Get Real!

Finding ways to enjoy the hell out of life, while on our journey towards a healthy, authentic and passion-filled life.


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Get Real about Meal Prepping (for a healthy lifestyle).

I love to cook, especially when I have plenty of extra time and energy. But, to be realistic, this is not much of the time. I really have to plan ahead to succeed in eating healthily, or it becomes too easy to grab something quick, ‘cheap’ and horrible for my digestion system. Especially when there are often goodies at my workplace, and when my boyfriend can eat a tub of sugar right in front of me each day and not gain a pound (not that he does this often!).

Many people seem to plan their meal prepping on one of their days off. But let’s get real, that’s what I want to do on one of my very few days off per week? No! So I do mine after work, usually on Monday or Tuesday.

Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like, planning ahead for the week (either very detailed with a menu for each day, or looser with a few options that you can choose from as you go), and pre-cooking or preparing as much of the food as possible. The items that you can pre-cook anyway.

Here is what a typical pre-meal prep grocery trip might look like (and this is for 2, as far as dinners are concerned anyway):

      • Whole Grain bread (ideally sprouted grain)
      • Whole grain tortillas (large and sliders)
      • Goat Cheese (easier on digestive system for most of us, and less fat/calories per ounce as well)
      • Organic Eggs
      • A few Avocados and tomatoes (especially heirloom, yum!)
      • Random Veggies: Generally Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic
      • Salsa Ingredients: Jalapeno, Onion, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Garlic (or buy freshly prepared salsa to save time and possibly money, remember no weird chemicals or salt/sugar should listed in ingredients!)
      • Jam Ingredients: Any type of fruit you would like and chia seeds as listed below, especially stone fruits and berries (or buy no sugar added jam, with as few ingredients listed as possible)
      • Random Fruits (for grab and go snacks): Bananas, Grapes, Berries, etc.
      • Meat (I am going meatless right now! But the boyfriend still ‘needs’ it): chicken, or ground turkey, etc.
      • (I, personally, also make sure to keep apples, lemons, ginger, cucumber and greens — spinach, kale or chard — on hand because I juice these every morning.)

The following I buy as needed (mostly from the bulk bin area), so a big bag will often last a month or more:

        • Natural Peanut Butter (almond, peanut or cashew, and the nut should be the only ingredient listed or possibly sea salt)
        • Dry Black Beans (can buy canned, but check ingredient list and it should only be black beans and sea salt)
        • Brown Rice (or wild rice or quinoa)
        • Chia Seeds
        • Nuts and Seeds (no added salts or sugars!)
        • Something else you will need: Tupperware or Glass containers of various sizes!

On meal prep day, I would do the following

        • The night before: Soak the black beans in a bowl of water (like 2 cups beans and 6 cups of water)
        • In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cups of brown rice and 5 cups of water to a boil (or check the cooking instructions for whatever type of rice you have gotten), cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • In a large pot, pour black beans, extra water, and spices (cumin, sea salt, chili powder) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low (uncovered) and simmer for a couple hours. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • Salsa: Chop up all ingredients, place into food processor, blend and store in a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • Clean the food processor, and chop up the fruits (about 2 cups) for the jam, place into food processor, blend. Add 2 Tablespoons of chia seed and stir together very well. Pour mixture into a jar, and place in fridge (it will thicken up within a few hours).
        • Pan Fry Ground chicken/Turkey with spices and coconut oil, or boil 2-3 chicken breasts for 20 minutes. Take out the chicken and either shred with forks or in a ktichen-aid. Add spices as well and mix up again. Let cool, and store in tupperware in the fridge.
        • Pan Fry Veggies in coconut oil and spices (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.). Let cool and store in tupperware in the fridge.

