Thursday, December 29, 2011

10 Tips to Change Your Family to Healthy Eating!!

Changing your entire family to healthy eating seems like a daunting task.  But when you are the one who does the grocery shopping and cooking it is easier to control what goes into their bodies.  At least when they are eating at home!!

Tip #1:  The most important tip is to do it gradually!!!  I see so many of those weight loss shows where they go into peoples homes and throw away everything in their fridge and cupboards.  Then replace it with new things.  This may work on TV when someone else is footing the bill.  But it is not helpful to you.  So gradually replace your food with healthier food.  Plus we are human.  We don't like change.  So to replace everything that your family is used to eating with different things is not going to go over well.  As you run out of something the next time you go to the store replace the item with a lower fat version.

Tip # 2 Fiber!!  Need I say more.  Fiber is needed in your diet.  A lot of people think that they get enough fiber.  Most people don't.  Fiber is needed to help eliminate waste out of your body.  If your body is not getting rid of your waste properly it won't absorb the nutrients it needs.  So you can eat all the healthy food you want but if you are not eliminating the waste properly you still will not be healthy.  Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.  So eat more whole fruits and vegetables. Juice is good for you and healthy, but start replacing some juice with the whole fruit.  Also start replacing your breads and pastas with whole grains.  The white, processed, bleached, grains do not have the fiber you need. 

Tip # 3 Water!!  You need to drink at least 8 8oz glasses of water a day.  Get rid of that pop and juice.  My kids are only allowed to drink one glass of juice or sugary drink at meals.  Once they have drank that glass if they are still thirsty they have to drink either milk or water.  I still have one son that still has an allergy to milk.  So he drinks juice or water.  Then between meals they are to drink water.  I started this over a year ago.  I was tired of going through a pitcher of juice or kool aid in one day. And having my kids bounce of the walls all day too.  Juice is good for you but it is still sugar.  So limit yourself and your kids.  Start replacing some pop each day with water.  If you have to add a sugar free drink pouch to it then go for it.  But when you start drinking more water you will begin to feel better. 

Tip #4  Low fat dairy!!   Dairy products are good for you.  This can come from cow, goat, or any other animal that you might have that you milk.  Dairy provides calcium and is great for you and your kids.  But dairy has fat. Some fat is needed in your diet.  But most Americans eat a ton of dairy foods and use it in almost every meal we cook.  So start replacing it with lower fat versions.  Use low fat sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, milk, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese.  When you are using these items to cook with you will never know the difference.  We eat a lot of Mexican food so we use sour cream.  I started buying low fat sour cream. It still has fat but the amount is less.  These little changes will start reducing the amount of fat you consume in a day.

Tip #5 More vegetables!!  If you are like me it is hard to get your kids to eat vegetables.  But vegetables are a free food.  Most vegetables don't have carbs, sugar, or fat.  They are full of fiber and help you fill up and feel full.  So think of creative ways to get more vegetables in your families diet.  I have one son who only likes potatoes and green beans.  Does not do well with variety.  But he is required to eat at least a small portion of vegetable with each meal.  Kids tastes are constantly changing.  One week they hate cucumbers and the next week it is their favorite thing to eat.  So keep introducing new vegetables and ways to cook and serve them.  I started making baked french fries.  You take a potato and cut into thin wedges with the peel on.  I use a wavy cutter so it makes them look fancy.  I spritz them with a cooking spray and sprinkle with seasoning salt and sometimes with a little Parmesan cheese.  Then put on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit about 20 minutes or until tender.  My family loves these.  And they are low fat and they are eating that skin which gives them a little fiber!! 

Tip #6 Smaller portions of meat.  Meat is important in your diet.  You need protein and different vitamins and minerals that only meat can provide.  But start to serve lower fat meats and smaller portions of it.  I add my own canned pinto beans to  my ground meat when we eat tacos.  So we still have a lot of protein but I am cutting the fat in half by adding beans to it.  When serving steak or chicken serve smaller portions.  Fill up on your veges and carbs.  If you look at the food guide pyramid meat and proteins are not on the bottom.  This should not be your biggest portion on your plate!!

