Health = Wealth

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So often we associate healthful living with a high price tag. Just the thought of paying for another gym membership, gear, healthy food, and so on can have us racking up numbers fast. Whatever motivation we had to change is going, going, gone. Well I am here to remove some of those barriers. Being healthy can shrink your bottom line and your waistline.

You do not need to have a gym membership to get healthy. You can join a class, as many local schools and churches offer them for only $5 a session. You don’t pay if you don’t go. You can always hire a personal trainer to visit you once in a while to create a program at home with what you have. At-home equipment can be inexpensive. Cardio can be as cheap as a pair of running shoes, dancing video game, or a $10 fitness video. Just keep moving. Strength training can be inexpensive too. Use your own body weight to lift and lower. You can use household products as weights (cans of soup, milk jugs, kids,  etc.). Be creative.

Making your free-time activities (as rare as they may seem) more about actually being active can save you money. Just think about the cost of a movie-night out. The toll can quickly turn into $25 a person if you get a small snack and drink. That doesn’t account for dinner. If you replace every 2 normal movie-night outs with watching the sunset as you walk at the park, heading up to a local gym for a round of racquetball (guest passes are usually available cheap),  stay in for a dance-a-thon, or play kinect/ Wii U active games against your buddies you could save quite a bit over the span of a year. Obstacle races are becoming popular, why not make your own mini-version? Imagination doesn’t have to be left in the school yard. Maybe even have a yoga night at home where you eat a light Indian dish and try new poses. Get creative and make sure it is something you will actually enjoy.

When it comes to healthy eating, it can seem impossible to cut costs. We all have heard that organic is healthier for you. The costs at the store can make your wallet want to duck and cover sometimes. There are good deals, and knowing where to get them is key. First you prioritize what is most important to buy organic. The fruits and veggies with a thin layer of skin are usually the top of the list. Plan some of your meals to be vegetarian to help lower costs elsewhere. You can also compare store prices against local farmers markets. Meat sources can be expensive and full of hormones, so limiting their amounts can help you cut costs. Try to make some dishes that normally call for cheese without it. Let the natural flavors shine. Take one white sugar product out a week and replace it with something fresh. Look in your pantry and see what you already have. Try to plan some meals with those items.

There are ways being healthy may seem to cost more upfront. In the end though investing in your health saves on other costs. Think about how many times you have to buy bigger clothes to accommodate your bigger size. After shopping you may go eat something to make you “feel better” and not cook what you already had planned. Then there are the medications, tests, and surgeries that you have to help pay for because of the symptoms of your lifestyle. They quickly add up! Also think about long-term care when you age. You can either have something to give those you love or need it to care for yourself. Without realizing it, you have robbed yourself and the people you care about of the best you there is. You are pretty stinking great, so don’t do that. 

   Fat-laden meals,  self-defeated attitudes, harmful relationships, sedentary lifestyles, stressful jobs will catch up with you eventually. Learning to limit or even eradicate these things from your life can improve your quality of life so greatly, you will wake up in the morning and go absolutely ape. When you allow these shadows to cloud your true self, it effects your back pocket as well. You can be healthier one choice at a time, and gain back the money you earn one dime at a time.

Food=Love

food=love cupcakeFood to me is a form of communication. A plate of food can say things like, “You are elegant.” “You are worth the effort.” “Will you marry me?”  and sometimes “You are so not worth my time.” The best message food can give is “I love and care about you.” When I cook for people it is my way of showing love.    

Not long ago a friend of mine had a contest on her website  (Amy Wray- Mod City Mag http://modcitymag.com/ ). I won the Carla Hall autographed cookbook “Cooking with Love.” I eagerly poured through the pages, as I do with any new cookbook. What she had to say about food blew me away. It articulated how I felt about food. She described how comfort food should be like a hug. I was saying “Yes. Exactly,” so many times I lost count. The only piece I would add would be to make it healthy too. I care that it tastes great and doesn’t leave you feeling guilty.

