Fresh start

Howdy-do. I’m so glad it’s Monday. For various reasons, last week was busy, tiring, and a little hectic. Some fun updates took place around my house, and I’ll share a few of them when the time is right. Today is the start of a new week, with potential and projects and kids back in school. Ahhhh, I can hear the quiet.

I feel a brain dump coming on. Are you up for it?

First off, a sugar update. It’s been about a month since the week o’ sugar series (wow! time flies). Did it have a lasting impact on you, or did you fizzle out pretty quick? I’m proud to say I’ve had some success. For three weeks I had no extra sugar in the form of alcohol, sweets, candy, dessert; you name it. I felt awesome, lost four pounds in the first two weeks, and it really wasn’t that hard. Really. Maybe I was just ready. Over the last week, I relaxed my rules a little and had some treats here and there. What I realized is that it’s a slippery slope, and I don’t feel like sliding back down. So I’m voluntarily going to go back on the sugar wagon, with one BIG exception. Saturday is Graham’s 4th birthday and I have cake plans. Oh, do I have plans. I will never say no to birthday cake. EVER. Otherwise, I’m realizing most of the other stuff is just not worth it.

Along with cutting out more sugar, I’ve committed to adding good stuff. It’s no secret I don’t love fruit, and though I try to include veggies with most meals, I can definitely do better. Much better. I’ve written about the effect of food on chronic inflammation, and with my back/hip thing still in flux, I’m feeling the need to take control where I can. Who knows whether a better diet will lead to reduced pain, but it certainly can’t hurt. I want to be as healthy as I can.

I do a pretty good job with dinners (though more veggies and less “filler” is a goal), but the rest of the day–particularly snacks–could use a makeover. Over the weekend, I scoured my favorite healthy eating source, and picked out some recipes with potential.

On Saturday I took inspiration from Cinco de Mayo and healthified tortilla chips. I made my own, using small corn tortillas, cooking spray and a little kosher salt. Find the specifics, here, along with slimmed down versions of margaritas and guacamole.

For the guacamole, I stuck with Mike’s famous recipe. The man can make guac. Mashed avocado, sprinkled with a touch of store-bought mild guacamole seasoning, a squirt of fresh lime, chopped tomatoes, some cilantro and maybe a tiny dollop of non-fat sour cream.

As for the margaritas, I plan to try to recipe linked above, but I didn’t have seltzer on hand so I just put tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice and a dash of Cointreau in a shaker with ice. I’ll admit it’s a little better with a squeeze of agave nectar or a splash of apple juice (trust me!), but I didn’t have those in the house either. My version was crisp and refreshing.

Sunday I got the boys in on the improved eating action, and had Garrett help brainstorm a list of healthy snacks and lunches. He wrote everything down on a scrap of paper, and we posted it on the fridge. Graham colored at the table while we worked.

Egg muffins are a new breakfast I’ve tried once. I’m going to tweak the recipe a little and then I’ll share. Red ants are a version of ants on a log, with celery, peanut butter and craisens. The kids are OBSESSED with red fire ants.

The last one, veggies and dip, is the area I think we can make the most improvement. I’ve been experimenting with different ways of making dip, usually using plain, non-fat yogurt as the base. I tried a few homemade dill/yogurt/other herb mixes with no great success. Finally I just decided to get some of those ranch packets at the store. Fake, msg-ish, to be sure, but I use about 1 tsp. mix with about 1/2 cup yogurt so I figure the damage is minimal. Find what works for you, and what you feel comfortable with, and go with it. I’m not looking for perfection, people. Just a way to eat more veggies.

I also made this bean dip recipe, and we all really liked it. Because I’m lazy, I left out most of the herbs, except for the chives, which we have growing in the backyard. For more bean dip recipes, click here.

Finally, I remade a little snack jar situation.

I found this sweety at Ikea for about $7.

Once my assistant tested it for sturdiness and stability, I prepped and spray painted until it was a glossy white. I let it cure for a couple of days, and now it’s on my kitchen table; the base for my pretty set of antique canning jars.

I’ve wanted a set like this since I first saw a similar one at my mother-in-law’s house waaaay back in high school. She always has it on her countertop, and switches the candy in the jars by season (or after I’ve been there and dented her supply). It’s one of my favorite things in her house, and I tried to recreate it here, but it was just too tempting (for everyone but Mike, of course). Now the jars display seeds, nuts, dried fruit and dry pasta. Pretty, colorful, and much healthier.

Well, there you have it. Just a few of the changes and improvements going on around my house. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: small, manageable changes are the ones that stick. Got any to share with me? I’m all ears.

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2 thoughts on “Fresh start

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Great ideas for snacks, thank you for sharing! I love the jars at Terry’s house too. I like the idea of filling them with nuts and grains we use often!

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