Sunday, November 24, 2013

Healthy Travels

Today I have my first guest poster! Cole from is sharing his tips for healthier traveling.
Being an avid traveler myself, I am excited to share his tips. When I was younger, it was a tradition of mine to get a Cinnabon Pecan Bun every time I went on vacation. It was a special treat and part of the whole exotic experience. But then I learned more about what is actually in those buns and started traveling a lot more and decided a Cinnabon a month was really too much. So I stopped my tradition of indulging in highly-processed sugary bun and have applied some healthier habits including some of the tips mentioned below by Cole...
Airports are a prime location for the luring attacks of sugary drinks, snacks and fast food.  Most people, who are often in a rush, forget to either eat prior to their airport arrival or to grab healthier snack to hold them over.  Consequently, this makes them prime targets for those energy sucking foods that never fail to add those unwanted pounds.  

Staying hydrated also important to avoiding unnecessary snacking.  Although airport security will not allow water bottles through the security gate, they will allow an empty bottle through which can be filled once inside the gate.  Most places in the airport do sell water but the bottles are often small and usually overpriced.  Either way, your stomach, and bladder, will thank you for choosing water rather than caffeinated drinks which tend to run right through you with, sometimes, with some very uncomfortable side effects.
Now realistically, life doesn’t always allow the time for us to eat prior to airport arrival.  That most often being the case, a great first step for any airport travel is to take a quick peek at your airports website.  Find out what kind of restaurants and snack bars are going to be available.  A quick peek will allow you to know, in advance, exactly where to go for a nutritious meal that will satisfy your taste buds.  Also learn about the restaurants and hotels in the nearby area. You never know when you are going to be stuck over night on a layover. I had a flight cancelled recently while I was in Boston after a Red Sox game and thought I was in a trouble. I did a quick search and found a great list of hotels and restaurants in Boston that could cater to the health conscious. Researching everything is extremely important.  By doing this, you'll be better able to gauge the availability of health-conscious menu items. Steer clear of places serving junk foods, barbecue, fried foods and other health nightmares. You're much better off with places that serve Mediterranean fare, salads, soups and lean meats.
Yes, it is true that airports are ideal locations to catch up on reading or to jump on a laptop to get a few more minutes of work done.  It is a proven fact, however, that exercise will boost not only your emotions but also your work ethic.  Taking a quick stroll around the airport, perhaps even browsing through a few of the airport shops, will keep both your mind and body in motion.  Carrying your bags instead of rolling them beside you adds resistance, and taking the stairs instead of the escalator will get your blood flowing.  Increased blood flow not only makes your heart happy but also you will notice yourself relax and smile with each new step. 
All in all, the bottom line is to know what to avoid and what to enjoy.  Fried foods, those delicious smelling cinnamon rolls, or too much caffeine can leave you lacking in energy, cringing from heartburn, or constantly rushing to the bathroom.  Healthier choices like fruit, crackers, perhaps a sandwich or wrap, and plenty of water will keep up your nutrition and your health.  Movement, like a quick stroll or even skipping steps up the stairwell, will keep your energy up and your mind clear for the journey that lies ahead of you.
In addition to Cole's great tips, here are a few of my own. As a general rule, I only order water when I fly. When I made that switch I felt like I was missing out a little bit - I mean it's free, it's kind of a treat to get some soda or juice, but anything else will just make my already prone to swelling feet worse. Plus, the taste really isn't worth all the processed sugar in my system, so now I don't even miss it. 
I usually don't eat the pretzels because of the highly-processed white flour and I don't even like pretzels. Don't make the mistake of eating the snacks because their free - be picky and make smart choices! I also try and stay away from meals with meat when ordering anything at the airport. Actually, I stay away from most meats outside of what I cook at home (unless I know it's organic/grass-fed/local) because I don't know where it came from and how processed it is. You will always find some meat-less option. 
I usually pack a bag of nuts, a health bar or two, some fruit, and maybe a sandwich if it's a longer flight. I feel much better when I eat healthier while I am traveling and it is worth the extra prep beforehand. 
Healthy travels to all!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Doing Time in the Kitchen

I spent about 5 hours in the kitchen yesterday after Katie got sick over the weekend. I was out of town for a week and then didn't get around to (or maybe just didn't want to) go shopping the next so we were eating a lot of snacks around the house. It wasn't junk food, just nothing super nutritious. We didn't have much to eat besides a gallon of raw milk, some bread slices, eggs, condiments and 17 jars of homemade pickles.  I was left eating ProBars and almonds for a lot of the time.

And then Katie got sick over the weekend. She was cutting a tooth, so she already had a high fever, then got a bronchial virus so she was feeling pretty crummy for a few days. I realized then that chips and turkey slices were not helping her health and something needed to change!

That was all the motivation I needed!

So I spent about 1 hour on Sunday making my week's plan and then 3 hours in the morning and another 2 in the afternoon on Monday.

I usually don't do all my cooking on one day, but I really don't like dishes, so I thought if I had everything out I might as well make a bunch of stuff!

After I was done I took it all back out to look at my results and took a picture!

