Goodies aren’t so good. Self control, have you heard of it?

Here, in the US, we are surrounded by junk food all the time. For office parties, cookies, candy, cakes, muffins, donuts, chips, all of those things are presented…and how do we say no? Well, we usually don’t. We usually make up an excuse to yourselves, something like, “well it IS a special occasion…”, or “I’ll only have a little piece”, or “I’ll eat a big salad for dinner and nothing for lunch except this yummy muffin”, or even “well if I have a bowl of fruit, the donut, and a cup of coffee, I’ll feel fine!” but yet, alas, none of these things are good enough.

When we consume sugar, anything over 4 TBLS at a time, we shock our system. Do you get that afternoon drowsiness if you eat a big salad and a cup of homemade soup? Probably not. We have gotten so used to that tired, sluggish feeling, that we’ve forgotten what it is like to NOT feel that way. What would it be like if every time you ate a snack at work it was a fruit or vegetable? Probably a whole lot better.

Now, treats are good. Every so often we should indulge. Shoot, indulge every day if you want to, but make the better choice in your indulgences. Choose the whole foods. Make your own baked goods. Go to a specialty chocolate shop and buy some rich, dark chocolate. Buy fair-trade organic chocolate. Make your own muffins. This way, you’ll know what you’re putting into your body.

Just an hour ago, I was starting to get hungry but wasn’t able to eat my lunch…so I cut myself a slice of a blueberry loaf. I didn’t look at the ingredients, I didn’t want to know. It was from Bob Evans, so I knew enough. I knew that I should have avoided it, made myself a cup of hot tea, and waited until I could sit down and enjoy a meal. But no, I ate it anyways…and the 5 seconds that it lasted, it tasted GOOD. But, well, moments later, I was tired. I started to feel mucus building up. I felt my lymph-nodes swell up. Man, do I want to go to sleep.

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Seems harmless, right? Now turn it around and look at the ingredient list.

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There is nothing wholesome about this treat. Notice the ridiculous amounts of ingredients, including those that I NEVER would use in my kitchen: soybean oil, margarine, mono & diglycerides, sodium benzoate, artificial flavor, modified corn starch, polysorbate 60, xanthan gum. AND I will tell you that my blueberries are just blueberries…not containing soybean oil (TRANS FAT, even though it says 0 grams), artificial flavor, beta carotene for color (orange? doesn’t make sense), soy lecithin, dimethylpolysiloxane (WHAT DID YOU SAY?), and TBHQ. Who in the hell makes this crap? Oh yeah, Bob Evans Farms, INC. I’d like to see this farm…where the blueberries come straight out of chemicals! 500 calories in two slices? Gross.

Why do we give in to temptation if we know the consequences are SO MUCH WORSE than the 5 seconds of yumminess? I don’t know. I do know, however, that if we eat high quality snacks, in between meals, we’ll be able to avoid the temptations of the sweets on the table. Try some of these: http://greatist.com/health/high-protein-snacks-portable/

Some of my favorites include trail mix, smoothies, nut butter boat (ants on a log), and an apple with almond butter. 100 calories of sweets is so small compared to 100 calories from veggies. Maybe I’m just a muncher, but I always want to feel like I’m eating more. So, compare…a plate full of veggies, or one Reese’s cup? I’ll choose the veggies. And who said you have to stop that at 100 calories?

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Yummy.

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Images from FitSugar

What do you do when the temptation is calling from the break room?

The blueberries taste like blueberries…but the zucchini tastes like PIZZA!

Last weekend, I headed out to Kendall’s Blueberries to pick as many as I could! It is nearing the end of the season and I wanted to score some fresh, chemical-free, and affordable berries for the upcoming winter! This farm, a blueberry farm, located in Hastings, MI, offers $1/lb u-pick berries! So, of course, my roommates and I headed out there on a beautiful Michigan Saturday! It was a bit of a drive, just under an hour from our home, and well, it was mostly beautiful (once we got off I-94). Image

One of my roommates…he liked eating over picking…but I forgave him!ImageAnd a beautiful bush filled with the delectable fruit of the earth!ImageJust a few rules, about picking blueberries to freeze or can:

1. Take more time picking, less time prepping. Notice the little stems, well those don’t make good smoothie additions, so be mindful when picking, or your prepping takes a LOT longer.

2. You’ll learn to appreciate those blueberry pickers. This was not an easy taste. Despite eating a handful or two throughout the few hours we were there, I picked for just over 2 hours. Together, we picked about 12 pounds.

3. Processing blueberries isn’t easy either. Okay, well it is easy, but time consuming. I chose to freeze my berries…so after washing them, drying them, and spreading them out in one layer, on a baking sheet (with edges, always with edges), and waiting about 30 minutes per load to freeze…it took me 7 hours to process all of these babies!

4. Enjoy! The best part about processing the berries was eating them throughout the prepping stage. I may have ate close to a pound, but they were great!

5. Always look for local, chemical free. I’ve learned from research and first hand experience that organic isn’t always the best choice. USDA Organic certification is expensive. Supporting local, chemical-free farms is a better option. So support away!

