Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Is Here, Gluten-Free Brownies, Back To Working Out

Today is the first day of March, and this is what it looks like outside. You might not be able to see it in the photo, but it's snowing.... again! I'm trying really hard to keep a positive attitude, but I'm SOOOO ready for spring to hurry up and get here. I'm taking heart in the fact that today is the FIRST DAY OF MARCH! Spring has to be right around the corner. 

Jamie Eason
I got back into my workout routine this week after taking last week off. My body just needed a break, and it was worth it. It felt really good to start my days off in the gym again. I decided to repeat Jamie Eason's Live Fit 12 week program. I've done this a few times, and I love the gradual, steady progression of difficulty.

I found another cleaned-up desert recipe and made it last Sunday. These Dark Chocolate Cake Brownies are SO good! I shared them with some co-workers, and they went on and on about how good they are, never guessing they're gluten free and sugar free. I ate one of these brownies after almost every lunch this week. I love being able to have desert without feeling bad about putting junk in my body.

The week was full of long days and ended with a massive headache on Friday. I don't get headaches very often, and I can't remember the last time I had one as bad as the one I came home with yesterday. I can guess a few things that might have contributed to it. Sometimes I get so caught up in the busy-ness of the day and forget to eat. Then my body starts screaming at me - one way or another. Then I eat whatever is easiest and quickest to put in my mouth. That's one thing that happened on Friday that I'm sure contributed to my afternoon and evening misery. I'm going to spend some time tomorrow planning meals and snacks to keep on hand while I'm working next week.

I'll end this post on a fun, cute note. A couple of days ago my hubby and doggies were lovingly missing me, waiting for me to get home from work. I love my family!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Do We Trust Government Dietary Guidelines?

In 1992 the USDA came out with a food pyramid to serve as a guideline for proper nutrition. That pyramid has since been revised a few times. This week I learned some things about the USDA and about that pyramid that are glaring examples of why we should never take "recommendations" from government agencies as the whole, entire truth when it comes to our health.

I looked up the purpose of the USDA. What is that agency supposed to be doing? Judging by the fact they publish information about how we should be eating that our government endorses, you might think their interest is in better health for Americans. Here's the vision statement from
To expand economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production sustainability that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve and conserve our Nation's natural resources through restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
The USDA is obviously first concerned with the economic health of agriculture, supporting the ag and food industries. Can you imagine how susceptible it is to the influence of people and organizations who are concerned more about profit than the health of the American people? Why the heck did our US government turn to them to create a guideline for how we should eat to be published and endorsed by our "leaders"?

Louise Light
Luise Light is a woman who was the leader of the team of nutritionists that designed the food pyramid for the USDA. The design originally submitted by these people who were experts in the field of nutrition for use in the pyramid was modified beyond recognition before it was finally published as the official food pyramid by the USDA.

The modifications were due to interference by food industry giants. Alterations were made to wording and serving quantities in order to placate lobbyists of the dairy, meat and wheat growers. Some of the alterations were made specifically so as not to harm the sales of processed foods.

In addition, the government food assistance program was taken into consideration. Our government provides financial assistance to people who are below a certain income level to help them buy food for their families. They had to be careful to not make dietary recommendations beyond which they were willing to subsidize on a financial level. 

Many agencies that are supposed to have OUR best interest at heart, publishing recommendations and protecting us from harmful practices by profitable companies are, in fact, being funded and supported by those VERY SAME companies! "Big Food" (money) is driving our nation's leaders. Big surprise?

Please don't take my word for any of this. Check out the sources I used and decide for yourself:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Healthy(er) Candy, Proud Wife and Makeup!

photo courtesy of
In spite of even more difficult winter weather, it was great week. This has been the snowiest, coldest winter I remember in the 20-ish years I've lived in Michigan. On Tuesday we experienced the feel of 3 seasons - winter, spring and fall - in the span of a day. It rained, snowed, rain/snowed, roads flooded, temps in the 40s, then freezing, and we even saw lightening that night, while it was snowing!!! All the while, the wind was blowing up to 50 mph at times. Ugh!

Wednesday night Scott had a stand-up show at Connexions Comedy Club in Lansing. He has a natural talent for making people laugh. It's like he was born with a microphone in his hand! I was able to video it this time, so you can watch it here if you want. (Beware, the content is NOT kid-friendly) He's been spending quite a bit of time at Connexions on Wednesday nights lately and really enjoying it.

Scott's been doing stand-up comedy for years - he was a regular at Connexions - but he backed off from it for a while due to time constraints. He's also done theater and on-air/radio work. He truly loves all of it, and he's working on building up his resume and picking up more gigs. I'm so proud of him!

