So friends we are going to have some fun together 🙂
Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun. Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then. I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!
So here are the rules to the contest:
All entries must be in by the end of 2013.
They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).
The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.
Make it your recipe, but if it is based off somewhere else tell me.
1 entry per person.
Winner gets 6 month birchbox subscription (3 months for birchbox man). If I get a great response will do 2nd place.
I’m open to any cuisines, and while I’m not rolling in cash, the price is not a qualification for the contest. I’m also just one person so try to keep the recipes down to a normal family size- serve 4.
Seriously guys I need your help on this. Please send your recipes in. I will do my best to judge recipes as quickly as possible and announce a winner in early January.
Fun times! Email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also you can ask my friend Amber I’m good on giving out the reward.
Today I’m not feeling great. Congestion, cough, sore throat. I suppose the best thing about my job is I work from home and can schlep around in my PJs if I want but it is also hard to really take a day off when I’m sick; however, I don’t mind because it keeps my mind occupied. I swear like 4 people I know have this cold. Sigh…
Anyway, I went to get some soup from Zuppa’s. I love the Yucatan Chicken Tortilla soup. Its flavorful and comforting.
I also decided to get one of my favorite foods when I’m sick- a pudding cup. Pudding cup you ask? Well when I was little I always wanted cute little lunches with things like pudding cups but my family couldn’t afford them (plus, they aren’t exactly good for you). I usually ended up getting hot lunch which was much cheaper. I think at the time my hot lunch cost 1.50. I am sure it is much more now. I could also get breakfast at school for a similar cost (or I ate breakfast at my seminary teacher’s house. He made the most delicious sour dough biscuits and bread with a starter that went back generations).
My Mom has never been a big breakfast person, and usually had toast until she became gluten intolerant (now she can have gluten free bread but I don’t think she has toast as often as she used to). However, her food allergies didn’t happen until I was nearly graduated from college so we had a lot of pasta, salads and sandwiches. One friend I had said we had spaghetti every time she came to my house and she was my friend for about 7 years. Perhaps this is why I’m so fond of the stuff today? I love a good plate of spaghetti.
Interesting enough we almost never had the food my Mom grew up on- roasts, jello, canned goods and casseroles. My Mom did make one yummy mexican tortilla style casserole but it was rare. I don’t ever remember her using canned soups in anything. When I went on my mission to Indiana all of these foods were very common and I had to get used to their high salt content. I also don’t remember ever having wonder bread, plain yellow mustard, grape jelly, tv dinners or bologna. Margarine was rarely used.
It was also a special treat to have cereal. It was too expensive for a large family. My siblings and I could go through a box of cereal in one morning sometimes and so you can imagine my feeling when I went to BYU and they had an entire wall of cereal! It was very exciting! My Mom also loves deli meat over the packaged slimy variety. She would buy that on occasion and I still love it!
I don’t want you to get the impression that we were poor. Far from it, but when you have a big family there are things that are harder to buy than others.
I also have a softspot for lunchables because they really are ridiculous. Paying $4 for cute little crackers, ham and cheese, but then they are cute little crackers with ham and cheese. Every once in a while I’ll buy one just to feel some sense of power in this world of chaos. 🙂
But the ultimate coup de gras of treats I envied in my friends lunchboxes was pudding cups. Tapioca, vanilla and especially chocolate. I loved them and I still think they are tasty. They are just so cute in their little cups. So, if there is anything great about being an adult it is that I can buy pudding cups whenever I want without getting permission from anyone. It’s the good life!
Can you relate to this? Are there any foods you couldn’t have or afford as a kid that you love as an adult? Any guilty pleasures? Please share in the comments section.
I only have a second because I am working but my last box to try came. Its called Peach Dish. Its a meal service where you get delivered all the ingredients for a 4 course meal for 2 in the mail. You can do it on a weekly basis for $20 or individually for $24. They include all the recipes and everything is healthy and organic/grass fed (even the meat comes with it)
You can also buy grass fed beef and produce in bulk at very reasonable prices from the site.
