Ingredient readiness makes healthy homecooking so much easier! Fresh baby spinach is one of those things that’s ALWAYS on hand in my fridge. Its flavor and texture are very mild, and it’s an easy way to add healthy greens to so many dishes. But if you don’t store it right, it can quickly waste away into a slimy mess in the bottom of the veggie drawer!
Here are my tips on storage to keep spinach fresh as long as possible.
Important note: when I show how to use a paper towel for fridge storage, I forgot to mention or show that you also put the lid back on the bin!
The connection between real food and health is a very personal topic for me.
It began when I was 15, sitting in a pastor’s office with my parents. (I was about that age in the photo above. I’m on the left.) My poor mom and dad were at their wits’ end: they couldn’t figure out why their daughter had turned into Dr. Jekyll and Miss Hyde. I was prone to such angry, violent outbursts that I sometimes frightened my own mom and dad. I could see it in their eyes.
After listening to our story for a bit, the pastor asked my parents a surprising, pivotal question: “Have you had her tested for hypoglycemia?” (low blood sugar).
So began my journey into understanding the connection between food and mental/emotional well-being.
My mom dove into understanding the medical issue and then explaining it to me so I could get it. I learned that eating sugar sent my biochemistry on a rollercoaster that had the power to make me anything from foggy-headed to hopeless to furious. After some adjustments to our family’s diet, I learned how to eat mostly sugar-free, most of the time. I adhered to that way of eating to varying degrees over the next few decades.
Fast-forward about 20 years, and the health challenge was no longer mine: it was my parents’. They were in their late 60’s and, based on the common medical advice, began following a “heart-healthy diet.” Lots of fruit, salads with low-fat dressing, whole grains, and limited, very lean meat. Butter and eggs were replaced with chemical doppelgangers. Lots of packaged and processed foods, too. Anything was fine, as long as it was labeled “low fat,” “low calorie,” or “diet.”
I remember being confused in the eighties when I began to hear about red meat and eggs and dairy fat being bad for you. Everyone in my family grew up on farm fare: homegrown vegetables, of course, but also eggs every day, bacon or sausage for breakfast, and home-raised or local beef and chicken — with all the fat! Nobody dieted or counted calories.
And they were the healthiest people I knew.
A few years into following their low-fat diet, my mom was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, so she got even more serious about following the diet to the letter.
Around 2004, she began showing signs of dementia. Soon, she received the diagnosis of “probable Alzheimer’s.”
This time, I was the one digging into the medical info. And what I found stunned me.
Yes, there’s a genetic component to dementia. (My mom’s mom also had it.) But back then, science was just beginning to suspect that it’s not the fat that’s driving heart disease and diabetes: it’s the sugar and carbs. Now, 10 years later, the case looks more certain.
But dementia isn’t the only disease linked with diet. My dad had been diagnosed with Lupus while I was still in high school. Until he started the strong meds to keep the debilitating symptoms at bay, this I-can-fix-anything guy could barely hold a screwdriver, because his hands were so swollen and painful. I remember his trying to talk my mom and me through an electrical repair — an exercise in frustration for everyone involved!
In 2007, my dad was diagnosed with a second disease: pulmonary fibrosis. His lungs were being consumed by scar tissue. This was likely the result, said his doctor, of either the lupus, or the medication he’d been taking for it the last 25 years.
Recent evidence is also beginning to recognize a connection between diet and autoimmune diseases, or at least the symptoms. (one source)
I tried desperately to re-educate my parents, but it was too late. The old “low fat, diet everything” mantra was too strongly ingrained in them. As they continued to follow the mainstream advice, they spiraled down into worse and worse health.
My dad died in 2010. His mind was sharp to the end, but his body betrayed him, and his last few days were harrowing. A week before he died, a nurse told me she could hear dripping water in his chest.
My mom’s Alzheimer’s took 10 long, dark years to steal her away.
Her grandchildren — my son and daughter — had been her greatest delight. She missed their high school and college graduations, because even travelling a short distance would have been too overwhelming for her.
She missed her granddaughter’s wedding. At that point, she longer recognized any of us, even for a second.
She joined my dad in heaven in 2015.
Could a different diet have prevented or reversed their disease? I don’t know. No one can say for sure. And let me be clear: I’m not saying diet is a cure. (Except, possibly, for Type 2 Diabetes.) There are certainly other factors at play, but after reading story after story of people reversing the effects of diabetes and autoimmune diseases with diet, I firmly believe that a real-food diet with the necessary healthy fats could have slowed and lessened the cruel impact these illnesses had on our family.
But it’s not too late for me. I have fully committed to an almost completely sugar-free lifestyle, with minimal proccessed and maximum whole foods.
