The Crunchy Poser

trying to live, and eat, purely

Where Did May Go?

I have gotten several comments and questions about my abrupt pause in blogging and I wanted to address them in the few peaceful moments I have this afternoon.

My life is changing a bit and because of that, so will my blog. I haven’t written because I’m trying to figure out how to balance all the change. Not to mention that May has been a tornado of a month. To give you a small taste, here are a few things that have been going on:

An all day family photo shoot with the fabulous Haley Sheffield

Food poisoning

A death in the family

A toddler with ever-changing sleep patterns

The husband working/traveling a lot (this equals mommy and baby days at home with no car)

A new (part-time) job at the YMCA

and lastly…and most exciting/scary/crazy/am I insane for doing this?….I am starting school again in July.

All of this craziness has kept me from blogging. I have been a very happy but, exhausted camper. I have been passing out around 9 every night. Don’t tell anyone how cool I am!

I love the topic of what I blog about. In fact I am getting my degree in public health. However, because next month looks even crazier than this month, my blog won’t look quite the same. I will still blog food/health stuff when I can. I love it and it is obviously a huge part of my life. It just won’t be as frequent during the summer and there will probably be a bit more personal stuff thrown in the mix just to keep things current.

It’s nice to know so many people care what I think and have to stay and I hope you stick around throughout the summer and check out what my little fam is up to. As things relax a bit more in the fall you can expect a lot more recipes and food blogging!

Quick Grocery Tips

My mindset about what I buy for my family has changed so much in the last few months, from what I’m eating to how our food is made.

Here are some quick tips to what I look out for when I’m grocery shopping

Green is good – I literally try to make sure half of my cart is green…or at least something that comes straight out of the earth. This means lots of fruits and veggies. My friend Bethany recently wrote about the changes she’s made in diet and how great it’s been. She has replaced at lest one meal a day with a salad. This is a great starting point if you don’t eat veggies on a regular basis. Load up a plate with spinach and any veggies you can find in the fridge. While you’re at it, try your hand at a home-made dressing.

Shop the perimeter – Most people who are even vaguely trying for a healthy lifestyle know this one but, it never hurts to touch on it. All your produce, meats and dairy will be in the perimeter and this is the stuff you need to be buying and cooking for yourself. I’m to the point now where I go down two, maybe three inside aisles at the most to get frozen veggies, flour and beans.

Read Labels – It’s amazing how much food companies and the government go back and forth about packaging, what the words on the front of the box mean, and how healthy companies can make something sound. Let me tell you, packaging and branding mean nothing. “All Natural” is a completely unregulated statement. If you want to know what you are eating, look at the ingredients list. Know what you are putting in your body! This leads me to my next guideline.

5 Ingredients or less – Anything processed I buy needs to meet this standard. The only exception would be if I can read, understand and am ok with every single ingredient on a list. If I don’t know what an ingredient is, how it’s made or what it’s for then I don’t particularly want to consume it. Why do I need to buy bread with 20 ingredients on it when I can make my own that has 5?

Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen – Buying organic is always a good idea. This guarantees your food is pesticide free and meats have had no added hormones or antibiotics among other things. Buying organic can seem costly at first and if that scares you, look up the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list. Those listed in the dirty dozen contain can contain up to 60 different chemicals. These items are the ones you’ll definitely want to try to switch to organic. The clean fifteen has little to no pesticide residue and it’s cool to stick with non-organics on these. I would encourage you to always buy organic meat in the grocery store.

Whole Grains – This is pretty simple. The less refined something is, the better it will be for you. Skip over products with enriched, bleached and white flour.

Shop Local – This isn’t a grocery store tip but, it’s the best one I can give. Finding out where your food comes from will change the way you eat and the way you see nutrition and health. If you shop local you benefit yourself and your local economy. Seek out ways to support farmers who strive to grow and raise quality food.

Herb Roasted Chicken

I can’t believe I waited all my life to start roasting chickens!

It’s the easiest thing ever, super economical and you benefit so much from the whole bird.