Just a day later, my mom had me pick up her CSA share as my parents were heading out on vacation. Well, since it was a full share, I had about 12 zucchinis, 6 cloves of garlic, 10 hot peppers, 2 pints of blueberries (like I needed more, but oh, they were eaten!), 5 bundles of greens (kale, swiss chard, and collard), 6 heads of broccoli, and random other stuff I’m forgetting…well what do you do with ALL this food? Pinterest. Pinterest your heart out until you come up with enough ways to use it all before you waste any delicious produce. And what did we Pinterest – Zucchini Pizza. After reading several recipes, I decided to get going…and here’s what happened:

ImageI started with a sauté of garlic, onions, thyme, basil, and oregano in olive oil. After that became aromatic, I added in some red bell peppers and hot peppers. This would be really tasty with mushrooms and/or olives (according to my roommate, I don’t like either). ImageAnd then you add in some meat! If you eat meat, eat “organic“, grass-fed, local meat. We had a delicious sweet Italian sausage from Bear Foot Farms. I supposed you could use a meat substitute, but I don’t really believe in that (a topic for another day). ImageWhile the meat and veggies are cooking…cut your zucchini in half, scoop out the seeds, and microwave them for about 5 minutes at power level 5. So, for the past 4 years, I haven’t had a microwave…and I don’t really think you need one. However, this helped to soften the zucchini so it would cook quicker. I think steaming it could have worked too…but Pinterest said to microwave.

Oh yeah, and preheat that oven to BROIL!ImageAnd then, you start the filling process! I drizzled a little olive oil on the zucchini, then a little bit of tomato sauce…and then I stuffed them full of the meat and veggie goodness, added a little more tomato sauce, and then smothered in parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Toss this baking sheet into the oven, on the top rack (or bottom broiler), and keep your eye on it! You want that cheese to be perfectly browned and crispy, but not burnt.ImageMozzarella melts really well, so it is a good way to get that crispness. And who in their right mind doesn’t like crispy cheese???ImageAnd then dig in! Granted, this isn’t the most beautiful looking and easy to eat meal…but my God was it delicious! I think I’ve found a way to replace the pizza I crave. A pretty healthy alternative. And it is perfect to reheat! I wrapped up the leftover boats in tin foil, and brought them to work. Preheated the oven to 350 and let them bake until they were warm! Perfection! And everyone in the office was jealous.

I was thinking about other things you could stuff in there to make it a few times a week…here is what comes to mind:

  • Mexican style – with more hot peppers, black beens, and wild rice – top with some yummy cheese and guacamole! Now that sounds amazing!
  • Greek style – orzo pasta, feta, olives, you get where I’m going…
  • American style – grains, veggies, something plain and simple (we’re boring, get over it).
  • Whatever the hell you want style – fill it with your favorite anything! The spicier the better, as the zucchini soaks up flavor and it is perfect!

I guess I’ve had a pretty good week, filled with yummy, local food. However, I did suffer from a migraine for three days and I’m finally feeling better (which is why this blog is slightly delayed). I’m getting back in to hot yoga and that makes me very happy. After work, I’m heading over to Barnes & Nobles to pick up a edible plant guide. What else, oh yes, I’m participating in a photo-shoot with weekend for a friend’s company, iWooLoo, to empower women of all shapes, sizes, and colors to love themselves and reach self-actualization. This will be interesting. I’ll be practicing posing all day tomorrow!

Just Write. Whatever You Do…Just Write. The Liebster Award.

Over the past few months, I’ve been told, time and time again, that I really need to get serious about my writing. No matter what I talk about, I apparently have a way with words, and have a lot of thoughts, so I gotta start sharing them with the world. Funny how things like this happen, and when you start to really make something a priority, the goodness just starts to rush into your life.

I want to thank one of my follower’s for awarding me with the Liebster Award – I guess it is an award for an up and coming blogger. I really appreciate it! Here’s a link to her blog: http://atspoonoflove.wordpress.com

So, part of this award is to answer 11 questions…here goes!

1 ) Favorite vacation spot of all time: Thus far, in my life, Sun Valley ID is my favorite vacation spot. Perhaps it is because I’ve been going there since I was 6 months old…but between the mountains, rivers, family, and food…I love it! 

2 )  Favorite book and why: That is a hard one…but I’m going to have to go with The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita because well, it changed my life just over 5 years ago. If it wasn’t for that book, I probably wouldn’t still be here today…and when I mean here, I mean alive…because well, it opened my eyes and my heart to feel things that I pushed back, so deep, and never thought I would feel again.
3 )Food tradition you love ? I love toasting to the first sip of your drink at dinner. Over the years, I’ve developed a few MUSTs when it comes to toasting, inspired by friends and travels. You must not toast with water. You must toast on your first sip. You must look each other in the eye when you sip. You both (or more) must sip…not toast and put the glass down. If you break these rules, it is bad luck. Haha. That’s my tradition.
4 ) If you could go to dinner with any 5 famous people (dead or alive) – who? I have to choose 5?? Holy moly…okay, Albert Einstein, Ivan Pavlov, Michael Pollen, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. We could probably make sustainable living happen and bring peace to the world.
5 ) Favorite cuisine ? Asian fusion. I can’t wait to travel to Southeast Asia! One day!
6 ) House is on fire – family made it out – what is the one thing you grab? My computer. It has loads of documents, from photos over the past 5 years, to 30 page papers, to poetry…I couldn’t let that go. Especially if my family is already safe. 
7 ) Favorite type of chocolate ? Fair-trade, organic, dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds. Or ANY from Confections with Convictions. 
8 ) Favorite beverage ? Water. Iced Masala Chai. Whiskey w/ water and a slice of lemon. 
9 ) Movie you most relate to? Really? I’m supposed to choose one…wow…okay. An indie flick I just watched, TiMER. Because I want to meet my soul mate but it just isn’t my time. 
10 )If you can trade places with a famous person for 24 hours , whom would you pick? Barack Obama. I’d just some shit done in that office. And then I could try to understand why each president fails to live up to their campaign promises. 
11 ) A TV show you love to watch: The Newsroom. images
Thank you, again, for the award. I really appreciate it! Happy blogging, living, eating, and breathing.