There is only one place I like to go for my birthday cake. It is Bon Bonerie(http://bonbonerie.com/). My favorite flavor is their Chocolate Raspberry Torte. It is one of the best bites to ever enter my mouth. I dream about it until my birthday comes back around. One year a dear friend, Amy Tweedle, knew we were tight and I might not get a cake. At a get together, she surprised me with the best cake ever made! That was love to me! As you can see, Amy’s make great friends!

Moms definitely have a way of doing that too. While pregnant I was working, going to school, and had a year-old son awaiting me when the day was done. I was quite tired. My mom-in-law brought over one of my favorite meals. As I loaded everyone’s plate, I felt my heart taking a big sigh of relief. Another example of motherly love through food is when my mother passed down a cherished recipe from my grandma. I was going through a tough and busy time. Many special and happy moments as a child were in her house smelling her cooking. While mixing the ingredients, it made me feel like Grandma was in the kitchen with me! Moms know just what we need through our tummies sometimes. Who says healing can’t come through food?

I am not saying to eat your emotions through that special flavor of ice cream or to eat a batch of brownies when you are sad. I am simply saying that eating something that soothes the soul can be appropriate. It is about using healthy ingredients and being responsible about portion sizes. Believe me that cake had to be eaten responsibly. However we should not deprive ourselves completely of foods that touch our hearts. Quality and not quantity applies here. Savor and allow the love put into the dish you eat to warm your heart. Whether cooked or purchased, food can bring evidence of how much you care. So share and enjoy the foods that warm your soul and bring love to your table.

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7 Ways to Make a Rainy Day Better

7 Ways to Make a Rainy Day Better

1. Hot cup of tea
2. Put on your rain boots and splash around
3. Good book
4. Take a nap
5. Listening to jazz/blues while getting housework done
6. Playing with your kids inside with rain as background noise.
7. Showing off your fabulously unique umbrella!
Even though it may rain, you can still find rays of sunshine!

Who Do You Think You Are?!

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Who has time to workout or cook? Seriously. There are so many other things we need to be doing right now. I am not in good enough shape to hit the gym. Did you see her? She must workout all the time and never eat. Work has become my real ball and chain. The kids are driving me crazy and I need this right now! That guy has to be using some serious supplements. I would, but I don’t have the time. Any of these sound familiar? I have been there and done that, so no judging here.

Rewind to this morning. You looked in the mirror, as you get ready for your long day ahead. You try to find something to wear that you feel good in. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by piles of scattered clothes you recently folded and put away. In a heat of desperation you grab the outfit you feel the least awful in and go. If this is the start of your day, how will the rest go?

Whether you realize it or not, you are important. How you see yourself affects every aspect of your life. Your relationships with others, how you treat others, work performance, eating habits, motivation to get up, and much more are influenced by self image. I am not telling you anything you don’t already know on this blog. I share ways to enjoy life, stay motivated, and tools to help you get there. The formula is the same. Everyone knows that if you are serious about loosing weight there is only one basic way. Eat right and exercise. So why don’t we do it? Our society tells us to focus on ourselves and make ourselves happy with overindulgence. These things are truly empty. We know it, but we buy into it anyhow. If they weren’t empty, we would not be in such a state.

The true way to be fulfilled in life is to take care of yourself, so that you are able to help others. You have to first love yourself. Not in a selfish, overindulging way, but in a well-cared for kind of way. Know who you are. List the positive attributes that you have, accomplishments, or unique things that make you who you are. Be confident in the way you were made and who you can become. If you can’t think of anything, realize that who you are now doesn’t have to be who you are tomorrow. The change starts today and the change starts with you! Sometimes an honest friend can help you see attributes you cannot. Ask him/her.

So many times our jobs, media, society, and sometimes even friends and family can make us feel bad for taking real care of ourselves. The pressure to be the perfect parent, the ultimate guy’s guy, the image on the magazine, and sometimes the chameleon push us away from caring for ourselves truly. It is easier to find fault in others than it is to praise their efforts genuinely. I have some bad news for you. You are not perfect. You are never going to be. People might find out you have flaws. It really is okay though. Your job is to stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Your job is not to be as glamorous as the hottest celebrity, to cook like Emeril, to have your children in all advanced classes at a specialty school, or even fade into the crowd you surround yourself with. Your job is to be the best YOU that you can be and to be there for others the best you can.

