Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl (finding inspiration in another's journey)

 The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl isn't the type of book I typically try to review on here since it isn't so much about health and nutrition as it is about an individual's journey to health and weight loss. But there were things about it that I really related to since I am trying my damnedest to stay on the healthy bandwagon.

Here is the basic synopsis -- Girl weights 350 lbs and isn't happy. Decides to make a change and starts to blog about it. Girl starts to lose weight and gain confidence. Girl backslides but gets back on the wagon (Yay!) Girl gains more confidence and moves outside her comfort zone. She starts traveling and enjoying her life instead of hiding from it. Blog becomes way bigger than she ever thought would happen. Blog becomes a book.

So not a super original story but honest and funny. I really enjoyed reading about her adventures, successes and failures. Her failures, in a way, spoke to me the most. She didn't just regain 5 or 10 pounds but 60 pounds (I think....it was quite a bit anyway.) But for her to have the courage and the guts to go after relosing that much weight and continue to lose more spoke volumes to me. I want to throw in the towel if I gain 3 pounds back. I get frustrated and think about the time and effort (and sweat!) I put into losing those 3 (little bitty) pounds and I just want to sit on the couch and eat chocolate. It makes me feel like I will never get there. But reading about her doing it made me feel pathetic and silly, fretting about something like 3 pounds. Yes I have quite a ways to go, but no where near the amount she was aiming to lose. She gave me some inspiration and really made me focus on why I want to lose weight. Why I want to get healthy and in shape. Because the why is what's important. Without a why, getting back on track is so much harder and staying on track is almost impossible.

I think this was one of my favorite moments in the book --

"Weight loss isn't about willpower or motivation. It's just the cumulative effect of tiny actions over time. Putting down the chocoalte bars, putting on the running shoes. you have to keep picking yourself up when you fall, over and over again, for however long it takes."--The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl

Because how true is that! So many times I have reached for a "magic" pill or solution, wanting and praying for it to happen overnight. Or I would become obsessed and go crazy working out and eating healthy for a month and see no change on the scale and be so upset I would just quit. (I have learned my lesson on trusting and using the scale though, so there's that.) And it isn't a matter of if you fall, but when you will fall. Life happens and it is in the attitude toward it is what counts. Are you going to get back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward? Or are you going to hide in the house, watch all six seasons of Gossip Girl on Netflix and eat snacks by yourself?

She also talks about her "magic" number a lot. That number everyone has in their head thad dictates how much we think we should weight. And really where does it come from? What we weighed in high school? What our best friend weighed in high school? And what is the expectation when we get there? I for one would like the heavens to open and the choir to sing and for everyone to approach me and tell me how awesome I look because I finally reached that number. In reality, I will probably receive compliments up until that point and no one will really notice the last 5-7 pounds. Plus I need to come to terms with the fact that I may not ever reach that number. And that is okay---right? I mean I definitely have more muscle than my prepubescent self so there is that. If I feel great and am living my life to the fullest, have energy and am setting a good example for my family, isn't that enough? Shouldn't it be enough? So why do we beat ourselves up and let it not be enough? Having a goal is important but maybe that goal should be less about a number and more about a feeling.

"You know what's funny about losing a stack of weight? Nothing really changes. All that happens is that you lose the thing upon which you used to hang all your neuroses. Fat has a shape and substance; you can poke it with a stick. It's a scapegoat and a handy excuse. Once you start to lose it, you realize you're stuck with the same moronic core." --The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is that is what Shauna ended up learning (*spoiler alert* -- even though this book is more about reading her journey the ups and downs rather than the actual ending.) Through it all it was her learning to love herself that mattered. This is what we should be striving for -- yes health is important and we should relish in what we learn our bodies can do, how much weight we can handle or how hard we can push them -- but in the end if we don't love ourselves we will find reasons other than our weight that makes us feel undeserving.

"You can't compare your aceievements to anyone else's All you can do is compare where you've been and where you are now, and what you chose to do in between." -The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl

I think the lessons I was reminded of when reading this book were really important, especially during a month where everything for me was turned on it's head. I needed to regroup and refocus and decide what I really wanted and recommit myself to that goal.


