Tag Archives: how to

Making real food a part of your real life

Real Food for Real Life

People often ask me how/what I eat. And when they hear the words “real food,” a typical response is, “Oh, I don’t have time for that.”

But the thing is, they probably do.

Oh, there’s a bit of a learning curve, where you have to figure out how to tweak your shopping and your meal prep, but I’m about to give you a shortcut. And once you put some key pieces together, it’s really easy to throw a meal together in 20 minutes or less.

Every. Single. Day.

I’ve got it down to a system. I’ve scattered bits and pieces of my system through several posts on this blog, but I’ve never put them together in one place, in a systematic way that flows logically.

Until now! ūüôā

I pulled several blog posts, updated them, added some new content, and organized it into a short e-book.

I worked hard at boiling everything down to easy-to-understand and easy-to-do. And I think I got it, because my first reader said, “This book not only gave me a better understanding¬†of nutrition, but encouraged me as well. As I read it I thought, ‘I could do this!’ Which for me is huge…. If you’re looking to make a change and need a place to start, this book is it!”

I share the what, why, and how of my real-food approach that’s helped me keep 30 pounds off for three years, and feel better than I have since my 20’s! (Which was — cough – 30 years ago – cough.)

Just shortened that learning curve for ya!

pages from e-book, real food for real life

You’ll learn:

  • why real food matters
  • what to eat and what to avoid
  • a¬†simple real-food meal template
  • how to make it easy forever:
    – the flexible meal plan approach
    – how I stock my kitchen
    – how I stock my freezer
  • tips for healthier snacks & eating out

This captures my most important tips and info. It includes lots of links to real-food recipes on this blog, and to other resources. Just putting in the links rather than the whole recipe keeps the book short and simple — and affordable.

How affordable? How does¬†five bucks¬†sound?¬†(Psst — you can get it for even less¬†if you share it on Facebook or Twitter. Look for the button that says “Share and get 40% off.”)

I’m keeping it cheap ’cause I really just want you¬†to experience how great it feels to get really healthy, have more energy, shed the brain fog, and make it doable for your real life — forever!

Check it out here: Real Food for Real Life: what to eat and how to make it easy

 

All my best food tips (so far) for easy healthy meals!

tips for easy healthy meals

So New Year, new you? Thinking of quitting sugar, quitting processed food, eating more real food, trying gluten-free, grain-free, or going Paleo? I’ve done all of those, and while I’ve landed on a real foods, mostly-veggies-and-meat formula, I’ve collected quite a few tips that work for a wide variety of healthy diets.

Making the switch from convenience food — whether from restaurants or frozen meals — to a whole-foods/real food/homecooked lifestyle does have a learning curve, but once you learn a few tricks and practice them until they become habits, it’ll be a breeze!

Set yourself up for success by trying a few kitchen stocking and ingredient tricks. Here are all my best “tips for eating healthier” and “meal plan” posts:

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20-day diet prep plan: Day 17 ‚Äď begin the process of choosing a diet

Book covers: sugar addict + 21-day sugar detox

Okay, time to process the last couple days’ assignments. By now you should have:

Now to process what you learned there.

But first, a note. To keep things upfront, I want you to know that if you buy any of these books by clicking the links on this page, I‚Äôll get 4-6% of the price ‚ÄĒ but that doesn‚Äôt affect your cost at all, and it helps keep this blog viable. So if you decide to do that, thanks! ¬†ūüôā

You certainly don’t have to buy any books to start a diet, but for me anyway, understanding the “why” behind something — and knowing that other people have found success with a certain approach — goes a long way toward helping me really engage in the process.

Sugar quiz results

If sugar is your captor:

If, after taking the Sugar quiz, you discovered that sugar is your Jabba the Hut…

leia+jabba

…then I recommend¬†checking out¬†this book: The Sugar Addict’s Total¬†Recovery Program, by Kathleen DesMaisons. DesMaisons proposes that some people have what she calls “sugar sensitivity,” making them biologically more susceptible to having an addiction-like response to¬†sugar and carbs.

Sugar Addict's Total Recovery ProgramI was already living pretty sugar-free when I was introduced to this author, so I can’t speak firsthand about how¬†her plan¬†works, but the friend who told me about this book¬†had good success with it, and the reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive. (And DesMaisons’¬†advice about eating potato at bedtime did wonders for my insomnia!)

A little about the author’s background:

As Kathleen DesMaisons neared 240 pounds, she thought losing weight was simply a matter of willpower: develop enough discipline to keep the pounds off, and everything would be fine.

But as time went on and things didn’t change, DesMaisons felt like “a slug who couldn’t get it right.”