Tip #7 Watch your Carbs!!!  Now bread, grains, and cereals is on the bottom of the food guide pyramid.  You do need the most of this in your diet.  But it is so easy to over eat on your carbs and not balance it out with the other food groups.  Do you ever wonder why you are starving an hour after eating Chinese food?  It is almost all carbs.  You fill up on the rice and noodles and hardly have any fruit, veges, or protein.  Switch your carbs to more complex carbs.  These are carbs that takes your body longer to break down and gives you more energy over the day.  Simple carbs break down almost instantly and give you a quick burst of energy but then you crash back down. Simple carbs are things that have simple sugars, such as candy, processed flours and grains, and some fruit.  Complex carbs are things that have more carbons to them and it takes the body longer to break down.  These give you energy throughout the day as your body breaks them down.  These are things such as whole grains, avocados, brown rice and wild rice.  Basically processed food have broken down the grain.  It is already processed so your body does not have to do it.  It is alright to eat processed foods,  but they will give you a quick burst of energy then leave you hanging the rest of the day.  This leaves you feeling hungry and then you keep eating to fill up.  That is why a bowl of regular oatmeal or granola made from whole oatmeal will fill you up and give you energy through out the day.  So whole grains don't just give you the fiber you need it gives you the complex carbs that your body needs to have energy through out the day.  If your family is not into whole grains just start by mixing a little brown rice in with your white rice.  Mix in some whole wheat pasta with your regular pasta and so on.  Remember tip #1 do it gradually. 

Tip # 8 Watch the Caffeine.  A little caffeine is not going to harm you.  And I am like many people out there have come accustomed to drinking their morning cup of coffee.  Just remember that caffeine is a drug.  That is why we don't let kids have Mountain Dew all day long!!!  Caffeine robs your body of calcium.  So if you do drink a lot of coffee consider using a calcium supplement. Caffeine is an upper.  It will quickly raise your metabolism and then it also crashes.  So if you are drinking caffeine laden drinks all day long your metabolism will raise and crash all day long.  This is not good for your body.  Caffeine is also a diuretic.  It eliminates water out of your body.  Excessive caffeine intake can lead to hydration.  So just watch how much you are putting into your body each day. Caffeine is not just in coffee.  It is in tea, pop, and chocolate.  It is ok to have a pop now and then or drink your coffee in the morning, just use your caffeine in moderation especially if you are exercising or working outside on a hot summer day!

Tip # 9 FATS!!  That dreaded word that we hate to hear.  How much fat is in your food?  Besides switching to low fat dairy products there are other things that contain fat.  Some fat is needed in your diet but most of the fat we are consuming can be eliminated.  Read labels, switch to low fat snacks, bake foods instead of frying them.  You can take the fat out of a lot of baked goods by using applesauce, pumpkin, squash, or other pureed fruit instead.  Look for recipes that already call for those things.  They taste just as great without all the fat.  Use small amounts of oil when stir frying and try using non stick cooking spray instead of butter or margarine to grease pans.  You are not going to eliminate all fat out of your families diet, but by switching to better fats and things that are already low in fat will help!

Tip # 10  It is ok to Splurge!!  I think so many times that people fail when they diet is because they go without so long and then temptation overcomes them.  Then once they splurge they just keep going.  If your family is used to a dessert after your Sunday dinner don't take that away.  If your family is used to eating dessert after their supper each night just try for healthier options.  Maybe change to fruit, jello with some whipped cream, a low fat pudding, and then still have your piece of pie once or twice a week.  You can't try to make your family that is used to their sweets just give them up one day.  I read a cute saying the other day, it said "I love to run, because I love chocolate cake!!"  So don't forget to splurge and eat a little goodness here and there. 

These tips are meant to be tips to help you get started.  I am not a doctor and in no way pretend to be.  So feel free to research things on your own and see what is best for your family.  These tips will not make you lose 100 lbs in a month but will help you to start changing to healthier eating habits.  And remember to lose weight you need to be using up more calories than you are putting in.  So exercise is a key to losing those excess pounds. 

Here is to having a happy New Year and to start out 2012 by changing our families to healthy eating!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions!!
Do you or don't you?
It seems like ever year we get to the end of the year and look back.  Did we accomplish what we wanted to this year?  Did we meet our goals for the year?  More importantly did we keep our New Years Resolution?  I know that most people in some sort of way make a New Years Resolution.  And one of the most popular resolution that is made is to lose weight and get healthy and fit for the New Year.  Well I am not the exception to that statistic!!

Thankfully this year I don't have a ton of weight to get off.  After having abdominal surgery in the summer and not being able to eat much prior to that I had lost the weight I needed to get off.  My goal this year is to keep that weight off and to eat healthy and stay fit. 

