Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Day FAIL

So, if by chance you are still hanging around this blog, you would have noticed that I stopped blogging for the 31 days a bunch of days ago.

Yep.  There's a reason this post is titled "31 Day FAIL."

However, even though I failed at blogging for 31 days, I don't see it as failure.  When I started out attempting to take part in the 31 days, I was still shuffling back and forth in my mind into whether I wanted to run full force with a blog or not.  I didn't know if I wanted it to be a "job" for me.  I thought maybe I did.

Well, I discovered, I don't.  I prefer to blog for recreation.  I don't like the pressure on me to be blogging every day.

So, I will continue to blog.  But on my schedule.  Because frankly, I'm tired.  I'm busy with three beautiful munchkins, homeschooling, keeping up the house, being part of a church, crafting, and dreaming up some other future career ideas.  I will be here sharing as often as I am able, because let's be honest, I still have a lot to say. ;)

And for some very committed 31 Dayers, check out The Nester.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How to Make Healthy Earth Balls

A few years ago I followed a blog called Green and Crunchy.  Sheri was the author, and she shared many delicious high raw vegan food posts with her large following.  It has been years since her blog has closed, but I have yet to find a blog I love just as much.  It was just so unique.  I still miss it.  Sheri, please come back! ;)  Anyways, the point I am trying to make is that she had a great recipe for "earth balls" that I am going to share with you, but if she was still online I would definitely direct you to her.

Earth balls...healthy, yummy goodness.  This is the health snack I pull out when I want to convince people eating healthy is yummy!  Many people have asked me for the recipe after coming to my house.

Earth Balls

1 cup almonds
1 cup dates

whatever else you want in there... coconut, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, goji berries, chocolate chips (hey, a little chocolate never hurt anyone...)....etc!

Through the almonds and dates in the food processor until nice and processed!  Then, add whatever else you want in there and process a little longer.  Form into balls and put them in the freezer.  Eat the whole tray a few straight from the freezer!

These will fall apart at room temperature, so make sure you don't leave them out!

This is day 11 of my 31 day series, "31 Days to Healthier Grub". Thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy

Getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge, but there are ways to make it easier.  Here are a few things that I've learned to get some good foods into the little ones.

1. Start early: If you can, start as soon as they are on solids.  My kids have had green smoothies from a very early age.  People are often amazed at what they drink, but it's only because they are used to it.  And hey, if your kids are older, tell them it's a "Green Monster Smoothie."

2.  Section Plates:  You'd be amazed how excited kids could get over having their food divided into little sections.  Here are a few we've had at our house:

Homemade mango salsa, some leftover sausage (okay, maybe not the healthiest option, but everything else looks good!), tomato salsa, cucumbers, rice crackers, tortilla chips, and eggplant bacon!

Grapes, rasperries, blueberries, raw vegan strawberry cheezecake, peaches, and a date stuffed with natural peanut butter with an almond tucked inside!

Rice cake crackers, pretzels, plantain chips, oranges, grapes, raisins, bananas, carrots, cucumbers!

3.  Take your kids berry picking, or to a farm where they can see how the food is grown.  When kids are involved in the process, they are more likely to eat the food.

4.  Let them get messy!  Eating can be messy, especially some fruits, like peaches! ;)  But to me, the mess is worth it if they are learning to love food that is good for them.

These are just a few of the ways I've managed to get my kids to eat things that are good for their bodies. :)  What about you? Do you have any tips?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Make Kefir

Today I want to share with you how to make kefir.  Kefir is similar to yogurt, except that it is even better for your digestive system because it contains even more of that good bacteria than yogurt.  It's simple to make.

Heat one liter of milk on the stove to 180°F.  I used goat milk but use whatever milk you want. I know people have made kefir from almond milk as well, but I'm not sure if the technique was different.

You'll want to stir it a lot, because milk burns really easily.

After it reaches 180°F, you'll wanna remove it from the heat.  Let it cool down to 73-77°F.  Once it does, pour some of the milk in a small cup and add your kefir starter.

