Boosting Your Immune System

Seems like everyone has a new gimmick every day for ways to keep you from getting sick, especially during the cold and flu season. Most of these supplements are not something I would want to give my children, especially since they have no regulations or safety checks on them. The majority don’t even have any real research behind them to prove they are effective and beyond that, there have been no trials to test the safety of the product. With all that in mind, I’ve been looking into ways to boost your immune system since little Ethan has started going to day care one day a week and gets sick every time with a nasty cold. He seems to be a big mucous producer and has a sensitive gag reflex which leads to a bit of vomiting when he coughs up the mucous. It’s gross. We’re just gonna stop talking about that now. Moving on!

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Make Your Own… Taco Seasoning

Have you ever read the ingredient list on a packet of taco (or burrito or fajita) seasoning mix that you can purchase? It’s not so pretty. In fact, it might even be down right frightening.

Taco-Seasoning2

Image Source: 100 Days of Real Food

Let’s take a quick look at that ingredient list; maltodextrin, chili pepper, salt, onion powder, corn starch, garlic powder, spice, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, yeast extract, silicon dioxide, sunflower and/or cottonseed oil, spice extractive, and ethoxyquin. The very first ingredient is a flavorless powder. Huh? Shouldn’t the #1 ingredient in anything be the most flavorful item?! The manufacturer is not sure what kind of oil they have in this packet. Ok, you made it, shouldn’t you be able to tell me which oil you used?! And ethoxyquin. You should only read the Wikipedia page if you want to be really scared about the stuff that food manufacturers are putting into the food supply in the United States. It’s approved as a food additive and a pesticide. Because those two things are always reassuring to find together describing a chemical found in your food. Not really. Continue reading

Fast and Easy Smoothies and Fruit Sauce

Need a fast, easy and fairly healthy snack? A smoothie fits the bill here. And they are pretty portable too if you have little ones to nourish.  Most people do enjoy smoothies, but don’t like the hassle of dragging out the blender.  Today, I have a great recipe that fits the bill. A simple smoothie that doesn’t use a blender! (One of these days I will do a better job of photographing things to share 🙂 really, I will!)

If you do prefer to use ice in your smoothies, I highly recommend the Single Serve blender from Hamilton Beach.

It is small, easy to clean and does a good job of crushing the frozen stuff. We put whole frozen strawberries in ours and it crushes them really well.

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Defining Real Food

Transitioning from American convenience foods to real foods can be difficult for some, my family included. We are still working on it. If you find a sudden switch too hard, make smaller, gradual changes that will help you to stay on track. Unlike many fad “diets”, we are aiming to change our eating habits and dietary choices for life.

To begin with, we need to define what “real food” is. The most basic definition is this: anything that you can grow in a garden, or pick off a tree; food that is closest to it’s original state. Processed food is food that is a product of refining or made in a lab. The nutrients have been removed while processing and may be later added back in, but in an altered state. A good tip when deciding if it is real food is would your great-grandparent’s recognize it as food or could you possibly make it at home?

Below is a more thorough list of real food, as put together by Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food. Another great resource on real food is The Unconventional Kitchen.

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Whole Grain Banana Bread

What’s better than a nice, warm, homemade loaf of banana bread? A whole grain one! And this one is kid-approved!

This is whole grain bread as we are using two different grains, wheat and oatmeal. Do not use the instant oatmeal packets.

Make sure you use a yogurt that is free of junk. I use Dannon All-Natural Plain yogurt. Be sure and read that label! You will be surprised to find out what is in your yogurt.

You can also add some chopped nuts to the batter to add a yummy health boost. Walnuts are full of healthy Omega Fatty acids!

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Healthy Eating, My Way

So now we are reading labels and learning about our food. What do we do with all that information? We use it to make better choices, of course! But almost everything in the grocery store is full of unwanted additives and fillers you say! What are we to do?!

This is when you decide for yourself how much time and effort you are willing to devote to eating a healthy, well-balanced, real-food diet. I shoot for the 80/20 mark. That’s 80% real, whole and healthy foods and 20% whatever. I attempt to keep that 20% as minimally processed as possible, but hey, who doesn’t make a quick fast-food run every now and then? And by allowing yourself to not be 100% committed will make it way easier to stick to it. There is no guilt because there is no wagon to fall off of!

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To eat, or not to eat…..

That is the question on almost everyone’s mind these days. Whether they are on the latest fad diet or just trying to eat more real, whole foods, eaters are faced with this decision every day, at each and every meal.  One thing that brings me a little bit of inner peace, is educating myself and others on healthful eating. Now, I am not a Dietitian or Nutritionist nor have I been trained in any such thing. I am just a wife and mother of two looking to keep my family well nourished.

Let’s just pause for a moment here and define “diet”. Many people hear the word diet and assume it is some kind of crazy plan to lose weight. When I say diet, I am using it as a noun as defined in the dictionary: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

Whether you are looking to change your eating habits to lose weight or to just eat healthy, the first and most important step is to read. That’s it.  You have to read those food labels. There are very few regulations as to what manufacturers are allowed to put on a food label. You cannot trust the front of the package. You have to read the nutritional information box and the ingredients. It may look good up there in the nutritional info, but the ingredients tell a whole other story.

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