Tag Archive: healthy eating


Summer and I are lovers. There, I said it. I long for summer all year, and cherish every moment we have together. This summer is extra special because it is my first summer being part-time for the whole season. It’s really freaking exciting. Working part-time = more hours of summer-fun-having. And, since I am kind of an expert at summer (no big deal) I thought I would share with you my ‘must haves’ for a killer summer.*
FullSizeRender (35)

1. Shaklee SPF 30: This sun screen is great and safe and gentle and it works! I use it on the kids and on my face/chest. Like all things Shaklee, a little goes a long way. Protect your skin, protect your babes.
IMG_3274

2. A Great Maxi Dress: There is nothing better than being able to get dressed in 30 seconds and look great for almost any occassion. You don’t even need to shave your legs! I believe that the right maxi dress can be flattering on ANY body type. If you are short and/or curvy, just make sure you create a waste. Any cheap belt from Target will do.

3. Pomegranate Tea and Performance Electrolyte drink: Let’s face it, sports drinks are gross and full of junk (fake sugar, artificial flavors/colors). You and your kids should not be drinking them any more. And, most of those flavored tea drinks out there are loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. These are 2 of my favorite products and I especially like them together! This is my go-to for getting up and moving on hot summer days.
IMG_3255

4. (speaking of drinks…) LaCroix: LaCroix has tons of different naturally flavored sparkling waters. The taste is very mild and pairs perfectly with fresh squeezed citrus and Vodka! Grab some Titos and LaCroix and then invite me to your party.

5. Antiperspirant Cream: Shaklee makes a really great antiperspirant cream and it has become my new favorite. I would always just buy whatever random deodorant off the shelf at Walgreens. Not any more. (btw, I LOVE buying things that I already have to buy anyway..but, from myself. I get paid to buy things from myself. How cool is that?)
FullSizeRender (34)

6. All of the Flats and Wedges: Heels are nice, but sometimes in the summer you need to be careful. You never know when you will be walking thru grass or spending a day walking at a festival. Flats and wedges are a neccessity. They are so easy to find, and can be really cheap if you look in the right places.
FullSizeRender (36)

7. Outdoor Activities: Depending on where you live, summer can be short. Where I live (north of Chicago) I’m lucky to get 4 months. Figure out how to be outside as much as possible. Run outside, do yoga outside, go to movies in the park, swim at the beach, sleep in a tent in the back yard, dine al fresco, sit around a bon fire until 2am, be in nature, lie in a hammock. I swear being outside in nature re-sets your soul and is mandatory for a healthy existence.
IMG_3097

8. Stress Relief Complex: Yay, the kids are home all day…every day….awesome… This helps. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. Winky face.

9. A Sense of Adventure: I got this one from my sister who we call the Queen of Summer. She is a do-er and I am a relax-er (she gets mad at me a lot). But summer is for staying up late and meeting up with friends and traveling to new places and trying new foods/recipes. It is for saying ‘what the hell?’ and putting fun first.
FullSizeRender (32)

10. Sky Guide: I just found out about this app. It is seriously so cool. It’s a map to the stars based on your exact location and where you are pointing your phone. So, if you are outside star gazing, you could point your phone in the same direction and it tells you what you are looking at. What?! I still don’t understand telephones let alone this futuristic insanity.

11. Healthy, quick meals: Summer is not a time for standing in your kitchen cooking! Summer is about smoothies, and salads, and a quick dinner on the grill. This is my absolute favorite protein for smoothies. Perfectly balanced, no artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners. AND, it is designed to help you hold on to muscle.
FullSizeRender (33)

So that is my list of must haves for the summer. What did I miss? Cheers to the best summer yet!
IMG_3210

*I am a Shaklee distributor. I make money on sales from these links. I DO love these products, but these are just my personal recommendations. Check with your doctor on anything that you are unsure of.

Advertisements

FullSizeRender (9)This morning I was reading a blog post about a mom who got fed up with snacking and it sparked an old feeling inside me. I have talked about snacking before, I have ranted and raved about snacking before, I will talk to anyone who will listen to me about snacking before, but I need to bring it up again.

Our snacking is out of control! Grown-ups and children but this post is going to focus on our kids.

