A Healthy, yet Comforting, Family Meal

Nutrition & Good Eats

You know those days when the only dinner that really sounds good is a comfort meal? Something warm, and hearty, and just feels like home. Growing up I hated meatloaf, but it was a common “comfort” food in our house. As my cooking has evolved, I’ve adapted to find ways that I actually enjoy meatloaf. The secret is, no bread, no large and soggy loaf, and add veggies when at all possible.

Last night the kids and I stayed at my father-in-law’s since my husband was on call and I decided I should invite Grandma and Grandpa over as well so we could all share a meal together and they could play with the great grandkids. Grandma and Grandpa also make for extra hands so that Mama has a better chance of preparing dinner without too many interuptions.

Anyways, the dinner menu looked as such:

Bacon wrapped mini meatloaves, greenbeans and onions, mashed potatoes, and homemade elk and onion gravy. Our side salads would be spinach, strawberries, cranberries and a tiny sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

From just the name, you might think bacon wrapped meat loaf doesn’t sound healthy, am I right?

Here’s my recipe, it’s a bit different from your typical meatloaf. Remember, it has to be in order for me to like it.

(The recipe was doubled last night since we had a total of six adults and two kids eating)

1 package organic, ground turkey

1 package ground elk burger

1 large carrot grated

2 eggs

A combination of spices

Uncured, nitrate/nitrite free turkey bacon

And that’s it. Hand mix that all together, form into large patties, wrap with the turkey bacon, and set onto a foiled cookie sheet (or use a broiler pan) and bake at 425 degrees. Depending on the size of the patties, cook for about 15 minutes, flip over and cook another 15. If you want to add a lititle crisp to the edges, broil the last couple minutes.

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Now, for the sides.

Who doesn’t love green beans cooked with onions?! I had some freshly frozen green beans that needed to be used, so I sauted a full yellow onion and a little garlic until tender and beginning to turn translucent, and added the green beans. Seasoned only with a little garlic powder and black pepper, I put a lid on these guys and let them cook a little while.

The potatoes can be where healthy turns to unhealthy, so whenever we have potatoes it’s more about portion control for me than anything. Simple mashed potatoes, a little butter a little milk, and salt and pepper. (I like to leave the skin on my potatoes if they are red or yukon gold)

The gravy base was leftover from a roast we just made a couple days ago so the flavor was full and spectacular. Full of onions and garlic already, all I had to do was thicken it. I didn’t have any organic corn starch here at my father-in-law’s so I used a pack of organic brown gravy mix.

And there you have it, a comfort meal for a family event that won’t leave you over full and feeling guilty about over eating. Unless of course to go for seconds, but that would be your fault, not mine. 🙂

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Chicken Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Nutrition & Good Eats

When I was prepping for my first bikini competition, I ate so many sweet potatoes multiple times a day, it’s actually amazing that I still enjoy eating them. The thing is, they are probably my favorite carb.

Growing up, one of my all time favorite side dishes was twice baked potatoes. The cheesy, crisp topping never failed to match any main course my mom or grandma accompanied them with.

Now days, I try to find healthier versions of my childhood favorites. Which is where this recipe came from.

I have done sweet potatoes many ways, but this is one of my favorites by far. And the nice thing is, the whole family munches these down and I don’t feel bad about them getting seconds because these potatoes aren’t overly cheesy, and they are full of protein.

As far as twice baked potatoes go, there is the time consuming method, and the short cut. I usually take the short cut because as a busy stay-at-home mom, who happens to not have a full kitchen at this point in time, the most convenient route is going to be the one I choose.

Route number 1: Spend hours baking the sweet potatoes in the oven before prepping for the “twice baked” portion of the recipe. The number one benefit of this method is the skins of the potatoes get crisp and delicious.

Route number 2: Make multiple stabs into each full potato with a sharp knife, and microwave for about 5 minutes. Flip over and microwave again. If they are large potatoes they will take about 10-12 minutes to get soft enough so that you can hollow them out.

No matter which route you choose, allow the potatoes to cool so that they do not burn you on this next step.

During this time, prepare your meats. I like to add bacon and chicken to these potatoes. The chicken makes it feel like a meal and the bacon adds a little extra flavor. You could use turkey bacon as well. I used Applegate, uncured “Sunday Bacon”. After bacon is cooked, I set aside on a paper towel to drip any extra grease off.