For more information on Shauna and her journey you can find her at http://www.shaunareid.com/

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why July was a total bust (and I am so ready to embrace August)

I am so over July.

It was a month of changes (but not where I wanted them) and plateaus. I am super happy to be back in my favorite city (Yay Pittsburgh!) but not dealing with a crabby toddler who suddenly has an opinion about where she wants to be (which is currently anywhere but here.)

In addition to bi-annual cross country trek, I started spending my mornings with crabby teenage girls. I was expecting girls who were eager to work and excited to be there and instead I am getting grumbling, dragging feet and even whining. We spent four days (and three nights) together at cheer camp and there were ups and downs (and some tears) and I thought we made headway on the effort and "your coaches can't care for you" front. But, it seems, we are back to square one when it comes to said effort and dedication. And then I feel like a hypocrite lecturing them about effort and dedication (for the millionth time) when I have let my own effort and dedication slide this month. Big time.

Sure, I can blame it on moving or being away at cheer camp or having my schedule completely turned on it's head -- going from only having to worry about B, getting my workout in and what to cook for dinner. I can blame it on the fact that I have started Month 2 of TurboFire and Month 2 for me is always hard, no matter the program (and how much I loved it the first month.) It is that point where you no longer have the excitement from starting a new program and doing something different, but you also don't have the Month 3 the end is in sight mentality either. I struggle in the middle to get over the hump.  It doesn't help that I am bit of an anal perfectionist either. If I miss a day (or three) on the  schedule and didn't follow it the "right way" I try to repeat the week to do it correctly. So not only do I lose steam in Month 2, but I end up repeating weeks and make it way longer than it should be.

In addition to my failure at TurboFire this month,  I have been trying to add in the C25K training on top of it. The weather, humidity and my asthma has not been kind in that regard. One of the things I am worst at in the world is running so I need to conquer that (before I get too old.) An item that is on my bucket list is running a race (even if it is a measly 5K.) I am terrified of doing one, having struggled to run a single mile my entire life. I can kick box, dance, and out Zumba a lot of people but running is something I am not built for -- and I want to change that or at least prove I can conquer it. My Aunt has fantasies about all of us girls going to Disney to participate in the Princess Half Marathon (and while the idea of running in a tutu sounds like so much more fun than just running) I have no idea how I will be able to huff and puff my way through 13.1 miles (even if I am covered in glitter and fairy dust.) But I have come to the realization that I need to have big and scary dreams to accomplish anything. If what I want to do is way out of reach (and strikes terror in me) then I am more likely to get my a$$ in gear.

So enough whining about my lack of accomplishing anything this month and looking forward. What am I going to do about it? First I dug out all the old jeans I have held onto over the years. (And I used to work retail and hoard jeans--so it's a lot.) After surveying the 25 + pairs of jeans that DON'T FIT I decided to do something slightly dramatic (in my mind anyway.) I posted a picture and put it on the internet. I also decided to do a Skinny Jeans/Drop a Jean Size challenge during the months of August and September. (Read about that here.) By motivating others, I motivate myself and hold myself accountable. (Kind of selfish - yes - but selfish in the way volunteering is selfish. We volunteer to help others and because it makes us feel good. And everything is inherently selfish according to my husband so there's that.)

So I am looking forward instead of focusing on where I misstepped this month. Focusing on what I can do now to fix it instead of saying "Well, I suck. So I might as well eat a pound of chocolate tonight while I still suck and start again tomorrow...or Monday because starting over on Mondays is way better. Much neater on the calendar. Or maybe just next month. Yes! I will have a whole month that is clean and healthy. How great is that. Now hand over that popcorn so I can watch some TV." So changing this mentality is kind of big which if I do say so myself is an improvement. (Maybe July wasn't so bad after all....)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How Most of my Adult Life has Revolved Around Denim (and the August Skinny Jeans Challenge!)

