Archive for January, 2014


photo (21)My daughter just provided me with a little ‘aha’ moment the other day. I was watching the make-over episode of the Biggest Loser and one of the contestants came out of the dressing room in a red dress. My daughter looked up at the TV and said, “Look Mommy, a princess!” She said it with such joy and wonder on her face. In her mind, this happy smiling woman in a dress WAS a princess. Mind you, this woman had no make up on, her hair wasn’t done, and she is still ‘over-weight’ based on our standards here in the states. This is no offense to this woman; she is simply still on her weight loss journey. None of this mattered to my 2 ½ year old. It really got me thinking.

First of all, I was so proud! I was proud that she has not been influenced by me or by society or by Disney to think that only skinny is beautiful. She can still see a woman who has genuine happiness on her face and call her a princess without any discrimination. I don’t know how long this will last, or even how long I want this whole princess fantasy to continue, but right now I am going to enjoy it.

What this should teach us though, is we are not born to discriminate, or hate, or make fun of, or think less of other people because of their appearance. We are born knowing that every human being is equally amazing and beautiful. We know this instinctually; we know it down to our bones. We learn otherwise, and incorrectly so. We are taught that “mommy doesn’t like to look fat in her jeans” and that “the chubby kid gets picked on the most” and that “there are no fat models” and that “the pretty girls get attention”.

It’s the same thing with racism. Remember that awesome Dennis Leary quote, “Racism isn’t born folks. It’s taught. I have a 2-year-old son. Know what he hates? Naps. End of list.” How true is that?!? And, if I introduced Ellie to 2 men and said, “Joe likes boys, and Mike likes girls”. She would say, “Okay…look at my pony.” She doesn’t care. Are they going to be nice her? Are they going to play Candyland? She’s on board.

We need to be conscious of our behavior, what comes out of our mouths, and our body language. A five year old girl is completely capable of interpreting an exasperated sigh as her mother looks in the mirror and doesn’t approve of what she sees. She is completely aware of the things you enjoy and focus on. If your coffee table is filled with Cosmo and US weekly instead of literature authored by women or books about science and the arts, she will notice. If your ‘down-time’ is watching Real Housewives or The Bachelor, she will notice. Not to mention the message this sends to our sons. Are we teaching our sons to value a woman for everything that she is capable of, or are we showing him that our value as women comes from our appearance?

It’s a lot of pressure, right? Yeah, parenting isn’t easy.

Just today to my husband I said, “I really need to focus on my diet. I am shaving my head in a month and I can’t be bald and chubby.” Granted, this was not in front of my kids, but it still came out of my mouth. I heard me say it. How many times a day do you insult yourself? If you had a friend that spoke to you that way, you would have ditched her years ago. And, my husband heard me say it. How annoying we must be to our husbands…. The person who loves us more than anyone else on the planet, the person who we trust with our lives, our future, our children, and we don’t believe the nice things they say to us.

I want to think like a 2 year old. I want to do what makes me happy. I want to value everyone equally (except moms, moms are the best). I want to play so hard that I fall asleep while eating. I want to be unashamed of my feelings and say what’s on my mind. We think that kids don’t know much, but they are so much wiser than we give them credit for. We could all learn a lot from them if we were actually listening.

What life lesson have you learned from your kids?

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I had a request from a facebook friend to post a recipe with either spinach or squash. I am not big on squash (it is honestly one of the only veggies I don’t really like), but I love spinach. And my husband LOVES spinach! There are very few things that are as healthy and as quick and easy as sauteed spinach. This isn’t much of a recipe, but for those of you who don’t really know what to do with your spinach besides making a salad, this is for you.

Here are all the ingredients you need: spinach, red pepper flakes, salt, and fat of choice (I like coconut oil)

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Heat up your oil in the pan on medium/low heat, throw in your spinach. Cook more than you think you will need, it shrinks like crazy. These pictures I am using a half of a bag of the pre-washed grocery store bags. This makes about 1-2 servings. Add salt, red pepper flakes. Cover and stir occasionally. It only takes 3-4 minutes for the spinach to wilt.

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Transfer to a plate and top with crispy prosciutto chips or bacon (you could always cook the bacon up first and then cook the spinach in the bacon grease- oh baby!) The spinach is a little spicy, full of flavor, and of course jam-packed with vitamins.

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If you wanted to do the sauteed spinach with some fish, you could top with a little lemon zest. If you wanted to have the spinach with chicken, you could top the spinach with sun-dried tomatoes. Really there are a million different combinations. I LOVE FOOD!!!

What do you do with your spinach?

(I got the recipe/idea for the crispy prosciutto chips from Nom Nom Paleo. Really you are just putting prosciutto in the oven to crisp it up and then you can crumble it on salads, veggies, eggs, etc.)