When all is said and done you should have the following in your fridge/pantry:

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  •  Tortillas and Bread
        • Jam and Peanut Butter
        • Eggs
        • Whole Grain Rice and Black Beans
        • Salsa
        • Shredded Chicken (or Ground Turkey)
        • Cheese
        • Avocados and Tomatoes
        • Veggie Mix
        • Fruits/Nuts to grab for snacks throughout the day

 

 

Now, there are several options for what to actually ‘cook’ and most of the hard work/time has already been put in, here are some ideas:

        • Quesadilla w/goat cheese and veggies (can make a quick guacamole on the side by mashing half an avocado and a spoonful or two of salsa)
        • Peanut butter and jam sandwich
        • Slice of toast with jam
        • Rice bowl: rice, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
        • Egg bowl: scrambled eggs, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
        • Slice of toast with a slice of tomato and a fried egg, topped with avocado slices and a splash of salsa or hot sauce
        • Mini tacos (use the slider tortillas): black beans, goat cheese, salsa and some more of that quick guacamole (can add meat)
        • Slice of toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas
        • Sandwich with goat cheese, avocado and tomato

Remember we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow. 


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Get Real about Food Labels and Ingredient Lists

So you have made some decisions about what you would like to put in your body? Organic. Whole grains. No added sugar. These are just some examples, as I realize all of our goals can be very different.

One obstacle that can sometimes get in the way of eating how we want to eat, that we may not always be thinking about, is food labels, packaging, and ingredients. Some products make claims on their labels that exaggerate positive nutritional aspects or minimize negative nutritional aspects (or both at the same time). Some products change their packaging/labeling to promote a certain aspect of the product, even though it is exactly the same as it’s formerly-packaged cousin. Some products use organic or whole grain ingredients, but also use highly refined ingredients as well. They claim ‘with organic _____’ or ‘contains whole grains.’ This does not mean the products are 100% organic or whole grain, and in fact there may be very little in the product that actually is.

Here are some helpful tips to help keep things real!

  • The ingredients are listed on the label in order, as far as how much of the ingredient is in the product from most to least. A trick that can catch you off guard is if they classify different types of an ingredient. For example, they may list out cane sugar, beet sugar, and HFCS. Well, separated out, these may be in the product in small enough amounts that they got moved down the ingredient list, but added together it could still make up a large portion of the ingredients in the product.
  • Another thing to pay attention to on the ingredients list is: all the ingredients! I don’t even bother reading an ingredient list if I glance at it and can easily see dozens of ingredients listed. There are lots of things that can be hidden behind this ingredients list. Types of sugars/sweeteners that you may not know the name of, other chemicals used to preserve food or change its taste or color. ‘Natural flavor’ can be derived from anything in nature (whether plant or animal based). For example, Foodbabe, shined the light on raspberry and vanilla flavoring often coming from secretions from a beavers anal glands.
  • Whole grains. Unless a product says 100% whole grain (or 100% whole wheat, 100% whole oat, etc.), then it is likely not 100% whole grain. It may only be 2% whole grain, but they are able to label it this way. So, ‘with whole grains,’ ‘with 9g of whole grains,’ ‘includes whole grains,’ etc. does not mean 100%. If you are unsure, check the ingredient list, any grain listed (whether corn, oat, buckwheat, spelt, wheat flour, etc.) should have the word whole in front of it. And again these are listed in order, so if the ingredients say wheat flour, corn flour, whole wheat flour, then the whole grains are not the majority of the grains in the product.
  • Organics. Even within organic products (that promise to be pesticide and unnecessary chemical free) you want to check the ingredient lists as sugars, salts and natural flavors can still exist. But, at least, if a product is labeled ‘certified organic’ then all ingredients included are indeed organic. However if the label states, ‘with organic _____’, then only the ingredient specified is organic and other ingredients within the product are not. There is much more to the topic of organic foods, including ways that non organic practices or ingredients can sneak into our ‘certified organic’ foods, as well as how there may be small or local companies that practice organic food making, but are not certified and thus not labeled as such. However, I will leave this for a different, more detailed, blog about organics later.
  • Check the nutrition labels on everything. You never can be too sure, no matter what the label boasts. HFCS is hiding out just about everywhere (drinks, sauces, dressings, you name it). Sugar and salt are often included in seasoning packets or mixes. I accidently used a ‘lemon pepper’ seasoning mix one time, and upon tasting it (as it tasted of pure salt) I looked and saw that the first two ingredients listed were salt and sugar (and then somewhere down the list was a hint of lemon and pepper).