I discovered a food company today that I'm really excited about. It's called UNREAL Candy. I found it at Target of all places and bought the peanut butter cups. The packaging caught my attention, and I picked it up and read the label. They've taken strides to replace the cheap, processed ingredients found in traditional candy with real food ingredients. For instance, the peanut butter cups are sweetened with cane sugar and organic palm sugar, and includes other tree nuts, instead of the processed sugar and dextrose found in Reese's peanut butter cups. The company produces other look-a-likes: M&M and Milky Way - like candy. I bought the peanut butter cups, and they taste just as good as Reese's. Yum!!!

I looked the UNREAL Candy company up online when I got home: and read their story. It was started because a 13 year old boy asked, "Why do the foods we love the most have to be so bad for us?" It's encouraging to see a main-stream 'super-store' carrying a product like this. Kudos to Target.

Today was a shopping day with my daughter. Along with the trip to Target you just read about, we went to Ulta and each got over $100 of makeup for just over $20! That's my kind of shopping!!! We caught Ulta at a great time. :) And I totally enjoyed my afternoon with Shelby.

I hope you all had a great week and are working on a great weekend!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

4 Reasons To Eat Butter

Over the past three or so generations we've been taught all sorts of erroneous information about how the things we eat affect our health. We've made great strides in science and health care, much of which has contributed to the longevity of life. However, in the most recent few decades, some of the things we've been taught to do have been detrimental to our health. One of those things has to do with butter.

We've been told that butter is an enemy and sold products like margarine in its place. Margarine contains lab-made fat that is, in fact, toxic to our bodies. In the early 1900s, the incidents of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes was a fraction of what it is today. Artificial food, like margarine, and false information being fed to us by "Big-Food" (a corrupt industry, in my opinion) play a huge role in this evolution.

Butter is actually good for our bodies for several reasons.

  1. Butter contains butyrate, which helps with inflammation. Butyrate inhibits a protein complex in cells that reacts to stress - physical and psychological - and causes inflammation that leads to illness.
  2. Butter contains vitamins A and E and other anti-oxidants, which protect against cancer and heart disease and provides a boost to the immune system. Vitamin A also improves the function of the thyroid gland.
  3. Butter is helpful in preventing weight gain. Yes, you read that right. The type of fatty acids in butter are called upon for quick energy first. Other types of fatty acids, like the ones found in margarine and other highly processed foods, are used for energy last and only if other sources of energy have been depleted. Therefore, they're likely to be stored as fat in our bodies. In addition, nutrient-dense butter provides a quicker and longer lasting feeling of satiety. 
But what about cholesterol, you ask? Isn't butter high in cholesterol? Yes, butter contributes to cholesterol in your body. That leads me to number 4:
 4. Butter contains cholesterol. Contrary to the bad-guy persona built around cholesterol, it's actually very necessary for vital functions of our bodies. The body uses cholesterol to produce hormones that regulate everything from blood sugar, to brain function, to digestion, to sex-related functions that rely on estrogen and testosterone. It's important for the body to maintain a proper balance of cholesterol between what we eat and what is manufactured by the body. Butter, which in its natural state contains cholesterol, also contains lecithin. Lecithin assists in regulating and metabolizing cholesterol.
Butter is a perfect food, and the "Big-Food" industry has manipulated it and sold us a defective bill of goods in its place. Rant on Big-Food is a topic that could fill many other posts, and I'll save it for later.

When you're cooking and a recipe calls for butter, use real butter! When you grill or fry, use real butter. Use real butter on your air-popped popcorn...

Whatever you do, stay away from margarine and other butter substitutes! They're toxic.

I've learned about this subject from many podcasts and articles that are readily available online. Some of these sources are:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do You Have a Spiritual Guide?

The read for last week's book group meeting of The Novelties was Journey With Zeke, Gift or Curse? by Lynette Teachout. Lynette is a local  author and was good enough to visit with our group for the discussion. I always love author visits and our field trips to author events. This one, in particular, was in interesting discussion.

Mrs. Teachout is a psychic medium. I learned there's a difference between a psychic medium and other types of people who claim to be able to tell the future. A psychic medium is someone who receives messages from people who are "in spirit." Sometimes they're as simple as the spirit wanting to acknowledge a person through her. Sometimes it's a warning of someone heading down a dangerous path. She shared many stories.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from our meeting or how my fellow members would handle a discussion about a topic that has the potential to be controversial like this. And I wasn't sure how I feel about this myself. I've never claimed to not believe in this type of spirituality, but it's definitely something that's hard to embrace.

Lynette's open, frank and friendly way of speaking about her gift encouraged a lot of curious and emotional dialogue. She explained that we all have a guide in the spirit world. If we pay attention, we can see evidence of the guide being with us in the form of obstacles in our path or opportunities opening up...

