Recipe: Chocolate Banana Smoothie

I am in the middle of taking the October Unprocessed Challenge (a challenge to eat only REAL foods for the entire month of October.)  I have been drinking lots of smoothies this month, and I have discovered a new one that I love!  This  smoothie tastes great, and it’s made with ingredients I usually always have on hand.  So, when I plan to make another smoothie and discover that I’m out of yogurt or berries, this is usually what I’ve been going to.  It tastes a lot like chocolate milk to me, only without the added sugar!

chocolate-banana-smoothie-logo

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz milk (cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk…use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (preferably raw & local)
  • 2 Ripened Bananas, frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

 

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

This makes approximately 16 oz (2 servings)

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Recipe: Roasted Broccoli

May 16, 2014 Roasted Broccoli Stacy LovesI am always trying to get more vegetables and Superfoods into my diet.  Broccoli is a Superfood and cancer-fighting food, and roasted broccoli has become one of my favorite foods…especially this recipe.

I’m not very motivated when it comes to washing, cutting, preparing, and cooking vegetables, especially since I’m usually the only one in my family who will eat them.  Unfortunately, more vegetables rot in my refrigerator than I would like.  I have good intentions when I’m at the grocery store, but unless I buy them for a specific purpose, I usually forget about them and they sit there until I get the motivation to do something with them.  Or they rot.  And it really bothers me when I have to throw food away.

So, I was really excited when I first discovered this super-easy recipe for roasted broccoli last year.  I make this often, and oftentimes I eat the entire thing in one sitting.  It is THAT good!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Place broccoli, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper in a ziploc bag and shake.  Alternatively, place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  3. Spread out on baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.  Bake about 30 minutes.

Broccoli will be crunchy and delicious!  If desired, squeeze lemon over broccoli.  This is optional, but I do this because I love anything with lemon.  Enjoy!

Find my original post of this recipe on my blog Journey to Complete Wellness.

10 Tips to Begin Eating Healthier

10 tips to begin eating healthier2If eating healthier is one of your goals but you don’t know where to begin, I will share some tips that have helped me along in my journey to eating more REAL foods and minimizing the amount of processed foods in my diet.

What IS a REAL Food?

Any food that comes from nature and can be purchased without a label is a REAL food (fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, seeds, etc.)  REAL foods will help to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs.  Ideally, you want to strive to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Foods that have been packaged usually have been processed in some way, so you want to choose REAL foods without packaging whenever possible.  Many REAL foods are also labeled as SUPERFOODS.  I have discovered this excellent resource that lists 50 Superfoods and their benefits.  It also suggests healthy recipes to help you integrate these SUPERFOODS into your everyday diet.  I always find it helpful to focus on the foods I should be eating rather than those I should not be eating, so I highly recommend checking out that list from skinnyms.com and printing it for future reference.  Once you know which foods are ideal to eat, here are some tips to help you incorporate those foods and to minimize the amount of highly processed foods in your diet.

1.  Learn to Read Ingredient Labels.  If you’re striving to eat healthier, this is the first step I would recommend.   If you prefer more variety in your diet than just foods without a label, it is very important to learn to read the ingredient labels on your foods.  The nutritional information label can sometimes be helpful, but I think it is much more important to look at the ingredients.  If there is anything on a label that you cannot pronounce or you don’t know what it is or where it comes from, you most likely do not want this food to be a part of your regular diet.  The same thing goes for foods with a long list of ingredients.  When comparing processed foods, you generally want to choose the product with the fewest number of ingredients.  A few ingredients you particularly want to avoid include corn syrups, artificial colors and flavors, and hydrogenated oils.  Also, be weary of any foods that make health claims on their packaging.  For example, I always choose the full fat versions of foods rather than those with the “Fat Free” label.  “Fat Free” foods are often a poor choice because additional ingredients generally need to be added to the product to make the food taste good once the fat is removed.  Here is an excellent video from 100 Days of Real Food to help you learn to read ingredient labels.

2.  Clean out your kitchen/pantry.  If your goal is to eat healthier, it would be a good idea to remove all the unhealthy foods from your home.  Otherwise, you will be tempted each time you open the pantry.  Take everything off your shelves.  Discard anything that is expired.  Donate anything that you don’t plan to use before the expiration date, and donate all highly processed foods (those with a long list of ingredients or a lot of unpronounceable ingredients.)  Oftentimes, we eat food just because it is there.  If a food is not in your house, it will be that much more difficult for you to eat it.  If you get a strong craving something, you will have to go out of your way to get it.

3.  Don’t buy processed foods.  It all starts in the supermarket.  Don’t buy the junk foods.  Again, if you don’t bring it into your house, you can’t eat it. You may have heard these food shopping tips before, but they are worth repeating:  don’t shop when you are hungry, go prepared with a shopping list and DO NOT stray from the list, and stay on the outer perimeter of the supermarket.  The inside aisles mostly contain the processed foods.  If at all possible, go shopping without the kids.  Mine certainly have a way of getting me to buy unnecessary (and often unhealthy) items that are not on my list.  Also, keep in mind that when you buy a food item, you are voting with your dollar.  Vote for to support REAL, healthy foods!