From a three to four pound chicken, Mark and I usually get two dinners, chicken salad sandwiches for two days, and the extremely nutritious broth from the chicken bones. Do you make your own broth? You should be. We’ll talk more about that later.

First, let’s roast a chicken!

Herb Roasted Chicken

3-4 pound whole chicken (very preferably a local, pastured chicken)

1 Onion

2-3 cloves Garlic

Olive Oil

Fresh Herbs of your choice (I picked sage and rosemary)

Salt

Pepper

Dutch Oven or Rimmed Baking Sheet

How it’s Done

Are you ready for this? It’s going to take all of 15 minutes!

Preheat your oven to 450°

Rinse your chicken and make sure the cavity is empty of all organs.

Grab some of your herbs and chop, chop, chop about 2-3 tablespoons of them.

Toss them into a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Next, give your onion a rough chop into quarters and your garlic cloves a quick smash.

Stuff all that inside your chicken.

Generously coat the bird with your olive oil/herb mixture.

Place your chicken in a dutch oven or on a rimmed baking sheet. I prefer a baking sheet but, in these photo’s my kitchen was in dire need of the smallest square footage of mess possible.

Place a meat thermometer in your chicken and stick it in the oven. Roast for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until the chicken reaches 160°.

See? That was so easy, right?

Mmmm, the skin is all crispy and delicious and the meat inside was tender and perfect.

Enjoy your chicken and make sure you save all the leftovers, even the bones! We’ll talk broth tomorrow.

Detox Completion

Eep!

Bad blogger, I know.

We have had way too much going on personally for me to really give much time to cooking or nutrition this week. Not that it was ignored but, I just didn’t have much in the way to share.

I did complete my sugar detox today though and I apologize for not putting as much into on here as I would have liked.

I feel really great about it. I lost two pounds (started last week at 141.6 and am now down to 139.0), slept better and felt more energetic during the day.

It was super hard, especially if we ate out. You never know what’s in things and trying to find whole wheat anything at a restaurant seems almost impossible. I missed having a touch of sweet in my coffee and for sure missed honey in my oatmeal. I feel successful though. I was asked today if I planned on bingeing now that it’s over and my honest answer is “no”. I don’t feel the need to indulge myself now. I’m not saying I won’t ever again. I love sweets. I don’t feel like they have a hold on me though. It’s nice to know that.

I hope everyone else doing this had similar results and are feeling good about the decision to kick the sugar cravings.

A Day Without Sugar

No post yesterday. Me and the husband had a rare night alone and seized the opportunity to ditch our homebody ways, eat out and watch The Hunger Games.

Did anyone else find it as lackluster as I did? Maybe I’m in the minority here. It was good but the whole time I just felt like the heart of the book was missing. This is the problem with reading before viewing (not that I could have known a movie would come out).

Anyways, back to sugar. It’s day 6 without it! It’s getting easier in daily life but, I can see how special occasion and eating out make it super hard. I always have water when I eat out but, Mark always has coke and I always have a few sips. This time, I wasn’t allowed. It was somewhat torturous. Also, eating out after eating at home for so long did a number on my stomach. It tasted great but man I can tell a difference in how my body processes it.

Here’s what my no sugar days have been looking like!

Breakfast

Baked OatmealSteel Cut Oats with Fruit and Cinnamon, or Eggs Over Easy and usually a glass of milk and a half cup of coffee

After workout Snack

Fruit, Yogurt with granola, or Green Smoothie

Lunch

Egg Salad Sandwich, Chicken Salad Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich or a myriad of different Salad options with homemade dressing. (Sandwiches are on whole wheat bread)

Afternoon Snack

Granola, Fruit, Almonds or Hard-boiled Eggs

Dinner

Too vast to name everything but this is the easiest meal to leave sugar out of. Usually a small amount of meat or legumes and veggies.

Before Bed

Herbal tea or Glass of Milk

Wow it looks like I eat a ton but, when I’m working out and trying to eat in small quantities I am usually eating throughout the day.