Mix it until it's dissolved, and then pour it back into the pot with the other milk.  After you stir up the pot really well, put it in a jar to sit on the counter for about 24 hours, until curd starts to form.  Yes, that's right, this time it's okay if you leave milk on the counter. ;)  

Keep refrigerated after the 24 hours.  You can use this in smoothies, or add some fruit or homemade healthy jam to it!

You may have heard of kefir grains as well.  These are little grains that you put in the kefir instead of starter.  Over time they multiply, and if you are successful and don't kill them, they can last a lifetime!  I, however, wasn't so lucky in the past.  I have used milk and water kefir grains, and plan to do so soon, but they regular a bit of TLC so I'm waiting until I'm not holding a baby most of the day!  So far I haven't seen kefir grains in the store....I think you can only buy them online.

(This is day 9 of my 31 day series:  31 Days of Healthier Grub).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Healthy AND Frugal Possible?

This is an area I've struggled with for many years.  How can you eat healthy, AND live frugally?  Well, it can be done. Keep in mind that many healthy foods are very frugal, it might just be time to learn how to cook with said items.

In our house, some very frugal healthy items we use are:

-Brown rice
-Black Beans

I previously talked about getting rid of boxed cereal.  Not only is this a great option for eating a more healthy breakfast, but cereal can be expensive!!  If your kids are like mine who LOVE cereal, a box can last only 2-3 days.

When we buy beans, we buy them by the bag instead of the can.  We throw the whole bag in the crockpot, and then we divide them up into ziploc bags and freeze them for when we need some already cooked beans!

When shopping for produce I try to for the most part purchase what is in season.  Right now, for Autumn my fridge is full of winter vegetables - squash, pumpkin, potatoes, carrots, onions...etc.  In the Summer I love to eat all the types of berries that are in season.  

I think that many times, when we need to stock our cupboards with healthy foods, there may be a few things we decide are worth the money.  I think it's best to decide what you will spend the money on, and work on keeping the rest of the grocery bill down.    I am willing to spend more money on natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey, but I don't buy prepackaged gluten-free products (which, many are processed anyways.)

You can be healthy, and it won't burn a hole in your wallet!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Okay, you had to know I was going to do a post about this.

I mean, really, who goes 31 days without cheating, at least a little?  Well...okay, you can go 31 days without cheating, but I want to tell you, it's okay if you give yourself a break sometime.

As you know, I started off this series by saying I would avoid sugar for 31 days.  And so far, I have.  It has not been too difficult as I've been filling myself with delicious pumpkin and green smoothies, doing some juicing, and staying at home instead of stopping into the local bakery. ;)  But, today is Thanksgiving.  We get together with family.  And we eat.

So, I know what you are thinking, that I over-indulged on that pumpkin pie??  Nope.  I decided to be strong and skip dessert. However, given that it was the holiday, I decided to allow myself a little wiggle room.  I ate many appetizers without asking what was in them, but let me tell you, there was one creamy artichoke jalapeno dip that was so amazing, and I am sure it had a nice chunk of sugar and who knows what else in there.  I stayed away from the buns (wheat causes migraines for me) but I allowed myself gravy all over my turkey.  I kept to drinking water instead of the many other beverages offered.

So, a few tips on what to do when deciding to "cheat"...

1.  Decide beforehand that you are going to "cheat", and decide what that looks like.  Are you going to have that slice of pumpkin pie but no sugary beverage?  Or will you decide on no dessert and enjoy thirds seconds on that delicious turkey dinner?

2.  Don't announce what you are doing.  I tried really hard to not share that I was avoiding sugar, but it did come out by the end of the night.  Why do I say keep it to yourself?  Often at holiday get-togethers people can start to question you, making you feel guilty for wanting to eat healthy.  I think it's a cultural thing- we get together and when we do we love to eat!  And when someone isn't partaking the way everyone else may be, it seems to stir up feelings in people. If you can eat what you want and avoid what you want without too many people noticing, it's easier to accomplish staying away from all the treats everyone else is eating.