4.  Find Healthy Replacements.  Find healthier replacements for foods you commonly eat.  For example, use REAL butter instead of margarine, use coconut oil instead of canola oil, make your own popcorn instead of buying bagged microwave popcorn, make your own salad dressing instead of the store-bought dressings loaded with high fructose corn syrups, or even start by making your own cookies instead of buying store-bought cookies loaded with trans-fats.

5.  Become accountable.  Find a buddy who is also interested in eating healthier, or join a support group on social media for people who share a common goal with you.  Share recipes and support each other,   For example, the 100 Days of Real Food Mini Pledge Program group on Facebook will help you cut out processed foods in 14 weeks.  Members share recipes and tips, and they encourage and support each other with their struggles throughout the challenge. I am also a member of the October Unprocessed community, which is also wonderful and supportive.  October Unprocessed is a challenge I participated in for the past two years, and the goal is to go through the entire month of October without eating any processed foods.  The challenge was a very inspiring, eye-opening, and educational experience for me.  In fact, that is what inspired me to begin this blog! 🙂  I would encourage everyone to participate in October Unprocessed 2015, but don’t wait until then to begin eating healthy.  You can start taking small steps today!

6.  Track your progress with a blog or journal, or track your nutrition through an app such as MyFitnessPal.  For more ideas on how to track your progress, check out my previous post 5 Tools to Track your health and Fitness Goals.

7.  Get into the habit of making a smoothie for breakfast every day.  A smoothie (or green smoothie if you’re a little more adventurous) is a nutritious way to start the day and to help you get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and it will keep you full until lunch.  Not sure how?  Here’s one of my favorite recipes.  Adapt it to your liking with your favorite fruits and vegetables.  There are so many different combinations you can try!  Visit Simple Green Smoothies for more smoothie recipes and tips.

My daily smoothie is something I look forward to, and I am so happy I have implemented it into my daily routine and made it a habit.  Give it a try, and you may even find that it is an easy way to get more fruits and vegetables into your kid’s diets!

8.  Don’t completely deprive yourself of the foods you love.  Start slow.  Try to find healthier replacements to satisfy your cravings.  If you love chocolate, maybe you could opt for a handful of Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of a full candy bar.  Just be careful.  It is still sugar, and sugar is HIGHLY addictive. Once you start eating it, you will want more.

9.  Become educated.  Learn WHAT you are eating and WHERE it is coming from.  There are some excellent books and food documentaries on this topic.  Click the links for my reviews on the food documentaries Food, Inc, What’s on Your Plate?, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and Fed Up.  If you’re interested in learning about the source of your food, some excellent books I have found on this topic include The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Animal Vegetable Miracle also contains some wonderful recipes, and it will teach you how to eat seasonally and how to preserve your food so you can eat from your garden or local farm stand year-round.  I have found all of these books and movies to be inspirational, and some of them were even life-changing for me!

10.  Find REAL food recipes.  Visit my Recipe page on Journey to Complete Wellness for my favorite REAL food recipes, or check out the extensive list of REAL food recipes on 100 Days of Real Food.

Please keep in mind that this journey to a lifestyle of eating REAL foods is a process.  Everyone does it at their own pace.  I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’ve come a long way from the way I used to eat, but I have still have SO far to go.  I still eat plenty of junk food (as you might see from some of my favorite recipes on my blog Stacy Loves), but when I do, I try my best to choose the healthiest options and make it myself when I can.  As with everything in life, I believe balance in all areas is the key to optimal health.  Good luck! 🙂

**This post was also published on my blog Journey to Complete Wellness.

How to Make a Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are packed with nutrition and they are a really easy way to get fruits, vegetables, and more REAL foods into your diet.  They are also delicious and really easy to make!  You don’t even need a fancy blender.  My 14-year-old blender worked out just fine, but I did get a NutriBullet for Christmas this year and I must say I absolutely LOVE it!!  It blends so quickly, and the cleanup is a breeze.  I’ve even used it to grind oats and nuts, and it works beautifully!  I would highly recommend it if you are looking for something stronger than a regular blender.  With that said, any regular blender should work just fine.

I began drinking green smoothies in October 2013, and I began experiencing the benefits immediately.  I had more energy, felt fewer cravings for sugary foods, and I felt full for longer.  I didn’t feel like I needed to eat as much.  I learned the basics of making green smoothies from taking the Simple Green Smoothie 30-Day challenge, and since then I have come up with some recipes that I really love.  Here is the basic formula that I use:

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup greens (I usually use organic baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir (or greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 -1 cup frozen pineapple chunks (or fruit of your choice)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds.

