Just for fun...

>> Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thought I'd have a little off-topic fun today. Liz Rosenbaum Fitness selected my blog as one of her 5 Fabulous Blogs. So nice! (And you know I love your blog too, Liz!)

The Fabulous Award Rules
1) You must pass it along to 5 other fabulous blogs. It was so hard to choose my 5 blogs. I have so many that I like! But, here are 5 of my daily must reads.

Mark Salinas' Healthy Living Today
The Fight for Fitness
Super Healthy Kids
Eating Well Anywhere
Fake Food Free

2) You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions.

Here you go: my kids, magazines, sweet iced tea, Top Chef, the internet

Thanks again for the award, Liz!

A random picture of my small town from atop a mountain

And now for a little more fun. I found a random list of 150 things to do on some random blog (wish I knew which one, but alas, I forgot to copy the link!). After making my list, my only complaint is that I wish I were more well traveled. Ah well, there's time for that! Here's my list (the red are things that I have done):

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with dolphins (wild ones at that! At least close to them – I wasn’t exactly swimming with them.)

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said “I love you” and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped (no way, no how!)

11. Visited Paris (one day…)

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game (Last Broncos game at the original Mile High!)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper (too many to count)

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon (this is on my wish list)

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity.

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse (lots of partials, never a total – maybe in 2017?)

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run (um, not exactly coordinated or sports inclined here…)

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking (danced like a fool, yes…)

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your CDs

57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke (this wouldn’t be good for anyone)

59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie (does a promo movie for your company count? I’m guessing no…)

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River (not yet! But soon…soon.)

82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason

84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music (only if you can count my 11th grade solo piano recital – and I don’t!)

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently (does Southern count? J)

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication (I’ll count my peer-reviewed journal articles)

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach (yes, bleh)

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts (you do what you have to in grad school)

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone’s life by not hitting them with my car.


Homemade pizza rolls

>> Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm sure that you've noticed that posts have been few and far between lately. What can I say? The holiday season - especially if you have kids, I think - is a busy one! I've got lots of ideas brewing and will post when I can during this fun and busy time. In the meantime, I hope that you'll enjoy this recipe idea and have a great holiday season!

My son is a picky eater - just like his mother. He gets bored easily with sandwiches - also just like his mother - so I've been trying to think of alternatives that I can fix for him to throw into his lunchbox. This recipe for Ranch Chicken Pockets at Megan's Munchies gave me an idea for making homemade pizza rolls. (And, yes, the pizza rolls are really just little calzones, but it's more fun to call them pizza rolls!)

These pizza rolls are great because you can make them ahead of time and throw them in a lunch or even freeze them to eat later. Even better - you can customize them however you want! We've made Megan's Ranch Chicken Pockets (using HFCS-free ranch dressing, of course) - delicious - and nacho pockets as well as the pizza rolls. The flavor combos that would work with this idea are endless.

One note - be careful buying pizza sauce! HFCS is a common ingredient in packaged pizza sauce. We used to be fans of Boboli's pizza sauce, but alas, it contains HFCS. There are several brands out there that don't have HFCS in it, though. We used Rustic Crust's One Top Tomato! Old World Tomato Sauce. It's a pretty good sauce, and comes in nice three-packs that are convenient. (If you have a recipe for a good homemade pizza sauce, I would love to get it!)

I also have to admit that my son does not like any of the pockets that I've made for him. None! Not even the pizza rolls! I suspect that he decided that he wouldn't like them ahead of time and that he will grow to like them, though, as often happens with my picky eater. My 2 yr old daughter loves them. My husband and I also love them. They're great for kids and adults alike.

On to the recipe!

Start with some pizza dough. You can buy some frozen pizza dough or make it yourself. I went the make it yourself route with a little help from my breadmaker. Not sure that a Jiffy crust kind of pizza dough would work well here as the quick dough made from the box tends to be a little too flimsy in my experience.

Take a little ball of the dough and roll it out. The dough will puff up a bit when cooking, so make it as flat as you possibly can. You can make your circle of dough big or small. I like to make them on the small side - better for lunch boxes and small hands.

Next, put a little of whatever you want in the middle of the circle. For pizza rolls, we used a little smear of pizza sauce topped with cheese for the kids and added some sauteed onion and mushroom for the adults. For nacho pockets, I used a smear of fat-free vegetarian refried beans (basically just smushed pinto beans) topped with some shredded nacho cheese. (I have to grudgingly admit that I used Velveeta Mexican Mild cheese here. Not exactly "real" cheese, but we liked the final product.) Salsa would also be a good addition.

Apologies for the poor quality of my food pictures! Still, you get the idea...

Fold the dough over, and crimp with a fork to close. I've taken to doubling the seam over and crimping again to keep it from opening while cooking, but those of you that are better bakers than I am probably won't need to do that.

Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 10-15 min until the rolls are lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!


My comments on new HFCS research

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sahar at Fat Fighter TV alerted me to new research recently released that indicates that finds no link between HFCS and obesity (click the Fat Fighter TV link and the research link for more indepth info on the research). The research implies that HFCS consumption is really no different than sucrose (aka table sugar) consumption. Woot! HFCS is back, baby! Bring on the twinkies!

Or maybe not. I've said before that it is unclear whether HFCS is evil or is simply maligned because of the foods that it is in. Rather than worry about what the latest study says about HFCS, we've taken the stance here that HFCS as an ingredient is a marker of poor quality. Think about it - what foods are most likely to have HFCS? Junk!

If you've read this blog much, you also know that it's hidden in unlikely places too - like soup and bread. Should the average person give those foods containing HFCS up if HFCS is no worse than sugar? Well, that's an individual decision. We have decided to go that route. And you know? We're eating better because of it. Of course, we're not just giving up HFCS. We're trying to do a total diet transformation. Whole grains. Good fats while phasing out the bad fats. Getting HFCS out of our diet has gone a long way toward that transformation. The foods without HFCS tend to be higher quality. They tend to have better ingredients in general. Not always, of course. There are plenty of exceptions, but no HFCS=higher quality seems to be a trend. I like that. It's a benefit to being HFCS free.

I know quite a few people that have given up HFCS because it isn't natural. (And I don't care what the FDA or the Corn Refiners Association say, that kernel of corn has been so manipulated by the time that it becomes HFCS it is laughable to call it natural.) We haven't really had that mindset, though I suppose it isn't a bad one to have. We started on this HFCS-free household mission because of the possible health effects of consuming too much fructose. We've decided to stay on this mission because our diet is so much healthier for having gotten rid of HFCS.

In the end, too much sugar or any form is not good for you - whether it is glucose, sucrose, or HFCS - and the new research confirms that. A healthy diet can include some sugar (including fructose - though I still believe that is best from whole foods) but limiting sugar is important (and one of my hardest challenges as a complete sugar junky) especially today when everything is loaded with sugar.

So, is HFCS evil? Or should we take as the message from this research that HFCS is just the same as sugar and not worry about it? We're sticking with our HFCS ban here. The result - no worries about the latest HFCS study and better food overall.


Friday Link Love

>> Friday, December 5, 2008

It's been a slow week here in blogland, but I'm back with a few links that I found particularly informative and enjoyable this week.

First, at the end of the day, are you a good tired or a bad tired? I have to admit, I've been more bad tired than good tired the past couple of years thanks to 2 kids that don't sleep well. Sleep is slowly but surely getting better around here, and MizFit's video post on good vs bad tired struck a nerve with me.

More on sleep! Cranky Fitness talks about how sleep is just as important as exercise for maintaining good health. Get your zzzzzz's people!

Last, Fresh Mouth is a great blog about the experiences of a family of 5 on a mission to eat only fresh foods or processed foods with less than 5 ingredients. No HFCS for them!


One of my favorite brands

>> Monday, December 1, 2008

Since we started this HFCS-free adventure, I find that even while I'm preparing more snacks and foods from scratch rather than turning to a box, I still like a certain amount of processed foods. Some foods just taste better out of a box than I could do from scratch - like crackers. And sometimes the convenience of a processed food just outshines homemade. And, let's not forget, kids like to match their friends, and sometimes that means finding a suitable processed substitute so that they won't feel left out.

There are a few brands that I find just don't fail me. Those brands, in addition to not having any HFCS, have ingredients that don't give me the heebie-jeebies. One of those brands is Wild Harvest Organics. Wild Harvest has a great selection of products - crackers (including a rosemary and sesame saltine that is so delish!), cookies, produce, meat, cereal, bread, and more. I haven't tried all that they have to offer yet. So far, we've tried a variety of their crackers and cookies, some chips, cereal, and their natural peanut butter. We haven't been disappointed with any of their offerings yet.

Best of all? The price is reasonable! Compared to most organic food lines, the price of Wild Harvest Organic products is comparable to non-organic lines. I'm not sure how they manage to be so inexpensive. Is it because Wild Harvest Organic is the store organic brand of a large grocery store chain? Or are the other organic brands over priced because they know that lots of people are willing to pay a premium for good ingredients and the organic label? I suspect that it's a bit of both.So, where can you buy their products? Wild Harvest Organics is sold through SuperValu, Inc. grocery stores. That grocery store conglomerate includes Albertsons, Biggs, Jewel-Osco, Farm Fresh, Acme, Hornbacher's, Cub, Shaw's Star Market, Shop 'n Save, and Shoppers. Sadly, because it is a store brand, you won't find it at any non-SuperValu grocery stores. But, if SuperValu sees the value in having its own organics line that is inexpensive, perhaps other grocery store chains will follow their lead!


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