I think this is a particularly smart idea if you are like me, single and cooking for 1, or married cooking for 2. How easy to have everything ready to go? You just have to add oil, salt and pepper!
What do you guys think? I will be posting a review of my favorite boxes later tonight. What have looked the most interesting to you? Which one’s would you subscribe to? Thanks to all who let me try out there boxes for review at free or discounted prices. It has been super fun.
This box had an incredible value and the nice thing is you can subscribe for $24.95 or buy it individually at $34.95
They also do a beauty profile and ask you to guage your fashion sense.
Here is the breakdown of the bag
Blush mystery bag
Mor hand cream
Intelligent beauty restorative conditioner
Vapour Elixer Lip Gloss
Carita Progressif Mask
pixi eye pen
value of bag
price of bag 24.95 with subscription
34.95 for individual bag
Pretty amazing value right?
The other two boxes I tried are whimsey, a craft box, and watanut, a food box.
I was very impressed with the packaging of whimsey box and the craft looks really fun. Its $15 a month which is significantly less than other craft boxes. This month is a bracelet and I think they look really pretty. I’m excited to get my craft on. This would be a fun box for a group of girlfriends to all get or teenagers. FHE activities!
Watanut is a nut box and everything seemed yummy; however, I don’t think it is as nice as naturebox. With naturebox you can pick what you want and you get 5-7 bags as opposed to only 4 with watanut. Still, everything tasted good. Its $25 a month. Something to consider. Would make a nice gift since you can order them individually
Got two more boxes today for box month and they are both food boxes. I think the last of my food boxes. If you want to do a box month contact the different subscriptions, tell them about your blog and you may get lucky. Its been really fun.
This is a great box for those that want to dabble in boxes but don’t want to invest much money . It is only $7 a month! I spend that much on a cafe rio burrito! They also have a points system where you can add reviews and get discounts, free shipping on products. It is a smaller box and the value came to right about $7 so its not a huge value box but the cost is so low I think it has its appeal.
This is not specifically a healthy box; although all of the products appear to be all-natural and ingredient conscious. Mostly its a snacking box. They have an adult box and one designed for kids. I got the adult box to to try and enjoyed it.
alo light exposed drink
poplets sea salt and butter
I have already talked about this box on my blog because its one I have done for a couple of months. I love it. Its my favorite food box. The great things about this box is you can pick what products you want, they are full size, all nutritionist recommended and yummy! This box is a great bargain too. My box this month was valued at $27.11 and that is being conservative. I think it would be great for an office breakroom. You could get healthy snacks for your employees without having to go to the store or to Costco!
It is definitely the largest of all the food boxes I tried and still my favorite. I highly recommend it. They also have lots of gluten free and vegan options so you just pick what you like. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
This month I tried a few new things like the guacamole bites and garlic pumpkin seeds and some of my favorites from past boxes like the cheddar pub pretzels (so good!). You can also be suprised by snackbox if you prefer and you can add on to your box for a very reasonable fee. Naturebox is not a sample box. All of the products are made with the naturebox label which is part of the reason why you are given such generous amounts for the $19.95 cost. I love it. Give it a try!
On March 9th Kate and I got a huge basket from bountiful baskets and it included a new thai pack they were trying out. I just didn’t have time most of the week to use the pack so finally on Saturday I decided to do some shopping and cook up a bunch of food to have for the upcoming week. I made the thai soup tom kha gai and a big pot of curry.
Curry is a favorite of the Wagner household because it is easy, can be made with practically anything and aside from the spices relatively cheap. It is also an easy dish to make vegetarian which it seems like we often have a vegetarian in our midst. Oh and it is also gluten free and dairy free. Makes everyone happy.
Tom Kha Gai is a chicken and coconut soup that uses a lot of lemongrass and ginger to give a rich, complex flavor. My roommate gave it the stamp of approval. There is something wonderful about drinking a hot, vibrant bowl of broth. So good!