When I was single I used to work out 3 hours a day.  I was on a collage track team and I did such events as hurdles, pole vault, and high jump.  I was nice and fit and I loved working out.  I still love to work out but being a stay at home mom who home schools her kids puts a little damper in the work out schedule.  Between home school, church, cub scouts, 4-H, Wednesday night Bible studies and youth activities, and just the daily household chores my days and week gets filled up fast.  So this year my main goal is to take time for myself.  Learn to schedule time every day to do some exercise.

It is harder in Ohio to get outside to exercise.  Thankfully we have had a pretty mild December.  But we normally get the bitter cold and snow in January through March.  So I have to be inventive to get some exercise done in those dreary months.  But I have no excuse not to exercise.  I have a wii.  And we have the wii fit plus.  So I have a routine made up on my person that includes yoga and strength exercises.  It is a 35 minute routine.  I am not drenched in sweat like I would be after I run but it really stretches and tones my body.  I also have a tread mill.  Although I  would rather run outside it will work when necessary.  I also have a weight machine.  I really need to put this to use this year to tone up as well.  I also can do a rowing workout on it.  So between these three things I think I should be able to stay fit this winter.  If I learn to rotate between them hopefully I won't get bored and keep up with it. 

The next step is to keep the kids active during the winter too and get the family eating a little healthier.  It does help that we preserve a lot of our own food!! 

So here is to getting and staying healthy and fit in 2012!!  I hope everyone had a great 2011 and wish everyone the best in 2012!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cocoa Butter Lotion and Honey Hand Creme

I like to make lotion to give as gifts each year at Christmas.  Family members have come to look forward to this annual gift.  I was a little late in getting them made this year and I did not know if I would get it done.  But I did not want to disappoint my family so I took a little time and made some lotion.

Cocoa Butter Lotion is one of my favorite lotions.  It is a recipe that I found on line and once again adapted it to suit my son's allergies.  Lotions are a little harder to make than a salve.  You have to mix your oils with your water and this creates that creamy lotion.

To start with I measure out my beeswax.  For this recipe I need 1/2 an ounce.  I use a small scale that I bought specifically for making lotions.  This is put into a double boiler.  

Next I measure out 1/3 cup cocoa butter.  Cocoa Butter is an oil that is solid at room temperature.  I add this to the double boiler.

Then I measure out 1 teaspoon of lanolin.  Lanolin is an oil that is derived from sheep wool.  If you have ever worked with wool yarn you can smell the lanolin in it.  It is a very thick and sticky oil that is very nourishing for the skin.  If you breast fed your babies you might be familiar with lanolin.  It is used on the breasts to keep them from getting chapped and sore.

Now I add 3/4 of a cup of apricot kernel oil.  All these oils and the beeswax goes into the double boiler.  I heat it on low until the beeswax melts.  Beeswax has a high melting point.  The lanolin and cocoa butter will melt before the beeswax will.

While the oils are melting I measure out 2/3 cups of filtered water and 1/3 cup of aloe vera juice. 

Once the beeswax melts take it off the heat.  The next step is the tricky part.  It took me several tries to get this part right when I first learned to make lotion.  With one hand using a wire whisk in the oil start whisking the oil while slowly pouring in the water and aloe vera juice.  Continue to pour in the water while whisking until the water is completely incorporated. 

The key to keeping your lotions from separating is to continue to whisk it together and not to stop until the lotion is completely cool.  Once it is cool pour it into containers.  And then label them.

One batch filled 3  4oz containers.  I made two
batches so I would have plenty to give out.

To make the honey hand creme you start the same way.  Measure out your
beeswax.  This recipe needs 1 oz of beeswax.

Next I measure out the oil.  This recipe uses 1 1/2 cups of apricot kernel oil.
  Put the beeswax and the oil in a double boiler. Now add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of
honey.  I used some local honey that a friend gave me from her hive!!

Once the beeswax melts take it off the heat.  Stir with a whisk while adding 1 1/2 cups of filtered water.  Continue to whisk together until the lotion is completely cooled and becomes thick.  Add in your peppermint essential oil.  I added about 15 drops to give it a good scent. 

Pour into containers and label. 

This recipe filled 5  4oz containers.  So I only made one batch of this lotion.

The cocoa butter lotion is on the left and the honey hand creme is on the right.
You can see the the cocoa butter lotion is slightly darker yellow than the honey hand creme.
I don't add any essential oil to the cocoa butter lotion because I like the slight
chocolate smell that it has!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cut Out Cookies

I love to create and when it comes to cookies I put my talent to work.  Some of my fondest memories of Christmas when I was a kid have to do with cookies.  Every year our church did a Christmas Pageant.  And after the pageant we went down in the basement and had cookies and punch.  One particular lady always made the elegantly frosted sugar cookies.  They looked like something you bought in a store.  The kids would always fight over these beautiful cookies. I love to recreate that memory by making fancy looking cut out cookies.  I think it is actually easier and faster to just pipe on the frosting and not have to spread it on by a knife. 