On this night, some of us shared stories of events that seem unexplainable unless you believe in a higher spirit watching over us. One such story of mine is of a phone call I received at a time I needed it most. I was in a very low time in my life, depressed and feeling lost, along with having financial difficulties. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a mall a few weeks before Christmas, feeling broken, worn out and crying. At that very moment my dad called me. I hadn't talked to him in several weeks. We don't talk on a regular basis, just catch up every once in a while. When I answered and he discovered I was crying he told me that he'd had a very strong feeling that one of his kids was hurting so he planned to call each of us. I was his first call. Lynette said that was our guides working together to take care of me when I needed it. That incident stays with me. It's something I'll never forget because of the way it made me feel totally convinced that someone was watching over me.

Has anything like that ever happened to you?

I was curious about her beliefs in God and Jesus. She is a strong believer and follower of Jesus. That was a relief to me. I'd always been a little confused about whether or not there is conflict in the two beliefs.

Lynette taught us several things she's learned in her life about the spirit world. She was positive and matter-of-fact about all of it, as if it were as much a fact of life as breathing. I do believe someone is always watching over me; I usually imagine that it's Jesus. But maybe God is using spirits of others to do that sometimes.....

I'd love to know your thoughts on the subject.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Against All Grain

I had a couple of very ripe bananas that needed to be used today or thrown out. As luck would have it, I came across a yummy-sounding recipe for these banana muffins on Facebook, posted by a blogger I follow, Danielle Walker: Find the recipe here.

The recipe calls for a streusel topping, but I chose to not do that part. Also, I didn't have chocolate chips on hand, but I had a bar of unsweetened baking chocolate, so I chopped that up and used it instead. I only had two bananas, and the recipe called for three. Turned out just fine.

This author is a proponent of grain-free eating, so the recipe uses almond and coconut flours instead of regular flour. I made it using those flours, and it turned out delicious! But you can substitute regular or whole wheat flour if you wish.

The oil is coconut oil instead of the vegetable oil many traditional recipes call for. The recipe also doesn't call for any added sugar. It's sweetened with the bananas and honey. I promise you, these muffins taste as yummy (even more so, in my opinion) as the recipes that call for the extra sugar and flour.

A couple of months ago I met with Jason Meyer at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, MI to talk about marketing (my day job), and he was kind enough to give me a jar of pure maple cream that was made locally at a farm there in Lansing. I spread some of it on a muffin. OMG! Delish!

For me, this is further evidence that healthy recipes and real food not only make you feel better, but also taste better than junk-filled recipes. Love it!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Getting Acquainted With Detroit and my Sweet Co-Workers

It was another busy week, but I'm getting better at figuring out how to organize my time and get things done without feeling so overwhelmed. I worked in areas all over and around Detroit and Ann Arbor this week. I had to stop occasionally at coffee shops or cafes to take care of things in between appointments on some days. I enjoy that flexibility, but it requires some major time organization and planning, especially if I want to not eat junk all week. Again, I'm getting better at planning so that I don't sabotage my good intentions. Still working on it....

I was determined this week to eat better than last week, so last Sunday I cooked some chicken and pork to have for lunches and quick dinners, and made sure I had plenty of veggies for salads and snacks. On Monday and Tuesday I packed lunches and ate well, and I made dinners from the meat and some rice and potatoes.

Wednesday night was book group, and I ate pretzels, cookies, some veggies and wine with my girls. That was dinner that night. Thursday was a late day from work. When I got home I just snacked on pretzels and chex mix and called it dinner, ugh!

Friday night I had an awesome meal at Grand River Marketplace where my hubby and I went for our Valentine's dinner. I had one of their specials - lobster risotto, with a wine from their own winery, and strawberry cheesecake for desert. Yum! Yum! Yum!

I have some of the pork and chicken still in the fridge, so I think I'll make soup out of it this weekend.

One of the reps I work with is a sweet 23 year old girl who recently moved up here from Texas. She's great at using her southern charm to win people over. I love her to death, and she does an awesome job with her work. I walked into the office the other day and saw this flask on her desk that was a gift from a friend.
Working with people who are the same age as my kids is a new thing for me recently. As much as I like to think of myself as a young 40-something, it sometimes makes me remember I'm a "mature" adult now.

I snapped these pictures of my two other babies at home this week. Cletus and Harley would be lost without each other. The one of Harley by herself is when I was scolding her for being on the couch. They're not allowed on the furniture, but sometimes when we're not in the room, we find evidence (hair!) they get up there. This morning I caught her red-handed.
I love my doggies!