Using the same pan, I remove the majority of the bacon grease and toss in chicken breast that has been cut into cube size bites. To spice things up, I added chili poweder, garlic, and black pepper with a pinch of salt. While this is cooking I return to the potatoes.

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Cut into half and hollow out the insides. Scoop the soft potato into a big bowl, and set skins/halves aside.

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Inside the bowl add a couple heaping scoops of cottage cheese, or ricotta. I have a hard time finding organic cottage cheese, so these potatoes in particular were made with ricotta. I prefer cottage cheese because of the protein and the taste is slightly more tangy than the ricotta.

Crumble the bacon into bits and add to the potato mixture.

Spoon the potatoes mixture back into the potatoes skins and top with a light sprinkle of cheddar (or your favorite cheese).

**You actually don’t need to add any cheese, the ricotta makes the potatoes super creamy as is**

After the chicken if fully cooked, scoop big spoonfuls over each potato half.

Broil the whole pan until the cheese and chicken is slightly crisp and golden.

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Serve with a salad full of veggies and you have yourself a healthy family meal!

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Sample Weekly Meal Plan

Nutrition & Good Eats

The truth is, in our family, the only way to be successful at eating healthy, is to PLAN AHEAD! Not every week do we actually get a full game plan of meals laid out, because lately, it seems every week’s schedule is a little different from the week before, leaving holes to fill and arrangements to be made. Most of the time, we manage to figure out four days at a time, and then make a new game-plan when the time comes.

Having a meal plan not only helps you eat healthy, but it also helps save money, makes less grocery trips, and eases your mind. When it comes time for dinner, you can feel prepared rather than anxious and guilty about boiling up mac’n’cheese for the second night in a row.

I’ve had so many people in the past ask me for advice and guidance when it comes to planning meals, so I decided to throw together what a week of meals looks like in our crazy world.

sample weekly meal plan-1 copy

I am a creature of habit, so the only thing that we do that isn’t 100% accurate on this chart, is most mornings, breakfast is the same. And most days, our first big snack/early lunch is always eggs of some variety. For the sake of giving you ideas, I added in a few other options.

NOTES:

-My body responds well with eating the majority of my carbs in the morning and early afternoon. When dinner comes around, I tend to stick with protein and vegetables.

-A lot of days, Greek yogurt becomes my dessert, instead of a snack during the day. 

-I try not to forget my probiotic drinks, and usually have coffee in the morning. About four nights a week I enjoy a small glass of cabernet, organic if I have it. if you’re trying to find balance, or lose weight, drinks should be included in your meal plans because most people don’t realize the significance of whats in most beverages. 

-An after dinner snack/ dessert option I did not list is popcorn. We pop our own on the stove top. A little bit of coconut oil, heat, and a tiny pinch of stevia, and you’ve got a delicious and light snack. 

-Javin almost always takes leftovers for his lunch to work, so the kids and I may not always get leftovers. 

Seeking Sources for Natural Knowledge

Mama Mama, Nutrition & Good Eats, Our Homely Farm

Natural Living.

We’ve been building our natural life for a while now. I am thankful to have a husband who (for the most part) agrees, encourages, and supports my decisions when it comes to keeping our family healthy and protected. It’s taken many years, and countless hours of scouring books, websites, and asking thousands of questions to get to the point where I am now.

Where is this point exactly?

Just past everyone in the family thinking I am on the crazy side, and almost to the point of I know too much, so it just doesn’t matter what they think.

Truthfully.

The way I see it, our society has been too-far gone from natural living for too long and something needs to change. Food isn’t food anymore. Harmful chemicals infuse and attack our homes, and in turn, our bodies. Medication and medical treatment has become over-prescribed, wrongly-prescribed, and poorly regulated. All for profit. And to be honest, I truly believe that the majority of people have lost touch of knowing their bodies, and what they are capable of if taken care of.

One day I decided I wasn’t made to follow the rules, and conform to what society thought was an acceptable life. There was a yearning inside me that ached for more knowledge, because I knew that I wanted to see changes in my life, and the world in which my family and are a part of. So began the process.

One of the very first books I stumbled upon that pushed me towards a more natural life was “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price, D.D.S. At the time, I was only just curious, and I hadn’t began to scratch my itch for adjusting my lifestyle. However, within the foreword alone, suggestions were made based on thirty-five years of clinical experience that I feel are now worth sharing.