This is really when it’s relevant to remind you: Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow.


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What real weight loss looks like.

 Real Weight Loss: What it looks like!

Weight Loss and Gain

I’m both slightly embarrassed, and strangely proud and empowered to post this today. All of our journeys  with weight, food, health and activity are very different. Some of us (of all sizes) have really had to struggle. Others (of all sizes) may have never even thought twice about what they eat or what they weigh. I am definitely in the part of the population that HAS struggled. Whether genetics, environment (what I ate and did while growing up), or my specific life situations are to ‘blame’……. I have struggled big time!

At 12, in 6th grade when they weigh us all in the gym (part of the Presidents Fitness Test or something?), I was already 137 pounds and embarrassed that some of my peers may have heard this number! But by the time I started high school, with an eating disorder in full swing, I was only 108 pounds. I still thought I was fat. My mom would walk in on me in the middle of the night (2 AM) and I’d be working out. She had to take my door off the hinges when she cleaned my room for me one day only to find diet coke cans filled with puik that I hadn’t emptied into the toilet yet (GROSS, I know!).

By the time I graduated from the Junior College years later I was an uncomfortable 210 pounds or so. When the four rings that I wore daily, including my high school class ring and the first ring a boy ever gave me, were too tight on my fingers, I felt ashamed. Fingers can get fat too? My goodness! I joined weightwatchers and lost 45 pounds.

Around the ages of 20-21, I started drinking alcohol and eating more. It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to eat 3 fast food meals per day, a fourth if I was wasted and needed Jack in the Box at 2 AM even though I already ate dinner. It really should have been no surprise when, only a few years later, I was at my highest weight ever: 260 pounds! I found out that a boy I had ‘dated’ had told my friends that ‘at least he got to date me while I was still cute.’ And then I was at the movies with a few friends when we got popcorn thrown at us by some boys (jr. high aged or younger), as they made ‘quiet’ remarks about how fat we all were. It brings tears to my eyes even now that people can be so cruel. My struggle has been difficult, even without the remarks and silent thoughts of others.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a ‘non cancerous’ but aggressive tumor. For a week, I thought (based on what doctors had told me) that I had a high grade cancer, and I cried myself to sleep every night. I also vowed to myself that I would start taking better care of me. I slowly (VERY slowly, over a couple years) changed from a diet which consisted of ONLY processed foods and drinks (fast food, microwavable foods, diet coke, no water, no fruits/veggies), to a diet with no soda whatsoever, lots of fruits and veggies, and processed foods only 10% of the time or so. I lost 70 pounds! I thought I was on top of it. This was it! I felt amazing!

Well, throw in a major surgery (where even a year later, I wouldn’t say I’m completely recovered, and the tumor they took out is back and painful again as well), a new boyfriend (a live-in boyfriend, the first serious one in at least 5 years), and I am actually proud to say I only gained 27 pounds over the last year and a half or so. I can post this today because I have re-lost 10 of these pounds and am finally in the swing of things again. But the problem is we don’t think about the struggle when we are doing well, losing weight, feeling good. But we need to, because at whatever size we are at, for some of us the struggle will remain forever and always.

To any girl or woman out there struggling, I am here with you in spirit. I am here when you cry during clothing shopping trips because it just isn’t fun anymore (or maybe it never was). I am here when you silently carry around the shame and embarrassment that other people PUT on you for not fitting their ideal expectation of beauty. I am here for you when you are struggling with decisions regarding what you are feeding your body, even when you make the wrong choices. But I am also here when you decide (with no commitments, deadlines, or expectations) that you value your health enough to make some changes. To realize when you’ve gone off track and get yourself back on. And, I’m here when you have climbed the mountain in front of you (maybe literally!). And you have done this for no one else, only for you! For your health, well being, and future.

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Today, more than ever, remember that we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, and if you do that you will continue to grow. 


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Real Clean: Make Ahead Mini Omelettes

Another recipe that’s not really a recipe. All you need is a muffin tin (or two), eggs, and whatever meats or veggies you would like in your omelettes. 