Think of yourself as a work in progress. I don’t care how fit anyone is, or how cleanly they eat. Everyone has a place in their lives they can improve. The trick is to realize that you are worth the effort. Your life is a gift and you have one chance to make the most of it. You can spend your time making excuses or start on a better road today. You can be confident in yourself, flaws and all, knowing that you are at least choosing to make a change. You can know that when you take reasonable care of yourself, by exercising, eating right, and pausing a few minutes to just breathe, you will be the best you possible. That means the people around you will get the best you possible. Once you are comfortable with yourself, you can give more because you require less empty stuff that wastes your time and resources. Think quality not quantity. I hope you learn to love yourself, because you are truly worth it. That is why I have endeavored to tell you.

Help! Leftovers Are Taking Over!

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Do you have leftovers from Easter lurking in your fridge or freezer? When I host a dinner I tend to make too much food, because the worry of not having enough haunts me. Besides, who wants to waste? When I think about all the time and energy spent making each dish, I feel obligated to use them. I also hate eating the same things over and over. Here is what I am doing with my leftovers. Hopefully you will be inspired to do something with yours.

Leftover: Hard-boiled eggs and Ham (maybe a green veggie)

Fix: Ham, Egg, and Cheddar Gratin (Inspired by Williams-Sonoma Casual Entertaining)

Ingredients:

-6 Hard-boiled Eggs (split in length-wise halves)     -1/2 cup low-fat Cheddar or Velveeta if you prefer     – 2 cups of trimmed & diced Ham    -3Teaspoons Tarragon       -1/4 cup Onion, diced       -1 stalk Celery (or other leftover green veggie), diced     -3 cups reduced-fat Milk (room temperature)       -1/4teaspoon Nutmeg               -dash of Hot Sauce    – 3 tablespoons Cornstarch  -3 tablespoons water or broth    -1/4 cup low-fat Shredded Cheddar       -1 Tablespoon Butter (or substitute)       -Salt  – Pepper

Directions:

1.Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.

2.Heat Butter in saucepan over medium heat. Once melted add the Onions and Celery until translucent. Add the Ham and heat through.

3.Once mixture is warmed, add 1 teaspoon Tarragon and stir. Pour Ham mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased baking dish.

4. In the same suacepan, pour Water and Cornstarch and wisk quickly. Cook over medium-low heat until boils and then pull it off the heat and turn stove off.

5. One cup at a time add the Milk, whisking in. Over medium heat whisk until thickened. Once the sauce thickens, add the 1/2 cup of Cheddar. Stir so that the Cheddar melts smoothly.

6. Take 6 halves of the Hard-boiled Eggs and dice them up. Add them to the Cheddar Sauce. Add the Nutmeg, Hot Sauce, and Tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Pour Cheddar sauce into the baking dish.

7.Place remaining Hard-boiled Egg halves yolk-side up in the pan, distributing them evenly. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top.

8. Place baking dish in oven for 10 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

9. Serve and enjoy.

Tips:

-If for some reason the sauce is a little soupy, add toast to soak up. It is still super yummy!

-You can make  a roux with equal parts flour and canola oil if desired, instead of the corstarch slurry for thickening.

 

Leftovers: Ham Hock and Carrots

Fix: Soup Beans

Ingredients:

– 1 Ham Hock          -3/4cup Carrots (diced)          -1/2 onion diced       -2 cloves garlic minced

-2 cups Great Northern or Pinto Beans          -4 cups low-sodium Broth or Water    – Black Pepper

Directions:

1. In a dutch oven (or pot)  heat Onions and Garlic over medium heat ntil translucent. Add the Carrots and Ham Hock. Cook until warmed. Pepper to taste.

2. Stir in Beans and cook until warm. Add the Broth and bring to a boil.

3. Once at a boil, simmer for at least an hour. Serve.

Tips:

-You could transfer the ingredients into a crock-pot on your way to work, and put it on a medium low setting and come home to some good eats!

-Serve with cornbread.

-Freeze leftovers for a cold, rainy day.