I have actually had people buying cookies off of me this year.  So I make up a double batch of my favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out the cookies.  I use butter cream frosting.  Butter cream is a nice thick frosting that holds it's shape and does not get real hard like royal icing.  Plus it is not real sweet which a lot of people prefer. 

Here is my counter full of cookies.  

The Santa faces are easy to do.  I use ivory paste food coloring which makes a nice flesh color.  I spread a little on for the face.  Then I go back and spread on a little red for the hat.  The eyes and nose are piped on using a small round tip and black.  The beard and white on the hat are piped on using a star tip.

The holly leaves are piped on using a basket weave tip. 
 The red hot candies are placed on for the berries. 

The Christmas ornaments are pipe on in blue using a petal tip. 
Clear edible glitter is sprinkled on and the details are piped on in white using a small round tip.

The Christmas trees  are piped on using a basket weave tip.  Details are piped on in white using a small round tip and then white nonpareils are sprinkled on.

The stockings have red spread on with a knife and the white piped on with a star tip.
The stars are piped on using a petal tip and then sprinkled with gold edible glitter.

I use paste or gel food coloring.  The kind you can find a cake supply stores.  You can get all sorts of colors and they are nice and bright.  Just remember when using these food colors that they will darken and get brighter as they sit.  So you won't need as much red or black as you might think you will need.  Let it sit covered a bit to see how bright the colors get before you add more food coloring.

Here is a box of a dozen cookies that were sold.
Don't they look so nice together!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candied Tangerines

This is my attempt at making Candied Tangerines.  They took a little extra time than what was stated but I think I finally got them to look like the picture.  I saw them on the Monday Barn Hop  on Mad Mad Me site.  They looked scrumptious and I just happened to have some tangerines in my fridge.  Mine took over an hour to cook down.  I don't know if it was because I had more syrup to start with.  I had 3 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar.  I rolled them in sugar last night and layed them on some wax paper.  I let them sit over night.  They were still a little wet and sticky this morning.  So I rolled them again in sugar and this time layed them on a cooling rack.  Now they actually look nice and are not sticky.  They do taste great!!  They have a bitter sweet taste since you candy them with the peel and all!!  Now that they are drying out nicely and not sticky I will try to dip a few in chocolate too!!

I did save the syrup like she suggested and we had some on waffles this morning with a little whipped cream on top!!  What a treat!! It was scrumptious!! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Home Made Dog Treats

Time has sure flown by.  My last post was at the beginning of December when we made the gingerbread houses.  Now it is less than a week to Christmas!!  My December has been very busy.  I have made Christmas gifts, baked cookies, and made Christmas Candy.  We have also been on a few field trips and I have been busy home schooling as well.  I finally took the time to take a few pictures of something I made so I could take the time to share on my blog. 

My younger son likes to make dog treats each year to give as gifts to family members and friends who have dogs.  I like to teach my kids the joy of giving this time of year too!

The first recipe he made was the dog cookies.  Here is the recipe.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup powdered milk
1/3 cup melted beef fat or bacon drippings
1 large egg
1 cup cold water

If you don't have beef fat or bacon drippings no problem.  Just melt some vegetable shortening and add beef bouillon to it. 

Mix everything together to form a dough.  Roll out to a 1/2 inch thickness and cut out using a bone shape cookie cutter.  I have a small 1inch one that makes cute bite size treats for puppies and small dogs.  I also have a 3 inch cutter that we make for large dogs. 

Cut out and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes.

The next recipe my son made was the fido biscuits. Here is the recipe for those.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons quick oats
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
2/3 cup water

Mix together to form a dough.  Roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut with bone shaped cookie cutters.  Place on ungreased Cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Turn over biscuits and bake for another 10 minutes. 

We put the treats in bags and tied them up with a bow.

Then we put them into the ice cream containers that I had prepared earlier

My son wanted the bows and ribbons to match the color of the containers. 
I printed up gift tags with a little dog on it. 
My son wrote the dog's name on the tags that he is giving them too!!

Here are the three packages of dog treats he made to give away. 
He is so proud to have made some gifts to give for Christmas!!

I am linking to Homestead Barn hop