August, dreaded by kids (and sometimes teachers) typically means the end of summer. Saying goodbye to days at the pool and trading them in for hoodies and sweaters. For years August meant something more to me than having to kick cheerleading practice into high  gear (and wearing yoga pants every day,) it meant BTS was upon us. I worked retail for a large part of my "past life" and Back to School was second to only one thing, Holiday. And BTS revolved around one thing - jeans. Wearing, selling, folding and knowing every last detail about every type of denim in the store, down to the stitching and why it is special. So when I saw pictures of the BTS meeting at my old stomping grounds, I was full of conflicted emotion ranging from the "Awww...I remember doing that!" *tear* to "Oh thank the Good Lord I came to my senses and am done with that!" *sigh*

The idea of buying new jeans (or trying on old jeans) can be super scary and I know I have a love hate relationship with most of the denim in my closet (for more than one reason- I am still haunted by thoughts of folding a never ending denim wall to perfection.) I actually have stacks of jeans organized by size in my closet, threatening to topple onto an unsuspecting victim if they were ever to enter my closet unwarned. (They also act as a booby trap to snooping babysitters who will never be able to get the pile back in order the way my crazy brain had it organized.)

Since a good part of my life has revolved around jeans -- either folding, selling, restocking, wanting or not wanting to wear them, I figured this was a great time of year to do a skinny jean challenge. (Or a drop a jean size challenge because John would love for me to actually use the jeans that are taking up valuable real estate in our tiny circa 1950's closet instead of just saving them "because they will fit one day I swear and then when I'm skinny I won't have to rush out and buy new jeans. So really I am saving you money!")

I also have a lovely pair of jeans I call the Mecca Jeans. Jeans I bought when I was skinny (but thought I was fat) and were my very favorite in the whole store but they were a size down. I have never once worn these jeans (and I bought them in 2002 - pathetic.) But every woman has something hanging in her closet she refuses to get rid because one day it will happen. Yeah. I have jeans for that. (And lots of other occasions too. I have a problem. If I took a pic of my t-shirt drawer it would be even more embarrassing.) So the question remains. What am I going to do about the 25 or so pairs of jeans I have that do not fit? Run a rocking drop a jean size and skinny jean challenge group that's what (and maybe get a step closer to the Mecca Jeans and get rid of some in the process.) Plus jeggings didn't exist when I worked retail so if I can pick up a size down pair of those during all the BTS sales that would rock. Yay shopping!

So here is how it would work: 

For 60 days I would put you in a closed Facebook group with others trying to achieve the same goal (including me! yay!) We will break our goals down into 30 day and 60 day goals. We will talk about clean eating, meal preparation, meal planning and everything you need to get set up for success. We will measure progress by not just using the scale but by measurements and photos (I know. Super scary but when you think you aren't making any progress it is amazing to see what you actually done in the photos. Believe me. I've been there!) We will do this on Day 1, Day 30 and Day 60.

We will post daily in the group and rate our day on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. We will rate our diet and our exercise (basically how hard you brought it!) and whether or not we had our Shakeology.

We will commit to trying out Shakeology for 60 days. I know once I did it, I fell in love with the energy I had and how great I felt from getting all the nutrients I need. (*Side note* my nails look awesome. Better than when I was on prenatal vitamins. It is my current obsession since I have struggled with weak and peeling nails forever! One of the perks I didn't know I was going to get.) So Shakeology is going to fuel your body (key word fuel) with the vitamins and nutrients you need throughout the day. And there is a 30 day guarantee on Shakeology so if it isn't working for you, we'll talk (and you get your money back.) --For more on my experience Shakeology read this.

We will eat clean. (For more info on what that means read this.) But basically just strive to eat real, whole food. No chemicals and no processed food. I will provide you with recipe ideas, meal planning and all the tools that have worked so far for me on this journey.