Here's what I made:

(Front row left to right...)
Green Smoothie and Yogurt/Berry smoothies are in the Little Green Pouches and popsicle molds. I put them in the freezer and plan to thaw them before feeding them to Katie.

I made a batch of Apple Spice Muffins and froze most of them for future meals. Next time I would double the batch. They are really tasty!! It will be easy to thaw a few to go with a soup or have as a snack.

My go-to cookie snack - Banana cookies (on the pdf). I used raisins and almonds in place of chocolate chips.

2 batches of whole wheat pizza dough. I used a recipe from the Diet Rebel's Cookbook. I also have frozen mozzarella from Costco (they have the best value), so it will be easy to thaw those and make a yummy pizza!

Behind the pizza is a crust for this Chicken Pot Pie. I tripled the recipe for this because it is so good, but takes a long time to make the whole thing. I wanted to make the filling as well, but didn't get around to it. But having the crust done cuts out time and dishes!

The final item on the front row is popcorn - a favorite snack of Katie's! I made about 5 more cups and plan to make this caramel corn for Real Food Market's Halloween party.

(Back row left to right...)

In the first stack of tupperware, I have soaked oatmeal, tuna (ready for quick sandwiches), a spinach salad for tomorrow's lunch, and cooked and shredded chicken for the pot pie.

Moving on, I have sliced carrots and celery ready for fresh eating or adding to the pot pie filling, and a few hard boiled eggs for snacks.

Next stack I've got egg salad for sandwiches, and cooked quinoa with peppers and cilantro. In front of those Tupperware there is a little bag of cilantro that I bought fresh then dried in my dehydrator because organic cilantro gets really pricey and is hard to find in the coming Winter months. I know I'll be glad to have some on hand!

In the final stack, I have ravioli (I didn't homemake this. I bought it frozen at Sprouts, but I did prepare it that day!), chopped peppers for adding to salads and a seeded pomegranate for fresh eating or adding to salads.

Wow. I'm getting tired just reading this! But guess what?! Breakfast took 2 minutes to throw together today. I had oatmeal with Udi's granola and raw milk. Lunch was spinach salad, egg salad sandwiches, and banana cookies and it was packed and ready to go! I didn't make dinner tonight because I do a trade with my sister-in-law and tonight was her night. But preparing tomorrow's pot pie should be quick and easy and I don't have to pull out my mixer and flour! Yay!

And best of all, we will be eating a warm, nutritious meal!

If I am determined to stay healthy this season I gotta do what I can!!

I hope this inspires you to make some healthy changes too!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scoring Points with Fruits and Veggies!

My sister recently shared this game she invented to help motivate her 2 little boys to eat more fruits and veggies and create a healthier diet. 


Think of your child's favorite animal, sport, action figure, princess etc, print it out and have you child color it.  If you access to a laminator laminate it.
Then google "fruit and veggie coloring pages" (or images, etc) and find a free printable worksheet that has a variety of small fruit and veggies, preferably the ones you know children will be most likely to eat.  Print them out in color, or in black and white and have your child help color them, laminate, cut, and put in a fruit basket or bowl.
Hang their character in an accessible place (i.e. fridge) and have the fruit basket close by so the kids can grab it themselves.
Choose a fun (highly motivating!!!) family outing or activity that you'll do together once they score their goal number of points.  
 Each time they eat a fruit or veggie tape the corresponding picture on their chart and start adding up the points! Each fruit or veggie picture represents one point.

In our house we use the following point system:
4 baby carrots=1 pt
6 grapes=1 point
1/2 canned green bean or canned corn=1 pt
4 large apple slices=1 pt
1/2 an orange=1pt
3 broccoli heads=1pt
10 blueberries=1 pt
3 strawberries=1 pt

We just started this and my 5 year old is highly motivated to earn his points so he can enjoy his activity! So it's really been fun to focus on eating more fruit and veggies while earning the chance to do an extra fun family outing.  We started this last Friday and the goal was to earn 10 points by Monday--thats 4 days to earn 10 points, so just over 2 points a day, good for starters.  Our family outing was bowling.  We went and had a blast!  Our next goal is to earn 10 more points by Saturday so we can go swimming.

Have fun with it tweak and adjust accordingly.

Here are a few more ideas to make eating fruit and veggies fun!

Cut orange slices into smiles an call them crocodile smiles, tell them they have to stretch and pull each end of the smile to make the teeth pop out...boys love this one!
Call broccoli "trees" instead of broccoli
Cut carrots into circles and call them carrot wheels
Cut apple slices into smaller bite-sized pieces and call them shark teeth (can you tell I'm a mom of all boys!!)