The recipe for the soup I got from Tyler Florence of the Food Network with a few changes and the curry I made up myself (I’ve made it tons of times but I will try and give you an idea. It made a lot of food that will freeze very well but really finding the ingredients is the most difficult part of these items. Cooking them at the same time reduces the amount of time spent washing and preparing because I could cut one onion for both, use 1 knife for both, one cutting board, etc. I guess I’ve always been a mad bursts of energy kind of person.
(I also added about 4 cups of water and bullion cubes to make the soup go further)
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife
(I added 1 onion, celery leaves, and basil because I had them)
3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn (Couldn’t find, put some extra lime juice for the flavor)
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (I left my fresh ginger in the cart at the store had to use ground spice but it still tasted good)
2 small Thai chilies, halved lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 (8-ounce) can straw mushrooms, rinsed
4 limes, juiced
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leavesDirections(Cook onion, celery in tbsp veg oil). Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilies, and garlic. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.
Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, mushrooms, lime juice, and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through; season with salt and pepper. (I let mine cook for quite a bit longer to get a strong flavor and added more fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar than the recipe called for) Ladle the soup into a soup tureen or individual serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Be careful to avoid chewing the lemongrass, ginger, or lime leaves.
Turkey and Sweet Potato Curry
1 1b turkey breast (or chicken I was just trying to be a little different since I had chicken in the soup) Pork would be good or lamb, anything
2 large sweet potatoes (or regular) cut into chunks
2 cups diced celery and celery leaves
1 bell pepper
2 large diced carrots
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup of chutney or tropical jam like I used mango jam
1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
2 thai chilis removed before serving if you like it real spicy.
2 heaping tbsp indian curry
cumin and garam masala start with tsp and add as much as you like
1 tbsp african spice blend (or hot sauce would be fine, sirache etc).
10 ounces chicken broth and then water/bullion to fill up rest of pot.
You could put in greens or tofu or whatever you want. Cauliflower is great in curry. It’s so versatile.
Start by heating the onion, celery and bell pepper with a little oil.
Then add cooked turkey cubed or shredded. Add potatoes, carrots and any other vegetables you want to use.
Add all of your spices.
Then add water, coconut milk, and chicken broth and let come to a boil. Once the potatoes are soft add in your jam, fish sauce to taste.
(You can also use unflavored yogurt instead of coconut milk if you want to lower the calories but its a good kind of fat so I think its all right)
I like to serve it over couscous, rice or quinoa.
I’d be curious to hear of what variations you come up with. Happy cooking!
I’ve mentioned the infamous Maura Kelly op-ed in Marie Claire many times on this blog . The one where she compares fat people to heroine addicts
“”I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”
“I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”
It is hate speech of the worst kind and the fact that a major fashion magazine would publish and then defend the smut is unbelievable.
Anyway, I came across an article by Josh Shahryar for the Huffington Post refuted each of Kelly’s claims and her subsequent apology. It is so awesome!
I was particularly moved by his last segment called The Conclusion.
I don’t normally share whole articles on this blog but I was so moved I wanted all of you to read it. Being on a new diet this last week I think I needed to read this article. So beautiful and moving:
5. The Conclusion
I’m not a personal issues expert. But I’m a human being living in the West who knows what’s going on. And what I see is this: there is an incredible amount of bias perpetuated against overweight people in the media. They are almost never the central character — always neatly tucked in as a secretary, the nurse or a character who’s too old to rouse romance. The last time I saw overweight people in a movie as the central character was in Paul Blart: Mall Cop and recently in Precious. Both the movies had a bit to do with weight.
When they appear on TV shows, it’s about weight. Guess who the loser in The Biggest Loser is… Guess who’s huge on Huge (by the way, a very witty show that got canceled). And when it comes to commercials, There’re always those damn ‘fatties’ that can’t seem to lose their weight without this or that new magical drug or diet.
Criminals can and do get central characters, otherwise. Druggies do. Even rapists and child abusers get more frequently featured. Fat people just aren’t good enough. (And to come to this realization right now just truly, deeply and profoundly upset me.)