I’ll never forget the time I had to run into Kohl’s really quick to grab something. Maybe a 10 min. trip. I had my daughter with me and the second we crossed the threshold with her stroller she asked for a snack. She not only asked for the snack, she just assumed there was one coming. Like I have a magical snack dispenser in my purse that shoots out pretzels and yogurt covered raisins. When I told her I didn’t have anything, she made my trip to the store much less pleasant. But, it’s not her fault- it was mine. You see, it’s easier to give kids snacks. If they are busy with cheerios, they aren’t whining. They aren’t crying in the car if they have Teddy Grahams. But what is that teaching them? Instead of looking out the window for 15 minutes and observing the world, they are digging for more cheap carbohydrates in a plastic bag. At the store, instead of having polite conversation with mommy and smiling at strangers, they are looking down into cardboard-like ‘gold fishys’. Instead of learning that sometimes they have to behave, even though they are bored, they are self soothing with junk food.

And, even if you are pretty strict with snacks, you have to be like a mom-ninja to avoid all the sugar crap that is being offered to them around every turn. Bank- here, take a hard candy. Hair cut- here take a lolli pop for acting like a human child should act. Grandma’s house- I only gave them 3 donuts with their chocolate milk this morning. Here take a 100 calorie pack of cookies for the 20 min drive home. (Sorry Mom- but you know I am right.) Birthday party- I know we just ate cake with electric blue frosting, but here is a goody bag with more candy for later. Sports activities- The kids stood out in a field being yelled at to pay attention every 3 minutes for a half hour. Let’s replace all those electrolytes and carb load! It’s madness!

Take a look at Pinterest and do a search for Fun Snacks for Kids. Ugh, not only do we not need a snack every hour, we certainly don’t need homemade ‘sushi’ made from a tortilla, chocolate spread, and a banana. (seriously, I just searched it to see what would come up and it was my worst nightmare). I get it, once in a while that is cute… But, your kid should be able to just eat a frickin apple once in a while. Besides, if they only eat sandwiches that look like Teddy Bears, how are you going to sustain that.

All that said, there is a time and place for snacking. Of course there is. I am not depriving my children. But, let’s be careful about what message we are sending. You don’t get a cookie because you didn’t throw a tantrum in toys r us. I expect you not to throw a tantrum in toys r us. You don’t get graham crackers to get you thru the 1/2 mile walk around the block. Your young, healthy body can more than handle that level of exertion. You don’t get crackers because you are bored at the store with mom. Use your imagination. Children that eat when they are bored, turn into grown ups that eat when they are bored.

It is not healthy for kids to maintain a high level of sugar in their little bodies all day long. Cereal, yogurt, dried fruit, cookies, graham crackers, gold fish, juice boxes are all FILLED with sugar (and if they don’t have a lot of sugar they turn into sugar in their blood stream immediately). I don’t want to get heavy into the science, but it becomes very hard for kids to control their mood and their behavior when there is a constant up and down in blood sugar or if it is always high.

So, let’s put an end to this. Take a stand against sugar with me! Go cold turkey. Your kids will be fine. In fact, they’ll actually be hungry at dinner time.

thumbs upWell I am almost half way thru my 30 day challenge and I am on cloud 9! I can’t quite explain it but I am so inspired and joyful right now. I know there are many many factors involved here: the #100daysofhappiness project, the healthy eating, the beautiful sun shining on this glorious spring day, the quality of sleep I have been getting, and the fact that I am down a couple of pounds… Like I said, cloud 9. I also just got off the phone with someone who might even have more passion about this stuff than I do and it was contagious.

I am taking control of my health and my life and it feels amazing.

Now, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Last night I had to work late and my family ordered pizza. It was very hard to come home late at night with Lou Malnati’s in my fridge and not have some. But, I didn’t have to say ‘NO’ to pizza forever, I just had to say ‘NO’ to pizza last night. I will have pizza again, soon in fact. Just not during my 30 day challenge. And, like I mentioned in my last post, I have a LOT of Easter candy sitting around staring me in the face. But you know what? If I am going to blow this challenge, if I am going to ‘cheat’, it is certainly not going to be on sweet tarts or crappy sugar bombs. If I am going to splurge, it is going to be worth it. Starbursts? Yuck!

When you start to focus on what makes you happy and you get rid of the processed food fog that clouds your brain, you really start to ‘wake up’. You start to get up in the morning feeling good. You make it to lunch without effort. You take pleasure in the fact that you have the energy to play with your daughter (even if she is being a little a-hole! She’s 2, it’s not her fault.)