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(1) Reduce the volume of industrial effluence, including fluorides, now contaminating our air, water and food supply as rapidly as possible, through federal, state and local controls. 

(2) Ban the use of untested food additives immediately. Reduce the number of those tested, considered harmless, and approved for use to an absolute minimum.

(3) Rapidly phase out the use of long-acting pesticides and herbicides, unless proven harmless, except for emergency situations such as malaria control. Ban the sale of these pesticides for household use. Seek control of insect pests and weeds through other means, including soil improvement. Well nourished plants are most resistance to insects and fungi than deficient ones. 

(4) Warn the public that all petrochemicals, whether in food, water, air, pesticides, cosmetics, detergents, drugs or other environmental contacts, are potentially dangerous to many, and probably to all, individuals. Tell them that the least contact is best. 

(5) Give the public access to fundamental knowledge of good nutrition. If we are to survive, this must be taught in every school grade from kindergarten through college. Primitive wisdom tells us that the production of healthy, normal babies depends on optimum parental nutrition before conception, as well as during pregnancy. Breast-feeding is most important, and should be followed by a diet high in raw and unprocessed foods. Most birth deformities are unnecessary. Good bones, good muscles, attractive skin, normal endocrines, a healthy liver, good reproductive capacity, good intelligence, and good looks depend upon good food. Our people must know food values—and nourishing food is not necessarily expensive.

(6) Compost city wastes for use of fertilizers: return organic materials, minerals, and trace elements to help rebuild our plundering soil; and reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers high in nitrogen content which are contaminating our water and food supplies. Demonstrate to farmers that this approach is economically feasible. 

(7) Raise foods for quality rather than quantity. High protein, high vitamin and high mineral foods have much higher survival value than those with more calories but less essential nutrients. Calories alone are not enough. 

Dr. Price simply helped opened my eyes…maybe he even initiated my passion for living based on these suggestions, and more. I do, however, see things in a different light only in the sense that I trust God, and His creations. I do not trust man, and his intention from his creations. God created this earth with a purpose for every living thing on it. Food, fuel, family, and fixes, there is always a natural remedy.

Before I knew it, I was eager to see what others had to say. So I came across a few other [now my “go-to”] names when I have something to look up, or am in a research mood.

Dr. Mercola being the first name that comes to mind because I simply love his site. I find him both encouraging, and educational. www.mercola.com 

Katie, also known as “Wellness Mama” is a great read! www.wellnessmama.com

When it comes to building our life on our little farm, Mother Earth News is where I check first for up-to-date, organic homesteading. www.motherearthnews.com

Being a mama of two, and of two totally contrasting experiences as far as births go, I recommend reading the following books: “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon and “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer.

 

Recently I’ve come across the name “Aviva Romm” via social media, and I hope to dig in a little deeper to see where that leads me.

Sometimes I feel like I know too much, that if I had never began my research escapades, life would be so much easier. I wouldn’t worry about literally everything. I wouldn’t want to teach and inspire my children to live better lives, so that one day they would live in a more natural world. Sometimes the fact that there are still SO. MANY. MORE. FACTS out there scares the living hell out of me. But guess what?! I’m willing to take them on.  Being a natural mama means always researching, so you know you are prepared when tough questions or decisions come your way. And as we know, life continually does just that.

Knowledge is so powerful. And though I may not be supermom, my quest for “power” continues. And maybe you can help me with that…

What is your favorite website, book, blog, podcast, or any other form of information that relates to natural living? (Essential oils, organic gardening, vaccines and other medical pros and cons, fitness and exercise, natural remedies for athletes, homemade household products, gluten free or paleo recipes, living simple etc.)

Please comment and add your favorite source to the list! 

The Best Gluten Free Banana Pancakes

Nutrition & Good Eats

We’ve been making banana pancakes for a couple years, but it took us a while to settle on a recipe we found both easy, and tasty…with a good texture!

We tried the minimal “only 2 or 3 ingredients” recipes and couldn’t quite adjust to our likings.

We tried multiple gluten free flour options and nothing came together just right.

It was only until about a few months ago that we found the perfect blend of organic ingredients.

3 ripe bananas

3 eggs

1 cup almond/coconut milk

A whole lot of cinnamon (forgot to measure so just eyeball for preference.)