Hello everyone! I am in a great mood. The kind of mood you can only get in when you have a delicious dinner that is healthy and that everyone eats together around a table WITHOUT complaints. It was one of those meals that reinforces all the work I have done trying to get my family to eat in a healthy way.

I really don’t have a word to describe the way that we eat. I use ‘Paleo’ a lot because that is the closest fit. But, we do eat some dairy (beginning this year with raw milk and I can’t wait to see if it makes a difference in the way we feel), I occasionally give the kids corn and corn tortillas, I will use potatoes, I put sugar in my coffee, and I allow the occasional sweet treat (weekends, special occasions, etc.). If you are new to the blog or if you are trying to improve your health in 2014 I would recommend: drastically cutting wheat/bread/gluten if not eliminating it, drastically increasing your veggies, cutting out ALL- Yes ALL- processed foods, switching to full fat dairy, and trying to buy grass fed/pastured meat. Eating old school… I’ll work on coming up with a clever name.

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Tonight’s dinner was family style. As you can see from the picture, I made a big ol’ platter of food for all of us to share. The only rule was that they had to have a little chicken (figures, that chicken is the food that I have to encourage them to eat). Everyone dug in. Will loves kale and tomatoes, Ellis loves kale and ‘green beans’ (asparagus), Brent loves kale and chicken, and I love kale, chicken, and asparagus. My proudest moment was that the only thing left was the corn (although everyone but me had some).

I hear a lot of people talk about how this diet would be ‘so hard’ or ‘my kids would never go for it’ or ‘my husband would go crazy’ etc. They are so many options and the food is so good. There are also good short cuts available. The only things on that platter that I made tonight were the kale and asparagus. The chicken I got cooked from the grocery store yesterday (we all like cold chicken), the tomatoes were raw, and the corn was reheated from yesterday. Simple prep, not expensive at all, and stupid yummy.

The more we eat this way, the easier it gets for meal planning and buy-in from the family. If you are just starting out, please don’t get discouraged. It takes time. You will go through a withdrawal from the breads/treats/sodium-packed-nightmares you were eating before. And, remember- those of you that follow a lot of the popular blogs out there, many of them have been doing this for years and love to cook. Not everyone at home is going to have that skill set or dedication. You do NOT need to create a masterpiece every night. You are not always going to have a complicated and delicious breakfast/lunch/dinner. Just work on the basics (protein, fiber, veggie, healthy fat). You can get fancy later.

I am working on a meal planning blog, but since it is not my strong suit either, be patient with me. This is the year! (I said that in my head like “I proclaim this ‘the summer of George!'”)

Post any questions you have in the comments and check out my food related posts in the categories section.

Food Fats

photo (3)There is so much conflicting info out there on the interwebs about what we should and shouldn’t eat, that it is impossible to know what’s healthy. And, to be perfectly honest, there probably isn’t a ‘healthy’. There are probably a couple versions of healthy. That word could describe a low fat, high carb diet and it’s polar opposite (which is what I follow). I am not a doctor. I am not a dietitian. I have though read a lot of books over the past year, and been my own guinea pig, and here are my thoughts on fat.

Transfats– AVOID. No exceptions.

Canola, vegetable, corn, soybean, peanut oils– Avoid mostly. You probably can’t avoid these 100% because anywhere you go in the world is probably using these oils to prepare your food. The short explanation is they are made often from GMO products, are hydrogenated (transfat), and have lousy Omega 6: Omega 3 ratios (you want lots of 3 and a little 6). An argument for making your own food…

Olive Oil- Great, but not for cooking at high temps and can get rancid quickly. Use it for cooking at low temps, or for a finishing oil and salad dressings. Good and good for you.

Butter– I love butter and am not afraid of it. Granted, I don’t put it on bread and waffles because I try not to eat those foods at all. But, I use it for cooking, or for putting on my steamed veggies, etc. Here is the kicker though, you should really be looking for ‘pastured’ butter. Cows that eat what they are supposed to eat- grass- make healthier butter. What I mean by that is the butter is cleaner and has a better ratio of the 6:3 fatty acid ratio. If you have a sensitivity to dairy, you can make ghee out of butter to remove the milk solids. Google it. 🙂

Coconut oil- This is a little controversial because coconut oil has a LOT of saturated fat and we have been told for the last 25 years that saturated fat is BAD. Well, what happened when we cut saturated fats and got fat-phobic? We all got fat, and heart disease, and diabetes. The latest research is actually showing that saturated fats are not our problem. Coconut oil is great for cooking because the saturated fats in it help it to not get rancid and it can be used at high temperatures. And, not to get too technical, coconut oil has a high lauric acid content which is a high virus and bacterial destroyer. Not to mention- it is actually natural. ‘Natural’ gets thrown around a lot, but a good quality coconut oil is as natural and healthy as it gets. (There’s much more to this, if you are interested, just ask. I don’t want to bore you though.)