3.  Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.  When I was having a low moment earlier in the day, feeling like I could reach for something I knew I shouldn't, I asked myself "in 30 minutes, if I don't eat this, will I regret it?"  Chances are the answer is often no.  But if I do eat it, in 30 minutes I may regret it once my tummy isn't feeling so well.

4.  Go for a walk.  It's a tradition for our family at Thanksgiving to take a walk.  We like to do it after we've filled up on too many appetizers because we need something to get us away from all that delicious food!  By the time we get back we are usually a little more distracted with other things to fill up on too much more.

5.  Don't bring leftovers home.  I feel much better about giving myself a bit of a break today knowing that my fridge wasn't full of all those yummy treats!  We did bring a pie home, but will be giving it away.  If you are the host, try sending leftovers home with others.  College kids especially love turkey leftovers!

Do you have any tips you use to help you get through the sugary holidays? ;)

This is day 7 in my 31 day series:  31 days to Healthier Grub.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


This weekend it's thanksgiving here in Canada.  As I prepare to take part in Compassion Sunday tomorrow, I wanted to take a small break from the 31 days posts to think about what we have to be thankful for.  I have on my mind tonight the people around the world who have so little.  We have so much yet we complain all the time!

Tonight I am thankful for:

1.  A warm, safe home
2.  3 healthy kids 
3.  A husband who loves me
4.  Whimsical vintage caravans
5.  The crunch of leaves under my feet
6.  Giggles from my baby
7.  My dreadlocks
8.  A church that has welcomed me
9.  So many good friends in my life
10.  God providing me strength every day

I encourage you to write a list of a few things you are thankful for today!  It's easy to dwell on the hard moments, but when we sit down and really think about the blessings we have in our life, it is a great reminder that those hard moments often aren't as hard as we think.

Wishing you a blessed Canadian Thanksgiving!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Healthy Foods that Aren't

How many times have I listened to commercials spewing nonsense about their so-called "healthy" product?  I thought I'd share a list of those "healthy" products that aren't.  These items are all store-bought, so often you can make a healthy alternative.

1.  Yogurt - Buy it in the store and you are buying a product either loaded with sugar or some kind of artificial sweetener.  You are better off making your own.  Later this month I will share just how to do that!

2.  Granola Bars - Haven't we all been guilty of handing our children a granola bar because it's "better than a cookie"?  Well, it's not really.  Good news though - there are tons of homemade recipes online for healthy versions you can make yourself!

3.  Cheese- You know what they say: cheese is full of calcium and great for a healthy diet.  Well, maybe, if you have, like, one small slice.  But that's like eating "one chip".  Cheese is actually full of fat.  However, this is one area I fail...I love my cheese!  But, clearly this is an area I can work on to limit myself to "one itty bitty slice" instead of stuffing my face with cheese the size of my fist.  (I can't help it, it's soooo good.)

4.  Muffins - Order a muffin at Tim Horton's instead of a donut feeling like it's better?  Well, not so much.  Again, full of sugar.  Of course, if you only eat the muffin top (which is the best part anyway) you can rationalize that you only ate half the sugar.  Okay, okay, maybe we should bypass the muffins too.

5.  Granola- Now, granola, if you make yourself can be very healthy, frugal, and yummy!!!  I make it at home with coconut oil and honey.  But definitely avoid that stuff in the store that is loaded with sugar.  (What don't they put sugar in???)

6.  Smoothies -  Oh, this one gets me angry.  You may have noticed all those fast food chains jumping on the "we have real fruit smoothies" bandwagon.  Well, I'm not sure how much real fruit is in those, because there can't be a lot of room after they pour all their sugar and sometimes even ice cream or other types of cream.  If you want a smoothie, best to make this at home, or find one of those super uber healthy smoothie bars.

7.  Trail mix - I LOVE trail mix.  But I've noticed in my quest to find good trail mix that is affordable, that many of them contain added sugar.  There are trail mixes out there without sugar, just make sure you read the ingredients on the back.