I am going out to dinner tonight and you know what? I am excited. I am on a restricted diet (even though I hate those words! Remember diet just means ‘what you eat’) and I am still excited to go out to eat. Eating healthy does not make food the enemy, it makes food your best friend. If you look at food in a way that enhances your health versus something you need to ‘limit’ or ‘avoid’, you change your relationship with food. Calories don’t make people fat. Shitty food makes people fat. So, I am going to go out tonight. I am not going to even consider calories. I am going to choose food that will provide nutrients to keep my body and my brain happy.

I hope that you manage to find your own little ray of sunshine today that makes you happy. If your life is not happy, what do you need to do to fix that?

So, I am on the third day of my challenge and I am feeling really great so far. As a reminder: no gluten, no sweets, no red bull, and no bad dairy. After all this time of talking about food, the question I get asked the most by far is ‘so, what do you eat???’. Well, here is what I have eaten since Sunday morning.

Sunday-
Coffee, sweet potato hash, sausage, egg, strawberries
Chicken, carrots, water
Ham, Brussels sprouts, red wine (1)

Monday-
Coffee, left over sweet potato hash and sausage, water
Mixed greens salad, lemon/olive oil dressing, chicken and avocado and bacon, water
Apple
Ham, kale, water

Tuesday-
Coffee, ‘green eggs and ham’- eggs with spinach and green onion and ham, water
Salad with hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, bacon, water
Cucumbers and cashews, water
(tonight will be) Apricot chicken, butternut squash, sauteed spinach, red wine

My energy has been good. I didn’t have the best night of sleep last night. I have been drinking a lot more water than I am used to which led to me getting up 3x last night. I am confident this will improve. Normally when I am eating and drinking right, I sleeplike a baby. But not a stupid new born baby, like a 3 year old that sleeps for 12 hours a night and wakes up all sweaty and crazy-haired. 🙂

I also am on Day 3 of my happiness challenge and am having a lot of fun with it. I am already spending so much time thinking about the things that make me happy. There were 3 things by 9am that I wanted to use as my # picture on instagram (@candysbrain), but decided to hold off. It is amazing what simply focusing on what makes you happy will do with your mood. I have also been walking around for 3 days singing, ‘because I’m happy…!’ like some kind of maniac. That is, when I am not harmonizing with my son to ‘Let it go’. He got his singing skills from his mama. Poor guy.

Okay, that is my update for now. Did anyone come up with their own challenge?

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.

Is this you?

Read this scenario and let me know if you can relate…. Is this you?

After a fitful night sleep your alarm goes off around 6. You ‘snooze’ about 3 times before you actually force yourself out of bed. Before you even get in the shower, you stumble down stairs for a cup of coffee. After the caffeine kicks in you start getting ready for work. Yawning every 3 seconds and longing to crawl back in bed.

Next, you sit down for breakfast. It is your ‘usual’, some ‘high fiber’ and ‘low fat’ cereal that isn’t even good despite the dehydrated berries thrown in. You have a glass of OJ and you’re out the door. At work you grab another cup of coffee (skim milk, zero calorie sweetener). It is 10 oclock now and your tummy starts rumbling. You know you aren’t going to make it to lunch so you grab a half a bagel out of the break room or you grab a handful of wheat thins.

For lunch you eat the turkey sandwich you brought. It is on whole wheat bread, low fat cheese, and low cal mayo with a diet coke and pretzels. You are proud of yourself for skipping the trip to Arby’s with the rest of your co-workers. You are feeling pretty good at 12, 1, and even 2pm.

All the sudden 3 o’clock hits and you hit a wall. You grab an iced coffee or another diet drink to get you thru the rest of the day. At home you make another relatively ‘healthy’ choice. You have chicken, and veggies (brocolli and potatoes), and wheat dinner rolls. With low fat milk of course.

You go about your hectic evening, scrambling to get it all done. By the time the kids are in bed at 8 you sit down for the first time and crash. TV, email, etc. At 9pm the pantry is calling your name. You stare at all the food in your house for 15 mins. before you decide against it. You have been working so hard on eating the right things and you don’t want to blow it. You go to bed hungry. You lay there for 45 mins because your mind is racing. You wonder WHY GOD can’t you sleep even though you were exhausted all day. You get a crappy night sleep. Repeat.

You have gained about 10 pounds over the past 2 years even though you are ‘eating healthy’ and you are getting pissed. You re-commit to doing more exercise because that has to be the problem. You also probably have some kind of chronic issue. Maybe it’s seasonal allergies, IBS, bouts of depression/anxiety, or joint pain. Oh well, you chalk it up to ‘getting old’ and this is what happens to everyone, right?