The only shows, commercials or movies in which they get treated as normal people are those oriented towards the African-American population. Kudos to them for having the empathy. Only the oppressed can feel the pain of the oppressed.
Overweight people have become marginalized by the media simply because they’re overweight. Just like African Americans were marginalized because they were black and more recently, gay people because they’re gay. I understand fully that unlike the color of someone’s skin or someone’s sexual orientation obesity is a medical condition and a problem, but obese people aren’t. That is the issue. That is the problem. That is what both overweight, “normal” weight and underweight people need to come together and fight against.
The first step towards losing weight is not putting your mind to it. It is not making a list of things you will absolutely not do. It is not locking up the fridge. It is knowing that even if you fail at losing weight, people will still love you for who you are and not the number of pounds you’re packing. That people will judge you by your character and not because you are unhealthy weight-wise (and some people are perfectly healthy even when they are overweight). It is that feeling that you are doing this for yourself not because you have to fit a mold created for you.
That cannot be accomplished as long as Western culture continues to brand people who weigh more than what it deems aesthetically pleasing as unacceptable. It’s gotten so bad that even a few people who’re skinny live in constant fear that they might add a few pounds and not look beautiful enough to not be judged by people. And since media plays a huge part in formulating our cultural perceptions, it needs to change immediately — whether people like Ms. Kelly like it or not.
To that end, I urge everyone who finds size-ism in the media as a menace to view this as a watershed moment. It’s time to come together and fight this bigotry to the bitter end. Change does not come without someone pushing for it. If we want this to change, if we want for us, overweight or not, to not be judged by our BMI, we need to not let this fire die down.
We need to stand up and demand change. Even if it means we need to force the issue daily on social networking sites. Even if it means we have to boycott media that continue to practice this bigotry. Even if it means we have to hold peaceful demonstrations for the end of this practice. If media does not change, we cannot change this culture that seems to have been forever marginalizing overweight people.
It’s not just people judging you on the street. It’s about losing job opportunities. It is about equal treatment in the health care system. It is about being able to breathe, knowing everything’s gonna be alright.
The media’s side-stepping the issue and pretending all’s well reminds me of a scene from the movie Good Luck Chuck. Chuck is hexed so any girl who sleeps with him ends up meeting the love of her life in the next few days. His overweight secretary finds out about this and like any woman, she wants to find the lover of her life. She corners him one night and begs him to have sex with her, but he won’t. It goes on for a couple of minutes. Then, finally when he’s on the ground and she’s on top of him and he refuses, she tears up and says, “It’s okay. Close your eyes and pretend I’m someone beautiful.” He looks up, visibly moved, and says, “I’ll pretend it’s you.”
Well, pretending is just not good enough anymore.
(So awesome! I hope I can keep the discussion going and show people a different version of what a fat American can do. I bet Maura Kelly couldn’t swim a 5k!)
I shared this with my facebook community but thought I’d do the same with my blogging community. I think this photo tells a lot.
I can relate to this photo because I was on diet before I turned 10. I have almost no memories of not being on a diet in my life. In fact some of my most vivid memories are being put on diets or being told I was fat by kids or even coaches, other adults. As all my readers know I was also bullied for nearly 2 years (4th and 5th grades) because I was overweight.
I have to say compared to some of my overweight friends, my parents have actually been pretty great. They did put me on a diet when I was young but overall they tried to be supportive and loving. I did not get a ton of pressure from them to lose weight and I certainly was never told that I was ugly, embarrassing, fat, whatever. I hear such stories from some of my friends and I’m grateful for good parents.
So what is my advice to parents who have a heavier child and don’t know what to do? Here goes:
1. Set the whole family on a healthy lifestyle regiment so that one child is not singled out. Then everyone wins. It could even be a fun project to do together.
2. Explain that it really isn’t about appearance. Its about health, energy, happiness. Perhaps give them examples of athletes, other adults who maintain a healthy weight. (show them my blog about my swims 🙂 )
3. I think a lot of parents feel guilty about their overweight children and that just makes the child feel worse for failing their parents.