Her work as the head of a treatment center for alcoholics and drug addicts caused her… to see her compulsive use of… sugars and carbohydrates, as an addiction. When DesMaisons lost weight through a friend’s protein and vegetable diet — and kept it off — she returned to school, obtaining the first degree in Addictive Nutrition. ¬†(Source)

She recommends that people with “sugar sensitivity” not rush to cut sugar completely out of their diet, ¬†and she lays out five¬†other steps to complete first, to make the break-up with sugar easier and more successful.

If sugar is your “frenemy”:

Maybe you have some difficulties with sweets and carbs. You’re in friendly company; most of us do!

If sweetened drinks (including artificially sweetened ones), other sweets, and/or carby foods such as chips, crackers, pasta, and bread/bagels/donuts/muffins/etc. are currently a regular part of your diet, you might do best to just concentrate on reducing or eliminating those items for now.

21 Day Sugar DetoxOne book that I think does a good job of this is The 21-Day Sugar Detox, by Diane Sanfilippo. Again, this isn’t a book I’ve walked through myself (I was already sugar-free when I started Paleo), but I kept hearing about it from others. Now I’ve read a good deal of it and it all sounds very solid! She explains the whys and hows of nutrition in simple, easy-to-understand language, and lays out a plan to get sugar and processed carbs out of your diet.

A little about the book, from Amazon:

Use the easy-to-follow meal plans and more than 90 simple recipes in this book to bust a lifetime of sugar and carb cravings in just three weeks. Three levels of the program make it approachable for anyone….

By focusing on quality protein, healthy fats, and good carbs, this program will help you change not only the foods you eat, but also your habits around food, and even the way your palate reacts to sweet foods…. After changing your everyday eating habits, you will begin to gain a new understanding of how food works in your body–and just how much nutrition affects your¬†entire¬†life.

So, if you’ve never eliminated sugar completely from your diet, or if you have but have backtracked, I think this would be a really solid place to start.

Let me repeat that, I want to make sure no one skips over it:

—————–

If you haven’t already eliminated

sugar and refined carbs from your diet,

start working on just those!

—————–

I’ll give you some specific direction later.

Already free from sugar?

Lucky you! If sugar and carbs aren’t a big deal for you, but you still have some issues you think may be diet related — such as fatigue, allergies, joint pain, digestive problems, mood swings, adult acne — you may want to consider eliminating some other foods from your diet. Read on…

About food sensitivities

If you scored high on the food sensitivity quiz — or even if you just have one item on the list that is particularly bugging you — you may benefit from trying an elimination diet.

That means eliminating one or more types of food from your diet completely for a specific period of time, watching to see if your symptoms improve. Usually, this is two weeks at the very minimum, but four weeks is better. Then at the end of the abstention period, you add back one type of food (if you were eliminating more than one) and watch to see if symptoms reappear.

Giving this proper attention would make this post reeeeeally long, so to keep your reading for today short, I’m going to continue this topic tomorrow.

Oven-roasted tomatoes

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On BLT’s, oven-dried, oven-roasted, in a sauce…

I had some less-than-stellar farmstand beefsteak tomatoes last week taking up space in my fridge. Actually, just several slices from one large tomato. The flavor was only so-so in the BLT’s we’d sliced them for, but¬†I was reluctant to throw them out,¬†so there they sat.

Then something (probably something on Pinterest) made me think of oven-dried tomatoes. Which are basically sun-dried tomatoes, with more control and fewer bugs.


Tried it: uh, YUM!

Below are links to several recipes, but since most of them call for Roma or cherry tomatoes, I was kind of improvising. The first one on the list is the process that I more-or-less followed. Here’s mine:

  • oven preheated to 200 F
  • large tomato, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • seeds and the jelly around them poked out and set aside
  • tomato slices on a cooling rack; rack nestled in my favorite baking sheet
  • checked after a couple hours.

Because mine were thin and mostly jelly-less, they dried out pretty quickly. In two or three hours, some of them were already crispy. So crispy, in fact, that the pieces with a fair amount of peel were like super-tomatoey potato chips. And the tart, intense flavor? Hugely improved over the disappointing fresh version. I chowed down! (Hubs thought they tasted kinda burnt, but I thought they tasted great! Maybe he just got a bad one.) I’ll probably try some more next week, to see if I can recreate that great accident.
> Oven-dried tomatoes from About.com
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Food Network
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Tomato Dirt