Instructions

  1. Blend greens and water until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

The combination of fruits, vegetables, seeds, etc. is endless.  Make sure that at least one of your ingredients is frozen.  If not, you may want to add some ice.  When the drink is cold, you cannot taste the greens, but I’ve discovered if I let it get warm, I am able to taste the greens.  Experiment and find the ingredients you like best.  For more green smoothie tips and many more recipes, check out Simple Green Smoothies.

Enjoy! 🙂

Recipe: Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola Recipe

I made granola for the first time last week.  I had never realized before how easy it is to make.  After trying some that my friend had made, I had to have her recipe.  I modified it to my liking and according to the ingredients I had on hand at the time.  That is one of the great things about granola…you can use whichever nuts, seeds, and extras you personally prefer or have on-hand.

Homemade granola can be made at a fraction of the cost of store-bought granola, and it is really easy to make!  It is packed with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and nutrition.  According to this article on WebMD, oats are one of the top ‘Superfoods’ that everyone needs.  Granola is an easy way to get lots of nutrients and superfoods into my kids’ diets.  I love to eat this plain, but it is also delicious mixed in yogurt or eaten as a cereal with milk.

The recipe I use is below, but feel free to modify the ingredients to your own liking.  Just try to keep the measured amounts the same.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or nuts/seeds of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup cashews (or nuts/seeds of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (or nuts/seeds of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cups dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.)
  • (Optional) Extras:  Shredded coconut, chocolate chips, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Spread oats in an even layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 325° for 7-10 minutes.
  2. Transfer oats to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chop nuts/seeds in food processor until chopped but still coarse.
  4. Mix nuts/seeds into mixing bowl with oats.  Set aside.
  5. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Bring to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  7. Pour mixture into nut/seed/oats mixture and mix until combined.
  8. Add dried fruit.
  9. Bake at 325° for approximately 15 minutes.
  10. Add chocolate chips or other extras (if using).
  11. Let cool and transfer to an airtight container.
  12. ENJOY!!! 🙂

Movie Review: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

I first watched the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead over a year ago.  The title intrigued me, and since I enjoy watching food documentaries, I decided to watch it just out of curiosity.  At the time, I didn’t realize it was going to be a life-changing movie for my family.

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead

Fat, Sick & Nearly dead is a food documentary about a man from Australia named Joe Cross.  At the start of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Joe came to America weighing 310 pounds.  As a result of his travels across the country and his 60-day juice fast, he lost 80-85 pounds, regained his health, and learned that “the best way to change the world is to change yourself.”  Since the movie came out, he has inspired many people (my family included) to take charge of their health.

I thought this food documentary was eye-opening and very inspiring, so I convinced my husband to watch it.  Fruits and vegetables are not his favorite foods to eat, but after watching he bought a juicer right away.  Our intention was not to go on a full juice diet, but to include a green juice in our diets each day and increase our intake of fruits and vegetables.  The first month or so, he made green juice daily and was feeling great.  It has been over a year, and while we do not drink green juices every day (as I prefer green smoothies), we do use the juicer regularly.  I make fresh apple juice for my daughters almost daily.  I also juice celery and carrots occasionally to put into soup broth.  Juicing is an easy way to get vegetables into the kids’ diets.  The movie inspired us to try to eat more fruits and vegetables, it inspired us to buy a juicer, and it introduced us to green juices and green smoothies which are now a regular part of our lifestyle.

I would encourage anyone who is interested in taking charge of their heath to watch this movie.  To find out more about the movie or to watch the trailer, click here.

Recipe: Pineapple-Orange-Banana Green Smoothie

October 18, 2014 018 Pine Orange Banana

I am 23 days into October Unprocessed (doing my best to eat only REAL foods, and nothing processed for this month), and I’m feeling great!  Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to get fruits and vegetables into my diet easily.  This Pineapple-Orange-Banana Green Smoothie (originally posted on my blog Journey to Complete Wellness) is one of my favorites.  What I love the most is that all of my daughters love it, too (even with the spinach!!)  A year ago when I first started drinking green smoothies, there is no way they would have tried this.  As they watched me drink them over the past year, it has become familiar and no longer scary to them.  As long as the smoothie is cold, you can’t even taste the greens.  If you’re looking for an easy way to get more greens into your diet, this is a great way to do it!

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup orange juice (I prefer freshly juiced from a juicer, but store-bought also works.)
  • ¾ cup organic baby spinach, packed tightly
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup fresh (or frozen) pineapple chunks
  • 1 frozen banana

Instructions

  1. Blend orange juice and spinach in a blender until smooth.
  2. Add yogurt, pineapple, and banana and blend until completely smooth.

Note:  Make sure at least one of the ingredients is frozen.  If not, you may want to add ice.  You want it to be cold because the warmer it gets, the more you will start to taste the greens.

Enjoy!

If you try this smoothie, I’d love to hear what you think.  Please leave a comment below.  Also, I’m always looking for more delicious smoothie recipes.  Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe you would like to share?