I also wanted to share that this week I adapted my granola recipe. While it is super healthy and only uses honey I am committed to no sweeteners. Instead of Honey and applesauce I added about 1 pound mashed strawberries and upped the coconut to 2 cups. It is so so yummy. The perfect sugar-free snack!

Madi loves it with yogurt and a spoonful of preserves. Mine is without preserves during sugar-detox but still great!

What’s In A Number?

Today I want to talk about weight.

There are so many people (mostly women) that hate talking about their weight and even fewer who will speak in terms of actual numbers. Today I’m giving you my real life numbers.

Before I start I just want to say that I, in no way, equate weight with health. I think weight is part of a whole system and weight is  one of many indicators of a healthy life. I have   curves and no matter how much I weigh I always will. I’m cool with that. I think curvy women are beautiful. We need to embrace that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

I will also say that American’s have never weighed more in our history than we do now. A lot of that is because of how we eat. It’s sad. 1 in 5 kids is obese. That shouldn’t happen. These aren’t kids that necessarily sit in the corner either. They’re kids who live on McDonalds.

I want to touch on my weight today because I believe the change is in direct correlation to the way I am eating.

Here’s a quick condensed version of all my weight changes.

Highschool: hovered around 120

College: I don’t weigh myself frequently but the few times I did it was around 135

First years of marriage: 145

2 years working out during marriage: Never under 143

Move to Alpharetta, walked a lot, but no gym: Down to 135

Pregnancy: 155

After bean is born: 148

Move back to Toccoa, Right before I start changing our food habits and join the gym (Around January): 146-147

Today: 140.6

I have never been extremely unhappy or even worried about my weight, I’m still not. However, I do find the patterns in my life interesting. My lowest weight was in highschool which I think is normal. My second lowest weight was when I was consistently walking, and cooking meals at home a lot in Alpharetta.

My highest weight (minus pregnancy and right after) was right after marriage when I was consistently working out! Crazy right? When I was working out without changing my food habits I was constantly frustrated. My weight never changed. It just wavered between 143 and 145. My second highest weight was after bean was born. It was a stressful year and we started eating out a lot and eating a lot of processed food.

Since I’ve changed the foods I put in my body and started exercising on a regular basis I have never felt better. I think no matter how much you work out, if you put junk in your body, then that is what you are going to feel and look like. I do have a goal weight of 135 and it’s so nice to see my weight actually go down consistently.

I’ve also been loving the sugar detox (although I miss honey like crazy). I’ve been fully committed having NO sugar at all. It’s been interesting realizing just how much it’s in every day things. The second day was really hard but, I have felt a lot more energized throughout the day and find that I wake up for the day ready to go. This is awesome since allergy season is upon us and my body is fighting hard to keep them at bay.

I’ll post more tomorrow about the sugar detox and what it’s looked like in my daily eating.

Baked Sweet Potato Oatmeal

I love Thanksgiving because it usually means sweet potato pie. So delicious, I want it just thinking of it.

This breakfast isn’t quite the same but it is hearty, tasty and will keep you going throughout the morning.

I omitted the sweetener in lieu of my sugar detox and it was missing a little something but overall still good. Make this on Monday and you’ll have breakfast for the rest of the week.

Baked Sweet Potato Oatmeal

You’ll need

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup milk

1/2 cups yogurt

2 eggs

3 tablespoons salted butter (softened)

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potato

How it’s Done

I made this the night before and popped it in the oven the next morning.

Steam or bake your sweet potatoes. Once cool, mash or puree.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients.

Place in a greased, 8 inch pie pan.

Bake at 375° for 40 minutes.

This is so yummy and when I’m done detoxing I have a great crumble to put on top. In place of the sweetener I did add a mashed banana which helped :)

Enjoy.

Staying Away From Sugar

Tomorrow starts the two-week sugar detox and I am simultaneously dreading it and pumped for it.

I think it will be hardest around day 3 or 4 when my body really starts to get what’s going on.

For some people this might seem an easy challenge, for me it will be difficult at times. I’ve kept some metal notes the past two weeks in preparation for the detox. I like chocolate when I’m stressed and any sweets at all at night. It really seems like a driving need sometimes. When it pops in my head, I have to have it then. I never really noticed it before but, I also never really made an effort to not have it before.