Wrong! It doesn’t need to be. You can literally choose not to feel this way, and eating the right food is your answer.

I have fallen off the wagon with my eating lately and can definitely tell the difference. I have gained weight and, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I got sick and stayed sick. Normally if I get sick it’s for like a day. I swear I was sick for 2 weeks this time around. I needed a little motivation to get back on track so I started reading “It Starts With Food” (Where I got the idea for this post). They do a great job of explaining all of the things I have been trying to say for the last year. They promote the whole30 movement if you’ve heard of that.

My big ‘aha’ moment came when the book laid it out like this: Everything you eat makes you either more healthy or less healthy. Every day we are deciding the kind of life we want to live by choosing what we put in our bodies.

photo (14)

We need to re-think ‘healthy’. We need to pay attention to the research instead of using out dated food pyramids/guides. We need to stop doing ‘low fat’ and ‘diet’ everything. We need to eat food. If anything that I said above sounds familiar, please consider reading the book. Unless you understand the “WHY” behind the changes, you are likely to fail.

You can’t out train a bad diet in the gym and even though it seems to make sense that less calories= weight loss, it is not that simple. If it were, we wouldn’t struggle so much.

I hope that at least a few of you reading this are inspired to take action and take control of your life. I’m super excited to be back on the wagon! I would be more than happy to answer any questions. I love talking about this stuff!!!!!

shrimp

Okay, I am having a little fun with the title, but recently I made some whiskey shrimp and it turned out delicious.

Like that picture? Did it move a little? Hehehe. For those of you that have liked my Candysbrain blog facebook page, you may have already seen this. For everyone else– bon apetite! (and…. you should like my facebook page).

Again, none of my recipes are ever exact. Play with it. Have fun. Make up your own version.

Whiskey Shrimp:

1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 oz. heavy cream
2 tblspoons butter
chives
salt and pepper
(approx.) 2 shots whiskey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tsp olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Lemon zest (1/2 to 1 lemon)

Start with very hot pan on stove. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, add shrimp to hot pan with a little olive oil. Sear on both sides (1-2 min.)
Drink some whiskey
After the shrimp is slightly browned on both sides, remove and set aside.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes to hot pan (might want to turn down slightly, garlic burns fast) with a little more olive oil.
After approx. 1 min. add the whiskey to ‘de-glaze’ the pan. Remove from flame while pouring whiskey or risk losing your eye brows.
Let the whiskey cook in pan while using wooden spoon to release any brown bits from bottom of pan.
Drink some whiskey.
After 1 min. add the heavy cream, bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
Add lemon zest
Put shrimp and chopped chives back in the pan.
Drink some more whiskey.
Cook for another 5 mins. Garnish with more chives.

Eat and enjoy! Seriously so good.

taco 2taco 1Tonight’s post is just a quickie. I have struggled lately to find time for blogging. It is amazing how busy your life can become in the blink of an eye. Our new way of eating is definitely more time consuming and I am still learning the short cuts. So, this post is just the recipe for tonight’s dinner. Sometimes a quickie is just as good, right?

I call them Paleo(ish) Tacos because I use cheese. I love cheese. I have seen conflicting information on what kind of cheese is okay and what is not. It doesn’t seem to bother my stomach at all so I eat it and enjoy the crap out of it.

I take butter lettuce, top it with my homemade guac, rotissierie chicken, goat cheese, and cilantro. I roll it all up like a taco/burrito and then down the hatch. So easy! So delicious! So healthy!

Here is the homemade quac recipe. I am not much of a measurer, so this is all approx. Adjust as you see fit.

Avocado
Halved baby heirloom tomatoes (whatever tomato you like!)
Red onion
Salt, Pepper, garlic powder
Red pepper flakes
Lemon juice

The big lesson here is every ingredient is a REAL food. Nothing processed (except the spices, but I pick good ones without all the crap in them)

The kids are a little pickier and I am trying not to ruin their childhood so they were served: quesadillas made with corn tortillas, shredded mexican cheese, chicken, and spinach. Cooked on the stove with coconut oil.

My husband was busy ‘working late’ so he just ate his. He came down stairs, not realize I am typing this right now and honestly just said, “Wow, those were crazy good!” Nothing makes me happier than that!