4. Do not EVER be embarrassed by your child. This will only teach them to be ashamed of their bodies and could lead to behaviors later on that are far worse than being overweight such as self-abuse, eating disorders, and addiction.
5. Try to avoid using food as a reward or a punishment. It will happen on occasions such as birthdays or at a party and that’s fine but in general find non-food related rewards
6. Avoid equating food as a sin. Do not make a child feel guilty for what they eat. Just encourage the good and move on from the bad. I still struggle with feelings of guilt and even sin when I stray from my diet and I don’t think that is a healthy behavior.
7. Introduce your kids to new food experiences so they don’t think that healthy food=boring food.
8. Involve your kids in the cooking process so they can see what goes into it. A processed packaged meal will never give your children any excitement for fresh, healthy ingredients. Also take them to farms, have them learn how to milk a cow, see where eggs come from, how to make cheese, whatever. This may be a drag for some kids but in the end it will help them build healthy eating habits and a love for good food.
9. Be positive, positive, positive, positive! Even today, I find I need overwhelmingly positive feedback from my trainers and other support. I know what I could improve on. In fact, I’m usually beating myself up more than I probably should and don’t need any help in that department. Any added ‘tough love’ just makes me feel depressed and hopeless
10. Make sure you explain all aspects of health to your child. Meaning physical, mental, spiritual, emotional whatever. All of these aspects are important for a healthy person. Writing in journals, meditating, having honest discussion, learning new things, reading, prayer, other worship, and learning to manage stress are all AS IMPORTANT as our weight.
11. Make sure they have correct information about weightloss, health, etc. Despite all my dieting I never learned that type 2 diabetes was curable. When they diagnosed me as border-line a few years ago, I honestly thought I was going to die. I was petrified. Instead of just scaring kids with words like cancer, heart disease, diabetes. Let’s explain what they really are and how they can be prevented and overcome.
Recently I did a wellness challenge where there were 10 categories of health including 15 minutes of spiritual reading and setting daily goals. I think this type of overall wellness would be a great system for kids.
Now some of you may scoff and say ‘she’s single. What does she know about raising kids?’. Well, I was a kid once and I know intimately what it is like to grow up as a fat kid. I also have kids in my life who I want to support in the right ways; therefore I have given the topic much thought.
Its important to understand that as adults, we are all fighting an uphill battle when it comes to the health of the kids in our lives. They have so much coming at them from the media and even other children and adults at school. We must conscientiously work at fighting this messaging or our kids will get their self-worth from the myriad of other sources trying to claim it.
Unfortunately sometimes people that mean well can be a destructive influence. Celebrities like First Lady Michele Obama have started a ‘war on childhood obesity’. I really wish Mrs. Obama would rethink this wording. I wish she was more focused on health of all children whether they happen to be heavy or skinny. I certainly am proof that an active heavy person can do things that a lazy skinny person could not do.
Health, health, health not weight, weight, weight.
I’ve mentioned on this blog that I have done cooking lessons for my sister and her friends. I love entertaining, cooking and teaching others. It is fun to just cook together with others. My sister is gone to Japan but Taylor and I have kept in touch via facebook. She asked if I could give her a lesson minus Anna and I said why not! (I told Anna that she is more than welcome to hang out with any of my friends and she laughed 🙂 ).
So we decided to make shrimp tacos with a cole slaw made with a light vinaigrette. The shrimp was fresh from Harmons and rubbed with chili powder, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and paprika. Then they were cooked in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of lime juice to deglaze. The cole slaw was made with purple cabbage, cilantro, red bell pepper, radishes, with a vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, agave, lime juice, olive oil.
The taco was made with corn tortillas, and then topped with cole slaw and cotija cheese (new to me, yum!) and avocado. The shrimp was spicy so you didn’t need a lot of other flavors in the toppings. It was very fresh, light and flavorful.