What it comes down to, and I think you can see, is that most stuff is better if you make it at home.  Unfortunately, to be healthy it tends to mean less processed food, and a little more time in the kitchen.  But don't get discouraged, there are tons of simple meals you can make in the kitchen as well. And what's healthier and quicker than grabbing a piece of fruit and eating it whole, in it's beautiful natural state?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Breakfast - the most important meal of the day...

You've  heard it a million times - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Well, I'd have to agree. Breakfast is often the meal that will set up up for either success or failure.  If you start the day off right, chances are you will be more willing to stick to a good diet all day.  If you start off with sugary sweets for breakfast, chances are you will have a rough day of food choices. Not only that, if you are like me, you will end up with a stomach ache!

In our house we LOVE cereal.  We are big cereal eaters.  Or at least we were.  Because as tasty as cereal can be, there isn't much benefit.  It is usually full of sugar.  Even many of the "healthy" cereal options.  And my son and daughter, who are only 3 and 5 could eat two bowls in one sitting, and complain of being hungry an hour later.  It wasn't helping our wallet or our bodies!

In our house, I start most mornings with a green smoothie. The kids and I both have some (haven't been able to convince the husband to trade in his coffee for some smoothie...;) )  But even if you are one who needs your morning coffee, there are other things you can consume with your coffee to rev up your engine for the day!

Oatmeal is a great option. Many people say that their kids complain about oatmeal.  In our house we have lots of "add-ins", and my kids LOVE their oatmeal.   You can put in it nuts, seeds, cinnamon, cacao nibs, raisins, fruit, coconut...etc.  The options are endless!

For those times a cereal craving does hit and nothing else will do, there are quinoa puffs (pictured below).  Think Rice Krispies but instead of rice,  it is quinoa.  We load ours with toppings like nuts, seeds, chia seeds  raisins, agave....etc.  But we don't buy this on a regular basis because it isn't very frugal.

I usually like to start my day off with fruit.  Eating oranges, bananas, or berries along with my smoothie makes the day look better!

In the cooler weather I sometimes need to start my day off with something warm.  A hot herbal tea is the perfect remedy.

Interestingly enough, I discovered someone is doing a 31 day series on "Whole Food Breakfasts."

What is your favorite healthy breakfast?  Do you buy boxed cereal?

(This is day 3 in my 31 day series "31 days of Healthier Grub."  Thanks for stopping by!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Ooh, smoothies, how you make my heart swoon.  All your nutritional goodness packed in one deliciously yummy beverage.  How you can be a drink, or a whole meal.

Some people reach for their coffee pot each morning. I reach for my blender.

Smoothies are an excellent way to pack tons of nutrition in one glass.  In this house we usually have green smoothies.  This means we add some serious greens to it- spinach, kale,romaine lettuce, etc.  Don't let that scare you though.  You can make these smoothies without tasting the greens.  Here's how.

In your blender, put two bananas, a cup of frozen fruit, and some spinach (or whatever greens you want.)  If you haven't had green smoothies before, I would start out with a small amount of spinach, maybe a handful, or even less if you think you'll be really sensitive to the taste.  Add water to your blender.  Blend it all up and enjoy!

I started with one small handful of spinach when I started drinking green smoothies.  Now I put an average of three large handfuls of spinach in it.  I also will add spirulina powder to it.  Sometimes I add flax seeds,chia seeds, dates....whatever I feel like.  I find if you keep the base the same (bananas, fruit, greens) you can play around with it and add many different things!

We usually put water in ours, but sometimes I'll put orange juice in it. Orange juice is pretty much the only store-bought juice I buy.  I figure buying 100% orange juice is definitely better than buying most other juices.  And although in the ideal situation I'd be juicing my own orange juice, I also have three busy small children and a busy life!  You have to pick and choose what works for you, right?

If you are new around here, you may have missed my previous posts about smoothies.  Check out my pumpkin smoothie, and my green pumpkin smoothie.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Drink and be MERRY!

To me, an easy first step to consuming healthier products is to change up what you drink.  I think it's a no-brainer that pop is not a good choice. I believe that diet drinks are a bad choice too.  True, you may be consuming fewer calories, but the sugar alternatives in there can be harmful too.  We avoid anything that has sucralose or aspartame.