We will also commit to working out 5-6 days a week. I don't care if you run, walk or lift. Just get that body moving! If you already workout regularly think about stepping up your game. Adding some weight training to your cardio. If you don't have an exercise regimen we can talk about options. If you are interested in trying a Beachbody program, we can talk about that too and get you set up with something that totally works for you. There are so many options outside of P90x and Insanity (which I feel gets all the love) so if hard core intensity isn't for you, we can totally find something that is. I am currently doing TurboFire and am in LOVE with it. It really gives my inner cheerleader some much needed attention. I have found success with the at home programs from BeachBody because they are a killer workout and they all come with a schedule. So I can wake up, get my toddler some breakfast and toss in a movie, look at the schedule, pop in a DVD and press play. I don't have to worry about getting her ready to go to the gym with me or what series of exercises I am going to do that day. I know me and I need that schedule. I get really freaked out if I am going to miss a day and "mess up" the schedule or the order. But whatever works for you, we will make it happen.

Plus I will give you daily motivation, tips and tricks and share all the research I have accrued over the last few months.

So the challenge starts with pre-season August 5th and the official kick off date of August 12th. Dust off all those old jeans because we are getting back in them (even if it is to decide that we hate them and want new ones!)

For more info shoot me a message, send me an email to sctodd@yahoo.com or leave a comment below.

To sign up for a FREE Beachbody account click here. You will find message boards, articles and other motivational tools for you to use. (The goal tracker is my favorite!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Nitty Gritty on the Shakeology Cleanse (and why it rocks my socks and I can't wait to start it again)

I know I talked about the Shakeology cleanse before but I felt like that was more personal experience than actually explaining the hows and whys. Since I just got home from spending four days in a college dorm again (supervising 21 high school cheerleaders - when did I become the grown up?) and eating in a college cafeteria I am so ready to cleanse again. The last time I committed to this it really helped me get back on track quick after a long weekend trip of indulgences. I was able to quit sugar (which has slowly creeped back into my life again) and just really get back into eating clean and working out daily without really skipping a beat. In the past I have had to force myself to get back into the disciplined schedule I have been keeping. With the cleanse, it kind of just happened naturally. I didn't force myself to workout since my calories were restricted but the second and the third day I felt the want and the need to workout. My energy was there. I was waking up feeling awesome and ready to rock the day (and I had just started TurboFire and was super excited about the new workouts.)

So here is more behind the cleanse and why it worked for me --

It isn't a cleanse in the traditional sense

When I think of a cleanse, two things pop into my head. Spending days in the bathroom unable to do anything else or walking around sipping a concoction made from lemon juice, maple syrup, hot sauce and water and trying really hard not to eat for as many days possible. Neither, in my mind, sound like anything I want to sign up for. 

The Shakeology cleanse is different in the fact that the goal is not calorie restriction as much as it is getting the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. So think of it as getting the most bang for your buck in terms of nutrients and what your body needs. And then putting all of those calories to use in your exercise program. The other two goals of the cleanse are to rid the body of undigested food and toxins and hydrate your body to homeostatis. (http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-homeostasis.htm)

 How it Works

So if you have been clean eating and doing 5-6 small meals throughout the course of the day, your eating  structure doesn't change much. And again keeping the nutrients up is key - you still want to be able to exercise and function in your normal day to day routine.  

Making your shakes without added fruits is what is recommended - but if you are exercising and need the calories add fruit to your shake. (I do the vegan protein and it is more gritty than whey protein since it is made from brown rice & pea protein. I love adding 1/2 a banana to counter the grittiness. When I did the cleanse the first time, I continued to do this. I also needed the calories since I was doing a moderate to intense workout daily with Turbofire. Now the texture of my shake has become less of an issue and I can omit the banana. 40-60 calories at this point isn't going to be an issue. Do what you have to do.)

The salad -- which will be the best salad you have ever had in your entire life every night of this cleanse -- can also be modified if your body is telling you it can't function on what you are giving it. For example, I don't really eat meat. I can do fish occasionally but chicken makes me gag (it's a personal problem.) So one night I did a roasted portobello mushroom on top of my salad. The meaty-ness of the hot mushroom left me totally satiated but to make sure I was getting the calories and the good fat that comes with meat (even lean white meat) I added 1/4 of an avocado to my salad. I didn't follow the rules exactly (since I am not a meat lover) so I adapted it to work FOR ME. (And that is one of the things I love about this cleanse - you can adapt it to work for you and you still get awesome results.)