If anyone wants to do other cooking lessons let me know. I love exploring different cultures (our last cooking lesson was Chinese food. Yum!). As any teacher will attest you learn more from the preparation and teaching than your students ever do. My kitchen is really small but we make it work.
So recently I’ve been presented with a question- would I rather be skinny or free from pain? The answer is undeniably free from pain. Last year I started having chronic pain in my ribcage and chest area. After over a year of doctors and misdiagnosis I finally found something that helped with the pain- turns out I have a low thyroid.
In February the doctor put me on levothyroxine and the results were amazing. My pain was reduced almost immediately. I can’t tell you what a relief this was for me. It was like a nearly 2 year monkey was finally off of my back. My recovery from exercise improved considerably; thereby allowing me to push harder in my sets and train more frequently.
Last week, for instance, I had 5 days of intense training, one right after another. These were no ordinary workouts and yet Sunday came around and I felt pretty good. A little bit of pain but nothing compared to the overwhelming, almost debilitating pain I experienced last year.
This was all very exciting! On Tuesday I went in for my second follow up appointment. My trainer had noticed I had gained weight in February but I had dismissed it as one of those things. You can imagine my shock that I was back up to 284! I blame the medicine because its the only major change that has occurred during that time period. I was so frustrated. Don’t most people lose weight when taking thyroid meds? Naturally my freakish body can never have a normal reaction to anything. It always has to be complicated.
Basically my doctor told me that the thyroid meds mess up your metabolism in good and bad ways. Unfortunately they make you super sensitive to bad carbs and sugar. Now I was not eating much sugar previous to this appointment but I was trying to work it in with moderation. Evidently with this medicine I can’t have any of it. 😦
Its frustrating because in many ways I feel like I am setting myself up for eventual failure. Nobody is perfect all the time in a diet and clearly moderation is not good enough. I gained nearly 15 lbs since I started taking the meds despite my careful eating and training!
The thing is that I feel great! I feel energetic and healthy. I think I look great. So why does the stupid scale matter? Maybe it shouldn’t. Its just I worked so hard to lose that weight. Took 3 years out of my life and to see it go away was so disheartening. Thank goodness for my music because it was the lift I needed this week.
I also get frustrated being on the extreme diets because I feel like they make me super self-critical and over-introspective. I feel guilty for everything I do, nothing seems quite good enough. That’s why I avoided dieting for so long because it turns me into this person I hate. People say ‘don’t diet. Just make small lifestyle changes’. Well, I’m sorry but small lifestyle changes don’t work. I gained 15lbs on moderation and lifestyle changes!
For some reason going hard core is the only thing that seems to work and I refuse to have weight loss surgery. It seems like I’m stuck. Ahhhh! And then I think of that woman on the plane who wouldn’t sit next to me and I remember that so many people still see me as a fattie who disgusts them. The whole thing makes me crazy and feel so frustrated. I don’t know what to do but to try with the sugar fast and not give up.
In the end, I feel like I have to chose between feeling good and pain free and losing weight. That is a really lame decision to have to make. At least with the sugar fast I can tell my doctor confidently that I am doing all I can to eat right and exercise. If I can’t keep it up forever well that’s a choice for another day. I can do my best today and if I still gain what else can you do?
I just have to keep reminding myself that I did not start this process to improve my appearance. I really didn’t. I started this process because I wanted to have energy, to do more, to be more active. I think anyone would be hard pressed to say I haven’t achieved that goal.
If it was the choice between looking a certain way and feeling pain what would you pick? Be honest! Maybe God just wants me to look like this for some reason? He’s gotten me to a healthy point but getting below 250 (my dream) seems to be an impossible task. I’ve been working so hard for over 3 years. Maybe I need to try something else? I don’t know but I am trying my best to not feel defeated and to keep trying. That’s all I can do- keep trying.
Still, its been a bit of a downer of a week. Thanks everyone for your support no matter my size. Thanks for reminding me that I’m still a good person and I’ve still accomplished great things no matter my weight. Forget the stupid scale! (or at least try to…Sigh)