1/2 cup Simple Truth gluten free mix (or your favorite gluten free all purpose flour blend)

1/4 cup coconut flour

The pancake batter is similar too regular batter, only the outside of the pancakes will cook faster than the inside so don’t use a super high heat, and be prepared to flip once or twice each.

We always make dollar sized pancakes (or bite size, and sometimes Mikey Mouse) depending on what the kids want. I’ve also found that making them smaller helps them cook more evenly, and keeps it so the center isn’t gooey.

Top with a small smudge of crunchy peanut butter and you have breakfast!

This recipe makes a fairly large batch. It usually feeds all 4 of us, with a few leftover. There’s no need for syrup, the peanut butter is the perfect addition, while providing a little more protein. The banana and coconut are just the right amount of sweet.

Hope you enjoy as much as we do!

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How Many Calories do you Burn?

Nutrition & Good Eats

Ever wonder how many calories you might be burning throughout the day? In the world of nutrition, this is called “total energy expenditure”.

How about a little nutrition math lesson!

Through simple equations, one can calculate and estimate the amount of energy used each day. [[Simple?? Right. I dreaded math in school, and nutrition math is no easier. However, very important to learn]] Remember, there will always be individual variations and these calculations are just estimates. I’ve done my own calculations to break down each step.

1. Convert your weight into kilograms from pounds; divide pounds by 2.2 to do so.
(weight in pounds=110, therefore, weight in kilograms=50)

2. Estimate your REE. For women, the calculation goes as such: REE= weight (kg) x .9 x 24 For men, the calculation is: weight (kg) x 1.0 x 24
(50 x .9 x 24 = 1080)

3. Estimate your energy expended in physical activity. I used a chart from my “Discovering Nutrition” textbook. This is the chart:

Activity Level Description % of REE
Sedentary Mostly resting with little or no activity 20-30
Light Occasional, unplanned activity (going for a stroll) 30-45
Moderate Daily, planned activity (breif workouts, or brisk walks) 45-65
Heavy Daily workout routine requiring up to several hours of exercise 65-90
Exceptional Daily, vigorous workouts for extended hours (training for competition) 90-120

I chose 65% For myself (.65x REE(1080) =702)

4. Estimate your thermic effect of food (TEF)

TEF= .1 x Energy(physical Activity) + REE
(TEF= .1 x [702 + 1080] = 178.2)

5. Estimate your total energy expenditure.

TEE = REE + Energy+ TEF
(TEE = 1080 + 702 + 178.2 = 1960.2 )

My total energy expenditure is about 1960 calories.

*REE = Resting Energy Expenditure: The energy needed to maintain all bodily functions needed to sustain life at rest.
*TEF = Therminc Effect of Food: The energy expended to digest, absorb, and metabolize the foods we take in.
*TEE = Total Energy Expenditure: All energy expended
(Keep in mind, energy is calculated in calories.)

So, after doing the math, in order for me to MAINTAIN the body I’m at, if I continue being consistent with the same activity level I am at, I need to consume that 1960 in calories each day. Which I probably do, and I’m sure some days I eat more, especially the days I am more active. I’m pretty good at listening to what my body needs. 

These calculations can help with losing weight, because once you find what your body burns each day, you can adjust your daily intake to a more appropriate consumption. Pleeease remember that your macro-nutrient break down is still important, and you can’t simply eat crap just because it fits your daily breakdown.

And if math wasn’t ever your strong suit, here’s a link I’ve found that comes pretty close to the equations I’ve done above.

Their calculation had me at 1948 instead of 1960, but what is 12 calories really??

http://www.scymed.com/en/smnxdg/health101/srcalx/sr35350.htm 

 

 

Calculating Your Body’s REAL Age

Nutrition & Good Eats, Workin' Out
**This is a re-post from an entry I shared on an old blog years ago and I figured I would spruce it up and share it again!**

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“I’m feeling old!”

“My age sure is catching up to my body”

“I must not be as young as I once was!”

Whether you are attempting a strenuous workout, or simply getting out of bed, we’ve all been there and thought that at one point or another.

So is our age really catching up with us? And are our bodies as old as we sometimes feel? I found an article in a magazine that caught my interest, and though it may not be completely accurate, I found it fun and still somewhat motivating to keep a healthy and active lifestyle.