The day above is just that, a sample! I found it worked better for me to have fruit for breakfast with my green tea. I had my first shake after my workout. It kept me from getting headache-y. I have read blogs where the salad for lunch instead of dinner has really helped people who have a long day. Don't be afraid to play with it if it isn't working for you. 

A Word About Exercise

Exercise while being able to keep up with your "normal" day is the goal for this cleanse - however, light to moderate exercise is recommended. If you are doing an intense exercise program such as P90x or Insanity it is best to plan the cleanse for your recovery week. If you are exercising in the moderate to high level, you may need to add fruit to your shakes or seeds to your salad. Listening to your body and what it needs is super important! 

Other Liquids and What to Drink

Water - and lots of it. This is really important (especially when you think about one of the points of doing this being hydrated.) Drinking more water helps eliminate water retention (which sounds counter productive but it's not!) There are many different opinions on how much water we should aim for daily. I shoot for 1/2 my body weight in ounces and if I fall a little short (which I do a lot) I am still in pretty good shape. 

The cleanse calls for green tea (not coffee...ugh I know!) but the goal of the cleanse is being able to perform your daily routine and your exercise program so if you need a cup of coffee to get up and go - do it. (Just skip the cream and sugar!) You know what you need. If you are going to suffer from headaches all day if you skip your coffee, don't do it. Or if you are preparing to cleanse, start to cut back on the java little by little. Or try black tea - it still has caffeine (and can be easier to drink without cream and sugar.) Plus it can be easier on your tummy. 

And that's all folks. No pop, sugary drinks, sweet tea, vitamin water - nada. That stuff all has chemicals and the name of the game is to eliminate chemicals. 

Weight Loss

Drumroll please....what everyone want so hear about - the weight loss. Almost everyone loses weight with the cleanse. But the amount varies based on a few things. Those of us who eat fairly well and stay hydrated will lose less than those who have a lot to flush out of their system. (Which is one of the reasons I like to do the cleanse after a period of over indulgence, it gets me back on track.) It also sets up your system to use nutrition more efficiently so you are improving your ability to lose weight. The first time I did the cleanse I lost 3.8 pounds. I think I ended the cleanse on a Wednesday. Over the course of the weekend I lost another 5 pounds - so that whole setting your body up thing. Totally true. And unlike other crazy cleanses and diets (think cabbage soup or something like that) it never came back. I was able to stay off sugar and continue to lose until the beginning of this month. (Plateaus suck!) I would call that a rockin' success. 

So weight loss varies - welcome to life. Even if you don't lose weight, I can guarantee that you will feel awesome and your cravings will be pretty much gone. And remember the goal of the cleanse isn't weight loss (even though that is what most of us want) but nutrition and hydration (and feeling awesome!) 

So those are the details behind the Shakeology cleanse (and everything I neglected to talk about the first time I did the cleanse.) I have cleanse kits available (to order one check out the drop down buttons on the right.) If you have any questions or are interested in giving it a shot message me or leave a comment below. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Email That Took Me Weeks to Write (and the super short sentence I received in return.)

So I got some courage. I finally sent an email that I have been trying to cleverly craft for a few weeks. I
wanted it to be smart and impossible to ignore. And while the likelyhood of GMO ingredients being used in Shakeology is small, there is still a chance. I love Shakeology. I love what it has done for me in terms of my health and my energy levels. But I am also terrified of GMO foods and distrustful of companies. So I sent the email with the full understanding that I may be ignored, that I may be shuffled into the file of mass messages sent hourly, or that I may be told no. But I will not give up. For a company to put so much effort into developing a product that they call it the "healthiest meal of the day,"I feel the effort to assure the safety of the one or two ingredients that might have a chance of being GMO, is a small step that would mean so much to so many.

The email I sent to Darin Olein, the creator of Shakeology himself, is below:

I wanted to thank you for developing a product like Shakeology. It has completely changed my eating habits like it has for thousands of others. I absolutely love the product and am so pleased there is a vegan option available for those of us who like to limit their intake of animal products.

