other part of my body. Then I would end up gorging myself the next day on whatever I could get my hands on, because I convinced myself the only way I could survive was to give up. What I have learned lately is the moderation and balance is what prevents me from being a fair-weather dieter — someone who is only successful at eating healthy when every natural life environment is conducive to sticking with it. The moderation means I can attend a party and know that I can have one or two bites of my husband’s slice of cake without eating two more large corner pieces when no one is looking. The balance means I can have a small serving of Annie’s Shells and Aged Cheddar when my kids request it for dinner, but it would be a lot better for my body – and my family – if I added extra lean ground turkey and broccoli to it. Start small, one meal at a time. It gets easier. I promise. And your body will thank you for it.
My mom has an ageless Betty Crocker cookbook I used in some of my very first lessons in how to follow a recipe. I loved baking as a kid, and Betty and my mom were the perfect team to teach me. So, my husband and I were trekking around Waco last weekend, and in an antique store sitting on a counter all alone in the room full of teapots and cast iron skillets was the Recipes on Parade Quick and Easy Dishes cookbook, published in glorious 1969. I had to have it when I turned the first page and saw a favorite recipe from Patricia Nixon. I have known people who have emotional issues with food because food brings back bad memories. I am thankful I have the memories of cooking with my mom to push me to seek therapy in cooking now for my family. I decided to go through this book, revamp the entries to fit our cleaner-eating lifestyle, and publish the new creations on my blog. Thanks, Betty.
It’s summer, and it happens to be a day when I could sleep in with the kids. Jillian finally had her chance to kick my behind last night, so I slept well and had loads of energy this morning. I made pancakes from scratch (no Bisquick allowed in our house) and bacon — NOT of the uncured, tasteless, or turkey variety (although our kids are starting to get use to those). I had two pieces of each. Why not a spinach smoothie or quinoa oatmeal? Because this week has been stressful, and we all wanted a treat. Not a reward, not a crutch, a treat. We ate in moderation. My kids won’t spend half the day in the bathroom from an upset stomach, and none of us needed a nap afterward. We will eat a light and veggie-filled lunch, because the balance is critical, and I won’t feel deprived and end up eating a helmet full of cheesy chicken nachos at the baseball game Friday night.
Met my back-in-those-being-stupid-years-we-wish-we-could-forget friend for breakfast this morning and was reminded of all God has made beautiful in our lives. I was mad at myself for standing Jillian up last night, but then I was able to button these shorts that haven’t been pulled over my thighs in two years. We rescheduled for tonight. As I sit singing harmonies with C next to me on the back porch I know everything will be more than ok, because we all woke up with our health today. Let’s do this.
My cozy covers and heatlamp husband may have served me better than the emotional roller coaster of today, but if I opted for a day in bed I would have missed T’s volleyball camp. Her determination gave me life, for that and for her I am grateful. I also managed to stay on the diet wagon one more day, and Jillian Michaels and I have an appointment later where she plans to kill me. High-fives all around.
I remember scarfing down a bowl of Captain Crunch in the morning and a bag of chips when I got home from school. Dinner was balanced with generously salted meat, a side of bread and buttery vegetables, followed by ice cream. I was not a healthy kid — not the tall, lanky cheerleader, not the bloated tuba player, but not healthy. I ate what tasted good. I avoided exercise like the plague, except for junior high volleyball because it didn’t involve running.
Nutrition wasn’t a focus in a home managed by two working parents and a non-stop schedule, because convenience and affordability were the Nazi dictators. I was mortally offended when I was questioned by my husband as I poured vegetables out of a can for the first dinner I cooked for him. It was all I knew, to no fault of my parents because it was how they had adapted according to what worked for them. Fresh was expensive. Or was it? It certainly took more time to prepare. Or did it? Natural flavors were boring. Or were they? I was well into my twenties before I realized food had to become my fuel, not my crutch, and in order to know what that meant for me I had to educate myself.
Last year I turned forty. I have finally accepted that following the birth of two children, certain areas of my body are going to permanently jiggle no matter what I do. My stretch marks are my medals, but I can control how much real estate I allow them. My varicose veins give really colorful highlights to my pale thighs, but I can limit the amount of cottage cheese dimples they have to dance in. My body is beautiful because it is my body, and I have to take care of what I have been given. I can only be successful at taking care of it, because I found out how. I put my nutrition knowledge into practice in slow stages, because I didn’t want my husband and children to move out. I want to be around as long as I can, and so I can quietly laugh when my daughter calls me to relay the first story of her child throwing an epic tantrum over food choices. I want my husband’s food decisions to be as easy as possible, and let me worry about Panko vs Shake ‘N Bake. I want my children to have all the health knowledge they possibly can when on their first grocery trip they learn they can feed themselves for a week on frozen burritos for $10.
So why Goodtrition? I have been a food education advocate for twenty years, and I have read everything I could get my hands on. Last year I completed my health coach certification through Dr. Sears, and I am currently working toward my degree in Nutrition. I want to help busy parents figure out how to feed themselves and their families well, because let’s face it —- our control is sometimes limited by other people and environments. I can feed my kids baked chicken and spinach salad three times a day, but the minute they hit Nana and Papaw’s front door they want one fistful of butterscotch candy and a Dr. Pepper.
I am an emotional eater. I have to fight that with every fiber of my being, but my will to have a healthy family is stronger. It is a decision I have to make every day. How can busy parents keep everyone happy with food? The short answer is, you can’t. So what’s the point? Long-term health is the point, and in order for it to be manageable it has to be a commitment. I don’t have all the answers, but I want to help you find them. Let me journey with you, because I have been there. I am still there.