Any paleo or wheat-free recipes you want to share?

This is a very controversial topic. Before you all get mad at me and tell me why your doctor said you should take vitamin ‘X’- relax. I am not trying to contradict medical professionals (who are way smarter than me), I just want to make you think about what you put in your body. So, should we be taking vitamins?

The short answer: Who Knows!?!
The long answer: This is a hot topic as of late and I have done my best to do my own research. What I have found is a lot of contradictory information without a lot of good research. I will try to explain and summarize what I have learned below, but the goal of this post is only to make you think. Please discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor before making any changes.
‘Business’ and Vitamins: According to Consumer Reports, Vitamin and Supplement sales is a $4 Billion a year industry. In 2008 and 2009 when most industries were struggling, the vitamin business was booming and it still is today. Vitamin D sales alone have doubled in recent years. Many people have started taking vitamins as a preventative measure because of uncertainties with health care and rising health care expenses. Half of adult Americans are taking a multivitamin or other supplement for their health.
‘Regulation’ and Vitamins: The FDA has a bit of a strange deal with these vitamins and supplements. They regulate them like they do with food, not like they do with drugs and/or medications. This means that they don’t evaluate the safety of these products before they hit the shelves. They DO however have the over-sight to pull a dangerous product off the shelves if something is deemed unsafe. The FDA does have rules and restrictions that these companies have to follow. For example, the claims that vitamins make on their labels have to come with the disclaimer that the statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. As long as that is clear, they can say that their ‘vitamin B pill will improve energy’ even though they have not proven that statement. Also, all ingredients must be listed on the label with approximate amounts. The exception here is that some supplements are by prescription only. These prescription supplements are regulated more closely than the over-the-counter options and are therefore believed to be a safer choice.
‘Research’ and Vitamins: This is probably the most frustrating part about vitamins and supplements. The research is constantly contradicting itself. For example, one study showed that taking a Vitamin E supplement decreased the risk of prostate cancer, but it increased the risk of death from hemorrhagic stroke. Another example is that some doctors were recommending beta-carotene for cancer prevention. After doing an experiment with male, smokers in Finland, they realized that the men taking beta-carotene experienced a 7% higher overall death rate than the placebo group. This has happened over and over-where a vitamin might decrease your risk of heart disease but increases your risk of cancer.
On the other hand, studies have shown that people who take a multivitamin are generally healthier than people who do not. But, what does this really tell us? Are the people healthier because of the vitamins, or are they healthier because they are the type of people who care enough about their health to take a vitamin. In other words, do they just take better care of themselves? This was the only study I could find that found a clear benefit from taking a multivitamin. Most of them are inconclusive. It’s hard to know if vitamins are helping because people’s individual diets vary so much you can’t really study the outcomes. There is just not enough control.
‘Quantity’ and Vitamins: I was looking at a friends vitamins not too long ago and noticed that he was taking a multi-vitamin and a vitamin B supplement. When I asked him why he was taking the ‘B’ he said “because the label said ‘improves metabolism'”. At closer inspection, the multi provided 150% of the recommended daily value of ‘B’ and the ‘B’ supplement was providing 5,000% percent of his recommend daily value! No, that is not a typo. He was taking 5,150% of what they recommend per day. What does this mean to our bodies? Maybe our bodies are only absorbing a small percentage of what’s in these pills and therefore taking more is necessary. Or maybe we are just flushing out the extra and creating very expensive pee. How do we know? If you are already eating a pretty healthy diet with fruits, veggies, fish, lean proteins, etc. do you really need to take an additional 100% or more of every vitamin?
‘The Exception’ and Vitamins: One area where the experts do tend to agree is with special populations. Doctors recommend that all women who are pregnant take a pre-natal vitamin that contains folic acid for the growing baby’s development. Patients who have a legitimate deficiency should take a vitamin to try to correct this imbalance. People who live in third world countries and do not get the nutrients that Americans have every day would definitely benefit from supplementation. When I was pregnant I took a pre-natal vitamin everyday faithfully. The risk of not taking one was leaps and bounds higher than the risk of taking one.
‘Media’ and Vitamins: We have to stop trusting every headline on the news or in the newspaper! Day to day you could see ‘breaking news’ regarding the benefits or dangers of vitamins. The media takes bits and pieces of studies and finds a catchy headline, “Vitamin E cures cancer!” Or, I can hear the newscaster in my head, “Is that multivitamin poisoning your child? More, at 10pm.” Take everything you hear with a grain of salt and don’t make drastic adjustments based on what you read in USA Today.
The ‘Summary’ of Vitamins: So, now that I have officially confused you… Like I said before, this is just to make you think a little bit about what you are putting in your body-I’m not against multivitamins. We need to be educated consumers. We need to do some research on our own, and we need to talk to our doctors about the benefits and the risks of everything we take. In all of the research I did there was one common trend- vitamins can NOT replace food. We would all be better off getting 100% of our nutrients from whole foods. You know- the produce section in the grocery store. It’s better to get Vitamin C from an orange or a bell pepper than from a pill. It’s better to get your Omega fatty acids from fatty fish than from a fish oil pill. Michael Pollan (my favorite food author of all time) recommends in his book Food Rules two very common sense ideas. The first is to “be the kind of person that takes a vitamin, without actually taking a vitamin.” And, the second is to “eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”
Humans are very complicated systems. We each have our own unique health risks and histories. What is right for you might not be right for your husband or daughter. We are not a one-size-fits-all society and we need to consider that when deciding what to do with our bodies