I was wondering if there is any talk about assuring customers that there are no GMO products in Shakeology. I know customer service has informed me that "to Beachbody's knowledge" there are no GMO products in Shakeology. However, there is a huge movement right now to force companies to label their products containing GMO crops. There is also a lot of talk about the harm GMO can do to our bodies, evidence of which can be found in the rising food allergies and illnesses diagnosed in our children who have grown up eating GMO foods.

Many states are taking it upon themselves to vote on mandatory labeling for GMO products. Many companies, such as Chipotle and Applegate Farms are moving forward with complete transparency and labeling GMO products while simultaneously trying to minimize or eliminate the use of them wherever possible. A non GMO verification process and label has been developed and was just approved to place on not just products that directly contain GMO's but on things like meat and dairy so the consumer knows the animals have not been fed GMO feed. It is truly unfortunate that the producers of real food are the ones that have to pay for testing and labeling to prove the safety of their product to their customers. It is terrible that the burden of all the testing is borne by the companies and passed onto the consumer, making processed foods more affordable than real foods. I firmly believe that it should be all the chemical laden and processed foods that contain the labels, but sadly that is not the world we live in.

With the effort put in by the Shakeology team, especially recently hearing about the process to develop the vanilla flavor, I am hoping that Beachbody is at the forefront of this movement. I do believe in Beachbody's effort to avoid GMO's when possible, but unfortunately trust is something that is hard to find in the business world. To see Beachbody stand up and voluntary label their product regarding GMO's, before the laws mandate it, would be an amazing thing to see. I truly believe in this company and the products. I want to be able to assure the safety of my customers and the safety of my child, who also loves drinking Shakeology daily.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this.

And guess what?!?!

He replied.


Sure it was one sentence (and I felt kind of deflated after the crazy excitement I had when I saw his name in my inbox) but I got an answer (sort of.)

And that is what is awesome.

And the answer by the way - and I quote "We test for gmos and do not accept any in our product"

From the man himself.

I knew the risk was small based on the ingredients themselves but it was nice to hear. Now I just need to keep bugging them until they get it tested (and labeled) by a third party like the Non-GMO project. And I will, even if I have to keep emailing Darin Olein himself.


I was perusing the Shakeology FAQ's again yesterday and found this....

And it is different than the response I got the last time I harassed Beachbody about GMO's and Shakeology. I like to think that I am not the only one giving them a hard time. So a big thanks to everyone who has emailed, called and in any other way made Beachbody aware that we do not want GMO's in our Shakeology. Because if it is truly "the healthiest meal of the day" it shouldn't include anything that is genetically modified.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Road Trip! (I wish! -- I mean cross country airline trip with LOTS of baggage)

We travel. A lot. When your husband works on the opposite side of the country from which you live and you refuse to give up something you love that pays you in hugs and kisses (and not really your pocketbook,) maintaining a relationship is left to skype, phone calls and lots of air travel.

Now that I am obsessed with not eating things like GMO's and food that isn't "real," it puts a whole new spin on how hard it is to travel. Especially when you tend to pack heavy and your entorauge through the airport includes a toddler and two dogs.

While we have perfected getting through ticketing and security (we can totally beat any well traveled businessman, toddler & carry on terrier included - which I think is hilarious because everyone avoids getting behind us in line. Ha! Jokes on you. I rock security. I also have similar feelings to the nasty looks I get when boarding a plane with my child. I get all my kid has probably traveled more than you dude save your looks for the rookie parent travelers.)

One thing I know about air travel is it is unpredictable. Just when you get used to everything being delayed and running to try and catch your connecting flight, everything is on time or early and you actually have extra time to seek out something yummy (and as healthy as you can find in an airport- good luck!) to eat.

Either way, when we stop I have two priorities - a potty break for B (which is sometimes a change as we are in the middle moving to the end *fingers crossed* of potty training) and a potty break for the little dog. (She will chews holes in her carrier if she doesn't get a potty break. Keeping her claws and teeth of of the mesh that holds her in the bag for the entirety of a 4+ hour flight - not fun for my back or my scratched up hands or the drunk lady on the 9 a.m. flight who accused me of abusing and suffocating my dog since I had my hand in her bag the entire time. But that is another-get-me-fired-up-story.)