I've also had great success getting the boys to eat their food at dinner by including them in the process of chooses and making it.  This doesn't mean you are a short-order-cook and only make what they want, but rather you tell them--I did this will Seth last week and it worked great--"We are having taco soup for dinner on Friday, it's your turn to choose what bean combination we'll add, so it's your job to pick out the ingredients."  I then told him we need at least two kinds of beans and then he could choose whether we have diced tomatoes or just tomato sauce.  I asked if he wanted meat or no meat.  This process was partly to educate myself and learn what he did and didn't like about my soup.  Seth choose kidney beans, and black beans, and yes on meat and no on diced tomatoes, and yes on tomato sauce. He choose a healthy version of tortilla chips (well as healthy as chips can be!) and guess what?!  Seth ate an entire bowl without complaint.  Now I know how I need to adjust my recipe to make it something the whole family will enjoy without complaint-- which is always a major bonus at dinner time.

I've also noticed the power of not only offering choices, but also allowing them to serve themselves the fruit or vegetable side that's being served at dinner.  I guess it helps them be more accountable to eat the food they put on their plate.

And of course it's always fun (albeit messy!) to invite them in the kitchen and have them help mix the waffle batter, or stir the eggs, or choose the seasoning they want on their fish, or help wash veggies etc.

What have you done to help your kids eat healthier?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Healthy Kitchen Club: Getting More Greens in the Winter

Here are the notes from my January Healthy Kitchen Club Meeting that was all about how to get more greens in your diet during the Winter months. Enjoy!

We all know vegetables are good for us, right? Well, green vegetables are especially great for your body’s health. Here’s just a short list of the many things greens can do for your body:

  • Improve digestion (lots of great fiber in greens)
  • Decrease sugar cravings and in turn help you loose weight (high alkaline (pH) level which balances blood sugar)
  • Increase your energy (loaded with vitamins and minerals)
  • Help you stay healthy all year long
  • Clear up your skin, strengthen your nails and hair too!

Tips for making a yummy Green Smoothie:

  • Use juice as a base. Although it will add more calories and sugar than water, it will make a tastier smoothie! I like orange juice or apple juice the best.
  • Spinach is an easy green staple as you can find it year around. Costco sells big bins of organic spinach for the best price.
  • Some of my other favorite greens are Kale - which is really super green; and Bok Choy which has a more subtle flavor than other greens. 
  • For a more extensive list of green smoothie ideas go here:

Easy Green Smoothie Recipe
1 cup juice of choice 
2-3 large handfuls greens
1/2 - 1 cup frozen berries or any fruit
Water or more juice to desired consistency

optional supplements to add in: 
lemon w/ peel, flaxseed oil, chia seed, bee pollen, coconut water, ginger

Tips to make a Tasty Salad:

  • Identify what you love in a salad. If you were at a salad bar what would you choose as toppings? Do you like crunchy, nutty, sweet, salty, etc. I love a crunchy salad - so I make sure to always have nuts or seeds in all my salads, along with lots of “fixins!”
  • Pre-washed greens make it fast and easy. If you buy a head of lettuce, wash and prepare right when you get home from the store so it’s all ready to go! 
  • Pre-cut veggies and on-hand “fixins” make for quick salad assembling.
  • Get a good dressing - in fact get a lot of yummy dressings. Or make your own. Make them light and lower in calories with good oils and vinegars. I find my favorite salad dressings at the local health food store and just buy whatever is on sale to try new flavors.
  • Have the right tools to make it simple. A Chop Wizard makes cutting up veggies a snap! A large tupperware makes mixing the salad and dressing nice and quick, and stores leftovers easy!
More ways to get your greens...

Powdered Greens are another great option to increase your consumption of greens. You can add a little bit to a smoothie or, if you’re feeling adventurous, to plain water! I like Ormus Greens by Sun Warrior.

Sprouting seeds is a great way to get fresh greens during the winter. My favorites are raw sunflower seeds and Mung beans. Watch this video to learn more about sprouting seeds:

Think outside the box - start adding greens here and there to increase the amount of veggies you get throughout the day. Ideas: add spinach to eggs in the morning, avocado and mixed greens to a meat, cheese, tuna (or just veggie) sandwich, on top of a baked potato or pizza, or as a taco filling, etc.

Try making these delicious Kale Chips for a green-filled snack...

  • 1/2 - 1 bunch Kale
  • 1/4 cup Raw Almonds or Cashews 
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  1. Brush kale with olive oil
  2. Blend nuts and yeast and sprinkle on kale
  3. Dehydrate @ 110 degrees from 8-10 hours

*Choose organic greens since conventionally grown produce contains the highest amount of pesticides. But conventional greens are better than no greens, so do what you can.

I really enjoy checking this website weekly for a list of veggies that are in season during the winter months and then I create meals that use those. They are the freshest and the cheapest when you buy them in season.

What ideas do you have for getting more greens in your winter diet? Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! ~The Browns

As this year has come to an end I want to wish you a (late) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

I have so much for which to be grateful! I am filled with more love each day for my sweet baby Katie! And the love and happiness in my marriage continues to grow each day. I have a wonderful family, a beautiful home, a great job. I am always taken care of and provided for. I feel loved and blessed more each day.

I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel the hand of God in my life each day. I love Him and I know He lives and loves me. I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that through Him I can become who I am meant to be and live life to the fullest.

I hope you feel love, happiness, and the blessing of health this coming year! May God bless you.

With Love,