In two parts, this article arranged a questionnaire you could easily do at home to calculate what your body’s age really is compared to what your birth age is. I’ll write my information out as we go so you can more easily follow along.

PART ONE:

1. Write down your real age: 28

2. Take your hip measurement in inches: (remember, at your hips you do measure over some butt. Measure over the widest locations of both hips and your tush.) 34

3. Take your waist measurement in inches: (remember, the waist should be the smallest part of the midsection, generally right beneath the rib cage.) 25.5

4. Divide your hip measurement by your waist measurement: 34/25.5=1.33

If less than .816 +4 years
If .816 or higher do nothing

New Age: 28

5. Take your resting heart rate by placing two fingers (never your thumb) on your wrist below your thumb. Count the number of beats in 30 seconds and multiply by 2: 58

Remember, many factors will influence a true resting heart rate… being previously active, your daily coffee, a head cold and much more…the best time to take this is first thing in the morning. Lucky for us, so many gadgets can measure this for us. I wear a FitBit, and my average resting heart rate was 58, so I used that.

54 to 59 -4 years
60 to 64 -2 years
65 to 72 -1 year
73 to 76 +2 years
77 and more + 4 years

28-4

New Age: 24

6. Sit on the floor with your back straight, legs together and arms out in front of you at shoulder level. Mark on the floor directly below your fingertips. Reach forward slowly, (breathe out as you reach) keeping your legs straight. Mark where your fingertips reach and then measure the distance between the two marks.

0 to 10 inches +3 years
10.1 to 15 inches +2 years
15.1 to 16 inches -1 year
16.1 inches and more -3 years

19.25 inches

24-3

New Age: 21

7. Do as many modified pushups (on your knees, keeping your body straight and lowering your chest within 4 inches of the floor) as you can without stopping: I stopped at 40

0 to 4 reps +2 years
5 to 24 reps +1 year
25 to 39 reps -1 year
40 or more reps -2 years

21-2

New Age: 19 

7. Sit with your back and shoulders parallel to a wall and your feet pointed straight ahead with your knees bent to a 90 degree angle. Hold that wall-sit position for as long as you can and time yourself in seconds: I stopped at 90 seconds

0 to 30 seconds +2 years
31 to 60 seconds +1 year
61 to 90 seconds -1 year
90 or more seconds -2 years

19-2

New Age: 17

PART TWO:

Fill in the answers and then add up the points until the end to see results.

A. I typically eat ___ times a day (including snacks): Five or more times =4

Two=1
Three=2
Four=3
Five=4

B. I eat high-fat or fried snacks ___: Rarely/Never= 3.5

Regularly (7 or more times a week)=1
Sometimes (4 to 6 times a week)=2
Rarely (0 to 3 times a week)=3
Never=4

C. I eat meals or snacks that include fruits or vegetables ___: Regularly= 4

Never=1
Rarely (1 to 5 times a week)=2
Sometimes (6 to 9 times a week)=3
Regularly (10 or more times a week)=4

I ___ avoid processed foods that contain trans fat, saturated fat, and large amounts of sodium, and sugar: Almost always, 3.5

Never=1
Rarely (it doesn’t alter my buying or eating habits)=2
Sometimes (I try to buy and eat the right things, sometimes I slip)=3
Almost Always (I purposely avoid buying or eating foods that contain these things)=4

RESULTS:
0 to 9 points +3 years
10 to 12 points +2 years
13 to 15 years -2 years
16 to 17 points= -3 years

17-2

FINAL AGE AFTER ADDING/SUBTRACTING RESULTS FROM YOUR AGE IN PART ONE: 15

If you are older than your actual age, here are some little things you can do to make a difference:

  • Get active! Add 30 to 45 minutes of your choice of cardio to your daily routine.
  • Stretch and increase your range of motion.
  • Ask for nutritional guidance and start eating real, whole foods that fuel your body

If you are your actual age:

  • Maintain your muscle because around age 25 cells start to break down and decrease easier. (I can be a witness to this. And after having babies, you work twice as hard to keep half as much muscle!)
  • Fight aging with foods such as antioxidants.

If you are younger than your actual age:

  • Keep pushing your heart harder by high-intensity interval workouts.
  • Keep watching your waist. The trick isn’t always watching the weight but where the weight goes as we age.

 

Thanks to Women’s Health Magazine back in 2010! 