I have found these two potty breaks take presidence and whatever we have time for after is great. In case there is no time left at all, I have a nice list of go to airplane (or car) friendly snacks I love to pack.

Quartered strawberries in a few small tupperware containers
Blueberries in small tupperware containers
An apple or two
Sugar snap peas
Carrot chips or sticks (B still needs them small) or baby carrots

And small baggies of:

Dried Apple Rings (make sure all fruit is no sugar added)
Shakeology packets

All super easy and nothing requires cooking or baking on top of trying to get your life packed into a suitcase (or 6. Okay, maybe 8.) That is what I need when we are making our yearly trek to wherever John is working. I have enough to worry about with trying to get the dogs' healthy travel certificates and making sure I don't forget whatever stuffed animal has the coveted favorite-B-can't-sleep-without-it spot. (Forgetting that is a melt down on a plane stuffed with angry travelers waiting to happen.) I try to keep it simple with things I can partition into snack size baggies or small tupperware containers. I can just pass out the snacks when we are on the plane and not get sucked into buying one of those overpriced snack boxes full of processed goodies. I also vary the fruit to what is in season (or on sale.) If it is a winter trip, you will not find me buying strawberries and blueberries.

Happy Travels!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July - Cleaning up Grandma's Freezer Slaw

Happy Fourth! 

I love the Fourth.

I love that the good old colors of the USA can be represented in things with fresh berries. I love that John (typically) doesn't have to work and can come home from wherever he is. Plus we have fireworks, beer, playing outside, grilling and more beer. What isn't to love?

In an effort to bring something a little more healthy to the table this year, I am taking my very favorite coleslaw recipe and cleaning it up by replacing the sugar with honey. I am also mixing in some broccoli slaw with the cabbage so at least there are some extra veggies in there.

Now I am not a creamy dressing girl. On anything, coleslaw included. I love me a good vinegar based coleslaw dressing - just like my Grandma made it.

Now my Grandma's recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar! 4 cups! That is a ton of sugar. When I was google searching vinegar based coleslaw for some other options, I didn't really find anything that would be close to the same. I was torn. Do I chalk it up to a "treat" and just go with it the way it is or do I experiment? Since I have been playing around with recipes (while standing on my soap box preaching about healthy eating) I decided it was in everyone's best interest to clean it up.

And I cheated and bought pre cut cabbage. I hate the cutting part and with the travel this weekend

So here is what I did:

1 bag angel hair shredded cabbage
2 bags of broccoli slaw

And those get dumped in my big travel bowl

 1/2 cup honey*
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

Combine all these ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add to the cabbage while hot.

Refrigerate or freeze and thaw before serving.

*I played with the honey and didn't really measure it. I mixed everything up in a large pyrex measuring cup to make sure I got all the honey whisked in with the vinegar. The lowest measuremtne was 1 cup. I I tried to eyeball half a cup, but I think it was a little less. I whisked, tasted and added another large squeeze of honey. This did leave my dressing with some bite.

I did consider not cooking the dressing to help keep the health benefits of the honey & apple cider vinegar in tact. However, my love for wilty lettuce won that battle. I love how the hot dressing "cooks" the cabbage a little bit. The slaw still has a lot of bite and crunch but that little bit of heat makes it just a little wilty. (I seriously have a wilty lettuce obsession, borderline problem.) Plus the apple cider vinegar I had was pasteurized so it was already heated anyway. Some say the heating process destroys the benefits, some say it doesn't. It's another one of those health arguments that makes my head spin.

I did use apple cider vinegar because I like the taste it brings and just in case any of those enzymes that are so good for you aren't destroyed (it's like a bonus!) The orginal recipe did call for all white vinegar which is a little bit less acidic than apple cider vinegar. If you aren't hanging with people who are a fan of vinegar, you may want to stick to the white or do 1/2 and 1/2. I could eat vinegar on everything so we play it up in this house.

Happy eating (and drinking! Don't forget to toast to America and everyone who sacrifices to keep us safe.) Cheers!

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