Set the oven to pre-heat to 350. Then, just chop up your veggies and meats and saute them with a bit of olive oil. Just recently, I used red bell pepper, white onion, white mushrooms and a touch of cilantro in mine. Feel free to use whatever your heart desires! Spray the muffin tins with olive oil, or rub coconut oil on the inside of each mold (VERY important!). Drop a spoonful of your fillings into each muffin mold. Now either crack an egg into each mold and leave it to bake with the yolk still intact, or scramble them all together and pour each mold about 3/4 full with the egg scramble. Bake for 18-20 minutes. 

Top with cheese, salsa, avocado, or anything else you wish! Keep these stored in an airtight container in the fridge for an easy reheatable meal option!

And remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow. 


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Real Clean: Strawberry Apricot Chia Jam

This is one of those recipes that is not a recipe at all! It’s really just what it sounds like, and tastes amazing atop toast!

Choose any fruit you would like! Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Apples, Bananas, anything! Or a combination of these! Chop up about 3 cups, and process in your food processor (or a good blender). Leave it a little chunky, or process until smooth.. whichever you prefer. Mix in 2 tablespoons chia seed (mix well), and pour into an airtight container or jar and refrigerate.

The next day, or even just a couple hours later, it should be nice and thick. You can always add more chia seeds at this point if it is not thick enough. You will notice that it is not as sweet as traditional jellies and jams, BUT it tastes just as amazing and really couldn’t get any more natural. I find the ‘less sweet’ taste to be better myself, and I wouldn’t call it less sweet… I would call it more real.

Happy eating!

And remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, if you do that you will continue to grow. 


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Real Clean: Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers

As you may have noticed, I love making different dishes and then ‘enchilda-izing’ them! This one is no exception. I just love all these flavors! Now to make things easier (well for every night, not just for enchilda-ized dishes), I cook and pre-shred 3-4 chicken breasts, 5+ cups of brown rice and a couple cups of black beans in the beginning of the week and store them all in airtight containers in the fridge. It makes meals like this (and so many others) easier, quicker and far less messy.

Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 2 comfortably (each to have two halves of bell pepper over stuffed), or can serve 4 with a side dish (like salad, or brown rice with chopped up cilantro and lime juice mixed in)

Ingredients:

Bell Peppers

  • 2 Bell Peppers
  • Olive Oil

Stuffing

  • 2 Medium Tomatoes (juicy tomatoes, not roma)
  • 1/2 an onion (yellow, white or sweet)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalepeno
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • Your favorite spanish style Spices, I use 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 Tbs Chilis in Adobo Paste (optional, but I always keep this on hand for all my enchilada dishes)
  • 1 shredded chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup cooked black beans (if canned, rinse them)
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • small amount of cheese to top it off (optional, I used about 2 tsp worth of goat cheese on each half)

Directions:

First things first, if you don’t have your rice pre-cooked and your chicken pre-cooked and shredded then this must be done first. Cook the rice according to package directions, and as for the chicken boil the breast for at least 15 minutes and then shred with two forks (if it doesn’t look 100% done after that don’t worry, because these will be baked in the bell pepper later as well).

For any stuffed Bell Pepper, start out pre-heating the oven to 350. Cut the bell peppers in half vertically and scoop out any seeds or ‘guts.’ In a square casserole dish (sprayed or rubbed down with a little extra virgin olive oil), place all bell pepper halves in and spray the inside of each bell pepper with olive oil as well. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

While the Bell Peppers are pre-baking, prepare the enchilada stuffing. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and toss all of it into a pan on medium-high (all juice included), next chop and add the jalepeno, onions, garlic and cilantro. Add in the seasonings. Mix all together and let cook for at least 5 minutes until it all thickens up a bit. Next add the chilis in adobo paste and re-stir. Followed by the black beans, shredded chicken, and brown rice. Stir all together well and continue cooking a few minutes longer.

When the Bell Peppers are done pre-cooking, take them out of the oven and scoop stuffing into the halves with a spoon, overstuff them! Use as much stuffing as possible! Re-cover with foil and bake for 25 more minutes.

If desired, take them out after this, top with a little cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

Remember we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, and if you do that you will continue to grow!