I saw various versions of this very funny meme on Facebook right around Thanksgiving. We joke about the holiday ten pounds almost like we do the “freshman fifteen,” right? And while many of us don’t actually put on an additional ten pounds, we can definitely feel our jeans suddenly feel a bit snug.
Some years I’ve done better than others in terms of putting that weight on to begin with. But this year, I can feel it a bit. When I went running last weekend, it was as though I could feel the sweet potato pie dragging me down. But rather than feeling bad about the additional weight, I just decided to do what I know to do while I enjoy this season.
1. Make sure exceptions are just that, exceptions. We all want to enjoy those creamy mashed potatoes, the sweet potato biscuits and, of course, the pie. I sure did! But, in reality, I had made exceptions leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s the real problem. We don’t put on ten pounds at one sitting. It’s all the exceptions before and after that meal. So, I decided that I’d quickly get back to my normal eating and work out routine so that my jeans feel back to normal by Christmas (or sooner). I expect to make exceptions again for our Christmas dinner, but that won’t be a problem as long as I’m back in my routine between now and then.
2. Keep moving, even on vacation. Maybe it’s too cold or icy to run outside. Throw in a workout DVD. Dance around with your children for 20 minutes. The weather is nice enough for us at this time of the year that I got onto the trampoline with my children the other day. That was after an impromptu soccer match in our backyard. It’ll burn a few calories, keep your body moving, and be fun to exercise with your family.
3. Don’t think about food. It seems that the more we work on being careful with our food/calorie intake, the more likely we are to think about food and our bodies. Just have fun and allow for a few well-deserved exceptions. They are more fun that way.
How do you manage your weight around the holidays?
Of all the different types of cuisine, Mexican food has got to be my favorite. If we go out to eat, I tend to think about going to a Mexican food restaurant. And, although I cook a variety of types of food at home every day, I make tacos and fajitas quite a bit. And, one of the most fun (although not at all good for you) parts of a Mexican meal is chips and salsa, right? The combination is virtually irresistible, if you ask me!
Well, our garden produced a bunch of yummy tomatoes, cilantro and peppers. Check these out! (Cilantro not pictured below.)
What was I supposed to do with these…make salsa, of course!
So, I got to work. I used about 7-8 tomatoes and chopped them up.
Then, I chopped up about half of an onion.
I also chopped up the peppers but didn’t take a picture. (Sorry, I forgot to. And, I was getting very excited about the salsa.) Then, I crushed two cloves of garlic and chopped a handful of fresh cilantro.
Next, I dumped everything into my food processor, added the juice from one lemon, salt, pepper, about a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of chili powder and a dash of cayenne pepper.
I ran it through the food processor for about two to three minutes. Then, I poured it into a bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour. (That was only because it was almost dinner time. We had leftovers that sat overnight and that batch was even better.)
Who needs store bought salsa when you can have such fresh, tasty and even kinda healthy salsa. If you can manage to eat it without tortilla chips, it really would be healthy. Good luck with that, though!
What’s your favorite make-at-home indulgence?
Most of us like it when the pantry is full. Having a good stock of groceries is on the to do list of most people I know. The problem with stocking up on food can be keeping it fresh while you aren’t using it.
It’s terrible to look forward to eating some potato chips through the day. Then you open them up, take a bite…and they are stale. The flavor has disappeared. It’s almost like eating greasy, cheap cardboard. Instead of dealing with this disappointment, try putting your chips in the freezer. They remain crunchy and the flavor lasts longer.
Cereal kept in the fridge takes months to go stale. I know this from experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s Cheerios or Corn Flakes. It doesn’t matter if they are in a box or in a bag. As long as your container is closed the cereal doesn’t go stale. I have kept these products in the fridge for two months, and still had a great bowl of cereal when I chose to eat it.
Having a large freezer that you keep in the house or in the garage is a great way to stock up on meat and have it last a long time. Just make sure that it’s packaged correctly to reduce the risk of freezer burn. It’s also important to date your meat and use what you first bought first.
Meat isn’t the only product that can be frozen for a rainy day. Bread products and milk can last quite a while when frozen. Bread products can include hot dog and hamburger buns as well as sandwich bread. One bread product I wouldn’t leave in the freezer would be tortillas. It has, in my experience, left them wet and pasty. They stick together. They aren’t great to eat. It’s better to keep tortillas in a dry, sealed container.
It’s an issue I hear lots of parents talking about. How to get your children to eat vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, beets are on the forefront of my mind when I ask the question. We have some success with steamed broccoli and one of my children will eat beets in a salad I make. But, I have discovered the easiest way to feed them those green veggies…
This is the problem. How to eat these?
Step 1: Toss a bunch of fruit into a blender. I use frozen berries. Sometimes, I’ll have frozen mango or cherries. Add in a banana and milk or yogurt.
Step 2: Add your steamed green veggie. In this case, it’s broccoli. But, sometimes it’s spinach or beet greens (or some combination).
Step 3: Add in any other food that you want to sneak in. I like to add ground flax for a little Omega 3 in the mix. You may also need a little honey, depending on the sweetness of your fruit.
Step 4: Blend!
Step 5: Pour into an ice tray and add popsicle sticks. I have little helpers for this part (Please excuse the messy counter. Making coleslaw was next on my list.)
Step 6: Enjoy!!!
How do you get your children to eat veggies?