And now it’s my passion to reach others before it’s too late for them. I want to save other moms, dads, and grandparents from missing out on life while they’re still living.
And it’s not just disease that robs us of life while we’re still living: it’s achy joints, and lack of energy, and foggy brain. It’s discouragement and guilt about how helpless we feel to make permanent, meaningful changes.
So now this is my passion:
Inspiring people to rescue their own health,
by equipping them to change
what they eat and why they eat.
It’s not too late for you, either. How can I help you?
Today, I’m sharing a success story that touches on a topic near to my heart: lupus. My dad suffered from lupus for a little more than three decades before he went home to Jesus in 2010. Before he was actually diagnosed, he was bedridden and in severe pain for weeks at a time, for more than a year. After diagnosis, he was on heavy-duty meds that kept the pain and inflammation under control for many years, enabling him to live a more-or-less normal life. Once a week, he went in for his methotrexate shot, and I think he took other medications as well. In the end, lupus + the meds + the stress of caring for my mom as she declined in Alzheimer’s did him in. If only we’d known then how much of a role food can play in lupus and other autoimmune diseases, he may have been able to take less medicine, and been with us longer.
But now, many lupus sufferers are discovering that the Paleo diet or some variation of it helps reduce their symptoms. On Instagram, I met Annie through the #paleo hashtag, and I was intrigued when she mentioned that she has lupus. She recently shared the before and after pics you see above, and I asked if I could share her story here. (You can find her on Instagram as @wholepaleoannie.)
When you’re craving tacos, but you know you feel better if you skip the tortilla and/or the cheese, this Paleo-friendly way to get your taco fix is quick and simple when you’ve got prepped ingredients ready to go.
This isn’t a recipe: it’s an assemblage of several things I keep on hand, thrown together. If you have all the ingredients ready, this will cook up in about 15 minutes, maybe less. It’s super easy! I’ll walk you through it…
I’ve always got cooked diced sweet potato and diced onion on hand in the fridge. (Check out my sweet potato post for tips and a how-to video.) On this happy day, I also had cooked, seasoned, crumbled hamburger in the freezer. I don’t always have it on hand, but when I’m cooking hamburger for a recipe or immediate meal, I try to cook extra. It’s cooked with onions and maybe garlic, and seasoned with a little salt and pepper (not too much, since it’s usually added to other things that may already have salt and heat). Then I divide it into single-serving baggies, and stash those in a gallon baggie in the freezer. The small baggies are quick and easy to thaw, making meals like this much quicker.
I rarely cook dishes like this by recipe anymore. But for those who aren’t so comfortable winging it, here’s my guess, per serving:
onion – about half a small onion, or a quarter of a large one
hamburger – about 4 oz. or 1/2 cup
sweet potato – equal to or a little less than the hamburger
On this particular day, I added some diced bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and kale, but those are quite optional. Another no-chop option would be to just stir in some salsa.
Then I add a generous sprinkling of homemade taco seasoning (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon; start small, taste, and add till it suits you), stir it in, and boom! – it’s done!
Toppings are optional. If I’d had avocado or guacamole on hand, I would’ve used one of those. But I didn’t, so I topped it with dairy-free “sour cream” (coconut milk yogurt with a splash of lemon juice stirred in). You could use real sour cream, if you do dairy.
Yum! Tons of flavor. You won’t miss the taco shells or the cheese at all!
So, imagine it’s 4:30 or so, and it’s just dawning on you that you don’t know what you’re fixing for dinner tonight. Do you figure out what recipe you’re going to use, make a list, go by the store, and cook it when you get home? Or do you choose frozen factory food, drive-through, or carryout — again?
I know that routine well! It’s how I lived from my early 20’s till, oh, about my early 50’s. But not any more.
People often ask me how/what I eat, and when they hear the words “real food,” or “veggies, protein, and healthy fat,” a typical response is, “Oh, I don’t have time for that.”
But the thing is, they probably do. You 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 worked it out the hard way, but now 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! 🙂
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!“
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!
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
“If you’re looking to make a change and need a place to start, this book is it!”
– a reader
This e-book 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!
Today, I’m sharing another story from one of my Instagram friends: Jo Romero from the UK. We’ve never met in real life, but I loved her story when she shared it on IG, so I asked to share it with you.
I love that her story includes healing from so many things, and that she continues to listen to her body and tweak her diet as needed. And of course, that she’s discovered how great it feels when you eat real food!
I have to give props for this recipe: I’ve changed it very little from the original whatcaitate posted on Instagram. (Here’s her website: www.whatcaitate.com.) She called it flatbread. I have used it for sandwiches, but my favorite way to eat this is as a grain-free pizza crust.