Animal fat- This is a little tricky too. I am a firm believer that we should not be afraid of fat. There is a really big BUT to this statement. Fat from healthy animals is great! Fat from unhealthy animals is bad! Again, it goes back to whether the animals were raised the way they were intended to. If the animal is pasture raised, pasture finished, grass-fed, it is a better option. Be careful for buzz words like ‘vegetarian fed’. That makes you think healthy, right? Well, chickens are not vegetarians. They eat grass, clover, bugs, and whatever else they find in the pasture. So back to fat. I know that we all can’t get the best meat all the time and occasionally have to settle for regular grocery store meat. In this case, pick the leanest cuts of meat you can find. The fat is the place where animals store things that might be unhealthy (think anti-biotics or hormones). If you have high-quality, pasture animals, don’t be afraid of the fat. In fact, the ‘good’ fat is similar to the healthy fats from fish that you are always hearing about.

Dairy fat– Bring on the fat!!! We want fat in our dairy. The skim and low fat versions are more processed. And, really there is no reason for it. The research for low fat milk is lousy to say the least. In fact, it shows that switching to low fat milk does nothing for weight loss. In fact, since you don’t get the satiation from the fat, you tend to eat more. I could go a step further and talk about the dairy you find in the grocery store is all crap anyway. The pasteurization process destroys what makes milk good for you in the first place. I would say best option would be raw milk (which is hard to find but possible), next best option (if raw milk isn’t possible) would be to avoid dairy all together and get calcium from leafy greens, and third best (if you are unwilling to give up dairy, but can’t get the raw version) would be to limit dairy to 1-2 servings per day and have it always be full fat and organic. Yes, yogurt too.

Did I miss anything? I encourage you to do the research yourself, but I know a lot of you will not. That is why I wrote this post. I know a few of you will disagree, and that is fine. This is what I think is healthiest for my family and what I have learned over the past year. I can tell you that when I switched to a higher fat and protein diet and cut out all processed non-sense and diet food, I had a dramatic improvement in my health. And, yes, I had blood work done, my cholesterol is right on track, my blood pressure is perfect, and I lost weight.

For those of you interested in this topic, you can click my ‘food’ category to read some more from the past year. Also, I am utilizing my facebook page www.facebook.com/candysbrain for recipes and tips so “like” my page for more info. Cheers.

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Dear Body,

The time has come for you and us to stop fighting. I am done. If you think about all of the arguments we have had over the past few years, they just seem silly. And, I have to admit, it’s mostly my fault. I give you a hard time for the dumbest things and don’t give you enough credit for the amazing things that you do everyday! You take care of me even when I am sleeping. I am sorry, and I want to do better. The following comes from my heart…err your heart…whatever- I mean it though.

To my feet- you’re big, so what? You help me not to fall down more my giving me a sturdy base. Thanks, I’ll have my husband rub you more.

To my legs- I owe everything to you. You get me out of bed every morning. You support me on those long runs to help keep the rest of our body happy. You are my foundation. I will never again say our thighs are big or gross or wrinkly. I will not concern myself with the non-sense that is a ‘thigh-gap’. That’s just dumb. Thanks for being strong when I have been weak.

To my butt- thanks for being so good at dancing! Next wedding we go to, I promise to let you stay on the dance floor as long as you want to shake that money maker.

To my stomach- we have had a strained relationship for as long as I can remember. I ask too much of you. You were the perfect home to my 2 beautiful babies. You stretched just like you were designed to do, and I give you a hard time because you don’t look like you did in high school any more. If my husband got mad at me for that I would divorce him so I am sorry I talk to you like that. NO MORE. I love you and I will treat you better. I will also give you the best food I can- not to shrink and starve you- but to nourish you.

To my boobs- we had a really good run! I really just owe you round of applause. You were so good to me for so many years. In return, I promise to buy you big comfy bras and double it up for our workouts.

To my shoulder- you let me down last year, and I am still trying to work on forgiving you. All you had to do is stay in your home. Are you too good for your home?! Sorry, I digress. It’s almost been a full year since we got hurt, and we are not out of the woods yet. But, I promise to work as hard as I can to make you better.

To my brain- well aren’t you a tricky little friend… Not sure why you need to wake me up at 3am so that I can start contemplating my retirement or why I walk outside to get the mail and start to wonder about what I would do if someone just started shooting at me or if a squirrel jumped out of the tree onto my head, but I trust that there is a reason. I will work hard on bringing peace you in this new year. Even if it is for only 10 mins. a day, I will try to clear my thoughts and give you a break. Ohhmmmm…..

To my hair- you don’t have long. Come March, you are getting buzzed. It’s not you, it’s me. But, as you are growing back in, I’ll try not to judge you. I’ll remember that we did this for a good cause and I’ll try not to cry. Maybe this will be our chance to experiment and try something new together. You know, spice things up. Maybe there’s something cool that I’ve never even heard of….

So, thanks body. Let this be the year we fall in love just like old times.