Do you know that one can of coke contains about 10 tsp of sugar??  I found this great website that shows how much sugar is in certain drinks and other snacks by stacking sugar cubes.  It's quite alarming actually.  To check it out, click here.

So, what if you are a person who is addicted to your Coca-Cola, or need your iced tea to get through the day?  How do you ditch that habit?  Try cutting out one can a day to start. When you start to feel okay with that, cut back another one.  You can also do this with coffee. Yes, I know what you are thinking- "sure, I'll cut back on sweets, I'll put the chip bag away, but NO WAY is she touching my coffee.  That's going too far!"  Even though I am not a coffee drinker, I don't think you should be forced to give up your morning coffee if you really don't want to.  However, if you find yourself drinking multiple cups a day, it may be time to cut back.

So, what can you drink???  Well, of course, first and foremost, get that water into you.  It's good for you.  But you already knew that, right?

But what if you are bored with the same old water?  Why not spruce it up a bit?  Add some lemons to it, or cucumbers.  I thought cucumbers sitting in water was really weird, until I tried it. So refreshing!  Just put the cucumbers in, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to infuse, and drink!

Want some juice?  Put that store-bought juice away.  Juice your own!  My favorite combination is carrot-apple-celery juice.  The combinations are endless.

Prefer a hot drink?  Herbal teas are a great option.  There are so many different kinds now, a loose-leaf tea store can be a girl's best friend!

Just by making this little change, I can guarantee you will feel the change.  I always feel better if I've drank enough water throughout the day.  Some people are concerned about making constant trips to the bathroom. While this is partially true, often as your body gets used to you consuming more water, it will learn to adjust, and you will find yourself running for the bathroom less often.

Just want to end with saying that another wonderful beverage of choice is smoothies, but we will talk more about that tomorrow!

Monday, October 1, 2012

You don't need sugar to be sweet....

Sugar.  Tastes so good. Makes us feel SO bad.  It weakens the immune system.  It makes it easier to put on extra pounds.

Last week I got a cold.  Instantly, I went to work drinking green smoothies, chewing on garlic, and above all, staying away from sugar.

Until one day I didn't.

You know how it is. Life gets busy.  I was on the road with three little ones.  It seemed easier going through a drive thru instead of taking three kids out of their carseats to buy something healthy at the grocery store.  So we filled up on muffins and Timbits.  Later we were fed lunch at an event, which included pizza and ice cream.  I ended the day with some candy and iced tea to try and give me a boost to get through the last errands of the evening.  The next day I woke up, and the cold that hadn't really bothered me the past few days barely let me crawl out of bed.

I'm convinced the overload of sugar (and busy day without rest) contributed to that.  But hey, I am a girl who likes my sweets, so if I can't have refined sugar, I WILL find another way to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Good thing there are other sweeteners.  Ones that are natural and have not been stripped of their minerals and nutrients. They have a lower glycemic index which means they won't raise your insulin levels as high as refined sugar would.  A few alternatives to that white, processed sugar:

-Agave (great for vegans and people who eat raw)
-Maple Syrup

In this house we use honey, agave, maple syrup, and dates.  We do have white sugar in our house, but I don't touch it - it's for my husband's coffee, (don't worry, I've given him the whole "sugar is bad" talk). However, as I have said in my previous post, there are many other products in the house that you don't think to have sugar, and they do.  That's just a little reminder to me that I need to read labels more.  And, of course, although natural sugars are better to reach for to satisfy that sweet tooth, everything in moderation, right?

Of course, we can't end this post without a sweet recipe, right?

Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 cup of your choice of milk - almond, rice, cow, goat, etc. 
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 TBSP unsweetened,REAL cocoa
1 TBSP honey

Optional:  bananas, strawberries, or any kind of fruit you want to put on top! Sprinkle with coconut, cinnamon, cacao nibs, etc.  The sky is the limit!

Whisk together all ingredients.  Let sit out for an hour or more until it has thickened. Refrigerate and serve chilled. Enjoy every bite, knowing you are partaking in a dessert that has NO refined sugars in it.