The Price of Organic

Nutrition & Good Eats

We eat organic.

We use pure, chemical free products at home.

Make-up, cleaners, toothpaste, deodorant, diapers, lotions, shampoos, you name it.

Sure, every time I walk through the check stand after grocery shopping I cringe because, according to Parker, “Mommy spends too much money!” There most definitely is a heftier price tag on purchasing organic food and products, but is the extra cost as bad as so many people make it out to be?

It would be quite the challenge to put together an accurate number on exactly how much we spend each month on groceries. And not just food alone, but everything we use on a daily basis for the life we live. Or how much more we spend on homeopathic and natural remedies to add to our medicine cabinet, because, you guessed it! We go natural there too.

Here is my mindset:

The average amount that people spend on medical bills because of illnesses that could be prevented by better food choices, is through the roof! Food alone, really can be what cures or kills you.

Even if you’ve got stellar insurance, there are copays, and deductibles, and those vary. Our deductible is very high, so in order for insurance to kick in, we have to fork out $5000 first. And after some digging, I found that the average yearly deductible for families across America is $8352. That’s a lot of money! So even if we spend $500 more than the average person a month in grocery bills because of purchasing organic, that’s $6000 a year which is still less than that $8352 deductible. (No not our $5000 deductible, but who’s to say the doctor bills would stop there? We are so healthy, I can’t even imagine what it would be like if we had to continually see a doctor.)

We are never sick.

Rarely.

And in our 3 and 1/2 years of parenthood, we have been so blessed, and only had to worry about two times the children were sick. (ear infections, dang it.) I know people whose kids couldn’t kick the cold this last winter. We have family members that always seem to be “getting a cold” or down with some sort of icky. I don’t want to push our luck, but we’ve never had a child throwing up, which is HUGE! Chalk it all up, and it comes down to what you eat and what you put in or on your body, and the way you live your life.

I truly believe that.

Strictly talking about food here for a minute…read the studies that link genetically modified foods, as well as pesticides, and chemical sprays to obesity.

Obesity alone causes a handful of issues. There is diabetes, heart disease, risk of stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, gallbladder disease and gallstones, gout, osteoarthritis, asthma and breathing disorders, high cholesterol, and that’s before even bringing up the problems and imbalances that arise because you cannot move your body the way it should. Mobility issues, joint issues, and overall function may be compromised and lead to more serious problems because of obesity.

In my opinion, why are people so obese today?

Processed foods. Chemicals in or on our foods. And the very sad side-note that people are overall generally unaware of what problems they are creating by consuming such products.

Sure there are other factors, don’t get me wrong. But these are both big deals.

Do the research. There are countless articles, books, and documentaries that explain the connection between obesity (and all its glory) and eating foods that have been genetically modified, overly processed, and/or sprayed with multiple insecticides, pesticides, or other chemical “enhancements”.

beyond-gm.org/eat-gmos-get-fat/

http://www.naturalnews.com/045247_GMOs_weight_gain_obesity.html

htps://fitapproach.com/the-lifestyle-epidemic-obesity-and-gmo-foods-in-america/

Food Inc

Diabetes, a biggy. Researchers using a simulation model have put a price on the direct medical costs of treating diabetes and its complications, during a lifetime in the US. The figure ranges from around $55,000 to $130,000, depending on age at diagnosis and sex.  That’s an average of $92,500. (a lifetime…which is hard to break down because of so many factors)

The average spent in one year per person with cardiovascular disease comes to $18,953. The US spends on average $450 BILLION a year on cardiovascular disease treatment, medication and lost productivity from disability.

Newly approved cancer drugs cost an average of $10,000 per month, with some therapies topping $30,000 per month. That comes to a whopping $120,000-$360,000 a year! That’s an average of $240,000 a year. That’s just on the drugs, not including doctors visits etc.

The estimated annual cost for treating asthma in children younger than 18 in the US is $3.2 billion. I could not find an accurate number for a yearly treatment cost, but these are your children we are talking about! There is NO PRICE that is acceptable when it comes to the life we give our children. Childhood obesity is linked directly to asthma and other breathing problems.

The moral of the story is, I in no way think our family is paying for an unnecessary way of life. I believe that after doctors’ visits, pharmaceutical costs, and ongoing other therapies needed for whatever issues it might be, us eating clean and organic and visiting the doctor maybe once a year is worth it. And in the long run, we don’t have any intentions of changing our routine, so for years to come, I pray we continue to have good health if we take care of ourselves.