Do you remember when everyone thought that eating granola was such a healthy thing to do? There was such a connection that non-food related things would be referred to as granola. It was earthy, natural and likely to be consumed by non-carnivores! Well, I wasn’t those things but I still loved snacking on granola. Over the years, I learned that granola is not necessarily a healthy snack. If you buy it in a package, you have to watch out for many things. What’s being used to preserve it? How much sugar or, worse, corn syrup is used to make it? What other balls of sugar, essentially, are hidden in it? M&Ms? (In case you are wondering, M&Ms are not healthy. At all.) Some yogurt-covered treat (also usually full of sugar). Lots and lots of sugar in granola. That’s not to say anything of the calories, especially if there are peanuts or other nuts in it. Nuts aren’t bad. But, let’s face it, if you are trying to lose weight, you don’t want to be consuming a high calorie, high fat, high sugar content snack.
So, I simply stopped eating granola. However, recently I was at one of our favorite grocery stores with my daughter and she wanted a snack. The snack she wanted had a very high sugar content, so I offered she try something different. We were in the bulk section, so I picked up some granola that was on sale. She and I both ate it in the car and I realized that I missed that snack. I also remembered why I stopped eating it. I felt so full so fast and saw that the sugar content was higher than almost any snack that we usually eat. So, even before we got home I determined that I was going to start making homemade granola.
It was easy, inexpensive and so much healthier than any granola I could buy at our local grocery store! Here’s the recipe.
3 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
(I also threw a handful of almonds in mine…just because I noticed that I had a few right when I was putting all this together.)
1. Preheat the oven to 300.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, spread them out onto a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
3. Then, mix all the wet ingredients and pour over the oatmeal mix on the baking sheet. Mix wel
4. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Let it cool and store it in a glass container with a lid.
Enjoy for breakfast or as a healthy snack at any time of the day!
What’s your favorite kind of granola?
It’s a common thought that healthy foods are expensive and junk food is cheap. While it’s true that junk food is incredibly cheap, and healthy food is generally more expensive, there is still hope for cheap healthy foods.
Here’s our list of healthy foods under $1.
Black Beans-the ones in a can are less than a $1 or you can make your own from a bag. It’s high in protein and is a great addition to a meal. It really fills you up and bulks up your meal.
Eggs-usually they are around $.20 per egg and it doesn’t take many to fill you up. Plus there are a million uses for eggs and I mean that literally. The possibilities are endless and they are another incredible source of protein.
Hummus-This is only the homemade version, but I don’t think there is a better treat. HERE is a recipe we posted a while back. Nix the tahini for cost because it doesn’t change the taste too much anyway. Even with all the ingredients, it shouldn’t be more than a $1.
Rice-quite possibly the cheapest food out there. No wonder they use it on survivor the most. It doesn’t have a ton of nutrients, but it’s very cheap and very filling.
Yogurt-You can always find good prices on yogurt and even better prices when they are on sale. Makes for the perfect breakfast and is packed with protein and probiotics.
Popcorn-Just don’t buy the junk version. Make your own. A bag of kernels is around $3 and that will make about 40 servings of popcorn. We posted the “how” to do it without a bag HERE. Popcorn is a great healthy treat! Your kids love it too!
Fruits-Everyone loves fruit right? Some fruit is cheaper than others. Making the cheap list is watermelon (in season), oranges, bananas, and apples. All of these are less than a $1 a serving and are obviously awesome for you!
What’s your favorite cheap, healthy food?
Enter to win a Napa Valley / 34th America’s Cup Getaway! Snap a photo of how the Napa Valley (the wines, the people, the cuisine, the place) has inspired an unexpected summer story… wherever you are. In the caption, tell us your Napa Valley story. Be sure to tag @NapaVintners and #unexpectednapa
Ends July 15th!
Farmville on Facebook? No thank you. I prefer the real deal! At least as much of the real deal as makes sense in my small backyard.
For me that means gardening! Not only is it way more fun than an online game, you get to eat the rewards of your time and effort.
Gardening can be as frugal or as expensive as you want. But if you’re like me and trying your best to keep it on the cheap side, here are my tips.
1 – Plant what’s easy to grow but expensive to buy. That will make the best use of your time, energy, and financial investment into your garden. My go-to suggestions are salad greens. Spinach, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, kale, etc. They are all super easy to grow, some take as little as 60 days from sprout to harvest, and these healthy greens get pricey when you’re buying them every week so growing your own will quickly pay you back your investment and then save you plenty of money in the long run. Not to mention, it’s so much more nutritious straight from your garden!
2 – Container gardening on the cheap. If you don’t have a backyard, or if you’re like me and your backyard drainage drowns plants in the ground, or you just prefer to weed less, container gardening is an option for everyone. However, it does require a bit more investment up front. The good news is that you can skip the fancy, expensive planters and just use 5 gallon buckets instead. These can be bought cheap at home improvement stores, or if you have a friend at a restaurant or bakery, you can ask if they have any (such as frosting buckets). Just drill holes in the bottom for drainage and get planting.
3 – Dirt is not dirt-cheap, but it can be bought for less than full-price. If you need potting soil for your containers, or garden soil to amend your backyard garden, you’re going to have to get bargain hunting! I bought potting soil, big 1.5 cubic feet bags, for just $1 each after this rebate. But you’ll have to hurry because that ends June 2nd. Or perhaps you can save some money by putting together your own potting mix.
4 – Make your own watering can. I used one of those hard plastic orange juice jugs with the handle. I drilled holes in the cap and voila, I have a watering can for free!
5 – Make your own compost. Put those kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, fall leaves, etc. to work! It may sound complicated, but honestly you can take one of those 5 gallon buckets, drill a few air holes in the lid and along the sides, then add your scraps and leaves as you get them. Ideally, mix up the contents once a week. In a few months, you’ll have compost!
If you’re feeling a little more determined, find a few earth worms to add to your compost bucket. They’ll speed up the work and make your compost even better!