My schedule is crazy! I mean REALLY crazy. I will try anything I can to save myself time during the work week. One thing I have started doing is preparing a couple of meals ahead of time on Sunday to save me during the week. Now, I know I am not the first person to have this idea, but I thought I would share what I prepared today and try to inspire some of you for next weekend.

First things first: Let the grocery store help you! Almost all grocery stores now have a delicious rotisserie chicken that you can buy cooked any day/time. These things are amazing and should be every working mom’s secret weapon. Today I bought two! (Sometimes you can even find the day old one that they shredded up, refrigerated and sell for a little less) When you get home from the grocery store, let the bird(s) cool on the counter while you put everything away. 20 mins. and they should be cool enough to handle. Now you just break those suckers down. I usually remove the skin to make the chicken a little healthier. Break the chicken up into little shreds and set aside. This will now be your base for the 3 recipes I have below.

Here’s the thing though: I never use recipes so these are more of ideas than instructions. I like to ‘eye-ball’ and ‘guess’ and throw in a ‘pinch’. All three of these ‘recipes’ are different every time I make them, but you’ll get the point.

Chicken broccoli Casserole: This one is so easy. Take a couple handfuls of the shredded chicken and throw it in a casserole dish with some cream of chicken soup (usually a can of soup and a can of milk-follow measurements on can), chopped broccoli (I buy frozen and microwave it about 2/3 thru), any cheese you like (I usually use some kind of combo like cheddar jack or mozzarella provolone), and egg noodles (cooked very al-dente b/c they will finish in the oven). Season with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (I usually skip salt with this one because the soup usually has a lot of sodium). Mix all ingredients in the casserole dish (you could also add sour cream or mayo if you want to add a little more tang). Top with more cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 mins. Top with flat leaf parsley. Eat on Sunday night and re-heat for Monday dinner.

Mexican Chicken Soup: This name could be very mis-leading as I have no idea what would be in a mexican soup. That is just what I call it for lack of a more appropriate name. I buy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. The kind I buy is in the organic section of the grocery store and I buy the low sodium kind. Combine the soup, shredded chicken, a can or bag of frozen corn, a can of black beans (rinsed), and a can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat. Bring to boil and then let simmer for about 30 mins. to let the flavors mix. Let it cool and refrigerate. This can be dinner on two of the week nights or a couple of lunches during the week. When you go to actually eat it you can add a dollop of sour cream and/or serve with tortilla chips.

Chicken Salad: This is my new favorite lunch!!! I have made this 3 weeks in a row now. Combine the chicken with red grapes-halved, toasted pine nuts or toasted sliced almonds (careful they burn really fast! 4-5 mins on a cookie sheet in the oven), finely diced red onion, light mayo, lemon juice (prob. not even half a lemon), and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve this over mixed greens, eat with crackers, make a sandwich, but I promise it is good enough to eat out of the bowl with a fork and nothing else. You could have this for at least 3 lunches.

So, with 1 hour of cooking on a Sunday you could make 4 dinners and 3 lunches! Obviously there are a thousand other possibilities with the shredded chicken. You could do fajitas or chicken noodle soup or wraps or just throw the shredded chicken on top of a salad. I promise these are all easy and delicious. A little bit of planning up front and you can spend a littlemore quality time with your kids or husband during the hectic work week. Hope this helps.