Here are a few things to think about when you start this next week…

Labels

Read the labels on all of your food products. You’ll be amazed at how much sugar/high fructose corn syrup prevails in the supermarket. It’s in pretty much every condiment you can think of. It’s in a lot of lunch meat, bread, cereals and creamers. I will say, you’ll be hard pressed to find bread without a bit of sugar but do try to stay away from high fructose corn syrup in your bread.

Breakfast

I think this meal, more than any other, has paved the way for sugar. Cereal, pancakes and doughnuts are all completely acceptable breakfast items. I’ve even had chocolate cake for breakfast and been totally okay with that. However, this is how you start your day and really you should start your day with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Try having eggs, no sugar granola and yogurt, or oatmeal with fresh fruit for breakfast. I know personally, coffee will be a hard one this week. I can do no sugar but I do like a little creamer in my morning cup. I’ll probably just use milk this week but, I’m already a little sad about it.

Cravings

We all get them. That urge to have something sweet. For a lot of people I think craving sweets is an emotional thing and you should take a look at your stress level. I’m not a doctor or anything but that’s what I’ve seen from personal experience. Whenever cravings hit, ask your self if maybe you are legitimately hungry. If so, try eating some yogurt with fruit in it or drinking an 8 ounce glass of milk. At night, try drinking some herbal tea flavored with fruit.

Good luck to everyone joining me, I hope it is ultimately a good experience and helps us kick our sugar habits!

Strawberry Freezer Preserves

While I was at the grocery store the other day they had a really great deal on strawberries. So, I bought a bunch.

Today I made preserves.

I love preserves. There’s nothing better than preserves on toast, a pb&j, bagels, an english muffin or in yogurt and oatmeal.

I wish I had the equipment to can to my heart’s content but until I get it, the freezer will work. I know what’s going into my preserves and it saves a ton of money since we like preserves a lot and that is super important to me.

They are sweetened with raw honey so it is a bit more tart than your grocery store preserves but, that’s how I like it.

What you need

4 cups crushed strawberries (used 3 (1 pound) cartons and it made maybe 4 1/4 cups)

no sugar added pectin (I used the Ball brand because I have a large tub of it. I used 3 tablespoons)

1 cup Honey

1 3/4 cup water (You can use juice but I don’t really know how I feel about processed juices…another post for another day)

Large saucepan

funnel (or, if you are unprepared like me, a large bowl with a spout)

8 half pint jars and freezer safe lids

What you do

This is so easy peasy.

Hull (cut off the tops) your strawberries and crush crush crush. You can use a potato masher but I used my hands. Whatever floats your boat.

In your sauce pan, add the water and crushed fruit. Turn heat to medium and bring to a boil. While your preserves are heating slowly stir in your pectin. Once at a boil, add your honey and stir. Again, bring your preserves to a rolling boil and let them boil for a full minute.

Remove them from heat and spoon off any foamy gunk on top.

Pour into your jars (sit the jars on a towel you don’t mind getting dirty) and let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Place the lids on (I used the Ball brand freezer safe lids that are BPA free) and store in the fridge overnight. This lets them thicken a bit more. The next day place any that you won’t be using in the freezer. Use each jar within 3 weeks of defrosting.

Busy Days

Hello there. I realized today I haven’t done a legit, informational, or recipe blog in a while.

I apologize for that. For some strange reason the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of busyness. Friends, activities, obligations and chores all seem to have conspired to pull at me. I’m not complaining though. I’ve enjoyed myself. I just realized that as the days get longer and warmer, blogging will be much harder to commit to. I have still been doing tons of research and cooking but also lots more playing with my love and relaxing a bit.

I’ll be much more inclined to blog something worth your while after me and the husband have watched Andrew Bird and gotten through our bought of craziness.

Until then, here are som pictures of my little love. She is getting so big and wants desperately to talk to us!

Don’t forget to send me an email at crunchyposer@gmail.com if you want to be a part of the sugar detox!

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