I mentioned that I had poked out the juices/goop from the slices before baking. One of the recipes I read mentioned “tomato water;” never heard of that, so I googled it.¬†One “recipe” required a food processor, cheesecloth, and eight hours. But I wasn’t up for that, so I just took the goop, seeds and liquid and poured the whole mess through a sieve. It¬†yielded¬†about a couple tablespoons of tomato-pink liquid. There wasn’t enough of it to use in a recipe, but I tasted it — then added a wee bit of salt — and tasted it again, and it was delish! I can see it being a great liquid to poach fish in, or to put up in the freezer to add a little genuine summer taste to a winter marinara or soup.
> About tomato water, from Bon Appetit
> About tomato water, from New York Times

Also, if you want something a little less dehydrated, here’s a recipe for roasted tomatoes, which just takes them to a concentrated but still fairly moist stage. I haven’t tried this method, but if I did, I would make them without the herbs, to make them more versatile.¬†
>¬†Oven-roasted tomatoes from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Truly the best & easiest way to cook bacon!

best way to cook bacon

I’ve tried ’em all — stovetop, grill, microwave, and oven on a slotted broiling pan — but this method makes crispy, evenly-done, flat bacon with substantially less mess than any other method.

Here’s the summary:

  • use good quality, fairly thickly-cut bacon (I like Wright brand, at Dillon’s)
  • preheated 400 F oven
  • good quality cookie sheet: half sheet for 8 oz of bacon; full sheet for 16 oz.
  • cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil completely; up the sides and around the edge, for the easiest clean up
  • lay the bacon on the foil, close but not touching
  • bake for 12 minutes, pour off excess fat (save it for another use), return to the oven
  • check every two minutes till done to your liking, minus a bit (it will continue to cook a bit after being pulled from the oven)

Clean-up consists of carefully draining off the rest of the grease, wadding up the foil and tossing it in the trash!

For more details, check out the original article from The Kitchn. (Photo from The Kitchn.)

Peel, cut, core, dice: Tips for fruit and veggie prep

how to cup up veggies, how to cut up fruit
The Kitchn has compiled a super-handy list of 20 tips and how-to’s for prepping various fruits and vegetables. Some of the more interesting entries:

How to¬†peel a head of garlic¬†in 10 seconds.¬†Two bowls, a solid surface, and you’re 10 seconds away from a bunch of naked garlic cloves.
How to peel roasted red peppers.
How to cut a mango.
How to dice an avocado.
How to dice an onion.
How to core a head of iceberg lettuce.
How to seed a pomegranate.

See the full list of 20 items.

Also, here are a few short, helpful videos from Domestic Geek:

Kicking the sugar habit? Here’s the most important thing to know.

PinExt
Kicking the sugar habit - sugar monster, or sugar dragon

Sugar really can be quite addicting.¬† Dr Eric Stice¬†has famously said, ‚ÄúSugar activates the brain similar to the way cocaine reacts‚ÄĚ.¬†I think that those who call it “toxic” are going overboard, though. As Dr. David L. Katz says, “the dose makes the poison.” And Americans are definitely over-dosing. On average, American adults eat about 100 pounds of sugar a year. (Source.)

(Click these links for some stunning graphics showing how much sugar and corn syrup the average American consumes in a day, week, month, year and lifetime. Care for a dip in a hot-tub full of corn syrup, anyone?)

I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia in high school, so I was trained early on to stay away from or at least go easy on sugar, but later in life, I got a little sloppy with it. Eventually, between my weight gain, migraines, and moods, I finally realized that I needed to get back to that super-cautious approach to sugar.

Here’s a short video by “Mama Natural” with some tips for kicking the white stuff:

I especially want to note this point that she mentions in passing:

Eating sugar creates craving for more sugar.

Understanding this made a big difference for me. Before I realized this, I might indulge in some sweets a few times a week because, hey, a little now and then isn’t that bigga deal, right? But the sweet itself isn’t the only cost: it can kick off bigger cravings one or two hours later, and depending on your vulnerability, those cravings might last for days. As I’ve made clear before, I do believe in the occasional indulgence for very special occasions. But when I do, I know I’ve got to get back on the no-sugar horse the very next day and tough out the cravings until they subside.

The great thing is, the reverse is also true. The more you stay off of sugar and other white carbs, the more your cravings will subside. The first week or two is gonna be tough, but after that it gets lots, lots easier. If you are physically addicted to sugar, you may need to do a slower withdrawal in order to manage bothersome side effects. For more info, see this article on how to get through sugar withdrawal.

So if you’re trying to punt the sugar monster, hang in there! You’ll be glad you did!

the hard truth: if you want to get rid of cravings, you've got to get rid of sugar.

* Find Just Me(gan)’s blog at¬†http://tallydogs.wordpress.com/