I’ve learned to shop bargains, and even if it means going to multiple stores, farmers markets, and ordering online…I’ve found where we can get the best deals for the products we love and trust. AND, the best part of shopping around, is also noticing that more stores are broadening their organic horizons and the prices are actually coming down for certain things. So, there is maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. More and more people are realizing the many benefits (instead of the costs) of being organic and making the switch.

The fear of creating a life for my children that might leave them undernourished, unaware, and unhealthy…I can’t live with that. What I can live with is the challenge of costly organics.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Where we shop to save a little money when we aren’t shopping locally:

  1. http://www.luckyvitamin.com
    They have so many great products, and when it comes to gluten free (breads especially) they are the cheapest by far. We have also bought body wash, deodorant, diapers, spices, protein powder, essential oil diffusers, and other household items from Lucky Vitamin and have been pleased with what we get.
  2. Costco
    Believe it or not, we get most of our bulk organic items here. From canned foods, to quinoa, to juice boxes. They have an ever growing selection of organic and non-gmo products.
  3. Amazon
    Again, we can buy a wide range of items, and being that we are prime members, they get shipped and delivered fast. Not always are the prices cheaper, so we always double check before purchasing.

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**Note that I in no way judge anyone’s parenting techniques and I do understand that sometimes you can only do what you can. We only do what we can. I only want to share knowledge and my opinion. Please do not take offense if you do not live the same way I do, because I would never mean to come across as judgy. I only hope to encourage others to make even the tiniest changes to better their lives.**

Zouppa My Way

Nutrition & Good Eats

zouppa

Zouppa.

You know, the Italian sausage, kale soup you can find at Olive Garden and other Italian restaurants? The one that is savory and warm and fitting for a rainy day? Well, we’ve been experiencing our fair share (and then some) of rainy days here on the southern Oregon coast, so this soup sounded particularly good yesterday.

After posting a preview into my dinner plans yesterday, I had a handful of people asking about how I made my version of this soup.

So here it is, Zouppa, my way!

Bear with me, I don’t follow recipes or directions well, so if you’re looking for precise measurements, you should find another recipe.

I begin by deciding on organic, clean ingredients. 

You will need:

  1. a large yellow onion
  2. 2-3 garlic cloves
  3. a package of uncured bacon (I chose turkey bacon this time because it’s what I had in my freezer)
  4. two packages of Italian, chicken sausage links (I prefer links over ground meat)
  5. a package of frozen, whole green beans
  6. about 6-8 red potatoes, depending on size (diced into about 1 inch cubes)
  7. a bunch of kale (don’t purchase pre-cut because the stems are woody and hard to pick out. You can break the leaves off the stems yourself when you buy a bunch)
  8. home canned chicken broth (or an organic free-range version…2-3 cartons)
  9. 1/2 and 1/2 (I prefer half and half over full, heavy cream)

First, chop up both the bacon and the sausage into little bite-size piece. Dice up the onion and mince the garlic. Throw those all into a big soup pan. Lid them, and let them simmer and begin to mesh together.

Once the base of the soup starts smelling delicious, and before you overcook the onion and garlic, add the broth. At this point, I bring the soup the a boil. (If you’re in a hurry, from here you can continue to finish the soup, or you can chose to let the soup simmer instead of boil and let the spices come together a little longer.)

Add the potatoes and green beans.

After the potatoes have softened, but not completely fallen apart, add the kale.

Allow your soup to stop boiling before you add the half and half. You don’t want your milk products to curdle, so this step in important. However, I have had this happen, and I will tell you from experience, the soup still tasted great! The looks of it wasn’t as pleasing though.

I don’t add many spices because the Italian sausage and bacon bring a lot of flavor, however I do add cracked pepper.

And viola! You may serve your soup!

If you’d like, top with a light shaving of hard parmesan cheese and dig in!

I think what I love about this soup most, besides how easy it is, is having it for lunch the next day. ALWAYS make an extra large batch because it heats up well.

(Below are the two meat products I used, but there are many other brands I would trust as well. We have tried this recipe with our homemade elk Italian sausage, and though I love our homemade sausage, it wasn’t my favorite in this soup.)

sausageturkey bacon